Revising the roots of the family tree

For me, one of the benefits of writing up the Atcherley family history is that it makes me review – and sometimes revise – the work I have already done. In pulling together a story, I look again at the information I have (and often go looking for more), verify the sources of my data, and check to see that the conclusions I have drawn stand up to scrutiny. Often I make some new discoveries that corroborate my conclusions and enhance the story. Sometimes, however, the process highlights evidence which causes me to challenge my assumptions.

I began researching my Atcherley roots back in 2007. Following the standard process, I gradually went back a generation at a time using vital records, census data, parish registers, wills and so on, forming conclusions based on the available evidence. Along the way I also looked at the genealogical work of others, some carried out in recent times and some back to the 1800s. Rather than slavishly copying these researchers’ results, I used their family trees, and the sources within them, as reference material to compare with and support my own work.

Sometimes I have agreed with the relationships shown in those family trees, sometimes I haven’t. After all, a chain of parent-child relationships linked together to show a person’s ancestry does not necessarily represent an unbroken sequence of facts. It is a series of conclusions which have been formed using the evidence to hand. The same evidence can in some cases support different conclusions. And sometimes the evidence available to one genealogist is not available (or simply not found) by another. (See Edge of the tree no longer: Thomas Atcherley, alias Edge for an example of a how single record can change a family tree.)

Ultimately, I traced my mother’s lineage back through Fred, Samuel, Henry (born out of wedlock), Mary, Samuel, John, John, Samuel, John and finally my 9x great grandfather, another John baptised in 1613, son of Richard Atcherley of Stanwardine in the Fields, Shropshire (see John Atcherley, draper of Shrewsbury). But now I believe that one of the links in that chain is, to say the least, suspect.

My doubts arose this week when I looked at the connections between the Atcherley and Elsmere families back in the 1600s, as a potential story for this website. Roger Atcherley, brother of my 8x great grandfather John, married Elizabeth Elsmere (daughter of Samuel Elsmere and his wife Alice, nee Leigh) in 1645. Then, in 1685, Elizabeth’s niece – another Elizabeth Elsmere (daughter of Samuel Elsmere junior and his wife Katherine, nee Stiles) – married Roger’s nephew (my 8x great grandfather) John Atcherley. Talk about keeping it in the family! But was everything as it appeared?

During my early research into the Atcherley family tree, I found that my 7x great grandfather Samuel Atcherley was baptised on 2 September 1687 at Shrewsbury St Mary in Shropshire and was the second son of John Atcherley of Newton and Elizabeth, nee Elsmere (see Samuel Atcherley’s true and perfect inventory (Part 1)). When I looked for the baptism of Samuel’s father, there was only one candidate to be found: John, the son of John Atcherley (and his wife Judith, nee Kynaston), also at Shrewsbury St Mary, on 11 February 1647/8. However, it turns out that the ‘available evidence’ upon which this conclusion was reached, was somewhat lacking.

The incomplete nature of the genealogical evidence available to us is one of the challenges faced by myself and my fellow Atcherley researchers (past and present). Not all life events were recorded, and of those life events which were committed to paper or parchment, not all of the records have survived. One example of a missing record is that of the baptism of John, son of the aforementioned Roger Atcherley and his wife Elizabeth, nee Elsmere.

Surviving baptismal records show that Roger and Elizabeth had three children.  “Elizabeth the daughter of Roger Acherley of Cotten was baptised the 30th day of May 1647” at Edstaston chapel in the parish of Wem. At the same place, six years later on 19 June 1653, “Roger the Son of Roger Acherley of Cotton” was baptised (the register of Shrewsbury St Mary then records “Rogger the Sonne of Rogger Acherley Buried ye 30th of march” 1657). Finally, in 1655 an entry in Baschurch All Saints’ parish register shows that “Mary the daughter of Roger Atcherley & Elizab. his wife of Stanwardine in the wood was borne the 28 day of June & baptized the 1 day of July”.

Less than seven years after the baptism of his daughter Mary, Roger Atcherley died. He was 46. According to the Baschurch parish register “Roger Atcherley of Stanwardine in the wood was buryed the 27th day of ffebruary” in 1661/2. He made a verbal will “on or aboute the twentith day of ffebruary” as follows:

… Roger Atcherley of Stanwardine in the wood in the County of Salop yeom beinge weake & sicke butt of sound minde & memorie (of which sicknes he dyed) did make and declare his will by word of mouth to the effect followinge, That his Sonne John should have his lands in Edstason & Whitchurch when he came to age And that the rest of his estate Should goe amongst his wief and two daughters accordinge to the Custome of the Countrey and named his wief Elizabeth and his daughter Elizabeth his execes [= executrixes] in the psense of the psons whose names are Subscribed

The mark of Elizabeth Atcherley and the signature of “John Elsmer” followed.

Roger’s son John was most likely born around 1650, between the births of Elizabeth and Roger junior. It is possible that he was born at Coton in the parish of Wem and baptised at Edstaston Chapel, but that the record of his baptism – if one was made – has not survived. The page of the Wem register showing entries for Edstaston around the time in question has baptisms for 1648, followed by an assortment of baptisms for 1653 and 1654 in seemingly random order. This suggests to me that the entries were made long after the baptisms had been carried out, probably from incomplete notes made on scraps of parchment. Any record made of baptisms from 1649 to the early part of 1653 appear to have been lost.

Edstaston St Mary

When I first added John to my Atcherley family tree I noted: “I have not traced any records for John other than his appearance in his father Roger’s will …”. Not only was there no record of his baptism, neither was there one of his burial. Nor was there any indication of an intervening marriage. Unless of course he was the John Atcherley who married Elizabeth Elsmere in 1685, a thought that struck me while reviewing my Atcherleys and Elsmeres over the last few days.

Contrasting the will of Roger Atcherley with that of his twice-married brother John, made in 1672, revealed an interesting fact. John left 5 shillings apiece to “sonnes & daughters by a former wiefe”, who were named as Edward, Richard, Elizabeth and Judith. He made no mention of a son named John, which suggests that he no longer had a son by that name. Furthermore, the Atcherley estate at Stanwardine did not descend to the younger John Atcherley who married Elizabeth Elsmere.

On re-checking the family trees and pedigrees compiled by others I have found that some, including the late Martyn Freeth of Shrewsbury (who was a highly respected genealogist), had arrived at the same conclusions that I originally had. But on looking at the pedigree notes made in the early 1800s by the Rev John Newling (1762 – 1838) (see Atcherleys reunited for more on this source) I now realise that Newling thought otherwise.

Included in one of the Rev Newling’s pedigrees were “John Atcherley of Newton on the Heath” and his wife “Eliz. Elsmere” who were married on 14 May 1685. In pencil, Newling scribbled next to John Atcherley’s details “Revd. J. A. said that he was born at M____” and also indicated that John was the son of “Atcherley of M____”.

“Revd. J. A.” was James Atcherley (1730 – 1804), a grandson of John and Elizabeth. I had thought that the rather unclear place name beginning with ‘M’ was a fanciful claim by James to Marton (the home of another branch of the Atcherley family). But I now realise that the place referred to began with an ‘N’ not an ‘M’ – it was Newton (on the Heath), in the parish of Shrewsbury St Mary. Finally, written by Newling in ink above the details for John and Elizabeth was “Eliza Atcherley of Newton”, buried 6 May 1692 – this, I believe, was Roger Atcherley’s widow Elizabeth.

Taking all of this into account it is now my belief that it was Roger Atcherley (born at Stanwardine in the Fields but later of Coton, Stanwardine in the Wood and Newton on the Heath) and his wife Elizabeth Elsmere who were my 9x great grandparents. My 8x great grandparents, John Atcherley and Elizabeth Elsmere, were ‘kissing cousins’ – first cousins to be precise. Which means that I am not descended from John Atcherley of Stanwardine and Shrewsbury, nor from his wife Judith Kynaston with her royal connections.

Having revised the roots of my family tree I now have some work to do. My online and offline Atcherley trees need amending, and a number of stories on this website must be updated!


Picture credits. Tree roots: Photo by the author. Links between the Atcherley and Elsmere families: Diagram by the author. Edstaston St Mary: Photo © copyright Michael Patterson, taken from Geograph, adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Links between the Atcherley and Elsmere families: Diagram by the author.


References.

[1] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 22 Sep 1615 for baptism of “Roger the sonne of Richarde Atcherley”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
[2] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 4 Apr 1645 for marriage of “Roger Atcherley & Elizabeth Elsmoore”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 104; copies viewed at Internet ArchiveMocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[3] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 19 Feb 1617/8 for “Elizabeth daughter off Sam Elsmere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[4] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 2 Feb 1615/6 for marriage “Samuell Ellsmere and Ales Leighe”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[5] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 25 Jan 1656/7 for baptism of “Elizabeth the daughter of Samuell Ellsmere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[6] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 22 Apr 1647 for marriage of Samuell Elsmore and Katherin Stiles. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 104; copy viewed at Mocavo.
[7] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 8 Dec 1621 for baptism of Samuell Ellsmere. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 61; copy viewed at Mocavo.
[8] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 14 May 1685 for marriage of “John Atcherley & Elizabeth Elismere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 179; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[9] Shrewsbury St Mary, Shropshire, parish register covering 1687. Entry for baptism of Samuel Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 186 viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1. Film 908234.
[10] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1647/8. Entry for baptism of John Atcherley. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 107; copies viewed at Internet Archive,Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1. Film 908234.
[11] Wem, Shropshire, parish register (entries for Edstaston) covering 1647. Entry for baptism of Elizabeth Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume IX, Wem (volume I, page 170); copies viewed at Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00897-1, Film 908233.
[12] Wem, Shropshire, parish register (entries for Edstaston) covering 1653. Entry for baptism of Roger Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume IX, Wem (volume I, page 171); copies viewed at Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00897-1, Film 908233.
[13] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1657. Entry for burial of Rogger Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 120; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[14] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1655. Entry for baptism of Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
[15] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1661/2. Entry for burial of Roger Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives.
[16] Will of Roger Atcherley of Baschurch, yeoman. Proved 30 Apr 1662. Copy from Lichfield Record Office, reference B/C/11. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
[17] Wem, Shropshire, parish register for 1583 – 1647. Page 316 (Edstaston). Copy viewed at Findmypast – Parish Register Browse (page 318 of 321).
[18] Will of John Atcherley of Baschurch, gentleman. Proved 15 Oct 1672. Typed transcript viewed at Society of Genealogists, London. Electronic transcript supplied by Barbara Lang. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
[19] Martyn Freeth (2010), The Family of Atcherley of Stanwardine and Marton. Unpublished Word document.
[20] Staffordshire Record Office item S. MS.269/1/14, undated, Pedigrees of families in Shropshire (etc) from the collection of the Revd. John Newling: Atcherley, co. Salop. Indexed at Gateway to the Past.
[21] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1692. Entry for burial of “Elizabeth Atcherley of Newton”. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 202; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.

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