Friday, 19 August 2011

Edward Darby 1768-1847 and Ann Hobdey 1779-1852

When Edward Darby married Ann Whitehouse on 25 July 1814 at St Phillip's Church, Birmingham, Warwickshire, my genealogy problems began. It was, I think, my first genealogy trip - I'd visited archives close to home, but this was the first time I'd travelled any distance and I was trying to get through as many parish register entries as I could in the time I had. I'd found the marriage in the IGI and it fitted nicely with the births of the couple's children. I'd even found a likely baptism for Ann Whitehouse. Then I looked for the marriage in the parish register.

The register stated that both bride and groom were widowed - a fact not stated in the index, which is why you should always check the original. In this case, the original sent me back to the drawing board for Ann, and gave me a problem I still haven't solved for Edward.

Having studied census records along with parish registers and the IGI, I think I've got Ann figured out: she was born Ann Hobdey in Dudley, Worcestershire in 1779, the daughter of John Hobdey and Catherine Bowater. The family moved to Birmingham, where on 26 December 1800 Ann married Joseph Whitehouse (actually at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Aston). Ann and Joseph had 5 children:

Jemima Whitehouse 1801-??
Christiana Whitehouse 1803-??
Ann Whitehouse 1805-1807
Thomas Joseph Whitehouse 1806-??
John Whitehouse 1808-??

Joseph died in August 1811, and was buried at St Mary Whittall Street, Birmingham.

Three years later, Ann married Edward Darby. They had 5 children:

Henry Darby 1815-1815
Henry Darby 1816-1893
Edward Darby 1818-1819
Joseph Darby 1820-??
Edward Darby 1822-??

The couple lived in Birmingham, with Edward working as a locksmith and handcuff maker.

But having found out all of this, I still had no idea where Edward came from. My first clue about his life before his marriage to Ann came when I got a copy of his death certificate. Edward died on 7 June 1847, and on his death certificate he was described as being a pensioner of the 45th Regt Foot. I was able to find a record of Edward's military service thanks to The National Archives' online index and the ability to order documents online. The pension records showed that Edward had joined the army on Christmas Day 1795, officially joining the Regiment in the West Indies. He served for 15 years, the first 4 in the West Indies (for which he was awarded extra credit - the pension was calculated based on years served, and years in the West Indies counted double because it was such a horrible disease-ridden place!) The records also showed that he was "born in the parish of Rowly in, or near, the Town of Birmingham," and that he was 29 when he joined the army.

Armed with this information, I've looked for a baptism and a first marriage for Edward, but so far, I've found nothing. Rowly is most likely Rowley Regis, now a town just outside Birmingham in the West Midlands. There are loads of Darbys in the parish registers for Rowley, but no Edward born around 1765-1770. I've not found a marriage for Edward in either Rowley or Birmingham.  I've also looked for a marriage or the birth of children in Ireland, as the regiment was garrisoned there for some of the time Edward was serving with it, but again, so far I've found nothing. The only hint I have found is another Darby family in Birmingham - William Darby born around 1805 in Ireland (at a time when the 45th Foot was based in Ireland), working as a handcuff maker. If only I could link them to Edward.... (any suggestions gratefully accepted).

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