Wednesday, 21 June 2017

James and Richard Seward - The last of Jane Feeny's children

As we arrive at the final post on Jane Feeny's children from her marriages to John Killion and Thomas Seward, we're presented with a mystery.

How many sons were born to Jane and Thomas in 1873? 

Last week, a few "cousins" had a sneak preview of my dilemma in untangling this mystery…..

Our current thinking is that two sons, James and Richard, were born to Jane and Thomas around 05 July 1873.  Richard was “weak” from birth and died on 19 July 1873.  James became “weak” around the time of Richard’s death and died on 02 August 1873.

Family of Thomas and Jane Seward - Updated 21 June 2017

Please, only read on if you’re interested in hearing about the 26 year long search that’s lead to this view!

A search of the NSW Registry of Births, Death and Marriages shows that, in 1873, two males died in Port Macquarie whose parents were Thomas and Jane-
  • James Seaward - Registration number 6475/1873 
  • Richard Seaward - Registration number 6479/1873

We can’t locate any birth registration for James or Richard.  Jane's death registration doesn't record James or Richard as living children or any deceased children from her marriages to John or Thomas. We can’t locate a death registration for Thomas Seward.

Back in 1991, our family historian, Martyn Killion​, purchased certified copies of the death registrations for James and Richard.

The registration for James shows that, on 18 September 1873, Jane informed that he died on 30 June 1873 at Port Macquarie, Dr Spencer saw him that day and he was-
  • 26 days old and had suffered from “weakness” for 14 days - giving a birth date of about 04 June 1873,
  • buried at Port Macquarie on 01 Jul 1873 by Reverend F R Kemp of the Church of England, the witnesses being James Spence and William Wilkins and the undertaker being Charles Wilkins.

Jane is shown as living at Clarence Street, Port Macquarie and Thomas is a labourer.

Then the surprise comes-

The registration for Richard shows that, on 13 October 1873, Jane informed that he died on 19 July 1973 at Clarence Street, Port Macquarie, Dr Spencer saw him the previous day and he was-
  • 14 days old and had suffered from “weakness” for 14 days - giving a birth date about 05 July 1873,
  • buried at Port Macquarie, the witnesses being William Wilkins and A T Gates and the undertaker being Charles Wilkins - there is no minister of religion recorded.

Jane is shown as living at Port Macquarie and Thomas is a boatman.

There the mystery remained for over 20 years - James born about 04 June 1873 and Richard born about 05 July 1873!  

In 2013, the Port Macquarie & Districts Family History Society Inc. published early parish registers for the Church of St Thomas.  It covers burials in 1873 but not baptisms.  James Seward, aged one month, is shown as dying on 02 August 1873 and being buried the following day by Reverend F R Kemp.  There is no record of a burial for Richard.  St Thomas register indicates a birth date for James about 05 July 1873 - the same birth date as Richard.

Four years later, 2017, Family Search (a free genealogical organisation operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have the 1873 baptism registers of St Thomas Port Macquarie available!  There we find James Seward, birth date 04 July 1873, was christened on 02 August 1873.  There’s no christening recorded for Richard.

We’ve relying on the church registers for James birth and death rather than his death registration. They tie in more closely with Richard’s death registration.  

So our current thinking is that-
  • James and Richard were born on about 05 July 1873,
  • Richard was not christened prior to his death on 19 July 1873 and could not receive a Christian burial,
  • James became “weak” around the time of Richard’s death and, when his condition did not improve, was christened on Saturday 02 August 1873 and 
  • James died later that day and was buried the following day by the Reverend F R Kemp.

We can’t explain why both deaths were not registered on the same day or James’s birth and death dates being out by about a month…..

There were changes in the Killion/Seward household around 1870.  Prior to Matilda’s birth, the family had moved from their home at North Shore, Port Macquarie to the town.  Thomas was no longer a farmer but a boatman or labourer.  

When the twins died, there were 8 children in the household - Jack (19), Rose (18), Thomas (16), Mary Jane (13), Margaret (11), William (7), Annie (5) and Matilda (3). 

Within a few years, Jane and the children had moved to Kempsey without Thomas…..

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