Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Margaret Elizabeth Wilcox- are you related?

© Penny Allen

Transcription: Margaret Elizabeth Wilcox late of Albany United States 
grand daughter of the late Mr. Richard Wilcox - Market Gardener of Fulham
who died of consumption whilst on a visit to this country April 9th 1859 aged 24 years 
Beloved and deeply mourned by her sincere friends this tablet is erected in affectionate remembrance

On a recent break in central London, I was wandering around one of my favourite areas, Earl's Court, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I came across Brompton Cemetery, by chance, not by plan.

According to the Royal Parks website, it is one of London's Magnificent Seven and is inhabited by many famous people, including Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and cricket champion John Wisden. Beatrix Potter was apparently so inspired by the names from the tombstones that she used them in her books.  The burial records are provided by Deceased Online.

I was intrigued by this woman's grave. She is from the United States, her grandfather was deceased, and when she died she was a visitor to the city. Why did she come to London and when did she arrive? Was her grandfather still living when she came to visit? What were her plans while visiting in London? Who were the 'sincere friends' - obviously they had a bit of money between them to put a gravestone on her grave. 

Using her birth date as approximately 1834, I searched the New York Census. Ancestry shows a possible match in the 1850 United States Federal Census. Name: Margaret Wilcox Age 18 born about 1832 in New York Home in 1850: Albany Ward 4, Albany, New York, USA. Gender: Female. Family Number: 196 with a Rebecca Wilcox aged 50 born in England, Frances Wilcox aged 22 born in New York and Margaret Wilcox born in New York.

At first I was misled by the transcription on the gravestone. I thought I read daughter of Richard. So off I went on a search for a Richard Wilcox as her father.

In the 1851 England Census on Ancestry, I found Richd Wilcox age 43 est birth year about 1808, relation Visitor, Gender Male, where born Fulham Middlesex England, Civil Parish: St. George Hanover Square, Registration District: St George Hanover Square, Sub Registration District: Belgrave - in a household with: Willm White aged 31 Head occupation Teacher of Music; Elizabeth White aged 64 Mother occupation Housekeeper; Charles White aged 33 Brother occupation Manufacturer in 'Line'?; Richd Wilcox 43 shows occupation as Landholder. Address 25 Upr Belgrave Place.

Once I realized my error, I tried looking for an obituary, from which gives a little more detail, a place of residence, her father's name is possibly George.

Times Newspaper Archive database
The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Apr 12, 1859; pg. 1; Issue 23278.

In the Ancestry database: UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946 -Richard Wilcox is shown in 1826 in Parson’s Green as carpenter.

Also on Ancestry's passenger lists:

Curiously, there is a passenger list record for an M. Wilcox shown as born 1832, aged 26, female and American leaving Aspinwall, Panama to New York in 1858 on the vessel Star of the West. Could this be the same Margaret? She does seem like an adventurous soul.

I'm not sure if I may ever find out the details behind Margaret's demise, as this research exercise was to somewhat satisfy my curiosity about a woman who travelled at 24 or 26 years of age. After all in the culture of the day, this was a spinster who appeared to be very independent. 

It would be a good line of research to next order her death certificate which may note an 'informant' and a few more details, ie: her parents' names. I did a quick search on the UK census for Richard with his son George, but no results were found. Perhaps the 'Friends of Brompton Cemetery' have more details around the burial and purchase of a headstone by Margaret's friends.

I hope that through my feeble efforts, Margaret may soon find her family.

Another of my articles about Kensall Green Cemetery, one of the 'Magnificent Seven' is A London cemetery: BLUMBERG, O'BRIEN and PERRY Families. I highlighted the work being undertaken by the heritage conservation team on some of the mausoleums. The organization is asking for help from relatives and there is a possible Canadian connection to Vancouver, B.C.

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

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