Pat's great-grandmother, Emma Ann Howard, is the link to this family which has been one of the most difficult to trace and unravel with unexpected name changes, convoluted family relationships, missing or incomplete records, disappearing and reappearing people and an apparently bigamous marriage. I sometimes wonder if I am confusing two separate families, so this remains an explanation of work in progress rather than a family narrative.

The starting point is the information from Emma's birth and marriage certificates as follows:

Birth Certificate
Name — Margaret Emma Ann Howard
Place and DoB — Smithy Fold, Hyde, 27 April 1852
Father — Squire Joseph Howard, factory hand
Mother — Mary Ann Howard, formerly Ward

Marriage Certificate
Name — Emma Ann Howard
Age and residence — full age and this parish
Father — Joseph Howard, weaver

The first surprise was the name “Margaret” which appears nowhere else, not even at her baptism almost a year later in February 1853 at St George's, Hyde, where she was plain “Emma Ann”, as she was at her wedding, but it does offer a clue as I will come to later. As aside, the date of birth given at her baptism was also slightly different, 22 April 1852.

Starting with the census information, she is the even plainer Emma Howard aged eight in 1861 living with her mother, Mary Ann, younger brother, John William, and her aunt and cousin, but there is no sign of her father, Joseph either in Hyde or elsewhere. This problem is compounded by the 1871 census in which both parents are apparently omitted in error. In fact, I cannot find any documentary proof of Emma living with her father until 1911 when he was 78 years old, but more of this later.

Working backwards, there was a Squire Joseph Howard baptised at Mottram St Michael in on 18 April 1828, the son of Joseph and Ann, but this doesn't quite fit with the 1911 information, that he was born around 1832/33 in Compstall. The village was founded in the 1820s by George Andrew and the local church, St Paul's, did not open until 1841, so many of the church records are to be found at neighbouring churches including Mellor, then in Derbyshire where there was a Squire Howard baptised on 30 December 1832, son of Joseph and Mary Ann.

Joseph and Mary Ann Howard appear on the 1841 census in on Compstall Road, Ludworth, Mellor with Joseph who had presumably been christened Squire. This is where the clue mentioned above comes in. Also living there was his older sister, Margaret who had been baptised “Margaret Emma Ann”, as apparently was his daughter more than 20 years later.

By 1851 the family was living on Norbury Street in Hyde where Joseph Snr had given up agricultural labour for work as a cotton spinner. An unexplained fact is that his wife, Mary Ann, gave Bristol as her place of birth, as she did in 1861 and a surname or marriage has yet been found to speculate as to how this came about. Also why there should be a group of musicians from all parts of the country should be lodging with them!

By 1861, Joseph Snr and Mary Ann were living alone, still in Hyde on Raynard Street. Joseph was now a brewer which how his daughter Margaret referred to his occupation when she married the much older John Greaves at Cheadle St Mary in 1856. I have yet to find further reference to Joseph and Mary Ann which is unusual as the Cheshire BMD site has a comprehensive database of deaths.

To deal with Margaret at this point, she was living in Edgeley, Stockport when she married and later in Stalybridge before returning to Stockport as a widow by 1891 where her daughter, Emma, was a schoolmistress. Again I have no record of the family beyond this point as yet.

Returning to the younger Joseph “Squire Howard”, I have not found a census record for him in 1861 and 1871. Working from the certificates above, Joseph married Mary Ann Ward at Mottram St Michael on Christmas Day 1851 some four months before Emma Ann was born. The couple appear to have had just four children between then and 1865 when Mary Ann would have been around 30 years old and then no more which seemed odd. I had wondered if perhaps Joseph had died, even though I could find no record to support this. This seemed to borne out when Mary Ann married again in 1876.

Her marriage to William Whitehead at St Mark's, Bredbury, in 1876 doesn't help. Both are described as being of full age, so do not help corroborate their identity and while William was a widower, Mary Ann said she was a spinster and used her maiden name, citing her father as George Ward. The 1881 and 1891 census records show her living with her were children, Mary and John, and later her grandson and Emma's eldest son, James Henry Ridgway Howard.

The difficulty arises with the reappearance of Joseph Howard as Charles Ridgway's father-in-law in 1911. There appears to have been some confusion over his marital status at the time as can be seen from the extract right. He is first described as “married”, then this is crossed out and replaced with “wid”, only for this to be ruled out and “married” marked in red so there could be no mistake. (Click image for larger version)

But where had he been all those years? The only other possible reference is in the 1901 census when a 68 year Joseph Howard, born in Compstall was a widower “living on his own means” in Salford with Elizabeth Whitworth who described him as her cousin. I have traced her back to her marriage to her marriage to Dixon Whitworth, she then being Elizabeth Wadsworth, but as far as I can tell, she and her parents were originally from Brighouse in Yorkshire.

Frustratingly, there is as yet no further record of Joseph beyond 1911 and thoughts on where he might have been earlier would be sheer speculation at this stage. Had he left the country and his family behind him, as had another gg-grandfather, Isaiah Molesdale? Sadly Joseph did not have such an unusual surname to be anything like certain, but someone of the right age and sharing his name sailed from Liverpool to Boston on 9 March 1874 aboard the SS Batavia! (See the ISTG site, entry 19)

Other Children of Joseph Howard Snr
There there were two other children baptised at Mellor with Joseph Howard as their father, namely Levinia and Sarah. In both cases, the mother was Mary, rather than Mary Ann, and there is as yet no other evidence to confirm the connection with the family, but they are included here as if there is for completeness. The suspicion is that both died in infancy.

Mary Ann and the Ward Family
Mary left several clues to her past: her father was George Ward according the 1851 marriage record; she had been born in Manchester from the census returns; she had a sister called Emma from the 1861 return and; an uncle named Thomas Handford from 1871. (This also suggests that she was the head of the household, although she and Joseph are missing from that return, as noted)

There was Mary Ann Ward baptised at Manchester Cathedral in July 1834, the daughter of George and Elizabeth Ward. The couple appear to have had six children between 1825 and 1837, including Emma, baptised in May 1837. This suggests that this is the correct family. But where did Uncle Thomas fit in?

There was a George Ward baptised at Manchester Cathedral in May 1791, son of William and Elizabeth Ward. Later, there was a Mary Ann Ward in July 1797, daughter of William and Martha. It is possible that William married twice and that George and Mary Ann were half-brother and sister. Mary Ann in turn married Thomas Handford at Glossop in October 1816, not unusual given that Thomas was from Mellor. (There were two Thomas Handfords baptised at Mellor in early 1794)

Thomas and Mary Ann appear in Hyde in 1841 and again in 1851, the latter living at Smithy Fold where Emma Ann was born a few months later. Mary Ann died in 1859 with a recorded age of 59 according to the Cheshire BMB. This would rule out the 1797 birth if accurate, although her given age in 1851 was 53 which would have been correct. I have yet to find Thomas in 1861.

A family tree outlining the suspected relationships can be downloaded as a PDF here .

Returning to the younger Mary Ann Ward, it is possible that she is the six year old Mary Handford living with Thomas and Mary Ann in 1841. By 1851, she appears to be lodging with the Hirst family on Fernaley Street. But the key question is whether her marriage to William Whitehead was knowingly bigamous or not? The Bredbury St Mark records may help, although the detail is not necessarily as full as it might be, as noted from Emma's marriage to Charles Ridgway above.

Other Children of Joseph Howard Jnr
Of Joseph's other three children, I have only made progress with the youngest, Joseph. By 1881 he was living in Dukinfield with his mother and step-father. He married Jane Meakin at St Mark's, Dukinfield, in July 1885 and the couple appear to have lived at 33 Taylor Street throughout their married life. They died within a year of each other, in 1937 and 1937 respectively.

They had five children and of these two died young, Joseph in infancy and Elsie at the age of 15. The eldest, Robert, married Mary Alice Twist at St Mark's in 1911 with his sister Emma as one of the witnesses.

Margaret Emma Ann Howard
Emma Ann, as she was always known, married Charles Ridgway at St Mark's Church, Bredbury, in 1871. There is more about the family on the Ridgway page, but their eldest son, James, was born illegitimately and suffered confusion throughout his life as to whether he was a Ridgway or a Howard.

He was registered as James Henry Ridgway Howard in December 1870, but baptised as James Henry Ridgway, son of Charles and Emma, at Hyde St George in October 1871 even though his parents did not marry until a month later. On the census returns he was James H R Howard in 1871, but James Ridgway thereafter.

By 1891 he was a coal miner living with his grandmother, Mary Ann, in Dukinfield. James married Mary Jane Walker in 1893 at Christ Church, Ashton, and it is symptomatic of the naming confusion that his father is recorded as “Charles Rid Howard”. He had a daughter, Alice Ridgway Howard, and died in 1906 at the age of 35. He is buried at Christ Church, Ashton.

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