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Sunday, 1 June 2014

52 Ancestors #20: John Tillen (1815-1891) Devon, England and Ontario Canada - Is he an Ancestor?

This is the 20th post in my 52 Ancestors series.

On Friday I saw a tweet (follow me @jofullcircle) that Find My Past had added some Devon parish records as part of their 100 in 100 days promotion. I wasn't expecting much but on the offchance I did my usual search for TIL*N.

Full Circle Family History 52 Ancestors #20: John Tillen (1815-1891) Devon, England and Ontario CanadaI was unsuccessful in 3 of the datasets but the Devon Marriages produced a result for John Tillen in 1858 in St John's Church,  Sutton-on-Plym, Plymouth.

So, I took down the details added the names to my database and checked for duplicates - none appeared. The next thing I did was to search the 1861 Census records and found John, with his new wife Martha (nee Phillips) and their son Frederick William all living in Plymouth. Interestingly John's birthplace was given as Beenham, Berkshire - suddenly I was sure there must be some sort of connection to my main line of Tillins in Berkshire.

On the marriage record it showed John's father as William but I still couldn't tie him into any of the William's on my main tree. So I looked at the christening records on Ancestry and found a christening for John Tillin, son of William and Martha Tillin, in 1815 in Beenham. I was sure it must be him so now I knew his mother's name too.

I looked at my tree for any William's of approximately the right age and I found one. William, son of John Tillin and Elizabeth Bernard, was born in 1788 so would have been about the right age to have a son in 1815. He had also been baptised in Beenham in 1788 so I was sure that he was my man but couldn't prove it.

Marriage records will prove it I thought!

So I hunted in the marriage records for a marriage between a William Tillin and a Martha and there was only 1 - William Tillin married Martha Phillips in Sulhampstead Bannister on 23rd August 1812 but it's only a transcription and it doesn't note the name of the Groom's father so I can't be 100% sure that it's the right William so for now the link is a dotted line. If I ever get a chance I will try and look at the actual parish record to see if there's any more information on it - however, I'm quite convinced that they are the William and Martha who are the parents of John Tillen I found marrying in Devon. But how strange that father and son married women with almost identical names???

I've not had a chance to do a lot more research but it appears that John's son Frederick died in 1861 not long after appearing on the census. By this time the couple had another son Henry John. The next time I found the family (also including a daughter Alice)  was in 1869 on the ship Cleopatra heading over to Canada where I believe they spent the rest of their lives and appear on the 1881 census.

I found John on a few Ancestry trees and it seems like he died in 1891 but this is a detail I need to confirm.

I wonder if I'll ever find out if there is a connection and that John is my children's 1st cousin 7 times removed?

Devon marriages (£) on
England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906 (£) on
Berkshire Baptisms (£) on
Berkshire Marriages (£) on
Public trees on

(Sorry, I've only used sites I have to pay for this week (£) - will try to add a few free ones in next time!)

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