One of my biggest “brick walls “ is my 3x great grandmother. I’ve been on her trail for ten years now and yet she still remains elusive. Although I usually write about my ancestors by starting with their births, I can’t do this with Esther Elizabeth Turner as I have been unable to locate her birth details.
So – what do I know about her? She was the wife of my 3x great grandfather, John Mason.
Beginning with her death and working backwards, the known facts appear to be as follows:
1889: Esther Elizabeth Mason died on March 2nd, 1889, aged 56. She was the widow of John Mason, a jeweller. The cause of death was given as “gout 30 years” and “cerebral softening 7 months”. Her son, John Thomas Mason (my 2xgreat grandfather), of 89 Northcote Road, Battersea, was the informant.
1881: Esther E Mason (aged 48) was living with her son John Thomas Mason, and his family at 3 Shalcomb Street, Chelsea. Her occupation is given as “formerly jeweller” and her birthplace as “Suffolk, Hintlesham”. John Thomas Mason is a 26 year old manager of a jeweller’s; he is married to Catherine and has one daughter, Kate E, aged 2. All of this fits with other information. So far, so good.
1873: John Mason, Esther’s husband died of fatty degeneration of the heart. He was only 43, a jeweller of 82 Wigmore Street, London.
1871: Esther, John and their children (John,16; May, 14; James, 13 and Esther,7) were living in the household of Mary Cross, a widowed silversmith aged 56, at 82 Wigmore Street. Mary is the head of the household and John is described as her brother, whilst Esther is her sister in law. I’m not sure that these relationships are correct as we would understand them; I need to do some more research into the Cross family. What I have discovered about them so far will be the subject of another post as they appear to be an interesting bunch!
1861: I haven’t yet managed to find John and Esther in 1861. Their children (John, 7; Elizabeth, 5, and James, 3) appear to be living at 3 Edward Street, Marylebone with Mary Emma Cross, a widowed jeweller aged 40.
1857: On 12th August Esther Elizabeth Mason, formerly Turner, wife of John Mason, a shopman, gave birth to James Edward Mason at 3 Edwards Street, Marylebone
1856: On June 29th , Mary Emma Turner Mason was baptised at St Stephen’s, Hammersmith. She was the daughter of John Mason , coachman, and Esther Elizabeth Mason, of Acton Vale
1854: On 31st July 1854 Elizabeth Mason, formerly Turner, gave birth to a son, John Thomas Mason. His father was John Mason, a coachman, and the address given is 6 Pleasant Place Uxbridge Road. I’m fairly sure that this is Esther Elizabeth as everything else fits – but I may be wrong….
1853: On 31st August 1853, John Mason, a gentleman from Fleet Street, married Esther Turner, the daughter of Thomas Turner, a farmer, by licence at the parish church of St Dunstan’s West, London. Again, I’m fairly sure that this is the right couple. John’s father was stated to be William Millington Mason, which fits with other information. I doubt that he was ever a “gentleman”, though!
I have no confirmed sightings of Esther Elizabeth Turner before 1853. Where did she come from? What was she doing in the 20 years between her birth in 1833 and her marriage in 1853? The two censuses on which she appears give her birthplace as Suffolk (in 1871 census) and Hintlesham, Suffolk (in 1881 census). Suffolk Record Office have searched the Hintlesham records for me but have found no trace of her. There are several clues as to her identity which I’ll unravel in part 2 of this post, hopefully by next week.
In the meantime, if you know anything about her or have any ideas please get in touch!