Monday, May 27, 2013

William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales

I attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City this year, and while I was there I ran over to the Family History Library to put in a little research time.  I enjoy going to RootsTech, in part, because of its close proximity to the library.  When I need a break from the classes, I can simply run across the street and get lost in my research.  This post describes one of my finds during one of these quick visits.

My 3rd great grandfather, William Perry immigrated to the United States sometime in 1819, if his obituary in 1904 is accurate.  I suspect it is accurate, as all of the other information the family provided in other records has always been accurate.  William always maintained he was born in Wales.  In fact, there is one census record where he must have been asked his place of birth and he said Wales, but the census taker wrote England.  You can see where England is crossed out and Wales is written just above the crossed out England.

I have a pretty complete picture of William Perry's life from his marriage in 1838 to his death in 1904.  His death record lists his date of birth as 24 Nov 1815 and place of birth as Wales.  Both parents names are listed as 'unknown'.  I always seem to come up with those death records that list parents names as unknown.  This is basically where my search for William's parents ends.  Until now.  

William's first 22 or 23 years seem to be a mystery.  I am not sure where he lived or with whom.  According to the same obituary I mentioned earlier, he didn't arrive in Michigan until he was 19 which would place his arrival circa 1836.  I have had good luck in tracing William's children and have even managed to find living descendants of most of them.  Sad to say, William's name has long been forgotten in family tradition.

The Family History Library has access to along with all of the parish records contained there.  I searched for William Perry b. 1815 plus or minus 2 years in Wales and almost fell out of my chair when the baptismal record below appeared.
This is the baptismal record for William Perry, son of William and Sophia Perry, baptized on 14 Jan 1816 in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  Assuming this is my William, he would have been under 2 months old when he was baptized.  Looking at the parish register, it seems they were baptizing children within two months of birth (some of the children had births or age, in days, listed).

So, how can I link this record of a William Perry being baptized in 1816 to my 3rd great grandfather who lived most of his life in Michigan?

I have three pieces of evidence, none of which are direct proof.  I'll let you decide if I have enough evidence.

First - William always maintained his 'Welshness'.  The above baptismal record is the only record I have found to date that matches my William Perry.  I double-checked the parish death records for William Perry and his death is not recorded.  There are no other birth records for this couple in Merthyr Tydfil or in Wales for that matter.  Maybe FindMyPast does not have all of the parish records for Wales uploaded yet - I will keep monitoring this in the future.

Second - Naming patterns strongly suggest this couple.  My William Perry marries Sarah Ann Fox in 1838 in Michigan.  Sarah descends from a German Palatine family in New York.  Both the Germans and the Welsh have strong naming patterns for their children.

In both naming patterns, the first male child would be named after the father's father, the second male child would be named after the mother's father, the first female child would be named after the mother's mother, and the second female child would be named after the father's mother.  

I have already verified Sarah Ann Fox's parents as Joel Fox and Mary Forbes.  And William Perry and Sarah Fox do name children Joel and May.  I have listed all of their children in the table below.  This list comes from William and Sarah's family Bible.   

Children of William Perry and Sarah Ann Fox:

Named for
James C. Perry

Henry W. Perry

William Lester Perry
Father's father
Joel E. Perry
Mother's father
Mary E. Perry
Mother's mother
Alfred E. Perry

Sophia A. Perry
Father's mother
John Edwin Perry

It appears to me like they had a modified naming pattern.  The first two boys do not fit the naming pattern, however, there does appear to be a naming pattern.  I guess what really stands out to me is that they do indeed name a daughter Sophia and this is their second daughter so, in theory, would have been named after the father's mother.  And Sophia is such a rare name.  I had always suspected Sophia would be the name of William's mother - I just hope I'm not shoe-horning the record to fit my prejudice.

The third piece of evidence I will save for my next post.  It is circumstantial to say the least, but it involves a family tradition fragment that just happens to fit nicely into this Welsh family...    

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