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In Search of Stanley

Discussion in 'Comments on the latest newsletter' started by macsal, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. macsal

    macsal New Member

    In the latest Newsletter we were challenged to find out some further information about Henry Morton Stanley.

    Here is his baptismal entry 19 Feb 1841 and as you can see, he was indeed described there as 'Bastard'.
  2. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I also found this baptism record, and I notice that both parents are named and their 'abodes' are given as Llanrhaiadr and Castle. To me the father's name looks to be Rowland without an s. In the 1841 census, there is a Rowland family in Llanrhaiadr headed by John Rowland (55) with son John (25), and in Castle (in Denbigh) there is a family headed by Moses Parry (60). But the infant John isn't with either of these families, nor is his mother Elizabeth. I haven't found either of them in 1841, nor a clear birth registration for John. In 1851, I found him in the work house at St Asaph as per the Wikipedia entry.
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's common to see an illegitimate child described as a bastard or base-born in a baptism register, but I've never seen it on a birth certificate.
  4. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    The link in macsal’s post leads me to the ‘asking for money’ page in FMP and I do not want to subscribe just to see somebody I am not related to.
    The entry for the baptism in Ancestry does not have an accompanying image, likewise FamilySearch.
    A screenshot of the baptism register would have been nice to have.

    There is a plethora of information about Sir Henry Morton Stanley online.
    This is an extract from one website:
    Born 28 January 1841 in a cottage which used to stand within the precincts of the castle, Denbigh, son of John Rowlands and Elizabeth Parry, daughter of a Denbigh grazier and butcher — he was christened in the church of Tremeirchion, near Denbigh, according to D.N.B. (but at the church of S. Hilary, Denbigh, according to the Welsh memoir named below). His father dying in 1854 when the child was but two years old and the grandfather (John Rowlands, Llys, Llanrhaeadr) declining to become responsible for his care, he was looked after by relatives on the mother's side, the mother having, in the meantime, gone to London to service (and later marrying). Maternal uncles arranged for a married couple who lived within the precincts of the castle to look after the child who, when he was about 6, was deposited in S. Asaph union workhouse.

    Citation for the extract:
    Davies, W. Ll., (1959). STANLEY, (Sir) HENRY MORTON (alias ROWLANDS, JOHN) (1841 - 1904), explorer, administrator, and author. Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved 16 Oct 2019, from this

    The more I read the more I discover differing accounts of the age when his father died and other details such as his mother's abandonment of him, which may or may not have occurred..

    I have spent several hours poring over accounts of his life and looking for records and am of the opinion that the words 'birth certificate' in Wikipedia should read baptism record.

    There is a family tree in Ancestry belonging to user Steamerpoint who appears to have done very extensive research into Mr Stanley but there is no birth record attached.

    Elizabeth Parry in the 1841 census for Denbigh, her address is Castle and she is living with her parents and sibling. Her father Moses's occupation is farmer. The image is faint and her name looks like Elle but it all ‘fits’.

    I have used Ancestry, GRO Online and FamilySearch to look for registration of either John Parry or John Rowland(s) and drawn blanks each time, however:

    In the GRO Online Index there is a John Rowlands registered in the D quarter of 1841 in PWLLHELI UNION with mother’s maiden surname of Parry, the registration district is incorrect so maybe a coincidence, but questions arise in my mind.
  5. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I read the name as 'Ellen' so thought it was Elizabeth's sister, but whilst I found Elizabeth Parry's baptism in Denbigh (bapt. 2 Jan 1821, born 30 Dec 1820, parents Moses and Elizabeth nee Roberts), I can't find a baptism for an Ellen Parry at the right time/place with father Moses. So you are probably right that it is Elizabeth with her father and siblings in 1841. But where is John? It's a mystery.

    I agree this does raise a question. However, if it is the right John, why would he have been registered over 9 months after he was born, in a place over 50 miles away? It looks to be a different Rowland(s)/Parry pair to me. There are also births of Henry Rowland and Richard Rowland in Pwllheli in 1st qtr of 1839 with mother's maiden surname Parry, who could be twin sons of that couple.
  6. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    I did ask myself that question but stranger things have happened.

    I didn't think to look for further Rowlands births with mother's name of Parry, sounds like it is the wrong record as I guessed it might be.

    I have found a statement that his legal name was John Parry, however it is not accompanied by any proof.

    There is a possibility that the birth was never registered, the poor little mite was passed around from pillar to post, it seems his parents didn't want him and neither did his paternal grandparents. In all the toing and froing registration of birth was probably the last thing on anybody's minds.

    Peter's challenge was for somebody to find the birth registration and prove that the word bastard was not in the birth cert. I don't know about anybody else but I've failed!
  7. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    A search on FreeBMD for John Rowlands 1841 in Denbighshire brings up an entry for a John Rowlands Sept qtr 1841 St Asaph 27 201 . This entry has two postems

    08/03/2013 There is some possibility that this is the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, but this is far from certain, should be looked at further.

    17/08/2017 This in indeed explorer and journalist Henry Morton Stanley, the man who located David Livingstone in Africa. He was abandoned soon after his illegitimate birth and took his new name from an American family who later cared for him.

    But when this entry is searched for in GRO the mothers maiden name is Davies. Just goes to show that we should never jump to conclusions, however tempting it might be.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    There is an entry in the GRO birth index as follows:

    GRO Reference: 1841 D Quarter in SAINT ASAPH UNION Volume 27 Page 205

    Again it is in the wrong quarter of 1841 but at least it is the right registration district. As his maternal grandmother's maiden name was Roberts, could Elizabeth's father or mother have registered their grandson as their son? Such a thing would not be unheard of.
  9. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    according to all the reading I have done, his maternal relatives looked after him for a while (timewise it gets hazy here) and in about 1857 he went to Liverpool to stay with an aunt.
    I looked at the birth record in Ancestry because it also gives a list of possible other records.
    I selected the 1861 census and found John Parry age 20 born in Denbighshire, brother-in-law of the Head who is Michael Parry born in Denbighshire.

  10. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In England & Wales there's no such thing as a 'legal name' - you can call yourself anything you want. But I doubt this is true in other countries - hence the number of times such statements are made. It might be referring to the name under which he travelled to America.
    According to Wikipedia John (Rowlands) emigrated to the US in 1859, where he fought on both sides in the Civil War.
  11. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    I have also found 1859 in the Brittanica biography, i believed the 1861 census because I had seen that he was in Liverpool from 1857 to 1869 which I now think was a typo.

    sorry Helen7
  12. Jean999

    Jean999 LostCousins Member

    No one seems to refer to his naturalisation certificate dated May 1892, where he was requested to be re-naturalised following his naturalisation as a US citizen in May 1865.
  13. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's likely that a lot of the information about his early life came from his autobiography, so won't necessarily be backed by any hard evidence.
  14. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I didn't look for him in the 1861 census as I'd read that he'd emigrated in 1859. But the more I think about it, the more I think that the birth registration I mentioned earlier (John Roberts Parry, mms Roberts) is likely to be Moses Parry registering his grandson as his son. What do others think?
  15. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's possible, but there were other Parry-Roberts marriages in Denbighshire in the years leading up to 1841.

    On the other hand the only John Roberts Parry baptism in the Denbighshire baptisms record set at Findmypast is in 1897 (and there are none in Flintshire, part of which is also in the St Asaph RD). However it's not unusual for there to be a discrepancy between the birth and baptism registers - indeed, there would need to be for this to be right entry!
  16. Jean999

    Jean999 LostCousins Member

    This becomes more of a mystery the deeper you dig. On Ancestry you can find marriage banns in Dec 1837 for a John Rowlands of St James Parish, Toxteth and Elizabeth Parry of Denbigh. But I can not find record of a marriage.

    I do, however find the possible marriage between John Rowlands and Elizabeth Davies in Dec 1837 in St Asaph registration district. There is a transcription error of 17 instead of 27, so it takes the skill of experienced Lost Cousins members to find the correct partners in this marriage. The surname Davies rings a bell with the surname found in some birth records.
  17. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Well spotted! Here's the marriage, and whilst the bride's surname is Davies her father's surname is shown as Parry:

    Copyright Welsh Archive Services - used by permission of Findmypast
  18. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    This is probably the birth index entry that Jean was thinking of:

    GRO Reference: 1841 S Quarter in SAINT ASAPH Volume 27 Page 201

    A quick check shows that Findmypast only have one John Rowlands baptism that fits - it's the one where the parents are shown as John Rowlands and Elizabeth Parry. But that John Rowlands was a farmer, not a mason.
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Has anyone found John Rowlands farmer on the 1841 Census?
  20. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Yes, the John Rowland (aged 55) in 1841 in Llanrhaiadr that I mentioned in post #2 was listed as a farmer. The reference is HO107, piece 1402, book 12, folio 10, page 12.

    Also in the household is a John Rowland aged 25 who I had assumed was the father of Elizabeth Parry's child.

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