Monday, December 5, 2016

Saturday Challenge- MRUA: Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings challenge this weekend was: 
Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number on your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name. 

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed? 

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

For this challenge I go to a 3-great grandfather (that is my great, great great, grandfather). This most recent MRUA would be Mary Ann (Blackwell) Ward’s father. Who was the mate of Ann Blackwell? Was she married before she married Henry Winterburn in 1838 when daughter, Mary Ann was ten years old? It is doubtful there was a prior marriage at all.

It is unlikely that we will ever be able to resolve this question unless DNA turns up the answer. According to Mary Ann’s baptismal record in 1829 in Akeley, Buckinghamshire, England, she was “baseborn” and no father was identified.

Baseborn is an old term used during this time period in England. It means, simply that the child was born out of wedlock. We have no record of a prior marriage for Ann either. It is therefore, a logical conclusion that she had not been married prior to marrying Henry.

On Mary Ann’s death certificate her parents names are difficult to read, but are thought to be George Winterburn and Nancy Winterburn. The informant, although not listed, is likely to be her oldest living son, John Ward. Nancy was a common nickname during that time period for Ann, so that makes sense on her mother’s name. She likely went be this nickname. Henry in the English records could easily be Henry George or George Henry or perhaps, John remembered the first name completely wrong. What seems to be most telling in this entry is that she talked about her mother and stepfather to her children. Also, that she considered her stepfather as her father. This could indicate simply a deep affection for him, or perhaps, deeper, he was her father and for some reason couldn’t marry her mother for many years. From the records that are available to us, we will never know which is the correct possibility.

As I mentioned, earlier, the resource that is most likely to provide any answer is a DNA test. One of Mary Ann’s descendants matching to a Winterburn descendant other than that of her half-siblings would create the likelihood of Henry/George Winterburn being her father.

Of course, there is the possibility as well that there were two Winterburn men either brothers or cousins. One could have been her father and one her stepfather. There are a number of possibilities looking at this one family, not to mention, that it could be somebody completely different and not on any record connected with her. This is the reason that I don’t expect this person to ever be identified. For myself, I’m going to figure that Henry/George Winterburn was her father of the heart if not of blood and leave it as a blank on the official chart of that family.

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