Family Names

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Martha's Convict Connections - hiding the truth

Martha Carbis is my 3 x great grandmother.  On her Australian death certificate it states that her father’s name was Richard Carbis and his occupation ‘mariner’. Her Mother‘s name was Ann maiden name unknown.[i]   Martha married my 3 x great grandfather John Bassett  in 1812 in Paul, Cornwall.[ii]
As death certificates are not a reliable source of information, other clues were sought to verify Martha’s parent’s names. On inspection of the Banns entry it was noted that one of the witnesses on the Banns was a Daniel Drew.
Further research was then conducted to try and find a Carbis man who married a woman whose maiden name was Drew. Eventually a William Carbis who married an Ann Drew was located.[iii]  Amongst their children was a Martha Carbis who had the same year of birth as my 3 x great grandmother.

William Carbis and Ann Drew had five children, all were baptised in the Paul Parish Church
  1. Ann Drew CARBIS 14 Nov 1784[iv]
  2. William Carbice 10th May 1789[v]
  3. Martha CARBENCE 7th October 1792[vi]
  4. Martha CARBIS 5th October 1794[vii] (my 3xgreatgrandmother)
  5. Richard CARBIS 17th August 1797[viii]


 
Figure 1 Steve Rigg, The Parish Church of St Pol de Leon, 2005.   Source Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 13 September 2016. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/34895 © Copyright (CC BY-SA 2.0) 

The idea that my 3 x greatgrandmother Martha’s father was William Carbis rather than Richard Carbis is supported by the following 3 points: 

1.       The change of her father’s Christian name was an attempt to hide family Convict connections.
A family story through the generations was that one of the early Bassett brothers (which generation this concerned was not clear) was charged for horse stealing in Cornwall but managed to escape to France/America and was never caught. Following this lead led us to look for some evidence of criminal activity.
The real story turned out to be much more interesting than the family legend after all.
In an article that appeared in The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser   on the 7th April 1815 and another in the Royal Gazette on the 22nd April 1815 it appears that William Carbis  was involved in sheep stealing.
William Carbis, sen., William Carbis jun., and Francis Bassett, (a father, son and son-in-law), were indicted for stealing two ewe sheep belonging to Miss Borlase, of Madron, in December 1812
"The bill" was found by the Grand Jury in the Crown Bar during the Lent Assizes in 1813. However the proceedings were suspended as the accused had absconded. According to a report in the "West Briton & Cornwall Advertiser", when the constables went to arrest them they were unable to execute their warrants, as all three men had gone to sea. 
Figure 2 Richard Croft, Aerial view of Paul and Mousehole, 2010. Source Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 13 September 2016. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1961122 © Copyright (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Based on the newspaper story we were able to link Martha with her family as demonstrated below through their connections with William Carbis (in the newspaper referred as William Carbis sen.)  and his five children with his wife Ann Drew the 3 connections are confirmed.
It is hard to know if this was her father’s first foray into criminal activity. Martha was married 9 months before this event took place  and perhaps the shame was so great for Martha that she changed her father’s name, using her youngest brother’s first name to conceal her relationship? The white lie helped to distance hers from her father’s misdeeds (?). Once in Australia people were unaware of the families criminal and convict connections and only a vague tale of horse theft remained attributed to no-one in particular as a small reminder of what had been left behind. 

2.       Naming Patterns of the times as explained below were common practice between 1700 and 1875. Both the Carbis and Bassett families seem to have used them as evidenced by certain names recurring down through the generations. By using these patterns in tracing back from the children of John Bassett and Martha Carbis it is quite possible that John’s fathers name is William Bassett and as confirmed Martha’s fathers name is William.
Naming Patterns 1700-1875[ix]
The first Son was named after the fathers father (Marthas oldest son is John)
Second son named after mothers father (Marthas second son is William)
Third son named after the father
Fourth son named after fathers eldest brother
First daughter named after mothers mother
Second daughter named after fathers mother
Third daughter named after mother
Fourth daughter named after mothers eldest sister
Exceptions to the pattern occur when the naming system produced a duplication of names.
In that case, the name was taken from the next on the list.
Another break in the pattern could be caused by a death.
If a child died in infancy, then the parents would name the subsequent new born the same name 

3.    The informant for the death certificate was not a family member, and would not have knowledge of the background of Martha Bassett nee Carbis. 

Based on the above evidence I have come to the conclusion that Martha’s parents were most likely William Carbis and Ann Drew of the Paul Parish, Cornwall.

Links
Learn more about Martha’s Ancestral family
  • ·         To see clippings of the baptismal records for the children Click here 
  • ·         To find out more details about Martha’s fathers life after being transported to Australia in 1816 Click here 

Edit History
  1. This article was originally published in Familytreecircles on 23 Oct 2007 at   (and was updated on 13/09/2016)
  2. A shorter extract was also published on my blog here on Saturday, 12 January 2013 

Sources

Images
Figure 1 - Steve Rigg, The Parish Church of St Pol de Leon, 2005   Source Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 13 September 2016. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/34895 © Copyright (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Figure 2 - Richard Croft, Aerial view of Paul and Mousehole, 2010. Source Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 13 September 2016. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1961122 © Copyright (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Documents


[i] Death certificate of Martha Bassett, died 20 march 1882, Registrar if Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, 1295/1882
[ii] FamilySearch, Marriage Banns for John Bassett & Martha Carbis, married 15 March 1812 St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Marriage banns, marriages, 1754-1813, Paul, Cornwall, Cornwall Records Office, Truro. Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 141 of 143, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11130-159580-8?cc=1769414)
[iii] FamilySearch, Marriage Banns for William Carbis & Anne Drew, married 29 September 1783, St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Marriage banns, marriages, 1754-1813, Paul, Cornwall, Cornwall Records Office, Truro. Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 65 of 143, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11130-158740-54?cc=1769414 )
[iv] FamilySearch, Baptism of Anne Drew Carbis baptised 14th November 1784, St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Baptisms, burials, Paul , Cornwall 1776-1812, Cornwall Records Office, Truro Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 13 of 82, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11597-137203-30?cc=1769414)
[v] FamilySearch, Baptism of William Carbice baptised 10th May 1789, St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Baptisms, burials, Paul , Cornwall 1776-1812, Cornwall Records Office, Truro Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 18 of 82 at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11597-140471-83?cc=1769414)
[vi] FamilySearch, Baptism of Martha Carbice baptised 7th October 1792 St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Baptisms, burials, Paul , Cornwall 1776-1812, Cornwall Records Office, Truro Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 21 of 82 at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11597-146403-25?cc=1769414)
[vii] FamilySearch, Baptism of Martha Carbis baptised 5th October 1794 St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Baptisms, burials, Paul , Cornwall 1776-1812, Cornwall Records Office, Truro Accessed 14 April 2015 ( image 26 of 82 at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11597-144620-24?cc=1769414)
[viii] FamilySearch, Baptism of Richard Carbis baptised 17th August 1797 St Paul’s Church, "England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010," Baptisms, burials, Paul , Cornwall 1776-1812, Cornwall Records Office, Truro Accessed 14 April 2015 (image 30 of 82 at https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DTJ7-DXZ?i=29&wc=3CBW-PYM%3A138123201%2C140206301%2C1582895306%3Fcc%3D1769414&cc=1769414)
[ix] Baxter, Angus. 1983. Tracing your origins: a complete guide to discovering your English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish ancestors. North Ryde [N.S.W]: Methuen Australia.. 

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