View Full Version : Who was the mother of Barnabas Downer?

28-08-2014, 11:35 AM
Barnabas must have been born about 1817-1820. No record of his baptism has yet been found. (I have searched the IGI.) When he married in November 1841, he was stated to be 'Full age', i.e. over 21. The ages given in the census returns from 1841-1901, indicate that he was born between 1817-1820. He was 84 when he died on 27 March 1902.

In census records it is stated that he was born in Carisbrooke (1851, 1861) or Chillerton (1871-1901). Carisbrooke is one of the large ancient parishes of IW and includes the settlements of Bowcombe, Billingham and Chillerton. So he has been quite consistent.

He states on his 1841 marriage certificate that his father was Daniel Downer. (I have a copy of that cert.) I have not got a copy of the second marriage certificate (1889, Maria Dyer, widow), when he wed as widower.

At the time of his 1841 marriage he could not write. He 'made his mark' with a large 'X'. His bride, Eliza, could write and signed her name. The Daniel Downer who was his father could not write: he 'made his mark' with a large 'X' on the certificate. (And the Daniel Downer of my researches also could not write: he 'made his mark' with a large 'X' when he was discharged from the Royal Waggon Train in 1819 and in the register when he married Elizabeth Upton, at St Dunstan's, Stepney, in 1821.) I think this lack of literacy links the two men.

Note that in the marriage register (1821) Daniel is a bachelor and Elizabeth a spinster. In 1822 and 1827 there were children born in Kent (Bromley/Beckenham); BUT in 1825, 1831, 1834, and 1837 children were born on IW and christened at Godshill. My guess is that Barnabas may have been a pre-marriage child of Daniel and Elizabeth.

Barnabas and 'my' Daniel never appear together in a census. From 1841, 1851, and 1861 Daniel and family are in Kent. In the June 1841 census - taken before his marriage that November - Barnabas seems to be living with this group of Downers on IW, HO107/407/6:
John Downer 50 ag L
Hannah Downer 45
Daniel Downer 25 ag L
Barnabas Downer 20 ag L
Jacob Downer 15 ag L
Mary Downer 13

The 1841 census does not give relationships and rounds ages. As a a working adult, he may have stayed on IW when Daniel and family moved back to Kent. I do not know. I desperately need to find the missing mother. :banghead:

Help, please! Who was Barney's mum?


Note: There are some mis-informed family trees in the public domain on Ancestry, and possibly elsewhere, that give a different father who was not called Daniel. (Obviously, creators of those spurious trees have not seen the 1841 marriage certificate.)

28-08-2014, 2:49 PM
I'm not sure how good the IGI coverage of the Isle of White is, but have you also looked to see what the freeReg coverage is?

28-08-2014, 3:15 PM
"Wm Cooley, Andrew Downer and Barnabas Downer were brought up refusing to go home at midnight, from Carisbrooke to Gunville, when they were intoxicated, and for being noisy and saucy; they were fined; Wm Cooley 8s 6d (had been in gaol for a week), B Downer and Andrew Downer, 17s 6d" (source Hampshire Telegraph 20 Feb 1847)

28-08-2014, 8:58 PM
Hi both, and thank you....

IGI is patchy for IW. The batches covering Carisbrooke are EO60111 (which will be mixed christening and marriages, I believe) and M060111 (marriages). Unfortunately, there is no Barnabas in either. Godshill is slightly better (E059961 and M059961); that is where I found Daniel's christening. So IGI's not very helpful.

FreeReg index Hampshire and IW together, because they were a single unit - ecclesiastically and administratively - for centuries. When it comes to transcriptions, mainland Hampshire does quite well, but there is not much - anything? - for the IW parishes of interest. So, for this, FreeReg is no help whatsoever.

I have now come across a tree on Tribal Pages, which has Downer amongst the names but I believe I will have to contact the owner to get proper access. It might be of interest because a Barnabas Downer is listed as born 21 September 1817 at Carisbrooke. That would be just right! However, I need to know exactly where the info came from.

Thanks for the newspaper snippet, helachau. Yes, I've come across it before and think it might well be 'my' Barnabas. Trouble is there are several large families on IW called Downer, with individuals called Barnabas or Daniel. 'All' I've got to do is match them up in the right time-frame and background. (For instance, one Barnabas rules himself out because he was a 'glut tidewaiter', a sort of proto-customs officer, so would - I think - have been able to read and write.)

I'll let you know if I get anything helpful from the contact with Tribal Pages.


29-08-2014, 8:55 AM
I've had a look for the other names mentioned (Wm Cooley, Andrew Downer) and drew a blank.
Checked wildes.net/hampshire/carisbroke.htm which specifies that Carisbroke registers are on the IGI (1572-1837)

List of IOW Parish Registers (microfilm) (the link on "wildes.net....." is broken)


29-08-2014, 10:11 AM
I think if I were you I would obtain the second marriage certificate of Barnabus to confirm that his father was indeed a Daniel and that a mistake was not made on the first marriage certificate. The only Barnabus DOWNER I can find in the 1841 census is the one in Northwood, Hampshire where he is resident with a John & Hannah DOWNER. Also resident with John & Hannah is a Daniel DOWNER who could be the witness at the marriage of Barnabus & Eliza. The death registration of Barnabus DOWNER in 1902 puts his date of birth as c1818.

Have you noticed the baptism in Ancestry's Select Births & Christenings of a Barnabus DOWDNER on 21 September 1817 (born 1 September 1817) at St Mary's Carisbrooke, parents John & Anne DOWDNER (presumably the John & Hannah in the 1841 census record). This birth/christening record for Barnabus DOWDNER fits in very well with the information on the death registration for your Barnabus.

All the way through the census records, I can only find one Barnabus DOWNER (or variants) and although Ancestry Select Marriages have quite a few DOWNER marriages about the time of that of Barnabus & Eliza, there are no others with a father shown as Daniel but several with the father shown as John.

None of this is definitive I know, but mistakes have been made on marriage certificates before and as Barnabus presumably could not read or write sufficiently well to sign his marriage certificate, he would not be able to verify the information.

Anyway, perhaps further food for thought for you.


29-08-2014, 10:08 PM
Just lost a long post that I was going to preview :sad::sad::sad:. Finger must have slipped on the touchscreen. Sorry. Sorry. Hopping mad with myself. Oh, why can't a post be saved in draft as it is being typed (like Google Docs)??? :confused5:

Will try again tomorrow.


30-08-2014, 3:58 PM
I think it is an excellent idea to check the 1889 marriage certificate (Downer/Dyer)and am hoping to get it done via a look-up through IWFHS. Meanwhile here is a scan of the 1841 Downer/Hendy marriage certificate:

The Downers come into the IW line through my late father-in-law. I knew from him the names of his parents and have checked marriages back by getting the certificates:
1901: Frank Cooke/Annie Louisa Hayter. Frank's father was Henry Cook(e).
1863: Henry Cook/Charlotte Downer. Charlotte's father was Barnabas Downer.
1841: Barnabas Downer/Eliza Hendy. Barnabas's father was Daniel Downer.

I have been able to trace the family groupings through the censuses. These have revealed that the menfolk were agricultural labourers and their families moved around for work, edging ever nearer to Newport as the depression of the 1880s started to bite. Then they started to do different jobs and one, Frank (see above), became a miller.

A search for a Barnabas Downer tree on Ancestry produced over 11,000 possibles. And, no, I have not looked at them all! Running the eye down the parents'names in the right-hand column shows that John/Ann(e) are the clear favourites, but there is one that is Daniel/Unknown. I took a look at a few of these trees, but on the whole they do not descend meaningfully from my Barnabas - one or two names and multiple muddles. It's a mad, mad world up there in TreeLand.

Now I will wait for the info on the second marriage certificate. Hopefully, it will show whether the name 'Daniel Downer' on the 1841 certificate was truly a clerical error. Or not.

Thank you to everyone who is taking an interest in this and all the useful suggestions.


13-10-2014, 3:17 PM
It has been a frustrating time but the mystery is finally solved, with help from Jan. Thank you :hurray::hurray::hurray:!

Indeed, the baptism for 'Barnabus Dowdner' must refer to my man Barnabas Downer, because it fits in every way. I now have a GRO copy of his 1889 marriage certificate, on which he states that his father is 'John Downer':


Barnabas says that he is 66, which is a bit out, but I have come to expect that from this chap. And as he 'made his mark' in 1889, it looks as if he never really took to readin', 'riting or 'rithmatic.

So, on the 1841 census, he was in fact living with his parents - John and Hannah (Ann) - and some of his siblings. I have traced, through the IGI, these children for John and Ann Downer, all baptised at St Mary's, Carisbrooke: John, 1809 (but baptised with a brother in 1815); Charlotte, 1812; Daniel, 1815; then my Barnabas, 1817; Andrew, 1820. There seem to have been at least two other children: Jacob, c1826, and Mary, c1828.

I have to conclude that some error was made with the 1841 marriage certificate - either the minister simply got names muddled and nobody checked; or perhaps it was mis-copied on to the quarterly return to GRO(?). I do not think we will ever know.

And because of that mistake, I have assiduously researched the Daniel Downer who served in the Royal Waggon Train - no moans, because it has been an interesting exercise(!). In fact that Daniel was a younger brother of the John Downer who was the father of Barnabas, which makes him Barney's Uncle Dan.

Well, I am now going to give this line a rest. Thank you all very very much for all your help with the problems thrown up by a clerical error made so many years ago.


14-10-2014, 10:34 AM
Brilliant and what a great result! Errors do occur. I have in my direct line the baptismal register of twins which gives their father's name as Edward and the same twins when they were buried a day or so later as the children of John, the latter being correct. Luckily one of the names of the twins was relatively uncommon so I know they are the same children!