Monday 15 September 2014

Life is full of surprises - A Follow Up

In March of this year Arthur Flounders Brown kindly shared the results of his family research in 'Life is full of surprises',  as a result of that Paul Gray got in touch with us to tell us the result of his own family investigations which turned up a link with Arthur. Paul explains in his own words:

Hello, my name is Paul Gray.

I read Arthur Flounders Brown's story “Life is full of surprises” with great interest, please allow me to explain why.

A few years ago I became interested in my family history. At the outset I knew of only one great great grandparent called Sarah Jane Smith.

I discovered that her husband Thomas Smith (1856-1935) was a farmers son born near Stape. Thomas alternated between farming and ironstone mining resulting in his family living at many places around the moors, Rawcliffe, Loftus, Saltersgate, Rosedale and finally at Great Ayton.

Luckily for me Sarah Jane's granddaughter had a box of family photo's which had been passed down from Sarah Jane. Amongst the photo's of the Smith family there was one of an old man wearing a dishevelled railway uniform but his identity was a mystery.

Further investigation revealed that Sarah Jane, the youngest of ten children, was born near Levisham in 1858 and her maiden name was Harrison. Her father Charles spent his working life as a labourer and plate layer on the Newtondale railway line. This identified the old gentleman in uniform as my GGG grandfather Charles Harrison. I put together a good record of Charles's life going back to 1851 but I was unable to find much information about him prior to that date.

Now we come to the Huttons Ambo connection.

I knew that Charles was born in Westow in 1816 and the fact that his first three children where born in Huttons Ambo between 1840 and 1843 strongly suggested that he should be there in 1841. He had a wife Sarah and young son William but I found no sign of them. Neither could I find any birth or baptism records for Charles Harrison. Charles was missing and the trail had gone cold.

Eventually after much fruitless searching I noticed a family in High Hutton closely matching Charles's family but with the surname Hepton. A few doors away was another family of Hepton's which looked likely to be his parents and siblings. If I was correct then Charles's parents were William and Charlotte Hepton but there was a problem. I had reliable information that Charles's father was called John and this potential father was called William. I gave up on this line of enquiry for a while but eventually returned to it. I noticed that Charlotte's daughter Emma Hepton was calling herself Emma Harrison from 1851 onwards, despite being unmarried, this was intriguing and supported the idea that she was the sister of Charles Hepton/Harrison. Investigating Charlotte I discovered that she did not marry William Hepton until 1843 and her name on the day of marriage was recorded as a Harrison and also that her mother was called Mary. I was now feeling confident that I had found my GGGG grandmother Charlotte Harrison.

I discovered that William Hepton's first wife, Jane Walker, was the daughter of a John Walker. Jane gave birth to a son John Walker Hepton in 1794 only four months after her marriage to William. John Walker Hepton, being the same age as Charlotte, is possibly the father of Charles Harrison. With the Walker surname in mind I discovered that Charles Harrison was baptised in Westow as Charles Walker, his mother named as Charlotte Walker.

It was at this point that I found “cousin” Arthur's very interesting and informative article which gave me the links between John Walker, Mary Harrison and their daughter Charlotte.

So I believe that my GGG grandfather Charles is the eldest son of Charlotte. He was baptised as a Walker in 1816, recorded as a Hepton in 1841 and called himself Harrison in 1851.

I am still hopeful that I may discover the identity of his father. If he turns out to be John Walker Hepton then that might explain why Charlotte did/could not marry him.

Paul Gray

As before, if you can shed any more light on this story or any of our other requests for family history information, please get in touch either via email  to 'updates' at or the website contact form and we'll be happy to put you in touch.


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