The quest to discover Elizabeth Matson’s parentage has been rather convoluted to say the least. Until recently I was working under the false premise that Elizabeth had been born the illegitimate child of one Susannah Matson, a theory I no longer believe to hold any weight whatsoever.
And why had I been so convinced of this?
It’s quite simple really – and not very clever of me. For me at least, the reason I clung to that train of thought is because the census records put Elizabeth’s place of birth in Warwickshire. And Stretton on Fosse is in Warwickshire. Never mind that Warwickshire is a big county. I was so desperate to find her in the records that when only one Elizabeth Matson appeared in the correct timeframe and in – what I thought at the time – the right place, it had to be her.
The problem came of course in the fact that Elizabeth’s marriage certificate puts her father down as Robert Matson, solicitor.
There is a Robert Matson, solicitor, who has moved around the country a lot, presumably on business, but I have never been able to find Elizabeth mentioned anywhere in relation to him. In the 1841 census Robert Matson is living in Worcestershire with his wife Charlotte (Elizabeth’s marriage is witnessed by a Charlotte Matson) and five children. Elizabeth isn’t one of them. I’ve had trouble locating her on the 1841 census (there is an Elizabeth which could be her but as she is not living with her family it is hard to be sure).
There’s no denying that Elizabeth is connected to this family (presuming of course that I have the correct Robert Matson, solicitor, which I believe I do) due to the facts presented on her marriage certificate. I had attempted to explain this by theorising that Robert was a brother or close relation of Susannah’s which is why Elizabeth put him down as her father. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t just think, “Maybe I have the wrong baptismal records.” Sometimes you get so caught up in your own excitement and preconceptions that you don’t see the wood for the trees. At least that’s how it was for me.
The oldest child living with the family in 1841 is Charlotte Matson, born c.1824, and only the other day I came across Charlotte’s marriage announcement in the newspaper archives. It states that Charlotte is Robert Matson’s second daughter. This means obviously that there is a first daughter who is not listed on their 1841 census entry. Elizabeth was born c .1822 which makes her a prime candidate for this elusive daughter.
Finally – and you can take it or leave it – Robert Matson’s mother’s name was Elizabeth. I think it makes absolute sense for his first daughter to be named Elizabeth after his mother, as his second daughter was named Charlotte after his wife, and his first son was named Robert after himself.
Elizabeth’s birth records are still unaccounted for and I fear we may never locate them but I stand by my assessment on Elizabeth’s parentage. I believe it makes perfect sense.
Of course, you’re free to disagree and I welcome your thoughts.