Frances Croft (1796-1884)

This work is part of my ongoing effort to identify repeatable patterns – of research and data – and build a tool to make genealogy easier. As I research my own tree, I’m documenting not only my discoveries but the process I followed in order to make important discoveries. These are being incorporated into GEDScope, which will eventually be open to everyone to use.

I’ve been researching the Appleyard family – my immediate maternal line – from the Old Clee, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England area where, as far as I’ve found, they lived starting around 1663.

My 4th great-grandparents, Amos Appleyard, Jr. (1793-1869) and Frances Croft (1796-1884), lived in the Old Clee area their entire lives. They had as many as ten children, with son Henry (1821-1906) immigrating to Orillia, Ontario, Canada sometime in his fifty’s.

Holy Trinity Church (now Hull Minster), Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire, England, where Amos and Frances were married on 29 July 1818. Photo by Tom Adamson Photography

Of Amos, I have his paternal line traced back to the 1500’s, and my 10th great-grandfather, but I knew little about Frances. All I had of her, pre-marriage, was a record in the England & Wales, Christening Index, 1530-1980 listing parents Michael and Mary Croft.

I started with Michael Croft, doing a search on Ancestry, but with only a name to start with the results were poor, returning the one I’d already found on Frances christening, and one for the death of Mary, their four year old daughter.

I took what I knew, that Frances was christened in Clee, Lincolnshire, England, and filtered the results. The first new match was for a Michael Croft in 1851 England Census. Promising.

Census, 1851 England

William Kirman, 25, Head
Mary Kirman, 30, Wife
Henry Kirman, 4, Son
Sarah H. Kirman, 18 mo, Daughter
Michael Croft, 83, Grandfather

The name William Kirman sounded vaguely familiar, so I searched through my tree and found a match: a William Kirman (1826-1669), married to Mary Croft Appleyard (1820-1871), the daughter of Amos Appleyard and Frances Croft.

The ages from the census were close matches to the birth dates I had for the Kirman family. And as census records often are, prone to small error; Michael Croft would be the grandfather of Mary, not William, and father of Frances.

Armed with an estimated birth year of 1769, I filtered the found records even further and found a record for Michael Croft in the England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, with a baptism date of 16 March 1769, in “Clee Old, Lincoln, England”, to parents John and Ann Croft. From there, I was able find that he was one of eight children, married Mary Petch (1769-1846) in 1794, and died 10 Aug 1854.

The digitalized records that Ancestry.com and others rely on are often incomplete or poorly transcribed, so it’s always worth checking the image itself. In this case, it allowed me to discover both William Kirman and his grandfather-in-law were fisherman, a not uncommon profession in Grimsby in those days.

From knowing nothing of these 5th great-grandparents, a very brief search of existing family trees reveal several new family names to add to my research: Sherratt, Wilkinson, Baldock, Carnell, Petch, Nainby, and Odlin.

But wait, there’s more! I discovered that Michael’s grandfather was William Croft (1703-1756). William had a daughter, Sarah (1721-1798), who married a Thomas Appleyard. The son of Thomas and Sarah, Amos Appleyard Sr. (1750-1813), is father of my 4th great-grandfather, Amos Jr.

I need to do more research on Thomas Appleyard and Sarah Croft, but pending any major revelations, it looks like Amos and Frances Croft were second cousins. Historically-speaking, not an unusual circumstance when people generally did not travel far from where they were born and lived in small communities.

One nitpick with the available research tools: while they’ll show you what your relationship is to an ancestor, they don’t let you see the relationship between any two individual ancestors.

“We are…a series of dodged misfortune.”

In the end, I found that Michael Croft (1769-1854) and Mary Petch (1769-1846) had four children; Frances was the only one to survive beyond childhood. Thankfully, Frances lived a life full of love, and her descendants have spread far and wide across the globe.

Headstone of Frances Appleyard née Croft, Holy Trinity & St Mary the Virgin, Old Clee, Grimsby (Old Clee Church), England.

A better wife never lived.
A kinder mother never died.
Her memory fondly in our hearts shall rest.
Loved while on earth in heaven forever blessed.

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