Notes on the HART and WARD families – from Castle Church and Seighford, near Stafford

During the last week I’ve been looking at the HART family (on the SWAIN side of my family tree), who come from the area around Castle Church, and Seighford, near Stafford. I began by reviewing some records that I got from during their weekend of free access last month. Then, when I started searching for more information on-line, I found 5 family trees on different websites, which all appear to cover the same HART family. But each tree is a bit different!

Some of those differences are due to different focuses, on different lines or branches of the family (which is fine). But some of the differences are clear contradictions; giving different parents, or spouses, or dates of death, etc.! So I’m not sure which tree to most believe!

Here are links to two individual profiles in each tree, to start comparing;

(These two profiles are each very similar in all five trees. But as you explore out from them, into the wider family you’ll begin to see the differences! Some of the difference is in the scope of each tree, which is fine. But some are clear discrepancies, which probably stem from different assumptions being made by different people about the evidence from available records, or from people having access to different sets of records/sources.)

John HART [v], b. 1734, d. 1787, m. Hannah MARTIN

Image ©2014

Thomas HART [iv], b. 1766, d. 1839, m. Elizabeth (CAPENHURST). Son of John HART (above)6generation_ancestor_chart_braces

I’ve made attempts to contact/e-mail several people who appear to be responsible for these trees or the details that they contain, in the hope of getting more details and a better understanding of the trees, and the sources of their information. But so far I have only had an initial reply from one person, and I’m hoping to hear more about the sources of their information.

Due to this lack of contact, I thought that I should write about it here; about what I know and where I think the links are; to provide “cousin bait” in the hope the some people who are in the know about these trees will find this post and make contact to provide more information and confirm (or dismiss) the connection that I think I’ve made!

A common source for several of these on-line trees appears to be a book titled “Abraham and Lucy Hart; their lives”, by Joyce E. Neill, published in New Zealand in 1981 (75 pages), which I would be interested to know more about. What does it say and what are its sources?

All I can do for now is post what I know, and where I think the link is, in the hope that someone will see this and be able to fill in my uncertainties by contacting me.

Most of the information that I have, comes from my Great Uncle, David SWAIN. He has previously sent me the following details about his paternal grandmother (my 2x Gt-grandmother [ii]), Ellen HART (1846 – 1938);

Ellen was born on the 25th of August 1846 in the Parish of Silkmore- Castle Church Staffordshire. Her Father Charles HART was a well known Coachman her mother Ann (nee WARD). Ellen married James Christopher SWAIN on the 6th march 1870. At this time she was living at Green Hill Worcester.

As my memory serves she was quite a small lady and I am sure was the strength of her family as James appeared to spend much time away on business. She had nine children over a period of 14 years from Allen in 1871 to Nellie in 1885; five boys and four girls.

In 1901 census (James died in 1900), she and her family were living at 6 Avon Street Leicester, and the 1911 census shows she and six of her children were living at 315 East Park Road leicester.

When we visited her she lived with her son Arthur Harry in his house ‘Darvel’  129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester. How long she had lived there I do not know.

Ellen died at this address, on the 10th march 1938, aged 91, and was buried in the family vault in the Welford Road cemetery, Leicester, on the 14th march.

When I searched on FindMyPast last month, I found a census record from 1851, for the young Ellen HART and her family, living at “Rising Brook”, in Castle Church. It shows;

  • Charles HART, head (Ellen’s father), age 48, a farm labourer, born (cir.1802-03) in Seighford, Staff. (I believe the 1861 census gives his occupation as a “Coachman”. But FindMyPast appears not to have indexed the 1861 census correctly, to find him! )
  • Anne HART, wife (Ellen’s mother), age 41, born (cir.1809-10) in Stafford.
  • Mary WARD, mother-in-law (Ellen’s maternal grandmother), age 75, in receipt of Parish Relief, born (cir.1775-76) in Bushbury, Staffordshire (now in Wolverhampton).
  • John WARD, father-in-law (Ellen’s maternal grandfather), age 74, formerly a Cordwainer (shoemaker), born (cir.1776-77) in Bushbury, Staffordshire.
  • John HART, son (Ellen’s brother), age 18, a Cordwainer (shoemaker), born (cir.1832-33) in Stafford.
  • Martin HART, son (Ellen’s brother), age 15, a Labourer’s son, born (cir.1835-36) in Castle Church.
  • Ellen HART, son (Ellen herself), age 4, a Labourer’s dau., born (cir.1846-47) in Castle Church.1851_census_crop-1_charles-hart_castle-church_stafford

On the following census page, two “niece”s (Ellen’s cousins) are also named;

  • Anne PADMORE, niece (Ellen’s cousin), age 8, a Cordwainer’s daughter, born (cir.1842-43) in Stafford.
  • Emma PADMORE, niece (Ellen’s cousin), age 1, a Cordwainer’s daughter, born (cir.1849-50) in Stafford.1851_census_crop-2_charles-hart_castle-church_stafford

I also found an 1881 census record, which I believe is for the same Charles HART (Ellen’s father), at 4 Copes Buildings, Stafford. The Copes Buildings lay between Eastgate Street and South Walls, in Stafford. The area was demolished in 1964, and a Police Station now occupies the site. See .

Charles is a widow, aged 78, and brother of Matilda PARKER (his older sister), who is also a widow, age 81, born (cir.1799-1800) in Seighford, Staffordshire. Also in this household is Matilda’s granddaughter, also called Matilda PARKER, age 16, a machinist, born (cir.1864-65) in Stafford.1881_census_crop_charles-hart_stafford-st-mary

There are death records (which I have yet to confirm), of the right ages, for “Anne HART” in 1869, and “Charles HART” in 1885.

With these census records, I then went looking on FindMyPast for marriage records. I found the records for Charles HART and Anne WARD, married at St Mary’s, Stafford, on 27th December 1830, and (I think) for Anne’s parents; John WARD and Mary DANFORD, married at St Mary’s, Stafford, on 27th January 1800.marriage-record_charles-hart-ann-ward_1830_st-marys_staffordmarriage-record_john-ward-mary-danford_1800_st-mary_stafford

I also turned to to help me identify records. Here I believe I’ve identified Anne’s birth record;

  • Ann WARD; b.16/11/1809, chr. 19/11/1809, at St Mary’s, Stafford.

I’ve identified a number of children christened at St Mary’s, Stafford, to parents “John and Mary WARD”. But I’m not sure that they’re all the same family! There appear to have been more than one “John and Mary WARD” in the parish at the time! From about 1812, the “father’s occupation” is recorded in the transcribed register. One entry records the father’s occupation as a “farmer”, 2 as a “labourer”, and 2 as a “shoemaker”. It is likely (but by no means certain) that these are 3 (or more) different families! With the earlier records it is impossible to tell!

  • Thomas WARD; b.26/8/1801, chr. 6/9/1801.
  • William WARD; b.3/5/1804, chr. 6/5/1804.
  • Ann WARD; b.16/11/1809, chr. 19/11/1809.
  • Edward WARD; chr. 21/4/1813, . (father’s occupation; farmer)
  • Abraham WARD; chr. 9/7/1815, . (father’s occupation; shoemaker). Abraham was buried; 8/2/1816 – 7mths – at St Chad’s, Stafford.
  • John WARD; chr. 22/12/1815, (father’s occupation; labourer)
  • Francis WARD (M); chr. 4/6/1817, (father’s occupation; shoemaker)
  • William WARD; chr. 3/3/1819, (father’s occupation; labourer)

When I turned to the HART side, I found on records of 14 children christened to “Thomas & Elizabeth HART”, at St.Chad’s, in Seighford, dated between 1796 and 1811, including Charles HART, chr. 24/1/1803, and Matilda HART, chr. 3/4/1801. Initially I wondered if this was really possible! So many births, so close to each other (many are 13 month, or less, apart!). Maybe there were two couples with the same name in the village (two cousins called Thomas HART, living in the village, would not be unexpected!). But the HART family trees that I’ve now found on-line appear to confirm that this one couple had a total of 18 children between 1796 and 1814.

After the FindMyPast free weekend, I put these records aside for a while, until last week when I began to look at them again. This led to me doing some more general web searches for the HART family, which is when I began to find the on-line family trees that I mentioned at the start of this post. One tree identifies the maiden name of Charles HART’s mother as “Elizabeth CAPENHURST”. All identify Charles’ paternal grandparents as John HART and Hannah MARTIN.

Some of these trees go back another two generations. But they don’t all agree on the details of who the earlier generations were! At least 3 trees cite a book titled “Abraham and Lucy Hart; their lives”, by Joyce E. Neill, published in New Zealand in 1981 (75 pages), as one of their sources. Abraham appears to be a younger brother of my ancestor Charles HART, and is one of two brothers who, after marrying in England, emigrated to New Zealand and, it would seem, had large families out there.

If you’re reading this and know more about this HART family, and about the sources which any or all of these on-line trees are based on, I would be interested to know. I want to understand what evidence these trees are based on before I fully recognise any of them as part of my family tree. Please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.wordle-swain-1-2017


14 thoughts on “Notes on the HART and WARD families – from Castle Church and Seighford, near Stafford

  1. Hi I am also a Hart Descendant and have also found had the same problem with contradicting information. There seems to be two Thomas Harts married to Mary or Miriam Dale both married 1731 and seem to have the same named children.


    1. D Thomas here again. I have requested through my Library to receive a copy of the book “Abraham and Lucy Hart; their lives”, by Joyce E. Neill. My ancestor was Richard a brother of Abraham and they traveled to New Zealand with their families on the Lord Auckland arriving February 1842.


      1. Sorry I’ve not replied sooner! Great to hear that you’re able to get hold of a copy of the Abraham Hart book. It sounds like its available from libraries in New Zealand. But in the UK, I can’t see how I could get hold of it! I haven’t found anything more about it on-line! I would be interested to see what Joyce Neill’s book says, particularly about those early generations of the Hart family in Staffordshire, UK, and to know what her sources were.


  2. Hi I tried to get a copy through my library but neither museums or library’s that had it would loan it to another Library especially one in another country. My mother managed to get a photocopy through a Hart cousin which I am borrowing and looking to have copied. I have just started reading it so when finished I will be able to answer any questions you will have. It seems that most of these books are created for family reunions and only family members wo attend the reunions are able to purchase copies at that time.


    1. Is there any chance that you could e-mail a copy of it (or parts of it) to me, perhaps either by scanning, or photographing it? What I’m most interested in, initially, is what (if any) evidence is there to show that “Thomas & Elizabeth HART” in Seighford, really were a single couple who had (by some counts) 18 children within the space of 20 years.

      Based solely on what I’ve found transcribed from the parish registers (via the IGI), and from other people’s on-line trees which don’t point to any other original evidence, my doubt is that could this be two (or more) couples with the same names? I don’t want to assume that its one couple without having more evidence. 18 children within 20 years is quite mammoth and rather unusual. But there might be other evidence/records to prove/support this, which I have yet to hear of!

      I want to better understand the evidence behind these trees in order to prove the connection into my family tree. I think that one of “Thomas & Elizabeth Hart’s” sons, Charles Hart, b.cir. 1802-03, is my 3x Gt-grandfather.


      1. Hi I now have an original copy offered to me by Picton Museum. Where are you? I am in Australia.


      2. I’m in the UK.
        Its been a while since I’ve had a look at the Hart branch of my family tree. I’ve been busy exploring other parts of my family tree, and have learnt new approaches to searching and finding additional details, which will no doubt help when I do turn to look again at the Hart tree.


      3. I can go over the book again to see what is relevant to what you are after. Most of the book is in regards to the initial marriage and migration and life after that but I do have the other information from an aunty that she got from contacts in the UK who I did try to contact but the emails were mostly rejected due to accounts no longer being active. Do you mean Thomas Hart and Elizabeth ? of Littleworth, the family records do show them as having 18 children and one was Charles born or baptized 24.01.1803. If you have an email address I can see if I can attach the scanned book and email it to you.


  3. Hi I have now also managed to get hold of an original which I still have to pick from New Zealand which I visit next. I also scanned a copy from the copy but the pictures did not come up that great.
    There was not a lot of the earlier family history which was what I was looking for also as this is where the discrepancies seem to start. It was more to do with Abraham and Lucy once married then immigrating to New Zealand and what happened from there. I have received some family tree info on CD’s from 2 of my aunt’s which includes a lot of records from the UK from contacts possibly family members there and I am still working my way though it all. It is easy to get distracted and head off in a different direction and find yourself with the weekend gone. I am trying to focus on a direct line and once that is done then maybe branch out.
    Regards from a long distance so many times removed cousin

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello all.

    I’ve just run across this information in my research for a friend who is a member of the Hart family.

    Unfortunately there probably isn’t a great deal I can contribute at this point, since I expect my sources will be much the same as yours. However I too have been wanting to see what Joyce Neill had to say, and thus wondered if there was any possibility you could email that to me? Sadly Joyce has passed and I can find no way of purchasing said booklet from any descendants of hers…

    Otherwise, in case it’s of interest, I understand Joyce also edited a journal written about a relative’s voyage to New Zealand. This was entitled “Plum duff and cake : the journal of James Nichols”. It’s unclear to me if it would contain anything more about the Hart family than her booklet about Abraham and Lucy, but perhaps someone will know?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Ivan I have a copy of the book you mentioned but its been awhile since I have done anything regarding the family tree. I have read a diary of a fellow traveller on the Hart brothers migration to New Zealand. I found it online. It certainly sounded like it was a rough voyage. I managed to get two copies of Abraham and Lucy Hart their Lives by checking with Trade Me a New Zealand version of ebay. You should check it out.


      1. Thank you for responding.

        I did look at that auction site but unfortunately there wasn’t a copy
        available – hence reaching out here in the hope that someone might have
        it electronically.

        Regarding the voyage; I’d found a couple of records, one being some
        excerpts from the surgeon’s diary (Samuel Lidbetter, who attended Lucy
        Hart), and the other being around 15 pages from one of the passengers

        Are you particularly interested in New Zealand, or UK history? There are
        some useful historic books on Staffordshire that give some insight into
        how things would have been for the family circa 1700-1900…


  5. D Thomas (and others).

    I did reply to your message that arrived by email, but I’m not certain if you got it or not as I may have done something wrong.

    Anyway, my apologies for being unfamiliar with how this site works, but I wanted to check as neither of our messages appear here, so I thought I’d try posting a reply:

    Regarding Joyce Neil’s book, I’ve tried a number of sources, including Picton mentioned by Dayle above, and the online site you mentioned, but have yet to have any success. Hence reaching out here in the hope someone might have scanned it?

    I also enquired about your particular interest (UK and/or NZ?). I have a little land history for New Zealand that mentions various members of the Hart family, a couple of relevant excerpts from logs of their voyage to New Zealand, and some general reference data re the UK, should that be of interest.



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