July 6, 2014 by auntkatefirmin
Well, I was right and I was wrong about Harriet the wife of cow-keeper Thomas Hall, who I now believe is Harriet Blackford baptized in Swindon in 1792. I was right that the name Dorothy and the surname Sylvester were important clues in confirming the family of Harriet. I was wrong in guessing Harriet was a native of London or Northamptonshire – but you’ve got to start somewhere!
Honestly, I never would have made the connection if not for a distant cousin who was trying to track down a Mrs. Firmin mentioned in a letter of 1859. The long and the short of it was that she tracked down my Firmin tree on ancestry and sent me a note. Neither of us has been able to find the marriage of Harriet to Thomas Hall but at least we both have a few more clues. Many thanks to Liz – collaboration solves mysteries!
What got me excited right away was that “her” Harriet had a sister Dorothy who married a John Sylvester in Shoreditch in 1812 and “my” Harriet had a daughter named Dorothy Sylvester Hall born in 1817. I’m still working my way through the evidence but I have no reason to believe we’re looking at two different women named Harriet despite the fact that there are other Harriet Blackfords out there and we mostly have indirect evidence linking Harriet Blackford to Thomas Hall.
In the future I hope to post about the two Dorothys, the life of young Harriet and how she came to London from Swindon, the Blackford family and St. Leonard Shoreditch, Harriet’s ancestors – well let me say there is no shortage of topics.
To conclude, persistance can pay off! Tracking down those slim references (like the Boyes family in the will of John Firmin) can lead to richer pictures of family networks. Exploring the details of Harriet’s brothers and sisters netted me the signature at the head of the post, a little relic of a woman who didn’t leave many traces.