Finding Helen

I decided to take a break from my Mays family this weekend. I love them, but they’re migraines waiting to happen. Researching the Mays family gives me the same feeling I get after I’ve taken a dose of Benadryl. Like I’ve got a head full of fog.

When I got started, I just typed in Helen Menzies at FamilySearch. She’s one I have information on but I still wasn’t able to find her after she left the family house between the 1841 and 1851 England censuses. I know from William Menzies letter that Helen/Ellen was married to a man named Charles, who traveled, and she had more than one son.

I found this record on FamilySearch and it matches beautifully!

What I like about this record:

  1. I like that it shows the use of the name Ellen. Helen seems to have gone by that name on a day to day basis in her adult years.
  2. I like the husband’s name of Charles. For some reason the Scott also sounds familiar but none of my records show anything for that so I’m not going to put stock in that one.
  3. Liverpool, England as the place of marriage. The Menzies family spent a lot of years in Liverpool. It makes perfect sense that Helen would have been married there.
  4. Father listed as John Menzies. Helen’s father is John Menzies! It would be more extraordinary if John had a more unique name but I like that John matches.
  5. Birth year of 1833. I have Helen’s birth year to be around 1832 because of her entry in the 1841 England census.

What I don’t like about this record:

  1. I don’t like that the mother isn’t listed. I indexed British marriage records for FamilySearch though, so I know that they don’t show the mother on the record. What they do show is Father and father’s occupation. If I look at the microfilm and find Sawyer listed as John’s occupation, I’ll be 100% convinced.
  2. I don’t like the date of 1853. Helen isn’t living with her parents in the 1851 census, so where was she?

The next obvious step was to look at the 1861 census which would have been the first after Helen and Charles’ wedding.

What I like about this record:

  1. Helen’s birth year and birthplace. I have a Christening record for Helen in Morton by Thornhill, Dumfries, Scotland. So this fits perfectly.
  2. Jane as the name of the oldest daughter. As per the Scottish naming patterns I posted about previously, this fits perfectly. Helen’s mother’s name was Jane Ferris-Menzies.
  3. James as the name of the oldest son. If you look at the marriage record above. James Scott is listed as Charles’ father. This also fits in with the naming pattern.
  4. John as the name of the second son. Again, the naming pattern fits. John was Helen’s father.
  5. Believe it or not, I like that Charles isn’t listed on this census. I know that sounds weird but from William’s letter, I got the impression that Charles was away from home for business a lot. In 1863 he was away from home when one of his sons passed away. So his absence fits in with what I know about the family. It would also make sense if the 29 year old John Scott is Charles’ brother and is living with the family while Charles is gone.
  6. Living in a suburb of Liverpool. Again in William’s letter, he mentions that Helen lives in Liverpool and he wants to visit her or have her come to him.

What I don’t like about this record:

  1. There isn’t anything I don’t like about this record. It’s all very helpful!

Another thing about this census record, it shows that Helen’s 2 older children were born in Liverpool and her youngest in Scotland. The 29 year old John Scott is also listed as being born in Scotland. If he is really Charles’ family, then this would make sense on why they followed the Scottish naming patterns so closely.

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