A lot of options: North Allerton, South Allerton, South Allington, Alvington, Aller, Northallerton in Yorkshire.. and none of these increasingly unlikely options can be definitively ruled out.
So, to William’s father Elias; could he be the keystone in this mystery? Well, I had hoped he might, for quite some time. Now I only find Elias to be a nuisance as great as his son.
Will the real Elias MORTIMER please stand up?
In the 1841 Census of England and Wales, William, Johannah and their four daughters all appear. This little ray of hope I was very thankful for, given that many of my family branches had left England and Ireland long before this important opportunity for tracking had materialised. In the Census return however William and co are shown to be living not in Devon or Winchester, but St. Leonards, Sussex. Why were they there?
According to the Census, Johannah and her daughters were all born in Sussex. ARGHH!!
Given that civil registrations had begun in 1837, there was a chance that Willy and family were among those who did the right thing and had their children registered where born in 1837 and beyond. BZZT, wrong. Or at least, I haven’t found the right record yet. It was probably too much to ask for, especially since only one daughter (Mary Jemima) could possibly have fit into the required time frame. Bugger! (yes, this is yet another one of those important technical terms used in genealogical research).
So far, Parish records have turned up little, although that might have something to do with being limited by distance and to Familysearch.org and the few other scraps of viable sources that venture forth onto the Weird Wild Web.
Having done a search for the name Elias MORTIMER in as many sources as I could find, I’ve come across several individuals who I thought might potentially be a brother to William and son to Elias and only one early enough to qualify as the man himself (c1761 North Bovey, Devon). It’s going out on a limb to draw links between Elias and his namesakes, but Elias isn’t exactly the most common name, and it never did appear to have been a common one, so what could it hurt to check? Interestingly, the candidates live only in: Devon, Sussex and further a field in Wales. They do occasionally appear listed as MORTIMOR or MORTIMORE, but then so does William in both his daughters marriage certificates and in Sydney Morning Herald marriage notices.
Searching for MORTIMER and BLACKALL candidates has so far proved fruitless in English results. In Australia, it’s been slightly better record-wise, but not by much. I know that William and family were living in Dixon Street, Sydney, not long after establishing themselves in their new country. I am familiar enough with Dixon Street today. It’s the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, and somehow I don’t think trees dripping in gold and guardant dragons clutching spheres are what the MORTIMER family had come to know in their day.
Australia had been both cruel and kind to the MORTIMER family. Late in life, William was described as a gentleman of Independent means, whilst on the other hand, Johannah had fallen pregnant a further three times, in 1843, 1846 and 1848, with none of those children surviving their first year.
Starting in 1850 and on through onto 1854, all four of the surviving MORTIMER children grew into womanhood and married. Matilda, the eldest daughter married James MARSHALL, a mystery man from Manchester in 1850. Johanna married in 1851 and then again, moving to Queensland with her husband William LANGFORD. Harriet married in 1852 and remarried in 1861, finding herself with her husband Austin ABBOTT in the thick of the California gold rush, settling in Tuolumne County. Finally, in 1854 Mary married Simon ONSLOW, and the pair lived variously in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales.
This wild and unkempt early branch of my family had an adventurous spirit and a grand touch of wanderlust. They ventured from one side of the Earth to its antipodes and explored many points on the Australian map in the ensuing generations. It annoys me that I cannot as yet dig further back into their and my history, but as is the case with any good genealogist – I love a good challenge.