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Matching American and British Genealogical Records

One of the goals of a family researcher in the United States, a nation of immigrants, is to make the leap "across the pond" by confirming records regarding the same individual in both the United States and the country from which he or she emigrated. This is often one of the most difficult tasks facing Virginia genealogists because so many records have been destroyed by both invading troops and natural calamities. Indeed, Buckingham County, Virginia, is known as a "burned county" because so many records were lost due to multiple fires at its courthouses.

In the case of James Oldham Wharam, Virginia data consist primarily of census records and Confederate army records. The best key clues, as shown in the 1900 census, were that James Wharam told the U.S. census taker the following:

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His  middle initial is "O"

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He was born in 1837

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He came to the United States in 1849

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He was born in England

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His parents were born in England

This information was a start, but it was insufficient to locate a boy who ran away from home at age 12. In the late 20th century, none of his living descendants were aware of the name of his hometown in England. The problem in researching this family line is compounded by the fact that the name "Wharam" is frequently misspelled in both Virginia and England.

A "breakthrough" occurred in 1992 with the publishing of Lost Marriages of Buckingham County Virginia, drawn from a newly-recovered marriage register, 1854-1868 and from federal manuscript, newspaper and printed sources, transcribed and compiled by Randy Kidd and Jeanne Stinson, Iberian Publishing Company, Athens, Georgia. The main component of this book is a manuscript of certified copies (in compliance with a 1853 law that the County Clerk must annually transmit a copy of all marriage records to the State auditor of public accounts) of the marriage register, signed by the presiding Buckingham County Clerk. In 1869, a devastating fire at the courthouse destroyed all of the primary marriage and other documents. This surviving manuscript was a challenge for the transcribers. It was frayed, and linen tape used for repairs obliterated some listings. The handwriting was at times hard to read, and some spellings were phoenetic (with a Southern accent evident). Also, nicknames were frequently used (such as Patsy instead of Martha). The manuscript was not indexed, and some pages were incomplete. In the case of James Wharam, the record was clear. He had reported on his marriage certificate that was born in England and that his fatherís name was "John" and his motherís name was "Sallie." Every Wharam descendant owes a debt of gratitude to Ms. Stinson and Mr. Kidd for their work, as we would not likely know the origins of this Wharam family without this information.

Now what was needed was an English record showing John and Sallie Wharam and their son James. With the help of Mr. Peter Butler, a prominent British genealogist, the match was found in the "IGI" for England - the International Genealogical Index. A baptism record was referenced that matched John, Sallie, and James. Now all that was needed was to examine the source document and to correlate it with other English records, such as the census.

An Anglican baptism record was found in the office of the West Yorkshire Archives Service in Wakefield. Although Wharam is misspelled as Wareham (a common error), it shows James Oldham Wharam born August 7, 1837, baptized September 27, 1837, son of John (a clothier) and mother Sally Hinchliffe, living at Moor Lane, in the Chapelry of Netherthong, and Parish of Almondbury, in the County of York. The correct name for his mother is actually Sally (or Sallie) Hinchliffe Oldham. James Wharamís middle name, therefore, is his motherís maiden name.

On the same day, a cousin, Margaret Hinchliffe, was also baptized, daughter of Jonas and Margaret Hinchliffe, living at the next farm to the north, in Holmroyd Nook.

An Anglican baptism record of May 19, 1839 was found for a sister, Lydia Ann Wharam, daughter of John and Sally Wharam, who were living at nearby Burnlee at the time.

A Methodist baptism record dated September 12, 1841 was found for Elizabeth Wharam, daughter of John and Sally Wareham, born July 27, 1841, living at Moor Gate in Netherthong.

A marriage record was found for John Wharam and Sally Hinchliffe Oldham, both of Netherthong, dated April 27, 1837.

James Wharamís maternal grandparents, Hinchliffe Oldham and Lydia Hinchliffe, were married February 25, 1805.

Sally Hinchliffe Oldham, daughter of Hinchliffe Oldham and Lydia Oldham, was baptized April 17, 1809.

John Wharam, father of James Oldham Wharam, and son of Charles and Nancy (also referred to as Ann and Nanny in other records - her maiden name is believed to be Hudson) Wharam was baptized January 5, 1817 in the Netherthong Wesleyan Chapel. Other siblings of John include Hannah, baptized January 1, 1811, Ann, baptized March 18, 1815, and Elizabeth, baptized December 20, 1818, each in the Netherthong Wesleyan Chapel.

The 1841 English census for Yorkshire is an important document as it ties together all of these individuals. It should be noted that except for children, ages were rounded to the nearest 5 years. The persons shown living in the same household on Moor Lane outside Netherthong, and all of whom were reported to be born in Yorkshire, include:

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Hinchliffe Oldham, age 55, clothier

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Lydia Oldham, age 55

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John Wharam, age 20, clothier

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Sally Wharam, age 30

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James Wharam, age 3

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Lydia Wharam, age 2

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Jonas Hinchliffe, age 55, farmer

Next door was:

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Charles Wharam (his paternal grandfather), age 65, clothier

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Members of the Dyson, Hobson, Lee, Nobles, and Robinson families were also reported at a Moor Lane or Moor Gate address to the west of Netherthong.

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James Oldham Wharam does not appear in the 1851 English census as he came to America in 1849.

 

Conclusion

Although there is no such thing as absolute certainty in researching genealogical records, the confirmation of James O. Wharam in both Yorkshire, England, and Buckingham County, Virginia, seems apparent based on the following matches of key data points in both jurisdictions:

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His birth date of 1837

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His first name "James"

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His middle initial "O"

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His last name "Wharam"

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His fatherís name "John"

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His motherís name "Sally"

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He was born in England

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His parents were born in England

Also,

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He appears in the 1841 census for Yorkshire with his kin

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He does not appear in the 1851 census for Yorkshire

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He appears in Virginia census records from 1860 to 1900

 

 

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This site was last updated 04/17/04