Priscilla, a brick wall no more

Priscilla Bourne (or Bone) was my great-great-grandmother. She was difficult to find prior to her marriage for several reasons: the fact that Priscilla was illiterate means that her maiden name appears on official documents with various spellings, on her marriage certificate her given name is Druscilla rather than Priscilla, and calculating her precise year of birth was made difficult by inconsistencies in her age on census returns. The one fact she was sure about was that she was born in Bedworth, Warwickshire.

The most likely candidate I found was Drusilla Bones, the illegitimate daughter of Sophia Bones of Bedworth. Drusilla was born on 4 June 1843 and baptised on 4 January 1844. Sophia married Felix Haywood, a collier, in 1846, and the couple had 2 more daughters who were alive in 1851: Ann and Eliza. Felix died in a mining accident in June 1853, and Sophia died in July the same year. So Drusilla Bones seemed a good fit, apart from naming her father as James Bourne on her marriage certificate, but I had no definite proof Drusilla was my ancestor.

In February this year, FindMyPast added Roman Catholic Parish Records from the Birmingham archdiocese to their collection. Priscilla married James Dagnell, a Catholic originally from Ireland, in 1860. As the Dagnell family lived in the Nuneaton area, in the archdiocese of Birmingham, I searched the records for Dagnells. I found a baptism for a Priscilla Deignen in 1862, which at first glance I assumed was for a daughter of James & Priscilla who I was unaware of. The Dagnells were inconsistent with the spelling of their name too: it appears variously as Dagnell, Dagnall, Dignen, Dagnan, etc.

Here is a transcripton of the baptism record, in Latin:
Die ignota nata et die 7 Aprilus 1862 baptizata est sub conditione Priscilla Deignen (olim Aldridge) filia Jacobi et Sophia Aldridge (olim Bowen) conjugum.

ignota = unknown
sub conditione = conditionally
olim = formerly
conjugum = married couple

So, in English:
Born unknown date and baptised 7 April 1862 conditionally is Priscilla Deignen (formerly Aldridge) daughter of James and Sophia Aldridge (formerly Bowen) a married couple.

Sub conditione is used in the case of foundlings or converts where the priest cannot be sure that a baptism hasn’t already taken place.

But how could James and Priscilla not know whether or not their child had already been baptised?

I suddenly realised that what I was looking at wasn’t the baptism of Priscilla’s child, but Priscilla herself! You might have thought the names James and Sophia Aldridge would have tipped me off sooner, but all the documents with incorrect names I’ve seen in the past made me ignore them as yet more inconsistencies.

This establishes that Priscilla’s parents were James Aldridge and Sophia Bowen (Bones). Priscilla Bourne and Drusilla Bones were one and the same person, my great-great-grandmother.

Further research has shown that Priscilla’s father was a widowed miner from Bedworth. He had 3 children with his wife, Sarah Dewis, before she died in 1841. It seems unlikely I will ever find out why James and Sophia didn’t marry, though both were free to.
Supporting evidence for the Aldridge line comes from the fact that my mother is a DNA match to a descendant of James Aldridge’s brother, William.

So, now I have plenty more relatives to research!

2 thoughts on “Priscilla, a brick wall no more

  1. I am the DNA match, William being my 2xgreat grandfather which I think makes us 4th cousins once removed, Joseph Aldridge and Mary Spencer being our common ancestors. Interesting story, I thought I had the wrong James because I had no knowledge of Sophia and had ‘Davis’ as the surname of his wife. I had not research James just noted him in passing and I did much of my work on this line many years ago, I recall searching the Bedworth PRs in Warwickshire RO. Fortunately they are now available online and I do need to check through my Warwickshire ancestors for errors. Look forward to further exchange of information.

  2. It was afew years ago since i last looked at the Dagnall research you had done, it was good then and ive just found its got better with you clearing up The Drusilla Bones link.Fantastic work
    James and Priscilla are my x3 grand parents and I’m curious as to why they would have a window in a church with there names on ?

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