The Bates to Jenkins name change

Elizabeth Jenkins was my great-great-great-grandmother. In 1847 she married Henry Milner in Fazeley, Staffordshire. On their marriage certificate, Elizabeth’s father was shown as Joseph Jenkins and one of the witnesses was Thomas Jenkins Jenkins. It took me a long time to locate Elizabeth on the 1841 census, because I was searching for her as Elizabeth Jenkins. When I couldn’t find her that way, I went back to the old-fashioned way of searching the census, and looked at every page of the census for Fazeley. I couldn’t find Elizabeth Jenkins, but I did find an Elizabeth Bates approximately the right age, in the household of Joseph Bates on Mill Lane, which is where Elizabeth was living in 1851. Could this be my Elizabeth? I have done some research into this, and present here my findings.

The earliest documentary evidenceĀ I have for Joseph is his marriage to Sarah Gallimore at Stafford in 1817 as Joseph Bates.

Many of Joseph and Sarah’s children and grandchildren were baptised in Fazeley, with Jenkins sometimes used as a middle name:

Date Child’s Christian name Parents Christian names Parents surname
1819 Joseph Jinkins Joseph Jinkins and Sarah Bates
1820 John Joseph and Sarah Bates
1822 Elizabeth Joseph and Sarah Bates
1824 Thomas Jenkins Joseph and Sarah Bates
1826 Ann Joseph and Sarah Bates
1829 Ellen Joseph and Sarah Bates
1833 Edward Joseph Jenkins and Sarah Bates
1835 William Joseph Jenkins and Sarah Bates
1837 Henry Joseph Jenkins and Sarah Bates
1839 Ann Joseph and Elizabeth Bates
1840 William Elizabeth Jenkins Bates
1842 Joseph Joseph and Elizabeth Bates
1845 Thomas Jenkins Joseph and Elizabeth Bates
1846 Ellen Joseph Jenkins and Elizabeth Bates
1849 Sarah Joseph Jenkins and Elizabeth Bates
1851 John Joseph Jenkins and Elizabeth Bates

In 1846 Jenkins makes its first appearance as a surname, on the marriage certificate of Thomas Jenkins Jenkins and Margaret Jones at Fazeley. Thomas’ father is shown as Joseph Bates Jenkins.


Is this Thomas’ signature as a witness to the marriage in 1845 of his cousin Elizabeth Thompson?


Thomas’ signature at his own marriage in 1846.






In 1847 when Sarah (nee Gallimore) and her son Henry died, both were buried with the surname Bates. I have no record of Sarah ever using the Jenkins name.

On the 1851 census, the whole family uses the surname Jenkins, and all subsequent baptisms and civil registrations use Jenkins, with the following exceptions:

  • In 1852 John, son of Joseph (jnr) & Elizabeth is buried as John Jenkins Bates, but his death is registered as John Bates Jenkins.
  • On the 1861 census, Joseph (snr)’s widow Catherine & their 2 children appear as Bates.
  • In 1877 the baptism record of Richard, son of Thomas & Martha, has the surname Bates crossed out and replaced by Jenkins.
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I have satisfied myself that my ancestor Elizabeth Jenkins was born Elizabeth Bates. I still don’t know why the name change happened. If anyone has any suggestions for a reason or further research which might help, please leave a comment below.

Sources has transcriptions of Fazeley parish registers.
FindMyPast has images of Staffordshire parish registers, including Fazeley, Tamworth and Stafford.

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