Sunday, October 28, 2012

GOTCHA! Joseph Portas you can hide no more!

IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME and a little luck
With cautious optimism I write this. Finding my 5th great grandfather's baptism made my day... I could leave the Family History Library with a sense of accomplishment -- finally! 

I flew into Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 14. Monday I began my 8th annual research trip looking for Joseph PORTAS who was baptized sometime in the timeframe of 1700-1720. He is my 5th great grandfather, my brick wall. 

For the past 10 or so years, all I knew was he and Elizabeth MOOR married in Wyham cum Cadeby in 1740. This  trip to the Family History Library's stash of microfilms had to be my lucky year. Every trip I say this and go home without any satisfaction. But this was the year!

Maybe a genealogy god or angel was with me this trip. Who knows.

Towards the end of the day on Tuesday, I had enough time to start one new parish film. I looked on my list of parishes and noticed I hadn't looked at one film in the parish of Kelstern, Lincolnshire, England. I grabbed it out of the "stacks" and back at my reader I started to quickly reel to my chosen parish. The frame I stopped at wasn't the beginning of the parish, I actually stopped on the page shown below...and there he was! Joseph!

"AD 1716 -- Feb 14 Bapt Joseph Son of Wm & Isebel Poretuss of Lambcroft."

How could I have missed it on past trips? Was this a different roll of film from the first one I visited a couple years ago? Could it be that the surname wasn't spelled PORTAS but rather PORETUSS? No matter...there he was! It's the perfect time period since Joseph married in 1740 and figuring he could be 20-25 years of age. [all dates on this post are Julian calendar.]

The box on the right side is what I had seen last time, which turned out not to be my Joseph, but "said Joseph" who was "buryed July 27" [1719]. He was a Joseph Tuxworth, baptized eight days before and listed in the line above.

Left side box - Joseph baptized 14 Feb 1716, son of William and Isebel PORETUSS of Lambcroft. Right side box is for Joseph baptized 19 Jul 1719, son of Robert Tuxworth and Elizabeth his wife of Lambcroft.
Next line below: July 27 Buryed the said Joseph.
Kelstern, Lincolnshire, England
My digital image.
Left side box - Joseph baptized 14 Feb 1716, son of William and Isebel PORETUSS of Lambcroft.
Parish / Kelstern, Lincolnshire, England
My digital image.
When I "blew up" the left box's image for a better look, at first glance, I thought it said Feb 19 "Sept" which would have meant buried, but on closer examination on the rest of the page, "Sept" wasn't used in any other it was "Bapt"; even so, I needed to do a little more investigation. 

Comparing one "a" to the next, they were the same. I looked at the "e" in several words, none were the backward "e" we often see in writing from back then and many times mistaken for an "a." What looked like a capital "S" in Bapt. was actually a "B," by comparing it to others on both sides of the page. That in itself made me feel much more confident about what I found. Besides, I had to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing.

[Note: Lambcroft is now Ludford (Parva or Magna). Kelstern evidently administered the religious rights for that nearby village at the time.]

Cruising through the rest of the parish film, I couldn't find any reference to a burial for Joseph in Kelstern. I did find his father William PORETUSS' burial entry -- 26 Jul 1732, but didn't find any burial entry for his mother Isabel. The search is on...

Jul 26 [1732 Kelstern] Buryed Wm Poretuss of ye Lambcroft.
Parish / Kelstern, Lincolnshire, England
My digital image.
Putting Kelstern parish film aside, I decided to check out another roll of film I had visited many times before -- Wyham cum Cadeby. This is where I knew Joseph would be. Starting around 1732 when Isabel became a widow, and continuing on to 1740 when Joseph married Elizabeth MOOR, I was hoping I would "see" something exciting now that my research had progressed?

Ancient All Saints Church / Wyham cum Cadeby, Lincolnshire, England
My digital image.
This parish record page was a treasure of information. Joseph & Elizabeth and Isabel are on the same page along with a William & Mary Portas. Isabel, wife of William -- look, the white box shows the entry of her burial! Was she there living with Joseph or her daughter Isabel? How many times have I been here before and never thought of Isabel as Joseph's mother!

Arrows on the left margin show several Portas children, too. Baptized are both Joseph & Elizabeth's and William & Mary's. Just above the date 1743, is Isabel Portas (Isabel's daughter, Joseph's sister) marriage entry to a John NUTTLE May 15 [1742]. Now I have to establish who this William & Mary are.

1743 / Isabel Portas buried Apr 14.
Parish / Wyham Cum Cadeby, Lincolnshire, England
My digital image.
In my family tree program I had William entered as the brother of Joseph. Going back to the baptism entry of 1716, Joseph's parents are William & Isebel. Were they the same parents for William? Something didn't set right with me and of course this was an entry of speculation a number of years ago. I had no sources attached to this entry either... YIKES! How would I know where I found his name? I think I got this information off the IGI which should only be used as a guide. I haven't been back to that couple in a long time and didn't realize there were no sources. [Making a note to update.] 

Now I had my doubts about this sibling entry. I consulted (by e-mail) with a another Portas researcher who lives in Lincolnshire, and got a reply from her the next day. Margaret has been researching the PORTAS family in Lincolnshire a lot longer than I and I trust her advice. 

The couple were William Portas and Mary [Wright] married in 1727-Sixhills. Margaret pointed me to North Willingham parish which is closer to Sixhills than is Kelstern. I checked out the North Willingham film and found a William Portas baptized 1709 (I had "about 1710"); his parents were Edward & Elizabeth Portas. I'm sure this William is him.

Parents William and Isabel have a son William who married a Hannah Miller. Doesn't look too promising that William who married Mary Wright is a sibling to Joseph; he may be a cousin. In my records, I have this William and Mary having a son named Edward. Joseph and Elizabeth don't have any son named Edward. Joseph does have a younger brother Edward, but the given name Edward doesn't seem to show up that much in other Portas families in Lincolnshire. I must investigate this a little further.

I believe William (Mary Wright) probably shouldn't be listed as one of Joseph's siblings since there is another William with documentation in the family baptized 1711. With a little more "digging" (pardon my expression), I will probably be moving him to another family file. It can get awful confusing when there are so many Williams baptized around the same time and place.

Another thought: Am I barking up the wrong family tree?! I don't think so. All the pieces to this puzzle are falling into place.

The Kelstern PORTAS family is Margaret's. She has had a gap in the baptism dates of William and Isabel's children where Joseph fits perfectly. Both my Portas family and Margaret's have been found in proximity during the same period of time. It is hard to believe they wouldn't be related in some way. We just had to prove it. I think I just did. The Joseph find connects both our families. 

More investigation is needed; I'm crossing my fingers I finally found my elusive 5th great grandfather's baptism. Now I'm on the hunt for his burial and more information on Elizabeth. It never ends.

That village wasn't that big way back when. All there is left is the church, rectory, and manor house. The churchyard had new burials, but I'm not sure if the parish church is still in use. It was hard to tell when Bob and I were there in 2005. The road to Wyham can be mistaken for a private driveway, which it probably is, but the manor owner allows people to visit the church and graveyard. We came in from above the manor...through someone's farm lane. The church has been sold as a monument according to the website shown below.

You can read more about the village at:

Manor house in Wyham cum Cadeby, Lincolnshire, England.
All that is left of the village is this manor house, church rectory, and the church.
My digital image.

Only inhabitants we encountered in Wyham that 2005 September day.
My digital image.

Wyham cum Cadeby is in the distance, high on the hill in the stand of trees.
I am down by the marsh and where the Humber meets the North Sea.
My digital image.


  1. Karen, what a journey! I am constantly amazed at what can be found on a re-visit to old documents, and never understand how it can be that, passing that way before, I've not picked up the clues that were there all along.

  2. I am more amazed at what I have found. I found the link to a greater family in Lincolnshire. It will be a fun adventure connecting with my friend and her Portas family. Thanks for having enough patience to read through this. I've got to tell you, revisit, revisit, revisit.