Monday, October 30, 2017

Surprise! Richard Portas – 1649 Last Will & Testament

I recently ordered several Wills from the Lincolnshire (England) Archives. These Wills are all PORTAS people for which I am hunting and gathering in a quest to connect them to my Lincolnshire PORTAS family. I was excited about going through those documents; you can learn so much from them...that is, how well you can decipher the 16th & 17th century handwriting. Trudging along, reading, transcribing, and entering my findings into the Reunion database on my Mac one Will at a time, I did the familiar first. I knew I had those families in my database and it would be easy placement. I had already imaged some of them during my visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but the images weren't as good as I could get from the LA high resolution images. There was one Last Will & Testament I particularly wanted to get to and translate.

The Will I left for later examination was for a "Richard PORTUS of Tattershall in the County of Lincoln Yoeman." This Last Will & Testament is dated 1648 and proved 1649.

I searched my database; I didn't have a Richard from Tattershall identified! Of all the Richards only two were from the early 17th century. And of those Richards, neither were from the Tattershall area nor were they born approximate time he would have been. So where do I start?

Like I said, it is hard to read 17th century script, but I tried and I think I did a pretty good job. I bolded those named in the Will.

The 19th of February 1648

I Richard Portus of Tattershall in the county of Lincoln Yoeman: Being sick in body but ?? in mind blessed bee god doe hereby make and ordained this my last will and testament in manor and from following: first I doe bequeath my sole into the hands of the almighty god who gave it unto mee: In full assurance of the free and ?? of my sins in and through the merit of the __ Jesus Christ my only savior and redemer

Imprimus I doe give to my sonn John Portus five pound to bee paid to him when hee shall com to the age of one and twenty yeares but if it shall hapen that my sonn John Portus shall dye before hee com to age of one and twenty yeares then my will is that the said five pound shall bee paid to my two daughters Ann Portus and Ruth Portus that is fifty shillings a peece

Allso I doe give to my daughter Ann Portus ten pounds to bee paid to her when she com to the age of one and twenty yeares

Allso I doe give to my daughter Ruth Portus ten pounds to bee paid to her at the age of one and twenty years but if it shall hapen that eche Ann Portus or Ruth Portus dye before she com to the age of one and twenty yeares then her Survoivor of them free shall gave the ?hold twenty pounds at the age of one and twenty yeares

Alsoe I doe give to my brother Samuell Portus one shilling

Alsoe I doe give to William Portus my brother Christopher Portus his sonn one shilling

Alsoe I doe give to Richard Portus my said Brother Christopher Portus his sonn one shilling

All the rest of my good and chattells my Legases beeing paid & discharged I doe give to Elizabeth Portus my wife whom I doe make my whole and full executrix of this my last will and testament: In witness where of I have sett my hand & seale the daye and yeare first above written

Sealed and my hand sett to this my last will …..

Richard Portas [very crude signature]

Proved 2 Apr 1649 

I couldn't make out most of what was at the bottom left corner and the back page was all in slanted Latin handwriting which I have no idea what it said. Transcribing this Will took several looks and many minutes. I think I got the essence of what was written.

No doubt it will take me awhile to piece this family together. I'm curious about Richard, yoeman of Tattershall –– does he connect to my family. In the Will there might be some clues.

Richard "yoeman"–– Richard must have owned a small piece of land. In the 17th century "A yeoman is generally used to mean a farmer who owns his own piece of land (however small) as opposed to being a tenant farmer. It may have been as simple as him wanting to sound a bit grander than his neighbours," as defined by an entry on I've been to Tattershall and can only wonder where the farm would have been. 

Richard has a son John and two daughters Ann and Ruth. All of whom have not yet reached the age of 21. The first child could have been born sometime between 1627 and 1648 when the Will was written.

I looked through all my notebook finds from my hunting and gathering times at the Family History Library each year for the past 10. In the 2007 book, I found an entry from the Tattershall parish records film, Richard PARTIS and Elizabeth BENINGTON married 15 Oct 1634. So it looks like the children's birth dates start around 1635. 

I went looking online. has an entry for Ann  "base born" to Richard PORTIS and Elizabeth BENINGTON 31 Aug 1634. In my notes there was also an Elizabeth daughter buried in 4 Aug 1635. FamilySearch also has an entry for John baptized 11 Jun 1642. There was no record entries for Ruth that I could find.

I searched through all my notebooks and found no more entries gleaned from the Tattershall records on Richard. I believe Richard and Elizabeth continued to live in Tattershall until their deaths and all their children were baptized there also.

We see Richard has two brothers – Samuell and Christopher. I had a Christopher in my database, but not much information other than he was living in Tattershall in 1635. I believe he is this Christopher. I found him in the indexed record of the "Lincoln Consistory Court, 1635: Ax, 145, Tattershall, church law hearing." I don't know what that was all about, but think it has to do with Christopher's death and reading of his Will. It could also be some sort of an accidental death hearing by the church instead of a coroner inquest at that time. has an entry for a Christopher PORTISE and Alice Hutchinson married 15 Sep 1616, Tattershall. I believe this is the same man. Also on Lincs to the Past in the Tattershall parish record is an Alice PORTAS "buried ye 23 day March 1645."

I have found no mention of Samuel from Tattershall in my database or my notebooks. He may have been living somewhere other than Tattershall. I have done searches on both Ancestry and FamilySearch and so far nothing has turned up.

We know that Christopher had two sons, William and Richard who were to receive one shilling each. The way the sentence was worded without punctuation, I had to read it several times to figure out if they were sons of Christopher or Richard's brothers. "William Portus my brother Christopher Portus his sonn" –– who would have thunk? I settled on those two were Richard's nephews. Christopher must have died in 1635, otherwise Richard probably would have named him as one of the receivers in his Will. He probably felt obligated to give them something since their mother was dead also. I have no idea how old the nephews would have been in 1648.

Richard's wife is Elizabeth –– Executrix; we don't know her maiden name from the Will, but my recording in the 2007 notebook had her as Elizabeth BENINGTON. also confirmed this with their entry. I also found an entry on that shows an Elizabeth PORTAS marriage to Willyam HARRISON 25 Jul 1649. This is following year after Richard died and his Will is proved. I'm sure she remarried since she had three children to bring up and needed the security of having a husband and father for the children.

Does Richard connect to my family? Only more research into this family will tell. So the hunt goes on. There is a lot of work yet to be done. More will turn up. I will continue to search through Lincs to the Past website posted parish records for Tattershall, but so far all I have seen are very faint and almost unreadable images. I might have to wait until I can get back to Salt Lake City or to a Family History Center where the images online have been enhanced and hopefully more readable.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Visiting Collaterals: G-G-G Uncle John PORTAS and His Son Benjamin

In an earlier post, I wrote about Joseph PORTAS and Mary DENNIS, my 3x great grandparents. I have also written about their son William Dennis, grandson John, and great grandson William Dennis – all my direct line. I thought it was time to write about Joseph and Mary's son John my 3x great uncle and a little some about his son Benjamin.

There isn't that much to tell about John. I know when he was baptized, who he had married, and what census he is listed, but I don't know when he died or where he was buried. That's not a lot, but it is something.

There are a couple family trees who have a John Portass burial as April 1900 in Holton le Clay. I believe they are wrong. The Holton le Clay John was baptized around the same time as my John, but in Grainthorpe and he married Rebecca BINGHAM. That HLC John is the illegitimate son of Dinah, Joseph's sister.

Three-times great uncle John was baptized 25 Mar 1810 at St. Helen's parish church in Mareham le Fen, Lincolnshire, England [not Grainthorpe]. He was the eldest son and first born to Joseph and Mary (Dennis) PORTAS. 

Some family trees has a Samuel born to them first, but he is actually the son of a PORTER living in Mareham le Fen. Sometimes the PORTAS and PORTER(s) names get confused, but in this case not. There might be a first son other than John; I have yet to find him. Besides, there are not too many Samuels in the PORTAS family at large.

On one of my trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found the St. Helen's Bishop's Transcript. It has "Ann" as John's mother, but the original parish record has his correct parents – Joseph & Mary Porteus. (Remember spelling of surnames makes no difference.)

Bishop Transcript - Parish of Mareham le Fen, Lincolnshire, England.

I'm going with the original PR below. I can barely make out the Mary; I can see how the "Ann" came about. If you look for another name that starts with "M" you can definitely see it is Mary not Ann. I think the curate got confused because there is a Joseph and Ann a couple entries below John's entry.

Original parish register entries for John son of Joseph & Mary Porteus - March 25th 1810.

St. Helen's Parish Church. Image taken by me.
Baptism font at St. Helen's church in Mareham le Fen, Lincolnshire, England.
Image taken by me.
John married Susannah JACKSON on 5 Aug 1832 - Mareham le Fen. Witnesses were Richard KIME and Benjamin JACKSON. In this marriage there was one child, Benjamin.

Image from Parish Record, St. Helen's, Mareham le Fen, Linclonshire, England.
I have been under the impression Susannah died shortly after she gave birth to Benjamin. In my database, Susannah was buried 1833, but I don't know where I got that from. Doesn't pay not to have any source. Evidently this entry was during my research's infancy. I didn't think to put one it or part of when through a glitch in the program all my sources were lost.

Her burial date might be true, but could there also be another Susannah? I checked and found a burial for a Susanna Portas 15 Oct 1833 - St. James, Louth. (I think that is where I got the date.) Louth is a distance north from Mareham le Fen so that seemed a little odd. As it turns out, that Susanna's burial was for an "infant." I checked the Louth parish record on the Lincs to the Past website. Other than that, I can't find any burials around that time with Susannah's name on the register. The family trees will have to correct their entries for her, I guess.

A little mystery? I am leaning towards Susannah and John's marriage breaking up with her retaking her maiden name. I have no idea how long they were married – it could be a year or nine. It wasn't that uncommon for a wife to lose favor with her marriage or that her husband didn't want her anymore and they would just split up. She could also have abandoned her husband and son and pretended not to have been married at all. Oh, well, will I ever know for sure?

Divorce was not something that occurred often. Were they granted a divorce? Abandonment happened sometimes, but there was punishment to one or the other spouses. Yet, there does seem to be a separation of sorts because on 11 Jan 1838, a Susannah Jackson marries an Edward SPIKIN a widower; it was witnessed by a Benjamin JACKSON who also, by the way, was the name of the witness to Susannah and John's marriage. Susannah's marital status was listed as "single." I still think this was her second marriage I found on I also found a burial record for Susan Spikins, 25, on 21 Jul 1838 Mareham le Fen. It says she was born 1813. That birth date is about right. I do believe this to be the correct scenario...
By the 1841 census - Mareham le Fen, we find John, 30, and his son Benjamin, 8, were living with John's parents and his niece Mary, 6. John is an Agricultural Labourer. Since the 1841 census is somewhat barebones, there is no mention of him being widowed or married.


July of 1848 John marries for the second time to a Mary Ann WHITE of Hagworthingham. It is interesting he is listed as "widower." That is what originally lead me to believe Susannah had died, but it was also common to say that because of the stigma of a separation of sorts. The marriage was witnessed by John's younger brother Richard and his wife Ann.

Of this second union, there were six (known) children born between 1850 and 1863: Dinah, Olive, Emma, Tom, Fred, and Jane. 

You will note that Benjamin is not on any. He would be about 18 and working. By the time youngest sister Jane was born in 1863, Benjamin would be 30 years old. 

HO 107 / 2108 - Mareham le Fen
  John   head   48   Agricultural Labour    born MLF
  Mary Ann   wife   22  Labourer wife    born Hagg
  Dinah    daur    1    at home    born MLF

RG9/2370 - Mareham le Fen / Shop Hill
  John   head   45   Ag Lab   b. Mareham Le Fen
  Mary A   wife   29     b. Hagg
  Dina   daur   11   Scholar    b. Mareham le Fen
  Ollive    daur    5    Scholar   b. Mareham le Fen
  Emma   daur    4    Scholar   b. Mareham le Fen
  Tom   son   1    b. Mareham le Fen

RG10/3385  page 26 - Mareham le Fen / Mumby Bridge
  John [PORTER?]   head   Mar  63   Ag Lab   b. Mareham le Fen
  Mary A    wife   Mar   39   b. Mareham le Fen
  Dina   daur   Unm  22   b. Mareham le Fen
  Emma   daur    13   b. Mareham le Fen
  Tom   son   10   b. Mareham le Fen
  Fred   son   9    b. Mareham le Fen
  Jane   daur   8   b. Mareham le Fen
    Sarah   gr. daur   2   b. Mareham le Fen (probably Dinah's daughter)

The 1871 is the last census I found John on. I have not found him on any other nor have I found his death date. I will keep looking. It only took me about 10 years to find the baptism of John's great grandfather Joseph.

I'm hoping for a little serendipity or for the genealogy gods to intervene. I have it on my TO-DO list for my next trip to a Family History Center or Salt Lake City Family History Library.


This picture got me interested in doing a little research and writing this blog post. My cousin Sharon brought it and other pictures to a genealogy meeting. We identified him as John's son rather than my grandfather's brother, great uncle Ben who was born in 1885. By the looks of his clothing, this image was taken about that time or a little earlier because cousin Benjamin died in 1882. It could only be cousin Benjamin because uncle Ben would have been much younger looking...he would have been a baby!

Benjamin was baptized 9 Jul 1833 at the Chapelry of Carrington which is a short distance south of Mareham le Fen. This could be a "chapel of ease" because their "abode" was Miningsby Allotment which is on the north end of the West Fen near Mareham le Fen.

Image from Parish Record, Chapelry of Carrington.
We know where he was living from the 1841 census. On the 1851 Census for Mareham le Fen, Benjamin, 17, was still living with his grandparents and his 16-year-old cousin Mary. He is a labourer, born Bolingbroke.

On the 1861 Census, we see Benjamin, 29, again living with his grandparents in Mareham le Fen on The Green. He is an Agricultural Labourer and was born Mareham le Fen.

The 1871 Census shows us that Benjamin, 37, is living in the KIME household. It also has his birthplace as the Sibsey Northlands, not Carrington, nor Bolingbroke, or Mareham le Fen. That really doesn't matter much because they are in about the same area. He is still an Agricultural Labourer.

The 1881 Census is the last we will see Benjamin, 47, back in Mareham le Fen on The Green, living with his aunt Elizabeth (Portas) SANDERSON and cousin William. He is still an Agricultural Labourer, born in Mareham le Fen.

The discrepancy of where Benjamin was born could be from whoever gave the information to the enumerator. They did get the approximate location which is interesting. Yet, we have to realize "where he was born" and "where he was baptized" could be different. We do know he was baptized at the Chaplery of Carrington.

Benjamin died at age 49, just 11 months after the 1881 census was taken. He was buried 12 Mar 1882 in St. Helen's parish churchyard in Mareham le Fen.

So that might be the end of this story...for now. Oh, genealogy god, grant me the fortitude to continue my quest to find what I am yet to know...huh?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More about 7th Great Grandmother Syllina [Birkett] PORTAS - 1648-1720

Since 2014 I have been tracing my 7th great grandmother Syllina who married William PORTAS in 1679 Wold Newton, Lincolnshire, England. I started with finding her marriage record, but couldn't read her maiden name. That stopped me from going backward to her parents. A few months after that find, I found myself in Lincolnshire, England at the tail end to a long trip to Berlin and Venice. Anyway, I went to the Lincolnshire Archives where a wonderful researcher helped me read the old parish register page using a UV light. BINGO! The name BURKETT could be seen. Blog post about that is here.

Learning Syllina was a Burkett sent me to searching for her baptism record. What would be my chances of finding it? Very well as it turns out. Knowing she was from a certain area in Lincolnshire really helped even though I didn't know the parish where she was baptized. I found her in Ludborough and the baptism record showed both parents names...John and Margarett.

This brings be to my 2017 Family History Library (FHL) research trip in Salt Lake City, Utah. The FHL has changed so much since I was here in 2015. Most––if not all––of my Lincolnshire parish films are digitized and available for download. This has been a great help because I don't have to keep going up and down from a reader machine to mess with films. I just sit at my laptop, look up the parish records, scan the pages for what I want and when I find it...I hit the download button. My images are saved to my hard drive and I can then move them into any folder I choose.

I found Syllina's baptism record on Lincs to the Past website of Lincolnshire Archives and sent away for it. When I received it a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled and reworked it for this blog. The image is a little hard to read, but being from 1648 it is a good as it can get for that age. So I decided to also get another from FHL because they seem to have enhanced a lot of their digitized film images. Well, for me, when I found it here in FHL, it was pretty much the same, but I downloaded it anyway.

So in the image below, you can see her name spelled Sylena. Her father's name is John and mother's name Margarett. That is a big break. Spellings don't matter, but for the sake of my consistancy, I will spell her name Syllina.
Syllina's baptism record.
Sylena Burket daughter of John Burkette & Margaret bapt Dec 2__ 1648, Ludborough, Lincolnshire, England.
I haven't been able to see her full date of baptism, but can kind of see a "2" or is it a "20"? Well, that is about as good as it will get. 

Below is Syllina's marriage record to William Portas. It is 26 Jan 1679, Wold Newton, Lincolnshire. It is a parish not too far from Ludborough and I believe they were both in service in Wold Newton and that is where they met.

I enlarged the image. I asked one of the LDS floor personnel for help. We checked on names being used in Wold Newton during that time. Nothing came of our efforts. Names we came up with were Colbert, Cuthbert and others similar to that. I decided to get a high resolution image from the Lincolnshire Archives. When it came, my heart was pounding for the thought of the answer. Nothing. That image wasn't any better. I made contact with one of the Lincolnshire mail listers and he said the use of a UV light might produce the results. So almost nine months later the name was revealed by UV light. BIRKET. Who would have thunk? [Image was taken by me and use in November 2013 and July 2014 blog posts.]

In 2015, my previous trip to FHL, I found Syllina's burial record. Because I had her Will, I could approximate the date of when she was buried. Blog post on her Will is here. Syllina was buried 31 Oct 1720 in Tetney, Lincolnshire. She was widowed.

Sillina's burial record. Sillina Portis Widd bur. 31 Oct 1720 - Tetney, Lincolnshire, England.
Having her baptism, marriage, and burial records is quite an accomplishment for almost 10 years work. It does pay off. Below is the marriage record for Syllina's parents, John Burkitt (remember spelling doesn't matter) and Margarrett Cat_?

It took me a long time to figure out what was written in the first two lines of this overlay of the Kirkby cum Osgodby parish record of 1640. I found the parish information through and found the image on Lincs to the Past. I sent away for a high resolution image which is below. Anyway what it says is John Burkitt of Holton Le Claye and Margarrett Cat_ spinster of Addlethorpe was married by lisence 8 Oct 1640. Margarrett's maiden name is cut off at the seam. Married by license could mean they were either not of age or their parents didn't give permission. But in both cases I don't know why because they were both of age...John 21 and Margarrett 22. So your guess is as good as mine except it might be that neither belonged to that parish. That is most likely the case. 
John Birket and Margarett Cater's marriage record.
Syllina was baptized eight years after her parents married. This leads me to believe there were a few siblings born before her, but I haven't found them yet. I did find four baptized after her. Yet the biggest question is what wasn't showing...Syllina's mother's maiden name. And you know a genealogist just can't let that go unsolved.

In the search field on, CATER is the surname that came up. I don't know how anyone could figure that out from what was showing, but never the less, as it turns out her maiden name is just that. 

How do I know for sure? It wasn't easy at first because I thought Margarrett's parish was Theddlethorpe and a look at that parish's film turned up nothing in the way of any CATER. Then for some reason, I looked at the marriage record again and Theddlethorpe suddenly became Addlethorpe! I got on that parish register and there it was...the name CATER. I saw it first at the bottom page of year 1610... George CATER, church warden. On further searching I came up with Margarrett's baptism record... Margarett CATER daughter of George baptized January 1618. I couldn't make out the day, but close enough...I got the answer that I wanted.
I am pretty sure I also found John Burkett's baptism. Upon another search on, I found several Johns, but picked out the one closest to Addlethorpe which was Ingoldmells. It is only a few miles apart and that was the most likely one to be my 8th great grandfather. He was baptized 20 Jun 1619 and his father is Nicholas. Now I can't be positive this is the right information, but the ages are close as well as the parishes. So you decide.

On further search I found Nicholas Burcet married Anne SWEETE on 1 Oct 1617 - Ingoldmells. Anne was baptized 9 Jun 1594 at Anderby and her father is Robert SWEIT. And this is where the research is a little dicey...most of the parish record pages can't be read or are missing or are in Latin. There are several Robertus which is causing some confusion. It will take some more time to sort them out since I found three Roberts and their dates of vitals don't come together like I would have wanted them to.

So this is where the Syllina story will end, I believe. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Great Grandfather Buschick is Really Great Grandfather Voigt

I just switched names on two pictures in the family album: two great grandfathers, August F. Buschick and Henry Voigt. It has been quite a few years now since I received the family album; it's been years since I scanned all the pictures in it. It was about time I got the correct names under the great grandfathers.

The great grandfathers, side by side, on first page, and great grandmothers on the backside. Years ago I had put question marks next to their names: August Buschick? Henry Voigt? thinking their wives were back-to-back to them. But I wasn’t sure back then. One would think the grandfathers on one side of that first page would match up to the grandmothers on his back side. I penciled the names on the first page because there was no identification. I guess it could be they had never met their grandfathers since both died before either mom and Flo were born. On the great grandmother's side the writing is either my mother’s or aunt Florence’s. I knew the grandmother’s were correctly identified because both mom and aunt Flo were old enough before they died to remember them. So that is how the album pages have been for many years.

As it turns out the position of the pictures should have clued any of us on who was who. Position 1 on the great grandfather's page matches with position 1 on the great grandmother's page, not 1 with 2 (or back-to-back) positions as originally thought possible. As confusing as it was, it is moot now because they are properly identified in the album...finally! Henry Voigt is Henry, and August is August F. Buschick.

Recently I went to the Chicago History Museum Research Center (CHMRC) where I was told a picture of my great grandfather Buschick existed. Why would they have a picture of him there? Well, between the 1850s and 1880s, he was involved in and owned a steam boiler manufacturing business in Chicago and became somewhat well-known for one reason or another. 

The clerk brought my request over to the table. I donned the required white gloves, and opened the large envelope containing the infamous picture. One look and immediately I knew I had the wrong identification of him back home. The picture is a little different then the one in the album. It could be a little older, but he is wearing the same suit. Still they are the same person and that's what counts.


This must be the writing of a business partner or employee: A.F. Buschick; My old Supt. on the front and on the back is A.F. Buschick; 15 years my supt   GKS [?] 1885. (August died in 1883.) I believe the writing from a person who worked for, or with, August had to be correct. I don't think he would have known my great grandfather Henry Voigt who was a carpenter in another part of Chicago. [Incidentally, the picture has been catalogued in CHMRC as A.J. Buschick. I mentioned the correct initials to the clerk. I hope she has a chance to correct it.]

For several years, I knew the CHMRC had a picture of my great grandfather, but things got in the way and I just never got over there until recently. This image confirmed I had to switch the identifications in the album. Big problem: the image of Henry identified as August Buschick is out on’s family trees and there are too many trees to try to correct. It is also on one of my earlier blog posts. I have since made a note on that post. I just hope someone who is reading this blog post owns one of those online trees and will correct the error. I am truly sorry this has happened, but it does and is now corrected. This is what genealogists/family historians do…correct errors as we research.