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The marriage of William Dickinson & Ann Hawksworth

Until recently, I hadn't invested much time or effort into researching my English ancestors. Most of my family came to America in the 1600s, and that has kept me busy enough, but a few months ago, the bare branches of my Dickinson branches of my tree started to nag at me. I had only known back to my 3rd great-grandfather, John Dickinson.

To my surprise, I have found that researching my 18th and 19th century English ancestors has been easier than researching many of my American ancestors. English parish registers (baptisms, marriages, and burials) can be found in some old books and other free online resources, which I've shared here, but I signed up for FindMyPast to access their Yorkshire Marriages and Baptisms, and I'm glad I did. With the help of FindMyPast, I've been finding record after record, some of the many missing pieces of the puzzle that is The Dickinson family's lineage. I highly recommend it and if you'd like to give it a try, you can sign up for a free trial using this sponsored* link:

The first baptism of a child of William and Ann Dickinson (Tilter), found in the parish registers of Sheffield Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was Joseph Dickinson, baptized on February 17, 1790. Children weren't always baptized immediately after birth, but we can assume that Joseph's parents were married at least nine months before, which would have been May 17, 1789.

Next, I searched the parish marriages, for men named William Dickinson with a bride named Ann in the 1780s and I found two matches:

  1. William Dickinson and Ann Garrett, spinster, married at Sheffield, Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Paul by Banns, April 29, 1782. The marriage was witnessed by John Flint and Thomas Robinson.

  2. William Dickinson, bachelor, age 21, and Ann Hawksworth, widow, age 30, married by license, at Sheffield, Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Paul, May 17, 1789. The marriage was witnessed by Samuel Lister and ___ Lister (perhaps Betty?).

On each of their children's entries in the baptismal registers, it was indicated that William's occupation was Tilter, but neither of these William's appeared to be Tilters and there were no alternative matches. On a hunch, I ordered a copy of the actual marriage license for William Dickinson & Ann Hawksworth and waited patiently for it to arrive. Unfortunately I'm not permitted to share it online, but I'm sharing a small snippet of the two-page document as evidence that there's one word on the license that's not in the parish register and that word is "Tilter". Bingo!

Notice the marriage date was exactly nine months before their first child was baptized, and both at the same place, Sheffield Cathedral. According to Britain's Clandestine Marriages Act 1753, marriages required either a marriage license or "banns of marriage", which were public announcements informing the public of the pending marriage and giving them the opportunity to voice any objections to the marriage. Valid reasons for objecting included a pre-existing marriage, lack of consent, a vow of celibacy, or the couple being too closely related. The act also stipulated that the marriage had to be celebrated in the parish where either the bride or groom lived. (Source: Wikipedia)

The ages of William and Ann (Hawksworth) are provided, which will help us investigate them further, by giving us a range of dates in which they could have been born. If you find calculating date ranges confusing, you might find my new Date Range Estimator to be useful. (You can access it anytime from the Tools menu at the top of each page).

William was 21 years old on May 17, 1789 so he was born between May 18, 1767, and May 17, 1768. Ann was 30 years old, so she was born between May 18, 1758, and May 17, 1759. She was widowed, though, so we know Hawksworth wasn't her maiden name. (Stay tuned for more on that).

With these clues, I'll continue my research. If you're researching this family or other Dickinsons in the Sheffield area and know of other records or information about William and his family, please contact me or comment below.

Stay tuned for more! Up next is "The Birth of William Dickinson", because I believe I found his baptismal record! I'll give you a hint - his father's name wasn't William! 🙂

If you're looking to break down some brick walls in your family tree, check out my Genealogy Dashboard where you can find thousands of free resources by type or by place. Click here or you can find it anytime by selecting "Free Genealogy Resources" from the toolbar at the top of the page.


*These Dickinson finds wouldn't be possible without the help of FindMyPast! Try a search for one of your brick walls, especially if they're in England! We may receive a small commission for purchases made and we thank you for your support, but the recommendation is made because FindMyPast is a great resource! Give it a try!



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