In my last post, I revealed how a birth certificate debunked a family story about the death of one of my grandmother’s siblings.
In the same package as the death certificate for this sibling, Mary Agnes Robinson, who died as an infant, was a birth certificate for her father, Tom Robinson, my great-grandfather, and the main protagonist in the story I’m writing.
I had ordered this to check his date of birth, as registers only give an approximate date.
I already knew the names of Tom’s parents, John and Frances, and John’s occupation, so I wasn’t expecting any surprises.
When I looked at the certificate, however, something leapt out at me and sent connections in my brain whirring. It was Frances’ maiden name – Dargue. A rather unusual surname, in Westmorland of that time, as today, and one I knew I had encountered elsewhere.
From census records, I knew that a John and a Thomas Dargue worked for the same employer as Tom Robinson in the village of Newbiggin-on-Lune. Both of them had worked for the firm of Dixon Hunter, a provisions merchant, for a number of years – John as a carter and Thomas as a miller. Could these Dargues be related to Tom’s mother?
With the help of ancestry.com, I checked census and birth records. I already knew that Frances Dargue came from the market town of Brough, on the fringes of Westmorland, and there I found the rest of her family – including younger brothers called John and Thomas. Cross-checking with other records to estimate approximate dates of birth made it seem extremely likely that Tom’s new co-employees were in fact his uncles on his mother’s side. Eureka!
I had already surmised that Tom had moved to the village of Newbiggin-on-Lune for work. Now it seemed there was also a family connection. Did his uncles secure the post for Tom or at least inform him about it?
And there was more. I knew from other sources that John and Thomas Dargue were also staunch members of the Methodist chapel in the village. Perhaps they played another key role in Tom Robinson’s story. That remains to be proved.