Author Topic: Finding out if an ancestor was adopted.  (Read 338 times)

Offline Peter L. Mitchell

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Finding out if an ancestor was adopted.
« on: Saturday 01 May 21 11:04 BST (UK) »
Background: My great-great-great aunt, Elizabeth Dial, was born in Lanchester, Durham on 31 December, 1848. Her birth certificate has no father recorded (presumed illegitimate), and her birth name is Elizabeth Sherlock (mother Isabella Sherlock).

Her mother married Robert Dial in the Church of England Parish Church in Brancepeth, Durham, on 16 September 1850. The 1851 census records Robert (22 years), Isabella (20 years) and Elizabeth (two years and recorded as daughter) living at 86 New Row, Willington, Durham. In 1860, Peter and his family emigrated to Australia without Elizabeth.

The 1861 census shows Elizabeth living with Thomas and Margaret Halliday and recorded as their 12-year-old servant niece. Margaret was Isabella Sherlock's sister and I have found no evidence from GRO searches of her having had children of her own. Elizabeth married James Bainbridge in Darlington on 29 June 1874 in Saint Augustines Catholic Chapel in Darlington, County Durham. The name she gave on the marriage certificate was Elizabeth Halliday Dial. Elizabeth died of stomach cancer on July 17th., 1894 at 2 Lucks Terrace, Darlington and is buried in Darlington Cemetery. She was 43 years old.

My interest is to try and find out if Elizabeth was officially adopted by Margaret and James. The admittedly scanty information above suggests to me that she was not officially adopted because she worked as a domestic servant in 1861 and she kept the double surname of Halliday Dial. Also, I would imagine that adoption at that time and under those circumstances would have been difficult. It would probably have been easier for her to simply be sent to her aunt and be a part of that family either by parental decision or by personal choice. This is pure speculation, of course, but I'd like to try and find out if there was an official adoption.

If anyone can point me in the direction of resources that might be useful I'd really appreciate it.

Many thanks!
                    Peter

Offline groom

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Re: Finding out if an ancestor was adopted.
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 01 May 21 11:18 BST (UK) »
She wouldn't have been officially adopted as adoption didn't start in England until 1926. Before that it was informal and arranged through family or the church, so very unlikely to be any records.

The fact that she was described as niece rather than daughter or adopted daughter makes it sound as if she was left with them for some reason when the rest of the family emigrated.
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Offline Pheno

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Re: Finding out if an ancestor was adopted.
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 01 May 21 11:20 BST (UK) »
Hi, I believe I am correct in saying that there was no formal adoption process prior to 1926 so you are unlikely to find any confirmatory paperwork.

Also, a bit confused cos you say Peter and his family emigrated to Australia without Elizabeth.  There is no Peter referred to previously - do you mean Robert?

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Offline Peter L. Mitchell

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Re: Finding out if an ancestor was adopted.
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 01 May 21 11:23 BST (UK) »
Hi Pheno.

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, it was Robert, not Peter. I was unaware that there was no formal adoption process before 1926, so I'm sure that you are correct.

Thank you for your help.

Peter