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-Or- how do I trace the previous marriages/maiden name of a widow?
James Vickers (c1737 - 1809) of Garden Walk (later known as Garden Street), Sheffield was a Britannia Metal Manufacturer. It was mentioned in his will of 1808 that his widow was named Sarah (although he didn’t bequeath anything to her). He was an early Methodist and along with Francis Hawke, a filesmith on Allen Street (adjacent to Garden Street) and Henry Longden, of Longden, Newton & Chambers and also a Methodist Class Leader, set up a Sunday School in Garden Street.
From “Historical Sketches of Wesleyan Methodism in Sheffield” by James Everett, Vickers’ previous (first?) wife died in 1802 - this gives a 6 year window for him to remarry. There’s two possibilities in Sheffield, Sarah Hawley and Sarah Roberts. Vickers’ signature on his will is a very close match to the signature on the marriage record for Sarah Roberts, so I’m reasonably confident this is the Sarah in question. They were married by licence on 11 September 1804, she was a 59 year old widow (born ~1745).
An obituary in the Sheffield Independent of 20th August 1825 states: “On Tuesday week, aged 82, at Leeds, Mrs. Sarah Vickers, relict of the late Mr. James Vickers, of this place. She had been a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society 62 years; during which period her piety had been genuine and her character exemplary." She died on 9th August at the house of William Mallorie, her son-in-law, in Cobourg street.” Her burial took place on 12th August at the Old Chapel (Wesleyan) Leeds. This puts her date of birth around 1743 and the year she joined the Methodists around 1763 (which from “Norfolk Street Wesleyan Chapel: Being a History of This Famous Sanctuary” by Rev. T.A. Seed was the same year as James Vickers).
Reviewing “Norfolk Street Wesleyan Chapel…”, a Joseph Roberts of Garden Walk is listed as a person who would receive subscriptions and donations alongside James Vickers. In fact, a map from 1783, ref. arc04113 on Picture Sheffield, shows them to be neighbours. This website states that Joseph Roberts was a razor manufacturer in Garden Street and was listed as a razorsmith in Gales & Martin’s 1787 Directory.
Looking at possible marriage records, Sarah Barlow, a widow aged 45 (born ~ 1750) married a widower, Joseph Roberts, aged 50 (born ~1745) on 11th October 1795. The signatures on the marriage record for Sarah Roberts and Sarah Barlow have distinctive flourishes and closely match, again leading me to believe they’re the same person. Also, a razorsmith named Joseph Roberts was buried 19th December 1802, fitting the timeframe for Sarah to be a widow in 1804 for her marriage to James Vickers.
Furthermore, there’s a record of a William Mallorie of Leeds (mentioned in Sarah Vickers’ obituary) marrying Hannah Barlow of Sheffield on 21st February 1803. A Hannah Barlow, daughter of Thomas, a scissorsmith, and Sarah was baptised 22nd May 1782, making her potentially 21 at the time of marriage to William. From the Derby Mercury 3rd March 1803, “Married: On Monday fe’nnight, Mr William Mallorie, of Leeds Mercer and Draper, to Miss Hannah Barlow, daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Barlow, Scissor Manufacturer, of Sheffield”.
Reviewing (the many, many) marriages in Sheffield between a groom with surname “Barlow” and bride with first name “Sarah” lead me to the marriage between Thomas Barlow, a bachelor, and Sarah Ludlam, a spinster, on 3rd October 1779. Witnesses were Henry Longden (possibly the acquaintance of James Vickers from Sunday School?) and Hannah Mycock. A record for Sarah Ludlam, of North Wingfield, Derbyshire, shows her being baptised on 28th December 1748, again the correct approximate age.
The signature for Sarah Ludlam on the marriage record, while not as close a match to the others, looks to be a similar style as that of Sarah Roberts and Sarah Barlow, although with more fluid handwriting.
And lastly, many sources mention that James Vickers was either “some relation” or son-in-law to the Holy family. Thomas Holy of Sheffield Moor was a landowner, button maker and another prominent Methodist. In Everett’s “Historical Sketches of Wesleyan Methodism in Sheffield” it’s mentioned that Holy’s mother, Sarah Wilson’s “half sister, Mrs. Ludlam, was also one of the first members of Society, whose daughter, the widow of the late James Vickers, is still living [at time of publication in 1823], and was then exemplary for her piety.” Incidentally, Sarah Wilson was from the Wilson’s of Sharrow Snuff manufacturer family.
Do these pieces fit together? Can be I confident that Sarah Ludlam, Sarah Barlow, Sarah Roberts and Sarah Vickers were the same person? Are there any other methods I could use to verify this?
You seem to have covered everything possible and will probably by a leap of faith say yes they are the same person.
It would need someone with a lot of time to cover the information that you have have covered. Probably with knowledge of early Methodism in Sheffield.
Fingers crossed that you reach the decision you will have to make.
Elaine in Ottawa.