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Gell and Henstock

  • 23 July 2021

Tracing the Nottinghamshire birth of Mary, wife of James HADEN (1831-1901), has proved to be very difficult. It would have been easier had the new versions of the General Register Office birth indexes (which give the maiden name of the mother from 1837) been available to search earlier.


Several years ago, I purchased a birth certificate for my great-grandmother, Ann Haden (1872-1956) and found that her mother’s name was given as Mary Haden, formerly HENSTOCK. However, as mentioned in a previous post, there was no trace of a Haden-Henstock marriage but a likely Haden-Gell marriage at the right place and the right time turned out to be the correct one. It turns out that neither Mary nor Henstock were the names under which she was baptised!

Searching the new GRO birth indexes for all of James and Mary Haden’s children proves that Mary Henstock and (Harriet) Mary Gell are the same person. Although almost all of the children are recorded with the mother’s maiden name as Henstock, the first child (Elizabeth, born 1858) is recorded with the mother’s maiden name as GELL.

HADEN, actually formerly GELL!

Fellow researcher, Jacky, found that Mary Haden (presumed née Henstock) was actually baptised in Alfreton, Derbyshire on 18th August 1836 as Harriet GELL! The baptism entry lists only her mother, Elizabeth GELL, indicating that the child was born out of wedlock. Elizabeth’s abode is listed as “Summercotes.”

GELL was the maiden name of Harriet Mary’s mother, Elizabeth, who married Abraham HENSTOCK at Alfreton parish church on 25th December 1836, four months after her daughter was baptised there. Harriet Mary, who appears to have been baptised as Harriet but known from a young age as Mary, is then listed on census returns under the surname HENSTOCK. This was also the name she gave as her maiden name on the birth certificates of most of her children.

I had doubted whether Abraham Henstock was Harriet Mary’s biological father but it seems that my DNA matches have proved that he is. If Abraham Henstock were not my direct ancestor, then it seems unlikely that I would have DNA matches who are descended from his three of his siblings (as pictured above).

It looks as if the family lived in Somercotes, Derbyshire, which is close to the Nottinghamshire boundary and may explain why census records consistently give Nottinghamshire as Harriet Mary’s place of birth, although the baptism took place in Derbyshire.


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