Week 9 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Females

Week 9 (1-7 Mar) prompt is Females

Women of today or even this century would struggle with the notion that you could be married at 16, be pregnant almost every year and die in child-birth at the young age of 43.  This was the life of my 2nd great grandmother – Elizabeth Witt nee Pragnell.

Elizabeth was born to Thomas Pragnell and Mary Ann Woods on 12 June 1860 in West Tytherley, Hampshire, England.  On 19 February 1877 at the Parish Church in West Tytherley at the age of 16, Elizabeth married Mark Witt aged 20. 

By the 1881 census, Mark, a railway porter and Elizabeth had moved to Wiltshire and were living at 72 Pain’s Hill in Salisbury with William aged 2 and Ernest aged 1.

Ten years later in 1891, the Witt family were now living at 44 Meadow Road, Salisbury with seven of their eight children. Ernest is now 11, Walter 9, Alice 7, Emma 6, Ada 3, Lucy 2 and Minnie 4 months. William (12) was living in West Tytherley with his mother’s brother-in-law Henry Baker.

c1899 – Back left – Emma, Middle – Charles, Elizabeth with Nellie on lap & Lucy –
Front right Harry.

In 1901 the family was living at 10 Highclere Terrace, Ashley Road, Fisherton Anger with nine children – William 22, Ernest 21, Emma 15, Lucy 12, Minnie 10, Charles 6, Harry 4, Nellie 2 and my maternal great grandmother Lily 1.

c 1903 Elizabeth with Lilian and Frederick (on lap)

On 20 April 1904, Mark, Elizabeth and family attended the wedding of their son Ernest Frank to Hester Yeates in Winterslow.  A group wedding photo was taken and includes seven of their children.  

Four short months later, Elizabeth aged 43 died at home, 10 Ashley Road, Fisherton Anger, on 19 August 1904 from placenta praevia, flooding, childbirth and heart failure. The child did not survive either and no record has been found to provide anymore information.

In 1911, Mark was living at 122 Devizes Road, Salisbury  with six of his children – Emma 25, Charles 16, Harry 14, Nellie 12, Lilian 11 and Frederick 9.  Thanks to Mark not reading the census instructions correctly he filled in the section regarding years married and children born/died which is normally only done for each married woman on the form.  Up until now, family researchers had only known them to have had thirteen children.  Listed on the form were 14 children born with 11 still alive and 3 deceased in 1911.

This new information sent me on a hunt to work out who this fourteenth child had been.  Obviously the child had been born and died in the 10 year gap between a census. Looking at the information I already had it was easy to work out that it must have been between Minnie born in 1890 and Charles in 1895.  Elizabeth had never gone so long between babies!

I immediately went to the UK FreeBDM website and searched for births between 1891 and 1895 in the county of Wiltshire and then deaths up until early 1901. I whittled it down to who I thought it might have been. Now, Ancestry includes Wiltshire baptism and burial records but at the time I was researching the missing child they were not available so I ordered the birth certificate.  It took ages to get to me from England but I was so happy when I opened it and found I had the correct child.  Elsie Ann Witt was born on 17 August 1892 in Fisherton Anger and died in the Jan-Mar quarter of 1894.  Once the Wiltshire records became available on Ancestry, I was able to also find out she was baptised on 18 September 1892 and was buried on 23 January 1894. 

I was so happy to be able to find Elsie to ensure generations to come have the complete list of children born to Mark and Elizabeth Witt!  

William Thomas (1878-1934), Ernest Frank (1880-1945), Walter Mark (1882-1907), Alice Hilda (1884-1977), Emma (1885-1960), Ada Jane Witt (1887-1895), Lucy (1888-1963), Minnie (1890-1982), Elsie Ann (1892-1894), Charles Leonard (1895-1964), Henry Harry (1896-1985), Agnes Nellie (1898-1984), Lilian Muriel (1900-1994) and Frederick George (1901-1984).   

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I have been researching my family history since 2009. I am interested it the family names Shingles, McEwan, Snowdon & Witt around Gippsland and Wodonga areas of Victoria, Australia

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