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Looking for information on Sarah Jane Henderson born Nov 4, 1883.  Daughter of George S. Hernderson and Jane Stewart.  Her mother may have died at childbirth.  She came to Canada around 1900.


Tuesday 11th January 2022, 03:00AM

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  • I can find no record of a Sarah Jane Henderson born in November 1883 in Northern Ireland, nor can I find a marriage there for parents George S. Henderson & Jane Stewart. What’s the source of your information?

    There are a number of trees on Ancestry (eg Chaba family tree) that have a family looking a bit like this. Father is George Somers Henderson but the mother is Margret Redford. This family lived near Morpeth, Northumberland (England), though the trees show Sarah J Henderson born in Horton, Northern Ireland. I can find nowhere called Horton in Northern Ireland. There is however a Horton, near Morpeth, in Northumberland. I’m wondering if perhaps someone has confused Northumberland with Northern Ireland? Perhaps on a hard to read census or similar document?

    The indexes to the English marriage records do list a marriage, registered in Morpeth in Oct – Dec 1865, between a George Henderson and a lady with the surname Redford. George Henderson was a coal miner and was born in Horton, Northumberland c 1840. He did have a daughter Sarah J, aged 9 in the 1891 census (21 Cowpen Square, Horton). The census also shows her born there.

    Many of the Ancestry trees show Sarah in Northumberland in the 1891 census, before moving to Winnipeg where she married Edward Burgess in 1902. Is this the same family? If so, I think there may be some confusion about Sarah J’s birthplace and mother. Do you have her marriage certificate, and if so what parents names appear on it?


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 11th January 2022, 04:44AM

    Sarah Jane Henderson was my Great Grandmother.  My source of information is from a story that was written about her by her daughter-in-law.  She was born in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, Ireland on the 4 Nov, 1883.  There are several trees on Ancestry but I don't know how reliable the information is.  I was hoping to find a record of her birth or baptism (Protestant if that helps) in order to trace our family further back.  The DNA connections are to distant to connect the dots.  

    If there are any further resources you can share about Aughnacloy Ireland I would really appreciate that.  

    Thank you for your time and getting back to me so quickly.







    Wednesday 12th January 2022, 05:26AM
  • Peggy,

    Aughnacloy is some distance from Co Down and in a different county. However the information I gave previously still applies. There’s no record of a birth of a Sarah Jane Henderson to those parents in what is now Northern Ireland around 1883. Nearest was a Sarah Henderson born 21.7.1883 near Castlederg, Tyrone but her parents were James Henderson and Matilda Stewart.

    There are about 23 George Henderson marriages all over Ireland in the period 1860 – 1883. None to anyone named Stewart/Stuart. You can search the records yourself free on this site:

    I also searched for a Jane Henderson death c 1883. There were 5. None near Aughnacloy and none were of childbearing age. Aughnacloy is in the civil registration district of Clogher, so a birth or death in Aughnacloy would be registered in Clogher. There were no adults named George Henderson anywhere in Tyrone in the 1901 census. No George Henderson deaths in the Augher area 1882-1901. A short description of Aughnacloy in 1837:

    379 people named Henderson in Co Tyrone in the 1901 census. It’s not a native Irish name. Nearly all were protestant with the majority Presbyterian (so almost certainly Scottish origins).

    You probably need to go back through the records, generation by generation checking the parents names etc on the relevant birth, death or marriage certificates to confirm the line back to Ireland. At the moment there’s no evidence to confirm either Sarah Jane’s birth, nor her parents marriage, in Ireland. So something's not quite right. If Sarah Jane married a Mr Burgess, and is in Medicine Hat, Alberta in the 1921  Canadian census, then her age there was 34, so born around 1887, rather than 1883. The data all needs careful checking. I can see at least one tree on Ancestry which has their marriage as 29.9.1902 in Winnipeg. If accurate, perhaps you can locate their marriage certificate, and from that her parents names. This date of marriage is the same date as is attributed to the Sarah Jane Henderson from Northumberland whose parents were George S Henderson and Margaret Redford. Clearly one of those groups of trees has the wrong information. Finding your Sarah Jane’s marriage certificate is key to making any progress with your family.

    There were about 12 Henderson births in Aughnacloy in the period 1875 – 1884.  None named Sarah. Mother’s maiden names were McDowell, Walker, Ellison, Henderson, and Crory/McCrory.  

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 12th January 2022, 10:04AM
  • Perhaps there is a reason we don't know about her life prior to coming to Canada.  Sometimes people don't talk about their past because it's to painful or they just don't know.  Maybe she just picked Nov 4th to celebrate for her birthday. We know so much about her life here in Canada and nothing about her beginning in Ireland.  She was an incredibly strong, kind, hard working woman.  She ran a hospital out of a room in my family's farm house.  She brought many babies into this world and patched up the people in a small agricultural town in Thorsby Alberta, Canada.  She was an amazing women and I would like to celebrate all she was with her family if I ever find them. 

    Thank you again for all the information you provided.  I will continue to contact the family to see what they can remember, however time is not on our side.  




    Thursday 13th January 2022, 02:06AM
  • Peggy,

    Primary evidence is essential in genealogical research. People’s memories can often be wrong. Get Sarah Jane’s marriage certificate and see who she named as her parents. 

    I think that somebody somewhere has been guessing and has linked up with a similarly named but different family.

    You can also try and get her parents names from her death certificate but mistakes are common on death certificates because the informant didn’t always get all the information right. How many people would be sure of the names, particularly maiden names, of a couple of grandparents in Ireland or England that they had never met? Whereas the information on a marriage certificate should be first hand. So it carries more weight. There’s got to be a bit more than simply a minor discrepancy about her exact date of birth.  No-one named Sarah Henderson was born around 1883 in Aughnacloy. Nearest were in 1871, 1890 & 1892. There were also 2 un-named female births in 1889 & 1892. The last was illegitimate. Mother Kate Henderson.

    I feel sure that not only do we have the wrong age, but possibly the parents are wrong too. If she were illegitimate, then it’s possible the parents names, particularly the father’s are just invented. Or was she married before and Henderson’s not her maiden name? Her marriage certificate should answer those questions.

    Once you have established Sarah Jane’s age and parents with more certainty come back here and I’ll look for them again. All I can say is that the information you have at present does not lead to anyone in Aughnacloy. So some of it looks to be wrong.

    Henderson is a very common name here in Northern Ireland and also in the north of England and in Scotland. There are hundreds of Sarah Jane Hendersons out there. (In the 1901 census, there were 96 Sarah Hendersons in Ireland; 181 in Scotland & about 800 in England.). Easy to get them mixed up.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 13th January 2022, 03:14PM
  • The marriage certificate does not contain the names of her parents.  I will see if I can access the death certificate.  Thanks again!


    Thursday 13th January 2022, 08:41PM
  • Peggy,

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.

    The other thought that crossed my mind is that she might be adopted. That could explain the lack of a birth certificate, but it doesn't resolve the problem of their being no parents of those names.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 14th January 2022, 08:45AM
  • What would typically happen to a child of an unwed mother that died days after the birth?  Would family take her in and raise her ? Would there be some kind of orphan records?  

    My DNA matches on Ancestry all seem to connect to a Stewart family in Ireland all around Moboy and area dating back to 1820's.   I feel we may have the correct last name of her mother but the father is unknown.  



    Tuesday 18th January 2022, 08:54PM
  • Peggy,

    There was no formal adoption law in Northern Ireland till 1927 (and even later in the Republic of Ireland). Prior to that, adoption was an informal process and no records were normally kept.  Where the mother had died, or was otherwise unable to look after a child, the family often did rally round. Grandparents were the obvious first choice but sometimes a married sister would help too. If she already had a few children, arguably another one didn’t make that much difference, or conversely, a couple with no children might be pleased to have the chance to acquire one.  The child would usually be given the surname of the family it was being brought up with.

    In other cases where no-one was willing or able to assist, the church could be involved, and from the mid 1840s the Poor Law Commissioners often took responsibility. Some children ended up in the workhouse, where the authorities (ie the Poor Law Commissioners) usually tried to re-home them somehow.  There were a variety of schemes, most notably the Earl Grey scheme, which led to large numbers of parentless (or apparently parentless, sometimes one parent was alive) children being shipped to Australia, Canada and elsewhere, to start a new life. Occasionally the Board of Guardians minutes (ie workhouse business records) mention approving funding to pay for a child or a group of children to be re-homed in Australia, or wherever. Occasionally the children are named but usually not. 

    If you have seen the film Philomena, you will know that sometimes there was a heartless, cruel commercial aspect to the way some religious institutions dealt with these children, and unmarried mothers. Indeed there are public enquiries still running in both parts of Ireland about it. Here’s a link to an item just 12 months ago where the RC Archbishop of Armagh issued an apology about the way the church had behaved:



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 19th January 2022, 10:46AM