Sunday, August 15, 2010

What I Learned - The Case of Ralph Ellam

Ralph Ellam is the g-g-g Grandfather of my husband, Mark.  When I first began researching the Ellam family many years ago I had very little to go on.  Mark's grandfather, John "Jack" Ellam, Jr. walked away from the family when Mark's father was young and very little was known about his ancestors.

I have since been able to trace the family roots back to St. Helens, Lancashire, England, where I discovered Ralph living in 1850.  I found Ralph's marriage record in 1853 to Elizabeth Greenall and sadly discovered his death in 1859 at the age of 35 due to an accident in the coal mine he was working in.  At the time of his death his son, William, (my husband's g-g grandfather) was only 9 months old.

With that I closed the case on Ralph.  Afterall, I had managed to find his birth date in England and Wales Christening Records , 1530-1906, his marriage record to Elizabeth in the England and Wales, Free MBD Marriage Index: 1837-1915  and his death in the England and Wales FreeBMD Death Index 1837-1915. I sent for, and received, copies of his marriage and death certificates.  I was even able to find his burial location in St. Helens Cemetery through the St. Helens Council - Deceased Search

I thought I had learned all I could about Ralph's relatively short life.  Until this week. just put online the England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861 - 1941.  I plugged in the Ellam name to see what I could find and was shocked when the first result turned out to be Ralph!  18 years after Ralph died, Elizabeth his widow, was granted the  effects of Ralph's estate. 

30 April 1877.  Administration of the effects of Ralph Ellam late of Parr near St. Helen's in the county of Lancaster Miner who died 12 April 1859 at Parr was granted at Liverpool to Elizabeth Heaton (Wife of Lambert Heaton) (formerly Ellam widow) of St. Helen's the Relict.

Now to visit the Probate Registry's Website and order a copy of this probate and determine why it took 18 years to close an estate worth less the $100.00 USD. 

What have I learned from the case of Ralph Ellam?  Leave no stone unturned.  I assumed since Ralph was unable to read or even write his own name, and that because he worked in the coal mines, he would have left no estate behind.  I was wrong.

Another page in the story of Ralph's live has been turned.  I can't wait to read this chapter.......

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