Previously I wrote a blog post on the Peterborough Maybricks, who believe they have a familial link to James MAYBRICK. The general consensus in the family was that the link was most likely via Margaret Minetta MAYBRICK. However, there is presently no evidence that supports that theory.
However, that does not necessarily completely rule out that there could still be a link. We still have the Mark WOOLSTON angle. You will know this name if you are familiar with the previous blog post. I first came across it on the 1911 census, based on oral information given to Paul Feldman for his book ‘Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter’ (1997) from the Peterborough MAYBRICKS.
MY STARTING POINT
There is no marriage record between Margaret and Mark WOOLSTON. Almost all the children born were registered at birth as WOOLSTONS. My original belief was that the strangeness started with the death of Naomi WOOLSTON in 1911 when her death was registered as Naomi MAYBRICK. Except, there is actually an earlier MAYBRICK reference. When Rose Ellen WOOLSTON was born on the 26th of November 1907, the father’s name is Mark WOOLSTON, and the mother was Margaret WOOLSTON (formerly MAYBRICK).
The eldest child, Elizabeth’s birth record of 1905 reads Elizabeth Susannah WOOLERSON, and the mother is Margaret WOOLERSON (formerly EDGIS). There is another birth record for a Sheppard Shalgrave WOOLSTONE from 1913, where Margaret once again declares she is formerly MAYBRICK.
Based on the birth certificates alone, it is very easy to believe that Margaret herself was claiming she was born MAYBRICK on at least two of the children’s birth certificates. However, the majority of them still had variants of EDGES as her maiden name.
What is compelling is the act of baptising all the children who were still alive in 1917 and changing their surnames to MAYBRICK, almost a year after Mark WOOLSTONE’s death.
MARGARET WAS NOT BORN A MAYBRICK
If Margaret was not legally born a MAYBRICK, as I believe I have adequately demonstrated in my previous post, then why would she say she was “formerly” on at least two of her children’s birth certificates? The certificates explicitly request the mother’s name and maiden name.
WERE THE CHILDREN MARK & MARGARET’S?
The birth records of all of Margaret’s children refer to Mark WOOLSTON / WOOLERSON / WOLSTONE as the biological father. I had no reason to doubt that was true in my previous post, and I have no reason to doubt that now.
But who is he? Let us explore the world of Mark WOOLSTON.
ONCE A WOOLSTON
As the 1911 census is my starting point in tracing the history of Margaret Minetta MAYBRICK and Mark WOOLSTON, I am neither shocked nor surprised that it is the one and only time Mark WOOLSTON appears on any online census, birth and even death record search. He is of course, named on his children’s birth certificates, but there are no other direct records.
WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
Youngest child Annie MAYBRICK, born in 1915, always believed that Margaret / Elizabeth might not have been her real mother. This birth record would indicate there could be some truth in her belief. It names Ann WOOLSTON (formerly SHELGRAVE) as mother and Mark WOOLSTON as father to Ann WOOLSTON.
However, Ann SHELGROVE, born in 1915, died in Peterborough in 2005, so this may not be the Annie we know as Annie MAYBRICK. There is another birth of Sheppard Shalgrave WOOLSTONE in 1913, which lists Mark WOOLSTONE and Margaret WOOLSTONE (formerly MAYBRICK) as his parents. More confusion.
WHERE WAS THE BIRTH, MARK?
If we look closer at the 1911 census, it shows us that Mark WOOLSTON was born in Doddington, Cambridgeshire and his age is listed as 52. Meaning his birth year is 1859.
We know his eldest daughter Elizabeth was registered as WOOLERSON. So, can I find the birth of Mark WOOLERSON, who was born in Doddington around 1859?
Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall in the civil birth searches against the above search parameters, but I hit on two references to Mark WOOLERSON in the census data. One for 1881 and one for 1901.
THE 1881 CENSUS
So we have three elements which clearly match our 1911 census. The first name, age and occupation (farm labourer). The birthplace of Wimblington is actually part of modern-day Doddington, so we, in fact, have four matching elements. This is good enough for me that it is the same, Mark. What also helps is that the record suggests he was working in Cambridgeshire at the time.
THE 1901 CENSUS
He re-appears on the 1901 census in the village of Yaxley as a Farmer. He is listed as a lone occupier at this property.
A closer look at the raw record gives the impression that he was one of many farmers listed at that property, so he most likely had his own basic accommodation. His birth is listed as 1867, which makes him 34 years old on this census. His birthplace is still Doddington, but now the age is different from both the 1881 and 1911 censuses. Tricky man to track if he is indeed the same man.
Aside from the census references above, there are no other online records for Mark WOOLERSON in Cambridgeshire. In fact, there are no other online records for Mark WOOLERSON in England, Wales, or Scotland for that period either. We now have a twenty-year gap. What was he doing, and where was he?
WRITING ON THE WALLERSON
Then we have this strange coincidence that occurs on the 1891 census. A Mark WALLERSON appears in Islington, London.
This Mark WALLERSON has a completely different birth year again. This time it is 1855, making him supposedly 36 years old when this census was taken. What makes me believe he is the same man is the birthplace of Wimblington, Cambridgeshire. That is one hell of a coincidence.
However, he is listed as a barber and living in a leafy part of Islington. It indicates in the raw record he had a single room. This would mean he has gone from being a farm labourer in rural Cambridgeshire to being a barber in London, back to being a farmer in Cambridgeshire. Could it really be him?
WOOLERSON V STIMPSON
A Mark WOOLERSON of 208 Liverpool Road (which I assume is the one in Islington) sues a butcher in Benwick (a village just over 4 miles away from Doddington) in June 1885 for “wrongful conversion of certain goods”. It appears he wins the case. Surely this links our Mark WALLERSON of Islington to Mark WOOLERSON of Doddington?
Mark WALLERSON appears just one more time in any records in England, Wales or Scotland. In an earlier marriage in 1882 to Elizabeth Hilia RUSSELL, again in Islington.
This record claims that Mark WALLERSON is aged 23 (as is his bride) and both living at 111 Liverpool Buildings, Islington. Mark is not listed on the electoral register for that address. This record would date Mark’s year of birth as 1859 / 1860. This ties in neatly with our Mark WOOLSTON. It also claims his father is Edward WALLERSON. Does that match?
tangled up in Islington
In the 1891 census, there is more strangeness a few doors down from where Mark WOOLERSON was living as of 1885, at 180 Liverpool Road.
We find a Charles WOOLERSON from Benwick, Cambridgeshire. This cannot be pure coincidence. Mark and Charles must be connected. The question remains, is my Mark WALLERSON in 1891 of 41 Halton Road, Islington, actually Mark WOOLERSON in 1885 of 208 Liverpool Road, Islington? Neither names appear at either address in the electoral register for those years.
WOLLERSON NOW IN THE MIX
I find the connection between Charles and Mark in the 1871 census – they are brothers. This time recorded as WOLLERSON.
The raw record shows that the men in the family (aside from Clark) are all agricultural labourers. The fact the family are residing in Benwick, Cambridgeshire and the birth year matches up well with Mark means I am confident it is the same man.
The record now also tells us who Mark’s parents were, Edward and Elizabeth.
We now have another variant added to the mix when we find the marriage of Elizabeth CLARK and Edward WOLLARSTON in 1852 in North Witchford in Cambridgeshire.
THE 1861 CENSUS
This leads us to the 1861 census, where the family now lives in Chorlton in Lancashire. Edward is a Carter, but now the wife and children’s birthplaces are all bizarrely listed as Scotland. The first names and birth years all match up.
THE BIRTH OF MARK WOLLASTON
The above record (albeit not very clearly) does confirm a few details. The record indicates Mark’s father is Edward WOLLASTON, a farm labourer, and his mother is Elizabeth WOLLASTON (formerly CLARKE). It also confirms his birthplace as Wimblington. This looks very much like the Mark I have been tracking.
So it appears that the family uprooted to Lancashire after Mark’s birth before returning to Cambridgeshire before the 1871 census.
THE BAPTISM OF MARK WOLLASTON
On Ancestry.co.uk, I can find a reference to the baptism of Mark WOLLASTON in Benwick on the 11th of April 1863, naming both parents. This suggests their stay in Lancashire was a relatively short one.
THE DEATH OF MARK WOOLSTONE
We learn from this record that Mark WOOLSTONE died in the county lunatic asylum on 8th December 1916 from a heart-related condition. We don’t know why he was admitted in the first instance, but the record tells us he was recently in the Whittlesey workhouse. We know Margaret and the children were in and out of the Whittlesey workhouse, so we know the chances of this being our Mark are good. The age of 47 does raise a question, as he was most likely ten years older than that, but we have no idea how the registrar obtained the age. It could have been a pure guess.
AN ISLINGTON CONNECTION
Interestingly, Margaret Jane EDGES was in Islington in 1902 for the death of her daughter Winifred May EDGES. Margaret did not name the father on that child’s birth certificate (which was in Kensington), but it is quite feasible that Mark and Margaret actually met in Islington prior to his appearance on the census in Cambridgeshire in 1901.
If that is the case, why did she follow him to Cambridgeshire later and not before 1901? The records would strongly suggest to me that Winifred May EDGES was not the child of Mark WOOLSTON. So, why did she stay in Islington? She was clearly in poverty if she had to stay at the St. Pelagia’s home after the birth of Winifred May.
We know their first child Elizabeth WOOLERSON was born in 1905 in Cambridgeshire, three years after Margaret gave birth to Winifred May EDGES.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF WOOL
There are so many variations in Mark’s surname across all the records that it would be wise to be wary of it being the same man, but I would be confident that we have enough dots to connect each record to another record. I have listed all the variants below in chronological order.
Hopefully, there are one or two pieces of information that were not known to the family before, which they can use further to investigate other elements of Mark WOOLSTON’s past, but from what I can deduce, there is even less likely of a link to him being a MAYBRICK than Margaret. At least she had links to Whitechapel.
Mark has never once used the MAYBRICK name himself on any record, and there are no geographical, familial or circumstantial links to the MAYBRICKs. Well, almost none. We have a very tenuous link to Ramsey in Huntingdon via Laura WITHERS. She was later to become Laura MAYBRICK, wife of Michael MAYBRICK, who was born there in 1852. As I say, very tenuous.
Another challenge to either Mark or Margaret being MAYBRICKs is their birth years. We see the birth year 1859 / 1860 as the most commonly used for Mark WOOLSTON. This means if he was the son of James MAYBRICK and Sarah Ann ROBERTSON, he would have been born extremely early into the courtship of the couple.
The 1861 census does not have James listed, and Sarah worked as a hair jeweller under her maiden name. James was around twenty-two years old at that time. It is unlikely that James and Sarah Ann were even a couple by the time of Mark’s birth.
Even more troubling in the case of Margaret Jane EDGES is that James was firmly engaged to Florence CHANDLER at the time of her birth in June 1881. They married just two months later, in August. Plus, it would mean Sarah Ann ROBERTSON gave birth at 43 years of age.
Whilst the present evidence is overwhelming that neither Mark nor Margaret had a direct connection to the MAYBRICKs, we can’t ever be 100% certain that it wasn’t true. There has to be a reason why Margaret was so committed to ensuring the world knew she was a MAYBRICK.
Is it possible that James cheated on his fiancee with Sarah Ann and then hastily arranged a cover-up for the birth so it would not threaten the viability of his real marriage to Florence? Which, for me, would not be out of character for the man I believe James MAYBRICK to be. This could also explain why Sarah Ann listed herself as a widow on the 1881 census and reverted back to her maiden name. She would have to have been pregnant at the time of the census. Perhaps she was angry that James could be so callous?
It would also explain why Jacob James EDGES was the only member of his family to leave Whitechapel and move to the area of Chiswick in the late 1870s. Is Jessie Elizabeth EDGES also possibly a MAYBRICK?
Did James pay James and Elizabeth EDGES to move and then register the births as their own in a completely different part of London? How would we ever know?
Unfortunately, when the evidence suggests one thing, that one thing must be the established fact. As it stands, the established fact is that neither Mark nor Margaret were MAYBRICKs.
However, facts can be changed with new evidence. I actually do not believe this to be the final word.
JACK THE RIPPER: THREADS
Think you know Jack the Ripper? Think again.
In ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads’, Jay Hartley presents a compelling fictional exploration of the idea that the infamous serial killer was actually James Maybrick, a cotton merchant from Liverpool. Using a mix of fact and fiction, this historical crime thriller brings to life actual events and characters from the era in a way that will challenge everything you thought you knew about this unsolved case.
With gripping prose and meticulous attention to detail, Hartley paints a vivid picture of Maybrick’s life and his possible involvement in the gruesome murders that terrorised London’s Whitechapel district in 1888.
But the story doesn’t end there. Did one of Maybrick’s family members murder him in 1889, bringing an end to the Ripper’s reign of terror?
This debut novel will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the clues and try to piece together the truth behind one of history’s most baffling mysteries.
So if you’re ready to challenge your assumptions and dive into a world of intrigue and deception, ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads’ is the book for you.