The search for my BARRATT ancestry started in the early 1990s when I lived in NW London and was able to visit St Catherine’s House for BMD indexes and Chancery Lane for Census. My father died in 1945 and I was adopted by my step-father and so became a LOGAN. My mother did not maintain contact with my father’s family and apart from snippets of information from my godmother (mother’s elder sister) I had little to go on apart from my adoption and original birth certificate.
First step was my father’s family, so by trawling through BMD indexes I managed to find father’s siblings – 7 including my father – and the fact that all had died except number 7 who was 10 years younger than number 6. I found she married, had a son and was widowed but where was she living? She was born in London but moved to Swansea on marriage but there was no trace of her in South Wales. Some lateral thinking was required and my wife suggested we look in the London phone directories at the local library – there was a name and phone number that looked good so my wife phoned and the rest is history. My aunt, now aged 100, lived not far from us and was able to put us in contact with two of my first cousins. The fact that aunt had a rare married name helped in the search but it took about 5 years to get to this point. She told me the story of how my great-grandmother at the age of 11 was painted by Holman HUNT, the pre-Raphaelite painter, on his visits to the Sussex coast, the picture now hangs in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
I now had enough information to work back through the census from 1891 to 1841. I found g-g- grandfather Benjamin BARRATT, a tailor, in Bath, Somerset, married to Elizabeth BATT in 1829. Unfortunately the 1841 census had him born ‘out of county’ and I couldn’t find him in the 1851 census to find where he was born. However, his wife Elizabeth (now a widow) was in London with daughter Catherine, her son Benjamin (g-grandfather) having moved there with her brother previously. A search of FreeBMD revealed there was a Benjamin who died in the workhouse near Bath in 1848, but with no workhouse records there was still no lead as to where he was born.
What to do? I visited Bath, took pictures of the church where he married and the street where he worked, searched archives of newspapers etc but no leads. Now, when son Benjamin moved to London and married Catherine BROWN, the middle name BAKER appeared in his name and that of his father on the certificate. Could this possibly be a mother’s maiden name carried on from the past? A random search of probate records, at the National Archives, Kew, came up with a William Baker BARRATT. Now Benjamin’s son with Catherine was William Benjamin Baker BARRATT, my grandfather. I had to go to High Holborn to get a copy of the will that showed that William Baker BARRATT was a master tailor in Sidmouth, Devon. Could my Benjamin possibly be a sibling of the master tailor as he was in the same trade? In the 1841 census Benjamin was aged 35, same as his wife Elizabeth, which, by my understanding of age recording then, meant he could have been aged 35 to 39 giving a birth year of between 1802 and 1806.
Now research began to speed up – with help from the Devon Family Society Tree House I discovered that the master tailor was born in East Budleigh (14 Sep 1790) to John BARRATT and Jane BAKER – the middle name at last!!! Was my Benjamin a son of John and Jane? A visit to the Devon Record Office Heritage Centre to search East Budleigh and Sidmouth parish records proved that John and Jane moved to Sidmouth and added to the family there. (I have since discovered, from on-line apprentice records, that a master tailor, John BARRATT, had an apprentice in Sidmouth in 1796). However, with limited time, I searched for Benjamin from 1800 to 1806 – nothing.
Then along came the “Knight in Shining Armour” (perhaps a Norman knight considering the name Barratt/Barrett) in the form of Devon parish records on-line with Findmypast. It was late into the evening when I widened the search for Benjamin. I had missed him by one year as he was born in 1799 to John and Jane. However, a bit late in the day but I checked the age on the death certificate of Benjamin, who died in 1848 in the workhouse, he was 49. This meant he was born in 1799 so I had a match and he had told fibs in the 1841 census!
All of the above sounds very convincing but is it my ancestry, as it is all based on the middle name BAKER, the occupation as a tailor and the birth date match of 1799. I am fairly certain that William Baker BARRATT was the first born of John and Jane BARRATT and was baptised with his mother’s maiden name as the middle name; so what made son-of-Benjamin introduce it into his and his father’s name on his marriage certificate? If he hadn’t, I would still be stuck in Bath!
My first cousin and I have had a Y-DNA test – a perfect match, so I am definitely a BARRATT! I have managed to list descendants of William Baker BARRATT, the Sidmouth master tailor, who I am confident is the elder brother of my Benjamin, through the 1841-1911 census and enter them in the Lost Cousins web site. I am really looking for a male descendent from the Sidmouth family to compare a Y-DNA test with – BARRATT or BARRETT. Any takers?
My Y-DNA37 results are listed in the BARRETT Project with FamilyTreeDNA and the Devon DNA Project. When I first decided to have a Y-DNA test, in the early years of ancestral research, I was a bit sceptical about its use. However, it has confirmed the relationship to my first cousin and so for those of us fascinated by our ancestry, and now with Devon parish records available on-line, it can be a useful aid to confirm research into our Devonion past.
Since my original article first appeared in The Devon Family Historian where I indicated, with reasonable confidence, that my ancestry went back to Clyst Hydon, I have since discovered from correspondence with another BARRATT family researcher that this is most likely not the case as there were two John BARRA(E)TTs baptised and married within two years of each other in East Budleigh. Also, in the GENUKI Devon Freeholders transcripts there is a Benjamin BARRA(E)TT, a miller, listed 1753 to 1770 who I have not yet found any BMBs for. The search continues ...