LIVING TREES RESEARCH ©


STORY OF JOHN THORNBOROUGH
By Glenys J. Rasmussen, 4th Great Granddaughter, July 2006©

bobandglenysr8@gmail.com


WHEN JOHN THORNBOROUGH WAS NOT JOHN THORNBOROUGH Or An Explanation of Why It Took More Than 35 Years to Find The Man!

Well back in time, 1973 to be exact, I began what I thought would be an open and shut case of researching and documenting the finds for my 4th Great Grandfather, John THORNBOROUGH. I had family information, even a photo (see my website) and we all know how dependable that can be. In my innocence I believed it - all of it.

The Thornborough name has been passed down in my family as recently as a cousin and my grandmother proudly bore it as her middle name. It was patiently explained to me that he was a sailor (others said army) of the British Realm and died at sea in a terrible battle. Remember that will you - because it will come in handy later. Oh, and of course, we all knew what a tremendously uncommon name Thornborough was - almost no-one else carried such a name.

No-one was quite sure where John was born. They did know, of course, that he was married, else where would my grandmother have come from?? So, armed with this incredible, though slight knowledge I went off to slot John into his place in my family history. HUH!

Firstly, Thornborough and all of its derivatives are well planted in English soil and there are literally hundreds, even thousands of them. I knew about my 3rdggmother, Elizabeth Hamilton Thornborough who had married John ALLOWAY in Plymouth Charles and they ever so conveniently migrated to Australia in 1867. Her marriage certificate noted that her father was John Thornborough Pvt RN on the "Royal Adelaide". Just to make sure I obtained Elizabeth's death certificate from Victoria and again it listed John Thornborough as her father and her place of birth as East Stonehouse, Devon. Off I went to census records of East Stonehouse, beginning with 1861, just shortly before Elizabeth's marriage. Voila! There was John and children, (John's wife had died in 1860 I would find out later). It stated most firmly that John was a Retired Greenwich Pensioner, born in Dumfries, Scotland and was 59 years old. This was stunning information! I knew where and approximately when he was born. Boy was I nave!

I went through the births on Civil Registration and found each of the children on the census, sent for certificates and confirmation was made that the wife of John was Jane Hamilton. Just to cut through a lot of this I will mention here that I contacted the Devon Record Office and was supplied with the Thornborough birth, death and marriage entries, which gave me one earlier child to John and Jane as well as the marriage of J&J. Civil Reg. provided me with Jane's death. I marched off to Dumfries to find John. I spent almost 30 years looking for him there. I suppose a better researcher would say that's much too long, but I had no better information to guide me and as you will see, even his Navy records confirmed Dumfries, so he had to be there somewhere.

My first letter to the old PRO in London went in 1976 wherein I asked them for any information on one John Thornborough, with the census details for their guidance. Actually, they were very helpful and replied with their search results from the Admiralty:Accounting Department:Ships Musters: Series III. These results gave information on the Royal Adelaide and from its Description Book the very first concrete evidence that John Thornborough was indeed in the Royal Navy was in front of me and it included his Pensioner Ticket number. It stated he was born in the Parish of Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland 16 Jan 1807. It also stated he was married (he was by now a widower), but such a small error could be overlooked. They then listed all the ships he had served on from his enlistment in the Navy in 1850 until his discharge in 1861. My first niggle of doubt came when I read the HMS Indus information - again born in Dumfries, but this time September 1810. And just for fun each of the other ships gave various dates of birth ranging from 1806 to 1810, however all in Dumfries. I was just a bit nervous in this discrepancy of information, but I still knew he was from Dumfries, so I doubled and quadrupled my efforts over the next many years searching for him. I even received assistance from the Ewart Library in Dumfries as they searched every record they had available for my John, including Church of England records, but he could not be found. By now, of course, I knew to check every conceivable way of spelling Thornborough and became very creative in inconceivable ways to spell it.

Something else bothered me - the PRO was telling me he joined the Royal Navy in 1850 yet on his first and subsequent children's birth records (last child born in 1848) he stated he was a Private in the Royal Marines. Until someone put me straight, I thought they and the Navy were one in the same. So fired off several more letters over the years to the PRO and other entities seeking information on John Thornborough of the Royal Marines. Nothing. Then about 1 year ago, a wonderful and expert military researcher offered to look up John's records next time she was in London. She did, and she found him! Of course, also by now he was on the online database of military personnel on the National Archives, but it gave no more than I already knew. She went deeper and copied all of his Royal Marine records as well as all of the Pension records available, but I get ahead of myself. Lo and behold his Marine records stated he enlisted in July 1829 at Ulverston, Lancashire, and followed his recruiter to Plymouth, Devonshire. The pension records also stated that he was born at Ulverston, Lancs. Not a word about Dumfries, Scotland!

Of course, I cried. Then I got annoyed with John and wondered why he would say such a thing. And why he would lead me on such a long, merry chase. Then I got busy. John disappears from Devon census records after 1861, Elizabeth (my line mentioned above) marries and goes off to Australia, other children, Charlotte never marries, but has 2 children who both die as infants and she remains a servant in Cornwall probably for the rest of her life. Jane marries, lives in Devon then Canada then Devon again. John Hamilton joins the Royal Navy (honest -but he's another sticky wicket and is following in Dad's footsteps as far as hard to find) and Richard joins the Royal Army, fights in Egypt, returns to England in 1883 and promptly disappears. So I think perhaps John went to OZ with or after Elizabeth - he didn't - no record of him there at all. Perhaps he went to Canada with Jane - again nothing - although there are several Thornborough families in Canada - John is not one of them. So where on earth did he go? He must have died. Now, recall the story from the family that he died in a terrible battle at sea? Well, to give them their due, he was at sea and he actually did fight in a nasty battle in 1854 in the Crimea where he was severely wounded on the face and arm and awarded the Crimea Medal. But he didn't die then.

Civil Reg. again consulted and I searched and pulled every John Thornborough etal who died from 1861 to 1905. I then methodically checked each one. Meanwhile, the pension records arrived from England, stating Ulverston as place of birth. There was also an oblique notation in the bottom corner of the first page that gave some letters and numbers (which, thanks to an alert and helpful Lancashire lister have been identified) and then two names, Thomas and Agnes, no surname, no identification, nothing. Could they be his parents names? Under that it stated married, his address in East Stonehouse and 5 children. The record also included that his pension had been transferred in 1862 from Devonshire to Preston, Lancashire. Now, in those days, pensions had to be collected in person, so I knew that he had to be fairly close, so every village and town within 25 miles of Preston I searched. I looked for a Thomas and Agnes Thorn- anything just in case that was his parents names. Frustration set in big time. Nothing and again and again and again, nothing. I went to the census records - nothing. No John Thornborough who fit what I now knew. No Thomas and Agnes Thornborough. I kept going back to the one death entry from Civil Registration in 1895 in Ulverston Reg. District. This John Thornborough was 87 years old, so within the right time frame. I bit the bullet and sent for the certificate. After all, if it was wrong I could add it to the pile I already had. Certificate arrived and it stated that John was a Royal Navy Greenwich Pensioner! I jumped up and down for hours - I believed I had him. The informant at the death was one Edward Robinson - never heard of him, but it said he was a nephew so I thought I'd better follow him up.

Edward turned out to be the son of Edward and Elizabeth Robinson and in the 1871 census of Flookburgh (just a hop, skip and jump from Ulverston) there is a John HADDATH living with the family (Elizabeth's a widow by now) and he's a Greenwich Pensioner and the same age my John would be. Funny. My friend in London checks for a John HADDATH or variant in the pension records and the Royal Navy. Nothing. I check the 1861 census and find Edward and Elizabeth and family but no John. Search the whole area from 1841 forward - only one other John Had(d)ath of close age and he never marries - remains a farmer and lives with his unmarried sibs through 1891. So go forward again to 1881 and look for Elizabeth Robinson with son Edward - find them - again no John. By now I've torn out most of my hair, become impossible to live with and vowed 20 times a day to give up genealogy and research.

Disheartened I decide I might as well finish the 1881 census of the whole blinking area and there is John! This time living with the Hill family as a lodger. I hurry and pull up the 1891 - find the Hills - no John - but in blessed Flookburgh I find Edward Robinson and his new wife and living with them is John Thom Burrow!! No wonder I couldn't find him as Thornborough or whatever. So if John is uncle to Edward that means Edward's mother must be John's sister. I track her down and discover she was Elizabeth HADATH, daughter of Thomas and Agnes HADATH of Cartmel and area. By now I've got messages flying to the Lancashire list (the Devon listers are glad I'm finally gone with all my weird questions and lamentations.) A great day indeed arrives when in my inbox is a message from a Thornborrow descendant who has the films of parish registers for the area, including Cartmel, Flookburgh, etc. He offers to read them and find John's birth (census records from 1871 state John was born at Cartmel and then Flookburgh). He does - John does not appear. What! He has to be there - my benefactor searches again, still no John. I'm thinking - if Elizabeth Robinson is a Hadath and daughter of Thomas and Agnes Hadath and if Agnes just happens to be a Thornborough so Cliff searches the films yet again, but this time for Hadath.

Elizabeth is found - baptised at Cartmel in 1818, siblings also found, including one John baptised at Lower Allithwaite in 1806. I struggle - this birth year is a couple of years too early. Then Cliff sends a clincher - Thomas Hadath married Agnes Thornborrow in 1805 at Cartmel. So does this mean I have finally found my John - only he's not a Thornborough at all?? Another Lancashire lister writes, months after first seeing a message from me. He's a Hadath descendant and has written myriad works on the family. They have a lost John who joined the Royal Navy, but no record could ever be found - wonder if we have one in the same John? Then the proof - the informant at the death of Agnes Hadath in Flookburgh is none other than ------ John THORNBOROUGH!!!! The Hadath researchers know of course, that Agnes was a Thornborrow, but have no idea who this John could have been and why would he be living with Agnes and be at her side at her death. I enter with my queries, guesses and pleas for help and it all begins to make sense.

So, my dear 4th great grandfather, John THORNBOROUGH was really not - he was John HADATH, who for some reason not yet completely known, (but we do have some good, substantial ideas), took his mother's maiden name as his surname, joined the Royal Marines and then for some completely unknown reason when re-enlisting in the Royal Navy, decided to say he was born in Dumfries. I'd blame the wound to his head, but that came later. Perhaps something else equally as interesting will be found in the future to clear up that little mystery. I'm not going to worry about it right now though. I've got my man, at long last and thanks, deep and sincere thanks to the many who helped me along my way, but especially to Judy, Cliff, and Dick. They gave me hope when hope was just about as impossible to find as John!

And now, the living story of John THORNBOROUGH and his immediate family.

John HADDAH was born 4 December 1806 at Allithwaite, Lancashire, England to parents Thomas and Agnes THORNBORROW HADATH or HADDATH or HADDAH. His parents had him baptised in the local parish church in Cartmel 22 Feb 1807. John was the oldest of six children. His siblings were: Thomas HADDATH born 18 Mar 1808 at Allithwaite, baptised at Cartmel 21 Mar 1808. Thomas died at the early age of 13 years on 14 Jan 1821 at Allithwaite. Next was Isabella Barber HADDATH born 12 Nov 1810 at Allithwaite, baptised at Cartmel 2 Dec 1810. Isabella married Edward BURROW 6 Feb 1830 at Cartmel and they became the parents of nine children; then we have Agnes HADATH born 16 Aug 1812 at Allithwaite, baptised at Cartmel 14 March 1813. Agnes married James LOWIS 3 Feb 1838 at Cartmel and they became the parents of 10 children; James HADATH followed baptised Cartmel 3 Nov 1816. James joined the British Army and spent much of his time in Ireland. He married an Irish lass of County Kildare, Mary unknown probably in County Kildare and they became the parents of five children. These children born in Ireland are living with their parents in Warwickshire in 1861 and with their aunt, James' sister Elizabeth HADATH ROBINSON in the 1871 census - neither parent can be located, although there is the death of a James HADATH in Ulverston RD in June Qtr 1885, aged 72 years. Following James and the last child of Thomas and Agnes, is Elizabeth HADDATH, also known as Betsy. Elizabeth was baptised at Cartmel 18 Oct 1818. She married Edward ROBINSON of Flookburgh, Lancashire, 10 June 1846 at Flookburgh and they became the parents of eight children. Sadly for Elizabeth, Edward died at the young age of 50 in 1867 at Flookburgh.

At the age of 19 while John was working at his trade of twine spinner, a recruiter for the Royal Marines came visiting the Cartmel area and John accepted the invitation to serve God, King and Country and made his Attestation and Oath at Plymouth, Devonshire the 5th of May 1829. He signed (X) using the name John THORNBOROUGH. He stated he was born at Ulverston, Lancashire as follows:
Date of attestation: 4 May 1829
Name: John Thornborough (4 marks, 4 May 1849) translation: 4 wounds or scars as of this date.
Age at Attestation: 19
Size: 5ft 8ins
Where born: Ulverston, Lancaster
Hair: Light Eye: Hazel Complexion: Fair
Where enlisted: HQ [Plymouth]
Trade: Ropemaker
Observations: 1st class, 4 May 1843
When set off rolls: 19 July 1850; Reason: Discharged Length of Service

(The Ropemaker made up lengths of yarn by overlaying the combed hemp ,and this in turn was layed into the required lengths of rope in the rope walks.)

John married Jane HAMILTON 23 January 1834 at Plymouth Charles, Devonshire and they eventually became the parents of six children:

John Hamilton THORNBOROUGH baptised 12 July 1835 at East Stonehouse, died 9 Feb 1838 at East Stonehouse age 3 years.

Elizabeth Hamilton THORNBOROUGH born 17 January 1839 at Pembroke Dock, St.Mary, Pembroke, Wales. She married John ALLOWAY 9 December 1861 at Stoke Dameral, Devonshire. They became the parents of nine children and in 1867 with one child in tow and one on the way they sailed for Newcastle, NSW, Australia. John was, at the time, a Police Constable and for two months after their arrival in Newcastle, he continued in the police force. When little William Henry was just about 4 months old, John left the Police Force and the family pulled up stakes, loaded everything they owned into a bullock wagon and walked and rode across the Blue Mountains on a track that parts would later become the Hume Highway to Melbourne, Victoria, where they lived out their lives. Elizabeth died at Essendon, Victoria 30 June 1918 and John 1 August 1924. Elizabeth and John are my 3rdggparents.

John Hamilton THORNBOROUGH (#2) was born 22 January 1841 at East Stonehouse. He joined the Royal Navy in 1855 as a boy 2nd Class and remained in the Navy until pensioned off in 1879. He married Alice Maud GARDNER of Clapton, Middlesex at St. John Hackney, London 22 May 1876. John and Alice are found in the 1881 Census of St. John Hackney were he lists himself as 40 years of age, a Naval Pensioner, born Cark, Lancashire. They are not found together again. John continues to reside with John and Louisa Clement in St. John Hackney, and is found in both the 1891 and the 1901 census of that place, essentially in the same area as he was found with Alice in 1881. It is supposed that Alice died before 1891. John lists himself as Single in both 1891 and 1901, as a Naval Pensioner and of Flookburgh, Lancashire (of which Cark was a part). John Hamilton Thornborough died in the Hackney Infirmary 5 Feb 1914 and an inquest was held on the body 7 Feb 1914 where it was found he died of natural causes, heart failure and chronic kidney disease. He was buried at Plaistow Cemetery by the Guardians of the Infirmary. No mention made of any family. Perhaps he gave his place of birth in 1881-1901 as Lancashire, Flookburgh (and Cark) because that's where his father had gone to live and was originally from. Until further evidence is gleaned from his Naval pension records or other extant records, we may never know his reasons.

Charlotte Ann THORNBOROUGH was born 11 Nov 1843 at East Stonehouse and although she bore two daughters, both of whom died within 18 months of their birth, she never married. She was a servant to the MOGG family of Stoke Dameral from the time she was approximately 20 years old until past 60 years of age.

Jane Hamilton THORNBOROUGH was child number five. She was born 24 January 1846 at East Stonehouse. She married Thomas LAUGHLIN, a soldier in the British Army barracked at Raglan Barracks. They were married at Stoke Dameral 20 July 1863. Only one known child has been found. The family migrated to Canada and can be found in the 1881, 1901 and 1911 Census of Ontario. Jane and her husband died in Essex, Ontario, Canada.

The last child of John and Jane is Richard Henry THORNBOROUGH, born 26 November 1848 at East Stonehouse. Richard joined the British Army as a drummer/piper in the 45th and 75th Regiment of Foot. The 75th Regiment of Foot was amalgamated into the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders and spent time in Malta and Egypt from 1881 until his return to England (Gosport, Hampshire) 31 October 1883. Richard is later found in Detroit, Wayne Co. Michigan, USA and can be seen on the 1910 Detroit census. He is also found on the 1911 census of Essex Co. Ontario, Canada, where he lived near his sister Jane Hamilton THORNBOROUGH LAUGHLIN. It is believed he died in either Mighigan or Quebec, Canada before 1920, although no death record has been located. There is a marriage for a Richard H. THORNBOROUGH to a Mary Jane WATERSON 29 Oct 1884 at Detroit, Wayne Co. Michigan. Three children were born to this couple and the oldest son's marriage record gives information on his father Richard, that fits well our Richard. Although we believe this to be the marriage of our Richard, it is not proven.

John served during the Crimean War aboard HMS Albion. He received the Crimea War Medal. The following record from that ship of Killed and Wounded Naval Brigades reported in "Northern Times" November 7th 1854:
John THORNBOROUGH Sick berth attendant, wound Rt arm and face from shell.
Also: Thornborough John Sick Bay Attendant H.M.S. Albion Severe Wound Bombardment of Sebastopol 17 October 1854

John also received 3 Good Conduct Badges during his service in the Navy. He was discharged to go ashore, his usual place of residence being Stonehouse, Devon and pensioned off in December 1861. In 1862 his pension records were transferred from the Plymouth, Devon office to the Preston, Lancashire office, indicating John had moved back "home". Jane, his wife had died 3 January 1860 at Stoke Dameral, his children were either married, getting married or had joined the service themselves. It was time for him to go and see his aged and ill mother. His father, Thomas HADATH had passed away 13 February 1855 at Flookburgh. His mother would die 10 January 1868 also at Flookburgh and John was the informant on her death certificate and with her when she died.

John's Royal Marine Discharge Papers are as follows:
Discharge Papers:
83rd Company "Length of Service" reason for discharge. Date 19 July 1850. Division Plymouth. Name John Thornborough. Enlisted 4th/5th May 1829. Approved 4th May 1829 - JB. Geo. Vinnicombe, Col. Comdt.
83rd Company, John Thornborough Pt. 4 Marks. Served from 5th May 1829 to 19th July 1850. Received 21pounds 2 shillings 15pence.
Served on board:
Bramble 23 Aug 1830 to 25 Jany 1831 5 months 2 days
San Josef 5 Dec 1831 to 20th Augt 1832 8 months 15 days
Talavera 21 August 1832 to 23 Feby 1833 6 months 3 days
San Josef 3 May 1833 to July 1834 1 year 2 months 1 day
Malabar 28 July 1834 to 5 Jany 1838 3pounds 5shillings 8pence
San Josef 6 Sep 1839 to 9 Sep 1842 3 years 3 days
Caledonia 19 Aug 1843 to 29 Jany 1844 5 months 10 days
Caledonia 29 Mar 1844 to 28 April 1845 1 year 1 month
Caledonia 23 May 1845 to 27 Jany 1848 2 years 8 months 4 days
Howe & Odin supy 1 June 1848 to 1 June 1850 2 years
Afloat 15 years 5 months 16 days
On Shore 5 years 8 months 29 days
Total 21 years 2 months 15 days
Ex'd UFK. Not ent. Dev. Dep. Book
Notes to the side state:
NT NNC Thomas Agnes
59 Georges Street, East Stonehouse,
Married, 5 children, 5ft 9in.

HMS Royal Adelaide in a formal and a rather romantic view.

His Royal Navy papers list him as follows:
Married Trade brought up to: Twine spinner
No. out of pensioner's ticket: 3163
Usual Place of Residence: Davenport
Ships served in:
Name Rating Entry Discharge
Albion ABS 26 Sep 1850 5 Jan 1856
Royal William ABS 19 Feb 1856 1 Sep 1856
Sans Pareil ord 2 Sep 1856 26 Aug 1858
San Pareil ord 27 Aug 1858 15 Feb 1859

After the death of his mother, John went to live with his sister Elizabeth ROBINSON also at Flookburgh. For some reason, he moved his lodgings and by 1881 was a boarder in the Hill home. No relationship to that family can be found. By 1891 John was now living with his nephew, Edward ROBINSON, son of sister Elizabeth. It was this Edward who would become the pivotal informant on John's death certificate and his relationship led me to the rest of the HADDATH family. The death certificate gives the following information on John THORNBOROUGH:
Age 87 years. Occupation Fisherman and A Naval Pensioner. Living in Lower Holker, Flookburgh at time of death. Informant: Edward Robinson, Nephew present at death, of Lower Holker, Flookburgh, Lancashire.

Although no real knowledge of the reason John used his mother's maiden name, is known, what is known is the character of the man. A great aunt of mine remembers her mother telling her that he was a kind and gentle man. Large in stature for the day and a deep booming voice. He loved his wife Jane very much and after her death found it difficult to go on and suffered some melancholy. He was a hard worker and fished for a living after moving to Lancashire. It is this aunt who supplied the photograph of John and Jane found on this website as well as the photos of Elizabeth and John ALLOWAY and Charlotte THORNBOROUGH. I am so grateful for the experience I have had searching for this good man. It has made him so alive to me and brought both he and his family into greater focus. My grandmother, Isabel Thornborough RUSSELL FASHAM carried the Thornborough name proudly and well and if John was anything like Grandma, he was wonderful! I am also very grateful for the opportunity to bring flesh to his bones and give him a place of honour on our family tree. It is so good to finally know you Grandpa John.

Glenys Rasmussen

Although John was not a peg-legged pensioner - this cartoon cariacture gives us a good idea of the uniform he may have worn. Also below, an example of a Good Conduct Medal, though not from the time period John served. And then a lovely picture of John and Jane shortly before Jane's death in 1860.