Need help connecting Jane & Sarah Shield across the pond, Massachusetts from Durham County, England (1820-1890)

+2 votes

I'm trying to connect Sarah (Shield) Dodds (b c1821) an English immigrant who was living in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1850-60's.  Her husband, Thomas Dodds was from Scotland. They moved to Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey by 1870.  They were tailors. 

Neither of their children had children, so the best chance of connecting them may be back in England.

Her sister Jane Shield (b c1823) shows up in their household in the 1855 census in Massachusetts and moves with them to New Jersey.

A few good clues from the wills of daughter Mary Dodds and sister Jane Shield:

  • Mary's 1887 will mentions Wiliiam P. Shield of Durham, England and his youngest daughter Miss Nellie Shield.

  • Jane's 1890 will mentions William P. Shield of Littleburn Colliery, Durham, England.  As well as Katherine Shield, now of Vineland, NJ. (But no relationship to any of the Shields is mentioned). Jane's will and Thomas Dodds will also mentions John P. Ashworth, of Vineland, but I think he was also from England. ( Adding: Katherine shields b c1872) m John C Barretta)

If anyone can help, I'd be grateful! 

(Edit to add: And I'm hoping someone will take on doing the connecting from here on out :-) 

Update: This seems to be the correct William P Shields. Can anyone figure out how they are related? Siblings? Cousins?

WikiTree profile: Sarah Dodds
in Genealogy Help by M Cole G2G6 Mach 4 (45.5k points)
edited by M Cole

5 Answers

+1 vote
Wrong info sorry
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Thanks for looking!
+2 votes

 I found a marriage for Sarah Shield in FreeBMD which has Thomas Dodds on same page, registered in June quarter 1845 at Newcastle upon Tyne district which is in Northumberland. (Also here from FamilySearch)

So it might be worth widening your search to the adjacent county of Northumberland as well.  My Atkinson ancestors moved from Northumberland to Durham before they emigrated to Australia, so it might mean that movement from the one to the other was common?

I also noticed that the sister Jane is already living with the family in the 1860 and 1870 USA censuses, so if might be worth seeing if anything can be found in the 1851 census of England, though I couldn't see anything in a quick look.

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (535k points)
Promising leads. Thank you. In my quick searches, I noticed a lot of similar name in both Northumberland and Durham, so that makes sense.
+2 votes

No guarantee of connecting, but there was a William P Shield  born c1834 in Hetton, County Durham, who was alive in 1891 and living in Westoe with his son John:

I would try to trace William’s family (looking for a daughter Ellen/Nellie) and see if he was a brother or cousin etc of Sarah.

by Katie Fuller G2G6 Mach 3 (33.3k points)

That census naming John G as head of household, and son of the  William P., gives him born about 1866 - so looking for a John G Shield about 1866 gives :

GRO Reference: 1866  M Quarter in GATESHEAD  Volume 10A  Page 726

A possibility for the "Nellie" might be Eleanor :

GRO Reference: 1878  M Quarter in DURHAM  Volume 10A  Page 370

Yes that looks like the right family, and Eleanor b 1878 seems to be the youngest daughter of William P. I didn’t realize the census index in family search had split the entry in two in the 1881 census
Just one of the things that irritate me about FS’s search functionality!
If you have a complete census (even split to another page) to use for the names of the children, that's good -- because there is at least one other William Shield in Durham, who also married a Mary Smith.  (Except, the "other" Mary Smith was Mary Ann Smith.)  Their children are differently named, thank goodness.
There are a couple of trees on ancestry (I keep forgetting I have access through the local library). They show William P as the son of Elizabeth Shield and an unknown father.  Shortly after his birth she married a William Millbourne.  

Elizabeth, d/o Henry Shield and Elizabeth Curry.
+4 votes
I added citations for their death records to their profiles; one can purchase certificates from the State Archives (which usually list parents' names) or pull the microfilm reel in person for free, but they are closed due to the pandemic so neither option is available now.

The Vineland Evening Journal is on  "T. Dodds, Merchant Tailor" ran ads almost daily in the 1870s.  At the same time, there is a "S. & M.E. Dodds" selling flannels and seasonal fashions.  On 10 Jun 1881, Fri, Page 4 runs an add that says "S. & M.E. Dodds at the old stand of the late Thomas Dodds Offer the Remainder of their Stock of Cloths including some new blue flannel cloths at a bargain..."

This Miss M. E. Dodds (Mary E. Dodds) appears in the paper weekly in the 1880s, in her role as secretary of the C.L.S.C. Alpha Circle, a cultural club. She died April 3, 1889, aged 37. There's no obituary, but the club reported they made a memorial to "her beloved aunt"

On 27 May 1890, page 3: "Mr. William P. Shield and daughter, relatives of Miss Jane Shield of this place are here on a visit from England."

Vineland is a small city, developed in the 1860s as an alcohol-free town.  Searching the paper archives, there are lots of Shields and Dodds living there now, with a 2018 obit referencing his parents Thomas and Jane Shield immigrating from Durham in 1929.  Perhaps they are all part of the same transatlantic clan? They are not much represented on Wikitree at the moment outside those you're working on.
by H Husted G2G6 Mach 6 (66.5k points)
Thank you...great information. I believe Katherine Shields was the daughter that came to visit. There’s an immigration record for May 1890. She must have decided to stay on in the US.
I do wish they had been more specific than relative. I’m guessing he’s a nephew but perhaps more distant.
+1 vote

The 1861 census for Durham St Giles has William and Elizabeth Milbourne and their family, also included in the household is Elizabeth's brother William Shield, born Longbenton, Northumberland in 1810, and he is a tailor.

William's baptism was on 1 July 1810 in Longbenton, the son of Henry Shield and Elizabeth Curry.

by Carol Keeling G2G6 Mach 6 (65.8k points)

I'm going to guess that this William may be uncle, cousin, or even more distantly related, as this one is born 20 or so years too early - and he is single at the age of 49 years.   But 1810-ish would be about right to have an older brother who was father to a son in 1834.  1834 William was a collier/coal miner, and born in Co Durham.


Edited to add :

That said - Elizabeth and William Milbourne/Milburn did have a son they named William Percival, so you'd have to presume that all these William Percival guys have a common ancestor, somewhere.

Here's a possible scenario, the birth dates don't quite tally, but the names all fit.

Henry Shield married Elizabeth Curry in Longbenton, Northumberland on 30 December 1807.

They had Mary Ann, born in Longbenton in 1808, William in Longbenton in 1810, and Elizabeth in Longbenton in 1813, father Henry is shown as a sawyer for the last two.

They then move to South Shields.

They have daughter Sarah in 1815, father Henry is a sawyer, Jane in 1818, father Henry is a glass maker, and daughter Ann in 1820, Henry is shown as a grocer.

Elizabeth died in Newcastle and was buried in Longbenton on 26 April 1821, aged 36 (DOB 1785).

Henry died in Lyons, Hetton le Hole, Durham in 1834, aged 62, (DOB 1772).

Elizabeth Shield (born 1813) had William Percival Shield (father unknown) in Lyons, Hetton le Hole in 1834, she then married William Milburn.

This would make William Percival Shield the nephew of Sarah and Jane Shield, as Elizabeth was their sister.

For a connection, Elizabeth Curry, (wife of Henry Shield), baptised Longbenton 5 June 1785, the daughter of Ralph and Jane, was the sister of Thomas Curry, baptised Longbenton 29 December 1782. Thomas is already connected.

(Sourced from FreeReg, Familysearch and FMP).

I thinks it’s all starting to fit together! I’m totally unfamiliar with English records/research. I’ll take a look at the South Shields records.

And a connection to the tree!

I've sourced Henry's profile for you, mainly used FreeReg. All the links can be clicked on. When you create other family members, you can just copy and paste all my sources from Henry. Let me know if you are missing any other sources and I'll help add them for you.

Carol, thanks so much.  The only thing I'm hesitating a little on is the 5 year difference in ages between English and American records.  The age difference between them is the same.  Did they just decide to shave off five years?

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