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Bella's Baptism Record Mystery

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Bella "Isabella" (Beilby) Richardson - what's the problem?

Isabella (Beilby) Richardson (bef.1769-1837)

Bella is her name recorded on her baptism and burial records. Isabella is recorded on some of the baptism records of her children with Robert Richardson, whom she married on 8 Mar 1790 in Kirkburn.

Key Points / Problem

- Bella Beilby was Baptised in Kirkburn 2 October 1769. Her father is recorded as Michael Beilby, Labourer.
- She is referenced in the will of Uncle Walter of Customs as his late sister. The father of Uncle Walter of Customs is definitely Walter, Labourer, and mother is Elizabeth. It is referenced on Bella's profile that there are "No baptismal records found for Walter, George or John sons of Michael Beilby" (ie. those mentioned in Walter's Will). This is because they are not the son's of Michael - they are the son's of Walter Beilby (bef.1737-bef.1801), Labourer, and Elizabeth (Danby) Beilby (1745-).


- Do we need to resolve how to represent Bella in WikiTree? And confidently conclude, one way or another, her parentage given the discrepancies which have presented themselves?

My Thoughts on the Answer?

- I think so; and input is required to question, add to, and confirm this analysis so an appropriate decision can be made and recorded. And relevant profiles updated if/as required.
- Further, I believe the Vicar involved made a mistake and we should listen to the Journal of William Richardson and the Will of Uncle Walter of Customs and determine that Walter Labourer and his wife Elizabeth Danby are the parents of Isabella/Bella.

Baptism Records

There are a couple of sources on FindMyPast of the actual parish registers. Michael, Labourer, is recorded as father in both registers even though they are physically different.


1) https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=S2%2FGBPRS%2FYORKSHIRE%2F007909258%2F01490&parentid=GBPRS%2FYORKSHIRE%2FBAP%2F500492935
2) A Copy: https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=GBPRS%2FYORKSHIRE%2F007587942%2F00667&parentid=GBPRS%2FYORKSHIRE%2FBAP%2F1698786
This is the transcription of both[1]:
First name(s); Bella
Last name; Beilby
Gender; Female
Birth year; -
Birth place; -
Baptism year; 1769
Baptism date; 02 Oct 1769
Place; Kirkburn
County; Yorkshire
Country; England
Father's first name(s); Michael
Father's last name; Beilby
Mother's first name(s); -
Mother's last name; -
Record set; England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975
Category; Life Events (BDMs)
Subcategory; Parish Baptisms
Collections from; England, Great Britain

Printed Register

Source, a PRINTED REGISTER of Kirkburn published in 2010:
Daniel Hall the Curate was ordained 1740 and died Leven 1801 aged 85. He signs Kirkburn Bishop Transcript as Curate, twice as Minister 1746/7 and 1799/80.
As curate of Leven he resided in the parsonage house there. The style of the writing in the images of the register makes it look as if entries are made in batches very well written and with an even hand, the three entries at the foot of the page of Michael's entry appear different suggesting those last three entries are made one at a time, but from notes.
So it appears he was not the resident Curate or Minister hence when the first Beilby Kilburn baptism was performed, after the Bainton baptisms, he would probably not have been overly familiar with the family and a case of mistaken identity a real possibility.

Who is Michael, Labourer?


Michael Snr baptised 1717 Kirkburn - 1785 buried @ Walkington
Arabella Holiday 1716 Kirkburn - 1790 Buried @ Walkington
Married at Kirkburn on 13 May 1736
Michael Jnr baptised 1742 Kirkburn - 1809 buried @ Hull
Anne Fenby 1755 Hutton Cranswick / 1799 Hutton Cranswick
Married at Hutton Cranswick on 15 April 1777
Note: Michael declares himself a "batchelor" on his 1777 marriage so we can scrub idea of a short lived/unknown earlier marriage though being unmarried does not prevent him fathering a child. But the following year the same vicar labels a child as base born to a single woman suggesting he tells it like it is. So why not in this case? Remember there are no marriage records tying Michael to Elizabeth Danby which would align to this generation's Michael.

If daughter of Michael Snr and Arabella, he would have been 52 and Arabella 51. Both were still alive. Too old? Their last son Jonathon was born 1760. Would Michael be termed a Labourer at this stage - there was no occupation listed on his death record.

If daughter of Michael Jnr, he would have been 37. He did not marry Anne until 8 years later. Therefore mother will most likely remain unknown. Would both Michael and Walter be "Labourers" in 1769?

In 1778 when Michael Jnr and Anne's first child was baptised in Hutton Cranswick, daughter Jane, his Occupation was Husbandman. Jane died in 1810 in Hull but was buried in Hutton Cranswick.

Michael Jnr left a Will, an abstract of which is available[2]. Bella is not mentioned in it though his children since he married are. The 1805 Probate/Will mentioned on the profile of Bella is not the correct Michael.

Baptisms for the children of Walter, Labourer, were performed at Bainton until Bella's. Bella's was at Kirkburn, as were the remainder of Walter's children.

Did the Clerk make a simple mistake in that he should simply have written Walter, Labourer instead? Was he simply confused between the two brothers?

Why would they bother to baptise her as Michael's, (because it was the truth? C) if it was agreed that Bella would grow up as Walter's daughter - which she seeming did based on Uncle Walter Custom's Will? Or was it all above board to the adults??

If it was a simple clerical mistake, and her father is Walter, Labourer, and mother Elizabeth Danby, she fits perfectly between George and John. Would Walter and Elizabeth have left a gap in their own family making to make room for Michael's daughter? (Illness, absence, bad humour)

Name / Yrs ApartBapt / BurialBapt / Burial
Matthew 1761-unknown Bainton / unknown
Walter +2 1763-1764 Bainton / Bainton
George +2 1765-1849 Bainton / Nafferton
?? Bella +4 1769-1837 Kirkburn / Watton
John +3 1771-1771 Kirkburn / Kirkburn
Ann +2 1773-1773 Kirkburn / Kirkburn
John +3 1776-1808 Kirkburn / Hull
Walter +2 1778-1843 Kirkburn / Cottingham

Bella and Robert Richardson were married by Banns 1790 and there are no clues on their marriage records as to who her father is. As marriages before civil registration did not request/record fathers name regular documents are not going to supply this definitive info.

Therefore the question arises - how accurate is what our 'non resident' Vicar wrote down, possibly some time after the event of Bella's baptism? It is important we give weight instead to what the people concerned (eg. Uncle Walter Custom's in his Will) tell us about their nearest relatives. Likelihood of this particular Vicar making a mistake Vs her brother…..???

Of the marriage records for other "siblings", ie. those children of Walter Labourer and Elizabeth who did marry, here are the details in order of age:

- Matthew, outcome unknown - under investigation; most likely died young.
- Cowkeeper George and Anne Briggs were married by Banns 1799.
- John and Jane Robinson were married by License, 1791.
- Uncle Walter of Customs and Ellis Boyes and Jane Frank were married by License, in 1805 and 1820 respectively.

So there are no hints there!

WikiTree is also showing Elizabeth Danby as wife of both Michael Beilby and Walter Beilby. There are no records linking Elizabeth to Michael, only records linking Elizabeth to Walter. This needs to be updated unless evidence can be discovered.

Can anything be revealed through her name? Her "grandmother" was Arabella and there are records for many Arabella and Isabella Holiday's, as there are Isabella's on the Beilby side; of various spellings and places. If any are closer relations is not known.

One Further thought on the topic which weighs against Michael Labourer. There is another daughter who hasn’t been touched on belonging to Michael & wife Ann Fenby[3] ....There is a baptism in Etton 1785[4] daughter of Michael Beilby farmer with an Arabella burial in Hull Holy Trinity 14 April 1804[5] no age or relationship given. Were Michael Labourer also the father of Bella Richardson that would mean he had two daughters bearing same name....

(with thanks to the anonymous SAH for review and recent input).

Please provide your thoughts, questions, etc below

Comments by Cass

I am always reluctant to assert that the "official" record is wrong without good reason. It's difficult to see how a cleric who performed a physical act for a family managed to get the wrong name for the father yet settle on the name of his brother. (Unless the were both there and the cleric really didn't care about what he was doing).

An unmarried woman could not say a man was her child's father just to get the child baptised. Dad must have been at the ceremony or at least well known to everyone present to have his name recorded. Therefore father should have been Michael Senior or Michael Junior or some other Michael. Discount Michael Junior as he was not married at the time, doesn't seem to have had an earlier wife, and doesn't mention Bella in his will. Some other Michael is fanciful. Michael Senior is just possible but it's stretching his wife's fertility a bit. (Especially if it is thought that Arabella Holiday was actually Isabella Halliday as appears in some online trees). On the other hand we do not know when Bella was born.

Walter Beilby's will is a problem. Searching has produced no other Arabella, Isabella or Bella Beilby who might have been his sister. When writing wills people did tend to make sure the right person got the money. Almost certain that he believed Bella was his sister.

Short answer is I do not think a strong enough case has been made for reassigning her parents. In the interests of Wikitree's year of accuracy I would detach her from all parents and write the whole thing up on the profile with generous links to other people and await the arrival of further information. There is no urgency. C

Adding more members of the family to Wikitree might help understand this better.

Comments by Susie

Thanks C. That's probably a reasonable position to take if Ramona agrees.

C, Do you have a theory on why the baptisms switched from Bainton to Kirkburn for Bella's baptism, and why there appears to be a convenient gap in George and Ann's baby making? I can't get past these two questions.

Ramona, I also wonder if the Journal of William Richardson has anything more to reveal than what is already on the profile of Robert Richardson (bef.1796-1807).


  1. https://search.findmypast.com.au/record/browse?id=GBPRS/YORKSHIRE/007587942/00667
  2. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7210529
  3. https://www.findmypast.com.au/transcript?id=GBPRS%2FOR%2FYORK%2FM%2F00061233%2F2
  4. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/discoveryui-content/view/37948715:9841?tid=&pid=&queryId=c215ce21c891bec76fdd700cbc04e632&_phsrc=xNG2&_phstart=successSource
  5. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/discoveryui-content/view/14546773:9840?tid=&pid=&queryId=a171f8981c843a9c4f890e19af71d971&_phsrc=xNG1&_phstart=successSource

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