Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Double Wedding Overlooked: It Pays to Cross Reference.

A Double Wedding in the Family - overlooked!

With the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton injecting a spark of romance in to our lives, I thought it an appropriate time to talk about weddings. In particular I would like to mention the value of recording dates, cross referencing dates.

Like most family historians, I have a large collection of certificates - birth, marriage, death, baptism and so on. So many dates! It is quite overwhelming. naturally, I record all dates, as I confirm them, on my family tree. Something, however, I did not always do was to compare dates to see if they matched. Before I introduced my system of cross referencing dates for events in family groups, I had overlooked a significant event in my family - a double wedding.

The photograph, above right, from a New Zealand newspaper clip ( not the wedding to which I refer but a lovely example of another double wedding in our family) shows the double wedding of my husband's half great aunts, Mary and her sister Betty White. I don't have a date for this wedding yet, although I'm certain that a relative in New Zealand will be able to tell me as I am in contact with a descendant of Betty's marriage to Erik William Pawsey, one of the bridegrooms shown in this photograph.

It is not uncommon to find double weddings occurring with siblings as the brides or grooms on your family tree, however, along my journey into my own family history, I recently discovered that I had been quite unaware that there occurred an even more more unusual double wedding in my own family - involving a mother and daughter. My great great grandmother and my great great great grandmother were married in a double wedding ceremony, a fact which I had been quite unaware of and which I was most excited to discover!

many years ago, I had sent away for the marriage certificate of my great great grandmother, Sarah Frayne to Edward Joseph Weston, in the days when the Queensland State Archives stored and supplied historical BDM certificates. I knew the date of their marriage to be December, 24, 1884.

Sarah was the daughter of a convict named Michael Frayne (sometimes spelled Frane or Frame) from Dublin, Ireland and Mary Williams who was reportedly born in Singleton, NSW. ( No birth record has been located). Sarah was born in Edward Street, Brisbane in 1868 and her father Michael died when she was aged 10 years, in 1878. Whilst having much success in tracing my Frayne convict ancestors (there were more than one!) I have had considerable difficulty in finding out much about my g g g grandmother, Mary Williams.

Some years ago I had found a marriage in 1884, in Maryborough, between a widower, named James Shevelling and a widow by the name of Mary Frame. I suspected that the bride in this marriage might be my 3 times great grandmother although Mary's age was too young to be my great great grandmother. Of course every family historian quickly learns to be aware of just how fluctuating our ancestors ages can be - especially when it suits them! ( Just look at census forms!).

Even though I believed that this was a second marriage for my 3 times great grandmother Mary Frayne [Williams], I had never found a marriage between her and my convict g g g grandfather, Michael Frayne or a birth record for Mary, so there was no concrete evidence to support my theory. I duly recorded this marriage as a 'possible family event', recording the date as well but did not add the marriage to the family tree. Probably because I was so excited that I might have found my first ever clue as to who Mary's parents were from this new marriage certificate I overlooked something extremely relevant and something which would provide a vital clue when it became obvious to me.

My lovely surprise came when I began sorting through and attempting to catalogue all of my my birth, death and marriage certificates. Out of interest, largely to discover how many of my ancestors' birth, marriage or death dates matched those of other family members, I began a spread sheet catalogue of dates for each family on my tree.

I cannot express the sheer thrill I felt when I suddenly realised that the marriage of my 2 times great grandmother Sarah Frayne to Edward Weston not only took place in the same year and on the exact date of the marriage of Mary Frame and James Shevelling, but that the wedding was obviously a double wedding which took place in the home of Mr Bath at Bazaar Street, Maryborough according to the rights of the Presbyterian Church. My 3 times great grandmother, Mary Williams and her only daughter, Sarah Frayne had shared a double wedding. Perhaps even more exciting was that I had added now another generation to my family tree as on the marriage certificate of Mary and james Shevelling, Mary's parents were named as Joseph Williams and Mary Jane Kelly. (although that is quite another story!).

With my spread sheets now completed and updated regularly as I receive new certificates, I have easily discovered ancestors who share birthdays, marriages and death dates. I can see as far back to the 1400's who shared significant dates with myself and my children.

In the case of the double wedding of my great great grandmother, Sarah and her mother, my great great great grandmother Mary, it proved to be much more than a pleasant surprise. The discovery of this double wedding led me to new branches on my ever growing family tree.

So now, back to my cross referencing. Who knows what other clues I might find from the past!


  1. The spreadsheet is an interesting idea, but I will also check whether I can generate a suitable report from my data in The Master Genealogist (with or without using the add-on programme 'On This Day').

  2. Great find, well done Sharn.

  3. I am looking at changing to master genealogist.. might be one more reason to do so.

    1. I read your blog with interest as James Shevelling in your blog was my Great Grandfather. I am also interested in geneology, and my single name was Ruth Shevelling and I was born in Maryborough. James Shevelling's first wife Elizabeth died and is buried in Maryborough in 1883, and he later married Mary Frame. I didn't know where he had married and was very interested to see that he and Mary had a double wedding in Maryborough. I don't know anything about Mary after their wedding but James Shevelling was killed falling off a horse and buried at Plane Creek, now Sarina, on the 6th October 1906.

      He arrived from Scotland with three boys and the middle boy died in 1883 with his mum. His eldest son Walter James was my grand father. We now live near Sarina at Grasstree Beach but I have close family still in the Maryborough district.

      Regards Ruth Shevelling Fontaine