THE CRUCIAL MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE HAS ARRIVED FROM ENGLAND
In my last blog post, I wrote about how I had to rely on online research, during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, due to an unavoidable delay in the arrival of a marriage certificate  which I ordered from the GRO in England.
I was following a hunch that my 4th great aunt, Elizabeth Jane Turner had married her first cousin, William Shulver in 1855 in Ipswich, Suffolk and had decided to try to prove my theory correct through online research, while awaiting the arrival of the marriage certificate from the UK in the mail. If you have missed reading the background to this post you can find it HERE.
This week the marriage certificate of my 4th great uncle aunt Elizabeth Jane Turner and her husband William Shulver was finally delivered to my mailbox and at last, I could find out if the information on the certificate would prove my theory of a first cousin marriage to be correct.
INFORMATION I KNEW TO BE CORRECT BEFORE THE CERTIFICATE ARRIVED
- Elizabeth Jane Turner was born in 1832 to William Turner and Anne Mayer Osborn 
- Elizabeth Jane Turner was 23 when she married in 1855 
- William Shulver (cousin) was born in 1838 to William Shulver and Orina Clement Osborn. 
- William Shulver (cousin) was 17 at the time of Elizabeth Jane's marriage in 1855 
- Anne Mayer Turner (Osborn) and Orina Clement Shulver (Osborn) were sisters, making Elizabeth Jane Turner and William Shulver first cousins  
- William Shulver, husband of Elizabeth Jane Turner was a WHEELWRIGHT in 1855 
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's father was a CARPENTER 
- William Shulver (cousin) was a WHEELWRIGHT 
- William Shulver's (cousin) father was was a WHEELWRIGHT 
In short, In needed the groom to be around 17 years of age, his occupation to be a wheelwright and his father to also be a wheelwright to be certain that he was the first cousin of his wife, Elizabeth Jane Turner.
There were two other males by the name of William Shulver born in Suffolk, whose fathers were employed as wheelwrights but they were both too young to have married in 1855. I had not included these two men in my search for potential husbands for Elizabeth Jane Turner, since they would have been aged respectively 14 years and 11 years when she married in 1855.
THE ONLY OTHER WILLIAM SHULVERS WHOSE FATHERS WERE WHEELWRIGHTS WERE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE MARRIED IN 1855
William Shulver, birth year 1841, baptised 25 July 1841, Kenton, Suffolk to parents John Shulver (wheelwright) and Sarah Moyse. This William was 14 in 1844. 
William Shulver, birth year 1844, baptised 5 April 1844, Mickfield, Sufolk to William Shulver (wheelwright) and Anna Hubbard.This William was only 11 in 1855. 
At the conclusion of my search, I was confident that there was only one William Shulver from Suffolk and surrounding counties (including London) who was a wheelwright and who could have married Elizabeth Jane Turner and that was her first cousin William Shulver, who would have been 17 years old at the time they married. I hoped that information on the marriage certificate would match the information below and confirm my theory that this was a first cousin marriage.
INFORMATION I NEEDED TO FIND ON THE THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE TO VALIDATE MY RESEARCH
- William Shulver's age - 17 years 
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's age - 23 years 
- William Shulver's occupation - WHEELWRIGHT 
- William Shulver's father - William Shulver, a WHEELWRIGHT 
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's father - William Turner, a CARPENTER 
CONFIRMATION AND CONFUSION!
As soon as I studied the marriage certificate of William Shulver and Elizabeth Jane Turner, I knew fairly quickly that my hunch had been correct. Elizabeth Jane Turner had married a wheelwright named William Shulver, whose father, also named William Shulver was a wheelwright. This, in itself proved my case, since there was no other William Shulver who matched this criteria, but before I became too excited, and just in case I had thought this was going to be too easy, the certificate presented me with something unexpected.
|Marriage Certificate of William Shulver and Elizabeth Jane |
INFORMATION ON THE MARRIAGE CERIFICATE 
There is undoubtedly a thrill when a paper record provides hard evidence to support your research and in this case ENOUGH all of the information on the marriage certificate did just that. The couple were married on 11 October 1855 at Salem Chapel, Ipswich, Suffolk. The groom was a wheelwright, as was his father William Shulver senior. Elizabeth Jane Turner's father, William Turner was a carpenter.
Witnesses to the marriage were Sarah and Thomas WHITING and both Elizabeth Jane and William gave their address as Back Hamlet, Ipswich, Suffolk. 
INFORMATION WHICH MATCHED MY CRITERIA FOR A FIRST COUSIN MARRIAGE 
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's father was named William Turner
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's father was a carpenter
- William Shulver, the groom, was a wheelwright
- William Shulver's father was named William Shulver
- William Shulver's father was a wheelwright
- The address of Back Hamlets was where Elizabeth Jane Turner's family lived in the parish of St Clements
EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE
Back Hamlet was the address given by both the bride and groom at the time they married. This fits with the address where Elizabeth Jane Turner's family were recorded living in the 1861 census, along with her sister Sarah and her husband Thomas Whiting. Back Hamlet is a relatively short street compared to others around it - around 556 metres (1824 feet) in length and the house where the Turner family lived was opposite the grounds of Holy Trinity Anglican Church. 
|St Clements Church, Back Hamlet (the top road from the fork), Map purchased for non commercial use, Old Maps © |
I have evidence from census records that Elizabeth Jane Turner and her family lived at the address of Back Hamlet, however William Shulver also gave this address at the time of his marriage as his residence too. I knew this address did not necessarily indicate that he actually lived in Back Hamlet, and since nether he nor his mother were ever recorded as living in this parish, I doubted that it was true. He could possibly have been staying with the Turner family at the time of the marriage, since Elizabeth Jane's parents were his Uncle and Aunt. There is also an alternate explanation for William's address being the same as Elizabeth Jane's which I is what I suspect explains the address and it is that quite often couples who lived in different English parishes gave the same address to avoid the expense of payment for reading of marriage banns in both parishes. 
|Back Hamlet, Image Google Earth Pro |
WITNESSES TO THE MARRIAGE
It is important to take note of witnesses on marriage records as these can often be family members who help you verify that you have the correct record. I immediately recognized the witnesses for this marriage as Elizabeth Jane Turner's older sister Sarah who had married Thomas Whiting in 1845. 
Everything on the marriage certificate identifies this wedding as being that of first cousins William Shulver and Elizabeth Jane Turner - EXCEPT for the ages of the bride and groom. I also found it puzzling that that they were not married at the Anglican Churches of Holy Trinity or St Clements, both in the bride's parish. Holy Trinity Anglican Church was situated in Back Hamlet Street almost opposite the house where Elizabeth Jane Turner and her family lived and is where their son was baptised.
INFORMATION WHICH DID NOT MATCH MY KNOWN CRITERIA
- Elizabeth Jane Turner's age was given as 20 years rather than 23 years
- William Shulver's age was given as 20 years rather than 17 years
- The place of marriage was Salem Chapel
ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!
If only things genealogical were always simple. Although I had sufficient details on the marriage certificate to validate my first cousin theory, there were two things inconsistent with my criteria - the ages of the bride and groom and their unexpected marriage in Salem Chapel, a church I had not heard of any other family member marrying in.
DISCREPANCY IN AGES
The reason for the discrepancy in both the age of William Shulver and Elizabeth Jane Turner can only be speculated upon, however, if I had a dollar for every ancestor of mine who fibbed about their age, I would be a wealthy person! Elizabeth Jane was 23 and William Shulver 17 at the time of the marriage but both gave their ages as 20 years. Proof of age was not required to marry in 1855. For a brief period between 1822 and 1823 the requirement for a marriage was a baptismal certificate  but since not everyone had easy access to one, this was abandoned. In 1855 when this couple married, no proof of age was necessary  but at 20 years of age, they did require parental consent to marry.
The couple were at liberty to state whatever age they wished and since both ages were recorded as 20 years, it must be assumed that they married with parental consent and that both sets of parents were aware of the union. It appears unusual that 23 year old Elizabeth Jane Turner, who being over 21 years of age,  and who required no consent from her parents, lowered her age to 20 years.
From other information on the marriage certificate, I know this is undoubtedly the correct couple, so I can only assume that the ages were incorrectly recorded as a clerical error or that perhaps William at 17 years of age, felt uncomfortable being much younger than his 23 year old cousin. I can only surmise about the reason they stated that they were the same age. Some details about our ancestors' lives can only be put into context by our historical understanding of the times they lived in and our own imagination beyond that.
PLACE OF MARRIAGE
I discovered that Salem Chapel was constructed in 1812 by a Mr. Joseph Chamberlain  for the use of the Particular Baptist worshipers. and I was surprised by the choice of a Baptist Church for the marriage for Elizabeth Jane Turner and William Shulver. Both families had been deeply rooted in the Anglican Church for many generations and all of Elizabeth Jane's siblings married in the Anglican Church. There were two Anglican Churches in Back Hamlet - St Clement's and the smaller church of Holy Trinity in which they could have married. I explored, but could find no evidence that an underage marriage would be more easily obtained in the Baptist church than the Anglican Church and so I had to consider that one or the other of this couple could have become a member of the Particular Baptist Church.
FILLING IN THE GAPS USING HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Elizabeth Jane and William Shulver may well have become non-conformist worshipers, which would certainly explain their choice to marry in Salem Chapel, however, the couple being members of the Particular Baptist Church does not explain an Anglican baptism for their son the following year on 28 September 1856, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ipswich.
In 1851, four years prior to the 1855 marriage, William Shulver lived in Bolton Lane and Elizabeth Jane Turner lived in Crown Street both shown on the map below converging at St Margaret's Anglican Church, Ipswich, Suffolk.  Not far from the Turner household was Salem Chapel, in St George's Road. The building that was Salem Chapel is marked on the map below as the Ipswich Museum which it later housed.
Since I cannot travel back in time, I must try to understand this couple within the context of their lives in the mid 19th century. The Particular Baptist Church, of which Salem Chapel was a member, did not baptise infants, since its doctrine decreed that only adult believers were to be baptised.  It would appear that if William Shulver and Elizabeth Jane Turner joined the Particular Baptist Church and married in it accordingly, that one or the other of the couple still wished for their son to be baptised.  If this were the case, then the only choice for baptism for their son, was the Anglican Church, in which they themselves were both baptised. The infant son of William and Elizabeth Jane Shulver, William Engomire Shulver, was baptised at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ipswich in September 1856. 
Nineteenth century England saw a huge increase of interest in the theologies of the Baptist and other con-conformist Churches.  With this in mind, it is possible, that with a Particular Baptist Chapel in the Anglican parish of St Margaret's, in close proximity to where both Elizabeth Jane Turner and William Shulver earlier lived, that one or the other of the young couple might be attracted to its teachings. Marriage between first cousins was common in England in the mid 19th century  and I can find no evidence that the Baptist Church would not conduct such a marriage.
With historical context in mind, an Anglican baptism for their son could be explained by the high infant mortality rate in England's 19th century  William had lost an infant sister and due to fear of the possibility of an infant death, these young parents may have sought to procure a baptism for their son. Perhaps the grandparents of young William Engmire Shulver insisted on a baptism for their grandson fearing he would die without a baptism.  Another theory to explain an Anglican baptism was only one of the parents was a follower of the Particular Baptist Church and the other insisted on an infant baptism. 
Often we can only understand our ancestors, by understanding the times they lived in and sometimes we must fill in the gaps in information with conjecture based on our knowledge. Although the 1855 marriage certificate of Elizabeth Jane Turner and William Shulver  proves to me that this couple were first cousins, I can only speculate as to why this couple married in a Particular Baptist Chapel. Perhaps, with further reading about Baptist Church history, I will better understand the lives of these first cousins who married but who lived their married lives apart.
|By Pickering & Greatbatch - Pride and Prejudice A Novel by Jane Austen London:Richard Bentley.(Successor to H. Colburn)Cumming, Dublin, Bell & Bradfute, Edinburgh Galignani, Paris1833., Public Domain, Commons.wikimedia.org|
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3. Baptism of Elizabeth Jane Turner, 5 February 1832, Ipswich, Suffolk, England and Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906, Ancestry.com
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7. Baptism of Ann Mayer Osborn, 1788, Dedham, Essex Register of Baptisms 1742-1812, D/P26/3, Image 29.
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30. From the Parish Registers, http://www.stgitehistory.org.uk/media/registers1.html
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.chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/sites/default/files/central_main_doc_conservation_main_doc.pdf Ipswich, Suffolk, Central Conservation Area and Appraisal Plan,
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35. 1851 England Census, St Margaret's, Ipswich, Suffolk, Ancestry.com
36. Ipswich Museum, St George's Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, Google Maps
37. Baptist History, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Baptist/History
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The geography of early childhood mortality