The two William Robinsons have puzzled me for years. Literally, for the last four years I’ve been racking my brains to think who these two gentlemen were. And the answer was staring me in the face, on my own spreadsheet, all the time!
Taking the principle of “start with what you know” I worked back from the marriage of Hannah Berry and Thompson Bell. Hannah was the daughter of Bethia Robinson – sometimes called “Betty” – and Bethia was the daughter of William Robinson. So far, so good.
Thompson Bell was the son of Mary Robinson, whose father was also called William Robinson.
Two William Robinsons
“William Robinson” of course is such a common name I found it hard to choose between people who turned up in searches on the genealogy websites. I was able to find the man I called “William Robinson of Baildon” because of his daughter’s unusual name, Bethia. I knew all there was to know about him. His wife’s name, his many children, his occupation, his residence and the census information from 1841.
“William Robinson of Calverley” was someone I knew very little about. He lived in Calverley, less than 10km away from Baildon. He had three children: Mary (our ancestor), Rebecca and Joseph.
I wrote up the stories of both William Robinsons, and wondered if these two grandfathers ever met? Unlikely, I thought, as “William Robinson of Baildon” had died two years before the wedding of Hannah Berry and Thompson Bell.
I gave up the attempt to find out more until the Covid-19 lockdown left me with time on my hands and I revisited the Robinson family tree. This time I abandoned the idea that either of the Williams was Bethia’s father and so that line was a dead end.
Then I did another search for Mary’s grandfather, the father of “William of Calverley”, yet another William Robinson. Long months of social isolation had taught me patience, and I searched again for the children of any William Robinson in and around Baildon and Calverley.
The children turned up by the search seemed familiar to me and my patience was rewarded by one of those wonderful “lightbulb” moments when the penny suddenly dropped. William Robinson had both a son called William and a daughter called Betty. And when I looked back onto my original 2017 spreadsheet, there they were as plain as day. William and Betty were both the children of the man I’d called “William of Baildon”. Far from being strangers who never met, the two William Robinsons were father and son!
Hannah Berry and Thompson Bell were first cousins, once removed. Here’s a link to an explanation of the “cousin” relationships. What Is a Second Cousin?: Calculate Cousin Relationships • FamilySearch
And this is a simplified tree of the Robinsons, with links to their individual stories: