|Framwellgate Bridge, Durham (illustration from George Gilbert, Cathedral Cities of England 1905)])|
It is understandable that our John Beresford might want to invent a fictitious father to avoid embarrassment. John is a common enough name that the fiction might never be discovered. But why Attorney's Clerk? This is an uncommon occupation, and I wonder why it came into John's mind when he had to choose an occupation for a father he never knew. Possibly he just pulled this occupation out of thin air; it just came to mind. Another possibility is that there was an Attorney's Clerk who he knew, perhaps a man who treated him as a father - although he did, of course, have a step-father, William Fagan. But just maybe, his father really was an Attorney's Clerk named John.
For all their errors, ancient and modern, census records really are quite amazing. I tend to cite them in household units, but the enumerator books contain household upon household, and one can obtain a view of the neighborhood by examining a series of records around the household of particular interest. In the previous post I cited the 1851 enumeration of John, his mother and step-father (as William and Elizabeth Faigan and John Barrowford). However, in reviewing the whole page, the occupation of Attorney's Clerk just jumped out at me! Here is the household in question; it is only three schedules away from the Faigans.
1851 England Census at Framwellgate, Durham:
Thomas Caldcleugh Head Widr 66 Joiner Journeyman Durham
John Do Son U 26 Attorney's Clerk Do Framwellgate
Cathrine Do Daur U 22 Do Do
Sarah Do Niece 11 Do Do
and the schedule next to the Faigans on the other side:
Isabella Caldcleugh Head U 36 Laundress Durham Framwellgate
Fredrick Do Son 15 Grocers App Do Do
Sarah Caldcleugh Daur 11 Scholar Durham Framwellgate
The Fagans (as other documents attest) and Caldcleughs knew each other as more than neighbors. If you look back at the marriage certificate for William Fagan and Elizabeth Beresford (about 18 months previously, 27 Oct 1849), you may notice that one of the witnesses to the marriage is Cathrine Caldcleugh. I am not sure of the pronunciation, but I suspect it must be something like "Colcluff".
During the next decades the Fagans and Caldcleughs moved apart. By 1861, the Fagans are living at Claypath, Durham, while there are still Caldcleughs at Framwellgate. Frederick Caldcleugh, 26, is a "Cabinet Maker employing 1 boy", with a wife and three children. In the same household, Frederick's uncle John Caldcleugh, 36, is a "Solicitor's Managing Cl[erk]".
In 1871, John Caldcleugh, 46, "Solicitor's Clerk", is still at Framwellgate, now married to Hannah Webster, and with their son, daughter and father-in-law, By 1881, they had moved to Elvet at which time he was still a "Solicitor's Clerk". By 1891, still in Elvet he was County Court Clerk. He died 27 January 1894, a county court clerk, aged 68.
The evidence for paternity is circumstantial. But I don't think that John Beresford's choice of occupation for his father on his marriage certificate arose by chance. John Caldcleugh may have been a father figure in John Beresford's life, and the latter may have remembered his occupation of Attorney's Clerk. But John Beresford must have had a father, and John Caldcleugh must be a person of interest to be ruled in or out.
John Caldcleugh had two children by Hannah Webster. His daughter Mary Isabella (1869-1923) died unmarried. His son Thomas Henry (1866-1958) married Ellen Atkinson (1871-1959). They had two daughters: Ruth, who died in infancy 1912; and Mary (1908-?), who married Cyril Edward Stabler (1903-1965). Cyril and Mary Stabler had a daughter, who is probably still living.
Why do I mention John Caldcleugh's known descendants? In the absence of documentary evidence, it is possible that John Beresford's ancestry might be solved by DNA analysis. As the price of genealogical DNA sequencing comes down we might yet find a genetic link (or else rule one out) between Beresford and Caldcleugh descendants. Alas, as a step-descendant I have none of John Beresford's DNA, although I would gladly coordinate such a project. Contact me if you're interested.