Ruscoe Chronicles – vol. 04/2

December 2004 (updated February 2005)

I seem to have been very remiss this year and only sent out one belated Chronicle, so I thought at least a Christmas greeting was in order. In the New Year I am determined to send some more information about the Ruscoe families that we are variously researching. In the mean time here are a few items of news.


Christmas 2004

Civil Registration

You may have heard that the UK Government has been proposing changes to the process of Civil Registration. This involved restricting the information available on copy certificates and a limitation on the issuing of such certificates except to next-of-kin for periods of up to 100 years after the event. The changes also involve registrars and appointed persons (ministers of religion) entering details of events using a PC instead of the traditional forms and registers. The changes were to be introduced by a Regulatory Reform Order, rather than a full Act of Parliament. However the Regulatory Reform Committees of both the Lords and Commons have reviewed the evidence, including that of the Federation of Family History Societies, and decided that the plans are ill thought out and much too far-reaching to be introduced in this way. The consequence is that there will be no changes taking place yet (March 2005 was planned for Births and Deaths with Marriages to follow later along with a revision of the Civil marriage laws to allow for same-sex contracts). They also commented that they could see no reason to restrict the available information. So we can breathe again.

Recently the level of requests for certificates has risen rapidly, partly because of an increasing interest in Family History and partly because of fears that the issue of certificate will be restricted. They have asked that all requests should be made on the proper forms (not in rambling letters!) or directly online. Click on and select “Ordering Certificates online”.

New Ruscoe Contacts

Last December I had some new contacts through the Genes Reunited web site. Dr Trevor Roscoe (North Wales) believed that he was descended from the John Riscoe / Ruscoe of Ightfield and Mary Hughes who married at Whitchurch 3 Jan 1745/6; he has since revised this, but they had several children baptised (C.) including:

John Ruscoe C. 25 Jan 1746 Ightfield
Ann Ruscow C. 22 Oct 1752 Whitchurch
Elizabeth Ruscoe C.12 Aug 1759 Ightfield
Robart Ruscoe C. 13 Jan 1763 Ightfield
who married 30 Apr 1792 at Eccleshall to Hannah Hasser of Eccleshall
Hannah R. of Ash Lane aged 61 bur. 31 Jan 1825 at Ightfield
Robert R. of Ash Lane aged 65 bur. 27 Jan 1830 at Ightfield
Sarah Ruscoe C. 10 Jul 1763 at Whitchurch
Richard Ruscoe C.1 Jan 1766 at Whitchurch

Robert and Hannah had 9 children christened at Whitchurch and several of these were associated with Childs Ercall and across the border into Staffordshire where Hannah came from. I have previously had correspondence with several of these, including a family from Silverdale near Newcastle under Lyme who are now on Genes Reunited, but have not yet responded to me! Trefor believed that his ancestor might be the John (1746), son of John & Mary, who moved to the Wrexham area.

At about the same time I first contacted Tony Ruscoe in Sheffield, who is descended from one of the Ruscoe brothers Thomas, James and Abraham who settled in Little Hulton, Lancashire, near Bolton during the mid 19th century. Tony is in his 20s and so a welcome younger enthusiast. It was only when I had a contact from Jerry, of Salisbury, that I realised his wife Jane (nee Ruscoe) comes from the same Little Hulton families. Her father became a clergyman and was the only known Ruscoe in Cornwall for some years, until my third cousin Terry arrived there. Tony and Jerry are pursuing their common ancestors, back into Shropshire. They came from “Priest” which is in fact Prees, home of several families during the 19-20th centuries. Their parents were James and Mary Evason (married 1840 at Prees; both minors) and James’ father was Thomas, but we don’t know which one. Tony also came across Janice (nee Roscoe) and put her in touch with me. This led to several interesting developments.

Jan’s Grandfather James Ruscoe moved from Prees to Manchester, where the spelling of his surname got changed to Roscoe. His parents were Richard (born Prees 1832) and Sarah Broadhurst (married Prees 1857). Richard was the son of Thomas who first married Jane Dicken at Prees in 1789; on 17 May 1816 a daughter Martha was baptised, and Jane was buried aged 44 years. This suggests she was only 17 when married. It then appears that Thomas remarried Margaret Beeston at Market Drayton in 1820 and they had children: Abraham, Henry, Mary, Richard and Sarah. It seems that they settled back in Prees, because that is where Henry, Richard and Sarah are later found. Neither of Thomas’s families seems to have contained a James, however.

In the 1881 census, Henry, with his wife Mary Ann and children, is living next to my John Ruscoe, the Policeman [eldest son of George (1803) and Ann, and brother to my Great grandfather George (1837) the sailor, Aunt Sarah (1835) and the rest]. They all lived on or near the road running east from Prees, known variously as Leighton Street or Lacon Street, in the area known as Prees Wood. Henry’s sister Sarah married twice and the second time was at Fauls Church, in Prees parish, where as Sarah Humphries (father Thomas Ruscoe) she married James Nevett, widower, a farmer at Lower Heath, Fauls. The witnesses were George and Edith Ruscoe – the sailor again, retired and returned to Prees. He lived at Lower Heath, as I understand from my father, and is certainly buried at Fauls church. So were they just neighbours who happened to have the same name?

Jan finds her Thomas (who appears in Prees at his marriage as Thomas Rusker – the earliest Ruscoe marriage in the village) to be the son of Martha, daughter of John and Elizabeth [Penlington] of Lacon farm, Edstaston. These two married at Whitchurch in 1738, he from Wem and she from Hanmer, Flint. Edstaston was a chapel within Wem parish, and only baptisms and burials took place there – marriages were usually at Wem. Their daughter Martha (1750) had several illegitimate children: Thomas 1769, and Ann 1773 baptised at Edstaston. Martha and Mary (twins?) baptised 1774 at Prees (the first Prees baptisms). All the Edstaston parish records associate this family with Lacon – a farm within the area, but very close to the Prees border. All the early Prees entries are for Rusker – which is interesting because locals always spoke to my grandfather as Mr Rusker. Actually this is not the first family I have found that traced itself back to Martha’s Thomas – as the only one of the right age. I shall have to look at my records to find the letters – now ten years old, I think. It turns out that Lucille (nee Beeston) in Australia (with whom I corresponded by “snail mail” in the past) is from the same family as Jan.

You may think this is all a bit rambling, but if you have looked at the Shropshire Ruscoes, you cannot fail to notice the large families of John & Elizabeth and David & Martha in Edstaston from 1739 onwards, variously spelled as Ruschoe, Ruschoo and Ruscoe [was the clerk influenced by the word school?]. David married in 1742 at Wem. I had dismissed them as not part of “my” family since I have traced them back into south Cheshire. However, Jan pointed out that David and Martha had a son George baptised in 1743 – their firstborn. He would be the right sort of age to marry in 1768 and might be the George who married Mary Jones at Chester. Hence the father of all the family that gave rise to the Moreton Say clans (John & Mary and Daniel & Sarah). So maybe we have the answer to their next generation here. There is still the question of whence came John and David to Edstaston (and why) – they look like brothers and must be part of another family. Could they be found in Cheshire in about 1720?

This is a little more than speculation. Comparing the names of the children of (1) David & Martha at Edstaston; (2) George and Mary at Malpas, Cheshire; (3) John & Mary and Daniel & Sarah at Moreton Say shows a very similar pattern. I’ll draw up some tables and let you see them in the new year. Sufficient for the moment to say that we may be another generation further back, and if the Edstaston men are indeed brothers then Jan is another member of the same family. Perhaps also in time we shall trace the Thomas father of James, who started the Little Hulton dynasty.

[Later addition: a quick check of the records reveals that the above George (baptised 1743) also died and was buried in 1764, two days before his 21st birthday – so that theory falls down; he could not be the one who married in 1768.]

Early Ruscoes

Just a few other items of interest. I have explored a few web sites to see what they had to offer. The latest was the Old Bailey court records from London 1674-1834 on, duly typing in R_SCOE where the “_” can represent any letter. Surprisingly there were no Roscoe or Riscoe entries, but two Ruscoe’s (I have not yet tried other R_SC and R_SK variations which often occur). They were neither of them villains – both appearing as witnesses.

15 Jan 1748 Christopher Featherstone was charged with theft; William Ruscoe appeared to say: I have known the Prisoner between five and six years, he always bore a very good character, and was always a very civil man. He acts as a chairman. Despite this character witness the prisoner was found guilty and sentenced to transportation. I can only assume that he carried a sedan chair s his occupation.

16 Oct 1776 John Alexander and John Lambert alias Tinkler were charged with theft with violence, threatening Thomas Ebrall with a cutlass and pistol as he was walking along the Duke of Bedford’s private road from the direction of St Pancras near Southampton Row; Daniel Ruscoe was the first witness who was passing and tackled Alexander as he made off across a field and “secured him”. As I worked in Southampton Row for something like ten years, commuting to St Pancras station, I found this both interesting and hard to visualise. The only green now is in Russell Square and Tavistock Square, both of which take their names from the Duke of Bedford’s family (the Russell’s); the whole area is mostly part of the Bedford estate or the Harper estate which was owned by another Bedford man, Sir William Harper whose trust still funds an educational charity in Bedford, where we live.

This just means that there were some Ruscoe families in London during the 18th century, which we already know.