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My maternal grandmother's father, Frederick Clive Paul, who for many years seemed like a pretty simple man who died relatively young, , has proven to be one of the most mysterious individuals I have ever (and I literally mean ever) researched.  From lying about his place of birth, date of birth and mis-reporting his mother's name on several occasions, Fred's life has come to a point where I am absolutely fascinated by it.  

Let's start with Fred's father, William Paul.  Of all the ancestors I’ve researched, none of them have proven to be as tough to research as William has.  It could be the rather generic name or the simple fact that there aren’t many English records that make identifying someone easy, but no matter what the reason is, William Paul has always been what fellow genealogists call my “brick wall ancestor.”

He has only appeared, for certain, in a handful of physical records, which are as follows:

  • His 1890 marriage to Mary Ann Jemima Clive.  Dated October 4, 1890, the record lists him as being a 21-year-old bachelor, who was employed as a Cotton Weaver.  His residence appeared to list, "No. 17 Garibaldi Street Thistle Hall, Walsden" and in the column where his father's name should appear, it is simply hashed out.  Possible clues for further research include the witnesses to the marriage, Mary Ann Marshall and William Pearce, as well as his age (21), which means he was born about 1869.

  • The 1891 UK Census.  The record shows William and Mary Ann living at 39 Garibaldi Street in Todmorden & Walsden.  William is listed as the head of house and is shown to be 23 years old, while Mary Ann is stated as being 28.  This would give him an estimated birth year of 1868 and Mary Ann's year of birth as 1863, which I know is incorrect.  She was born on April 9, 1871.  William was employed as a Weaver.

  • The 1891 birth record of his son, Wilbert.  Wilbert Clive Paul, the first-born son of William and Mary Ann, was born on April 10, 1891 at 39 Garibaldi Street.  William is listed as a Cotton Weaver.  Wilbert's baptismal record, dated May 24, 1901, also lists William as a Weaver.

  • The 1893 birth record of his son, Frederick.  Frederick was born on April 15, 1893 at 2 Inchfield Terrace in Todmorden (Walsden).  The record lists William as his father and gives his occupation as a Cotton Weaver.  This is the last time we see William appear in any physical record.

So where do these records leave us?  Looking at the four afore-mentioned records that span from 1890 to 1893, it is clear that William was employed a Cotton Weaver and born in Redruth sometime between 1868 and 1869.  He provided no father's name when he married and his name is consistently spelled the same, W-i-l-l-i-a-m P-a-u-l.

Moving forward in time, the next time the family appears in physical records is the 1900 US Census was taken. It’s there where Wilbert Paul, William and Mary Ann's oldest son, is seen living in Middletown, Orange County, New York with several relatives from Mary Ann's side, including her step-father, Henry Roberts, his sister-in-law (who later became his wife), Mary Ann Tyler, and several other relatives.  Wilbert does not appear in the 1900 Census, and Fred, as well as Mary Ann do not appear there because they were still living in England.

The following year, 1901, shows something else very interesting:  First, we see Mary Ann and Fred indexed in the 1901 UK Census.  They were living in Todmorden, in a place identified as "Golf Cottage".  Mary Ann is listed as a widow (another possible clue into William's fate) and Frederick as he son, age 8.  Mary Ann is incorrectly listed as being 40 years old (she was 30) and her profession states that she was a "Caretaker of Club".   Later that year, in November, we find a passenger list showing that Mary Ann, along with Frederick, left the UK and came to the United States where they headed to Middletown, NY to the home of her step-father, Henry Roberts.  Fred is erroneously listed as being "US Born" and "Returning Home", so it appears that Mary Ann snuck him into the country.  She is correctly listed as being 30 years old on the passenger list and Frederick as being 8. She is also listed as a widow.  The home of Henry Roberts is listed as being on Ridge Street.

With all this in mind, my approach to finding William was a basic one:  I documented all the possible candidates that could be my William Paul, that is, men with the same, or similar, name who were born in Redruth around the 1868-1869 mark.  I started a simple list, shown below, that basically lined up my options.  Looking at each of these men required a little bit of money to request documents from the GRO in London and after a few weeks’ time, I had a little more information to help add more context to each possible candidate.

  • WILLIAM HENRY PAULL, born March 9, 1867 (Volume 5C, Page 260), at Hockings Court, Redruth, to William Henry Paull, a Tin & Copper Miner, and Mary Jane Goldsworthy.  

    • ​Conclusion:  This is not "my" William.  We determined that this William Henry Paull was still alive in the 1939 UK Registry and was married to two different women, Jane and Grace.  In the 1891 census, he was with his first wife and mother in Wheal Harmony and working as a farmer.  He died on June 9, 1940 in Wheal Harmony, Cornwall.

  • WILLIAM HENRY WILLOUGHBY PAULL, born March 22, 1868 (Volume 5C, Page 263) in Plain-an-Gwarry, Redruth to an unwed mother named Sarah Ann Paull.  It's likely, given the unique middle name of "Willoughby" that Williams, though undocumented, father was named Willoughby.

    • Conclusion:  At the current moment, all signs seem to point to the fact that this guy is "my" William, though it's still just a theory based entirely on circumstantial evidence.  ​

  • WILLIAM HENRY PAUL, born July 24, 1868 (Volume 5C, Page 245) in Illogan, Redruth, to John Paul, a Copper Miner, and Susan Pearce.  

    • Conclusion:  This William died as a child, on October 11, 1870, at just 2 years old.  

  • WILLIAM PAULL, born August 8, 1868 (Volume 5C, Page 268) in Phillack, Redruth, Cornwall.  Father was William Paull, an Accountant, and mother was Emily Gregory.  

    • Conclusion:  ​Not my William. Emily Cole remarries John Cole after William Paul dies in 1872, mother Emily and new family move to Wales, sourced from 1881 census onwards. In the 1891 census William Paull is with the family in Wales, noted as William Paull and not Cole. Birthplace is noted as Hayle, Cornwall which is close to Phillack, Cornwall; In 1939 Census he is in Wales with wife Catherine, birth date August 8, 1868.

  • WILLIAM PAUL, born on either September 7, 1868 or October 1, 1868 in Illogan, Redruth, to Stephen Paul, a Sawyer, and Grace Terril.

    • Conclusion:  ​Although the last name spelling and age works perfect with my William’s 1890 marriage and the 1891 census, this is not my William. This William appears in the 1891 census as an unmarried man, working as a Blacksmith, and still living at home, while my William was already married and living at 39 Garibaldi Street in Todmorden.  This William was living with his brother in 1939, stated that he was a retired Blacksmith, and listed his birth date as 7 Sep 1868

  • WILLIAM PAULL, born March 4, 1869 (Volume 5C, Page 247) in Illogan, Redruth, Cornwall.  Father was William Paull, a Copper Miner, and mother was Mary Ann Chappel.  William died on September 1, 1928 in Australia.  

    • Conclusion:  I had shared DNA with someone on this side of the family, but not sure on how we're related.  My DNA estimate matched me with someone on this branch, but when Ancestry redid their algorithms, this branch no longer matched me.  I cannot exclude them yet, so more research is needed. Worthy of noting is that this family ended up in Australia. Mostly like that there is first cousin match to this family. There are 2 families in ancestry that have different parents for the Father William Paull, needs further investigation into the extended grandparents to find the link.

  • WILLIAM PAULL, born April 20, 1869 (Volume 5C, Page 268).  Father was Richard Paull and mother was Mary Robins.  This William died on 28 May 1922 in Idaho.  

    • Conclusion:  Not my William either. This family eventually ended up in the US, per Find A Grave. There is a William Henry Paul (One L), born April 20, 1869 with parents Richard and Mary Paul, buried in Idaho. The Find A Grave Memorial number is 196976088. My only concern is that the date of birth doesn’t match, but it could be that one child died then another took the same name.

  • WILLIAM JOHN PAULL, born July 20, 1869 (Volume 5C, Page 259) in College Row, Camborne to an unknown father and Blanche Paull.  Though the father is undocumented, we have confirmed that this is not "my" William.

    • Conclusion:  We have excluded this person as being "my" William because we learned that Blanche married Thomas Henry Crowgey in 1886. William John Paull was in the 1891 census, age 22 years, born in Camborne, boarding with Elizabeth and Martha Spur, and working as a tin streamer. There is a death record for a William John Paull, age 64 (born in 1869) with a burial date of December 9, 1933, living at 19 Hughville St, Camborne, Cornwall

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