The following article was published in the Hawkesbury Crier, newsletter of the Hawkesbury Family History Group, September 2021, pps 9-12.
The joys of researching your family history
by Grahame Thom
Several years ago someone said to me “I have finished my family history”. I said to myself “You will never finish researching your family history”. Here is an example.
I have been researching my family history for many years. Many cousins and friends are aware that one of my favourite ancestors is Obadiah Ikin who came to Sydney from England over 200 years ago (1).
We know that Obadiah’s mother was Ann Ikin, and that he was baptised on 21 March 1761 in Whitchurch, Shropshire, England. It has been accepted that it is probably impossible to find the name of Obadiah’s father but what of Ann’s parents. This has been a challenge.
Also my cousin Margaret Miller and I have wondered what was behind a 1858 statement that Obadiah’s son William was born in America, when records reveal he was born in Nottingham, England in 1785.
What do we know about Obadiah’s life in England before sailing to Sydney, Australia in late 1789 with his wife and children, as a soldier in the New South Wales Corps?
Obadiah married Sarah Butts on 23 May 1781 in the Church of St Peter, Canterbury, Kent, England. They had their first born child Obadiah junior on 18 March 1782, who was christened on 24 March at Manchester Cathedral, in Lancashire, England.
Their next child Marianne was christened on 20 March 1784 at Whitchurch, Shropshire, followed by William born on 19 October 1785 in Nottingham and christened on 31 March 1786 at St Mary’s Church, Nottingham.
Their fourth child, Mary Ann was christened on 18 May 1788, at St James Church, Bury St Edmund, Suffolk, England.
We also know that Obadiah enlisted in the 11th Light Dragoon Guards on 14 August 1785, while the regiment was stationed at Nottingham, and was discharged on 27 March 1786 for an unknown reason.
Next Obadiah enlisted in the newly formed New South Wales Corps on 11 October 1789 and was stationed at Chatham, England prior to departing on board the Surprise with his family bound for Sydney, Australia, on 19 January 1790. Another son, Alexander was baptised at Chatham on 25 October 1789.
None of this research assisted in revealing the names of Obadiah’s grandparents, that is the parents of his mother Ann Ikin. Perhaps Ann’s father was named Obadiah too.
Some years ago cousin Martin Wallace of New Zealand (died 2017) wrote an article about our Ikin ancestors which can be seen on my family history website www.grthom.info. The following is an extract from his article.
A search for the name Obadiah Ikin (in England) reveals three men with that name (I will use this spelling, although Obediah occurs.)
Obadiah I – This man married Bridget Beddow in Myddle, a Shropshire village, on 21 June 1719. She was probably a member of the Beddow family described by Richard Gough in “A History of Middle” in 1700. I can’t find a link with our family.
Obadiah II – This man married Mary Jones at St. Alkmund’s on 10 February 1750/51. He appears in the Whixall Manor record on 12 May 1777.
Obadiah II wrote a will on 17 May 1793 in which he described himself as “a sawyer, with two dwelling houses and lands situated in Whixall where I now live.” He must have died shortly after for his will was probated at Prees on 3 July 1793. The list of beneficiaries has allowed us to identify a large family of Ikins
He left half his property to be shared equally between:
“Obadiah, son of my sister Anne,
James, son of my brother John,
Mary, daughter of my nephew Joseph Ikin,
William, son of my nephew Edward Ikin.”
The other half of his property he left to John Hall and David Chidlow, who were joint owners. Joseph Ikin the younger was an executor.
Obadiah III – This man was our ancestor who came to Australia in 1790. He was baptised at St. Alkmund’s in Whitchurch on 24 March 1761. His mother’s name Ann Ikin is recorded, but no father’s name was included.
Peter Krafft (another cousin living in New Zealand) has constructed a spreadsheet presentation of Ikin family births and marriages, using parish register transcripts, the IGI, and other sources. His records begin in the 17th century. Peter has generously given me access to this resource. With the information from Obadiah II’s will, it is possible to make the following family structure.
JOB IKIN married ANN SHEPHERD at Wem, 27 December 1733
They had nine children at least. The records are not complete. I have identified those mentioned in Obadiah II’s will by a x after their name.
1. THOMAS baptised 4 August 1734, Whitchurch, (died 1734)
2. JOHN (x) baptised 23 May 1735, Whitchurch,
grandson James (x) baptised 21 September 1761, Whixall
3. WILLIAM baptised 11 May 1736, Whitchurch
4. JOSEPH, son Edward (x) baptised 29 June 1755, Prees
grandson William (x) baptised 30 January 1790, Whixall
son Joseph (x) baptised 10 March 1761, Prees
grand daughter Mary (x) baptised 27 September 1784
5. ANN(E) (x) baptised 1 April 1739 at Wellington,
6. OBADIAH II (x)
7. JOB baptised 2 October 1741, Wellington
8. MARY baptised 11 September 1743, Wellington (died 1750)
9. HANNAH baptised 12 February 1748, Wellington
The above research by Martin and Peter appears to be reasonable. But like all good researchers we considered another source was needed to confirm the link between Obadiah and Ann.
In 2004 I attended a gathering of the Clan MacThomas in Glenshee, Perthshire, Scotland. There I met Jon Hedges, a cousin of the Chief. We became good friends and Jon looked after the Clan’s website where he presented much Clan research carried out by me in my role as the Clan Sennachie (genealogist).
Then in 2019 the world wide pandemic COVID 19 resulted in Jon being house bound. So he undertook much research into his family history, including taking out a subscription to the British Newspapers Archives website. This meant he had access to the very large online collection of British newspapers.
In May 2021 Jon mentioned this to me and offered to do searches for me. My request included a search for any reference to any mention of the name Obadiah Ikin and variations.
Jon obtained one result as follows
Sun (London) – Monday 11 April 1803
LEGACY ~ LEFT by Mr. OBADIAH IKIN, of the Parish of Prees, and County of Salop, to Obadiah Ikin, a Native of Whitchurch in the said County. He was a Soldier in the Light Dragoons in the American War- married a Wife in Canterbury. When discharged from the Army, went to settle in Rochester; in Kent, and is supposed to live in the same place now. Either him or his lawful Heir may receive the same, by applying to Mr.Joseph lkin, of Prees, in the County of Salop.
Prees, March 17, 1803. (2)
There is a clear link from the 1793 will of Obadiah Ikin who died on at Whixall and the advertisement that appeared in the London Sun nearly 10 years later on 11 April 1803. As a result the advertisement gives details that clearly link this Obadiah Ikin to his nephew Obadiah Ikin who came to Sydney in 1790.
The following points indicate the links.
The “American War” would be the war that is today called the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783. It is likely that Obadiah served in this war prior to his marriage in 1781; more research is needed. But this links the advertisement to the comment made 55 years later that his father Obadiah had been in America.
In a memorial by Obadiah in 1810 he stated that he had served 26 years in the army. This included 20 years in the NSW Corps and less than a year in the 11th Light Dragoon Guards. The balance could have been served in the 54th (Shropshire) Regiment as the regiment served in America from 1775 to 1781, and recruited in the County of Shropshire. It would seem that no Light Dragoon Guards regiments served in America.(3).
Obadiah, a native of Whitchurch, Shropshire, and his wife Sarah Butts had married in Canterbury 1781. In the late 1700s Rochester was a small town just north of Chatham where Obadiah enlisted in the NSW Corps in 1789.
Who would have thought that after 50 years of research, the magic of the internet, and COVID 19, would be brought together by the finding of one small advertisement in a London newspaper published in 1803, that added two generations to our family tree. Oh for the joys of family history research.
1. References to most of the events covered in this article can be seen in the book Obadiah Ikin – The story of a Shropshire soldier and his family in Australia, by Margaret Miller and Grahame Thom, published privately in 1986.
2. The British Newspapers website – httpss://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk – accessed May 2021
3. Kitzmiller, John M, In search of the “Forlorn Hope”. Volume 1, published 1988.