Family - Findlay Connection - Anne Charlotte Cosby

Annie Charlotte Findlay née Cosby
(7 Sep 185317 May 1920)

Almost all that was thought, within our immediate family, to be known about Annie Cosby is to be found in Alexander (Sandy) Waddell's rather perfunctory assertion that she had deserted her children, and was close kin of the Cosbys of Stradbally.

The first assertion is almost certainly untrue (but he made it in good faith), and the second was only partly true if at all – kin perhaps but close no; her forebears had lived in England (in London and the West Country) for centuries, as we shall see – and indeed the jury is still out as to whether there was ever a connection with Stradbally. as the mists of time have swirled irrevocably across the family footprints.

But the Cosby line has flourished to this day, as we shall also see. It has to be regretted that the families of both my paternal and maternal grandmothers (Findlay and Girling respectively) were excised from the collective memory. In both cases they were perhaps a little rough and ready – I'm guessing here – the sort you invite to the New Year's Eve party but hope devoutly they won't turn up. Well what fun that would have been – and it has to be said that fun has been in short supply over the past couple of generations on both sides.

Aunt Jane remarked, not long before she died, that my father Walter was taken, at the age of seven, to visit Annie, his grandmother, in 1920 – probably not long before she died. I get the feeling that there had been discreet contact between Hannah, his mother, and Annie, her mother, over the long years of separation apparently orchestrated by the Findlay elders.

But then all contact was lost – until now! Read on!

Let's look first at Annie's husband Charles' immediate family

IndividualSpouseOffspring
William Renny Findlay
(21 Aug 1810 –
22 Feb 1872)
Jessie Smith
(1 Jun 1819 –
11 Oct 1883)
(m 19 Feb 1839)
Jessie Smith Findlay
(22 Jan 1847 –
31 Dec 1941, Cheltenham)

Chas. Farquharson Findlay
(14 Aug 1853, Glasgow –
15 Sep 1883, Pancras)

11 others
Charles Farquharson Findlay
(14 Aug 1853 –
15 Sep 1883)
Annie Charlotte Cosby
(7 Sep 1853
17 May 1920)
Eleanor Dixon Valentine
(14 Feb 1881, Pancras –
12 Apr 1960, Cheltenham)

Jessie Frances Hannah
(3 Jun 1882, Dover –
12 Jan 1974, Bath)

one other (died in infancy)

And her immediate family. We see at once that the Cosbys of Dorset were a flourishing tribe, who would quite plausibly have been able to help support and maintain Annie and her children after Charles Findlay was imprisoned, stricken with tuberculosis, and died. I'm entirely unconvinced by the bland official story that she unilaterally abandoned her children. It smacks of Kremlin fabulations following the deaths of Russian dissidents. "Three bullets to the head? Yes, obvious suicide."

IndividualSpouseOffspring
Charles Cosby
(1812 –
Jul 1899)

grocer, later a publican
Mary Ann Hancock
(1810 –
early 1871 at latest ie pre-Census)
Charles Cosby Jr
(b Apr 1844)

Sarah Rebecca Cosby
(7 Nov 1846 –
14 Apr 1941)

John Colman Cosby
(Jan 1851 –
24 Oct 1930)

Annie Charlotte Cosby
(Jul 1853, Beaminster, Dorset

Jun 1920, Hampstead)
christened 19 Nov 1853

George William Cosby
(b 1855)
Annie Charlotte Cosby
(7 Sep 1853
17 May 1920)
christened 19 Nov 1853
married 1880
Chas. Farquharson Findlay
(14 Aug 1853 –
15 Sep 1883)
(m 1880)

This date is pure guesswork. No record of their marriage has so far been found.
Eleanor Dixon Valentine Findlay
(14 Feb 1881, Pancras –
12 Apr 1960, Cheltenham)

Jessie Frances Hannah Findlay
(3 Jun 1882, Dover –
12 Jan 1974, Bath)

one other (died in infancy)

(note that the Pancras registration district of London, instituted on 1 Jul 1837, was renamed as St Pancras on 1 Jan 1902)

What is really rather striking on reading through these tables (apart from the plentiful supply of parental and sibling support potentially available to the newly-widowed Annie, as observed earlier) is that Charles' mother died within three weeks of his own death. Quite possibly she collapsed and died on hearing the news, or took to her bed and refused all nourishment, or maybe she'd been ill anyway. But the point is that perhaps this provided the emotional leverage necessary to detach the children from Annie and pass them over to their maiden aunt Jessie Smith Findlay§.

And it must be said that Aunt Jessie did a brilliant job of bringing them up. I can't speak for Val as I scarcely knew her, but I can say that Hannah inspired more deeply-felt love and respect amongst all who knew her, than anyone else I can think of.

But we must give Nature her due as well as Nurture. Charles Findlay we already know to have been a thoroughly Good Egg. And so, I am sure, was Annie herself. We can trace something of her life through Census records in the first (sic) year of each new decade. The ages given are possibly "next birthday":

1871:  Annie (aged 18), living with father (by now a widower) and brothers Charles and George, in Bessborough Place, London
1881: Annie (aged 28), living with husband and daughter Eleanor, in Dover
1891: Annie (aged 38), widowed, occupation dressmaker living with father (aged 81, retired publican), in 82 Camden Road, Pancras, London
1901: Annie (aged 48) living alone, occupation dressmaker, in 74 Camden Road, Pancras, London
1911: Annie (aged 58), occupation housekeeper, St Marylebone, London, "married 4½ years, 3 live births but 1 had died"

She supported her family, and herself, through difficult circumstances all the way through. I think she deserves both our sympathy and our admiration.

§: We're now also able to recognise that Annie may well have been in the later stages of a difficult third pregnancy, or that the third child was already ill or recently deceased. Any one of these factors would have left Annie at a low ebb, and open to persuasion that she should give up the first two children to allow them a more secure upbringing.

Thought for the day

As described elsewhere, Val and Hannah were both baptised on 30 Jun 1899 (whilst resident in Hampstead), and the question is why? If it was suspected that their birth parents hadn't bothered to get this done, or perhaps not in an Anglican context, why had their foster mother not got round to it either? In an age which took ceremonial very seriously, it was a very odd omission.

The Rude Forefathers

Please note that links from OrnaVerum to pages within the ancestry.co.uk website require you to have logged-on to that website in advance of clicking the links in question. Click here for advice about membership.

We can work our way upwards six generations via the Owen family tree (from Thomas Robert Cosby) and Herring family tree (from Jessie Frances Hannah Waddell) as displayed on the ancestry.co.uk website.

As to discrepant dates, I did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument, but then awaited more convincing evidence.

IndividualSpouseOffspring
William CosbyH
(b 1611)
Margarrett
(b 1615)
(m 1636)
Margaret Cosby
(b 1637)
Joan
(b 1620)
(m 1641)
Mary Cosby
(b 1642)

John Cosby
(1644 –
1708)
John CosbyH
(1644 –
1708)

Baptism
Elizabeth Whittle
(1649 –
1691)
John Cosby
(1670 –
1736)

Mary Cosby
(b 1679)

Henry Cosby
(b 1681)
John CosbyH
(1670 –
1736)

Burial
Mary Askew
(b 1675)
Thomas Cosby
(1706 –
1765)
Thomas CosbyH,  O
(4 Nov 1706 –
7 Jul 1765)
Ann Parton
(1711 –
1734)
(m 1731)
Thomas Cosby
(1732 –
1732)
Olive Lloyd
(b 1715)
(m 7 Aug 1735)
Thomas Cosby
(13 May 1737 –
1819)

Olive Cosby
(b 1738)

John Cosby
(b 1741)
Thomas CosbyH,  O
(13 May 1737 –
1819)

Baptism
Elizabeth (Betty) Parsons
(b 1741)
Thomas Robert Cosby
(10 Oct 1767 –
10 May 1835)
Thomas Robert CosbyH,  O
(10 Oct 1767 –
10 May 1835)
Ann Major
(15 May 1769 –
1 Feb 1837)
Elizabeth Cosby
(24 Sep 1793 –
17 Mar 1861)

Thomas Cosby
(1802 –
1885)

Ann Cosby
(1807 –
12 Apr 1836)

Charles Cosby
(1811 –
Jul 1899)

Henry Charles Cosby
(Nov 1812 –
8 Dec 1890)
Charles CosbyH,  O
(1812 –
Jul 1899)
Mary Ann Hancock
(1810 –
early 1871 at latest ie pre-Census)
Charles Cosby Jr
(Apr 1844 –
Dec 1918)

Sarah Rebecca Cosby
(7 Nov 1846 –
14 Apr 1941)

John Colman Cosby
(Jan 1851 –
24 Oct 1930)

Annie Charlotte Cosby
(7 Sep 1853, Beaminster, Dorset –
17 May 1920, Hampstead)
christened 19 Nov 1853

George William Cosby
(b 1855)

The Cosbys of the Stuart era, Londoners all, could conceivably be descended from the Cosbys of Tudor times in Stradbally, as most of Alexander and Dorcas Cosby's children seem to have been born in England (Oxford and Salisbury), but Arnold Cosby (b 1591) is the only plausible progenitor.

Or they could have been descended directly from the Cosbys of Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire, but there is (from what little I've seen) no documented candidate on that side either.

So, hoots toots, perhaps the whole thing is a mare's nest of unsubstantiated hearsay or wishful thinking – plus of course the unhelpful disinclination of the older generation to discuss the Cosby connection at all. I never heard any whisper of it from The Aunts, for example.

But never mind, there's a perfectly good honest lineage to be found in an eye-poppingly sophisticated and well documented website that I've only just (Oct 2015) discovered which gives chapter and verse from John Cosby (b 1644) down, via Annie Cosby (b 1853) and Val Findlay (b 1881), to Edward Gueritz (b 1919). It corrects and amplifies the tabulation above, and provides a link to the fullest possible account of the life and times of Thomas Cosby (b 1706). These Cosbys were salt of the earth: bakers, blacksmiths, cobblers and the like – hard-scrabble tradesmen at best, impoverished inmates of the workhouse in hard times. And gradually, they won through – or enough of them did – to pass their surname down to today – hopefully I can soon make contact with Professor Arnaud Aurejac-Davis to close the loop.

Meanwhile, it is salutary to compare and contrast the London / West Country tabulations as per the ancestry.co.uk website and that which Professor Aurejac-Davis has compiled (surely Père Noël's petits assistants must have spent many summer vacations in the research team that assembled so much fascinatingly detailed information to such a rigorously academic standard).

This is not to belittle the ancestry.co.uk versions – they don't generally get to display their credentials, which may well also be impressive.

Please see below a selective extract from the Aurejac-Davis website of all known direct ancestors of Annie Cosby. The data highlighted in orange indicate significant differences (almost certainly improvements!) from my table derived from the Herring and Owen trees in ancestry.co.uk

(As an aside, this website does rather stumble as regards Annie's descendants, not surprisingly given the circumstances of her husband's death - and indeed that itself doesn't accord with what I thought I knew about him.)

IndividualSpouseOffspring
William Cosby
(b 1611)
Margarrett
(b 1615)
(m 1636)
Margaret Cosby
(b 1637)
Joan
(b 1620)
(m 1641)
Mary Cosby
(b 1642)

John Cosby
(1644 –
1708)
John Cosby
(1644 –
1691-)
Elizabeth Whittle
(1649 –
Mar 1691)
(m 8 Apr 1667)
John Cosby
(ca 1668
1736)

Mary Cosby
(b 1679)

Henry Cosby
(b 1681)
John Cosby(ca 1668
Jul 1736)

blacksmith
Mary Askew
(Dec 1667 –
Jun 1742
)
(m ca 1692)
Anthony Cosby
(Apr 1693 –
Sep 1744)

Elizabeth Cosby
(Dec 1694 –
Dec 1736)

John Cosby
(Dec 1696 –
May 1697)

Mary Cosby (twin)
(Dec 1696 –
May 1714)

John Cosby
(Sep 1699 –
Sep 1700)

Sarah Cosby
(Nov 1700 –
Jun 1753)

Marmaduke Cosby
(Aug 1702 –
Apr 1703)

Ruth Cosby
(Feb 1704 –
Feb 1704)

Ann Cosby (twin)
(Feb 1704 –
Feb 1704)

John Cosby
(4 Oct 1705 –
Oct 1705)


Thomas Cosby
(4 Nov 1706 –
7 Jul 1765)
Thomas Cosby
(4 Nov 1706 –
7 Jul 1765)

wine-merchant,
cow-keeper
Ann Parton
(1711 –
8 Aug 1733)
(m 12 Sep 1728)
Ann Cosby
(Aug 1731 –
Sep 1731)


Thomas Cosby
(Aug 1732 –
Nov 1732)
Olive Lloyd
(1708 –
1741
)
(m 9 Aug 1735)
Thomas Cosby
(13 May 1737 –
1770/1)

Olive Cosby
(b 16 Apr 1738)

Elizabeth Cosby
(17 Jun 1739 –
13 Jan 1774+)


John Cosby
(3 May 1741 –
Apr 1743)

James Cosby
(Nov 1742 –
Oct 1744)
Thomas Cosby
(13 May 1737 –
1770/1)

painter & stainer
Elizabeth (Betty) Parsons
(Apr 1745 –
13 May 1785
)
(m 6 Dec 1766)
Thomas Robert Cosby
(10 Oct 1767 –
Mar 1835)
Thomas Robert Cosby
(10 Oct 1767 –
Mar 1835)

shoemaker, miller, gamekeeper
Ann Major
(15 May 1769 –
1 Feb 1837)
(m 7 Aug 1793)
Elizabeth Cosby
(24 Sep 1793 –
7 Mar 1861)

Thomas Cosby
(ca 1795 –
9 Mar 1800)

Jeremy Cosby
(b 27 Nov 1796)

Rebecca Cosby
(12 Feb 1799 –
29 Aug 1865)


Ann Cosby
(1 Feb 1801
12 Apr 1836)

Thomas Cosby (twin)
(1 Feb 1801 –
Jun 1885
)

Charles Cosby
(28 Nov 1812
Aug 1899)

Henry Charles Cosby
(Nov 1812 –
8 Dec 1890)
Charles Cosby
(28 Nov 1812
Aug 1899)

innkeeper, victualler, butler, grocer
Mary Ann Hancock
(1810 –
Aug 1869)
(m 27 Sep 1841)
Charles Cosby Jr
(9 Aug 1844 –
Mar 1922)

Sarah Rebeka Cosby
(7 Nov 1846 –
14 Apr 1941)

Mary Ann Cosby
(13 Mar 1848 –
d in infancy)

Mary Ann Cosby
(30 Mar 1849 –
d in infancy)


John Coleman Cosby
(14 Apr 1851 –
24 Oct 1930)

Annie Charlotte Cosby
(7 Sep 1853, Beaminster, Dorset –
17 May 1920, Hampstead)

George William Cosby
(b 8 Feb 1856)

Kipling somewhere remarks that there are nine and ninety [sixty?] ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right. There are almost as many ways of constructing tribal pedigrees, and each one of them is ideal for some particular purpose.

Knowing no better when I started investigating the family background, I presented the results in what I suppose might be called a descendancy table, using the Microsoft Word table facility, as I was reasonably familiar with Word from the world of work. And this method certainly has its merits, but, as historical time increases vertically down the page, the display of collateral lines branching out from the direct line of descent becomes progressively less easy for the onlooker to comprehend. However, the tabulation width remains fixed, which for me has been very advantageous.

To encompass multiple generations each comprising numerous offspring, the professionals evidently prefer what seems to be called an ahnentafel (ancestor table) – though to me it's just a family tree – with historical time represented either vertically or (these days) laterally. The temporal flow can be (in the vertical case) upwards or downwards, and (in the lateral case) left to right or right to left.

Prof. Aurejac-Davis presents the Cosby tree with time flowing laterally left to right, with Adam and Eve implicitly on the LHS, and their offspring Cain, Abel, Seth et al at the first degree of offset to the right. And so on across the page, second, third etc degrees of offset corresponding to each successive generation.

This does mean that it's quite difficult to visually correlate Abel with Cain, and Seth with Abel, and so on (as one scrolls down the screen), because they are so highly separated. In this kind of display, I would respectfully suggest that each degree of offset could helpfully be symbolised not just by a bullet point but by the degree of offset [1], [2], [3] etc.