Provisional Findings: The QUESNELL Family in Port Nolloth

Perhaps the symbols used in genealogy to indicate various events in an ancestor’s life should be expanded to include one that means “provisional,” which can be used in conjunction with any other symbol to show that more work needs to be done to find proof of the event. Until then, the word “provisional” in the title for this post is meant to alert readers that research continues, even as I share what I’ve found so far about the QUESNELL family in Port Nolloth.

The Children and Grandchildren of
Richard John QUESNELL (1836 – 1917)
& Caroline Jane MCGARRY (ca. 1837 – 1914)
Married 6 Jan 1862 in Cape Town

(1) Elizabeth (1862 – ?)

(2) Caroline Jane (1865 – ?) = Henry Josiah COOPER (ca. 1864 – ?)

Arthur Richard (2 Jun 1890 – 13 Jun 1890)
Herbert Henry (19 Sep 1891 – bef. Oct 1893)
Christopher (27 Oct 1893 – 29 Mar 1894)
Edgar Ernest (20 Jan 1895 – ?)
Gwendoline (31 Dec 1896 – ?)
Gertrude Alice (27 Jan 1899 – 7 Feb 1899)
Olive (21 Mar 1900 – ?)
Edward (5 May 1902 – 5 May 1902)
William (23 Nov 1904 – 25 Nov 1904)

3) Elizabeth Mary (1869 – 1937) = William JANSEN (ca. 1855 – 1915)

Elizabeth Mary (21 Jun 1890 – bef. Sep 1937)
Minnie (4 Aug 1892 – bef. Sep 1937)
Richard John (11 Feb 1894 – bef. Sep 1937)
Edgar Ernest (13 Jan 1895 – ?)
Edith Gladys (6 Jan 1898 – ?)
Arthur Alexander (? – ?)

4) Harriet Annie (1873 – ?) = John HAMER (? – ?)

5) Wilhelmina Rebecca (1875 – ?) = Sydney Smith JONES (1866 – ?)

David Evan (5 Apr 1895 – ?)
Iris Baden Powell (24 Mar 1899 – 7 Feb 1999)
Vivien (1902 – ?)
Claude Redvers (1906 – 1999)

6) Joseph Robert (1877 – 1965) = Alice WÜRGES (ca. 1882 – 1939)

Victor Robert (7 Mar 1898 – 23 Oct 1918)
Esme Doris (4 Dec 1899 – 23 Dec 1902)
Richard John (Jan 1903 – 14 Sep 1926)
Harold (8 Mar 1906 – 29 Aug 1981)

Research Notes

As always, specific sources are available; simply send a comment requesting them.

(1) Elizabeth — It is assumed that Elizabeth died, probably in Cape Town, since she is not found in the marriage or burial records for St. Andrew’s in Port Nolloth. Unfortunately, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cape Town has no records of burials. Although church records from St. Andrew’s show that her sisters served as godparents and witnesses to marriages, no one I can identify as the original Elizabeth is mentioned. Her younger sister Mary added the name Elizabeth at some point to her baptismal name. Given the ages of those who usually stood as sponsors to baptisms and witnesses to marriages, I am assuming that Elizabeth Mary is the person shown in the records.

(2 ) Caroline Jane — The civil birth registration for their son Edgar Ernest gives a marriage date of 2 Oct 1887 for the couple, but there is no record of their marriage in the St. Andrew’s records, and the civil marriage records for Port Nolloth have not yet been published on FamilySearch. All of their children’s births and some of their deaths are found in the St. Andrew’s records.

(3) Elizabeth Mary — Marriage 21 May 1889. Only Edgar Ernest, Edith Gladys, and Arthur Alexander are listed on their mother’s September 1937 Death Notice. I have assumed that the other children died before that date.

(4) Harriet Annie — The St. Andrew’s records show that the couple married 7 Dec 1895, but no children are found in the Port Nolloth records. Harriet Annie might have married a second time, but I’ve not yet searched the records for proof.

(5) Wilhelmina Rebecca — Marriage 4 Mar 1894. The civil marriage record shows that William could not sign his name, which was recorded as William JOHNSON, and that his mark was attested to by Richard QUESNELL and Harriet Annie QUESNELL.

(6) Joseph Robert — Joseph and Alice were married 4 Oct 1897. Their oldest child was born in Port Nolloth; the other children were born in Woodstock and Somerset West, although not all of the baptism records have been found.

Posted in COOPER, HAMER, JANSEN, JONES, MCGARRY, QUESNELL, WÜRGES | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Finding A Daughter: Caroline Jane QUESNELL (b. 1865)

Focusing too intently on finding “vital” information, such as birth and death dates and places or the names of parents, can cause one to treat ancillary facts as “white noise.” If I had rigorously examined such facts on her mother’s death record, I might have discovered Caroline Jane QUESNELL much sooner.

As it was, I only learned of her existence and that of her older sister from the baptism records of St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Cape Town (see earlier post). She would have been too young to have married before her father, Richard John QUESNELL, moved his family to Port Nolloth sometime before November 1877. had published records for four of her siblings who had married in Port Nolloth, including my husband’s grandfather, Joseph Robert. I assumed those records were complete and that Caroline Jane had probably died before the move.

However, just as I was preparing a post based on this assumption, Christine in England e-mailed several documents, one of which showed that Caroline Jane had married a man named Henry Josiah COOPER. This led me to re-examine the records.

It turns out that I had unknowingly encountered Henry Josiah as the informant on the death registration for his wife’s mother, Caroline Jane MCGARRY, who died 14 Dec 1914.

Extract from the death registration of Caroline Jane MCGARRY - d. 14 Dec 1914 - Port Nolloth Source:

Extract from the death registration
of Caroline Jane MCGARRY
d. 14 Dec 1914 – Port Nolloth

When I first found the record several years ago, I thought that the situation was odd. The  death was not reported by the widowed husband, but by someone named H. HOOPER, an “occupier” of the house. A boarder who happened to be present at the time of death? I shrugged and quickly moved on to more exciting and seemingly germane facts.

Experienced genealogists are undoubtedly shaking their heads at my shortcomings in analyzing this record. The surname might look like HOOPER with a flourish on both legs of the H. However, the first letter of the signature is also an H, but with no flourish on the second leg. Hence, the last name does not begin with H. Two visible periods separate initials, indicating that the informant had two given names. Now that I know those two names, the signature quickly resolves itself into “H. J. COOPER” (although I think Henry’s teachers should have drilled him on making a more definite curve for the letter C).

Whatever the informant’s name, it was one I hadn’t seen in my research, which should have led me to investigate further. I did not even ask myself the obvious question: Who is the most logical person other than the widowed spouse to report a death? A child, a child’s spouse, or some other close relative. My assumption about the three known married daughters in the QUESNELL family, none of whose husbands was named COOPER, blinded me to the possibility that another daughter existed and that she and her husband lived with her elderly parents.

Too often we grumble about not having all of the information we’d like about a family we’re researching. If we scrutinized every bit of data in their file, might we not find that we have enough to keep us busy for many hours? At the very least, I shall now be training a magnifying glass on every signature I find.

Posted in COOPER, MCGARRY, QUESNELL | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

RAOGK: Edwin Thomas HAIRBOTTLE & Family (1908 & 1930)

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) was a web-based organization of over 4,000 volunteers who agreed to perform at least one free genealogy research task each month in their area. Although the site is no longer active, its spirit imbues most of the genealogists I know. In that spirit, from time to time I will publish some information I’ve found that has no connection with my husband’s family, but that may be of importance to another genealogist’s research.

The records for St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town, are found online at FamilySearch. The following typed affidavit is taped to the back of the first page of the baptism register for 1906 – 1917 (image 1 of 403).



I, Edward [hand-corrected to Edwin] Thomas Hairbottle married to Maria Hairbottle make oath and say
1. That on or about the 19th day of June 1908, my said wife and I duly adopted one Arthur Frederich Finehour with the consent of his mother and natural guardian.
2. That since the date of adoption my said wife and I have supported, educated and maintained the said Arthur Frederich Finehour.
3. That my said wife and I desire to have the name of the said Arthur Frederich Finehour altered in the Baptismal Register of St. Mary’s Church Woodstock to Arthur Frederich Hairbottle.

Sworn to at PAARL this 8th day of February 1930.

Before me.
[Illegible signature of notary(?)]        [Signature of E. Hairbottle]

The baptism records have not been indexed, but by browsing in the same register from the beginning of 1908, the year mentioned in the affidavit, I found Arthur Frederich’s baptism on 8 Apr 1908 (image 56 of 403). He was born on 10 Feb 1908 to Charles BROWN, domestic servant, and Caroline Vrede FINEHOUR.

Both images can be downloaded from the FamilySearch site.

Posted in BROWN, FINEHOUR, HAIRBOTTLE | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment