My fourth great-grandparents Edward Hughes and his wife Elizabeth Jones were Welsh; Edward was from Newmarket, Flintshire, and Elizabeth from Cardiganshire. Hughes, however, is not an unusual surname in Wales, nor is Jones, and for a while I’ve been muddling them with another Welsh couple from Flintshire with the same names.

When three years ago I wrote about Edward and Elizabeth I believed, mistakenly, that they had married at Ysgeifiog (also written Ysceifiog) in 1821 and that this was Elizabeth’s birthplace. Edward was from Holywell, a couple of miles north.

I have since ordered Elizabeth’s Victorian death certificate. She died on 4 July 1865 in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

Australian death certificates include much information useful to the genealogist, though the reliability of this depends on the knowledge and good will of the informant. In Elizabeth’s case the informant was her husband Edward Hughes.

The 1865 death certificate of Elizabeth Hughes

From Elizabeth’s death certificate I learnt that she was born in Cardiganshire to Edward Jones, who was a farmer, and Elizabeth Jones née Humphreys. She was 66 years old when she died, so she was born about 1799. Elizabeth and Edward married about 1825 in Liverpool when she was twenty-six. They had eight children:

  • Mary, dead;
  • Samuel aged 37 years (at the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1865, so born about 1828);
  • Mary aged 35 years (born about 1830);
  • John dead;
  • Eliza Ann dead;
  • Elizabeth Humphreys dead;
  • Goodman Edward Jones dead; and
  • Henry aged 24 years (born about 1841).

At the time of her death Elizabeth had been in Victoria for twelve years eleven months, so she had arrived about August 1852. Although she died in Brighton, the home address of her husband Edward was View Street, Bendigo (the town at that time was also known as Sandhurst), a hundred miles north. The cause of her death was recorded as chronic disease of the liver and stomach trouble. She had been ill for two months, which perhaps implies that she had come from Bendigo to Melbourne for treatment.

Elizabeth Hughes was buried in Brighton General Cemetery on 13 July 1865. The gravestone inscription reads:

In memory 
Beloved wife of 
Edward Hughes 
of Sandhurst
Died 10th July 1865 
aged 66.
Precious in the sight of the lord is 
the death of his saints

(The verse is from Psalm 116.)

The Bishop’s transcripts, copies of the parish registers which had been sent to the bishop, of Liverpool marriages includes a record at the church of St Philip for a marriage by banns on 24 April 1825 of Edward Hughes and Elizabeth Jones. Neither had been previously married; both were of the parish. A transcript of the marriage register shows the witnesses were John Parry and G. Jared; I believe the witnesses are not related to the bride and groom.

As this record is a better match for the details given at the time of Elizabeth’s death I am more confident that this is the record of the marriage of my fourth great grandparents Edward and Elizabeth Hughes. Unfortunately, details which would help to confirm that we have the right couple, such as their parents’ names and occupations, are not recorded.

Building a family tree with common surnames such as Hughes and Jones is often more difficult than not, because there is more likely to be confusion over two people with the same name. From the information on Elizabeth’s death certificate, it seems that I was wrong: my fourth great grandmother was not from Ysgeifiog and my Edward and Elizabeth were not married there. I have corrected my tree and added the new information.