History shrouded in mystery!

#52 Ancestors: Week 20 – Cousin Bait

Each time I peel back the layers of mystery surrounding the life of an ancestor, mine or others, I see a story emerging; a chance to bring that ancestor into the limelight for a moment in time. Treasures abound in the Aladdin’s cave that is family history – they beckon and call and demand my attention.

A lost diary here; a forgotten memoir there; an old tattered photo; or uncovered documentary evidence of people, place and time. These are the story starters for me; the facts and the evidence from my ancestors’ lives. When I hold an old photo, or open an old diary; when I gently slip those old letters from their tattered envelopes or once again admire a medal; then I feel closer to my clan and my past has more meaning.

The more I write about my ancestors, the more I know about myself.

Eliza Goats, my great, great grandmother had been waiting in the mists of family history, hidden from my view for decades. Eliza’s family name only revealed itself to me this year, as I explored that bottom left-hand quadrant of my paternal ancestors, from my red-haired grandmother, Harriet.

For some long time I had thought that my great, great grandmother’s family name was Carter and I had reached a brick wall in my research. The keen eye of my second cousin, Graham, cast over my family tree records soon revealed that I should be researching the Goats and Lagdon families to find out more about Eliza. With that new information I began my deep dive into the lives of my ancestors who were born and lived in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. The home and birth place of Cecil Rhodes.

The town of Stortford is only 34 miles from London, featuring such icons as the White Horse Inn and the Black Lion Inn; the Stortford Manor, Piggotts, Wyckham Hall and Rectory Manor, and Waytemore Castle. This now in ruins and only the motte or mound remains. The remnants of the wall that remains at the mound’s summit are those of the castle keep rebuilt by King John in 1214. See below.

The castle motte: Waytemore Castle, Bishop’s Stortford, Essex, UK

Bishops Stortford was the birthplace of my great, great, grandmother Eliza Goats. She was baptised at the church of St Michaels, in Bishop’s Stortford, on 7 July 1844. She was employed as a domestic servant as a young girl, until she married my great, great, grandfather Alfred Wright on 27 July 1868 at the Christ Church Stratford, just a short distance away. That date is poignant as it was the same date for my own parent’s wedding in 1924 – although they were wed in the Registry Office at Kingston, with witnesses N. and Ada Buckingham.

Who were the witnesses for Eliza and Alfred at their wedding? I do not know. I need to search a bit deeper to find the marriage documentation from that era. I can find the transcript but not the certificate – so no luck yet with who were the witnesses to their marriage. My next option is to search the old newspapers for any articles for weddings on that date in that county. No luck so far!

Note: If you are a genealogist and want to help with my search for this elusive marriage certificate, or details of the lives of Eliza Goats, please let me know.

Contact me at coachcaroleonline.com

The 1881 UK Census for the Wright family, displays Alfred’s occupation as a Labourer at a Bone Factory, and his daughter Ellen’s occupation as a Working Girl. Harriet is a scholar as are the rest of the family – 4 brothers. They were living at 1 Beck Road, West Ham.

Eliza gave birth to eight children between 1864 and 1880; one birth taking place before her recorded marriage to Alfred in 1868. It is entirely possible that she had a previous marriage – so no judgement there. More research! Among her children was my grandmother Harriet Priscilla, born in 1872 and the younger of her two daughters.

Eliza’s elder daughter Ellen Wright, went on to marry William Albert Watts and together they had eleven children. Another branch of the tree to research another day.

A little history research of Bishop’s Stortford uncovers its early beginnings in the 11th century.

In 1060, William, Bishop of London, bought Stortford manor and estate for £8, leading to the town’s modern name.


The Black Lion Pub, dating from the sixteenth century is still a working pub today.

My internet searching for Eliza and her family is ongoing and I expect to uncover more about her as I dig deeper. I owe it all to my second cousin, keeper of the Allery One Name site, where his superior research had led me to the Goats (or Geats, as it is sometimes spelled in other places) family ancestors.

I have setup an Ancestral Card for Eliza Goats in my Trello board and will add further research outcomes there as I dig deeper.

Ancestral Card: designed in Trello (shows an image of Christ Church, Stratford, Essex)
Ancestral Card continuation: census records

If you are interested in learning how to create Ancestral Cards in Trello, visit my free course
Family Story Magic.

If you prefer your learning in book format, try my latest publication Storifying your Ancestors, available at Amazon.

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