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John Webster

John Webster of Helmsley.
I have been researching my family history for many years and hit a few brick walls. One of the most difficult to knock down is locating the origins of my great great grandfather, John Webster who was, convicted of stealing a horse and gig, tried in Surrey and transported to Australia for a term of 10 years in 1846 on "The Palmyra". His convict record indicates his "Native Place" as Helmsley, York. He was known to have used a number of aliases during his escapades and refused to give his name at his arrest and trial, "for fear of placing the good name of his family into disrepute". Extensive research in and around Helmsley, over several years has failed to find the correct individual. Two families were located that appeared to fit his profile but ultimately reached dead ends. In 2010, for a fee, The North Yorkshire County Council forwarded the Helmsley Marriages and Baptisms, 1814-1830: Hawnby Marriages 1780 and Cold Kirby Baptisms 1780-1810. The closest marriage appears to be that of Thomas Webster (servantman) and Mary Stonehouse (Womanservant) on 18 March, 1814 who had six children between 1814 and 1827. The first was John Webster b. 25 July 1814. There he seems to disappear from the records. There is another group living at Arden Hall, Ardenside; the Meggison family who ran the mill there for many years. Research there indicates that there was a John Webster living and working there who was the half brother of William Meggison and probably the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Webster of Cold Kirby and William Meggison Senior. This John Webster appears in the will of the latter Meggison so there is little doubt that there was a blood connection between them. Further research by a Meggison descendant has now discounted this John Webster, as being the convict, although he disappears from Ardenside at approximately the correct time to be my John. He evidently died in the area and was recorded as John Meggison. The researcher did not give any dates so I was unable to confirm any of this. As a result, I am returning to the Webster/Stonehouse theory. No death has yet been located for this John Webster. I have now located the name of an alternative spouse with two children. Her name was Sarah Groves, married to a John Webster but she was apparently deserted by her husband. However, this would fit in with the time of his transportation to Tasmania. There are so many deaths of John Websters of comparable age, in the areas surrounding Helmsley, around the same time, it is difficult to match the corresponding Johns with the correct families. I was wondering if there are any descendants still living in the area who may be able to throw some light on my puzzle.
Cheers, Alexandra :-\

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