Paula shares a new discovery from her family history.
|My grandmother Catalina is the youngest |
child standing in front of her father.
This photo was taken in 1879/80, after the
death of her mother in February 1879, and
the death of her sister (the one on the right)
in December 1880
My grandmother was born in 1875, and was given the first name of Catalina. An unusual name for a girl born to a Victorian working class family in a small mill town in the north of England, where the most common names were traditional ones like Mary, Sarah, or Jane.
Catalina is, of course, the Spanish version of Catherine, and at first I thought she must have been named after a family friend, or even some local dignitary. Then, about 15 years ago, when I starting working on my family history, I discovered that the name Catalina wasn’t unique. In fact, it appeared in every generation of her family as far back as the early eighteenth century.
Catalina’s grandmother, Grace Dalton nee Catlow, had a sister named Catalina and her brother Jonathan named one of his daughters Catalina. One feels quite sorry for these girls who rejoiced in the name of Catalina Catlow!
Going back 2 more generations, I found Jonathan Catlow (born 1703) who was the rector at the parish church in the town in the second quarter of the 18th century. He was the father of my ancestor, James Catlow - and yes, one of James' sisters was called Catalina.
Jonathan married Grace Smith in 1727 – and I must admit, when you get a ‘Smith’ in your family tree, you throw up your hands in despair, because it is such a common surname.
Having reached what I thought was a brick wall with Jonathan and Grace, I did a search in the parish records (which fortunately were all online at the time, therefore relatively easy to search) for anyone named Catalina who was baptised, married or died in the same town as my grandmother Catalina. Imagine my amazement when there were about two dozen of them in addition to those I’d found in my direct line.
Eventually I managed to compile a ‘tree’ of all these, which took me back to a Catalina Pickford, born in 1695. I remember thinking at one point, ‘Either there’s a link between these families and mine, or I’ve been compiling someone else’s family tree!’
To cut a long story short, I didn’t find the link for a couple of years. I made contact with an American descendant of the Catlow family, who gave me the information that ‘Grace Smith’ was a widow when she married Jonathan Catlow, and her birth name was Grace Pickford.
From there, it was easy to link Grace Smith nee Pickford (born 1701) to her sister Catalina Pickford (born 1695). They were both daughters of John Pickford of Macclesfield, Cheshire, who in 1692 married – yes, you’ve guessed it – Catalina Brewster.
The trail ran cold again. Catalina Brewster (born 1673 in Kent) was the daughter of Edward Brewster, but I couldn’t get any further back than that.
Until last week, when I happened to be sorting through my family history files, and decided to do a quick online search for Catalina Brewster.
I found a family history of the Brewster family, which showed that Catalina’s father, Edward Brewster married Dorothy Neesham. Dorothy’s parents were Thomas Neesham and – wait for it! - Catalina Cole (born about 1599). From there it was an easy jump to Catalina Cole’s father Roger Cole, and then to his father, William Cole, who married in 1525 in Devon. His wife’s name? Catalina de Gallegos - born in Spain about 1497.
At long last I had found a definite Spanish connection for the name which persisted through several generations and many branches of the family until the late 19th century.
When and why my Spanish ancestor Catalina de Gallegos came to England in the early 16th century is impossible to determine. However, Henry VIII had a Spanish queen from 1509 to 1531 (Catherine of Aragon) so was Catalina’s father, Ferdinando de Gallegos, part of her entourage? It’s interesting to speculate, although we’ll never know for certain!