Tracing the Cole line back
Tracing the Cole line back before our earliest confirmed Cole ancestor, Daniel Cole (c1772-1840), is proving a problem. This page comments on the sources tried and possibilities for the future. It is under the headings of difficulties and speculations.
Why the online databases are unhelpful for the birth and baptism of Daniel Cole:
- Daniel's date of birth can be estimated from the ages on his naval discharge papers, his death certificate and various other naval records in the National Archives, all of which are themselves dated. The birth dates agree quite closely, but not completely, on about 1772. The imprecision is understandable considering that the naval record was almost certainly based on self-reporting and the information on the death certificate would have been second hand. Nothing convincing shows up in the IGI for this date.
All that we know of Daniel's birthplace comes from his naval discharge papers and the naval records at the National Archives. The first ship's records give Middlesex and the second ship's records and discharge papers give London - possibly because in the intervening years London had grown so much as to encompass Daniel's birthplace. A search of the baptismal records in and around St Pancras (where Daniel was married) proved negative, as does the IGI. Daniel may not of course have been baptised near his birthplace. Again, nothing convincing shows up in the IGI within the area north of the Thames which is now Greater London.
Why parish records are unhelpful:
It is unfortunate - speaking as a genealogist - that potters and brickmakers moved around so much following the building industry. Because of this Daniel could have been baptised in any of the numerous parishes of Greater London. Indeed he could also have been baptised elsewhere as it was common practice for parents to take children to be baptised in the parish where the mother was brought up. Searchable on-line parish records are few and far between, and it was not standard practice for even the originals to be annotated with additional information which might distinguish individuals with common names.
Why it hasn't been possible to trace back brothers or cousins:
A copy of Daniel's original marriage record for 15 May 1792 gives neither any other family member nor an address. The witnesses were unhelpfully William Gabell and R Mence.
The other Coles at the Tottenham Tile Kilns, where Daniel died as foreman on 12 October 1840, have common names and the IGI yields little useful for them.
Other Coles who lived and/or worked alongside Daniel in Islington and at the Tile Kilns were probably related. However what records exist on their ancestry have proved unhelpful - but see the pages for Charles Cole and Thomas Cole.
Why archives on potteries and brickworks have proved unhelpful:
- The only records on potteries and brickworks that have survived in local record offices do not seem to include information on the ordinary people who worked there.
It was common practice in the past to honour the previous generation by passing on their names to the new generation.
Daniel's known sons, in birth order, were given the names of Thomas, John and Daniel. Clearly the 'Daniel' is after Daniel himself, but the 'Thomas' and 'John' suggest that Daniel's father was a Thomas and a brother or grandfather was John. (The likelihood of these names are reinforced by the names that John gave his own first and second sons - 'Daniel James' and 'John Thomas' - where the odd one out, James, was clearly after John's wife's father, James Sharp Colley.)
Daniel's firstborn were twin daughters who were named Catherine and Sarah, probably after his and his wife's mothers.
There is a good chance therefore that Daniel's parents were either Thomas or John Cole and a Catherine or Sarah. Furthermore Daniel's father, or possibly an uncle, was probably a potter because Daniel's naval records document that he was 'bred to pottery'.
In view of the fact that potters moved around the country following the building industry, Daniel's parents could have been born or baptised almost anywhere. There is no shortage of candidates for the location as there are pockets of clay all over the UK and, being such a functional material, potteries and brickyards were common-place.