I love it when a distant cousin or someone who is researching the same line as I am asks me how I arrived at a certain conclusion because then it forces me to review my evidence and assumptions. Sometimes my assumptions turn out to be correct; sometimes I find that I've made a mistake, but all-in-all it helps to make my research stronger.
Anyway, I received a recent question about how I arrived at the conclusion that the parents of Alice Butterworth (born about 1828 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England) were Robert Butterworth and Betty Council. There appears to have been a number of Alice Butterworths living in or around Blackburn at the time as well as multiple Robert and Betty Butterworths, so how did I arrive at these ones?
So I went through my documents and here is my analysis:
I start off with the marriage record of George Ashton & Alice Butterworth. From this, we learn that her father’s name was Robert Butterworth and his occupation was a weaver. Also, that Alice was born about 1828.
Next, I’ve found George & Alice in the 1851 census. The names and ages match the marriage certificate. In the household, they are living with a Betty Butterworth who is listed as a widow. So, presumably Robert had died by 1851.
Next, I found Betty and Alice in the 1841 census. The ages and names of the Alice and Samuel match the family in the 1851 census, so I’m confident it is the same family. Robert is missing from this census as well, so he likely had died before 1841. One thing to note is the ages for Betty don't match between the 1841 and 1851 census, although the 1841 census was notorious for rounding ages.
Next, I’ve come across a death certificate for a Robert Butterworth in 1840, living in Blackburn, who is listed as being a weaver. In the document the informant is a William Counsell. That isn't necessarily proof of anything, but it does support the argument that Betty's maiden name was Counsell.
Finally, I’ve come across a marriage record for a Robert Butterworth and a Betty Council, married in Blackburn in 1813. Robert's occupation is listed as weaver and the year of 1813 is consistent with when their oldest child from the 1841 census would have been born.
So, all seems to be consistent: the names, dates, occupation and locations. The only outlier (aside from the difference in ages for Betty Butterworth in the 1841 and 1851 censuses) is what I believe is the baptism record for Alice, where her father’s occupation is listed as a farmer and everywhere else it is listed as a weaver. That being said, if this is her baptism record, she was baptized much later in life, and it would have been 37 years after her father had died, so it is very likely that she could have given the wrong profession for him.