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One of my maternal great-great-grandmothers was Emma Wood (1841-1908). Her birth place presents me with rather a mystery. She always claimed in censuses that she was born in Hertfordshire, usually at Ware but occasionally she is listed as having been born at Hertford itself. There is no sign of her birth being registered there and no baptism has been found for her at Ware. Her age in the censuses is consistent with a birth date of 1841/2 but no suitable Emma Wood birth has been found between 1837 and 1845.

Emma Wood (1841-1908) married Thomas WELLS (1841-1894) at St James, Croydon, in 1869. They had a daughter, Mary Jane Wells (1869-?), there before briefly moving to Kingston-upon-Thames where they had my great-grandmother, Annie Sophia Wells (1870-1952), they then had three sons at Brighton, Sussex.

As Emma Wood married at Croydon I thought it worth seeing if I could find her living there as a child. Her marriage certificate showed her father as James. Thankfully the 1851 census for Croydon has been indexed and included Emma and her parents James and Ann Wood. Emma was listed as having been born at Ware, Hertfordshire but both parents gave their birthplace as Croydon. There were no other children recorded in this Wood family.

Emma's father, James Wood, gave his age as 40. The IGI has a baptism which fits this age, James baptised at St John the Baptist, Croydon in 1811. This James was the son of John and Elizabeth Wood. John and Elizabeth also had a son John who was living near James in the 1851 census. Nothing proven but a possible pointer.

Living with the Wood family in 1851 was a Sophia Jones who was James's sister-in-law. This might mean she was the sister of James's wife Ann or possibly the sister of the wife of one of James's brothers. Even if Ann's maiden name turns out to be Jones I think the chances of finding the right James Wood and Ann Jones marriage anywhere between Croydon and Hertford are extremely small so I am rather at a loss as to what else to try.

There is an additional problem if James Wood was the son of John and Elizabeth because there are two suitable marriages for a John Wood and Elizabeth at Croydon in the early 1800s. The surnames here are ASHDOWN and DORRILL.

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