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March 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: Another Strong Female Ancestor Fanny Higginson born 1769

Brig Joseph Charles 1831 Passenger List
I'm writing about my 4th great grandmother Frances (Fanny) Holford Higginson as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and also as part of Women's History Month Challenge

Fanny was born in Lower Peover, Cheshire England in 1769 to John Holford and Ann Harrison. The village of Lower Peover was in existence as early as the middle of the 13th century and it appears that Fanny's family may have lived there for many generations. Shortly before her 18th birthday, young Fanny married Thomas HIgginson who was also from the village. 

Thomas and Fanny had a large family of 8 children born between 1788 and 1802. Sometime after the birth of their youngest child John in 1802 and before 1831, her husband Thomas died. 

By 1823 Fanny's daughter Betty Bell was living with her husband and children in Nether Peover and I suspect Fanny Higginson may have been living with them. The family was stil there in 1831 when they left for America. [Source: England, Cheshire Land Tax Assessments, 1778-1832 on FamilySearch]

1831. Brig Joseph Charles. Fanny Higginson & daughter Elizabeth Bell & family
The last record of Fanny is on December 3, 1831 when the Brig Charles Joseph arrived in New York from England. She is on the passenger list as "Frances Higginson, carpenter's wife" and is listed as 65 years old. Traveling with Fanny were her daughter Betty (Higginson) Bell, my 3rd great-grandmother, and Betty's children Ann, Phoebe, 12 year old Mary (my 2nd great grandmother), Peter and Joseph. [Source:]

The group was on its way to Betty's husband Peter Bell who had settled in New York some time earlier. I often think about Fanny, a 65 year old widow leaving her home and many of her children to come to a new land. In 1831 it would have been rough. 

I don't know what happened to Fanny. Peter Bell and his wife and children left New York to settle in what was then the wilderness of Wellington County Ontario. In fact they were among the very first settlers of a new community called Arkell. 
"Peter Bell, a native of Chesshire Eng, left his native land in 1832 and after spending 6 years in New York State, came to Puslinch in 1838 with two sons, Peter and Joseph and one daughter, Mary."
[Source: County of Wellington, Township of Puslinch by W. MacKenzie, published in the Guelph Weekly Mercury and Advertiser 7 March 1907: Early Settlers of Puslinch]

UCLP 1839 for Peter Bell
It's interesting to note how pioneer memories can hit on some truths but get many facts wrong.  Peter Bell's land petition submitted in 1839 stated that he left England for New York where he bought a farm in Sullivan County. 

He lived there for 3 years then left for Puslinch Township Wellington County with his wife and 3 children. His brother-in-law John Higginson and one daughter Phoebe with her husband John Petty were already in the new settlement of Arkell and Peter requested that he be allowed land near them. [Source: UCLP Microfilm:C-1633, Volume 63, Bundle B-21, Petition 153]

Since his mother-in-law Fanny is not mentioned in Peter's 1839 petition I suspect she may have died but whether she died in New York or in Arkell is not known.

I admire Fanny greatly for the difficult journey she took as a 65 year old woman in 1831.

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