George York's will breaks down my genealogical brick wall

Will belonging to George York of Kidderminster
Will belonging to George York of Kidderminster

Today's genealogy tip: when you come up against a brick wall sometimes collaboration can be key. It's wise to carry out your own research as much as you can beforehand as it's not fair to expect others to do all the spadework for you. Two heads are often better than one and it may be that you can help other family historians with their research making it a mutually beneficial exercise.

You may recall in a previous post that I was trying to obtain a second will in the name of George York from Kidderminster. Having acquired the first will which didn't belong to my family (he may be an, as yet, unknown distant cousin) I did manage to get hold of the second one via the Worcestershire Archives Digitisation Service. This time I hit the jackpot - the will belonged to my 5 x great-grandfather, George York, who died in 1767.

George's will was straightforward, leaving his four properties in Franche, Kidderminster, to his wife, Hannah (nee Dixon). After her death or remarriage, the various houses were to be divided between George's four children, together with the residue of his estate.

I was able to confirm my suspicion that George, who was a yeoman, had previously been married to Ann Youngjohns. Ann died a couple of years after their nuptials but they had a son called Henry who was mentioned in the will.

A crucial piece of the puzzle in trying to trace further back in time was that George named his cousin, Thomas Crane of Habberley, as one of his executors. Low Habberley, where Thomas lived, is not far from Fanche but there were quite a number of Crane families in the area so it wasn't easy trying to work out who was who. I was fortunate to find a tree on Ancestry constructed by a descendant of Thomas Crane and the tree owner was very helpful in supplying me with the information I needed to confirm how George and Thomas were related.

George was born in 1727 in Old Swinford (called Oldswinford nowadays) which is in Stourbridge. There were quite a number of York families in and around Stourbridge so it was vital to eliminate them one by one, finishing up with Thomas Crane being George's 1st cousin once removed; George's father and Thomas' grandfather were brothers.

One small mystery remains. George mentioned in his will 'my Son in law Job Mitchel' to whom he gave 'two of the largest pewter Dishes that were his Mothers before her intermarriage with me'. I have been unable to figure out how Job fits into the family but it might be that son-in-law meant something different in the 18th century than it does today.

Finding George's will opened doors to several more generations. More on them soon!

If you've managed to break down any genealogical brick walls please share your experiences in the comments section of my blog or on Facebook.

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Category: Ancestors Corner

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