Thursday, July 25, 2013

David Read and His Two Wives



David Read was someone we knew a lot about once he immigrated to the United States but nothing previous to that. A passport application for his son Charles changed all that. David Read was born September 1806-1808 to James Read and his wife Penelope. According to Charles’ passport application he was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. When I checked marriages for Warwickshire I came across one that jumped out at me. James Read and Penelope Yates marrying 8 April 1792 at Holy Trinity, Coventry. David was not listed among the children but they seemed to have changed churches like I do socks. So it could be it was transcribed wrong or happened in a church that isn’t indexed online yet. We will have to wait and see. One of the interesting things is that one of their younger daughters was named Harriet, which was the name of David’s oldest child. It’s not definite but everything seems to point at them as being David’s parents.

David immigrated to the United States around 1817 according to information from the 1900 census. Who did he come with? I wish I could answer that. Without knowing more about the family I have no way of telling. I am currently going through New York County wills for the time period to see if there may be a hint in one of them. He also said in the census that he was naturalized but I have no idea when. Add to that the fact there won't be a lot of information on a naturalization record pre-1906 there isn't much hope of further details.

In about 1833 he married a woman named Margaret Hunter. He did NOT marry Susan Hunter. I will explain who Susan is soon. The first mention of David in City directories is 1835, the year Margaret was born. He was living at 463 Bowery St. and was a sash maker. Don’t bother looking for that address on current maps. It no longer exists. Since I knew Margaret is a Hunter I decided to look at the directories for that time for anyone with the Hunter name. I was planning on mapping them out to see if I could find any clues, when I found Martha. Martha was the widow of James Hunter who was also living at 463 Bowery. Coincidence? I think not. I traced her forward and back and discovered that James was last in the city directory in 1823. Meaning he died 1822-1823. It could take them a while to get the directories out so information for a person may have actually been gathered a year earlier. I trace James backwards and the first mention of him is in 1809, milkman, living at 217 Bowery. As for Martha going forward, she is listed until 1839 and after that seems to disappear.  So now to look for proof.

Margaret gave birth to four known children: Harriet Humphrey Read, 1835; Amanda, about 1836; Martha, about 1838; and David, 1845. That is a huge age gap in the children so we may find that there were one or two we do not know about. I will list the information about the children in my next post since I have some new information about them to sort. Margaret died between the birth of David in April 1845 and the time the 1850 census was taken.

We now come to Susan. Yes, I know the 1850 census lists her as Susan Hunter Reid but she was definitely not David’s wife. She was Margaret’s sister. She was more than likely living in the household when her sister died and stayed on to help with the children while David worked and until he remarried. Susan lived with her niece Harriet once Harriet married. She died in Brooklyn, at the home of Harriet, 12 June 1898. Unfortunately her death record lists her parents as Mr. and Mrs. Hunter but it does say she never married. Lot of detail!

About 1855 David remarried. Her name was Eliza Darling, daughter of John Darling and Catherine Hicks. They had two children: Charles, 1856; and Emma, 1858.

It’s easy enough to trace David through censuses and city directories and there are a lot of them so I will not bore you with the details. If you aren’t asleep by now you are drinking some really strong coffee! Don’t worry I’m almost done for now.

David lived a nice long life. He died in Manhattan 16 October 1900 at the age of 82 of old age. Well, he definitely wasn’t young! Eliza died 3 January 1913 in Manhattan at the age of 94 years, 11 months and 14 days old. They are both buried in NY Bay cemetery in Jersey City. I live not far from there so as soon as I know where the plot is I am going to drag my very-willing husband for a trip to wander the cemetery.

I think that is it for now. Will type up the information on his children in a separate post because there is a lot of info about them. Or, to be truthful, some of them.