What happened to Margaret Leggett?

Margaret Leggett was the eldest daughter of Samuel Black Leggett and Alice Price Barker, she was born on the 1st April 1842 in Gorleston with Southtown, Suffolk, England, and she was baptized here on 13th April 1842. Margaret was one of ten children.

Margaret is my 3x great grandmother and I descend from her through my mother’s family, she was my grandfather’s great grandmother.

(my relationship to Margaret Leggett)
Margaret LEGGETT (1842 – )
Is my 3rd great grandmother

George Rochester WOODS (1863 – 1911)
Son of Margaret LEGGETT and my 2x great grandfather

Mary Ann WOODS (1908 – 1982)
Daughter of George Rochester WOODS and my great grandmother

William Llewellyn BEAN (1931 – )
Son of Mary Ann WOODS and my grandfather

Margaret’s father Samuel Black Leggett was a mariner who began his career in 1836 at the age of 17, like his daughter he too was born in Gorleston, Suffolk, but by 1851 he moved and settled in Lancashire the home county of his wife Alice Price Barker. Their eldest daughter Margaret remained in Suffolk for a further ten years.

In 1861 whilst living in Common Place, Friars Lane, St Nicholas Parish, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (although a different county, only walking distance from Gorleston) she records herself as a Mariners wife, her husband being George Jeffries Woods. Their daughter Margaret Ann Woods was born in Friars Lane on the 3 December 1559. Margaret Leggett would have been 17 years old when her daughter was born.
I have never been able to find a marriage for George Jeffries Woods and Margaret Leggett and after years of searching I have reached the conclusion that they were never really married.

Shortly after 7 April 1861 (the night of the census) George Jeffries Woods and Margaret Leggett moved 275 miles away to Newcastle-upon-tyne, Tyne and Wear. Their second child John George Woods was born here at 6 Dean Street, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne on the 5th January 1862.

6 Dean Street was the residence of Sophia Jane Price (not a relation) she was the wife of Thomas Price a Confectioner, and possibly a good friend of Margaret’s.

George Jeffries Woods informed the register office of his son’s birth and signed the certificate, he disappears from their lives shortly afterwards and never again do we see him ‘present’ on any future documents relating to his said wife, Margaret. Over the next three decades we find him still working as a Seaman in the Nofolk/Suffolk area. He died at Pier Plain, Gorleston with Southtown, Suffolk on the 27th November 1893. He was living with his sister Elizabeth who informed and signed his death certificate.

I have often wondered what happened between them both, to make George leave his family and return to Suffolk, and why move to Newcastle in the first place when it was so far away. I can only imagine that their relationship broke down.

Margaret’s residence in Newcastle was 15 Painter Heugh.

Painter Heugh is an old lane of medieval Newcastle which used to connect the lower part of Dean Street with the higher parts of Pilgrim Street to the east. Its line is now broken by the multi-storey car park, the railway viaducts and the busy road approaches to the Tyne Bridge. The pedestrian route is continued by George Stairs
Its name is thought to be derived from ships tied up here in the tidal parts of the Lort Burn below Low Bridge, Dean Street before it was filled in to build Dean Street
Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2169357

Painter Heugh, off Dean Street

Painter Heugh, off Dean Street

On the 13th July 1862 at 15 Painter Heugh, Margaret’s son, John George Woods died as a result of Dentitis and Convulsions (teething) her good friend Sophia Jane Price was present and she took the responsibility for signing and informing the register office. Baby John was no more than 7 months old and as a parent I know how difficult teething can be for a child, but for this to cause death is very sad indeed. His nephew was named after him in 1893.

John George Woods - Death Certificate - 13 July 1862 - Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

John George Woods – Death Certificate – 13 July 1862 – Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

On the 15th November 1863 at number 8 Dean Street, next door to Sophia Jane Price who lived at number 6. Margaret gave birth to another son, George Rochester Woods. His father is recorded as George Woods although I don’t believe this to be true.

The informant on this birth certificate was Ratcliffe Rochester.

Birth Certificate of George Rochester Woods - 15 November 1863 in 8 Dean Street, All Saints, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Birth Certificate of George Rochester Woods – 15 November 1863 in 8 Dean Street, All Saints, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Ratcliffe Rochester was a native of Newcastle; and born about May 1823. His wife Margaret Buck died in January 1863, ten months before George Rochester Woods was born, she was Scottish and spent time in prison in 1841 for prostitution when she was 16.

For the next ten years or more Ratcliffe Rochester and Margaret Leggett lived together, she maintained on all public documents that she was still the wife of George Jeffries Woods (A Mariners Wife).

Margaret Leggett disappears from all records from 1871 onwards. In December 1875 Ratcliffe Rochester married Mary Wilson and they had one son. George Rochester who was born In 1874/1875.

In Ratcliffe’s will dated 16 March 1900 he leaves £223 15s to George Rochester and George Rochester Woods to be divided equally.

To me it’s clear that Ratcliffe Rochester was the true father of George Rochester Woods and it’s very likely that an affair occurred shortly after the death of his wife Margaret Buck. Maybe this is the reason that George Jeffries Woods left his said wife Margaret and returned to Suffolk.

But after all these events occurred, what happened to Margaret Leggett?
And why does she disappear from the records?


9 thoughts on “What happened to Margaret Leggett?

    • Thank you Amy, I don’t like my chances of discovering what happened to her. I have searched every alternative name, Woods, Leggett, Rochester plus variations and sadly with no avail. I have even ordered many documents only to be disappointed when they arrive.
      although something draws me back to her, time and time again and I keep looking.

      • I know that sinking feeling when a document arrives, and you realize it’s not your person. So disappointing. Don’t give up!

  1. Thank you for following my blog. I hope you find what happened to this lady I am inspired by your research. Interestingly, the name of my grandmothers natural mother was Price.

    • Hi, thank you very much for your comment 🙂 I hope too that I find out what happened to her. Shes an interesting character and who knows, maybe we have a distant connection through our ‘Price’ branches. Mine come from Cheshire, England. 🙂

      • As my grandmother was adopted, the family history research was done by one of her natural sisters (that’s how they found her). I need to contact one of my aunts and see if she is able to pass information on to me.

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