Robert Featherstonehaugh was born in 1835 in Appletreewick, Yorkshire, to Alexander and Elizabeth (Gibson) Featherstonhaugh (West Yorkshire Parish Records). In the 1841 and 1851 census he is living with his parents in Appletreewick.
In 1861 he is located in Manchester as a waiter living with a Publican and the census indicates he was married. It also indicates he was born in 1836, Appletreewick, Yorkshire.
In 1862 Robert Featherstonhaugh marries Caroline Priestley in Huddersfield, Yorkshire; his father is Alexander, and Robert is a spirit merchant. (Marriage certificate) They had four children, Elizabeth (Lilley), Polly, Jane and John Alexander as found in the various census. Polly died young and John Alexander at 20.
He seems to have vanished in the 1871 census for that area and the only possibility is an R Featherstonaugh(Ancestry spelling), West Derby…right age, servant, unmarried, but birthplace is Liverpool…this could be wrong of course. Caroline is still living in Huddersfield, as Head of the household.
In 1881 his wife Caroline is still in Huddersfield but it indicates she was deserted. There is a marriage in 1881 between Robert Featherstone and Harriet Gott, nee Woodcock, in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. The parish records say his father is Alexander. The census for that year includes the fact that Robert was born in 1842 and there was a son Frederick Woodcock, 11, and a daughter of 3 months, Jane Gott. Obviously, Frederick is not Robert’s. Harriet had married a George Gott in 1878 (FreeBMD) but her husband dies in 1878, so this Jane could not have been his. In later census she is down as Featherstone.
By this time Robert has dropped the ‘haugh’ from his name and it is just Featherstone.
The 1891 census has him living in Clifton, as a maltser, born Appletreewick in 1839, married; and Harriet is marked as Head in that census and with her children in Dewsbury. Caroline is still in Huddersfield married but also marked as head.
1901 census has Robert a widower, born Appletreewick in 1941, and an estate labourer living in Skipton by himself; Caroline is still in Huddersfield, living with her daughter Jane and Harriet is in Dewsbury living with her daughter Jane! (Robert had a sister Jane so presumably these daughters are named after her.)
Caroline dies in 1904 (FreeBMD). In 1911 Harriet is still in Dewsbury, and Robert, born 1836 in Appletreewick, is down as a widower and living in Skipton, with Eliza Watson, housekeeper. He is living 3 Carrs Yard, Skipton, Pensioned Gen.Labourer on Estate, born in Skipton, widower having had 2 children born 1 died. (Obviously incorrect)
It appears that Harriet died in 1918(FreeBMD) but Robert dies in the Skipton Workhouse in 1916, with his nephew Alexander Lister as informant (death certificate).
Now we have not been able to establish a marriage for him earlier than 1861; nor have we been able to establish another Robert Featherstone(haugh)’s birth in Appletreewick or Skipton for the right time. In the census his ages vary considerably, as does his marriage status. It is a well-known fact that the census have many errors, but trying to see through these problems, we think we have come up with the fact he was at least a bigamist!
(Note: there is another Robert Featherstonehaugh, his nephew, born in 1865 but we have traced him through various census, always marked single; he appears never to have married, and to have died in 1912.)
If anyone has further information regarding Robert, or his wives, we would be very interested in hearing it. It certainly has been fascinating digging out the details for this fellow!
Cath Greenwood and Monica Taylor

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