This question refers to people in a previously posted question about the identity of the mother of Elizabeth Cowan, b. 29 Sep 1824, England, and d. 14 Oct 1896, Ohio, USA: Could "Our Mother" be a term of endearment on 1855 headstone?

Elizabeth's death record in Ohio gives her mother's name as Elizabeth, father's name is Robert (see older question). A Harriet Cowan age 72, is living with Elizabeth and her husband in Ohio in the 1850 census, and her headstone from 1855 reads "Our Mother" (see older question). Notes from an older relative give the father's name as Richard, although that is not based on any records, as far as I can tell.

In a biography of her husband in The Centennial Biographical History of Columbus, Ohio (1901) https://archive.org/details/centennialbiogra00lewipu/page/668: “She was born opposite Hyde Park, and came to America when about 18 years of age.” This was likely informed by her husband, who was living at the time. It also has "Her father, Robert Cowen, was of Scotch-Irish ancestry and in his day did a large stock of business at Dublin, Ireland."

So, likely names for Elizabeth's parents are Robert/Richard & Elizabeth/Harriet Cowan/Cowen/Cowin, and she was born in England between 1820-1830, possibly 'opposite Hyde Park'.

A search of the ancestry database London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 which is from Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906. London Metropolitan Archives, London, returns no families that meet all of the given name criteria (any combination of Robert/Richard/Elizabeth/Harriet) with multiple family name spellings.

Broadening the search to all of England using "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NTB1-DJM returns a few interesting results with father's name William, mother's name Caroline, and/or last name Conn, but all of those families can be traced through the 1851 census in England, and my Elizabeth was in Ohio by 1846 (see older question).

I cannot locate the family in either the 1841 England Census (which is missing several parishes 'opposite Hyde Park': https://www.findmypast.co.uk/articles/census-for-england-wales-and-scotland-missing-pieces), nor in the 1840 US census (in any state). Again, possible families in 1841 UK can be traced to 1851, with Elizabeth still with them. No potential siblings of Elizabeth have been found in the USA.

My question is, without being absolutely certain of the first names of Elizabeth's parents (and there does not seem to be more records about them), and without finding even a 'right name/right time-place' match to follow up on, how can I identify Elizabeth Cowan's birth record? Is it even possible?

  • 1
    it's definitely worth questioning the assumption that you know her mother's name -- her father might have married many times -- and also, her 'father' might be her step-father whose name she adopted...
    – user6485
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 9:43
  • 1
    There was a Hyde Park area in Glasgow, which would fit a Scots Irish background equally well. And while your sources say "England" it's well known for even Brits to mix up England and Britain.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 10:06
  • @DRShort You have not mentioned if you have a copy of John and Elizabeth Short's marriage certificate? Depending on the location, Elizabeth's parent details may be included.
    – Darren
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 2:42
  • @AdrianB38 thanks for the tip- the biography does say "London" though, as does her death record. archive.org/details/centennialbiogra00lewipu/page/668:
    – user5836
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 14:42
  • @Darren Thanks for the reminder about the marriage record. I have now obtained the original records, and it lists no information other than the couple's names, date of marriage, and who married them.
    – user5836
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


Hyde Park is part of the City of Westminster which has its own archive (https://www.westminster.gov.uk/archives) and so the majority of the records, particularly the parish registers, will not be found in the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) although there are exceptions. FindMyPast (https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ subscription required) has the collection of the Westminster PRs.

  • thanks for the resource- I hadn't realized that there were other vital records in that repository. The records all seem to be in-house though, which will be difficult to search from far away. I had used familysearch's historical maps of parishes in London to determine which ones near Hyde Park were keeping records in 1824 (maps.familysearch.org), and only 4 out of 17 were- and I had thought that they were included in the Metropolitan City Archives (ancestry makes it difficult to get a list of the parishes included in their database). I may end up using C of W's search service.
    – user5836
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 14:41
  • @DRShort - not quite sure what you mean when you say that only 4 of 17 parishes were keeping records. Given how many rules exist round parish registers in England & Wales, I suspect that any not keeping records were either not yet in operation or their records were entered in the mother church's registers. However, (a) that may be what you meant and (b) there are always exceptions due to incompetent record keeping, fire, theft, etc. Unfortunately the FS Map isn't playing nicely for me to see what they say...
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 12:19
  • @AdrianB38 (a) is what I meant. From the FS map, only 4 of the 17 parishes adjacent to or near Hyde Park were established and record-keeping before 1824 when Elizabeth would have been born (although some began soon after). Plus, 11 of those 17 parishes are not included in the CofW archive on findmypast, including 2 of the 4 parishes adjacent to Hyde Park (Kensington St Mary Abbotts and Paddington St John, neither of which have 1841 census records either!).
    – user5836
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 16:20

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