My 2nd great grandfather William Henry Rouse married Agnes Green on 4 Aug 1853 at St Clement, Cornwall.

On their Marriage Certificate the Age for both of them appears to say Major, which I assume to mean over 21. From this I deduce that William Henry Rouse was born no later than about 1832.

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On the Marriage Certificate William Henry Rouse's occupation was Clerk and his father, called William Rouse, had the occupation of Plasterer.

When he died of tuberculosis on 8 Feb 1887 at Adelaide, South Australia, the age given on his death notice was 49 years. If correct, this would mean he was born in about 1838.

Other clues to his birth year come from:

  • the 1851 Census when William Rouse, a Grocer's Assistant aged 18, born in Truro, was living at Truro St Mary with William Hobbs 48 "Brother-in-law", Elizabeth Hobbs 35 "sister", Elizabeth J Hobbs 13 "niece", and Kitty Rouse 76 "mother". The relationships here are all placed I double quotes because I am extremely sceptical that his mother was aged 58 when he was born and I believe Kitty (born Christian Crossman) was probably his grandmother. His age at this Census would mean he was born about 1833.
  • the 1861 Census when William H Rouse, a Traveller in Flour and Groceries, aged 29, born in Truro, was living at Truro St Mary with wife Agness Rouse 29 and children Henry Rouse 7, Clara Rouse 5, Kate Rouse 2, and William Rouse 8 Months. His age at this Census would mean he was born about 1832.
  • the 1871 Census when William H Rase 38, a Grocer, aged 38, born in Truro, was living at Truro St Mary with wife Agnes Rase 38 and their children Henry Rase 17, Clara Rase 14, Catherine Rase 13, William Rouse 10, Elizabeth Ann Rouse 9, Mazzie Rouse 8, James Rouse 6, and Harriet Rouse 3.His age at this Census would mean he was born about 1833.

I think there are two candidates for him in the 1841 Census:

  • 9 year old Labourer named Will Rowe (could possibly be Will Rouse) appears to be living at Truro St Mary alone alongside or next door to William Hobbs, his wife Elizabeth (nee Rouse) and their daughter Elizabeth (aged 6) - who were in the same house with William Rouse 10 years later. If this is him, then his age at this Census would mean he was born about 1832.

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  • 8 year old Pupil named William Rouse living with a Dissenting Minister named James Hart, his wife, two children, Elizabeth Tyeth (perhaps his mother-in-law), and eight other Pupils at Fore Street, St James, Tregony.

I thought I had a record of him from FamilySearch where William Henry Rouse was christened on 24 May 1836 at Redruth St Uny, Cornwall to parents William Rouse and Elizabeth. However, I have recently found a newspaper article (supported by a death record) in the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 21 Jan 1848 that leads me to believe that this William Henry Rouse cannot be the William Henry Rouse (son of William Rouse the Plasterer) who married Agnes Green in 1853.

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Almost all of the evidence above points to a birth date about 1832-33 and is at odds with the age given at death many years later in another country (1838).

My theory is that William Henry Rouse was the grandson of "Kitty" Rouse, and possibly/probably the illegitimate son of William Crossman Rouse (born 5 Sep 1813, christened 26 Sep 1813; a Plasterer from multiple Census Records). William Crossman Rouse married Eliza Reed on 25 Jun 1838 at St Day, Cornwall and had nine children including another William Rouse in 1841.

This is a long story cut a bit short, but if I were to find either of the two vital records below then I am sure that they would shed some more light on what actually happened:

  • Birth (or another Christening Record) for William (Henry) Rouse near Truro in 1832-33
  • Marriage Record for William (Crossman) Rouse near Truro about 1832

Does anyone have any thoughts on where else I might be able to look for them?

To look hard and not find them I think makes my theory a little harder to disprove.


I've looked unsuccessfully for whether the birth of William Henry Rouse may resulted in a paternity bond. An interesting aside is that the grandfather of William Crossman Rouse, Edmund Rouse paid a paternity bond in 1785 at St Clements when his son George fathered an illegitimate child of Jenefer Webb.

  • You say "Almost all of the evidence above points to a birth date about 1832-33 and is at odds with the christening record 3-4 years later." Did one of the other siblings get baptised around the same time? I have a family where the two eldest siblings (two years apart in age) show up in the baptism records at the same time. Which brings me to my usual question -- did he have siblings? I find it much easier to 'place' children with the right parents when I study a group of siblings, and can indirectly trace the residence and movement (or not) of the entire family group. – Jan Murphy Oct 31 '14 at 15:52
  • @JanMurphy Unfortunately the only sibling recorded for him comes from the 1851 Census and I believe must be his aunt Elizabeth - I suspected at one time that she was his mother before arriving at my currently favoured theory in the question. – PolyGeo Oct 31 '14 at 22:40
  • I think William Crossman Rouse at age 19 may have had an illegitimate child (William Henry) with Elizabeth (possibly/probably unmarried), and after that relationship ended he may have started to contemplate marriage to Eliza Reed, and started to wonder what to do about William Henry who may not have been "acceptable" to Eliza and/or her family. Perhaps he asked his mother Kitty or sister Elizabeth to (help) raise him and she/they said "just make sure you christen him first" ... and christening him away from Truro (at Redruth) attracted less scrutiny. – PolyGeo Oct 31 '14 at 22:46
  • 1
    I am 2 x great grandson of William Crossman Rouse. I too have come across William Henry and have come to the same conclusion that William Crossman and someone called Elizabeth had a child out of wedlock. It is interesting to note that his eldest son Henry Green Rouse stayed in Cornwall when William Henry went to Australia. I would be interested to know more about what became of William Henry and his children in Australia. – Redruth Nov 16 '14 at 10:40
  • Hi, Redruth, welcome to FH&G.SE! I've converted your post to a comment because it isn't an answer to the question. – Jan Murphy Nov 16 '14 at 16:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In the 1851 Census there is a William Rouse aged 18 living with his brother-in-law's family.

  • William Hobbs
  • Elizabeth Hobbs (Nee Rouse)
  • Elizabeth Jane Hobbs
  • Kitty Rouse (Mother in law)
  • William Rouse (brother in Law)

This would make him Elizabeth's brother.

William Crossman had a younger sister Elizabeth who married William Hobbs.

Kitty Rouse is the right age to be Christian Crossman who married Edmund Rouse in 1801.

william Henry's marriage certificate to Agnes Green in 1853 states his father as being William Rouse a plasterer. William Crossman Rouse was a plasterer by trade.

So although the evidence is circumstantial I would take all the bits added together and think that the probability is there.

  • 1
    Welcome to FH&G.SE! I've edited your answer to restore the formatting that you probably intended when you wrote your message. Feel free to edit the message again if I have accidentally changed the meaning, or if you find new information you would like to add. (Click the 'edit' link in the string below your message, in between 'share' and 'delete'.) – Jan Murphy Dec 7 '14 at 18:37

I am 2 x great grandson of William Crossman Rouse. I too have come across William Henry and have come to the same conclusion that William Crossman and someone called Elizabeth had a child out of wedlock. It is interesting to note that his eldest son Henry Green Rouse stayed in Cornwall when William Henry went to Australia.

  • I am delighted to see your answer because I was dreading what legitimate descendants of William Crossman Rouse would think of my theory that there may be an illegitimate branch to their family. Is it possible for you to edit your answer (there is an edit button beneath it) to clarify whether you may have any additional evidence to support our shared theory? – PolyGeo Nov 23 '14 at 23:16

Another set of evidence that reinforces that William Henry Rouse may have been the son of William Crossman Rouse came from http://www.familyhistorysa.info/:

DEVON [ship's name]
Plymouth to Adelaide Nov 1879 -March 1880
Rouse    WilliamH        42      Ag Lab      "To William Rouse of StaffordStreet Adelaide"
              Agnes            41
              Clara            20        Domestic Servant
              Catherine      18      "
              William          17        Gardeners Lab
              Elizabeth        16        Domestic Servant
              Maggie          15        "                         
              James          13        Scholar
              Ellen              10                                      
              John                5

The 1878 Boothby Directory has William Rouse (a Mason) living in Stafford Street.

The 1881 and 1882 Boothby Directories show William Henry Rouse (Grocer) living/working near William Rouse (a Mason) in Stafford Street, Adelaide.

William Rouse, the Mason, appears to be William Henry Rouse's half-brother William (William Crossman's first son to be born within wedlock), a Mason from Redruth (Cornwall) who immigrated to Port Adelaide with his wife Elizabeth Jane aboard the Clara in 1865.

This William Rouse was:

  • baptised on 29 Nov 1840 at Truro St Mary to William (a Plasterer) and Eliza Rouse
  • in the 1841 Census:

William Reese 25 Eliza Reese 25 Emily Reese 3 William Reese 7 Mo

  • in the 1851 Census:

Born Kenwyn, Cornwall William Rouse 36 Eliza Rouse 35 Emily Rouse 13 William Rouse 10 Nathaniel Rouse 8 Elizabeth J Rouse 6 Edward Rouse 4 Nathaniel Reed 61 Hester Reed 74

  • in the 1861 Census:

Mason, born in Truro, Cornwall William Rouse 47 Eliza Rouse 46 Emily Rouse 21 William Rouse 20 Nathaniel Rouse 18 Elizabeth Jane Rouse 17 Ellen Rouse 9 James Rouse 4 John Frederick Rouse 1

  • married Elizabeth Jane Terrill on 7 Sep 1862 at Camborne, with his occupation and that of his father William both given as Plasterer, with witnesses Nathanial Rouse and Jane Rouse

  • aboard the Clara in 1865 with wife listed as Elizabeth Jane (Terrill ?) and their infant son William who died during the voyage.

  • not recorded in the 1871 and subsequent censuses

My hunch for why William Crossman Rouse may have had two sons named William is that the Reed family, into which he married, may not have known about the first William (William Henry) until some time after the baptism of the second William.

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