The Children of William Johnson (born 1784) and his wife Sarah Wardle (born 1787)
William Johnson and Sarah Wardle, who married 22 Sep 1806 at Breedon-on-the-Hill, had 14 children:
- William Johnson Wardle (b 1805 Coleorton Moor, bp 21 Apr 1805 Breedon, d 24 Jan 1867 Harrow Weald, m1 1 Sep 1823 to Jane Bowles at Breedon, m2 10 Sep 1862 to Sarah Sewell)
- Abraham Johnson (b1807 Worthington, bp 15 Apr 1707 Worthington, d 11 Jan 1888 Horninglow, m 7 Jun 1836 to Elizabeth Bird at Breedon)
- Joseph Johnson (b 1809 Coleorton, bp 18 Jun 1809 Coleorton, d 3 Jan 1878 Gelsmoor, m 28 Jul 1828 to Sarah Watson at Breedon) (my direct ancestors)
- John Johnson (b 1811 Coleorton, bp 19 May 1811 Coleorton, d 1881 Walsall, m 7 Jul 1851 to Ann Griffiths at Wolverhampton)
- Elizabeth Johnson (b 1813 Thringstone, bp 2 May 1813 Coleorton, d 15 Dec 1813 Newbold)
- James Johnson (b 20 Oct 1814 Coleorton, bp 20 Nov 1814 Coleorton, d 9 Apr 1815 Thringstone)
- Lydia Johnson (b 1816 Worthington, bp 21 Jul 1816 Coleorton, d1889 Gelsmoor, m 4 Nov 1833 to Joseph Richards at Breedon)
- Jacob Johnson (b 1819 Newbold, bp 9 May 1819 Worthington, d 21 May 1820 Newbold)
- Mary Johnson (b 1819 Newbold, bp 9 May 1819 Worthington, d 1881 Eckington, m 11 Feb 1839 to Mathew Horne at Coleorton)
- James Johnson (b 1821 Newbold, bp 29 Apr 1821 Worthington, m 3 May 1841 to Mary Hill at Worthington)
- Benjamin Johnson (b 1824 Newbold, bp 2 May 1824 Worthington, d 10 Jan 1843 Whitwick)
- Frederick Johnson (b 1827 Newbold, bp 29 Apr 1827 Worthington, d1893 Bulwell, m1 17 Sep 1849 to Fanny Hutchinson at Whitwick, m2 25 dec 1855 to Elizabeth Varnon at Breedon)
- Jacob Johnson (b 6 Dec 1828 Newbold, bp 15 Feb 1829 Worthington, d 13 Sep 1912 Whitwick, m 25 Dec 1854 to Elizabeth Smith at Belton-in-Rutland)
- Sarah Johnson (b 1832 Newbold, bp 18 Mar 1832 Worthington)
Previous research (July 2017) by John Lomas had indicated that there was serious doubt as to whether William Johnson and Sarah Wardle were in fact the parents of all of the 14 children assigned to them. This was due to Sarah Wardle apparently being present in 2 separate census entries in 1851, thus indicating the possibility of 2 distinct families, with the first 7 children being in Family 1, and the second 7 children being in Family 2. In this hypothesis there were 2 William Johnsons, 1 Sarah Wardle and 1 Sarah X (surname unknown). Following analysis and discussion between John Lomas and Greg Wardell-Johnson in March 2019, we have been able to reconcile these facts, and we are both convinced that there is only one family, one William Johnson and one Sarah Wardle.
The main reasons for one family are the following:
- Family tradition. Although this can often be unreliable, in this case it provides a clear indication. According to a story relayed to Greg by his great aunt in the 1970's, the death of his grandmother Sarah (nee Wardell/Wardle) was the reason the Rev William W Johnson decided to hyphenate his surname. This clearly establishes that the Sarah who died in 1873 was Sarah Wardle, and not as had been suggested in the 2 family approach as the "other" Sarah. The complete story is as follows: when Greg's great grandfather Francis was 10 (about 1874) he and his 3 brothers Harry (William Henry), Percy and Basil were called into their father's study and it was announced that they were all now to receive another name - Wardell - as a tribute to the Rev Johnson's grandmother who had just passed away in England. Francis lost his middle name and the boys and their father were thereafter known as Wardell-Johnson. The great aunt thought that the real reason was that the Rev Johnson was hoping to receive an inheritance by recognising the Wardell name, rather than paying a tribute to his grandmother. For many years Greg knew nothing about Sarah Johnson but discovered some years ago that her death in October 1873 was consistent with this story. Rev Johnson's parents had already passed away in the 1860's so perhaps it was a reminder that now his final ancestral connection to England had gone.
- DNA testing. These indicate that Greg is equally related to a fifth generation descendant of Jacob Johnson (1828-1912) living in the USA as he is to a fifth generation descendant of Joseph Johnson (1809-1878). Jacob was from Family 2 while Joseph from Family 1. The common DNA indicate that in both cases the most recent common ancestors have to be William Johnson and Sarah Wardle based on the trees uploaded to Ancestry by these DNA participants.
- The unusual Christian name Laban was used liberally by both Family 1 and Family 2. It was first bestowed by the parents on their son Benjamin Laban Johnson born 1825 (Family 2), then used by oldest son William b1805 (Family 1) for his second son in 1828, in Joseph's family (Family 1) for his grandson Laban Johnson born 1858, by Jacob (Family 2) for his son Laban Johnson born 1865. There seemed to be no other use of the name Laban in any other Johnson family and its genesis is unknown unless just a biblical name initially favoured by the matriarch and patriarch William and Sarah.
- The duplicate 1851 census returns: These can be explained by supposing that Sarah, who usually resided with her husband and son in Whitwick, decided to visit her daughter Lydia at or around March 30 and was included on the Richards family list (albeit not described as a Visitor but M in Law to Joseph Richards which she was even if she was a visitor rather than usual resident). Returning to Whitwick before the forms were collected on March 31, William Johnson has listed her even though he should not have because she was not in his house that night. If you examine the Richards enumeration carefully, it appears that Sarah is described as married (Ma'd) in exactly the same form as others on that page, rather than as widow - and she was most certainly still married to William even though she was away that night.
- Lack of suitable William Johnsons in the 1780s: It has proved impossible to find the birth of any William Johnson in or around Staunton Harold around 1784, never mind 2 separate William Johnsons. An exhaustive analysis was carried out of all the William Johnsons born in the area: 19 in Leicestershire, 1 in Derbyshire, 31 in Staffordshire and 6 in Warwickshire. Within 12 miles of Coleorton, this list reduced to just 8, none of which were born in Coleorton, Breedon, Worthington, Whitwick, Staunton Harold or Calke. The nearest to a birth in 1784 is one in 1785 at Quorndon (12m E Coleorton).
- Lack of suitable death for William Johnson1: There was only one suitable William Johnson who died between 1816 and 1841 in the area, he died at Leicester St Mary in 1823, some 13 miles from Whitwick, and who was born in 1781. There seems to be no connection between him and "our" Johnsons in Coleorton.
- Lack of death of Sarah Wardle between the 1851 and 1861 census returns: In the two family approach, Sarah Wardle needs to die before 1861. There are 3 possible deaths of a Sarah Johnson in the area, in 1851, 1856 and 1859, and none are "ours".
- Lack of knowing who Sarah X is: William Johnson2 most likely married Sarah X around 1818 near Newbold, being as their children were all born in Newbold and baptised at Worthington, starting in 1819. There is only 1 marriage for a William Johnson to a Sarah during the right timeframe, to a Sarah Mason at Hinckley 22 Jun 1819. However, all subsequent census returns say that Sarah was born in Coleorton, so this must be discounted. This leads to the fact that we have no idea who Sarah X was` or when she married.
The conclusions are clear, there was only one family!
John Lomas and Greg Wardell Johnson, 28 April 2019