Investigating family connection to Captain Smith via Catherine Marsh (Hancock)



I'm a keen family history researcher and stumbled across a thread on another site suggesting that one of my family lines could be linked to Captain Smith. I've followed this through and think there is truth in it, but I've hit a brick wall in the final step trying to prove the link. Help from anyone with information on the family line of Captain Smith's mother, Catherine Marsh, would be much appreciated!

I know that Catherine Marsh was born in Penkhull around 1809 to Ralph Marsh (and I think Rebecca). I'm also fairly sure that she had a sister Hannah Marsh, later Simpson and then Bloore. The Simpsons are next door to Catherine Hancock (nee Marsh) and Edward Smith on the 1841 census, with children similarly named (she had a Thirza too). My presumption that they were sisters comes from the fact that Hannah's marriage certificate to William Bloore also states Ralph Marsh as her father.

What I'm trying to confirm is whether Catherine and Hannah also had a third sister called Mary Marsh (married name Dissington). Mary is my 5x great-grandmother, and the main thing that makes me think she is a sister is that one of her granddaughters, Mary Ellen Carter, went to live with Hannah (by then Bloore) when orphaned. They can be found living together on the 1871 census, with orphaned Mary stated as elderly Hannah's 'relative'. If Catherine, Hannah and Mary were all sisters, this means Hannah took in her great niece. My line of thinking is that Hannah is unlikely to have taken this child in if the relationship was any more distant than that.

So, if anybody can shed any light on other children of Ralph and Rebecca Marsh (I couldn't find any baptism records), and in particular if one of them was called Mary, that would be great. It's difficult working in these times in the early 1800s before registration began, so I know it's a long shot, but would be very grateful for any help!

Many thanks,
Hello Jessica. Your message is of great interest to me because I have duplicated your research over the past several months in order to find the truth about my family story that our family is related to Captain Smith. I too found the links back to Hannah and Catherine Marsh in the 1841 census and came to the same brick wall you did in the final step. And I too started at the 1871 census which shows my great aunt Mary Ellen Carter as a "relative" living with the Bloore's after the deaths of her mother, Selina nee Dissington, in 1865 and her father, William Carter, in 1867. The Mary Dissington to whom you refer as your 5 x great grandmother is my 3 x great grandmother. To make the mystery even more interesting, Mary's maiden name is given as "Mace" in the baptism record of one of her children and as "Marsh" in the baptism record of another. I've no idea which, if either, is accurate.

Recently I have been in touch with another researcher who is also interested in the history of Catherine Marsh, but for a reason different from ours. She has given me some very good information which I will pass on in a later entry if I have her permission.

In the meantime, it seems to me that it is highly likely that you and I are distantly related. I'm brand new to this web site and don't yet know if there is a mechanism for one member to privately contact another. I hope that there is so you and I can more privately further our research.
Hi Jack,

Great to hear from you! Sounds like we definitely have a connection, and would love to discuss further. I have replied to your message from the private one that you sent me, and will post again on this thread if we manage to get any further between us to help anyone else who might explore this line in the future.

All the best,
  • Like
Reactions: alan browning