By Mia Bennett.
The DIXONs of Yate, Gloucestershire all descend from Charles Dixon and Jane Hale, my 5xgreat grandparents. Charles appeared out of nowhere, married Jane and had five sons called Thomas, Charles, Henry, John and James. That bit is straight forward but it then starts to get a little more complicated as we head down the generations.
The key mystery relates to Joseph Dixon and how many were there. There are two records for Joseph Dixons who are the grandson of Charles and Jane. One, the son of Charles and Rachel, was baptised on 23 August 1812 in Yate. The other is given as the son of Henry in his will in 1835. Following a search, there is no evidence of a marriage between a Charles Dixon and a Rachel while Henry Dixon married Rachel Ranger in 1811. In addition, there is no baptism recorded for a Joseph Dixon with father Henry (noting that Henry’s wife was Rachel too). It is therefore possible that there was a mistake in the parish registers and the 1812 baptism was the son of Henry and Rachel not Charles and Rachel. Whichever way, Joseph’s mother was a Rachel.
Searching through the censuses, there is one Joseph Dixon entry in Yate each year from 1841 through to 1861; however there is some conflicting information.
- In 1841, Joseph Dixon aged 25 was living with Rachel Dixon aged 55 in Yate Rocks.
- In 1851, Joseph Dixon aged 28 was living in Yate with wife Ann (aged 25, born in West Kington, Wiltshire) along with their sons Henry (aged 6), Charles (2) and William (1). Living next door is Rachel Dixon (aged 65, born Yate) and her grandson Charles Dixon (aged 7).
- In 1861, Joseph Dixon aged 48 was living in Yate with wife Ann (aged 44, born Yate) with children William (11), Mary A (9), James (7), Henry (1). Rachel Dixon (aged 72, born Yate) is living two households away.
- In 1871, Joseph Dixon has died (1868) but Rachel Dixon (aged 82) is living with her grandchildren William (21), Mary Ann (19) and Henry Chas (11).
Using the General Register Office (GRO) birth index (www.gro.gov.uk), which gives mother’s maiden names, the children in the Dixon households were identified and the common mother’s maiden name was Bailey. Two additional children with mother’s maiden name of Bailey were identified: Joseph (bn 1846) and Elizabeth (bn 1855). Joseph Dixon of Yate married Ann Bailey on 15 May 1843 in Doynton, Gloucestershire. Joseph’s father was Henry Dixon and both their occupations were given as butcher.
The hypothesis is that, although the ages in the 1851 census are wrong, this is the same Joseph. By confirming if Rachel was the wife of Charles or Henry would help confirm if Joseph was the son of Charles (baptism) or Henry (will).
There are a number of birth and death certificates that could help untangle some of these mysteries. Given the cost, and the fact that Joseph is not on my direct line, I had held off accessing them for this mystery. Therefore, the advent of instantly available, cheaper records allows this mystery to be pursued.
The new GRO beta trial provides copies of English and Welsh birth and death registration details for £2.50 with instant delivery. The beta trial covers births from 1837 until 100 years (e.g. currently 1922) and deaths from 1837 until 1887. Once ordered, an image of the line of the birth or death registration book is provided which can be downloaded (in fact must be downloaded as it disappears after 3 months). To use the service, you will need an account which can be created for free at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp. Choose either ‘Order a Digital Image’ or ‘Search the GRO Indexes’ to search the indexes.
The certificates that I decided would help me were:
- Death of Rachel Dixon in 1874 aged 85 (Joseph’s mother based on her living with her grandchildren in 1871)
- Birth of Henry Dixon in 1844 (to check occupation of Joseph)
- Birth of Joseph Dixon in 1846 (to confirm he was their child even though he is not in the census returns)
- Birth of William Dixon in 1849 (given he is the only child who appears in both 1851 and 1861 censuses)
A search on all Dixon males born 1846 +-2yrs in Chipping Sodbury registration district gave the results in this image. As expected, we see Charles, Henry and Joseph with mother maiden name Bailey.
Clicking on the dot next to Henry shows the ordering options are Certificate, PDF or Digital Image.
Click on Digital Image and follow the process to order the certificate. You are able to just pay for the one or choose Order more Digital Images to add more to your basket.
Once you have paid, click on Complete Payment and you get the link(s) to the digital image(s).
Click on the link and you will get the image. It is shown in the middle of the screen but you can move it up to align (ish) with the headers. Click on the download button at the bottom (if it goes to the home page, just click on the back button and try again) and save it to your computer. Make a note of the registration district as that information is not included on the image.
The results gave the answers I was looking for. Rachel’s death registration (see image below) shows she was the wife of Henry not Charles.
All three births showed parents Joseph Dixon and Ann Bailey. Henry’s birth registration (see image below) gave Joseph’s occupation as butcher however two years later he has probably failed as a butcher as he is labourer on both Joseph and William’s birth certificates.
Joseph Dixon’s family tree has now been confirmed.
So for £10, I have the answers that would have cost me £28 previously. No doubt the new GRO beta will be helping solve several mysteries at a more affordable cost!
* The images in this article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0
* Note this article will also appear in the Autumn 2023 Gloucestershire FHS journal.
 Baptism of Dixon, Joseph. 23 August 1812. Yate St Mary, Gloucestershire. Bristol, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1813-1994; Composite Register 1783-1812, Image 26; www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed 17 July 2023). Original register: P/St.MY/R/1/b; Bristol Archives; Bristol, England.
 Will of Dixon, Henry. 2 September 1835. Consistory Court of Gloucester. Gloucestershire, England, Wills and Inventories, 1541-1858; 1835, Images 594-595; www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed 17 July 2023). Original record: Gloucestershire Probate Records, Gloucestershire Archives, Gloucester, UK.
 Marriage of Dixon, Henry and Ranger, Rachel. 28 October 1811. Yate St Mary, Gloucestershire. Bristol, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938; Marriages 1809-1812, Image 7; www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed 17 July 2023). Original register: P/St.my/R/3/B, Page  Entry 11; Bristol Archives; Bristol, England.
 Note a quirk of Ancestry means searching with auto completed place name Yate will not bring up events in Yate in the Bristol Church of England records. To have a successful search, put Yate in the keyword instead. This is true of any parish in Bristol and a similar quirk exists for the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Church of England records and may be true of other counties.
 Note ages were rounded down to the nearest 5 years in 1841 census.
 Census return for Dixon, Joseph. 6 June 1841. Enumeration District 3, Yate, Gloucestershire, England. HO107/329/14/3/1, 1841 England Census, www.ancestry.co.uk, Image 2 (accessed 17 July 2023). Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841; The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England.
 Census return for Dixon, Joseph. 30 March 1851. Enumeration District 2a, Yate, Gloucestershire, England. HO107/1956/547/6, 1851 England Census, www.ancestry.co.uk, Image 7 (accessed 17 July 2023). Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851; The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England.
 Charles was her grandson via her son Charles and his wife Mary Ann Woodman.
 Census return for Dixon, Joseph. 7 April 1861. Enumeration District 3, Yate, Gloucestershire, England. RG9/1746/33/4, 1861 England Census, www.ancestry.co.uk, Image 10 (accessed 17 July 2023). Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861; The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England.
 Burial of Dixon, Joseph. 30 June 1868. Yate St Mary, Gloucestershire. Bristol, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1994; Burials 1852-1893, Image 40; www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed 17 July 2023). Original register: P/St.MY/R/4/b, Page 38 Entry 297; Bristol Archives; Bristol, England.
 Census return for Dixon, Rachel. 2 April 1871. Enumeration District 3, Yate, Gloucestershire, England. RG10/2582/36/11, 1871 England Census, www.ancestry.co.uk, Image 12 (accessed 17 July 2023). Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871; The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England.
 Marriage of Dixon, Joseph and Bailey, Ann. 15 May 1843. Doynton Holy Trinity, Gloucestershire. Bristol, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938; Marriages 1837-1937, Image 12; www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed 17 July 2023). Original register P.dn/R/4/C, Page 4 Entry 8; Bristol Archives; Bristol, England.
 Note this did not add up with his occupations given on the children’s baptisms and the census returns.
 View his tree at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/tree/192146259/family/familyview?cfpid=292515537640