Saturday, January 3, 2009

Robert Bestick of Braintree, MA

One of my goals for 2009 is to discover if Robert Bestick of Braintree, MA is the same Robert Bestick who was baptized 18 Sept 1812 in Longford, Ireland. Robert (Longford) was the son of James Bestick and Catherine Farrell. His baptismal sponsors were Thomas Moran and Brigid Murphy. And he was the brother of my 2nd great grandfather, Timothy Bestick.

A Robert Bestick, age 19, arrived in New York in 1832 (born about 1813) according to the Passenger and Immigration Index 1500s-1900s on Ancestry.com.

I have not found any Robert Bestick in the 1840 federal census. The census listings for Robert's family for 1850, 1860, and 1870 include the following information:

1850 United States Federal Census, Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Name: Robert Bestick,age: 37, born abt 1813 in Ireland; Elisabeth Bestick 1; Elisabeth E Bestick 33; George R M Bestick 3; James T Bestick 9; Robert P Bestick 6

1860 census, Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Robert Bestick; Age 46; Born abt 1814 in Ireland; Elizabeth Bestick 43; James T Bestick 19;Robert P Bestick 15; Geo R Bestick 13; Elizabeth Bestick 10

1870 census: Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Robert Bestick born abt 1813,Age 57, Birthplace: Ireland, Elizabeth Bestick 54; Robert P Bestick 25; Elizabeth Bestick 20

The 1880 census contains an interesting discrepancy. Robert Bestick, father, age 67 (born about 1813) is listed in the household of his son George. In the same household are George's wife Alice and his 3 children Charles M., Mary E., and Clarence R. All the family members except Clarence are listed as born in MA and both parents born in MA. Clarence (who is on the line above Robert) is listed as born in Ireland, both parents born in Ireland. It seems likely that somehow the birthplace information for Clarence and Robert was reversed.

According to the 1880 Braintree, Norfolk, MA Death Register, Robert Bestick died on 16 Oct 1880. His age was 67 years, 7 months, 1 day. Robert was a widower whose occuption was bootcutter. He was born in Ireland. His parents were James and Mary. He died of pulmonary consumption.

Burial information for Robert was posted on Interment.net by Carol Bestick in 2003. Robert is buried, along with several family members, in Lakeside Cemetery, Braintree. The information indicates that he was born 15 Mar 1813 and died 16 Oct 1880.

Requests to 2 public libraries for an obituary for Robert found only the following death notice: "In South Braintree, Oct 16th, Mr. Robert Bestick, aged 69 years."

The father's name for Robert Bestick of Longford and for Robert Bestick of Braintree was James. Robert of Longford's mother was Catherine. According to his death record, Robert of Braintree's mother was named Mary. However, death records aren't always the most reliable source for information such as parents' names of the deceased. Often the informants don't have personal knowledge of the parents of the deceased, especially if the deceased was a generation or 2 older than the informant.

Despite the discrepancies, I do believe that Robert Bestick of Longford and Robert Bestick of Braintree are the same person. However, I don't believe that I have enough evidence to consider it "proved" yet.

My next steps:
1. Look for biographies of Robert and his children in county histories and other sources.

2. Look for probate files for Robert and his children, in hopes of finding a mention of his place of origin or other details.

3. Look at Braintree town records on microfilm, to see if additional details can be found in marriage records or in children's birth records.

4. Search for church records for Robert of Braintree. (The church marriage record for my Timothy Bestick is the only source in the U.S. which I have found that mentions his county of origin in Ireland.)

5. Expand my search. Investigate whether any county or statewide records could be useful. Look for other published sources, manuscript collections, or organizational records that might contain information. Look at Robert's associates in Braintree and see if they lead me to a place of origin in Ireland.

That should keep me busy for 2009!

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