Singing Praises for S.O.N.G.

Donna Shankland Turner, Canada

My grandfather, Arthur Croft Shankland, emigrated to Canada shortly after his marriage to Sarah Ann Hill in August of 1907 in Middlesex. My father, Arthur James Shankland, was born in Cranbrook, B.C., in May of 1908. Three and a half years later a daughter, Enid Mary Shankland, was born.

As I was growing up Enid's family was the only Shankland family I knew. For some unknown reason my grandfather had not kept in touch with his family back in England, although contact with his wife's family was maintained. As long as I can remember I have been curious about my Shankland ancestors.

During the mid 70's I did make a short-lived attempt at genealogical research but found the time was "not right" (I had a young family which took up most of my time). However, during this time my Aunt Enid did tell me that my grandfather had two brothers, Bob and Ralph, and a sister, Hilda. This information was to serve me well later on.

Early in 1994, armed with Arthur Croft's birth and marriage certificates, and fresh from a very thorough basic genealogy course, I began my attempt to track down my ancestors. I was particularly curious about the Shankland line. The above documents told me that Arthur Croft was born in Richmond, Yorkshire 29 Sep 1881 and that his parents were James Shankland and Elizabeth Rudder.

I found the first clue in the IGI of Yorkshire. I found a family of Rudders listed in Whitby. They had a daughter Elizabeth whose age sounded about right for being ACS's mother.

During the course I had been introduced to the GRD and it was there that I found the Shankland One-Name Group and Ian and Anne, without whose help I would never have been able to proceed as quickly as I did (in spite of one particular detour, to be described). The first information they supplied me with were the Central Registration Index reference numbers for ACS and what appeared to be his brothers and sister. I was then able to order these birth certificates, and sure enough, Arthur shared parents with Robert James Marsh Shankland born 3 Feb 1875 in Stockton, Durham, Hilda Lucilla Shankland born 11 Aug 1879 in Richmond, and Ralph Susini de Sandoval Shankland born 5 Jul 1884 in Stockton. I also discovered two other sons who died as infants.

By May, June of 1994 I was ordering in Census film, as well as certificates from the OPCS. I was able to ascertain that James Shankland (father of ACS) was born in Liverpool (Everton) and that his wife was born in Whitby. Now I was sure that that Whitby family of Rudders was mine. According to the IGI this James was christened at St. Andrew's, Presbyterian, Liverpool, and his parents were Robert Shankland and Mary Jane Arthur.

Once I was able to tell Ian and Anne that James was born in Liverpool they wrote back to tell me they thought I was descended from a Robert Shankland and a Sarah Hair (or Mair) of Ayrshire, Scotland. According to their information, Robert and Sarah's son Robert was married to a Mary (Jane) Arthur and their first child was a James whose birth date was identical to the James I was researching.

Ian and Anne sent me a long list of Shanklands born around the same time as James and up to about twenty years later. Some were born in Preston and some in West Derby, Lancashire. It appeared that Robert and Mary had had two sons named James, one born in 1852 and a younger one born in 1869. It was supposed that the first one had died at a young age, but he turned out to be my great-grandfather! No-one seemed to know anything about this first James. I wrote to Phil Carter (a prospective fellow descendant) in Australia and he had come to the same conclusion -- that James must have met an early demise.

During July of 1994 I obtained the birth certificate of James Shankland (confirming his parents as Robert and Mary Jane Shankland, nee Arthur), and the certificate of his marriage to Elizabeth Rudder. By October 1994 I had received the marriage certificate of Robert Shankland and Mary Jane Arthur who were married in Whitby in April 1851. What really shocked me about that was Robert's father was listed as a JOHN Shankland, not a Robert Shankland as we had thought! Mary Jane's father was James Arthur.

Also in October 1994 I was able to meet with Leigh Shankland of Victoria. We compared notes but could find no connection.

By now, both Ian, Anne and myself were beginning to think we might be dealing with two Robert Shanklands as well as two Mary (Jane) Arthurs. Previously in the IGI I had found a Mary Jane Arthur born in Whitby. I felt she was a more likely candidate for my great-great-grandmother than the two other Mary Arthurs that were listed. All three had fathers named James Arthur!

My next major step was to look at the 1861 Census of Preston, Lancashire, which I did in early 1995. I found the family of Robert (son of Robert and Sarah) and Mary Shankland listed. Robert and Mary were both born in Scotland. They had three children by then. All three were born in Preston and there was not a James among them.

Family Tree 1

According to the 1851 Census of Whitby (done just days before Robert and Mary Jane's marriage), Mary Jane was born in Whitby, not Scotland. My conclusion was definite --- we were dealing with two Roberts and a Mary and a Mary Jane. The Preston family, and hence Robert Shankland and Sarah Hair or Mair, were not my family!

I then decided to look into the births of the Shanklands who were born in West Derby (from the original list from Ian and Anne). I wondered if any of them could be James' siblings. By the end of March 1995 I had located the first of James' siblings, a William Thompson Shankland born to Robert and Mary Jane nee Arthur at Everton in 1853.

By the end of July 1995 I had obtained the birth certificates of five more of Robert and Mary Jane's children as well as death certificates of five of them. It turns out they had seven children, five of whom died in infancy or early childhood. Among the names of these children was a clue to the parentage of Robert. One daughter was named Maria McCaig Shankland. I had remembered seeing a marriage in the IGI, involving a Maria McCaig. As it turns out she was married to a John Shankland. So now I knew the name of Robert's mother as well as his father, and was able to learn that he was born in Morton, Thornhill, Dumfries, Scotland in 1822 and that he had a brother James born in 1825. James died a bachelor in Glasgow 1 Jul 1870.

Family Tree 1

I have located the death certificate of the man I believe to be my Robert. This man died 12 Jun 1880 in Litherland, West Derby, Lancashire. The age (58), occupation (master tailor), and country of birth (Scotland) all point to this man being my great-great-grandfather. Unfortunately, the informant listed was not a family member, so to date I have not been successful in proving he is the man I am looking for.

So far that is as far back as I have been able to go with my Shanklands. Ian and Anne have sent me information about the John Shanklands of Morton, but I have not yet discovered which one is mine.

At the outset of this fascinating hobby, one of my goals was to connect with some living Shankland descendants as well as trace the family tree backwards. Thanks to Ian and Anne's research of the Central Registration Indexes from 1900 onwards this goal has also been reached.

From their list I was able to locate the marriages of my grandfather's siblings, Ralph Susini de Sandoval and Hilda Lucilla. I was then able to locate the births of Ralph's children. It has certainly helped having unusual names to work with. For example, a son Whitby was a giveaway!

One of Ralph's daughters was named "Benita". Interestingly enough, there was a "Benita Shankland" listed in Ian and Anne's copy of The World Book of Shanklands. The address listed was five years old, and Benita would be about 85 years old, but I thought "I have to try". So in August 1996 I sent off a letter introducing myself as a possible relation. Lo and behold I received a reply soon after. It turns out Benita is Ralph's daughter, my father's cousin. She had moved about three years previously but the present tenant had very kindly walked over to her home with the letter. It was meant to be! Benita is as delighted as I am about my discovery. She has put me in touch with her two sisters, one of whom is 89 years old. I have had letters from each of the sisters as well as from the two daughters of the oldest sister. We continue to exchange letters and photos and I am trying to learn as much about our Shanklands as I can. For the first time I now know I have more Shankland family.

I still have other goals. I would also like to search for the descendants of Hilda. Her married surname was Ward. The newly found family cannot help me as the families of Ralph and Hilda also lost touch with each other.

As far as Robert James Marsh is concerned, the word is that he left for "the Continent" at a young age -- and was not seen again. Supposedly he died as a young man, but who knows for sure? My great-great-grandfather also was supposed to have died at a very young age!

To close, I would like to express my thanks to Ian and Anne for all their help as well as for all the time and effort they have been putting into establishing the Shankland data base. I for one certainly appreciate all their efforts. Without them I would not have had the successes that I have experienced in the last 3 years. THANK YOU IAN AND ANNE!


Donna Shankland Turner, March 2000


Editor's note: Thanks too must go to everyone who has submitted data and particularly to Bill Shankland of Gloversville, NY, who started the ball rolling, and to Bill Shankland of Glasgow whose meticulously researched and organised data formed the basis of the current database.