The Moseleys (the name is also spelled Mosley and Mosely) are Dick’s mother’s paternal ancestors. Members of the Moseley line were from England, and members of the Burns line were born in Ireland.
Dick’s mother Lillian was the only child of Edward Moseley, oldest child of William Moseley and Catherine Burns, his first wife.
William Joseph Moseley was born near Birmingham, England. His parentage is a complete mystery, as explained in “The mystery of William Moseley’s parentage,” below.
William immigrated in about 1879 to Auburn, New York, where he first worked as an employee at the Auburn Button Factory. Later he had his own business as a general contractor. He also served as alderman (member of the city council) for the city of Auburn circa 1910.
William was married three times, and he outlived all of his wives. After bearing five children, Catherine Burns, William’s first wife, died at the age of 24. The three surviving children were Edward Anthony, Mary (Mamie) E, and Elizabeth C. Children William and Catherine died at birth or in infancy.
William and his second wife, Anna C Burns, who was Catherine’s sister, had three children. Only one, Joseph William, survived past infancy. Children Hannah and William died at birth or in infancy.
According to various U.S. records, Catherine and Anna Burns (as well as their mother, Anna Moran and father Michael Burns) were born in Ireland. The Burns family probably immigrated to the United States in 1870 and lived in Scipio, NY, near Auburn.
William and his third wife, Mary Carr, had two children, William Henry and Thomas Wilkins.
In total William had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood.
William died at age 90 by falling down a flight of stairs. Daughter Elizabeth, who never married, kept house for William for the last 30 years of his life.
The mystery of William Moseley’s parentage
No birth or baptism records have been found for William Moseley. According to the 1871 England Census, he was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, England in about 1862. In 1871 he was living in Birmingham with Henry Hawkins Moseley and Mary Glover Wilkins Moseley (widow of Thomas Wilkins and mother of Mary Ann, Sarah, Emma, and Jane Wilkins). William is listed in that census as the grandson of the Moseleys.
Since Henry Moseley was described as a bachelor in the record of his marriage to Mary Glover in 1857, it is unlikely that he had either children or grandchildren of his own. Could William have been the son of someone else in Henry’s family — perhaps one of Henry’s nephews? Or could William have been the biological grandson of Mary: the son of one of Mary’s three daughters who survived to adulthood? The daughters were Sarah, Emma and Jane Wilkins.
According to her baptism record, Mary’s daughter Sarah was born 18 Oct 1838 in Birmingham. She is listed in the household of Thomas Wilkins in the 1841 England Census. She is listed in the household of Mary Wilkins in the 1851 England Census. Nothing more is known about her.
According to her baptism record, Mary’s daughter Emma was born 12 Sep 1841 in Birmingham. She is listed in the household of Mary Wilkins (widow of Thomas) in the 1851 England Census. Emma was NOT living with Henry and Mary in 1861. In 1870 Emma married Auguste Bodet in Vernantes, France. Auguste and Emma had two daughters, Marie Irma and Marguerite Jeanne, both of whom were married in 1894 in Paris.
According to her baptism record, Mary’s daughter Jane (sometimes called Jennie) was born 8 Jan 1845 in Birmingham. She was living in the household of Mary Wilkins (widow of Thomas) at the time of the 1851 England Census. She is listed as “daughter-in-law” [step-daughter?] in the household of Henry and Mary in the 1861 England Census. Between 1861 and 1875 Jane’s whereabouts are unknown.
In 1875 Jane married William Joseph Scotton (son of Edward Scotton) in Birmingham. In the marriage record William is listed as a bachelor and Jane as a spinster. The witnesses were Sarah Daughton [Jane’s oldest sister Sarah Wilkins Daughton?] and Henry Joseph Yates [relationship to William or Jane unknown]. Jane and William Scotton immigrated to the United States in 1878 or 1879 and settled in Auburn, New York, where William worked in the Auburn Button Factory. By the end of 1879, William Scotton had deserted Jane and disappeared from Auburn.
William Joseph Moseley immigrated to the United States sometime between January and June 1880, soon after the death (October 1879) of Mary Glover Wilkins Moseley (Henry Hawkins Moseley had died in 1874), and he apparently went directly to Auburn, New York, where he began working in the Auburn Button Factory. In the 1880 U.S. Census, William is listed as a resident in a boarding house run by Jane Wilkins Scotton.
By 1900 both William Moseley and Jane Wilkins Scotton were living at 34 Mary St in Auburn, where they apparently continued to live until their deaths.
All known U.S. public records list Jane as William’s aunt. By all available evidence she played the role of William’s home manager and caregiver to his children (many of whom lost their biological mother at an early age). Could she have been William’s mother (and therefore the children’s grandmother), instead?
The evidence is strong that William was either a Moseley or a Wilkins, or perhaps both. But who were William’s parents?
- Moseley, Mosely, Mosley
Other unanswered questions about the Moseleys
- How and where did Edward Moseley meet his first wife, Agnes Hemings?
- Why were Edward and Agnes married for only a few months?
- Did Agnes marry again?
- When and where did Agnes die?
For more information
- Johnson-Moseley family history (2014) (history of the Johnson and Moseley families – Dick’s ancestors)