This is the Story of James and Ann Bird nee Viner.
The family name Bird comes from Middle English bird, brid ‘nestling’, ‘young bird’ (Old English bridd), applied as a nickname or perhaps occasionally as a metonymic occupational name for a bird catcher. The metathesized form is first found in the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English, but the surname is more common in central and southern England. It may possibly also be derived from Old English burde ‘maiden’, ‘girl’, applied as a derisory nickname. (Ancestry.com)
James Bird was my four times great grandfather on my mothers paternal side. He was supposedly born in France in 1820. His father Peter Bird is estimated to have been born around 1800.
I say supposedly as James led a colorful life, and possibly fibbed on census records as to where he was born, as most records of his life are from the coast of Somerset, England.
At the tender age of sixteen, James was tried for larceny on April 2nd 1836. He was dismissed with no bill.
At the age of twenty-five, on October 14th 1845 he was tried and got three months imprisonment for assaulting a police officer. His record on Ancestry is oftentimes confused for a younger namesake who is listed under him.
But within a year of being released, James married his sweetheart Ann Viner on March 17th 1846. She is quite a remarkable women, you'll have to keep reading to find out why. Ann was the daughter of Robert 1801-1848 and Mary Viner nee Emery 1801-1866.
But James hadn't quite learn't the error of his ways and was imprisoned yet again, but for the last time on record on January 5th 1847 for six months for larceny.
Sometime into James and Ann's marriage was the 1851 census which shows his occupation as a laborer, and their three children Henry, James and Mary Ann living at 29 Silver Street in Bridgewater, Somerset.
In the 1861 census, it no longer shows their son James. The couple now have Alfred, William (our direct ancestor), Charles and Edward. James' profession is a drover and they live at 157 Monmouth Street in Bridgewater, Somerset.
In the last decade of his life, in 1871 James was a laborer and had also taken in his one year old grandson Henry.
After twenty-seven years of marriage, at the age of fifty-three James passed away on December 9th 1873.
The twist however, is his commendable wife Ann brought the family circumstances up. She learned to do accounts and her children had respectable occupations as a pension officer, a police officer (ironic) and our direct ancestor William joined the Navy and served on HMS Royal Adelaide.
Some history on HMS The Royal Adelaide
The Royal Adelaide was a First Rate ship of the line. Along with her sister, the Princess Charlotte, they were ordered in 1812 being an enlarged version of the Victory. The design was altered after being ordered, to include a round bow and stern. She was built at Plymouth Dockyard, the keel being laid in May 1819 and launched on 28 July 1828 by the Duchess Adelaide of Clarence. She measured 197.11feet x 53.11feet 2466 tons (4122 tons by displacement). The rated armament when built was 104 guns, on three decks, mainly 32 pounders but also 8in shell guns and carronades; she never actually carried this armament, as she never saw active service. After launch she went into reserve at Plymouth, not being commissioned until December 1835. She did not go far however, being employed as the local harbour guardship and flagship of the port Admiral, and was moored in the Hamoaze. In May 1839 she paid off back into reserve. She then lay quietly swinging around her anchor until April 1859 when she was again commissioned to serve as the local receiving ship (accommodation for new recruits) / depot ship / port Admiral's flagship at Plymouth. There she remained until 1891 when she went to sea for the first time in her life, when she was towed to Chatham. There she was used as a receiving ship (i.e. accommodation) and depot ship. She finally paid off in 1904 and she was sold for scrap in April 1905, being broken up in Dunkirk.
After her husband died, Ann went to live with her daughter Mary Ann Holman at 6 Barclay, in Bridgewater Somerset. She passed away a few years later in January 1894.
Update: January 16th 2015
I found out why James Wright was born in France. There was me thinking he was hiding a past, when all along he was born during his father Peter's service in the French Napoleonic War.