Margaret Dinning Anson Margaret Dinning Anson

Margaret Dinning Anson

Our next big project has been to find out more about George Anson's wife, Margaret Dinning. As much as George Anson's ancestry has been covered in borrowed glory, Margaret Dinning Anson's ancestry was shrouded. We were not sure of anything about her life before she married George Anson in 1833. However, much has been discovered in the past few years, and new information will be published here soon. The following is an assessment of where research on Margaret stood until recently.

Family lore is split on Margaret Dinning. One family story says that George Anson was disinherited for marrying her because she was poor and uneducated. This story has been dealt with in the George Anson FAQ (see Was George Anson Disinherited...?"). The second story says that she was the daughter of a Welsh shipmaster. Her son, Joseph Anson, told stories to his children and grandchildren about going on sea voyages with Margaret's family (44). A biography of George Anson written in 1881 mentions that Margaret was from Bristol, England (45), and the 1841 British Census for Wolverhampton (46) notes that she was not born in the county of Staffordshire nor was she from Scotland, Ireland or foreign-born. Her gravestone gives her death date (47) as 15 April 1896 and her age as 82 years, 3 months, and 13 days. This would place her birth date at 2 January 1814.

COMING SOON: Information about Margaret's parents, grandparents, and siblings.

We also know a little bit about Margaret's extended family. For example, we have located a death record, a will and probate records for George's son, Edward F. Anson, who died in 1893. The probate records indicate some animosity between Margaret Anson and Edward's wife, Elma Powles, in dealing with Edward's estate.

A collection of letters written to Margaret (48) when she came to America has survived, and they give us some insight into her life. These letters were written by her uncle, Jack Thorington, a lawyer from Montgomery, Alabama. Whether he and his family are related through Margaret's father or mother is unknown. The letters make it clear that Mr. Thorington was acquainted with Margaret's father, enough to know his birth date -- May 1792. Margaret's father was still alive in 1854. Jack Thorington was quite fond of his niece, and assisted the Anson family by sending them $50 checks from time to time.

Another uncle of Margaret's was the Reverend William Granville of Medina, Ohio. According to the 1850 census (49), George and Margaret Anson lived only a few houses away from Mr. Granville and his wife, Elizabeth. Again, the exact relationship between the Granvilles (whether related to her mother or father) is unknown, but the Thoringtons and Granvilles were also related. The names Dinning and Granville appear in the Thorington family (50), and the names Thornton (as a derivative of Thorington) and Granville also appear in the Anson family. George and Margaret named two of their sons Granville (they were both born in Medina, Ohio) and named another son John Thornton.

We are hoping that tracing the Thorington and Granville families will help us eventually locate Margaret's parents. The Thoringtons immigrated from County Armagh in Northern Ireland in the early 1800s, and William Granville came from Plymouth, England before 1830. The odds of finding a family with all three names in Ireland or England should be pretty small, once we know where to look.

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