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Margaret was born in the "Chorlton Row" or Chorlton-upon-Medlock neighborhood of Manchester, England. She was baptized in the Grosvenor Street Methodist chapel.

Grosvenor Street Independent Methodist Chapel

In 1841, when Margaret was fifteen, she and her family sailed from Liverpool to New York City. The Hancocks settled on South 4th Street on the eastern side of the town of Williamsburgh (later spelled Williamsburg) across the East River from Manhattan.

The following letter was sent by Margaret to her mother, date unknown:

Dear Mother

it is with feelings of great pleasure I now embrace this oppertunity of writeing to thee hoping thee and thy famely are in good ealth as these few lines leaves us at preasent. I am very sory to hear that you are going to move so grate a distance of
[f] especualy is you mene to leve me in New York. this trobels me very much for if I stay hear hant Sarah says I shall not come to see you mour than once every year. I intended to come home this week but in consequence of makeing preperations for getting in the croton water I could not so I must strech my pachents A little longer but I hope I shall before you move. I have to inform you I had little John Mordsely [a fellow ship passenger] at our house the other day and I woul just as soon he whuld keep his distance poor old cove I see he has got his coat tail sticht on again or elce another coat. he asked me several questons of old dame B. and W F to wich I gave him very breaf answers. he also inquired where you was residing. I gave him directions and of[f] he went and very glad I was to get rid of him so no more at present on this subject. I wonder what is they reason that Martha as not been of[f?] so long A time. tel her when she comes over the next she must not go back without calling to see me for I have something to ask her very perticular. I gess[?] Anne[?] will be quite impachent of waiting for her frock but as she is not tried [it] on I can not make it. Dear Mother if you go into the New Country and Mary and William [Ashton] goes back to the old country I shall be left almost desolate in a Foreing Land but I have to remind you that when you pack up you must not forget to save room for me in the corner of the big box so that I can get in snug. I think that will be the cheapest way of conv[ey]ing me over but you must not forget to put me a crust in.
Mother I want to persuade thee if I can not to go out there for you will have little elce but trees for your neighbours and you will have to run tow or three miles for one cents worth of salt and you will be sadly put to it for many A thing as you little think of but if you will go I wish you all good luck. I have not had any sheeps heads lately or elce I would send you some lucky bones. it is hard work to keep moveing about from place to place on sea and on land but I finde there will not be much rest to be found in this world so we must keep traveling on till we get to our jurneys end so with these few lines I must conclude with good wishes to all.

so I remain your daughter

Margret Hancock

I hope when
[you] have read this paper you will put it in the fier for it is ritten so bad with bad pens A poor writer Hannah as kept nuging me all the time.

so in haste I conclude Peggy Hancock

broom stick carryer and beef stock Maker"

The letter is addressed to Ann Hancock, Williamsburgh

     The letter was obviously written before she was married in 1850, and has a somewhat childish aspect, suggesting it was written in the mid 1840s. It's also obvious she wasn't living with her parents, and with the mention of Aunt Sarah (more likely the wife of her uncle John Hancock rather than her aunt Sarah (Hancock) Marshall), it's possible she was living in Manhattan with her and her uncle John, who had no children. Using the words "thee" and "thy" is likely a nod toward her mother having become a Friend (Quaker).
     Margaret's cousin William Hancock was a ropemaker in Brooklyn, which may be how she and Edward Vyse met, Edward and William both being in the ropemaking business in Williamsburgh. They were married by a Dutch Reformed minister, suggesting she favored neither her father's Methodist or her mother's Friends (Quaker) beliefs. I don't know what church the Vyses favored.

     Margaret lived most of her married life at various addresses on Grand Street in Williamsburgh. Her daughter Laura's marriage record says she was born in Canarsie. Margaret's father built a country house in Canarsie, perhaps early enough for Margaret to have traveled out there to have at least some of her children. After Edward's death, Margaret and her children continued to live at 45 South 4th Street, where they had very recently moved. A year later they were at 155 South 5th, then 146 South 4th, where her daughter Laura met a fellow tenant and her future husband Donald Dunnet. The 1880 US census lists the family at 308 Lorimer Street, Williamsburgh. Margaret lived with one or the other of her children after they were all married. She died at her son Edward's home at 139 Keap Street of "acute indigestion," "cerebral hemorrhage" and "general physical decline." She is buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, probably in the Vyse/Hancock plot, but I found no grave markers there for her or Edward.

children of Margaret Hancock and Edward Green Vyse:

i. Charles Edward b. abt. 1852
ii. Laura Emma b. 2 October 1854
iii. Robert Hancock b. abt. January 1856
iv. Sarah S. b. abt. 1858
v. Edward Goodman b. abt. 1862
vi. Jessie b. abt. 1866
vii. Henry F. b. July 1872

vital records sources: Margaret's birth date is not clear. The Hancock Bible has the date, but apparently is not clearly written. Her death certificate says her age at death was 69 years, 9 months, 6 days, but sometimes the year is off in this type of record, perhaps due to the way the age of the deceased is asked for. This would place her birth on 20 January 1829. The Grosvenor St. Chapel, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, Manchester, England (according to an LDS IGI abstract) gives a birth date of a child named Margaret on 21 November 1826 and a baptism on 18 February 1827. The October 1841 manifest for the ship "Italy," in which she came from England with her family, says she was 12, and the ages given in these records tend to otherwise be quite accurate. This places her birth sometime between the Octobers of 1828 and 1829. The US censuses for 1850, 1860 and 1880 say she was 22, 32 and 52. The censuses were taken about the middle of the years, putting her birth between the middle of 1827 and 1828. Her age at death may have been calculated incorrectly. If the number of months were off by one too less, her birth would be 20 December 1828, one day off the birth date of her brother John given in his baptism record. Perhaps they were twins, but only John's baptism appears in the Mormon IGI database. The original church record needs to be seen. It is very unlikely that she was the Margaret born in 1826. All the records thereafter would be 2 years off rather than 1. If the age at death were off by one year either way, that would make Margaret born about 11 months before John, which is very unlikely, or 13 months after, which is still unlikely and would make the later records even more inaccurate.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted