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An obvious consequence of researching the story of Polly Button was to find out what had happened to her children after she had been murdered. This phase of research was then continued and has resulted in tracing as many direct descendants as possible through to the present-day . More than 1,000 living descendants of Polly Button have been identified in this way. The research initially focused on tracing descendants using and, supplemented occasionally with the free-to-use FamilySearch site provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps unusually for a family tree, which typically starts off with a living person and is then traced backwards, researching and creating Polly Button’s family tree in Ancestry started with Polly Button herself and then worked forwards in time to the modern age.

A wide range of genealogical records were used, including the national censuses from 1841 to 1911, the 1939 National Register, parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, and details of records of births, marriages and deaths post-1837 held by the General Register Office.

The 1939 Register proved to be an extremely useful resource, as it is the only national census-type resource currently available that bridges the gap between 1911 and 1951 and hence was instrumental in helping to trace recent generations and providing a vital link to help identify living descendants. Identifying and confirming individuals’ details in more recent times was further aided by using search engines such as Google, newspaper archives, online phone directories, electoral roll information from the subscription website People Trace UK, and social media sites such as Facebook. Only publicly available information was used in this research.

The following table summarises of the outcome of the genealogical research that was undertaken.

Child Number of direct descendants traced Of which number were identified as living descendants
Elizabeth 984 476
William 0 0
Hannah 667 363
Ann 202 81
Jane 275 134
TOTAL 2,128 1,054

Using the information that had been gathered and verified, it subsequently became possible to contact direct descendants using a variety of means, including Facebook Messenger, letter, email and telephone, to inform them of their direct connection to Polly Button. The response to hearing of the connection to Polly Button has been overwhelmingly positive, with the vast majority keen to know more about her story. This is where social media has shown how beneficial it can be in linking people who share a common interest – or in this case a common ancestor. A closed (private) Facebook group, The Descendants of Polly Button, was created in February 2017, followed by the creation of a public Facebook group, ‘The Undoing of Polly Button’, in December 2017. The growth in the membership of both groups is testament to the continued interest in the murder of Polly Button specifically and the desire to know more about the history of Nuneaton in more general terms. The first ‘Gatherings’ of Polly Buttons’ descendants took place on 17 and 18 February 2019, when descendants travelled from all over the country to hear about Polly Button’s story and go on a guided murder trail walk. The images shown are of the two group portraits and the groups on the site where Polly Button’s house once stood. The night visit took place at just before 8pm on Monday 18 February 2019, the anniversary of the time and date of Polly Button’s murder.

A Free Offer for Direct Descendants of Polly Button.

Many direct descendants of Polly Button have been recorded in an extensive family tree. If you are an existing/known descendant of Polly Button you can obtain a free printout of a chart showing the line of descent from Polly Button to you. To log your interest in such a chart, and in order to identify the correct person from the family tree database and to produce your personalised chart, you will need to confirm certain basic details. These are:

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Please note that the information relating to birth details is already in the public domain via the General Register (of Births, Marriages and Deaths). However, after the correct identification of the descendant has taken place all supplied details will be securely deleted; they will not be retained in any way by the Polly Button Project and will not be used by or shared with any Third Party.

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