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7 Jul 2019

From one Overlord to another, a-ha: How Ancestry ThruLines confirmed a 5xgreat-grandfather

I was going to write 'Ogre' but neither of our two Overlords were ogres. They were powerful enough, and their underlings too well schooled to argue with them, that they had no requirement to be nasty. Thanks to ThruLines I know I descend from one of them.

The First Overlord (West of the Pennines)
Joseph Moses (b. 1743) had two orphan daughters by his first wife (a cousin), namely, Mary and Hannah. Then his second wife brought him three lovely lasses, Elizabeth, Jenny and Margaret. The families of both wives were elided, and wherever Grandpa Moses went, some sons, daughters and grandchildren followed in light formation. (The above portrait is not Joseph, but his brother, Christopher, which nonetheless gives an idea about him.) The family lived at Huddlesceugh near Renwick on the west side of the Pennine Hills, somewhere in Cumberland. Joseph would have been an astute, respected, farmer and businessman who knew his own mind.

Joseph's Daughters
Jenny was particularly in the thrall of her father. She'd rebelled as a child and begun a romantic relationship with the penniless gardener, W. Dodd. They "eloped" in 1808, were forced to marry and in effect became tied to the family farm while Joseph still lived. Which he did: for a very long time.

Meanwhile, Margaret and Elizabeth had married well, to an Excise Officer and a medium landowner respectively. Mary and Hannah had married also, rather cautiously: Mary to a well connected local farmer, and Hannah (in 1797) to the widowed Mr Watson of Scalehouses, which will link, in a moment, to our genetic story.

Scalehouses backs right on to the Pennines with some sheep land rising to 2500 ft. The farm house is a decent size, white-painted, black-timbered, not overly tall and surrounded by its own land. The Watsons had long lived there but our Hannah made the place her own. She planted sycamore trees in the garden, which for all I know are still there.
The Moses men come out in force to witness these careful marriages. There's upwards of five witnesses. I don't know if this is a Northcountry trend, but the bevy of witnesses makes the point that the marriage is a significant family event. Notice this excerpt from a letter, which contains a rather throw-away comment about the daughters.
The Second Overlord (east of the Pennines)
Elizabeth, one of the wiser sisters, had a new brother-in-law, the powerful and influential Rev'd Christopher Bird, vicar of Chollerton, across the Pennines into Northumberland. He will be our second Overlord. When trouble strikes, it is to the Rev'd Mr Bird that the family will go.

Death of Joseph
Joseph Moses eventually died in 1833 at Morland Hall Farm, which he had presumably been renting, in the parish of Morland, near Penrith. He was 90.

Crossing into Bird territory
Jenny Dodd, her husband William, their younger children could all now pack their bags and escape. Frankly they had little choice. The Overlord had died and they were now at the mercy of the new Overlord, C. Bird.

So in 1833 the Dodds crossed the Pennines to Chollerton, where their eldest daughter was already living. Dodd found work as estate agent in Allendale (for Mr Bird). Their daughter Jane soon married the son of Mr Bird's bailiff, Johnny Gibson, although he was not her first choice, according to very well-informed petrified family gossip.

Daughter Jane Dodd (Gibson) is immortalised in our family as "Granny from Old Town". Despite being born back in 1814 in the wilds of Cumberland, she made an impression on a great-grandchild and so has "survived" into our epoch.

There are further twists and turns. My line, from Jenny Moses (Dodd) is not destined to remain east of the Pennines and the road ahead will be treacherous.

Hannah Moses's family at Scalehouses
Meanwhile, the Watsons remain at Scalehouses for generations and it is thanks to an old family letter from 1890 that we know of Hannah planting her sycamore trees. The letter is being sent, rather wistfully, to Australia. I think the writer knows contact will one day cease, despite his best efforts at logging every newly-arrived nephew and niece.

Ancestry ThruLines (which has already been added to my phone's spellchecker) is going to confirm something remarkable: Five times great-grandfather Joseph Moses, our first Overlord, is indisputably my forbear. One of the wiggly Watson lines which went out to Australia, match my DNA. Incredibly an even more remote cousin, in the States, holds the above portrait of Joseph's brother, C. Moses.

Without the ThruLines technology, which examines each generation carefully and rebuilds trees where details are missing, I'd never have worked out the connection to cousin Julie myself. This part of my tree is very distinctive. I have no other Cumberland ancestry, and neither, I suspect, has Julie. This lends a further weight of evidence to the suggested tree.

Whilst extremely impressive, DNA has already been able to take me back to an even more remote 'Most Recent Common Ancestor', this time from the 1600s... Stay tuned for more!

31 May 2019

Tracing Cousins, an Index to Articles

List of topics

Tracing cousins:

Ann, 18, not in South Africa : funny, well written
Clues from the cousins #1 : clever way to find Amy from Wales
Clues from the cousins #2 : old man's pen stroke leads to Ada
Come on Eileen : silly but worth a read
Davies? Evans? no problem  : finding an address
Facebook for finding cousins : beginner's guide
Faith, Hope and Ancestry : story of finding Louisa Smith
Found in Bradford  : bit geeky (concentrates on one finding)
Getting past missing marriages  : short and informative
Jamestown Pearls  : chatty story of finding great-uncle in USA
Long journey: 3 quick stories of hard-to-find relatives
Lost memories  : funny and well written
Making work for the postman : required reading on contacting new cousins
Meet Mr Zero : silly, brief
Miscellaneous marriage thoughts : bit geeky and uninformative
On a roll  : heavy going
Riddle of the timeshare  : long but well written
Taylors: delete
The sixteenth letter of the alphabet : heavy going with a clever tip
Tracing Wilcie Urch  : whirlwind success story
Who Exactly are Rachel's Kids?: story of diligence
Finding 4 New Jersey husbands with no marriage index : worth reading

Research stories:
specific (i.e. about a particular resource)

1600s handwriting: I predict a baptism : details of 1600s research
1911 deleted entries at Findmypast  : specific
Bogralin - clue to Scots ancestry : finding Scots origins
Best of Genes Dictionary : funny
Census: 'my wife's cousin', a nice clue : specific
Come on, give yer Granny £1 : funny
Creating Speculative Searches :  long form lots of info
Death duty indexes  : specific
European Genealogy across 13 countries : short and interesting
Gateway to the Wall and Canal  : a rant
Goodies from FindMyPast probate index : specific
Hidden Roots: Behind the Marriage : getting back beyond a 1791 marriage
Italy: From Stranger to Native : specific
Matrimonial mischief in Somerset : short story
Review of the new GRO index : worth reading
Primary records and why you need them: a rant
Searching for burials : specific
Solving a Smith puzzle...  : funny and surprising tale
Speculative Search in Australia : bit long
Ten tricks to help your family history : short punchy tips
The Betsys yet to come : funny hunt for Betsy
The Something, The Baker, the er- Mint-cake Maker? : sweet eaters in the tree
Three Sisters: Fifteen Counties : short and interesting
Two little bits of paper : usefulness of birth certs
Untangling 1780s baptisms in Cornwall : untangling
Using the Death Duty records at Kew : specific
What a difference a decade makes : surprises from the census
Will: 'You still need me' : specific and interesting
Yorkshire short-arse nails Chinatown gunslinger  : humorous
Young husbands on the family tree: interesting

Faith, Luck, Persuasion and Determination
Persuasion in Family History : antsy Grandpa steps away
Faith in Family History : it shouldn't have worked, but it did
Luck in Family History : the 1841 saves my bacon
Determination in Family History : itching a new path


3 Dec 2018

The Girl from Wirksworth - Part One

If you have read my post The Teenagers, you will know what a tough time they had. Sarah Brasier (b. 1751) was sixteen on her marriage and sent far from home to live; Ann Shaw (b. 1774) was orphaned age 12; her daughter Hannah Bagshaw (b. 1792) never knew her mother, and was totally orphaned at 13. I can add another one, Sarah Carr (b. 1859) who sent herself many leagues across the Sea to South Africa aged 18. Why did she do that?

But it is Ann whose story we are trying to tease out. She was evicted from Wirksworth age 12, in 1786, the year when her mother and two sisters all died. They died before the move, and after move, but in the same year. I am almost certain she would have been one of Arkwright's Girls, workers at the cotton mill a few miles away in Cromford. A long uphill journey back, but at least it's downhill in the mornings.

She may be no connection at all. The trail for her goes completely cold in 1786, age 12, and there are no further references. But I think she is my ancestor. And DNA will prove it, very soon. Very soon indeed.

19 Oct 2018

The product of three canals

Hundreds of tonnes of clay and granite. That's what had to be shifted to create the Staffs & Worcs Canal, and then the Chesterfield Canal. Without these two canals I wouldn't be here.

My forebear, Hannah Gee, born at Chesterfield in 1792 is a product of these canals. She is also the product of a third canal, the not-yet-constructed Cromford Canal, where her parents arguably met. However no earth or sand needing shifting ahead of her birth. Her father didn't even lift a sod of earth before he had eyes smitten on the young millworker (Hannah's mother).

The Staffs & Worcs is staggeringly pretty. They say you are taken through gently rolling West Midlands countryside, never quite making it to an urban settlement. I walked along this canal by accident last February, little realising it was where my ancestors met.

Jonathan Gee, the canal builder, came across Sarah, a girl from Swindon, Staffs, in 1767. He was working on the Staffs & Worcs, which ran through Swindon. She fell for his charms immediately and they were married.

They are enticed into Derbyshire by the building of the Chesterfield Canal, that's canal number two.

Their son Nathaniel breaks away from his father's influence, and casts about for work on the third canal, the Cromford, with plans beginning in 1791. Nathaniel's interest is very much diverted by the presence at Cromford of a girl called Ann. She fell for his charms immediately and they were married.

Hannah, their child, is born at Chesterfield in 1792, the product of three canals.

Watching her bake bread and cakes in later years, living in a pit village - you never would guess at the millions of tonnes of earth moved ahead of her birth. Did she sing?

♫ I feel the earth move under my feet, the sky tumbling down... ♫

12 Sep 2018

Most un-Royal

Why can't I seem to get back to any Royal forebears? Cornish cousins just a snitch away in Gwithian have ancestry through the Edwards family of Lelant and back to some lord in Devon, namely Mr William Crimes, and thence back to the famous Neville family, who made Kings and were grandsons of Kings.

I come close at times, brushing purple cloaks with the real deals, but then in my dreams the ancestor bows and scrapes away and is revealed simply to be a passing medieval tradesman. Again!

Hard-working Cornish folk in my tree washing filthy big yards of linen and left it stewing in massive dye pots, and produced politicians poets and physicists in two generations. Yet more are quoted in their earthy tones talking at us from centuries past [see Hunter].

Our ancestors the Holme family, Kings of Mardale, now under Haweswater, had massive beef with King John back in the 1200s, and as such none of their descendants would have dallied with the royals, living as they did in Norse obscurity in their hidden valley in the Lakes. So that profitable line of enquiry goes nowhere.

Our forebear Thomas Beresford, had 21 children and lies in a grand old tomb in Fenny Bentley, Derbyshire. He is accused of sending a private army of men to Agincourt, approximately 5 years before he was born - so again, perfidy disrupts a really nice story.

My grandmother's maternal line hails from Derbyshire, the scene of much of this frustrating screed. It seems that they might just merge with the Gell family of Hopton Hall, Derbyshire in the mid 1600s. Some enterprising fellow has scoured the Gell ancestral origins for anything remotely Royal, and found the following piece of mediaeval scrag end:

Hugh Lupus, 'Fat Hugh' 1047-1101, who probably wasn't a nephew of William the Conqueror, and who probably wasn't the father of Geva Lupus. Geva did marry in to the Basset family who eventually washed into the Beresfords, and thus Gells.

It is almost as if my determinedly independent ancestors sheered away from the royals at every and any opportunity.

Nobody ran away to become a mistress of the King or his functionary or anything similar. They just weren't having any of it.

Most un-Royal.

11 Aug 2018

Road Outta Town... Take 2

Of course everything you read and feel has to be right. Doesn't it? My Carlines migrated to the city in 1865 marrying in one big town, then making Manchester and Salford their home for ever more. In 1865, like I said. Previously they were in a the little mining village of Eyam, where people tipped up their incomes from the scrubby land by digging out what they could in a primitive way.

Villager comes to city. What a story. Love it. Except it's not true... exactly.

Ellen Carline did arrive in Salford in 1865 with her husband in tow, and for sure she grew up in that lead-mining settlement in the northern Peaks. But this wasn't the end of the tale. It wasn't even the beginning.

Roll the clock back please. Five generations if that's ok? In this family, that equates to only 100 years.

Sarah Brasier was baptised in Kinver parish church, rural Staffordshire in September 1751. Before she was two the family were on the road. You can see the picture of the actual road, above. In September 1753 her sister was baptised in the new home, Swindon, half-way to Wolverhampton. It's a lot more built up, with 2.5 acres per person rather than 4 acres in Kinver (from information at GENUKI).

Trivia note: Sarah was even younger than 2, owing to traumatic calendar changes around her first birthday - causing 1752 to lose 11 days in the wrangle. Some bender.

Leaving Kinver was a seismic change and the kind of move that, they say, only happens once. "That's it. We're townies now". Except, of course, that her great-great-granddaughter ended up having to repeat the rite of passage a century later.

What happened between 1751 and 1865 then?

Well. Sarah married in big old Dudley's 'Top Church' age 16, 1767, and the family moved to an admittedly rural area working on canal infrastructure and later moving raw materials up the conduit to big old Sheffield. Her son Nathaniel opened a public house opposite the iron foundry in reasonably-sized Chesterfield and died young, 1805, owing to his wild ways - we suspect. That left granddaughter Hannah armed with no choices at all but plenty of latent business acumen. She married a lead-mining widower from a small peak village, 1807, aged 15, and catapulted herself back to rural obscurity. Great-granddaughter made no changes to the marker. Great-great-granddaughter eventually left the obscure village in 1865.

29 Jun 2018

End of the line

The remnant
Down the end of the lane, where grass still grows in the middle of the road, lies my landlady's old home. It's still there, untouched, unvarnished. Like a book sitting on a library shelf, it contains all you might need on the long dead subject.

Hannah Dooley was agreed to be the last of the family residents in Eyam, passing away in 1946 (not bad for a grandfather born in 1771). I've got a letter from someone who remembered her little cottage, plus some postcards she wrote, and she also left a Will. The Will isn't very interesting, but we're happy enough overall.

Another last-of-the-line was the box-of. -frogs that was Miss Stuart Barone. Rich,storied, and in ill health, her light odometer reading  masked an exciting life in exile during the war. With her dying gasp you can hear the grief in her Sicilian village home. And to accompany this there'll be plenty of candles. She leaves a document, another Will, hopping around the decades. Announcing her birth in Alberta (1908); sorting out her grandparents for posterity, and scattering about the American connections like wild mountain herbs.

Treasure is a wonderful name for any family member, and this one was also, last-of-the-line. Someone told me he made a bonfire around the time he was in poor health, making his peace with the world, of all the family effects. Bonds of indemnity for obscure field purchases from the 1860s, solicitor's letters to his long-dead grandfather. It all needed to go up in smoke before he died, he felt.

Harrumph was my reaction, ambitious as I was to find a photograph of the parents and children, or even his grandmother, a key person in the tree.

Last week a gentleman wrote me from southern Somerset, exorcising his own ghosts. There were photos of cows from the 1960s, old cottages in hamlets the motorcar hadn't seen. And round the corner, in every frame, out of shot, was Treasure, carefully described. These memories have been pickled in amber for us.  And better by far, after a wait, than silly old parchment from the bonfire.

My mustachiod great- great- grandfather, William, has 85 descendants living, at a conservative estimate. Yet his two sisters Arundel and Catharine had children and grandchildren but no surviving descendants at all!

One spinster lady I met thought that her sister, who'd died age 16, would have been the one to get married. Catharine's grandson Phillip wanted to marry, but nobody wanted to go through with it. In a small town in Oregon, his father's shame  was too much to bear.

Three troubling events occurred in poor Percy's life (the only child of Catharine to have issue): losing his elder boy in the swollen waters of the Washington River in 1921; being found to defraud local people out of their money at his small town in Oregon. But the trigger for all the sorrow and insecurity was decades earlier in 1896, age 22, when this mild but bright fair skinned lad-on-the-make got too close to the flames. Witnessing a Chinese gangland murder in L.A., he went on the run. I honestly think if he'd kept his pretty nose out of Chinatown, Catharine (his mother) would have descendants, and Phillip, buried in a Veterans grave, would not be End of the Line.

20 May 2018

Their lives in 65 characters

The sisters, by which I mean, mine and my mother's, asked for kind of a one-pager on the family history.

Key facts, quirky discoveries, who's who, exactly who the cheese maker lady was, which relative went to Bogota, the name of the place in Ohio where they all went.

They want me to empty my pockets in the school yard and show them all my best marbles.

Or, they want me to 'fence off' all the soft leaves of the forest floor and hurry them quick to the one or two precious orchids.

After nodding my head enthusiastically at this idea, because I do want to share, I realise that's not the way it should happen.

You all need to comb through the dull pages and discover gems for yourself. To read through the source materials and pick out passages that you personally like.

I don't mind making that process a bit easier by providing typescripts of cramped original text, providing a master chart showing how the mini-charts fit together, setting up a keyword index to aid navigation...

But the discovery, that's got to be a personal matter.

Let me know how you get on 😁