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4 Apr 2015

Gateway to the Wall and Canal

Annie Gibson!

Born just before civil registration, and seemingly not baptised, she is not living in her birth county nor her adopted county of Westmorland in the 1841 census. She appears as if a magical tree child by Lake Windermere's shores in time for the next census, of 1851.  In hindsight there were plenty of clues to her origins, but they were so unexpected we didn't dare to look.

150 years after her birth, and the sands of time had eradicated her photograph, accent, story from our collective memory. But her grandchildren knew a few clues about her. She was they said a Northumberland farmer's daughter.  We didn't know that there was so much more to it. That Crawcrook would prove chock-full of cousins and Penrith too. A lot of energy was expended on solving her husband, Mr Airey's line, known to live near the Lakes forever...

Annie's father's family were from the Wall - Hadrian's wall. Annie is named in the will of her father's father, as Ann, daughter of my late son John Gibson. She was an only child, and predeceased her mother, leaving a large family of ten children, all of whom married, and all bar one had family. (Today however, only five have living descendants.)

It struck me that the granddaughters proved difficult to trace at times and lived in quite a variety of interesting places. The list follows: India, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, San Francisco, Egypt, Toronto, Cape Town. And the very hardest child to find moved to a little cottage in the Chiltern foothills which she was to enjoy for one year and six months.  The grandson, of whom there were not many, lived in Wimborne, Middlesbrough and Manchester, hardly the same at all.

I am sure stories are attached to most of the exotic places these 'daughters of the Lake' sojourned in. Several require use of the Suez canal to visit, and Aden in Yemen was reported as 'no place for a woman'. The lady in Venezuela was greeted after some months by a semi-naked son who had gone upstream with the natives for a time. The escape from London poverty to California came about thanks to a granddaughter winning a typing competition. She never returned, settling with her east coast ranching husband and is captured whinnying with laughter as she slams her land-vehicle into gear. We haven't yet accounted for her.


3 Apr 2015

Royal possibilities

Here are my Royal possibilities:
Miss Muldoonie. Wealthy Irish heiress who ends up marrying my male Irish forebear, about 1810, despite her family's best efforts to prevent the union. Presumably she was still a Roman Catholic, as her name is very Irish. I am still not sure how this money connection could be rotated backwards through an Anglo-Irish overlord and leave us in a polite society drawing room in Covent Garden, 1600s. But I think it might.

Margaret Rea. This lady from parochial Bogralin, somewhere in Scotland, was born in about 1761. She lived to see her great-granddaughter nearly reach majority, though they may never have met. This lady became my grandmother's grandmother. The devious illegitimate breeding rats of illegitimate Stuarts, from James the Fourth and Fifth, had plenty of time from 1500 to inject their DNA into Margaret.

Alexander Millrea. A fisherman at Kirkinner, Wigtown, I shall eat my hat if his ancestry won't include some trace of Scottish kings, whether through Bruces, Stewarts, or Hays.

The Glassons of Camborne. They, or the Bohemias, or Hamblys or any of my other Cornish lines could easily incorporate some of Hugh Courtenay's stock. He is recognised as a gateway ancestor for Cornish people owing to his marriage to Margaret de Bohun, King Edward's granddaughter.

The Pearces of St Austell. These are the poshest side of my entire tree, and were squires for a time. The maiden names of the wives are skipping close to those of Godolphin, Carminowe, and other known 'squirely' names.

Sir Harry Hotspur. Statistically Harry, earl of Northumberland, simply will be ancestor of my Charltons who lived on the Tyne west of Newcastle for generations. He will be their ancestor several times over.

Katherine of Berain and Joan Cherleton. These two ladies both venture into Wales as did members of the Herbert family. They may just be in time to be forebears of my Welsh stock, comparatively wealthy smallholders with land who gave it all up for the total insecurity of life under the iron lords, in the great smelting works. For every Pakistani worker who slides off a Dubai skyscraper, at least ten Welsh ironworkers met their premature deaths in Victorian times. I imagine Rebecca Phillips, the Mortons of St Ishmael, the Jennet line in Cadoxton and the Evanses of Bassaleg could all throw back to the above Welsh ladies.

The Hastings family. They or another line may have settled in the Midlands. My Gee family in Chesterfield and my Fox line in Matlock both could easily have absorbed a medieval royal ancestor generations before. A Gee cousin it seems wrote a Victorian detailed account of her adopted city, Nottingham, qualities which not all of my Derbyshire mining ancestors showed.

The Wentworth family. They were in Suffolk and I am confident that either my poor soil-tilling Smiths, my perhaps African Edens or my Quaker Flowers ancestors will have been able to grab a good thimbleful of Royal blood from this source based as they were just over the border into Norfolk.

Richard the Third mania

I enjoy re-reading the Plantagenet story, and trying to remember the many husbands of the key women, the various Eleanors, Elizabeths and Mauds. And certainly seeing if more has emerged of Richard the Third's female line.

Empress Anne of Hungary, wife of Ferdinand, performed the neat trick of buying up the best genetic real estate. She has got the maternal-line rights to a large chunk of Europe's royalty. Her line includes such gems as Queen Victoria, all the good-time Louis kings, Philip of Spain and Philip of Edinburgh.

Small wonder there were precious little maternal line goodies left for Cecily of York and her sisters, whose fortunes wavered so dramatically during the wars of the Roses. They spent the Tudor period holed up in damp crumbling piles, far from Westminster palaces.  It sounded very hard work to unearth this clan.

I got extremely jealous of those with a personal connection to the Roses folk, and decided I would try to find my own. First step, to browse the book of Americans with Royal descent, to see which English towns harboured them during the crucial 1600s period.

Then I remembered I had a slightly Royal connection in my Cornish line, waiting for my attention. Mary Harry born 1640 was the granddaughter of Alexander Angove of Phillack whose ancestor quite possibly had been Michael Angove the blacksmith hung at Tyburn in 1497. He had led a march to London protesting against the Welsh King's taxes.

But it was Mary's grandmother who the spotlight turned on. Apparently owning a tenement in a deer park, at Park house - a Grade II listed building, still standing in distant Egloshayle. It seemed romantically possible that she was the daughter of Reginald Haweis, landowner at Treworgie. And whose father is listed as Stephen Hawes of the Bushes, Walsham le Willows, Suffolk. And who has been conflated with another Stephen Hawes - somewhat older and from Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a poet and later gentleman of the bedchamber, a courtier (for that old rogue, Henry the Seventh).

And, who was of course, inevitably, rumoured to be.... an illegitimate son of Richard the Third. Which is where we started.

The tree you wish for

I finished reading Johanna Angermeyer's book about her German uncles living in the Galapagos. I thought, that would be nice. Then I started researching my Becks who it turned out were the only white people on part of the Solomon Islands.

I finished reading Eric Newby's book Love and War in the Apennines. Two minutes later, I was researching my missing cousin Arthur Taylor. Tonnes of evidence pointed to him living, of course, in Italy, and even more startlingly not only 'during the War' but a hair's breadth away from meeting Mussolini himself. His work took him to many mountainous corners of Italy, and almost to Malta where Newby's own story started.

Today I woke up keen to browse once more the DNA discoveries concerning King Richard the Third.  I firstly read about his family. Then I turned to my Cornish forbears, who I believe remain the most likely to yield a Royal ancestral line. I had a little look into the murk of medieval history, and that is the subject of my next post.

Be careful for the family history you wish for, it might just happen....

21 Mar 2015

A Cornish Mine Agent in 1850s Jamaica

A quick google gives a shade more info on 3xgreat-grandpa Henry Lowry who spent one or two years in the Port Royal Mountains of Jamaica, in a little settlement named Silver Hill, as a mine agent or adventurer.

We have the attached letter, and reference to a book owned by him in Jamaica published 1851 is found via Google. Now a London paper takes up his desperate story for more money.

Lowry was a miner from Truro, arriving 1853, and seemingly leaving 1855, dying 1861.

London Daily News 24 August 1855
The directors of the Port Royal and St. Andrew's Copper Mining Company have received a report from Mr. Henry Lowry, upon his return to this country, in which he observes as follows : The English staff consists of 11 men and your mining agent. Captain Ciernes, Labour is generally abundant, and the natives are likely soon to become tolerably efficient workmen. It is my decided conviction that the operation, at Silver Hill ia particular, will result favourably ; the lode is the only quartz lode (I have brought specimens for your inspection) which I have seen in Jamaica, and is in every respect promising as could be desired. I believe nothing but a little perseverance will be requisite to make Silver Hill an important and profitable mine. As the operations have proceeded, nothing has occurred to alter my convictions ; the continuity of the lodes and branohet has been established from level to level, and nothing can exceed the regularity and compactnett of the formation in No, 2. I think any company would be warranted in spending a much larger amount of capital than has already been spent in the operations here, if it should be required, and I have no hesitation in recommending you to to effectual and complete development of the mineral ground.

8 Mar 2015

Cousins laid to rest

My aunt was sure cousin Eva married the bus driver and settled in San Francisco. I combed through all the 1940 census and found a husband who was a railway carriage cleaner. Everything matched up, and to my delight the San Francisco marriage indexes, now in image form on FamilySearch, confirmed this.

Rumoured to be illegitimate, it was certainly a surprise to note she survived her father 93 years, and was nearly the last of her generation. Thank goodness my great-aunt was around to forestall this awkward eventuality.  Her father passed away of tuberculosis in Wood Green not that far from me some time before the first world war.

It really is odd she survived so long. We had a phone call in the 1940s to tell us her older sister had died, exhausted by finding money at all hours of the day - and still another sister was confined to Colney Hatch lunatic asylum in the thirties. So hats off to Eva for clawing her way to the end of the century.

Another of the cousins disappears off the face of the earth in 1964 having proved her mother's will. She was then living in Surbiton. It now turns out she used the money from the estate to buy her own cottage just outside Henley.  But she only enjoyed the cottage for two years before passing away herself. The person with whom she occupied the cottage survived another 29 years however.



Firstnames across England

The following firstnames were popular in the stated counties in the Victorian era:
Cornwall - Margaret, Catherine, Martin, Matthew, John, Henry, Thomas, William, Edward, Kate, Jane, Eliza, Mary
Somerset - James, Thomas, Elizabeth, William, Grace, Sarah, Mary, Stephen, Richard, George, Ann, Joseph, Mark
Norfolk - Robert, William, Susan, Henry, Rosa, Sarah, Martha, Samuel
Northcountry - Jonathan, Ralph, Margaret, Hannah
Derbyshire - Joshua, Joseph, Luke, Esther, Ellen, Jane, Anthony, Sarah, James, Titus, Nathan, Hannah

Further comments welcome