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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

Marital Status

My seven great-aunts each had a subtly different marital status: divorced, widowed, unmarried minor. Unmarried adult (spinster), married, separated, and ... annulled. Perhaps the last one should read 'femme sole'.

The divorced aunt also squeezed in a common-law relationship, changing her name but not walking up the aisle, and changing it back when the relationship ended.

The aunts furthermore spanned three centuries. The firstborn was a Victorian, while three made it into the twenty-first century.

7 Mar 2015

Beating Google's Cache to find old PDFs still online

I was frustrated not to be able to get copies of this carehome newsletter, 2005, anywhere:

By luck and not really much thanks to any advice published on the internet, I found this link:

Hey presto, full details about my relatives who lived at Lowton near Warrington.

21 Feb 2015

Miss Rebecca's Men: the publican and the soldier

Rebecca Dibben was born in the village of Tarrant Gunville, Dorset in 1794. Aged 20, her first child was born on the island of Guernsey, about 1814, and was given her mother's name.

Rebecca must surely have married the child's father, but this is not the only missing marriage in the family. We cannot find marriages for her sister Jane nor sister Mary either, although both have many descendants.

It was only last week I found the identity of this first husband, Mr Cox, by first name Thomas and as you can see from the below image, he was an innkeeper.

I have combed through the Death duty records for the period 1812 to 1824 looking for a suitable Thomas but not found him.  There was an innkeeper of this name operating in Crediton, Devon, 1815-1821 but he may have been the 50yo Thomas Cox who dies in the parish ten years later.

Cox was the first family member in Guernsey. There were Coxes later to marry Rebecca's cousin W Burge, who came from Child Okeford. Some of this family are thought to have settled in Guernsey, specifically Samuel Drake Cox, who appears in online searches.

Rebecca's second husband was the unlucky Abraham Mackreth of Cockermouth. Barely three weeks after the marriage he is dead, but Rebecca is/was already carrying his child and he is born either at Cockermouth with her hostile in-laws, or at Sturminster Newton where her own family lived. 
Mackreth and Rebecca's son was very unlucky in love, too. He married the dazzling Charlotte Quick of Kenton, Devon not far from his stepfathers' (sic) home in Ringwood. However seven years and no children later, Charlotte began to make other arrangements for the security of her genetic burden!

She fell for the Norfolk-born Thynnes who were no apparent connection with the titled variety, later Marquises of Bath. However, they each duped the other. She said her maiden name was Glendinning, well that was originally her mother's rather grand name. He pretended they were heirs to the Carterets as the London Thynnes certainly were.

It all had to end, and Thynne who was actually now or later in the Royal Artillery was told to leave Charlotte alone. Charlotte was chaperoned with baby Sophia out to Australia in 1856 with her younger brother ensuring she arrived safely. Once there, it seems there was little family contact. She had a nice lump sum of money keeping her going and lived for another 25 years or so out in the barren cultureless sun. Baby girl marries twice and has a few descendants. 'Carteret' becomes, as I'd originally guessed, 'Cartwright'.

Meanwhile back in England, Mackreth junior was living with his housekeeper and when word finally came in of Charlotte's death, he married her. Thynne had married in 1858 but had no surviving issue by his real wife, dying in Norfolk, perhaps wondering where baby Sophia had gone. He had wanted to keep her as the evidence of the unusual birth certificate suggests, but likely Charlotte's family had Quickly disposed of that notion.

Dignity was saved.

The snip of the marriage certificate for Rebecca Cox's happy marriage to Mr Buggins doesn't reveal his occupation, bath house keeper on the Brighton coast. Odd that being totally naked with strangers was deemed normal by Victorians, but staying with the woman or man you loved was deemed utterly disgraceful.

17 Feb 2015

Will: 'You still need me'

Some wills are great.  And some don't tell you anything at all.
I had been waiting for the Norris will for a while - safe in the knowledge it'd fix a few mysteries for me.  Nope.  We still have no idea what happened to the nephew that had the papermill in Australia.

This week at exactly midnight - eleven wills dropped into my inbox.  I was already asleep (brownie points there), but at 7am you bet I woke up fast.  A whole bunch of them were frustrating or just plain brief, but the Edith Taylor will was surely the best of the bunch.

The last known of three siblings - my question was 'who is going to get your money?'  Not only does she start me on a hunt for her globe-trotting twin brother, but she throws me a nice chewy bone naming some of her cousins' kids as well.

Of course the price has changed.  What I spent in those precious dawn seconds, was what it cost me to get 2 years' worth of wills at one a week, back in the old days.  Well, my old copies aren't going anywhere, and aren't telling me much of anything new either.

When it comes to solving tricky family puzzles: 'Will', I definitely still need you.

Disclaimer: I didn't actually go to Italy.