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31 May 2010

Counting and tabulation

Third cousins
I have
- 3 siblings
- 7 first cousins
- 12 second cousins
then my parents have 56 great-aunts and uncles (or maybe even sixty)....
so we start to get the big numbers
= 160 third cousins

Who else knows how many 3rd cousins they have?

Seize quartiers
To marry in France you ought to know your grandparents' names and all their grandparents' names, too.  Do you?  I do but as one was illegitimate and we lack birth records for the four Irish, going further back would be rather tricksy.

I can't think of any other things to count, but if anyone can think of any?
My poshest relative is..... Emily Grace Bagnell a barrister's daughter, descended from Edward III and a young heiress with too much money and the consequent short life expectancy
My least posh relative is.... William Smith who was living with his niece, after his father died - she was the housekeeper - when the inevitable happened in Norfolk

#10 Trick to help your family history

Pinpoint your Jones using local records to help

I knew that my John E Jones was six in 1891, born in Tranmere, according to the census, but which one of the four possibles could be mine?
From using, and I divided them up
1884 - one was born in Tranmere, and died Q1 1885 Tranmere aged 0 (not ours)
1884 - one was born in Wallasey (not ours)
1885 - one was born in Q1
1885 - one was born in Q4 (too young, he would only be 5 in 1891)

Therefore Q4 1885 was not ours and therefore born in Wallasey
and Q1 1885 was ours, born Tranmere
If I have a spare £9.20 to spend, I could check.  The Cheshire baptisms listed at are very helpful too, for filling in gaps and identifying which parent had which child.

#9 Trick to help your family history

Try ALL the censuses

Look in all censuses for your missing relative, not just the first one after they leave home.  Edwin Padfield born c 1866 Glastonbury is not to be found in 1881, 1891 (misindexed as Ella) but does show up in 1901, 1911.  Richard Shugg isn’t at home at all after the age of 20 but he returns to England after his mother dies (according to her grant of probate), and sure enough he is in Cornwall in 1911 with enough information to work out where he has been in the intervening years.

#8 Trick to help your family history

Guess the name of the child
I had no idea what the name of Mr and Mrs Macdonald's child might be, and no easy way of finding out, so I guessed, and you can too.

I searched 1910-1915 for a child who had a middle name beginning with Manse.... (because the child's grandmother was Miss Mansell).  Success: one entry.  I found out that the child was called Margaret Mansell Macdonald, and it was very easy to move forward from there.  However be aware that the index chops off firstnames if they are too long, so it chopped off the last 'l' of Mansell.

#7 Trick to help your family history

If it sounds right, it is Wright

Drop some of the letters in the marriage search, Samuel Swift married as Sam; Catherine Lawry Marshall married as Catharine Lawry Marshall (looks the same doesn’t it!); Margaret Fewster married as 'Meggie'; Robert Hoskins married as Robert Hoskins Norman (in this case because the priest knew that he was illegitimate and wanted to humiliate him...)

#6 Trick to help your family history

Turn a death entry into an address

John Burnett James died in 1986 in Brighton but didn't leave a will.  I had hunted for a marriage but not got very far.  So, I found Jack James in the Brighton phone book then found a lady listed in the current electoral roll under that same address.  Jack's widow!

Yes she was still there even though she had died.  This led me to a number of places including the discovery that his widow had made the gloves for the present Queen's honeymoon in 1947.

#5 Trick to help your family history

Confirm the name at birth before you do anything

Ensure you have the right name.  I found that ‘Caroline Creed’ was really Catherine Creed after a lot of aggro.  The child was only at home in ONE census, and when she was, her name was given as 'Caroline' sending us on a wild goose chase, until I worked out she must have been Catharine.  I found that Mary Jones was born Edwyna M H Jones by guessing the registration district of her birth and looking for likely people.  As Edwyn was a family name, I knew I had the right lady.  I was stymied for a long time by her aunt listed as 'Ellen Jones' in the census.  She wasn't Ellen but Eleanor.  So, confirm the birth if you can before you go anywhere.  This is assuming the birth was registered of course (compulsory from 1870 onwards).

#4 Trick to help your family history

Leapfrog over that missing marriage

Find your relative in the census if you can’t find their marriage: I found that Elizabeth Stone married Thomas Lakin even though that marriage probably happened in India (and still hasn't turned up there); I found that Laura Emily Collins married James Young even though that marriage probably never happened at all.
Here's Laura at home in 1891 - I only spotted her as she was in the same household as her sister (who later proved her will).  I'd not have found Laura or her wonderful will without this census entry.
I had heard that Elizabeth settled in Oxford and had a lot of boys (mostly girls, actually!) But I couldn't find her marriage, or anyone in 1901 that matched her description, born in Secunderabad.  So I searched all Elizabeths born in India, and was later able to prove that Mrs Lakin was ours.

#3 Trick to help your family history

Make freebmd work for you - even when it's wrong

Don’t give up, not all freebmd marriages are recorded correctly.  I found the marriage of Jane Gibson to John Johnson even though it wasn’t coming up on freebmd.  I knew they'd married in Durham/Northumberland between 1851 and 1861, and you can hopefully spot the marriage below among several possibles.  Beatrice Keddell was wrongly indexed as Beatrice Kedde (now corrected).  Double check the reference numbers given on freebmd, one of them may be wrong which could mean, like me, the marriage you seek eludes you!

PS I didn't give up once I found the South Shields marriage - I stumbled on George Bell's transcriptions of St Hilda, the largest parish, and found the actual date and place of the Johnson marriage on this link

#2 Trick to help your family history

Match the marriage with the births

Here you can see marriages being matched for Olive M Skinner - you can't always be sure which one is which, but you can confirm things with the death indexes.  In this case, I found that my Olive married in Mitford, which I later proved from other sources.  What have you got to lose?

#1 Trick to help your family history

Hustle to get the modern day address you need for free
Not so long ago, you could copy and paste the results from into Notepad, and the grid co-ordinates would magically appear in the text: that's right the grid co-ordinates of your relative's house.  You could use streetmap to turn these into a postcode which would be within 100m of your relatives' house. This loophole has been closed but there may be others!

29 May 2010

A good few weeks

Time passes and Stuff happens.

Like how I met Mik Pearce in Praed Street, Paddington....

Mik is a descendant of William Pearce 1770, the builder of St Austell Methodist Chapel and convert to Wesleyan Methodism. My ancestress Mary was his sister, twenty years younger, and she retired to London, having in her youth married a Methodist minister and walking with him nearly 60 years.  William's boy and Mary's girl lived by chance, perhaps, in the same street, ten doors away, in Porchester Terrace - guess where.  That's right, round the corner from Paddington in Lancaster Gate.

While Mik and I were talking I answered a question about the status of being a genealogist by courtesy of membership of the Society of Genealogists.  A huffy man in the same cafe, said excuse me, but I'm a member of the SoG and it confers enormous status upon me (or words to that effect).  While we had drinks from the juice bar and examined Mik's excellent photograph collection, I glanced out the window to see a gentleman in a rugby shirt emblazoned 'Pierce' just sitting outside the cafe.

.... and Mrs Barrabrith at home in Hampstead Garden Suburb.  I would have met Jean the same week as Mik only I'd tied myself in a knot, and forgot that I might actually have to return to work after the Easter holiday.

I have a slew of Welsh cousins courtesy of my Cornish grandfather having summoned most of his ancestors to Wales in order for him to have been born there in 1925, the same year Jean R Williams was born a few miles away in the same town.  It was my task to find Jean and as you can readily divine, I did so.  Fortunately she had the middle name of Rodda and also there were scarcely any other Jean Williamses around (something of a surprise).

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Suburb from Jean's daughter and son-in-law who are intimately involved with the Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church perched in a delicious location at a certain distance from the Anglican Church a few yards away. It was to this (Free) church that Jean came with her husband, a Congregationalist minister, in 1961.

I also learnt of John Harvey Rodda's death in Mexico.  He was a mine manager and Jean's grandfather.  When things got too hot during the second revolution he sent his wife and family home to a house in Swansea, where they remained.  They never heard from John again.

I believe in free wills

In double-quick time I got nearly 100 transcripts of wills proven between 1858 and 1925.

These were obtained *for free* at London LDS family history centre, 20 on the afternoon of Tuesday 11 August 2009.  Who says you have to pay for family history – this would have been £90 in wills had I bought them (which I never would).

It’s amusing that the biggest leads came from the references to ‘Jane Williams’ and ‘Mary Price’.  Ok Mary had a massive telltale middlename of ‘Orledge’ which made it impossible *not* to find her.

(Curiously there is an 'Ordnance connection' - Jane's sons-in-law worked for Ordnance Survey in Southampton.  Mary lived in Ordnance Road, Enfield Wash.)

Jane Williams was a bit less of a cheat.  I knew from the context that this Jane must have been born a Hambly in Gwinear, Cornwall, 1826 so using some of this information helped me find her marriage in freebmd (Jane to  Samuel Williams, 1847 Cornwall) and this led me to find her in the 1861 census (Jane Williams born about 1826 Gwinear, wife of Samuel) and then with the family details listed to find her in the 1881 census where she is just Jane Williams born about 1826 ‘in Cornwall’.  But there are very few Williamses in Hampshire, and fewer Cornish ones, so I was actually able to find not only Jane but all bar one of her children's marriages (to William Tawse, John White, Betty Stoneley, Richard Jones, Rosa Burden, Charles Morris, Frederick Lewington).

Mary Price's own helpful will gives the full names of her seven children which again made misidentification really tricky – particularly as there just weren’t many Welsh Prices still less English ones in English Enfield Lock.

I wrote a little program to help people find wills like how I did -

Willed away

Somewhat cheaper than my foray into propping up the government with my certificate order (£210), the 14 wills I lately purchased weighed in at 'only' £70.

In fact one of them wasn't even a will but a single sheet grant of administration, purchased to learn the address of the intestate lady's nephew Arthur Ward in Peterborough.

This was one of the seven wills (and grant) which I would class as very useful, the remainder letting me down as follows
1) no relatives were named
2) no mention of the testator's sister or her family
3) very cryptic with no relationships given and no clue as to where people fitted into the tree, if at all
4) everything was left to a known individual

BUT on the whole the seven that were very useful led me to major family history breakthroughs
1) to living descendants of Emily Padfield (Hemmings) who have photos, stories to tell and an interest in family history
2) to the only known descendant of Sergeant Stephen Read by his Cornish wife, through Quebec, Glasgow, Liverpool, Clevedon and now Denmark
3) finally a lead to the family of Henry Young of Andover and his wife Lucy, whose 15-odd children born in the late 1800s had proved surprisingly difficult to bring down to the present day
4) closing the door on the 'spinster' daughters of my Charles Warren of Maperton, two of whom had taken husbands late in life in locations I would not have expected and could not have traced
5) a small step forward in finding Tom Garner's family.  I could have got their address way back in 1993 when I first learnt about the Garners from Dad's cousin Tom, however I had no idea then, that they were related.  Still this will moves me slightly closer to regaining this lost address
6) the wonderful will of Rowena Homily, three-times married and of uncertain parentage.  No clue who many of the recipients are, but I'm sure we'll find out as we zone in on the records.
7) the address of Arthur Ward as above

Most of the 400 wills I've bought (and seen many more) were acquired at least ten years ago when they were practically free, but I'm confident I'll be using this great resource again soon, adding as they do so much colour to our family trees.  (And no-one really knows much about how to use them, yet!)

Truly certifiable

The price of birth, marriage and death certificates took a hike recently from £7.00 to £9.20.  So I decided it was time to donate a pot of gold to the government and buy a lot of certificates while they still cost less than a starter at the Ivy.

Of the thirty certificates I ordered I had problems with seven:
1) Joseph Carter born 1919 Hull turned out not to be the son of Minnie Hebbard but of Gertrude Hebbard.  This was carelessness
2) Robert Gray born 1924 Salisbury turned out not to be the son of Mary Annie Maidment but of another Miss Maidment.  This too was carelessness
3) Jane A Gibson died 1923 Kendal was not mine - I'd not combed the death indexes properly so mea culpa again
4) William McKee died 1927 in Liverpool turned out not to be mine - but it was tough to have known for sure, so I'll let myself off here
5) Irene Antony died 2002 - they sent me the wrong certificate (which they are going to replace, though it's taking two months, there's no rush)
6) Catharine Creed married 1871.  I mistakenly ordered the certificate under her married name of 'Bell', so this is another wasted buy - though they did refund me £3
7) Alice Dauncey married 1917 wasn't my Mabel Alice but another woman.  I couldn't have known for sure though, so I'm glad I got this document.

Two further death certificates gave me precious little information as the partner was still living, or the deceased person was living in a nursing home with no named heirs.

The remaining 21 certificates were all full of useful information.

The BIRTHS gave me address, father's occupation, child's date of birth
Child's date of birth ought to have been stunningly useful, to enable me to find their subsequent death using this search field and their first names.  But there were NO Ethels born 20 Aug 1908, Kathleen 14 Jan 1917 nor Patricia 8 May 1923.  Very unhelpful and mildly vexacious!

The DEATHS gave me cause of death, family unit reconstruction, address, brother (brother-in-law) and children's address, circumstances of death, occupation, maiden name and new family information

The MARRIAGES gave me the leads I needed to move confidently forward with researching my five relatives Tamar Barnett, Ada Bray, William Samuel Jones, Rita Smith and Mavis Wood.
I had already contacted Ada's grandson but now I knew for sure he was a relative.
I was able to find Mavis living in East Grinstead so despatched a letter to her.
I couldn't find Rita Smith, but I was able to work out details of her husband's parents and brother which will help track her down.
And Tamar married into the Thompson family of Ancliffe Hall, so more details are expected in time.

In preparing my (flawed) list of thirty certificates, I did rule out 5-10 other buys, which I figured I could avoid by pursuing other, cheaper, genealogical search angles.  Further, I wanted to wait a couple of years until GRO certificates pre 1900 will finally be free, or very nearly.

I will avoid hitting the 'make payment now' button for quite some time on the GRO website, which in any event was truly Cthulian in its labyrinthian ordering structure.