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23 Jan 2012

Somerset to New York: and did it rain

This posts follows on from Great Scott!

Jimmy also wanted to know if our forebears Thomas and Martha Creed (nee Scott) had gone out to the States in 1822 as per the vicar's note of that effect. Well, thanks to the Butleigh website, FamilySearch, and our Scott tree, it is now a simple matter to see that the following neighbours and relatives DID go out to the States at about the time we mention:

Benjamin Clarke (married to Martha's cousin), his sister Priscilla Lamport, James Scott and his nephews the Downs, plus the Swantons, all went out about 1823 to Delaware County, New York.  This was it seems the place to go for our Somerset farming community; just a generation later, the woods of Ohio were next for our Somerset man's plough.  The Ohio option created immense ripples in the Somerset community, and perhaps the New York passages caused similar hubbub.

This small discovery rehabilitates Thomas Creed, who we had thought was given to whimsy, with talk of going to America.  But of this trip his wife would certainly have approved, and perhaps joined him. We have only very odd testimonies to examine. Miriam, their daughter, was forever terrified of thunderstorms.  Had she witnessed a great one in the US or on board ship?  It is pretty marvellous to hypothesise about a storm in the Atlantic 1823, just from a few parish register and census entries.  Again, it is just possible that incoming shipping records may provide an answer.

The last grandchild, James Creed (1809) is widely thought by me to have died as a boy in the States, with his father.

Twenty-three days

The Windsor Castle in 1873 sailed from London to Cape Town in a miraculous 23 days, the subject of this post.  Sarah Carr turned 18 in 1876 and the following January had herself baptised at Eyam parish church, her ancestral home.  I was suspicious of this event: there being too much significance for this to be a casual adult baptism, ‘oops I forgot’.  All the more so as she thereafter disappears entirely from English records!  So I decided to see the Eyam parish record at Kew, to learn where she was then living.  What I saw there excited me, opening as it does so many possibilities and hard questions:

Sarah Carr was indeed baptised at Eyam in January 1877, her address given as Glossop.  The priest notes that she left Eyam the following day, 22 January, for Griqualand West, South Africa!

This was not what I had expected.  It's a very helpful entry for which I am so grateful. But what next? And indeed what before: with whom had Sarah been engaged since her birthday which led to this turn of events?  Unfortunately it's not yet possible to interrogate FamilySearch and find out who else was baptised as Sarah was, on 21 January 1877.

Griqualand West is a diamond-shaped territory, later to be subsumed in with the Cape Colony, and diamonds were the main reason this territory drew such interest.  It was also the Griqua people's homeland, with Griqualand East across the Drakensburg mountains.  1877 was a very significant year in the region, only six years into the ‘New Rush’ of miners.  The Tantallon Castle carried the first group of Scottish farm workers to Cape Town in the very month that Sarah set sail.  A census was held revealing there were 12,374 people of European descent resident, just over a quarter of the whole, a mixture of chancers, farmers, miners, preachers, shopkeepers, and the Griqua people, all competing with each to reside in this rainless place.  The Annexation Act was passed in July, the ninth frontier war took place and stamps were first issued in this year.  Ships of the Union-Castle line were investing in getting people here quickly.  So we imagine Sarah made the trip to Cape Town, and then on by cart on muddy poor roads, to Kimberley, Griqualand West's largest settlement, not yet a town, and surely, her destination, if she made it.  – Although it seems the region had more than mines: ‘most Griqua [1870s] were forced to sell their farms to whites’, records Encyclopaedia Britannica.

After those 23 days, or more, Sarah enters a land of few records, where disease, the fast transient nature of the place and the passage of time could wipe out all memory of a person.  To me this is deeply ironic.  She was a young lady, with a considerable amount of fire to execute such a brave plan, of which we do not yet know the details.

Yet a niece came to my grandparents' wedding in 1930.  And another niece lived in old age with our cousin Edna in Southampton.  I was too busy to contact Edna before she died in 2005, but she would certainly have said if there’d been talk of an aunt in South Africa, had I known to ask.  Two of Sarah's siblings have grandchildren who are alive, but if we expect a story to somehow make up for 130 years of lost history, we are perhaps clutching at straws.

I have though, some hope.  I have tried some clever searches of the South African records, to see which infants were given the name 'Carr', 'Hannah' 'Millicent, in Kimberley or environs, names significant to Sarah, though I lack the dates.  Right now Dermot Carr McClure interests me, I have ruled out the Carr Furnesses.  There are also 50 pages of Methodist baptisms live at familysearch, which one can browse.  In a very real way one can feel the bravery of those mission folk, of whom William Woodman Treleaven and Samuel Morambo: had Sarah married one of them?  Nolene Lossau's terrific transcripts of Kimberley Methodist baptisms supplement this resource, and I am interested in Robert Brooker and others who are listed with a partner named Sarah.

I found reference to several families from Derbyshire settling in the Cape, if not in Kimberley, the Fletchers and Bundys.  I also browsed those listed as born in Cape Colony or Kimberley who appear in British censuses back home.

Let’s face it the shipping lists are unlikely to survive.  However we have the Eyam vicar telling us she left almost immediately.  There was no time for a marriage in England or Scotland (but Belfast has one), so she boarded the vessel a single woman.  I have followed the ships as best I can through the British Newspapers: we read of the Walmer Castle allowing its passengers to disembark at distant St Helena.  Did Sarah leave the vessel at St Helena one wonders?  She would have had two weeks on board to change her mind about where she was going, but we imagine she had connections in the Cape waiting for her.

At 18, she could not have been a nurse, nor did the Cape yet require trained nurses in large numbers.  Could she have been a missionary, and who in Derbyshire had been stirring up such foment that Sarah chose to leave?  She was, surprisingly, Anglican, and hers is the only entry where the Eyam vicar records such an impulsive decision.  Was she engaged to a Derbyshire man, already abroad, who’d written for her to come?  This is a plain explanation with just two people in the picture rather than a host of missionaries or preachers.  Was she going to travel with a family as housekeeper or maidservant, and, if so, we wonder who!

None of her immediate family were abroad, though there remain her father's family yet to be fully searched.  Hugh Carr had a report in the paper at his death in Cheshire 1880.  It would be nice to see that record, though I am afraid should South Africa not be mentioned, I might infer that Sarah had died there.  This absence of information would be a pretty mournful way of learning of the failure of Sarah's plan, which we trust, succeeded, whatever it was.

Great Scott!

It is nearly 100 years since my good friend Cornelius James 'Jimmy' was born, and twenty years since we first made contact. He gave me many recollections of bygone times, supplemented by those of his grandfather, also Cornelius, going back to the Crimean War.  I regret it took a century for us to learn that the Scott patriarch was in fact, Cornelius, a gentleman who lived to a very good age (97), like his namesakes.  In fact he died only a few years before a great-granddaughter met her end in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
My two descents from the Scotts would have lain undiscovered were it not for the will of James Scott, Cornelius’s son, whom he actually outlived.  Fortunately his second wife had died before James, otherwise we really would be will-less (I have only just deduced that my Susanna was named after this lady).  James names three married daughters, two being my ancestors, and a brother, Francis, for whom a baptism has yet to emerge.

But who can ignore the powerful evidence of the registers! Here is a series of burials in Ditcheat
and here are the baptisms in Chewton Mendip

There is even a Francis-sized gap around 1760 which would also fit his older brother Christopher 1757.  Across the road lay the black hole of Ston Easton with its lately missing registers.  I hope they looked both ways before crossing that road.  These boys married three times, Francis, it seems, to several Misses A'Barrow.

We have the story of a Scottish Laird, bankrupt, coming down to Somerset to begin life again, and this has always been attributed to the Scotts, as there was little to disprove it.  There is apparently a family book which has the name 'Scott' written on it.  Doug Padfield thought we were related to Scott of the Antarctic, because they came from the same village.  (No connection seems likely though Scott’s uncle did bear the name Cornelius!)  As our Scotts were earlier Scutts, long entwined with deeds of Emborough, I am putting these stories in one of the Mendip’s back lime burners.

Being held by a young Wesley

Long forgotten were two tedious stories by my great-grandfather Rev'd A H Creed, whose memories I typed up in the 1980s, and which now seem to have disappeared.

1) that a bankrupt Scottish Laird had come down to Somerset to begin again.  I doubt it.  I shall file this story under our most un-Scottish Scotts.

2) that an ancestor of Albert's was held as a baby by John Wesley, founder of Methodism, and perhaps also perhaps baptised by him.  Let us examine this one more closely.  Albert gave us some details about the baby: she was a girl, and she was his great-great-grandmother.  The good news is that the dates fit.  Such a child would be born before the 1750s, when there was a good deal of Methodist activity in Somerset.  I am going to list his great-great-grandmothers and, to be exhaustive, those of the next generation as well:
* Rachel Coombs c 1733
* Ann (later Padfield) c 1735
* Betty Young 1742 - daughter known to have hated Methodism
* Jane Lester c 1750   - church-goers
* Mary Earl c 1752 - church-goers
* Miriam Bond 1753 (twice) - mother known to have attended church
* Mary Portch c 1756  - church-goers
* Mary Hill 1763 - wrong generation
* Betty Scott 1778 - too late
* Martha Scott c 1784 - too late, though no baptism found
* Priscilla Newport 1784  - church-goers

We have CofE baptisms for many of these and several passed onto their children a strong Anglican inclination, as noted.  The ground thins fast leaving us with two options, Ann Padfield and Rachel.  I strongly suspect that some of Rachel's grandchildren became Methodists, but her own children seem linked in to the church.

Albert's brother said they were fifth in the line of Methodists, and the strongest Methodist line were the Padfields of North Somerset, a mining area.  Methodism took hold here in those early days, far more than in the southern Mendips.  Yeoman farmers were very comfortably off at this period: vast diaspora of farmers had yet to contribute to low wheat prices.  I think Wesley was in North Somerset fairly early, with his deputies, Adam Clarke, Jabez Bunting, working the ground later. 

About Ann Padfield, we know that she died fairly young.  Her married a proud woman, certainly a church-goer, who kicked out his son.  We know the boy’s uncle Isaac remained a Methodist, probably since those early 1730s, and supported the boy as he too found his faith and purpose. 

So my candidate for this story is Ann, being held by a 32 year-old Wesley in a Somerset mining community, and whose brave son would have been proud to carry the memory onward.  But we shall have to check Wesley's diaries to find his movements in more detail.

I predict a baptism

Sometimes you can guess a record's existence before ever you get proof.  George Scott of Butleigh had a daughter Miriam born 1818.  Odd, as this was the name of his uncle's wife, who had died before he was even born.  Unless perhaps there had been a 'middle Miriam' - for example, a sister of George.  And so it proved.  There were two, in fact: Miriam Scott 1791 and then Miriam Scott 1794-1818 were born shortly after their uncle's wife had died. This last Miriam passed away shortly before the birth of the girl in 1818.

It's on the net, it must be wrong!

I often hear variations of the following warning: 'Do not add this to your tree until it has been verified by YOU.'

I am an impatient transcriber and thoroughly resenting going through centuries-old parchment for a location which ought to have been included in the catalogue.  I mournfully wound my way through the Ditcheat PRs in Taunton and it became obvious a much larger Scott family existed. It was frustrating not knowing if they were close relatives, and being boggled by the out-of-sequence names.

Now, thanks to the net, I've found my Scotts. With the glorious overview on findmypast and familysearch, I can see all the burials, marriages and baptisms that have been recorded.  I can make judgements and compare across the whole county, being cogniscent of gaps.  I found that several of the marriages of Scotts in Ditcheat had a corresponding baptism in another parish, at Chewton Mendip.  Wasn’t that something?
I did get waylaid by some bad cataloguing: Curry Rivel, the lead item on the microfilm, being listed in error for Ditcheat as the place of baptism.  But that was infinitely preferable to slogging down to the record office and failing to spot key entries in the register.   A computer is much better than my eyes at combing through large amounts of data.  Without this global knowledge one can comfortably assume the girl baptised in the parish must be the one married there: often wrong.  Again with comprehensive census and good burial records we can be disabused of this parochial guesswork.

The biggest skill of a family historian is not to check every wretched source, and presumably extract an oath from their custodians that they are valid; but to take data of varying quality from a range of sources and to sort them: what is likely to be correct, what is suspicious and what is possible but not proven.  If jurors on a strict diet of daytime soaps can do this, I'm sure I can.

One needs some understanding of the background to a source or place: that includes London street names, the rounding of ages in 1841, the fact names are correct in probate records but not often elsewhere, the fact that women in England change their names when they marry and previous married names should appear on their children’s civil birth records; that birth dates before 1837 are rarely recorded officially; that it was easier to get into the main town than it was to cross the hill into the next valley.

I would prefer to carry on seeing YOUR transcriptions, and for me to concentrate on the analysis, which will include considering whether your hardwork belongs on my tree or not.

Skellingtons

Charles John Creed was born in 1886 in Holborn, the only son of his father, who later remarried.  Charles appears to be living in Paddington age 25, a seaman, unmarried, with an incorrect and implausible birthplace listed.  Two years later someone of his named married there to Annie Skellin, an Irish girl who already had a son, from perhaps her time in service in St John's Wood.  This unlikely couple appear not to have hit it off, as there is no trace of them emigrating, having children, or living together.

However, Charles's father bought a property in Pimlico Road, having done well as a furniture dealer, in fact it may have been the shop.  It was to this address that Charles John is registered in 1934, with a lady, not Annie.  Through following him onwards in the electoral roll we find his son, and learn the identity of his second wife, Edith.  It appears they never married, Edith having arrived in London aged 18 from Canada where she had spent 4 years in servitude as part of an English charity's then policy to rehome 'waifs and strays'.  Edith's father was unable to cope with three children, and it was the girl who was sent from her charming Shropshire home town, to the horrors of the home in Hull.  But perhaps they were kind to her, poor girl she had no other option.

One hopes that she fell in love with Charles Creed, and was content with separation from the Skellin lady.  If Annie Skellin was Catholic, divorce would have been an impossibility, and Charles John would have been trapped.  We would find it very hard to piece together this story and learn of Charles's story, and of Edith's childhood, without the London electoral roll's now on Ancestry.

The female line of the Scott sisters

Betty and Sarah Scott between them had 14 daughters, but none have a line to continue.  Susanna's great-grandson died in 2001, the last of her female line.  While her sister Martha's female line died out ten years before, despite going a generation deeper into modern times.

Martha was the bearer of the line through her eldest daughter Mary, herself having four daughters, but only her youngest, who sailed for Adelaide aged 17, another Martha, can have family.

We wish that line luck.  To find the line in any numbers in England, we have to go back to the 1690s.  Miriam Bond had a niece, though, Anna Feltham who wandered up the aisle to marry three days shy of childbirth.  The line continues through her in NSW, Kimberley South Africa and the States.

The last grandchild

I rarely get to do much on my Scotts, the family of James Scott and of Miriam Bond.  We know so little James, though his name was given to several grandchildren and beyond.  A descendant in South Africa, Rev'd L S Creed, baptising his daughter with middle name Scott, 1918, the same one he had.
Then came his will in 1995.  The pitiful estate duty extract on poor-contrast microfilm gives us a wealth of genealogical data.  He names three daughters Betty Haine, Sarah Boyce and Martha Crud.  In addition he names a grandson, and also Francis Scott.  Francis was nominated executor, and revealed as a brother on this tiny scrap of film.
I'd never heard of the Boyces, but the name Crud.  I looked again, could that be.... it was CREED, in fact the name of the main family I was researching!  Betty's granddaughter married Martha's grandson sixty years later, and I am their descendant, so this document explains the connection very nicely.
I tracked the Boyces to London, their most prominent son having left an administration.  A trip to Guildhall Library gave me his address, and then, oh joy the 1871 census which led me to descendant Celia with whom I had many years of happy correspondence.
1. Betty had: James, Frances, Miriam (dy); William, Sarah, Mary Ann, Ann, Elizabeth (dsp); Martha, Susanna, Jane (issue). All discovered 1992 and traced, except Elizabeth whose fate, in Port Antonio, Jamaica, I did not learn till 2002.  The clue here being an old newspaper article about William:  ‘As brother-in-law of a West Indian missionary, he fittingly occupied the chair.’  I leapt to the, correct, conclusion that Elizabeth had married a Methodist minister, and found that his movements matched an 1881 census entry for his third wife and issue.  Solved.
2. Martha had Elizabeth (dy); James (?), Ann (dsp); Mary, Thomas, William, Sarah, John (all with issue).  Three were identified prior to 1992 by cousins.  Thomas raised his head later, and was not inked in till 1998, when a census finds him a very old man in Kent.  The final three of Mary, John and Ann were the result of searching for 'born West Pennard' on the Ancestry database.  Ann resisted capture until 1901, when she is found living with Sarah's children as their housekeeper.  Because the original 1901 census production was so dreadful, I missed a lot of clues, it being too expensive to look at the actual records.  Solved bar James.
3. Sarah had Martha, Hannah, Miriam (d in their 20s/30s); Sarah, Elizabeth, Stephen (dsp); James, Francis (issue). All discovered 1995 bar two.  We found Sarah's marriage in the Ancestry/LMA index, but Elizabeth’s marriage has so far only been indexed at the GRO.  I solved her only in 2012.  So it Sarah and her surviving children went to London in about 1830.  We do not have records for her husband in the capital but I think he was there.  Two nephews plus a niece, later came to London.  Now solved.

12 Jan 2012

Wood hunting

The Wood girls Dorothy lived for many years in Scotland as Eva, and her sisters all opted for an easier life in Surrey.  But Wood you believe it?  Dorothy died in England, and Eva, the sister, in Scotland! No wonder I couldn't find them.  If anyone had died in Scotland I'd not have thought that 'Eva Wood'!
I have finally broken my duck and paid some hard cash to use Scotland's People.  As someone for whom my Scottish line is entirely unknown, but likely to hail from Kirkcudbrightshire, I am certainly racking up the Scots connections.
Dora's will told me that her brother had family in Falkirk.  I spent two hours interrogating Scotland's People and this was an occasion where I managed to get the information I needed at no cost.

primitive conditions and pins in Eyam

Although my great-great-grandmother died in 1901, she left a few clues.  Her estate wasn’t finally settled until 1976 and her photograph has recently emerged.  Also, her cousin survived until the edge of living memory, the 1940s.  This was Hannah Beresford - unexpected child of an elderly aunt who was soon an orphan.  I remembered that Hannah had a half-sister and wanted to follow her up.  She had gone up to Huddersfield in service and married a widower when she was 17, and later remarried in Manchester.  Fortunately the census keeps track of her, as she is reliably stated as being born in Eyam, every time.  Her only son from the second marriage was killed in the Great War.  But this unexpected record gives us the name of Hannah’s dwelling, ‘Corner Cottage’, in Eyam.   I believe the sisters moved back in together in old age.  Cousins remember going to visit this house and being startled at its basic living conditions.  Hannah has left me a puzzle.  She sends a postcard in the 1930s having put a pinprick next to her face in the crowd.  Smart girl! The postcard is hundreds of miles away and I have only the digital image - do you think I can find this pinprick?

Meet Mr Zero

I couldn't help but notice the existence of Mr Zero at the otherwise useful 192.com.  It's definitely a zero in the screenshot below.
I would otherwise rate this website more highly than Genes Reunited, Ancestry or LostCousins as a tool for finding modern cousins.

secrets of the deep web: the Welch girls in New Zealand

The phrase disappearing into thin air might well have been coined for Jane Welch, who is shown as living in the will of her sister 1894, but is certainly not anywhere in England.  The recent addition of some electoral rolls to Ancestry led me to find Jane in New Zealand.  Here she is.
I felt sure that Jane would have accompanied her sister Louisa and husband Albert Smith who had married in 1884 and also similarly disappeared.  Sure enough here is the birth of their child Faith in the helpful NZ birth indexes.  I later found Faith and her sisters listed in the NSW death indexes, unmarried.  But there was a fourth sister not listed - perhaps she had married?  Indeed Hope Bischoff is the one lead on this line.
This rather short article has had over 90 hits because of its title.  I stand by the title.  You can't google this stuff so it is the 'deep web'.

tracing Wilcie Urch across husbands and seas

Wilhelmina Margarina Urch was born in Ireland 1875, and these notes follow my tracing her, from the 1901 census, through to her birth record, a choppy crossing of the Atlantic, and switching husbands on arrival.  It was nice to find the distant 1910 census entry of steely Ohio obliquely referencing her father's birth in England (at pretty Cossington) and mother's apparently in Ireland - which was significant information, if true.  There are plenty of Urch cousins who knew about auntie Wilcie, if not her actual antics.  The only real puzzle is an older one, if the boy born at Cossington in 1832 was the grandson of James Lucas of Baltonsborough.

Little clues, big stories

Although eight people witnessed the marriage of Mary Moses (bapt. 1 Jan 1782) at Morland in 1808, NINE  witnessed the marriage of another Mary Moses at Morland in 1805, including people who look a lot like the first Mary's parents!  Both marriages took place 'by licence', but the second-listed couple were poor as church mice, while my Mary and her husband were both members of the Westmorland yeomanry.
I am only now sure of this identification, because of this chunky roll of microfilm at Kew.
Despite its old-school technology it delivered fairly well on facts.  In fact when I later got the will, thanks to the kind offices of Cumbria Archives, it added little to this concise yet sprawling record.  I knew that Mary Dickinson had died in 1850 by combing freebmd, and I had checked findmypast's death duty index to find that there was a will.  I was now examining the indexes themselves on microfilm, part of the tortuous IR26 series.  The first thing which leapt off the page was not the name Dickinson, which I was expecting, but that of Watson.  The Watsons I quickly recalled where family of Mary's full sister Hannah, in fact it turns out Joseph was the eldest of that brood, and oldest male of the next generation.  I needed to see his address - could that be Scale Houses, circled in orange?  It surely was, and although the will disappoints by not stating him as nephew, in fact it would have been odd had she done so.  It is enough that she chooses him as executor.
Further proof came in the transcriptions by Rev. Joseph Bellasis MA, in the 1880s, including those for the parish of Clifton, Westmorland.  Mary is recorded as having died in April 1850 aged 68, which of course fits so beautifully with the 1782 baptism that we can forgive her not surviving another year till the next census.  It is harder to forgive her stepmother, who would not die until July at 90, for not lasting another winter.  Had she done so we would be told in which part of Scotland she'd been born!



On a roll

I have got a trip to Kew booked, and also six delightful electoral registers zooming their way down the motorway from Boston Spa.  I used these last week to successfully find my John B Jones, and am now hooked!  The electoral rolls for the address I had in the Midlands showed that John's wife was Ann E.  He was the only John B in the entire country to have a wife named Ann E.  This made it very easy to find them in North Wales, and to drill down and by sheer determination get their address - only to discover they had moved to Cheshire!  But we are now in touch, and I have discovered that his sister actually had an unusual first name which she didn't use - another barrier to me finding the family, apart from the well known name of Jones!  I can't take a picture I'm afraid: they are very strict about electoral rolls at the British Library.  I am just slightly further ahead in finding my Tom Jones of Queensferry.  I found his son in the 1950 electoral roll for Sealand, lately married, and Tom appears to be living next door with his wife... but this turns out to be wrong. Tom was not this man but was living at Garden City.

found in Bradford

Sarah Ann Shields is living happily in Westmorland in 1871, but then pulls off a very good disappearing act.  Her father's will does fill in the gaps, as he names John Barnie as an executor, and I believe son-in-law.  There is no mention of John Barnie marrying a Shields, except on familysearch (image1), and then we can piece together that Sarah must have married the schoolmaster in Bradford of all places before going up to Edinburgh.  The Scottish census gives her birthplace as England.  Although she dies in her mid thirties, she does have family in the Rutherglen area of Glasgow.

Update 2014: I arrive at the home of their great granddaughter clutching a pack of frozen peas, having been nearly sliced in two by a crazed woman from Luton. The Barnie family had tried to find Sarah's origins but were hampered by not knowing her birthplace. They might have located the Atkinson first marriage, but as Sarah's birth record apparently occurs in London (actually she was registered correctly in Westmorland but as Shield), they had no idea of the Northcountry origins.



mysterious Roskilly twins

why do these apparent twins have different places of birth? or are they ‘Irish’ twins?

A wellspring of descendants - all thanks to the right church

After Christmas 2011 I was cross with my father, and yet when I sat in my rooftop eyrie, back in the warmth, it was to his Tyneside ancestor I turned my bow.

I knew that Joseph Gibson married at St John the Baptist, Newcastle 1862, so it is a surprise it took me two years until today to work out his older sister Ann had married there two years earlier.  Every so often I have a purge of hard-to-remove stains from the family tree, and Ann's missing path was one of these.  I am searching through all the Newcastle marriages at the Newcastle register office website and I found several entries where the all-important page number had been misindexed at freebmd.  I corrected these, and set about exploring Ann's descendants.  I had to wait for the certificate to confirm it all. It seemed this lady is one of the family, and through her agent I later find she was living yards away from my rooftop eyrie.

using the Death Duty records at Kew

Harvey's will is disappointing, a very old dog.  It doesn't mention his accident caused by powder explosion, causing him blindness.  Nor does it give any clue to any of his nine children, including three and later a fourth, who would make their home in Australia.  The IR26 record, which I thought to get at least ten years later, is like a capricious Capuchin monkey in comparison.  Harvey's legal heir is named as Martin Harvey of Woolwanga, Fountain Head, Port Darwin.  At this time, land at Trevorgan, St Buryan, not mentioned in the will! is sold and his sister Mrs W Halpin, wrongly recorded as Wm, appears to have acted as attorney, i.e. next of kin.  The first step in finding these records, which run from 1796-1903, is to search the Death Duty index at findmypast.  You will need to know the year of death.




double-proof for the Attenboroughs of Brigstock

This census entry confirmed the Attenborough of Brigstock connections to my Huttons.

three countries and a Surrey phone book

Although this database proved very easy to search, it was not my first choice. Perhaps this and certain other good datasets, such as NSW deaths, should be a first port of call for missing 20th century relatives. However, I prefer to follow the line of enquiry as it comes. The first mention of Reg was in the Ancestry Immigration records showing him visiting the UK from India with his father, a goldminer. Second I found Reg's death in Surrey many years later. Third I checked for a will and drew a blank. Fourth I checked the BT phone books for 1984 and found an address which seemed to fit. Fifth I checked the current and also historical electoral rolls (the latter at the British Library), which gave me his widow and daughter's names. All three initials match the passenger list record below.  No wonder I couldn't find them in England!

gotcha- marriage of Eleanor from Windermere

I shouldn't have panicked 'losing' Eleanor Lewis.  Although her name is relatively common, I had her birthplace of Windermere up my sleeve.  But you can't rely on that, as what if she'd died soon after marriage, or a variant of the birthplace been given in a census?  I already had spotted her sister Isabella in the 1911 Blackburn census, and found a marriage there, so I knew straight away the circled entry was for my relative.  Her daughter died nearly a hundred years later nearby, unmarried.

findagrave helps find the female line in Graceland

I had a blockage investigating the female line, with its new lease of life in Illinois.  There was Agnes White, but who had she married: Graceland Cemetery records had the following entry, for Mrs Rose, formerly White which took me a step close in extending the female line.  Agnes had three daughters - but where are they now?

Update: eldest girl Maxine has her obituary on genealogybank, which leads me to the other sisters. The middle girl is indeed continuing the Murrow line.

John Fry in Canada

thanks to Automated Genealogy for helping me find John in 1911.  His name was Maidment and the name of his wife matches his marriage to Lucy Maud Perrett 1910 (freebmd), and that of his daughter matches family records.  She is supposed to have become Joan Pender or Pinder but we can't find her family after this.

they'll always be Smiths

I love my Smiths.  However hard to find they are, at least the name's always spelt right.  Although Edward's marriage at the LMA archives gave the wrong name for his father, the occupation fitted, and this census entry proves he was my man.  I didn't linger long on the entry: by moving quickly I was able to find his daughter in Romford, and to establish what happened to all the children, though his sister still ranks as one of my big unsolved puzzles, along with his uncle.

By golly it's Bollington

This is an image taken from the probate indexes.  I originally found this in 1992, but this was long before digital photography and when I later got a camera, taking pictures was forbidden in a court building, and I had too many research items to waste time getting a microfiche print-out.  But here it is.  I deduced that Esther Fox had died young based on the will that never was: it even let me guess the year, 1856.  With a determination perhaps stupid, I combed through all the Fox probate indexes in the fiddly fading volumes above the Next 'clothing' store, as a schoolboy, and found this!  It was then an easy matter to wait three years and take the tube from Lancaster Gate to Chancery Lane to view the Bollington town microfilm for 1861 at the census rooms.

You can do all this at the touch of a button, but I had the upper-hand, genuinely being on virgin territory. I don't even believe the local family history society had even yet attempted a crude surname index, and the various 1881 indexes on fiche were absent too. I was very confused to find a whole load of Fox stepchildren mingling with Esther's children in the census owing to James having taken n his brother's children and their mother, too. The family was living across 5 counties by 1891, but I have finally laid them all to rest, 18 years later.

Singer song of sixpence

When James Burrows married in 1858 his wife's name was given as Elizabeth Singer daughter of William Jessie.  Searches for the first Singer marriage failed.  findmypast had just lately launched their MarriageFinder TM tool, so I plugged in the names, and was delighted to find the marriage of Elizabeth Jess in about the right time frame.  freebmd gave me the groom's name, Edward Sanger.  It took quite a while to get all the census entries sorted, and I've still not found James and Elizabeth's two children, but feel much closer to a solution.  In addition findmypast has the burials at Penselwood for some of them.  All for a lot less than sixpence!

finding that marriage before 1837

Clues lurked like chirpy birds around my family tree, but I still hadn't worked out who Mary Creed, born 1811 West Pennard had married.  I plugged the names into the Somerset Marriage Index, now online at findmypast, and only the marriage at Pylle 1835 seemed to fit.  I looked at children baptised at Pylle 1835-1841 as shown on familysearch, and the name Rhymes came up.  When I searched for Mr Rhymes marrying in 1835, here comes the man, with the reference exactly matching Mary's, telling me he was the groom.  The census confirmed Mary's birthplace.  That just leaves one of the nine Creed siblings yet to find, and I believe he died in America as a young man.

the death of the Lewis sisters of Rushey Green

Tragedy came in 1920 when four of Sarah’s sisters were all killed on the same day in 1920 at 6 Rushey Green Catford according to freebmd and the Probate Index.  I haven’t established what happened but suspect it can only have been a fire.  They seem to have conducted a small baby’s clothing manufacturing business from home.  Bertha was visiting from Horwood Hall, Havant and because her will was proved, we get the date of the accident - 21 April.  Another sister had died there six months earlier, presumably of natural causes.  The oldest sister had been there almost 20 years and was quite likely to be present on the night, but she died at Horwood Hall two years later, having had to administer the estates aged 86.

The Thompsons of Scar Top

Having established that this family neatly slotted into my Moses family, from Netherton near Carlisle, I wanted to look at the clue left by Mary Lago in her excellent book about Edward.  She names a grandchild, who it looked like was the child of Annie Thompson, herself born India.  However, how on earth was I to determine which Annie M Thompson married 1911-20 was the girl born in Trichonopoly!  Luckily the grandchild appears a couple of times on Google with her full name, which enabled me to find marriage, maiden name and then birth, leading me to Annie's marriage in London, and finally the death record which fits in perfectly.

1911 deleted entries at findmypast, now available at Ancestry

I wrote earlier about findmypast's contra-common sense approach in deleting people who were entered in the census, but then 'crossed out'.  Sometimes this is the sad misunderstanding of parents including long-dead children.  More often this could be nurses called out in the middle of the night to go and look after a patient or sons out fishing.  I'd like to hear if any lifeboats were called out on the night of 31 March 1911, whether those brave men are recorded in this census transcription at all.  I felt sure that Ancestry's more dogged approach, like a row of combine harvesters coming at ya, would be sure to pick up these 'crossed out' entries, rather than letting its prey escape on such flimsy terms.  Sure enough here is Robert Henderson, appearing nowhere else in 1911 except on Ancestry's index.  I'm sure there will be many more.  Perhaps even my own grandfather, still not located!

found our Annie from the Lakes in Blackburn

Annie Ward is sitting quietly at home at Troutbeck Bridge aged 12 in the census.  Little did I know that once her mother died, all three girls would go off to the cotton mills of Blackburn and there find husbands.  In 1911, Annie's husband just left most of the birthplaces blank.  In 1901, here is Annie born in Windermere.  But the Ancestry index has a garbled version which slowed me down finding her.  I had to guess she'd married in Blackburn like her sisters and follow up the only possible marriage there from freebmd.  Annie was the only one to have any family, and her son-in-law's youngest sister is still living in Blackburn.  I'd like to know more about these Blackburn girls.  Census image: Crown Copyright


sure looks like my Ellen in Chowbent

Every so often I have a purge of hard-to-find relatives.  I clapped my hands with joy when I found Ellen and her eight siblings back in the 1990s thanks to the will that never was.  Little did I know that each and every one of them would prove a cow to find, across five counties.  Nathan gave me microfilm finger, Anna became Elizabeth, Sarah had the same name as her step-sister, while Carrie never married her husband.  And Ellen, I eventually found, had married as Sarah Ellen and moved to Lancashire.  When I saw this census entry I knew I'd got her.  Born in Matlock orphaned at 16, her father took the family away from that town's helpful records to Bollington where she disappeared.  Until now.  Thanks to the Atherton records at the online parish clerk, the Davies next generation haven't been too painful to follow up.  Census image: Crown copyright
Omitted from this account is my method. Well, I wasn't really convinced that Ellen might have died between the censuses. I went through all the Ellens born in Starkholmes, before spotting the Starkholmes reference in the above census. The name Esther clinched it.

census: 'my wife's cousin', a nice clue

I love clues like these: rare, yet so very helpful.  Jane Harris is named in the census image here as being cousin of the Taylors, specifically the wife Isabella.  Unfortunately much of the fun of the chase went as I already guessed she was Jane Airey baptised 1836 at Troutbeck.  However I didn't have her marriage, and good old freebmd showed this took place near Warrington, Lancashire.  And familysearch's Cheshire records gave the parish and confirmed her father's name.  The Lakes had so few people then it was easy to find Jane's remarriage, and later, her will.  Which led me to a great-niece (sic) aged 90 in the Isle of Wight.  Census image: Crown copyright

007 - James Bond proof

It was  great to find James Bond lurking at the wedding of my ancestor Miriam in 1777.  Was he there to ensure no foul play, or zip the bridegroom if he got his words wrong.  I felt sure he was Miriam's protective brother, but no baptism could I find either at Ditcheat or neighbouring Ansford.  I did find that four of his children left wills, and the entire wonderful Guppy clan of Bath were his descendants, not to mention half of Parramatta NSW.  To my shame it took more thorough combing by familysearch transcribers to locate his baptism, on 10 May 1755 at Ditcheat.  Great work but how did I miss it?!

in-between the census years again

I'd been hunting this guy for ever.  He shows up in the 1851 census for South Petherton, a carpenter, and then there's nothing ever after.  Except one daughter comes back to England to get married a generation later.  That's right I figured out he went abroad, to South Africa, about 1860.  But look there's one last clue before he goes, his remarriage and the birth of twins and a son BEFORE the marriage.  The lady was actually with him in 1851: his younger cousin.  How I stumbled on this is two-step.  One I found Jennie McIver listed in some Cotty grave records kept at the Society of Genealogists.  Two I found Jennie's birth (1855) based on her probate records at the National Archives of South Africa.  And that all took me back to these freebmd entries.  Nice n'easy huh?