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11 Apr 2014


Following from my day of industry, that just leaves the British newspapers, which gave my some surprising results.

I couldn't store any of the researches I'd found onto memory stick.  The full-text articles I quickly pasted into a textbox on my website to get it back easily later.  I memorised the rest, and will at some point go back and get hold of the snippets.

* Joseph Barnett's death notice 1856 described him as a man of industry and integrity
* Henry Smith posts a notice in the local paper about his wife Ann, two years after marrying her, that he is not responsible for any additional debts she incurs
* William Giles Collins is shown to have had considerable financial support (£800) from his father-in-law James Compton of Kingston Deverill (whose eighth daughter he had married) and, his latest enterprise having failed, and not having a job, he was allegedly living in Bath with a married woman.  The wife arranged to have him found and for maintenance for his family.  He said he had a mind to 'hook it to America' - indeed he married a Bristolian girl out there the very next year (1873).  He was back in Somerset by 1881 and staying with his mother; his two wives were elsewhere!
* Cornelius Collins, his brother, by contrast, was a denizen of virtue.  It may be he that was considered for funding to go to Bruton Boys' School in 1846 (then age 10).  He's described as the son of a widowed farmer's wife; but he lost out on this occasion to a Master Peacock.
* Charles Carline, my forebear who was a policeman in and around Ilkeston, Derbyshire.  He was on the edge of arresting fisticuffs, with criminals telling him that 'no policeman in Derbyshire can arrest me!'.  He was still very young (21) and faintly noble, but likely turned to drink which probably cost him his job and then he got a girl in Eyam pregnant (unclear what he was doing there - possibly estate managing) and came to Salford.
* Joseph Carline, Charles's uncle, is confirmed as having had a brief second marriage in 1861, in between the censuses so quite easily missed.  (His marital status remains widower by 1871 and there were no surviving children.)  He married at Chesterfield parish church and the issue of the marriage was subject to a Court of Chancery action, which I have already seen.  The Chancery index said it was a Yorkshire case, but I recognised the surnames involved and knew that not to be true.
* John Johnson, farmer of Old Town, Catton, Allendale gets several mentions in the Newcastle Courant.  At his death (1885) and also as the official who people wrote to: for example, he was told that cattle plague was coming and he should close his show, but the advice turned out to be incorrect.
* Mrs Mary Collins Tayler, the saddler's wife from Catherine Street, Salisbury has a fairly lengthy obituary in a Hampshire paper at her death 'on New Kent Road', London in 1835.  She was a granddaughter of the murdered Martha Tucker and her seven affectionate children went a good way to strengthening the female line of this family, perhaps because of their determination to respect their womenfolk.
* The South African papers courtesy of the Readex portion of let me see the two soccer-playing Cotty brothers (Syd and Victor) one of whom was injured in a mining accident around 1907; the marriage of Charles Commins Haine was reported at length in 1907 at Germiston, his brother L. P. being best man.  I'm more convinced than ever that the assault of a young white girl in Kimberley 1913 led to the assailant assuming his mother's name, and also of the family likely moving away to Pretoria.
* Properties were sold - Mr William Lain's estate in 1832 was subdivided: including his public house The Three Boars at Spooner Row, and one heir was Samuel Flowers; Giles Grist's property at Faulkland was sold about 1845 (he'd been suffering from ill-health in 1840).  Flowers's daughter was confirmed as dying at the Boar i.e. Blue Boar, Walsham-le-Willows, which had been saved from fire and now serves Thai food.

These are just the highlights - there will be other discoveries that I didn't note down but which will prove to be useful.  All found from the Newspaper eresources page of the British library.

The other snips were the bootlegging of alcohol in 1907 by Charles and Jose Dunkerton (his wife I believe) in Fort Scott, Bourbon, Kansas.  Also the appearance of the enigmatic Miss Melisande Bell as a child in 1910 in Tanglin, Singapore dressed as a red pierrette.  Her father was the Postmaster-General.  She would later be thanked by Philip Ziegler for her information about the Duchess of Windsor in his biography.  The Straits Times archives are online.

10 Apr 2014

A day of industry

An extraordinary 24 hours in the world of family history...  I found out a whole bunch of stuff.

* I had a reply from JM in Barrow whose wife was the family historian.  I was pretty sure she was the daughter of John Thompson and Mary Taylor - Mary being the one of a handful of Isabella Barton (1830)'s family to have had issue.  And so this proved to be.

* I had a reply from JD in Sherborne whose mother Ivie was born in Durban, South Africa, the child of Cornish parents.  It turns out Ivie had 5 children in the 1930s, all of whom are still living, and that she passed away in Zimbabwe.  I first heard of Ivie in the will of her grandfather, 1923, Bellevue Terrace, Tuckingmill about 15 years ago.  Only now is there this opportunity to find the family.

* I had a reply from AL in Dronfield, Derbyshire with very good information about my Kiveton Park relatives.  It turns out my Grandpa's grandma Shugg had a first cousin Grace Emmerson who lived at Kiveton Park.  This was not a country house but a mining village in the parish of Wales.  Her husband was not only a miner and preacher but builder too, and a son-in-law I understand became the colliery manager.  A granddaughter moved to the Dales immediately north of Harrogate where there are some large farms.  One of the family married in Jerusalem in 1942 when it was under the British Mandate.  The relative was working in the hospital there - it was wartime.

On the bus yesterday to a dear old cousin in the Mendips, the First Great Western bus wiggled its way past THREE of my relatives in the housing estates of south-west Keynsham.   Broad streets and plenty of bungalows with retired people actually sitting outside ('in their front gardens!').  I think K. Pearce is somewhere on Lytes Cary Road, but he didn't get my letter or so it seems.  Then there was Hutton Close which was home to my Mendip cousin's cousin Barbara, and then the very same bungalow became the property of a Mrs G. Alkins from Halesworth in Suffolk.

The thing is, GA is quite a bit more closely related, being descended from my 3xgreat-grandfather Smith's older sister, of whom he was quite fond.  To make it all worse, Smith died it turns out at the childhood home of GA's mother - who lived to 92 and who would certainly have remembered him.  I decided long ago I would no longer pursue contact with Mrs Alkins (now herself 90) because of advancing age.  It was nonetheless galling for the bus to gaily trip past Hutton Close and know that the only human memory of ggggfather Smith was there for the asking inside that bungalow.

In Bristol the same day, I twice jogged past CreedBet, which information online confirms is run by the son and grandson of my Granny's first cousin L G Creed, described at his father's death as 'turf accountant'.  Who would have thought that the betting gene would run through 2 more generations.

Two other short bits of story resolved themselves in the morning: the father and son both named Peter Hill, of Penzance were found, the father having passed away last year at Praze-an-Beeble.  I find it interesting that it was only the Rodda children who moved away from Crowan that had family there - Mary left in 1841 and Thomas the same year, yet the brother who remained has no family in Cornwall whatsoever (one, in Reading, only, and the rest in Australia).

The other puzzle being the deaths of William and Catherine Bell, Methodist minister and his wife, both of which took place in 1925 as per the Methodist records at John Rylands Library, Manchester.  Catherine's took place first a matter of weeks before her ancient aunt Jane; while William (who'd been ill for at least 15 years) struggled on till the end of the year looked after by their daughter Florence Sloss.  Catherine's early death dispels my fancy that she lived on until the war.  It renders impossible that any of the Sloss family in Bangor, Co. Down, would remember the Bells at all.  Florence's next of kin are none other than the Butler-Slosses of judicial fame.  It seems then that both Catherine and her eldest sister Arundel had, despite producing many children and some grandchildren, no heirs to continue - and that both lines are now extinct.  A most unusual situation.  The only grandson in America said he had no family and was buried by the Veterans' Bureau.  I spoke to 2 of Arundel's granddaughters on the telephone, before the line was extinguished.  But it is Catherine's line I'd really like to have known.

I messaged Yvonne F. in Florence, Massachusetts the granddaughter of Judith Marshall from Bodmin.  Judith was brought up by great-uncles and aunts as her parents had gone up to Ashton-under-Lyne with all the other children.  Judith alone remained down in Cornwall and died aged 97 in or near Newton Abbot.  Yvonne would certainly remember her.  On her Facebook page she had Exeter College listed as a previous place of study.  As I ran past this earlier in the week, I thought Yvonne would like to know.

The biggest mystery of the day to crack was the 3 Rose sisters of Decatur, Illinois.  I've been over the data, that I now have, and don't see how I'd have gotten anywhere without the October 2003 Decatur Herald and Review obituary that I located today.  I was at the British Library, renewing my pass (for another 3 years - hurrah!) and had had some success with the British papers.  I had definitely tracked down US papers from the available databases (ProQuest, Gale &c) and was determined to get something out of them again.

I followed the links to British newspapers from Newsgroup and then backtracked out of UK records to the US and was very surprised to find Decatur's Herald and Review on the list of available papers.  It claimed only to cover the last 10 years, but I found records back to 1992 or more.

My first search (under the Rose girls' father's name) yielded a result straightaway and I quickly went to the page (the above obituary in 2003) so I could capture the information before it could disappear.  The obituary (which was for the eldest Rose girl) gave me sufficient information which coupled with, and the Washington State marriage indexes up to 2004, meant I could construct trees down several generations.  The Rose girls were in a strong position to take forward the mitochondrial DNA of their ancestors the Murrows, though only the middle one is known to have granddaughters, but as these are married, the line may well continue.

Looking back over the resources, I definitely could have found this from GenealogyBank's collection (1990-) but would have had to pay a monthly recurring fee, so am kind of pleased I didn't know they had this article.

That just leaves the British newspapers, which gave my some surprising results, see next entry.

6 Apr 2014

Making work for the postman

Of the 14 letters I finally sealed up today, 10 were to new cousins.

They were scattered around the edges of England with a disproportionate number (33%) in what was once Lancashire.

Few of the addresses were in the phone book - but luckily was on-hand to help me locate them.  After learning the postcode area (for example DH7), I've taken to using a house price website called Proviser (example pages are from Bradford), to capture the full list of streets within that postcode area.

I also consult Google maps to see if there are other clues - relatives living nearby, or a geographical feature that would make one part or other of the area more likely.  Within Proviser I note down the names of village settlements, for example within Blackburn there is Mellor.  I double-check that the address I need doesn't include a village name.

Now I can whip through the list of streets in Proviser - including or excluding the villages as found by my earlier checking - and quickly narrow the field to the correct street.  Possibly the longest search was for a relative in Walks Avenue (Manchester).  It's a big old postcode area, couldn't easily be split up and W is right at the end of the alphabet.

Sometimes it makes sense to do a visual.  When looking for an address by the Lakes, there just seemed to be a tonne of possible addresses - so I picked out some likely streets from looking at the map, and was proven correct.

If you are unlikely and your relative lives on a densely populated Old London Road (which tend to be rather long) there could be a lot of houses to the one postcode.  Or worse, finding a relative lived in a tower block in Plymouth - there were at least 10 floors and in the order of 90 different properties all occupying the same thousand square foot.

It's useful if somebody on the property is in the phone book (not necessarily the person you expect) and if somebody's ever held a directorship.  One trick I used in Liverpool at a down-at-heel neighbourhood, once very grand, was looking in the 1984 phone book to see if the address was given there.  It was.

On the whole, it needn't take that long to search a postcode.  The bulkiest areas can be divided into villages - and postcodes for central urban districts might only cover a few dozen streets.  The worst area I searched was BB2 - 10 pages of addresses mostly all in Blackburn itself, so few could be eliminated (or focussed on) by determining if the address was/ was not in a surrounding village.

It can be embarrassing when you've spent ages pinning down your postcode and got the address only to find that the person was in the phone book all along.  I was looking for a Richards family member in Romford and missing a possible entry in the phone book was understandable as it was just such a common name.

Another trick is to know the combination of names of a couple.  I mentioned here how knowing that John B Jones had a wife Ann E enabled me to focus-in on the only couple in the country who shared this name-combo.  (Name slightly changed to keep them anonymous.)  For this highly mobile couple who'd lost contact with relatives 30 years ago, and had left their Midlands address 20 years ago, I needed a miracle to pin them down.

The site to use for comparing addresses with postcodes and vice versa is the Royal Mail's Postcode Finder.  It used to offer only a measly 10 searches a day - which got you nowhere, particularly if you're still struggling to understand its search boxes.  It's considerably more relaxed now, particularly since it's been sold out of our hands to the lowest bidder!

Once you've found your address, you still need to write the letter, prepare and include copies of documents, keep a photographic record of what you've sent and muster up sufficient envelopes, pens, stamps, paper, printer ink, and power cables to get the show on the road.  In fact I recommend writing the address on the envelope as the very first thing you do - then at least the myriad documents can be filed in the correct place as you prepare for dispatch.  I would certainly recommend sending a stamped-addressed envelope, unless you strongly suspect you'll be getting an email response.

As for writing the letter itself, some tips on this business can be found a few pages up.

It's now slightly more work than it used to be when I got all my addresses from wills, and later in the brief periods when electoral roll full results were easy to come-by.  But I'd rather have all the information relatively easily than just a portion of the information ridiculously easily, which is how I'd describe family history 20 years ago...  (Plus you never used to know until too late, just who was hiding behind those terse phone book entries.)

For today - some folk I've been hunting nearly 20 years, others turned up yesterday when I took a detour down a branch I'd not known existed.  We will have to see what comes back.

Matrimonial mischief in Somerset

Tusk and tusk - what a to-do!

Thomas Creed the farmer set his friends and went after information concerning the servants.  The servants were paid handsomely one supposes for their hard work, and this is what they found:

Catherine Clement, Catherine Lane and John Ludwell were the servants.

Lane pretended to be asleep on the chair.  After her mistress had ensured the servant was asleep (what kind of house is this?), she and her paramour Webb went to a back door, unlocking and unbarring it. There was a way through to the Oxstall. The mistress returned a quarter of an hour later, Webb having made his way home. This had happened often in the past, Clement had
noticed straw on Mrs Creed's back several times...

The full story is available here: Creed contra Creed
For more examples see: Marriage Capers

Miscellaneous marriage thoughts - Wales in Yorkshire

From the miscellaneous marriages listed on Ancestry:

I also found my lass from Wales, Kiveton Park, marrying in Jerusalem where she was working as a nurse in World War Two.  Yes the name Wales, Kiveton Park is probably the most confusing ever; even more so as it's often written Wales, nr. Sheffield, or Wales, Nottinghamshire or Waleswood.  Most county boundaries skirt neatly between towns, but Kiveton Park was a colliery that happened to sit on a border I'd never heard of - Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.  So it was able to flout the carefully planned registration districts, poor law unions and electoral constituencies.  It's heart and soul seem to belong with Sheffield, not Worksop (its notional mother town), but I could be wrong about that.

See Kiveton Park and Wales history for more.  I only stumbled on all this by accident, yesterday.  I was about to wrap up a letter for a South African cousin (now in Dorset) when I noticed at the top of the tree the string of SHUGG siblings, from Gwinear, who'd multiplied considerably through to the present day.  I noticed I'd never found marriages for Jane (1821) or Mary (1823).  Could modern research tools help me locate them?

I was embarrassed to find this:
Clearly showing that there were not exactly many of the name anywhere.  This was a great surprise.  I'd a notion there were legions of Jane Shuggs in St Ives all with the father's name of John and thoroughly muddying the picture.  The bad old days had you scrabbling with heavy volumes at St Catherine's House and locating one-off entries such as the one below, and having really no idea who they'd married, who they were (a widow, perhaps) or where they were going next.
The excellent Cornwall Online Parish Clerk database was actually my first port-of-call.  Confirming that Mary Shugg had died age 12, and that Jane was the only one of her generation, I was then launched into her modest-sized Trevaskus family who'd left Hayle, Cornwall for Devonport.

Missing from the censuses was their pint-sized daughter Grace who I eventually surmised had gone with husband Emmerson up to Kiveton Park shortly after her marriage.  The mines there were some ten years old: her sister had had an earlier spell at Harthill, 3 miles away, but the sisters only overlapped for a year as the elder one decided to go back to Devonport after she was widowed.

Their daughter married a mining engineer and it was their girl who worked as a nurse in Jerusalem during World War Two, coming back to England for the birth of her daughter who still lives in the wider area.

Some clarification about the counties from Wikipedia:
Kiveton Park lays claim to being in Rotherham Borough Council, has a Sheffield postcode, a Worksop telephone code, and has [Derbyshire's] Chesterfield Canal running through it, it also lays claim to being the smallest place in Europe with two railway stations.

Miscellaneous marriage thoughts: Paris matches

There was not a single Jenkins-Jenkins marriage in Llandovery for over 40 years.

I have had a look at the miscellaneous overseas marriages included since September 2013 on Ancestry.  I did find my waiter Joe Makepeace from Marylebone marrying in Paris & Vicinity (don't know that town) to Marie Alexandrine Mere about 1873.  He had likely met her at the Castle in Perthshire where he was second footman.  I also found my Mary Bagnell marrying 1867, in the English Episcopal Church, Rue d'Aguesseau 'in the house of the Ambassador' with his consent.  Her place of origin is given as Attanagh, Queen's County (now Laois).  This was useful.  Her groom was from Dover and her brother had married at Sittingbourne.  The Earl of Orkney is shown as the absentee landlord of Grenan townland, Attanagh with Mary's mother Rebecca occupying and sub-letting.  The family must have approved as her brother the doctor witnesses.  (Their son later got hit with a viscountcy while on the Pyrenees.)

5 Apr 2014

Searching for burials - summary of the UK websites' offerings

Gravestone records are becoming a bit of a minefield out there.

Deceasedonline is the only UK-centred site, and probably the most determined to sign up local authorities and to make money.  They look strong for Wiltshire, Wakefield, Bolton, Cheshire West, London Boroughs.  I should mention it gives only burial registers, not gravestone transcriptions.

Billiongraves are good in some very specific parts of the UK: Sandbach, Nuneaton, Kensal Green, Beaconsfield, Leigh, Hindley, Lowton (these in Greater Manchester area), Stockport, Bangor, Conwy Valley, Llandudno is ubiquitous for the US, and its results now pop up in Ancestry searches.  However, I've never found any UK entries - it claims to have 27000 records, though this might be cemeteries.  I gave up trying.  Possibly the dropdown county box for England works in other browsers (not Chrome).

Gravestonephotos has Devon, Durham, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Surrey and North Yorkshire.  It will shortly release Wymondham Abbey gravestones, which I'm excited about. is very patchy and doesn't appear to have had any new content for awhile: it is strong in Durham and Bedworth (Warwickshire) with some 'select' graves listed for Burnley, Colne and some parts of Greater Manchester.  It also has reasonable Cleveland coverage.

Findmypast may have some monumental inscriptions (the same thing as gravestone transcriptions) but the results are mingled up with the burial registers, so it's hard to find what you're looking for

Other useful sites:
Australia Cemetery Index - made a good breakthrough on here, seems strong for NSW
Ontario cemetery project - have never found anyone on this
South Africa - truly useful

Searches on my site

The following are the searches on Google last month.

I am not exactly sure how some of them ended up on my site.

hayter haymes
william day south cadbury
george bearne chapman
frost family wincanton somerset clement frost
jane burfitt joseph burfitt
widcombe and flambert
henry poole slade newfoundland
edward spencer and ann dafter newton st loe
castle cary dawe
pontifex deptford
anna elizabeth sorensen john rodda
hugh follitt somerset
burdis family in westoe
hester dafter twerton somerset
langport somerton louisa edwards obituary
samuel sillifant
haynes old dairy north road dibden purlieu
mary beck artist sidmouth
amos pedwell somerset
parsonage farm sutton montis
mary ann hine longman
hookland road porthcawl
walter maidment cardiff
thomas chambers from wincanton
elm house lydlinch
salisbury donne
george poole newfoundland slade cox
mary elizabeth farthing wincanton
was george pullen buried at shepton mallet within the last 2 months
annie pickard 1800 s yorkshire westmoreland
jane ann curran or jane ann curran or curran jane ann
william rowden died 1860
castle cary barreners
who was joseph creighton in coventry england
isgar jesse sommerset
biggleswade chronicle obituaries stratton way cemetery
stoney farm langford bristol
henry lawry marshall
solomon martin cotnwall
tubal-cain dorset regiment
crowan rodda bawden
sarah sherring of puddletown
william rowden 1860
treloggen walton somerset
dr. lester harold rhymes m.d.
southwick sussex obituaries 1933
john creed pig farmer 1900 s
ion family bampton
william rapson oates

Tidal wave

Whoomph - the wave comes in and smashes into the defences.  Soak!  The deluge from Cornwall hits us on the chin and we stagger back.  Bash!  Another wave comes in from Wales.

This has been the last week of news from the Western portions of my tree.  Cousin Ray wrote in with surprising news - that distant uncle David Francis (1805) who was known to have gone to New York with his family from Wales, had sired a child by his second marriage aged around 70.  It took him about a moment to find that line, kinda thriving, in San Diego, California.  This is somewhat poignant for us - as months earlier Ray had found the last of the original line (from first marriage) dying with no known relatives in that exact same neighbourhood.

When Thomas Hitchens married Miss Thomas at St Blazey in 1838 we could see his sister was witnessing the marriage under her married name.  Three more sisters appeared out of the rubble, marrying at Blazey or in Tywardreath.  The last time we'd seen this family was in 1820 at Gwennap.  One of the sisters left a will, in 1879, naming a bunch of relatives and identifying for certain sure, that Sarah Hitchens wife of Martin Verran was Thomas's sister.  The whole lot are now the family, reunited, of my Sarah Hunter of Redruth (1782) by her first marriage to miner Hitchens.  It was only by sitting down and looking at this tree, that I got it sorted.  Somewhat embarrassing that it took me 15 years to get around to it.  So far we've only found family from the Verrans, in Shiraz- and olive- growing Clare, South Australia.

I've been lucky enough to hear from the Verran's great-great-grandson John Symonds in New South Wales, now 90, with one or two stories and photographs to help bridge that gap since 1820.

Then came a surprise email out of the blue from Henry Hunter, of the Goldrush towns out in British Columbia.  He left Cornwall age 12 in 1837 and for a while we thought he might be a missing sibling who would just slot right in to the tree.  Not to mention explaining the rumour of the uncle who disappeared and never said where he'd been.  But it's now thought he's the son of Henry senior a mariner from Mylor, near Falmouth, which would have given him plenty more opportunity to jump on a ship.

These Western districts of the UK sure have the capacity to surprise, and laugh at our supposed grip of events from the 1800s era.

Additional surprises came in the form of William Rapson Oates's life story (from a researcher who I spotted on my website) and in contact from the family of the centenarian on my Pearce side, Elizabeth Moss Bray.  (And on the same branch, Arthur Gordon Bartlett's wife finally becoming known - grew up, possibly on Robben Island and daughter settled in Zimbabwe.)  And how could I forget - finding my missing John Rodda, not in Africa or America, but in a pub on the Acton road.