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14 Mar 2017

Welcome to the world, baby Boyce!

Back in ???? 1995, I had never heard of Boyce.  (I would like to give you the exact date, but owing to lack of records on my part, see previous blog, I can't.)

I was getting somewhere with my two main names in Somerset, Creed and Haine, and was investigating a lead from Miss Pat Cotton at the old Somerset record office of Obridge, Taunton.  Pat had mentioned there were two James Scotts who died within days of each other at West Pennard in 1809 at around the same age.

I would rather catch a python bare-handed than drive up the M5 from Exeter, but curiosity got the better of me.  I wanted to know if either James Scott left a will, and if one of them might be the father of my Betty Scott (later Haine) or my Martha Scott (later Creed), two forebears of mine with unknown antecedents.  Somerset record office here we come.

The beige Fiesta pulled into the parking lot and out I stepped - at least I imagine I did.  Without records confirming this, it's hard to be sure.  You know it has to be either late December 1994, or April (Easter) 1995.  December was pretty action-packed as I'll get round to telling another time.  Although I was 17 and full of bounce, I imagine I stayed close to home that Christmas, so I'm going with April.

And here's what I found:
 James Scott left a will alright and there's Betty Haine listed as a daughter, yippee yippee yippee.  But who were those other women? (oh gosh those women's descendants could fill a book)  Martha Crud.  Brain not computing.  Forty seconds later, duh!!! That's my forebear Martha, the one who became Creed, what kind of historian was I?  At least I dang hope she is as I've made that assumption for the last 22 years and it's the only proof.  Maybe I should have been following the Crud line all this time....

OK, so that just really left Sarah Boyce as the only true fresh meat, already unpicked-over by that vulture of a historian, erm, me!   What's more, she had pushed herself to the front of the queue ahead of her erstwhile sisters by Naming the Baby after the Grandfather.  Works a charm and most tired old scrotes with constant gout and ulcers can turn that frown upside-down with this tactic.

It worked - and kerching kerching, pennies came raining in on the Boyces, or were they Royces, as we had a baby's name to play with, James Scott Boyce.
Whenever I next got back to the probate registry above the Next store in Exeter's attractive high street, I would be able to find this:
I was pretty excited: these were my first London relatives.  It was still 1995.  When the chance came for us agrics to go to London on a coach in June (??), we jumped at it.  Me particularly, as I did my homework and found I would have an hour to leave the Haymarket area and get to Chancery Lane, leg it to Guildhall library find a trade directory and leg it back.  Unbelievably I came away with an address for J. S. B., which was 20 Offord Road, Islington, with occupation given as meat salesman.  (Basing his whole adult life I would find, around Smithfield Meat Market.)

Time passes: I move to Berkshire.  Pretty sure, the autumn of 1995 got me to the Public Records Office in Chancery Lane.  Armed with the two addresses for J. S. B., I consult the heavy plastic books of addresses and up comes the following entry for Boyce in Offord Road.  Hurrah!  The feeling of exhilaration at having beaten the demons of time, space, forgetfulness, paper deterioration, entropy, malign forces, gravity.... would be even better if I had my original pencil notes.  Still, here's the record which saw me go up a level in Family Historian the Ultimate Challenge.

A longhand scrawl which hides a lot of facts.  You can see chancer James Westcott Broad the plasterer doing well and up from Torquay from a fishing family, settled in a very nice street with his wife's family.  It was obvious to me even then that 'visitor' meant family.  Richard J, by the way, ends up as a fireman in Shanghai, being someone's favourite great-uncle that they never knew.  Louisa E marries in Fleet in Hampshire in her thirties to a red-headed six-foot architect from Dorset, one of the Men of Marnhull, and I'll be meeting their granddaughter later on, in 1998.  It was lovely picking my way through Victorian London and its records to step out into a brand new play area.

The Broad family went on and on.  One of the girls married a gas lamp lighter.  The ones I can remember were Nellie, Sarah, Louisa, Alice, sisters of the Chinese fireman.  And here is a lovely entry to round it all off.  It's the wedding day for Nellie's daughter Ethel, off to Australia with her soldier husband and family putting brave face on it.  The church must be St Silas, Pentonville.

The Jenkins, Connor and Manley folk belong to the other sisters.  It's now 1919.

We've seen a hundred years roll around from that chance document of 1809 to pre-modern Britain.  The Boyces (not Royces) definitely made it through and out the other side.  Welcome to the world, baby Boyce!

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