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8 Jul 2021

Relationships that survived: despite moves, name changes and time passing...

In May 2019 I made a list of stories, snapshots and situations within the family that demonstrated the longevity of the nature of kin. In this day and age we may be in a tearing hurry to leave all that cousinhood behind, but ties remained then.

Into this blog I will be adding in my 'shuttering down' theory. It's a little complex and has some sketches, so might be a separate entry. Meanwhile, for the archive, here are the connections I found:

The Indoes taking in sister Jane Chappell, suddenly widowed with children in 1871 in Somerset.

The Thompsons in Westmorland, having their "wife's cousin" visit in 1871 in Westmorland.

Martha Bell having her niece's illegitimate child to stay in 1939 in Haltwhistle (born 200 miles away!). It was this entry that prompted the entire blog.

Grandpa being photographed with all the "olds" including Great Aunt Maggie and her daughter up from Cornwall, 1920s South Wales.

Granny's granny (Nellie Smith) mentioning her cousin Margaret in a letter in 1921. Margaret was living in Hildaville Avenue, Westcliff-on-sea with Nellie's aunt.

J. H. Brown of Belfast apparently keeping in touch with his second cousin, Daisy Skinner, who had the two hotels in Bexhill. I have a note to locate him in the 1939 Register.

John Francis leaving some money to his great-nephew James Weeks who had lately arrived in the North Shields area in the 1880s. That caused some scampering about to identify the nature of That relationship.

Gwenllian and Mary Williams, naming their sons Anthony after their late brother, helping to prove the family connection. Mary went a step further and named another son after her uncle Powell. We are just outside Neath in the early 1800s.

Florrie Jones finding a home with her cousin Lilla's granddaughter Edna in Southampton in the 1950s.

Mrs Cocker sending photographic postcards from her home in the Peak District to her cousin's granddaughter on the occasion of her wedding in 1930 in London (my grandparents').

Emma Longden sending a postcard from Sheffield in 1912 to her second cousin Ann in Manchester mentioning a further second cousin (Florrie).

Isaac Ridgway and his second wife finding a home with his first wife's nephew Tom in Sheffield around the time of World War One.

Cathie Drummond travelling from Glasgow to Haltwhistle and then on to the Dales to visit her great-grandmother in around 1890. (As a girl of five she would be accompanied by family members.) And yet my grandmother born 20 years later never met the good lady, OR her daughter (missing out twice over). And then some folk remembered stories of the mother of this great-grandmother, born 1789.

Annie Gibson travelling to the home of her childless aunt Margaret Atkinson, across the Pennines, in 1844 from South Shields to the shores of the Lakes.

William Exton Treasure taking care of his elderly grandmother, Martha, and going to visit her brother uncle William Haine. These folk died in the late 1890s.

Elizabeth, Mrs Grist, being surrounded by at least four of her young grandchildren at the sunset of her life, in 1841 on the Somerset/Wiltshire border. (Her younger sister, my forebear Mary, had already passed on, so does not feature in this peculiarly useful census.)

The Brodies of South Boston staying in touch (somehow) with their second cousins in county Cork. They were organised ladies, working as telephonists and all in the charge of the youngest, who outlived them all and organised the beautiful gravestone. This contact spans the entire twentieth century.

My maternal grandfather who knew so many of his second cousins in the community in South Wales (1930s).

The Dibben girls who were emphatically in contact with one another, even as they rampaged across a dozen counties and married in places where there was either no index, or frankly, no marriage. I think they mopped up the soldiers left over the from the Peninsula War in the Napoleonic era. (link)

Percy Chappell the aunt who named everyone in her Will, including her late cousin Rosa's eldest daughter, 1930s Somerset.

Ellen Oliver formerly Charlton, whom I could not place on the tree at all, yet lived in a household full of Gibsons on the banks of the Tyne at Crawcrook in 1861. She was aunt and grandmother to them.

Reviewing these, I had expected a lot more incidences on the maternal side, which is where I had been researching for longer. Or, as I note, there was the triple whammy of (a) having more time aware of them (b) more consequences having developed from my initial contact and (c) more people were alive at the time of this research giving me a deeper window into the past (or fewer truncated memories).

Having said that the above examples were fresh in my mind when I wrote them. I could probably name a dozen similar such in my Somerset farming folk or perhaps my Cornish mining folk (both maternal), but as they've sat on my tree for nearly 25 years I cannot claim these any longer as a 'discovery'.

Did my grandparents know their second cousins?

My father's father must have been aware of his second cousins, the Brodies of South Boston, New York. How so? Well I suspect he would not have been interested in the least, but when he visited Ireland in the 1950s, his cousin there (in the Garda) certainly had a notebook (which I saw at a distance) and in the address book were the Brodies. The weak link is we do not know for sure that the cousin mentioned the Boston cousins to my grandfather, but I think my grandfather would have divined their existence if not have ever known, heard or recalled the name.

My father's mother saw very little of her paternal side and I cannot imagine she knew any second cousins on that side. (Although one of her paternal cousins must have met the ones in Liverpool, the Draycotts and Hugheses, at a funeral in the 1930s.) Her mother emerged with a cousin briefly before we discounted him. I even had a note that there were no maternal cousins. There were, thanks to our out-of-wedlock origins which emerged in 2021. My grandmother (born 1905) actually has a second cousin, of the half-blood, still living, in Ontario, at the time of writing. Her niece took a DNA test.

My father's mother (continued). Can you tell she is my favourite line? She wrote about her family origins in hardly any depth at all. She knew her mother's second cousin Lilla, as this lady had married her uncle and attended my grandparents' own wedding in 1930. Her Grandmother's first cousin sent some postcards on this occasion as well. And in addition there was a postcard from another of her mother's second cousins (on a third line) sitting in the family trunk, which I found 100 years after it was sent.

My mother's father knew tonnes of his second cousins. There was Cyril (his mother's mother's side), Jean and her sister (his mother's father's side), the entire Harris clan (his father's mother's side) but especially the chicken farmer's wife. Ironically one of the last of his second cousins was Miss Hebbard (born 1928), however this lady was the granddaughter of great-aunt Mrs Mary Hebbard, and we never knew any of her family. They did not leave nearby. There was a note on the family tree she had 'married Mr Hubbard of Morriston' which was almost true. My grandfather had no real idea how the cousins all connected being the baby of the family.

My mother's mother. Funnily enough, although this is the line I worked first being the easiest, I really think the answer here has to be no. (Her eldest brother, my great-uncle - a comfortable networker with motive and opportunity - knew a good deal of them, but I am confident they were not discussed.)

So the answer is: yes if he wanted to (but not interested); not really (but mother's second cousins = yes), definitely and no.

Hereford to Manchester by Wills, Probate and Registers in 200 years, but not by Train

Hereford to Manchester

Here is the journey back from Manchester to Hereford, we are going through the generations.
(1) My great-grandmother Henrietta born 1875 Salford (grows up in Manchester) Lancashire
(2) Ellen Bagshaw born 1846 Eyam Derbyshire
(2) Millicent Bagshaw born 1826 Eyam Derbyshire
(3) Hannah Gee born 1792 Chesterfield Derbyshire
(4) Nathaniel Gee born 1768 West Bromwich Staffordshire
(5) parents of Nathaniel Gee marry 1767 Dudley Worcestershire. They were canal builders who would shortly depart to work on the Norwood Tunnel near Killamarsh, Derbyshire.
(6) Sarah Brasier born 1751 Kinver, Staffordshire
(6) Hannah Kidson born 1718 Kinver, Staffordshire
Kinver is at its closest point just 1.5 miles from the border with the county of Shropshire. Earlier Kidson family members certainly resided in Shropshire although we have not been able to make the connection.

(7) other Kidson family members resided in Shropshire, for example in the parishes of Claverley and Astley Abbotts

And so to Hereford: In 1742 the Will of Walter Kidson of Astley Abbotts, Shropshire was proven at Hereford, as much of Shropshire falls into the Diocese of Hereford.

We have reached our journey's end. It is possible that the Wills of certain earlier unknown ancestors of Hannah Kidson, in Shropshire, will similarly have been proven at Hereford. Perhaps if we go back to the 1670s or so.

We have come a long way from Manchester. There is in fact a train which will take you the whole journey back to Hereford, via Crewe, Shrewsbury and then through the Shropshire Hills. This journey took at least two hundred years, which is far slower than any train.

Postscript: I have added in Killamarsh to the map: the location of the Norwood Tunnel.

7 Jul 2021

One-click wonder: who are you Mary Carroll born 1845 Ireland?

I was dead excited when cousin Olaf popped up as a match to me, and later to The Tester. At last a clue on my Irish Carroll line. Mary Carroll, below, had died leaving lots of children to mourn her loss and some doggerel was written by her grieving, ancient, widower, a Classics teacher.

I had asked my grandfather some extremely pertinent questions in the 1980s, which were not particularly well received but we didn't get on to grandmother Mary Carroll.

The widower neglected to include where she was from or any personal criteria about her in his rhymed work. But we do know she left lots of children. These have mostly now been rounded up by the genealogy process, and only one will have family. But who was Mary Carroll?

Olaf remains our closest match on this side, so we compare the two 'sisters' stories closely. I am still annoyed that his mother was still alive when I visited USA in 2015 as I normally exploit such biological impossibilities.

Evidence: Margaret's parents were Denis and Mary Carroll (Boston Cathedral marriage record)

Evidence: Mary's father was Denis Carroll farmer (Tipperary Town marriage record)

Margaret's husband was from Doneraile, Cork, Ireland. We can now see that:
Denis Carroll married in 1840 at Doneraile, Cork to Mary Healy and their daughters included:

Mary Carroll baptised 1843 Doneraile and Margaret Carroll baptised 1845 Doneraile

I am concluding that Mary Carroll ('born 1845 Ireland') was likely the daughter of this couple. But this is all a bit hazy logic and we really need something to lock it all together. Maybe if there was a Healy in the mix?

(There were biographical components which seemed to fit too. The Classics master was revealed with a brother-in-law that had sold books and a nephew that taught. And it seems we just must accept that Margaret produced her youngest child, the only one to have family, at the age of nearly 47. We have photographs but they lend no weight at all in any direction.)

Shared matches

Time marches on and we can see that both Lynette and Martin appear as shared matches to both The Tester and Olaf. Could they belong to my Carroll line as well? I do hope so. But how?

I spotted that Lynette's unlinked tree was fairly basic. In particular a recent forebear had very little information concerning them. So I CLICKED on the fabled 'search on Ancestry' button, one that I am now thoroughly recommending.

Suddenly we have gone from darkness to light:

And if you look closely you can see, voila!, a Healy. The resulting family tree looks like this:

The witness at the 1840 marriage of my (to-be-confirmed) Mary Healy was a Patrick Healy, so it is not impossible that the chap on the tree was her nephew or even a much younger brother.

I like the Healy connection as it adds weight to our previously flimsy Doneraile connection. I haven't combed through all the other testing sites, nor voraciously hunted down DNA segments from the distant past. I did attempt to cluster all my Irish matches - but irritatingly, what should have been two (or more) separate clusters from different parts of the Kingdom of Munster started to merge into one, so I abandoned that exercise fairly swiftly too.

It is commonly cited that Irish folk (e)migrate first and marry later. I wish it were otherwise but in effect all three of our protagonists have done exactly that from Doneraile: Mary to Tipperary Town (not a long way), Margaret to Boston (which is further) and Patrick seemingly to Virginia.

It really was a one-click wonder one morning when I idled around Lynette's DNA that gave us our answer to 'who are you Mary Carroll?'.

Note: As to the immediate discrepancy between Olaf's results (54cM shared) and Lynette's results (46cM shared), despite Lynette being apparently one or more generations remoter... this is likely a function of the fact that Patrick Healy (c 1837) has considerably more descendants than the two Carroll sisters put together. And the DNA-matching exercise allows the person who shares the most to 'bubble' to the top of the list. The Carroll sisters' offspring is a much smaller pool, so the chances of a top-matching 3rd cousin cousin are slimmer when fishing in that pool.

17 Jun 2021

Time machine back to 1770

As the Royal Colony of North Carolina draws to a close, this is what's going on in Outlander.

"By late 1770, the Ridge had more than thirty families inhabiting the land under Jamie's sponsorship."

But what's going on in my family back in Britain?

1771/2: J. Gee and his wife leave Wolverhampton for the far north of Derbyshire to commence work on the Norwood Tunnel.

1770. Broad Joe Padfield in Somerset is still four years away from throwing his chair in the air: 'I believe!' 

1770. Margaret Rea turns ten somewhere in Scotland. Wish we knew where!

1770. The Bristol Channel's going to be swaying with Captain Rees Rees (22) taking his vessel out for the first time off the Glamorgan coast.

1770s. Irish boy William Hunter newly arrived in Cornwall, probably intending to return some day.

1770. Sarah Bond bustles over to Parson Woodforde in Ansford to get her late husband's gravestone sorted.

1770. It's a dozen years since their father drowned in a lighter in the River Towy. How are the family of Griffith Morton doing?

1770/1. A boy is born in a lead miner's cottage in the northern Peaks. It's a hundred years since the plague: the Bagshaws wonder earnestly if this their first child will survive.

15 Jun 2021

Favourite Corner #3 Almesforde Somerset: 1730s

It was Christmas 1995 and I had taken the train up to Taunton, done my customary jog past this lovely cottage (I picked the 2009 picture from StreetView before all the officeblocks went up):

... and then to the former site of the Somerset Record Office where I ruffled through DD/FF/7 concerning my yawnworthy Speed ancestors of Ansford. At the time they had not been fully catalogued and amidst the following marginally interesting documents

  • Mortgage by demise of lands at New Close, Ansford for 500 years 1771
  • Assignment of Edward Speed's mortgage. 1779
  • Conveyance of premises at New Close, Ansford 1800
  • Copy wills of Edward and Murry Speed (1780s)

 ... was the Will of Edward Murrow 1732! Now I already knew the name 'Murrow' as a given name but didn't stop to linger on the frontispiece. Within nanoseconds I was in the document and reading. I could see that Edward's granddaughter Sarah Speed (my ancestor) was named, and her apparent mother Elizabeth (Mrs Speed), a daughter of Mr Murrow.

The marriage for Sarah Speed's parents (William and Elizabeth) had not eventuated, and would cause plenty of confusion when it did, especially as I failed to read the Will correctly. I'm guessing the Will and above Deeds were retained by a local solicitor (Dyne Drewett of Castle Cary?) and so escaped the bombing of Exeter in 1942. Thank you, solicitors! (Not a phrase I utter regularly.)

Murrow left land at Ballage, Weekway Close, New Close (above) and Cary Moor. I should really attempt to work out where the land came from. Rather wonderfully, Weekway at Wyke passed to his daughter's second daughter's illegitimate only child, another female, named Agnes. (The information that Agnes held Wykeway came to me from Agnes's knowledgeable 4xgreat-grandson Derek Williams, b. 1929.) However the 18th century zapped her in other ways: she passed away in childbed of her fifth son at forty.

Once I had cooled down, I located baptisms immediately for Mr Murrow's three surviving daughters on the microfiche of the International Genealogical Index in the searchroom. But marriages for all three girls were missing, barring the remarriage of the eldest girl (to our Mr Speed).

Edward Murrow was survived by his wife, and eldest child Elizabeth, who were joint executrixes.  His third daughter Mary was heavy with child, and died a week later.  Frances Murrow had predeceased her parents, leaving daughters by her husband Stephen Widdows.

And the names of the grandchildren gave pause for thought. As expected: the four Speeds (Sarah, William, Betty, Edward) then there were four Widdows girls (Dinah, Martha and two others) plus little Grace Dyke and her soon-to-be-born sibling. EXCEPT that there was a twist in the tale.

Dinah was (1) Elizabeth's daughter by a first marriage, not Frances's, and (2) married the widower of aunt Mary (not long in the grave) within two years. And you can read about her and her son here and here.

It may be that you can read the rest of the notes on this tree. I have left off the character, life and eventual murder of Frances's last surviving daughter, Martha, as her sad end would certainly hurt the tone of this female-strong blog post.

Upwardly mobile

This needs no explanation as we progress through each generation:

1) Ned Dick, haulier, Ansford, Somerset, baptised 1735 the poor relation

2) George Dyke, apprentice to a tailor, Milborne Port, born 1779, perhaps the only son

3) Charles Dyke, tailor and draper, Lyme Regis, born about 1811 (baptised age three)

4) Charles W. P. Dyke, tutored in Chardstock by an Oxford graduate, later had a military outfitters somewhere nr Finchley road, born 1845

5) Oswald M. Dyke, Colonel in Indian Army, born 1878 in Lyme Regis, married Vicar of Sidbury's granddaughter

6) Richard C. Dyke, Colonel in Indian Army, inherited Bicton Old Rectory, married in Nepal

7) Wife of His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of America (past)

13 Jun 2021

Favourite Corner #2 Northcountry: 1830s

In this series we are looking at favourite corners from within the family tree. I think it is nice to focus on a particular group who lived in a definable place and time. So here is this 'time-shot'.

If you have your reading glasses with you, you may be able to detect some of the stories within. The majority of these were resurrected and resuscitated in 2008 after a considerable period of time had elapsed.

References and sources (some):

  • Death certificate 1844 (PDF) for John Gibson (1844) at South Shields: General Register Office, England & Wales
  • Newcastle Courant 1844. Newspaper report into the death of John Gibson, following his knee being trapped between two wagons and his death about a week later. The inquest was held in a public house, but not the Waggoners Arms ran by his brother.
  • 1851 census for Lower Birthwaite (later Windermere) shows Annie Gibson (c. 15) living with her aunt Margaret and husband James Atkinson (then childless).
  • 1841 census for Westoe, South Shields shows John Gibson, Jane and Annie living together before the events three years later disrupt this unit forever.
  • Photographs of John and Jane Johnson sitting together laughing and secondly in front of their farmhouse with their sheep in the foreground, gathered from opposite ends of the country (private: scans held)
  • The story of "Granny from Old Town" in email correspondence c. 2010 from the son of the great-great-granddaughter of Jane, which lady had remembered her mother (b. 1885) referring to this 'Granny'. At the time no-one knew the significance of those words.
  • Tommy Oliver and friends in Ryton, Crawcrook & Greenside Through Time, 2013, Nick Neave, John Boothroyd, Amberley Publishing. The photograph appears to be have been provided by Greenside local history group.
  • Marriage record for John Gibson and Jane Dodd, 1836, Allendale. Northumberland Archives.
  • Marriage record for Annie Gibson, 1856, Windermere. Cumbria Archive Service. Annie grew up on the banks of the Tyne. It must be she who provided the information that her father was a 'putter' which has been deliciously mis-heard as 'butler'. (My thanks to Phil Taylor for working this one out.) He was also listed as a 'farmer' by my great-aunt in the 1980s but this would be an elided reference to Annie's stepfather.
  • "Eloped with the gardener". This is a note from Linda Noble in email to me in 2008. Linda descends from the Dodds (her mother was a Dodd) and must have known the story. She was a retired librarian based locally, so would not have just made it up!
  • Planted sycamores [at Scalehouses]. This is from a letter by Caleb Watson of Scalehouses, Cumberland, to his brothers' family in Australia, in 1890. The images were posted on the website of John Watson which none of us appear to have noted down. John passed away in 2020 and at some point I will locate his great site on the Wayback machine, if I can find a record of the name!