Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 and 2011

I never made genealogy goals before.  I've always just "done genealogy" or "done family history", so the idea of writing down measurable ideas so they aren't just dreams is...strange to me.  Yet the more I think about it, the more sensible the whole thing feels.  But when I try and come up with some goals: hmmm, I'm not sure.

I've always hated making measured, statistical goals.  You know, like "I will do x number of things in a month" and so on.  So much can interfere with this sort of goal, so much that is totally out of my control.  Even the weather can alter things hugely.  Example: I was all primed to get my electricity key meter charged up before Christmas, have my Christmas decorations at work down before I left for the holidays - and what happened?  Sudden snowfall.  I couldn't get to the key meter shop; I couldn't get to work to take the decorations down.  So what would have happened to my goals?  I would have ended 2010 with the feeling of failure.  So I'm not going to make the sort of goals that say I'm going to do something by such-and-such a date.  My goals will be "throughout the year" or "at some point during 2011".

#  Volunteer to index for FamilySearch
#  Write this blog more than once a week
#  Now I have a Kindle, investigate genealogy books I can acquire (preferably for free)
#  Add some more to my family history writing project
#  Write another College of Genealogy course
#  Get back on the Flylady wagon and create a genealogy routine
#  I am sure there will be others...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Way Back Wednesday: James STANTON and Philip SIBLY 1659

These two (my 9th ggrandparents) are the last two in this line that I can be certain of.  The line does go back further, but I got the data from Ancestry before my subscription expired and now needs further research:

James STANTON b 8 Mar 1599 Redgate Chapel, Cornwall
m 1629 Redgate Chapel, Cornwall to Margaret HEARD (1600-1670)
d 1655

with parents of James STANTAN and Joan (and would make them my 11th ggrandparents).

Going back to my confirmed 9th great-grandparents, James and Philip - well, I presume that does not mean that a man married a man back in 1659! more that the name Philip was a contraction of the name Philippa...

Monday, 27 December 2010

Maritime Monday: Keeping it in the family

Throughout the previous generations, the BALL family were agricultural labourers.  Then they made the shift from the land to the sea - and by the time the generations reach my uncle, to the air as well.
circa 1807

John BALL, christened 2 May 1819 died 21 December 1890, started off working the land like his father before him and his father before that.  Then, in his late thirties, he transferred to the sea and was listed as a Mariner in all the censuses from 1851 onwards.  But it didn't end there - he was not the only one.

His stepson, Thomas Damerell ELLIOTT, became a sailor in his early twenties, then became a bargeman in his fifties, and a merchant seaman in his sixties.

circa 1840
Another of John's sons, Benjamin, started at ten years old as a shipwright's errand boy, then is described as a shipwright's apprentice in the 1871 census.  His brother, Charles, was also a shipwright's apprentice, and youngest brother William was a "shipwright's labourer" in the 1881 census, working in the port of Southampton.  There he met my great-grandmother, Bertha DAMERELL, herself the daughter of a merchant seaman who later became a steamship stoker.

The two World Wars managed to interrupt this 'family business', until John's grandson married a woman descended from coastguards, and his great-great-granddaughter married a man descended from shipwrights.

And I have always loved the sea...

Sunday, 26 December 2010

On This Day: Boxing Day

Richard CLEAVE and Elizabeth BIBBINS (paternal 6th great grandparents) married 1735 in Morchard Bishop, Devon.

Their daughter, Anne CLEAVE (paternal 5th great grandmother) married Richard NOTT 1760 in Coldridge, Devon.

Samuel MURCH and Margaret LITTLEY (paternal 5th great grandparents) married 1774 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.  On their first wedding anniversary they buried their six-month-old son, Samuel, on 26 Dec 1775.

James DAMERELL and Elizabeth WOOD (maternal 4th great grandparents) married 1777 in Charleton, Devon.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve Wedding

I looked through my genealogy software to find out what my ancestors were doing on 24 December. 
Robert MURCH and Elizabeth BASTONE (my great great great great great great great grandparents) were getting married in 1712 in Ottery St Mary, Devon!

courtesy of The Medieval Combat Society
Imagine walking down this aisle...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Those Places Thursday: Arras Memorial

I've never been here.  I expect my great-uncle, Walter Harold BALL, wished he wasn't here either.  Well, I'm sure he was proud to be here as a soldier, alive in a battle, but not where he ended up - as a name on a memorial.

Arras Memorial, France

In July 2010, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of Jo Francis of Milton Keynes, who offered to take photos of the Arras Memorial for me.  We had never met, didn't even know one another, and yet she made this offer on a genealogy mailing list we both belong to.  Now, I knew I would never be able to afford to get to the Pas de Calais in France to visit this Memorial, so I gratefully accepted her offer.

I never met Walter Harold BALL, my maternal grandfather's brother, either.  He died on 3 May 1917 aged only 24.

Serjeant Ball, W. H. MM (centre of photo)

Happy Christmas, Uncle Walter.  And thank you.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Maritime Monday: From Train Driver to Ship's Stoker

When I was little, most small boys dreamed of becoming a train driver.  And in the 1851 census of Charleton, Devon, my great great grandfather, Henry DAMARELL, aged 17, was just that.  For the next twenty years, he was a merchant seaman, and later combined his skills to become a stoker on a steam ship.

In the middle of this, in the 1881 census, he is listed as a Marrene [sic] Store Dealer.  He must have kept his connections with the port of Southampton, for several of his grandchildren were born there, and his daughter Bertha was married there in 1879 (to my direct ancestor William John BALL).

What is a Marine Store Dealer?  The occupation is varied: "A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He usually sorted the purchased waste by kind, grade etc. He also repaired and mended sacks etc.

Marine Store Dealers were governed by an Act of Parliament 1st. Geo. IV. sec.16 cap.75. Which enacted that every marine-store-dealer shall have his name inserted in legible characters over his shop-door and shall also keep a book in which he shall insert the name and address of any person from whom he shall buy any article.

Apparently Marine Store Dealers were also not allowed to buy full lengths of rope. A search of the "Times" archive brings up many references to them and nearly all were in relation to police courts. In Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" is Joe, a marine store dealer and receiver of stolen goods." [quoted in]

A less-polite website indicates that a marine store dealer was pretty much a scrap merchant or rag-and-bone man, and that the occupation was often held by those named Gypsies; while the excellent Hall Genealogy Website, which deals in old occupations, lists a marine store dealer as: "Proprietor of a store selling equipment to Mariners. There were also those who aspired to that but who were nothing but junk dealers".

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Fruitcake - Boiled Cake

The Christmas cake I ate as a small child was dark and rich - too rich - so one year my mum found a recipe for Boiled Cake which we used afterwards - it was still a fruitcake, but much lighter.  Incidentally, you didn't boil the cake, just the ingredients beforehand... Here is the recipe (makes a big cake for about 12):

Boiled Cake
250ml (8 fl oz) water
900g (2 lb) dried mixed fruit
225g (8 oz) caster sugar (or light muscavado sugar)
170g (6 oz) butter
230g (8 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten

Boil the water, dried fruit, sugar and butter for about 10 minutes.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and mixed spice into a large bowl.
Pour on the boiled mixture and stir well.
Mix in the eggs.
Pour into a lined loaf tin
Bake for 90 minutes at 150 C or Gas Mark 2
Let stand for 10 minutes

It tastes better about 24 hours after you have baked it!  Some cooks like to add elderflower cordial to the water, some use cold tea instead of the water, some add treacle.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Blog Caroling 2010: Rocking

footnoteMaven has challenged geneabloggers to blog carol by December 15th.  

I loved this idea, so I have included the lyrics to a favourite carol of mine that is not often heard:

The Rocking Carol - also known as Rocking, Rocking Song, Lullaby and Little Jesus

1.  Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir,
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:
See the fur to keep you warm,
Snugly round your tiny form.

2. Mary's little baby, sleep, sweetly sleep,
Sleep in comfort, slumber deep;
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:
We will serve you all we can,
Darling, darling little man.

I found some further information about this carol, which you may be interested in: it is originally a Czech carol called 'Hajej, nynjej', and first appeared in its translated-to-English version in 1928.  Julie Andrews sang it in the 1960s, which is probably where I heard it first, as a small girl.  According to website The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, the tune of this carol '...has a close resemblance to that of another traditional lullaby, 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star', and it is possible that this carol originally accompanied cradle rocking, a custom which began in German churches in medieval times and spread from there across Europe.'

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Surname Saturday: Lock

Eliza LOCK (1820-1902) was my ggg grandmother.  At least, I am pretty sure she is - unfortunately I have HAYWOOD ancestors called John who seemed to prefer to marry ladies called Eliza, which is really the one thing that makes me uneasy.  Was she the correct Eliza?  The unease deepens when I can only find her parents and siblings from the IGI. The marriage has been extracted from the original record (so at least I know there's a pretty good chance of it being correct) - rather than submitted by a member, which always makes me nervous.  But is it the right set of parents?

If anybody out there is reading this, and has information to share, I would be thrilled to hear from them. Her parents (possibly) were John LOCK and Elizabeth LONDON, married in Ottery St Mary, Devon, on 2 February 1817.  Her siblings (again possible) were Mary Ann, chr 30 March 1817, Anna chr 12 Jan 1823, and Elizabeth chr 27 Jan 1826 - all in Ottery St Mary, Devon, England.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

I won NaNoWriMo! That's why there have been no posts...

I did it! I won! I won! I WON!

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, let me explain.  It is held in November of each year, and is a challenge (mainly to yourself) to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It's to avoid the one-day novelist or, as Chris Baty says: "one day, I'll write a novel"... You can write a not-very-good novel, as long as it is not the same word 50,000 times over!

And when you hit 50k, you WIN!  There are no big flashy prizes like cars or a million GBP or anything, but (for instance) print a free proof copy for you.  I won for the first time last year, and let me tell you, holding that proof copy in my hands and thinking "I did that!" was one of the best feelings I have ever had...

So that's why I haven't been posting on this genealogy blog for a month.  I've been too busy making sure my head wouldn't explode while I kept all the threads of a time-travel novel straight, with warrior-priests and a stone that dripped blood and an ancient prophecy - oh, it's been great!  But I'm not going to post it on the net, for two reasons: 1) is that I will get done for copyright (because it is about characters from a TV series; if I keep it to myself, nobody gets bothered); and 2) one of the ways you spur yourself on to write it in the first place is because you know that nobody is going to see it!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sentimental Sunday: What was she up to?

A vivid snapshot of my mother, Audrey BALL, when she was about 4 years old:  her mother, my grandmother (Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL) saw my mother race past the window and immediately thought "what has she been up to?"  She soon found out.  A few days earlier, my mother had been given a very special 'party frock'.  Add to this the 1930s way of ironing clothes: sat on a rail on the range were several flatirons, which only got hot from the oven, no electric irons then (certainly not in their house!).  I think you can see where this is going. 

My mother decided she would be grownup and help by ironing her new party dress.  But the flatiron she took burned a hole in the new special dress.  Horrified, the four-year-old did what she was best at - she ran!

And there was I thinking my mother was born knowing how to do things like iron clothes.  Nice (in a way) to know that when she was a child she made mistakes too.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Surname Saturday: Edgcombe

EDGCOMBE has probably the highest number of variants in my family tree.  I never discount any EDGCOMBE I find, since the spelling varied so hugely. The family legend was that we were descended from the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe.  I have never dare tell my family that that was wishful thinking, and we are in fact descended from the peasants who worked the land belonging to the Earl... although, if you go far enough back, I suppose we might well interlink somehow...

The closest EDGCOMBE to me was my maternal grandma, Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL, born in 1894 and christened in Ringmore, Devon.

Here she is as a young married woman.  I can see my mother in her (my mother, Audrey BALL, was the youngest of seven).  In a photo I have of Minda before she changed from EDGCOMBE to BALL, I can see myself in her.  I have already posted this photo on this blog, but I have yet to learn how to link from one post to another.  If I find out, I will come back here and do the linking.  Minda lived until 1985, and to me she was the epitome of what it means to be 'a lady'.

Minda's mother was Annie Marian BUCKINGHAM (1873-1961).  Both Minda's parents (Annie Marian and John Samuel EDGCOMBE) died in Australia; several of her brothers and sisters emigrated from the UK to Australia, and several years ago I was sent details of over 600 EDGCOMBEs of our family who live there.  Some of the older generation still liked to be sent traditional Christmas cards with snow and robins, because they remembered them from childhood, and Australia seems rather devoid of snow and robins.  I wonder if the EDGCOMBEs in Australia think of themselves as Australian through-and-through?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Surname Saturday: Distin

My DISTINs came from Holbeton, Devon, by way of Malborough, and eventually to South Pool.  Jane DISTIN, my 3 x great grandmother, married into the BALL family, and she was the final DISTIN in my direct line.  Born in 1801, she lived until she was 92, and my own grandmother, Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL, remembers her.  However, looking at the dates, Jane (or Jenny, as she was known) died a year before Minda was it must be another old lady that grandma remembers.

Jane produces another mystery.  I have tried to track her in the censuses but, unfortunately, once she was married and became Jane BALL - well, that is a fairly common name, and there is another Jane BALL who seems to have something to do with a farmer named DADDS.  A mysterious son, George, appears, so I am now not sure whether 'my' Jane lived with someone else, or this other Jane is someone else entirely.

And yet another mystery - Jane has an older sister, also called Jane.  Well, ordinarily I would think it was the Victorians habit of calling a child after the name of one who died extremely young - but the elder Jane lived to be 70! so what was going on here?

DISTIN, a surname that proliferates around the South West of England, is one of the few names in my tree which also appears in France, although none of my ancestors is recorded as French.  Perhaps, if I go far enough back?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Way Back Wednesday: Ralph LEY and Martha MILLS 1786

Ralph LEY and Martha MILLS are my 5 x great grandparents.   They were married on 16 February 1786 in Mevagissey, Cornwall, where they were both born and where Ralph died.

They baptised six children in Mevagissey: Nicholas on 29 June 1788, Ralph on 10 Oct 1790, William on 4 Nov 1792, another William on 26 June 1796, Mary on 24 June 1798, and An on 11 July 1802.  I descend from Ralph christened 1790.  I was delighted, if stunned, to find this connection to Cornwall, because it happens on my mother's side of the family - the line that I thought was exclusively from Devon!

I remember that my parents took a motoring holiday in and around Mevagissey in the 1970s.  I wonder if my mother realised she was going back to her roots? My parents, and a young couple who were their best friends, all four of them cruising around in an old Jag, with the 8-track playing loud (eight-track decks were the 'in' thing at the time).  They must have felt like teenagers again (they were all in their forties).  Probably the locals hated them and thought they were loud and badly-behaved.  But they had a wonderful time.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Dad's Bread and Dripping

When my Dad was little, he was a terror. But in order to make him seem like a nice child, my grandmother had a useful trick. When he was invited to birthday parties, however, his mother (my grandmother, Elsie Beatrice Blagdon HAYWOOD) used to fill him up beforehand with bread-and-dripping.  This meant that, when he was asked at the party if he wanted seconds, he used to say (quite truthfully) "No, thank you, no thank you" - he couldn't have had any more; he was full of bread and dripping!

Note: in case you are one of those lucky people who is too young to remember bread-and-dripping: 'dripping' was something like lard and dripped from the fatty parts of an animal you had roasted (as in 'beef dripping' or 'pork dripping').  It used to be used for frying the chips of fish-and-chips, but now is considered not as healthy as, say, vegetable oil.  In Yorkshire, bread-and-dripping was often known as a 'mucky fat sandwich'.

Sounds yummy! (she said, with a forced smile).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Surname Saturday: Popham

It's not very often I find a new surname and can insert it into my family tree.  So I was delighted to search through and find the marriage of my gggg grandparents: John DUNSTONE and Ann POPHAM on 19 May 1802.

Unfortunately, there were several John DUNSTONEs who married an Ann - and the reason I chose Ann POPHAM?  Because for years, I have had their children listed, and the fifth child (and fourth daughter) was christened Elizabeth Popham DUNSTONE.  I always wondered why, even when I had been shown throughout other family lines that children were often given their mother's maiden name as either their middle name, or their first name!  But I just didn't realise it with Elizabeth and her mother, Ann.  I felt like one of those cartoon characters who gets hit on the head with an ENORMOUS wooden mallet. Shame I didn't pay attention to the genealogical mallet earlier...

In fact, I had already searched findmypast for the marriage.  But, because John came from Cornwall, and the 1851 census said that Ann was also born in Cornwall, I only looked at the marriages that took place in Cornwall.  They were married in Devon, in the nearby parish of Revelstoke.  I wonder why?  That's what a new surname will do for you - send you off on another quest.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Way Back Wednesday: Richard BALL and Susanna STONE 1777

I found Richard and Susanna when searching for the parents of my ggg grandfather, Jacob BALL.  I traced them through the excellent CD produced by the Devon Family History Society (they produce quite a few) which is a set of PDFs of parish registers.  In this case, I looked on the "Deanery of Woodleigh" CD, which has registers from Aveton Gifford, Bigbury, Buckland-Tout-Saints, Charleton, Chivelstone, Churchstow, Dodbrooke, East Allington, East Portlemouth, Kingsbridge, Loddiswell, Malborough, Moreleigh, Ringmore, Salcombe, Sherford, Slapton, South Huish, South Milton, South Pool, Stokenham, Thurlestone, West Alvington and Woodleigh.

Richard and Susanna were married in South Pool on 6 May 1777.  Richard was born about 1755 - and here I am confused: where is North Poole?  Is there a village in Devon? or is this something to do with Poole in Dorset?  He died on 11 Feb 1830 in South Pool.  Susanna STONE was christened on 1 Jan 1752 in South Pool, and died on 3 September 1829 there as well, only six months before Richard.  Maybe Richard couldn't live without her?

Their first child, James, was born only 5 months after the marriage, and since there is another James later, it is a thought that maybe the first James died as a baby (that seems to happen a lot in my family tree).  A mysterious gap in the christenings between 1779 and 1786 (they christened every two years, otherwise) suggests another avenue: was there a war on during those years, and Richard was called away?

The biggest breakthrough moment I had (producing a "genealogist's happy dance" LOL) was when I discovered that the second James I mentioned was actually another ggg grandfather!  I had been searching for parents for James BALL christened 8 August 1802 in South Pool, and a welcome email from an Online Parish Clerk pointed me in the direction of the transcribed registers held on Ray Osborn's gem of a site regarding the South Hams of Devon Why had I not thought to look there before?  Anyway, there was James, and his siblings, and a confirmation of the information I had got from the DFHS CD.

1802 may not seem very 'way back when' - but for me, it broke through a brickwall that had existed for several decades, and has taken me back into the late 1700s.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Great-Grandfather George

Today's memory comes from my grandmother, Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL.  Back in the 1890s (and probably further back), if there were any leftovers at supper, they were given to the man of the house, usually the father.  But my grandma recalled that, when she was a girl and there were leftovers at the EDGCOMBE supper table, her father would always shout, "Gi' it to the cheeils! Gi' it to the cheeils!" (give it to the children).

When I was in my twenties, I went to visit the grave of my grandma's youngest sister, and met an old man in the town who actually remembered great-grandpa George.  George had a shop in town at first, and always kept a barrel of vinegar in the doorway, where you could take a bottle from home and dip it in (how sanitary!) for a penny.

I look forward to meeting him.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Follow Friday: Non-Conformist BMDs

In association with the National Archives, is a site covering Non-Conformist Records and more.  This means that you will be able to find information regarding Methodists, Wesleyans, Baptists, Independents, Protestant Dissenters, Congregationalist, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Quakers (Society of Friends), Dissenters and Russian Orthodox.

This will be very helpful to many genealogists, who start out thinking that their ancestors were straightforward, run-of-the-mill Church (of England) churchgoers, until suddenly a whole branch of their tree disappears.  Instead of thinking that the entire branch were deported to Australia for committing the huge crime of stealing a handkerchief, or emigrated to America in order to follow their dreams - try thinking instead that they had strong religious views of their own and so became Protestant Dissenters, or joined any of the religions mentioned above.

Laws meant that individuals belonging to these religions still had to have their births, marriages and deaths recorded in the mainstream church. Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753 then allowed marriages to be not only recorded but also celebrated in non-mainstream churches.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Way Back Wednesday: Robert MURCH 1687

Robert MURCH, my 7th great grandfather, was born in 1687 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, UK.  In the 17th century, the population was swept up in the incidents relating to the Civil War between the supporters of the King (Charles I) and Parliament (Oliver Cromwell).  Names of battles at Nottingham, Edge Hill, Marston Moor, and Naseby were familiar to most.  But the Civil War was not only fought in faraway counties; it was also fought in Devon.  Royalist regiments under Lord Wentworth were camped at nearby Bovey Tracey, with Parliamentary forces under General Fairfax at Crediton and Moreton, and on 9 January 1646 was the Battle of Bovey Heath.

Plagues such as the Black Death and the Great Sweat, together with bad harvests and outbreaks of cholera which had previously been the biggest killers, were as nothing compared to the up-to-10% that were killed in the Civil War battles in the country.

But in 1688, there was a revolution in England of a different kind.  This was a revolution of religions.  In 1689 the Declaration of Rights confirmed that Catholics were barred from the throne of England.  The Toleration Act allowed ' hold services in licensed meeting houses and to maintain their own preachers (if they would subscribe to certain oaths) in England and Wales.' (The Victorian Web, David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sentimental Sunday: I Want You to Have It

When I was 15, my grandmother (Elsie Beatrice Blagdon HAYWOOD) died.  When I was 14, she pulled me aside and gave me her eternity ring.  She knew she didn't have long to live, and she said that, when she died, 'the vultures would descend' (her words) and I would get nothing.  So she gave me her ring, a treasured possession.  Because her fingers had grown so fat with her illness, she could no longer wear it, and it nestled in its small velvet box, a gold band studded with tiny rubies and diamonds (or so I thought). 

After her death, I wore it constantly.  So constantly, that the gold wore down and the gems fell out.  I went to a jeweller to ask for a quote to put them back in.  "Hmmm," he said, "garnet chips and zirconiums.  Quite frankly, it would cost more to put them back than the entire ring did in the first place."  I could have been disappointed; disappointed that the gems were not actually rubies and diamonds, disappointed that the ring itself was hardly the most expensive thing in the world...but to me, the Queen of England doesn't have something as valuable as that ring.

Now my fingers are too fat to wear the ring, and I have no children nor grandchildren to pass it on to.  But it is still precious...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Surname Saturday: Nott and Naming Traditions

A curious excerpt from a book states: "James BROOKE and Elizabeth NOTT's wedding in 1822 has a whiff of the shotgun about it; it was "by consent of Parents", which may mean they were both under age; and the witnesses were Hugh Nott and Richard Nott, presumably father or brothers to the bride, Elizabeth Nott.  Were they making sure the marriage actually took place?  After all, the first child was baptised only four months later...." ("A Family Story: Gadens and Graces" by Chris Thomas)

The Richard NOTT mentioned was quite possibly Elizabeth's brother; otherwise, he would have been her grandfather.  Or he could even be her uncle...another Richard NOTT, christened in 1775.  Hugh NOTT, also mentioned, may have been another brother or, more likely, Elizabeth's father, christened 3 August 1777 in Coldridge, Devon.

The NOTT surname makes its largest appearance in Australia, with many New Zealand connections.  But in my Devon family, it is the Christian names which are connected.  These naming traditions can be of great help to the bewildered researcher who is confronted with 68 John HAYWOODs...often, you can tell which is your family and which are your ancestors, by following these guidelines:

Child Namesake
1st son paternal grandfather
2nd son maternal grandfather
3rd son father
4th son father's oldest brother
1st daughter maternal grandmother
2nd daughter paternal grandmother
3rd daughter mother
4th daughter mother's oldest sister

Friday, 24 September 2010

Follow Friday: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is based in Nebraska, USA, but is international too.  RAOGK volunteers help out researchers who (for whatever reason) cannot get to the area they are investigating - for instance, maybe you have ancestors who resided in a certain area, but you live hundreds of miles away and have no means of transport; you want a photo of a tombstone and know exactly where it is - you just can't get there!  RAOGK volunteers take photos, look up records, and other things - all in the area they reside in.  They are not workers paid for their time, but you are requested to pay for things like photocopying, postage and so on.

If you need to make a request of a RAOGK volunteer, there are guidelines which state:
You may request one or two items concerning one or two ancestors.
You can not ask a volunteer to do anything outside of their specified location or to do anything for which they have not volunteered.
Volunteers are only obligated to do one look-up per month. If they make more than one request of any one volunteer per month, that volunteer may request a fee. It's up to the volunteer to decide what to charge for this.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Way Back Wednesday: A New Beginning

A new Blogging Theme to help me focus: Way Back Wednesday will zero in on end-of-line ancestors - and, when I run out of them, it can cover ancestors or (family) history from as far back as I have reached.  Such as my 10th great grandfather, James STANTON from St Cleer, Cornwall, born in 1630; or the Civil War between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads which affected my 7th great grandfather, Robert MURCH, in 1687 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

I will also be describing how I found my Way Back When ancestors, and where I am going to look next.  Although, since some of them have also become brickwalls, I may not actually know where I am going to look next!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sentimental Sunday: There She Is

Thirty years ago I travelled to the grave of my great-aunt, Marion Augusta EDGCOMBE, who died aged only 4 of diphtheria on 21 July 1922.  There was only one train down in the morning from London (where I lived) to Tiverton (where she was buried), and one train back, later in the day.  But I was young and daring, so to me it was a sort of adventure.

I found the cemetery, but it was huge, and I had no idea of the grave's location.  Fortunately for me, the man in charge was actually there, and he took pity on me.  Apparently, the cemetery was in the middle of having all its records digitised (well, typewritten), but they hadn't yet reached the entry for Marion Augusta, so I got to see the original register with its beautifully neat handwriting.  [Side note: although digitising records and putting them on the internet is a boon for many who can't travel, it also removes a lot of the wonder from genealogy when you can't see the originals].

We walked to the grave, but - to my disappointment - there was no headstone, just a patch of grass.  The nice cemetery man pointed to the grave on the left, and the grave on the right.

"Six feet from there, and six feet from there.  There she is, " he said, meaning to be kind, I have no doubt, but I found it rather tragic.  Then and there, I vowed to Great Aunt Marion that I would buy a headstone for her, as soon as I could afford it (even a simple marker would suffice, I thought).  Thirty years later, and I still haven't been able to save up enough.  But at least I know where she is.  Little 'Marie', buried far away from the rest of her family in an unmarked grave, is not lost.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Surname Saturday: Hall

The only time the HALL surname appears in my family tree is when it belongs to my ggg grandmother, Elizabeth Thomas HALL, who was born about 1800 in Plymouth, Devon, England.  The fact that her middle name - Thomas - is usually thought of as a man's name, suggests that it was actually a surname itself.  So maybe her mother's maiden name was THOMAS?  But wait, I have heard of people being caught out like this before.  They take huge genealogical leaps without any concrete evidence.

Now, I know there are times when leaps can become clues, but only if you treat them as such.  If I were to take Thomas as a clue to THOMAS, for instance, and therefore it would make me keep my eyes open for a suitable family, then that's OK.  What is not acceptable is me saying Thomas must be THOMAS, and therefore I will not accept anything else!  I have found that in my own family history.  A child was given the middle name of 'Cornish', but that particular name does not appear anywhere in my tree as a surname/maiden name.  Perhaps it was just the surname of a family friend, or (as often happened), the surname of a wealthy individual, and the family hoped that, by giving their child the wealthy person's name, they would inherit!

So Elizabeth Thomas HALL, who married into the BLAGDON family in Stoke Damerel in 1817, had 10 children, regularly appeared in censuses for thirty years, and died in Plymouth in 1876, remains something of a mystery as regards that Thomas name until I can get to the records that may shed some light on her birth and her parents.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Follow Friday: Historical Directories

This is a project run by the University of Leicester, and is located at the Historical Directories website.

This site contains many databases and a powerful search engine.  It says on their site that the project is "a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. It contains high quality reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and genealogical history."

The directories come from all over England and Wales from the 1850s, 1890s., and 1910.  They are working on directories from pre-1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s, and 1900s.  

And my favourite thing about it? It's FREE!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Maritime Monday: Ships of the East India Company

This fairly new site: Ships of the East India Company "...aims to provide information on all the ships, voyages and seafarers of the East India Company's mercantile services."  It covers years starting in 1600, and aims to create databases about:
  • ships (construction details, owners, service history, ultimate fate)
  • seafarers (sea service, ships served on, personal details, biographies)
  • voyages (dates of voyages, crew, ports of call, wrecks, captured, missing)
Definitely one to keep an eye on!

Maritime Monday is a Geneabloggers daily theme where you can post anything to do with the sea: ancestors who were sailors, shipwrights, fishermen, or coastguards; images, records and links.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Hercules was my uncle

I have an Uncle Erks (actually, he passed away years ago, but I have a strong belief in an afterlife).  I searched genealogically for years for an 'Erks', until my mother told me this story of how he got his name:

When he was a small boy at school in the 1930s, George Henry Hubert BALL was a thin, weedy little chap.  His classmates teased him and called him 'Hercules', since he so obviously wasn't a strongman.  'Hercules' was shortened to 'Erks'; and that is how I knew him.  The name caused some confusion when I started working on my family tree!

His brother, Walter, was known as 'Wigs'.  How that one came about, I have no idea...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Surname Saturday: Yates or Yeats or Yeates

It seems that, every time I search for my ancestors bearing this surname, there is a different spelling *sigh*.  Sometimes it is used as a middle name on a death certificate, where it didn't appear on the birth certificate.  It makes searching for a brickwall ancestor very frustrating.  But when it comes to the surname's religion...

Johanna YATES (or YEATES or YEATS) was born in 1808 in Chudleigh (my ggg grandmother).  Or it might have been Colridge.  Or Coldridge (even the town can't make up its mind how to spell its name!).  Her mother, Sarah, was unmarried at the time of the birth - and has vanished ever since, so maybe she married another man and I haven't discovered her new surname.  It will probably be something unusual, like JONES in Wales *genealogical cringe*... Sarah was christened in 1780 like many of my ancestors, as an Independent.  Later members of the family were described as Congregationalist.  From Wikipedia:

"In English church history, Independents advocated local congregational control of religious and church matters, without any wider geographical hierarchy, either ecclesiastical or political. Independents reached particular prominence between 1642 and 1660, in the period of the English Civil War and of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, wherein the Parliamentary Army became the champion of Independent religious views against the Anglicanism or the Catholicism of Royalists and the Presbyterianism favoured by Parliament itself.

The Independents advocated freedom of religion for non-Catholics and the complete separation of church and state. During the First Civil War, an alliance between supporters of the "War Party" led by John Pym and moderate MPs brought the Independent faction to prominence in Parliament. The Independents favoured confrontation with the King and an outright military victory rather than the negotiated settlement sought by the Presbyterians of the "Peace Party". The Independents actively supported the military alliance with Scotland in 1644 and the re-organisation of the armed forces that resulted in the formation of the New Model Army in 1645. After Pride's Purge, the so-called Rump Parliament of around fifty Independent MPs sanctioned the trial and execution of King Charles in January 1649 and the creation of the republican English Commonwealth."

Johanna married into the MURCH family, who had been Protestant Dissenters for well over a hundred years.  In fact, looking into the religions of these families is proving to be almost as interesting as finding them was in the first place.   

In 1972, three-quarters of the Congregationalist church merged with the Presbyterian church to form the United Reformed church.  About 600 Congregationalist churches, however, continued to be Independent.  Or independent.  It would be interesting to find out if Chudleigh/Colridge/Coldridge is one of them.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Follow Friday: Online Genealogy Lessons from Pharos

I don't usually like to 'advertise' a pay-for company in my blog, but these people seem to offer courses too enticing to ignore - if only I had the money...  Pharos Tutors offer online courses on English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish genealogy - and a course called Australian Roots and Branches!

From their website: Take a Pharos course and discover:
  • More about the historical background to your ancestors' lives
  • How to search effectively, online and offline
  • Where to find the best free genealogy indexes and fully searchable resources
  • How to make the best use of your time
  • How to save money
I know they are not some scam, because they are partnered with the Society of Genealogists, the Guild of One-Name Studies, and AGRA (The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives).  Among their varied and splendid offerings are courses on wills, writing your family history, DNA genealogy, apprenticeship records, manorial rolls and much, much more.

I am particularly interested in the course on Devon ancestors, and I am especially attracted to the fact that these are online courses.  Maybe I will have to save my pennies, or hope for a generous birthday present later in the year...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Ralph Francis Ley

Ralph Francis LEY
great great great uncle
photo courtesy of Ken Buckingham

Monday, 6 September 2010

Maritime Monday: RNLI - Forever by the Sea

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has a wonderful section on its website - pages devoted to a Forever By The Sea fund, which honours a loved one.  You set up a page in memory of the particular individual, and then you can upload photos, light candles and make donations (which will go towards helping the RNLI charity).

The RNLI, a charity dear to my father's heart and now mine - especially since I have so many ancestors who had something to do with the sea - states on their website: "The volunteer lifeboat crews of the RNLI have been selflessly saving lives at sea since 1824 [they have saved over 139,000 lives and rely on over 40,000 volunteers].  The RNLI receives no financial support from the UK Government.  So today, as always, we depend on the generosity of the public to be able to carry out rescues, and our crews are much busier than ever." 

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Surname Saturday: Ley

This is the most maternal surname I had for many years: my mother's mother's mother's mother's.  And to my delight, the line stretched back from Devon to Mevagissey, Cornwall, where my own mother had spent a blissful holiday many years ago, not knowing that it was the place of her ancestors.  This is the line of coastguards I have already mentioned.  A happy line, I thought, where the only difficulty lay in that my great great grandmother was married to the largest brickwall ancestor in creation (or so I thought).

Amanda LEY appears in the censuses as Amanda and Aminta (and another relative names her Amanda Malvina), and doesn't appear in the 1881 census at all (which would be the most valuable, since she would be a young mother with a husband of only a few years).  On her marriage certificate, she is named Minda (a diminutive of Amanda, and a name given to babies occasionally in our family).   According to family legend (oh, how those stories get distorted sometimes!), Amanda's husband, Joseph BUCKINGHAM, was a well-to-do coal merchant, who was kicked in the head by his horse and ended up in hospital.  His brother (or brother-in-law, depending on who you spoke to) ruined the family business and the girls had to be taken out of convent school.  Except he was a chimney sweep, and went into hospital for something quite different, dying quite young; the children ended up in the workhouse, Amanda had two children by another man, then she ended up in hospital, died in her early 40s and the children were sent to Canada.  My ancestor, Annie Marian, was named Mary by Dr Barnardo's - this is more a subject for Madness Monday!

Back to the LEY family.  Amanda's father, Nicholas LEY, was a coastguard found in Pembrokeshire, Wales in the 1841 census, then Pevensey, Sussex, in the 1851 census.  I have posted his photo before (a Wordless Wednesday), but it bears re-showing here:
I was very excited to be given this picture.  Looking at his built-up shoe - was this because of an injury received whilst a coastguard? or was he born with a disability? in which case, why did the Coastguard Service accept him (I doubt they had discrimination law quotas in those days)?

This line, which started me off with the happiness of a traceable history of ancestors, has now added all sorts of questions to the mix.  And the genealogist in me groans at the thought of all those doubts, while the detective in me shouts for joy!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Follow Friday: The National Wills Index (UK)

The National Wills Index  is a collaborative project to create a single, dedicated, online resource for pre-1857 probate material for England & Wales.  

These are their objectives, according to their website:
  • bringing together into a single database many disparate indexes to probate documents
  • creating indexes to probate documents where these do not already exist
  • making available hard copies of all the indexed probate documents
  • creating digitised images of the original documents, with online access
  • creating full name and place indexes to probate documents. 
This will be a pay-per-view site unless you have a subscription to the Origins net.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Maritime Monday: The Good Guys

Mevagissey, in Cornwall UK, is home to one of the branches of my family tree - the LEY family, which is on my mother's side.  Most of the men were coastguards, and today we would regard them as the 'good guys' - but way back when, they were often regarded more like spoilsports.  Smuggling and wrecking were often viewed as a man's right - his right to feed his family.

The farthest back I have gone so far is Ralph LEY, who married  Honour TONKYN on 17 August 1729 in Mevagissey (so he has recently celebrated his 281st wedding anniversary!).  I do not have a document anywhere which states his occupation, but since his sons, his grandsons, and his great-grandsons were all coastguards, I think it is only a matter of time before my hypothesis becomes fact.  The occupation of coastguard continues on through the family, even via the girls! Amanda Malvina LEY, my gg grandmother and daughter of a coastguard, married a man who became one, and had a son who became a coastguard as well...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Surname Saturday: Elliott

Aha! I have reached the only family where a will exists! (well, one that I have found, anyway - all the rest seem to be ag labs with not even a penny to their name).  John ELLIOTT, my gggg grandfather, was a cooper in South Devon (barrelmaker, among other things), and his will is interesting in that he actually has something to leave.

John had a beloved daughter, Eleanor, who looked after him in his old age.  Because of this, she was left a cedar chest where she used to keep her clothes, a mirror, a dressing-table, John's worktable and the six best hair-bottomed chairs!  and, of course, all the silver plate, plus £100. This is in addition to the £100 that she, her sister Elizabeth and her brother John were all given, which in today's money is about £5,000 - I found this out using The National Archive's excellent currency converter or "what is it worth in today's money?".  He made Trusts for his grandchildren, had land and a house to sell - good grief! maybe there is an obituary for such a wealthy chap...and surely Eleanor got married; after all, she had LOTS of money to attract suitors. 

The ELLIOTTs were interesting for things other than money.  They are the ones that take me furthest back - to 1637, and extend my line briefly into Dorset.  The fierce-looking "Great Aunt Ellen" was actually named Ellen Elliott BALL, and descended from the ELLIOTTs. 

I would like to delve deeper into this family.  Next stop: newspapers for John's obituary.  Tomorrow is Scanfest, so perhaps I will get all my ELLIOTT papers together and use the time to get them scanned...

Will of John Elliott, made in 1820

Monday, 23 August 2010

Maritime Monday: More Fair Hair and Blue Eyes

At the end of July I wrote about the service record of my gg uncle Edmund John HAYWOOD, stating that he had blond hair and blue eyes (unlike the other HAYWOODs I have known).  Now I come across the service record of his nephew, Ernest Murch HAYWOOD - and lo! and behold! he has fair hair and blue eyes as well...

Ernest Murch HAYWOOD, born on 19 October 1897, served for twelve years from 9 July 1913, so he was not quite 16 when his maritime career began.  His service record is covered with VGs (Very Good), and he passed numerous exams and badges.  During the First World War he was serving on board HMS Colossus when she took part in the Battle of Jutland (1916) aged only 19 and the word 'gratuity' is stamped at that point on his record.

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle of World War One.  Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk, but both sides claimed victory.  Ernest Murch was one of the more fortunate, returning from the battle to continue to serve.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Surname Saturday: Brooke

At last! a surname that has the largest concentration in the UK!  Next highest is Australia - but then, a LOT of UK individuals and families went to Australia at various times.  BROOKE is also one of the easier surnames when it comes to guessing its origins...and there are plenty of streams, small or otherwise, in England.  After all, don't they say that if you don't like the weather in England, wait half an hour, because it will have changed? LOL

I have met many visitors to this country who have marvelled at just how green everything is.  Er...that's because it is always raining...and the weather seems to take especial pleasure in raining on wedding days, Bank Holidays, and so on.

Anyway, back to BROOKE.  James BROOKE and Elizabeth NOTT (my ggg grandparents) were married on 19 Nov 1822 in Coldridge, Devon, with witnesses Hugh and Richard NOTT. James and Elizabeth proceeded to have eight children in the next thirteen years.  Coldridge itself provides some slight irritation for the genealogist - some people call it Coleridge, and the different spellings over the years in different censuses by different enumerators...

James was born about 1796 in Crediton, Devon.  He is an end-of-line ancestor, so perhaps I need to do some more research on him to get further back.  Of his children, Jane, the fourth child and third daughter, was my gg grandmother.  She married on 29 August 1847 (again, in Coldridge) - quite probably a Bank Holiday? I need to find a date calculator that tells me these things.  She had 11 children; the first four were in Coldridge, and then she and her husband Samuel FARLEY moved to just outside Millbrook in Cornwall. And a good thing, too, because then her 10th child and youngest daughter, Susan Emma, could meet and marry my great grandfather.

My father was so proud of being Cornish; it seems as though his ancestors started out in Devon, then migrated to Cornwall, while my mother's started out in Cornwall, then moved to Devon...and although I was born in London, I consider myself to be a West Country lass.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Follow Friday: Reading old handwriting

This is something we have all come up against: you find the precious record you have been searching for for over 30 years - and then you can't read it!  It's not even in Latin, or Anglo-Saxon or anything, and it wasn't scribbled down, but written so beautifully that only someone from a bygone age could decipher it...BYU have put together a series of tutorials on old handwriting.  Their tutorials cover several different countries including Germany, Holland, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal...and England.

The tutorials are free (my favourite word) and point you in the direction of the National Archives as well.  Here is another set of free tutorials covering palaeontology, or old handwriting.  Both sites don't just offer tutorials, they also offer practices and samples.  With the National Archives, you can even learn beginner's Latin!

But don't forget the main ingredient of reading old handwriting.  No, it's not a magnifying glass, nor years of expertise - it's patience.  Often, you will find that if you move your eyes over another part of the page, you will recognise a letter, so that when you come back to the word you were trying to decipher, all becomes clear.  Try it with a census page.

Two things to remember (that I got caught out on early in my genealogical travels):
1.  Double-s is often written with the 'long s', like this:

(Well, I had seen 'Lord' and 'Prince' as names given to children of poor families, so why not 'Jefe' - which, in Spanish, means 'Chief'?)

2.  Some enumerators were pressed for time and, if there was a family with, say, eight children, they only wrote the surname once, for the father - and the rest were dittoed.  Except they weren't dittoed with ditto marks, but with the word 'Do'.  So John Smith had a wife Mary Do, and children Fred Do, George Do, Sarah Do and so on.  For years, I thought I had a new surname in my family tree!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Surname Saturday: Lethbridge

Mary Ann LETHBRIDGE's birth certificate was one of the first I bought (if not *the* first!): 2 November 1845 was the date she was born, in an unfamiliar place near Plymouth, Devon (I couldn't read it, and neither could the GRO clerk who had painstakingly written it out).  She was my great great grandmother, and her certificate gave me information on her parents, James LETHBRIDGE and Mary WEBBER.  I found their marriage certificate for 14 July 1839 (they married in East Stonehouse, Devon) - and that's where I encountered my first brick wall. 

A 'brick wall', as every genealogist knows (and cringes at the mention of) is where you have searched and searched and searched, and found big fat nothing.  Your ancestors just seem to have come out of nowhere, never been enumerated on a census, never registered anybody or anything, and vanished back into the thin air from whence they came.

James and Mary are like that.  I have their marriage certificate - and that's it.  James and Mary are fairly common names, so trying to track them down among all the other James and Marys... are they the couple who baptised in Jersey? or Teignmouth?  James LETHBRIDGE's father is Richard.  Mary's is John.  Sigh.  They don't exist, either.  I was thinking of putting the certificates on this blog, in case anyone could recognise their names - but now I can't even find the certificates.  Oh, well, Scanfest isn't for another couple of weeks. Those certifications are certainly at the head of the queue! (if I ever manage to find them).

Mary Ann went on to marry John BLAGDON on 15 February 1863, and from then on I can document her nicely.  But prior to 1863, she doesn't exist.  Born in 1845, she should appear on the 1851 and 1861 censuses.  Except she doesn't.

My head hurts. ;o)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Follow Friday: The Domesday Book on National Archives

National Archives says: "Domesday Book is a detailed survey of the land held by William the Conqueror and his people, the earliest surviving public record, and a hugely important historical resource."  The National Archives microsite for the Domesday Book has a search facility for you to look for a mention of your own town or village (or where your ancestors came from); information on the Book itself; information on what life was like when the Book was being written; games and quizzes; and resources for teachers and students, including video clips.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Maritime Monday: From Carpenter to Shipwright

Samuel AVERY, married in 1806, was a carpenter in East Stonehouse during the Napoleonic Wars.  One of his sons, George, christened 30 September 1814, became a shipwright - and later, a ship's carpenter.  By the time he was an adult, the Napoleonic Wars were over, but George's services as a shipwright in HM Dockyard at Plymouth were still needed right up until a few years before his death in 1878.  One of George's granddaughters married into the HAYWOOD family - and the tradition of working in the Dockyards continued, with varying occupations - including shipwright.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Surname Saturday: Dunstone

So far I have traced the DUNSTONE name in Cornwall back to the early 1700s.  Next stop...?

The DUNSTONEs lived in and around the St Germans area of Cornwall, then moved to Rame (not too far away!) and I have evidence of them in the Cawsand and Kingsand areas as well.   Emma Elizabeth DUNSTONE (my gg grandmother) was the one who stayed in the Bodmin County Lunatic Asylum and was described as having a room which was 'all in disorder'.

But an even more colourful DUNSTONE was her mother, Thomasine.  In some of the censuses she is enumerated as 'Tamson' - can't you just hear her Cornish accent coming through?  Thomasine was born in 1814 in Cawsand, the sixth child of John and Ann DUNSTONE (who are proving to be another brick wall), with six sisters and one brother.  Thomasine married when she was twenty, to George AVERY, a ship's carpenter then a shipwright (yet another brick wall, as he seems to have appeared out of nowhere!), and the censuses record her living in Cawsand, then Kingsand.  She had ten children, four of whom died when they were tiny, so Thomasine was not a stranger to tragedy quite early on into her marriage.  In the 1871 census, George and Thomasine are listed as living at the 'Halfway House'  Beer House - are they the publicans? Her husband, George, died when their youngest was only 14, but Thomasine did not sink into despair and end up being farmed out around the children or, worse, end up in the workhouse.   Only a couple of years after George's death, she is listed on the 1881 census as being the landlady of the 'Halfway House' Beer House in Fore Street, Kingsand, and she remains there until her death in 1897.  I would like to know more about this brave lady.  The 'Halfway House' still stands and runs as a bar and restaurant, in what they call 'Cornwall's Forgotten Corner', so maybe I will email them and see what happens.  Watch this space...

Friday, 6 August 2010

Follow Friday: War Memorials on Devon

Devon Heritage is a wonderful site with records relating to people and places in the county of Devon.  As part of its treasure chest (perhaps I should have posted this item on Treasure Chest Thursday? LOL), there are pages devoted to the various war memorials that are scattered all over the county.  War memorials were originally erected to commemorate those who died in the 1914-1918 war (World War I), and almost every city and even small town and village had their own monument with the names of locals who had died.  In a way this was to help assuage the huge upswell of grief that followed the war; almost every family lost someone they loved.  Many of those who died were buried in mass graves, or their bodies were never found.

Most parishes have their own page, which includes a photo of the memorial itself, sometimes a photo of the names thereon, and a transcription of those names as well.  Although most Memorials only contain the name of the soldier and where he died, this site also gives some background on the soldier as well.

An epitaph which is frequently found on War Memorials, often quoted in church services on Remembrance Sunday, is part of the poem by Laurence Binyon:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Surname Saturday: Murch

I was quite surprised to find that the largest concentration of this surname is - New Zealand! closely followed by cities in the northwest of England (although I always wondered why there were so few MURCHes in Devon).  There are some clock and watchmakers of that name, but my MURCHes worked with wool in the 17th century, then slowly graduated to silk and lace by the 19th.  I also found it interesting to note that, right from the mid-1600s, they are recorded as Protestant Dissenters - and later, Congregationalists, right up until my great great grandmother married into the HAYWOOD family and settled in Cornwall.

Henry Warner Bowden describes Congregationalism as:
"...a form of Protestant church organization based on the autonomy of each congregation, [which] emerged as part of the liberal wing of Puritanism in the English Reformation. By 1600, many clergymen were calling for reform in the Church of England, arguing that the key to adequate change was to grant local congregations autonomy. These congregationalists opposed Presbyterians, who wished to manage churches by means of district assemblies, and Anglicans, who wanted bishops for the same purpose.
Those who agreed on the democratic principle of congregational self government, however, differed among themselves about what to do. Some were called Separatists because they refused to associate with the national church; a notable example was the Pilgrim group, which established (1620) the Plymouth Colony in North America. Although others, the non Separatists, did not openly break with the Church of England, increasing persecution led many to emigrate to New England under the auspices of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The Separatists who remained in England, where they were called Independents, achieved substantial political influence in the period following the English Civil War (the Commonwealth and Protectorate). The Restoration in 1660 brought renewed repression, but the Toleration Act of 1689 allowed freedom of worship.
In New England, Congregationalist churches worked so closely with civil governments in every colony except Rhode Island that no other type of church was allowed in the area until 1690, when English authorities forced them to tolerate other religious groups. This relationship is often called theocracy, a situation in which ministers interpreted biblical laws related to general human conduct and town officials enforced them through police power. State government support for Congregationalist churches did not end until 1818 in Connecticut and not until 1834 in Massachusetts.
In 1790, Congregationalists formed the largest, strongest church in America. In the 19th century, however, the church failed to grow proportionately with national expansion. In the 20th century, Congregationalist churches in the United States, Britain, and elsewhere have contributed to the Ecumenical Movement. In 1957 the U S Congregationalists merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form a single denomination, the United Church of Christ, which in the late 1980s had 1.67 million members."
The main BELIEVE web-page (and index to subjects) is at:

So, some of my ancestors were searching for the truth, for something to believe in, and their descendant is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Follow Friday: Cornish Newspapers

A page contained within the West Penwith Resources site details some of the newspapers that covered Cornwall from 1801 right up to the present day.  Dates of when certain papers were publishing appear, as do links to the British Library Newsplan Project, and even some short extracts.  The newspapers covered are: Cornwall Gazette and Falmouth Packet, Royal Cornwall Gazette, Cornish Guardian, West Briton, Penzance Gazette, Penzance Journal, Cornish Telegraph, Mining, Agricultural and Commercial Gazette, Cornish Evening Tidings, The Cornishman, The Church in the West, St Ives Weekly Summary, Visitors' List and Advertiser, Western Echo, St Ives Times, Penzance and District News and Advertiser, Penzance Shopper, and the Penzance, Hayle and St Ives Leader.

Those already familiar with Cornwall will notice that many of the newspapers mentioned above do concentrate on the western part of the county.  One of the things I have found the most difficult over the years is discovering which papers covered which area I am currently researching - so, now that I know the names, I can search further for some archives.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Maritime Monday: Blond Hair, Blue Eyes

Here's a surprise!  My HAYWOODs came from Cornwall (traditionally dark hair and dark eyes) - all the HAYWOODs I have known (including my own father) were moderately tall, had dark hair, dark eyes.  Then I found the service record of Edmund John (great great uncle) and his colouring? Fair hair and blue eyes (and only 5' 5")... 

Edmund John was born 1870 in Bovey Tracey.  This is where suddenly the family breaks from being Cornish through and through - they originated from Devon! (further delicious hints suggest they came from Warwickshire before that).  He joined the Navy when he was 12 in 1891, first serving aboard HMS Indus, then serving on various ships until he was discharged in 1903.  But he had not had enough, and re-enlisted, serving until 1919 and receiving a Good Conduct Badge (and a war gratuity). 

I still have to work out why his service record says "Run" in 1897 (later this was expunged from his record) and why his 1901 record says that he 'entered from gaol'.  Could this mean that Edmund John was a bit of a rebel?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Surname Saturday: Buckingham

The BUCKINGHAM surname appears first with my maternal great grandmother, Annie Marian nee BUCKINGHAM later EDGCOMBE.  I say it appears first, because I am working backwards from myself.  Oh, and by the way, Great-Grandma appears sometimes as Annie, sometimes as Marian, and sometimes as Mary (!) Although I think I can explain that last one, because all the Marians in our family are called 'Marie' for short, descending perhaps from my great great great aunt, who came from Ireland, where the name is often pronounced 'MAHree'...easy to see how the official from Dr Barnardo's wrote Marie down as Mary (just before her youngest brothers, Archie and Ernie, were sent off to Canada as orphans.  Well, it had to be better than the workhouse in Plymouth: imagine a workhouse in Prison Road!).

But then the provenance becomes more interesting - and departs from the Devon and Cornwall of this blog.  The 18th and 19th century BUCKINGHAMs came from Foleshill in Warwickshire, with some venturing as far as Coventry, Astley and Bedworth.  There is a hint of religion in there, too - John and Ann BUCKINGHAM named their children Adam, Eve, Habbakuk, John and James.  Perhaps I should just be content with Annie Marian.

All this could also be part of the 'Madness Monday' strand, where you write about research that has driven you mad!  Family legends: "he was a well-to-do coal merchant" translates into 'chimney sweep' in official records; ancestors being 'creative' about their age by knocking 10 years off when it suited them; ancestors changing their given names because they didn't like the ones they were given...

Friday, 23 July 2010

Follow Friday: Gravestone Photographic Resource

Updated once a week, Gravestone Photographic Resource aims to digitally photograph grave monuments (that are currently legible).  It covers countries worldwide; you can get copies of gravestone photographs, search for surnames on the site, and it is FREE ! (one of my favourite words).

It has as its aims:
  1. to digitally photograph grave monuments worldwide that are currently legible
  2. to extract all legible personal information (name, age, date of birth, date of death, relationship) from each image
  3. to publish all legible personal information on an internet database and make this data freely available
  4. to email copies of any grave monument image free of charge to anyone requesting a copy
  5. to lodge at appropriate public record offices collections of images appropriate to that area
  6. to encourage local groups to maintain, photograph and record grave monuments

Monday, 19 July 2010

Maritime Monday: All at Sea

The start of a new daily blogging theme: Maritime Monday.  As so many of my ancestors were sailors, or coastguards, or fishermen, or shipwrights, or had something to do with the sea, I decided to make Mondays my day for honouring them.  (BTW, this is with the permission of Thomas MacEntee).  Many of my ancestors lived near the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall, so the sea would have played a large part in their lives anyway, and those areas are rich in folklore, as well as being my ancestral home!

If anyone else has seafaring folk in their family tree, I invite you to consider having your own Maritime Monday.  Something I have found to be an excellent focus for my research is having a blog, and especially designating one particular day for one particular theme.  It does away with the scattergun approach, and it is surprising just how real an ancestor becomes when you focus on just him or her.  It has given my family history research a whole new direction, and I have regained the impetus which I was beginning to lose.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Surname Saturday: Damerell

I have traced my DAMERELLs back to East Allington (Devon) in 1658.  part of a farming community, they moved to nearby Loddiswell, then to Charleton and Kingsbridge.  Great great grandfather Henry started out as an 'engine rail driver', but soon graduated to the sea, as did many of my ancestors, working as a sailor for nearly twenty years.  He later became a marine-store dealer, which in fact sounds posher than it actually is.  (It also sometimes refers to gypsies, but I do not think I have any Romany blood in me).  Basically, a marine store dealer was a scrap man who sold to mariners. 

" A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He usually sorted the purchased waste by kind, grade etc. He also repaired and mended sacks etc.
Marine Store Dealers were governed by an Act of Parliament 1st. Geo. IV. sec.16 cap.75. which enacted that every marine-store-dealer shall have his name inserted in legible characters over his shop-door and shall also keep a book in which he shall insert the name and address of any person from whom he shall buy any article." ( and was mentioned by Dickens as early as 1836.

Later, he became a stoker in a steam ship, and in fact was still a stoker in his early sixties.  He was obviously a very strong man!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Follow Friday: Deceased Online

From Deceased Online's website, we are told: "Deceased Online is the first central database of statutory burial and cremation registers for the UK and Republic of Ireland -- a unique resource for family history researchers and professional genealogists."  You can search for free, but further records have to be purchased, as with most online sites, and their records include:
  • burial and cremation register entries in computerised form
  • digital scans of register pages
  • scans of book of remembrance pages
  • grave details and other interments in a grave (key to making new family links)
  • pictures of graves and memorials
  • maps showing the exact locations of graves and memorials.
There is nowhere to create a page of remembrance, as in Find-A-Grave, but maybe this is coming.


BTW, I analyzed my writing, from the Analyzer at  "I Write Like...", and guess who I write like?

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Kurt Vonnegut used to write works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction. I have a very dry sense of humour (but I also like the ridiculous!) and love Star Trek. Does that count? rotfl

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Surname Saturday: Farley

My FARLEYs came originally from the small village of North Tawton in Devon, where FARLEYs are described as being "thick on the ground" - ie that there were a lot of them, rather than that they were stupid!  There is a nearby crossroads called 'Farley's Grave'; usually, only thieves were buried by a crossroads, which does make you wonder...

In the 1850s, however, my FARLEYs moved to Millbrook, Cornwall, and married into the BLAGDON family (then later the BLAGDONs married into the HAYWOOD family).  From working almost exclusively on the land, the family turned to being labourers, so maybe they too had something to do with the nearby Plymouth Docks.  I have found evidence of some of them having entered the Royal Navy on the HMS Champion, and the HMS Defiance (torpedo school ship) and working in the merchant service, so this seems likely.

The surname itself is more widespread in Australia, and much more common in the US.


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