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.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Follow Friday: OPC Rame Peninsula

I posted about the OPC project a few weeks ago (11 June 2010, to be exact).  To recap: An Online Parish Clerk is not to be confused with the official Parish Council-appointed clerks).  An Online Parish Clerk is a volunteer who gathers all the genealogical data they can about their chosen parish, such as Church register transcripts, land tax assessments, census information and more. 

So here's a website that covers a whole section of the county of Cornwall which features heavily in my family tree: The OPCs for the Rame Peninsula

As you can see from the map (it's from their website, I'm not that clever at drawing!), the site covers St Germans, Sheviock, Antony, Torpoint, St John, Rame, and Maker.  Of these, the parishes that are most useful to my family tree are Antony, Torpoint, Rame, and Maker (with probably a bit of St Germans from time to time).  These parishes were the ones lived in by my ancestors on my father's side of the family.  These are the parishes which saw my shipwrights and sailors.  I will be starting up a new theme for Mondays: Maritime Monday, to remind me to write about my ancestors who had something to do with the sea, since so many of my ancestors fall into that category.  I haven't found any pirates yet, though! *grin* but there were a LOT of coastguards!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Great Aunt Ellen

Ellen Elliott Ball, 1848-1935
She looks quite fearsome, doesn't she?  You imagine her being incredibly strict, quoting from the Bible at every turn, and disapproving of all children at all times.

Yet apparently she was totally different.  She always had a soft spot for children, and was well-known in the family for giving out sweets (and extra cash to those who asked).  She was known as 'Great Aunt Ellen' (even if she wasn't your great aunt) and even today, 75 years after her death, everybody in the family, whether or not they actually know any other ancestors, everybody has heard of 'Great Aunt Ellen'.  My mother recalled their living arrangements when she was small.  Granddad, Grandma, and seven children all in one bedroom, and Great Aunt Ellen in the other (amazes you that they managed to have seven children...).  I have seen the house they lived in, and it is TINY.

Great Aunt Ellen never married, but was obviously beloved of all who knew her - and reverenced even by those who didn't.


I put this in the Analyzer at "I Write Like..." and it came up with this:

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

Margaret Mitchell was, of course, the authoress of 'Gone With the Wind'...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Surname Saturday: Avery

Samuel Avery was a carpenter back in the early 1800s.  His son married into a family connected to the sea, and soon the AVERYs were known for building and designing boats and ships.  Later, the AVERY name is found in its highest concentrations in Canada and New Zealand (interesting to note that it is found mostly in the New Plymouth district of NZ - all my AVERYs came from Plymouth and the surrounding area.

Kingsand, Cornwall
'My' AVERYs lived in the villages of Cawsand, Kingsand, and Rame, in Cornwall, England.  When my great grandmother Emma Maud AVERY married into the Haywood family, although they stayed in the same place, one of her sons (my grandfather) became a shipwright.

The surname itself is Gaelic.  Cornwall (where my AVERYs came from) is well-known for its connections with Ireland, and some of my ancestors on my mother's side were either Irish themselves, or served in Ireland as coastguards.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Follow Friday: LostCousins

This site - Lost Cousins - is an unusual concept, but a useful one, and basic membership is free (one of my favourite words LOL).  You enter your ancestors from the UK 1841 and/or 1881 census - and now the 1911 census, and the site matches you with other members who have entered the same ancestors - so they are 'cousins'.  It is private in that nobody else can see your tree, and nobody can even see your email address.

Of course, it's not just the England & Wales 1841 and 1881 censuses that they support (which include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) - it is also the 1880 US Census, the 1881 Canadian Census, the 1881 Census of Scotland, and the 1911 Census of Ireland. They chose these because they are readily available online, and some of them can be accessed for free (there's that word again).


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