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 born...so 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 findmypast.com 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, bmdregisters.co.uk 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.

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