Saturday, 31 December 2011

Indexing at FamilySearch

I only recently got involved with indexing at, and was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is.  You can do as much or as little as you can - and who can't do one page per day, even if (like me) you have a hectic day job and your spare time is already crowded? Or even one page per week?

At the moment I am indexing the 1871 census, and have covered parts of London, Yorkshire, and Lancashire.  Oh, and I have worked on draft cards from Hawaii, too (probably the nearest I'll ever get to Hawaii!).  And, of course, there are loads of other records, countries, and languages.  But the best bit is that you don't have to be some sort of genealogy guru with decades of experience behind you.  If you can read  your own doctor's handwriting - hey, you'll probably be one of their top indexers in no time!

It's just so easy.  People sometimes shrink back at the word 'indexing' because they don't know what it means, and so think that it's probably something incredibly technical.  Hah.  Basically, it means typing out something so that other people can read it.  It gets put into a special electronic format BY SOMEBODY ELSE.  Think of those census forms you have picked your way through, muttering evilly at the beauty of the enumerator's writing.  And then you go to a free site like FamilySearch, and there is all the information you needed to start you off on a Genealogist's Happy Dance.  And not all the enumerators had eye-watering writing.  Some of them wrote neatly and clearly.

So: you don't have to be a technical wizard, you don't have to have decades of genealogical experience behind you - you don't have to be home alone all day every day.  You can just be you - and that's wonderful.  Go to - and give back some genealogical kindness, one page at a time.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Three Genealogy Books

I am so excited!  Today I treated myself to three genealogy books - they were all downloads, so I don't have to wait for tedious weeks while they make their way through Customs.

1) The Official Unofficial Guide to Using Legacy Family Tree
by Geoff Rasmussen
I have been eying this book ever since it came out earlier this year.  When I started researching, back in the late 1970s, I began by using Personal Ancestral File, and dutifully followed it throughout its iterations.  Then I tried out Legacy and was hooked.  The Legacy I have now is the Deluxe version, with all the bells and whistles on it you can imagine.  I have tried some other software, but somehow it never measured up.  And, yes, I have the instruction manual (in pdf format).  And now here is a wonderful book (written by Geoff Rasmussen) with tips, tricks and - oh, bliss! - examples.  (That's often how I learn best: not by reading line after line of text, but by somebody showing me in pictures how to do something.)

2) The Guide to FamilySearch Online
by James Tanner
I was very accustomed to using the old FamilySearch site.  Then it was upgraded, and I am still stumbling about, discovering new things every day.  So, I thought, apart from the fact that I love to read James Tanner's writing (and so I follow his blog, Genealogy's Star) - well, I'd be doing myself a favour if I read the instruction manual and found out how to get the best out of  I can tell already that it's not as dry and dull as some instruction manuals are.  I am looking forward to delving into this one.

3) The Big Genealogy Blog Book
by Amy Coffin
I first heard about this one via a post on Karen Blackmore's Karen's Genealogy Oasis.  I read through her recommendation of this book; it was written by Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog. Note that if you get it from, you can download it in epub or pdf format.  However, it is also available for the Kindle - but if you do as I did and bought it from, and you also have calibre, you can convert it into the Kindle format.
I am only three-quarters of the way through it, but already I can see it has HUGE potential for unlocking my huge potential.  It offers suggestions for projects and things you may not have even thought of doing.  It includes:

Chapter 1: Why Start a Genealogy Blog?
Chapter 2: Six Blogging Myths
Chapter 3: Tips for Writing Good Blog Posts
Chapter 4: How to Get More Blog Readers
Chapter 5: How to Get More Blog Comments and Mentions
Chapter 6: Quality Control: A Blogger's Checklist
Chapter 7: Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog: 52 Ideas, 52 Weeks
Chapter 8: 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy
Chapter 9: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History
Chapter 10: 25 Great Topics for Genealogy Society Blogs
Chapter 11: 20 Blog Topics for Professional Genealogists
and so far, the only parts which make my eyes glaze over a little are the ideas which are very US-centric.   True, Amy does occasionally tack "if you are researching outside the United States"-type phrases onto the end of a sentence, but they tend to look rather like afterthoughts.  Still, there are so many other ideas, prompts, and suggestions, that it doesn't really matter.  It's a bit like coming across an excellent recipe book which has some recipes which include peanuts to which you have an allergy.  You just ignore the recipes with peanuts.  Doesn't make the other recipes any less delicious - and delicious is how this book is proving to be.

Friday, 23 December 2011

On This Day: 23 December

Two events to celebrate today: a christening in 1865 and a wedding in 1722.

The wedding first: Michael DAMAREL and Elizabeth Jane got married in East Allington on 23 December 1722 (they are my 6 x great grandparents).  The surname is one of those which gets spelt differently as each generation moves on - and even gets spelt differently within each generation, so I have to check for DAMAREL, DAMARELL, DAMERELL, DAMERALL and any variation thereof.

The christening is of twins: Lewis Albert and Augusta Ann EDGCOMBE (another surname with all sorts of spellings!).  This christening is marked with a special set of emotions, when I looked at the dates of the other children.  Parents George and Mary Ann married in 1859, followed in 1860 with the birth of baby James Henry - who only lived some four months.  Bertha Ellen was born in 1861 - but she died of scarlet fever aged only 4.  Noah George was born in 1864, but lived for less than a year.  And the saddest thing? Little Bertha Ellen's death was registered by her grandmother, because her mother Mary Ann was seven months pregnant with the twins, and was probably not allowed to go near Bertha.

So there must have been mixed emotions at the christening of Lewis and Augusta.  Grief at the death of Bertha only three months before, hope that these two babies would live (they did, growing up to get married and have families of their own).

Here they are (they are my great-great-uncle and aunt) aged about four:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

On This Day: 21 December

A baptism and a wedding today - in that order because they are different families.  Thomas DUNSTONE was baptised/christened on 21 December in 1752 in Rame, Cornwall - he is my 5 x great grandfather, and eventually his descendants married into the HAYWOOD line.

William EFFORD and Elizabeth ELLIOTT were married on 21 December 1802 in Kingsbridge, Devon, my 3 x great-aunt and -uncle.  I only know William's name and baptismal date, but I have discovered that Elizabeth was a schoolmistress.  I first found out about her from her father's Will (John ELLIOTT, 1748-1823), where she was left £100; according to's calculator this is worth £76,500 in today's money - a huge sum.  Her father also bequeathed her £20 for her own use: £15,300 (without the "interference" of her husband - this is the wording of the Will). The ELLIOTT family eventually married into the BALL family on my mother's side of the tree.

My question is: where did all this money go?

Monday, 19 December 2011

On This Day: 19 December

Another great-aunt, but this time she is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-aunt.  Her name was Wilmot BASTONE, and she was christened on 19 December 1684 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

Her parents were married in 1684; most of the babies born as the first child of a couple in my family tree also died within months.  As I know nothing about Wilmot, I wonder if she was one of them?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

On This Day: 18 December

Today is the day for great-great-aunts!

Ann BALL was christened on this day in 1838 in South Pool, Devon, and Harriet MURCH was born on this day in 1841 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

Ann links into my Ball surname tree, and Harriet into my Haywood surname tree.

Ann was the ninth and youngest child of Jacob and Jane BALL.  Census records her as living with them, then becoming a shopkeeper and marrying Robert PATEY on 30 April 1857 and having one daughter, Clara, in 1865.

Harriet was the sixth child (and fifth daughter) of Samuel and Joanna MURCH, following in the family tradition of becoming a lacemaker, then moving to Exeter, Devon with her joiner husband, Alfred PINE.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

On This Day: 17 December

1776 - Samuel TOZER is baptised/christened in Nymet Tracey, Devon, England.  My 4 x great-uncle.

1881 - Caroline Harriet MOULE is baptised/christened in Plymouth Charles, Devon, England.  My second cousin twice removed.

Both link into the BLAGDON family line.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent Calendar: Fruitcake

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.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Advent Calendar: Gifts

It was a tradition in our family to reuse boxes.  When I gave my father his first computer (a ZX81, so it shows just how long ago it was!), he was rather hurt, saying that it wasn't nice to give someone a present in a box of something they really wanted.  Then he opened the ZX81 box, to find: a ZX81...I remember that it cost me an entire week's wages, but the ecstatic look on his face was priceless.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Hello from NaNoWriMo! *waves*

In case  you have been wondering where I am: I'm here, writing a 50,000 word novel in a month (not 'here' as in writing my genealogy blog).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Ancestors' GeneaMeme

Here is another Geneameme, which originally appeared in Jill Ball's blogpost on her blog Geniaus.  You are asked to complete a list, following these rules:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

So, here are my annotations to her list:

Which of these apply to you?
  1.  Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2.  Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3.  Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4.  Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5.  Have an ancestor who was a bigamist
  6.  Met all four of my grandparents
  7.  Met one or more of my great-grandparents
  8.  Named a child after an ancestor
  9.  Bear an ancestor's given name/s
  10.  Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland
  11.  Have an ancestor from Asia
  12.  Have an ancestor from Continental Europe
  13.  Have an ancestor from Africa
  14.  Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15.  Have an ancestor who had large land holdings 
  16.  Have an ancestor who was a holy man - minister, priest, rabbi
  17.  Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18.  Have an ancestor who was an author
  19.  Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones
  20.  Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21.  Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22.  Have an ancestor with a forename beginning with Z
  23.  Have an ancestor born on 25th December
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day
  25.  Have blue blood in your family lines
  26.  Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27.  Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  28.  Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29.  Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier
  30.  Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents
  31.  Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32.  Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university
  33.  Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence
  34.  Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime
  35.  Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine (Tell us where)
  36.  Have published a family history online or in print (Details please)
  37.  Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries
  38.  Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39.  Have a  family bible from the 19th Century
  40.  Have a pre-19th century family bible

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tech Tuesday: The Technical Genealogist Meme

Geniaus built the original 50-strong meme, then it was added to by John Newmark of the Transylvanian Dutch blog.  I have added (JN) at the end of each of his entries.  Unfortunately, his additions mean I have done less and less!   Some of the items I haven't done because they will cost money that I just don't have (like owning an iPad or a smartphone)...

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad [GenWestUK: when I have the money!]
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes [GenWestUK: when I have the money!]
  3. Use a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader for genealogy related purposes (JN)
  4. Have used Skype to for genealogy purposes
  5. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home [GenWestUK: when I have the money!]
  6. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
  7. Use multiple genealogy software programs because they each have different functionalities (JN)
  8. Have a Twitter account
  9. Tweet daily
  10. Have a genealogy blog
  11. Have more than one genealogy blog
  12. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
  13. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise
  14. Have a Facebook Account
  15. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  16. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
  17. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  18. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  19. Have added content to a Person Page on Fold3 (formerly Footnote) (JN)
  20. Have registered a domain name
  21. Post regularly to Google+
  22. Have participated in a genealogy-related Google+ hangout (JN)
  23. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  24. Have a blog listed on Cyndi's List (JN)
  25. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project
  26. Have converted a family audiotape to digital (JN)
  27. Have converted a family videotape to digital (JN)
  28. Have converted family movies pre-dating videotape to digital. (JN)
  29. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner [GenWestUK: when I have the money!]
  30. Can code a webpage in .html
  31. Can code a webpage in .html using Notepad (or any other text-only software) (JN)
  32. Can write scripts for your webpage in at least one programming language (JN)
  33. Can write scripts for your webpage in multiple programming languages (JN)
  34. Own a smartphone [GenWestUK: when I have the money!]
  35. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
  36. Have a local library card that offers you home access to online databases, and you use that access (JN)
  37. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  38. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  39. Have hosted a genealogy blog carnival (JN)
  40. Use Chrome as a Browser
  41. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  42. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
  43. Have a personal genealogy website
  44. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
  45. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
  46. Have tweeted during a family reunion (JN)
  47. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files
  48. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  49. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry
  50. Own a netbook
  51. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes
  52. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  53. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget
  54. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  55. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening
  56. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  57. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite
  58. Know about Rootstech
  59. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  60. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud
  61. Schedule regular email backups
  62. Have contributed to the Familysearch Wiki
  63. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs
  64. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format
  65. Brought a USB device to a microfilm repository so you could download instead of print (JN)
  66. Have a wearable USB device containing important files. (Watch, keychain necklace, etc) (JN)
  67. Created a map on Google Maps plotting ancestral homes or businesses (JN)  
  68. Recorded the GPS coordinates for a tombstone, or ancestral home  (JN)
  69. Edited the Wikipedia entry for an ancestor, or their kin (JN)
  70. Created an entry at FindAGrave for a person (JN)
  71. Created an entry at FindAGrave for a cemetery (JN) 
  72. Uploaded the MediaWiki software (or TikiWiki, or PhpWiki) to your family website (JN)  
  73. Have downloaded a video (for genealogical purposes) from YouTube or other streaming video site using, or in some other fashion (JN) 
  74. Have transferred a video from a DVR to your computer for genealogical purposes (JN) 
  75. Have participated in a ScanFest (JN)
  76. Have started a Genealogy-related meme at least one other geneablogger participated in (JN)
  77. Have started a Genealogy-related weekly blogging theme other geneabloggers participated in (JN)
  78. Have used Photoshop (or other editing software) to ‘clean up’ an old family photo (JN) 
  79. Done digital scrapbooking (JN)
  80. Printed out a satellite photo from Google Maps of a cemetery, and marked where a tombstone was located on it (JN)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Teachers

There were several teachers on whom I had mad crushes - I won't reveal their names to avoid my own embarrassment (!) - but there were also teachers to whom I owe my foreign language accents.

I was fortunate enough to have a Spanish lady as one of my Spanish teachers and a French lady as one of my French teachers.  They developed my accent so it was much purer; so that I didn't sound like an English girl speaking a foreign language.

In my second year of a bi-lingual secretarial course at college, part of the curriculum was to take a job for three weeks in France.  I was fortunate enough to be offered one of the top jobs: three weeks at Laura Ashley's HQ in Paris.  While I was there I got my ears pierced.  My mother wouldn't let me get my ears pierced in our local town, so I figured that Paris was far enough away from her to get my ears done... The jeweller was very kind, but afterwards asked me where I came from.  When I answered that I was English, his face cleared in relief, and he said (in French, of course) that he thought I sounded French, but a French girl would have screamed and had hysterics; when he understood that I was English, he understood that of course I would be stoic... So my French accent was good enough to fool a Frenchman.  Now that was a high compliment, I felt, and I was so grateful to my French teacher.

And I found that it works both ways: when you are taking French or Spanish dictation and writing in French or Spanish shorthand, it helps to have a good accent because then you can understand whatever you are hearing.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Hobbies

When I was small and living in London, my Dad kept racing pigeons.  These birds usually raced about 75 miles from a specific spot, and the winner would be the one who flew the fastest - but the bird also had to return home, or it would be disqualified.

 Pigeon racing has been around as far back 220 A.D.  However, the racing pigeon was specifically bred in Europe during the nineteenth century, and used to carry messages, especially in wartime.  Examples come from the Franco-Prussian War in 1871; in 1914 during the First Battle of the Marne, the French army advanced 72 pigeon lofts with the troops; in the Second World War the UK used more than 250,000 homing pigeons, and of course the Dickin Medal was awarded to animals (and pigeons).

 When we moved to Somerset (Southwest UK), he no longer raced them, but we still kept homing pigeons, and it was my job to take care of them.

I think this was possibly because he didn't want to climb the rickety ladder that led to the "pigeon loft" ie the attic space above the double garage.  I remember that ladder even more than I remember the pigeons! as it was only a few pieces of mismatched wood nailed together haphazardly.  I DEFINITELY remember the day it gave way, and as a 10-year-old I was left hanging by one arm from the trapdoor opening which led into the loft.  Then the trapdoor banged shut on my arm.  When you are ten, a six-foot drop onto concrete is a huge distance.  When I dropped to the floor (eventually) I remember running down the driveway to our house, screaming all the way, and then my mother standing terrified in the doorway and asking me to *shake hands* (which I thought was really weird, until years later I realised she was checking that my fingers still worked and my arm was not broken).

But I loved the pigeons themselves fiercely.  Chicks who didn't quite make it out of the egg were buried using an empty cigarette carton for a coffin and iced-lolly sticks for grave markers.  I learned solemnity and reverence for all God's creatures in this way.  And I learned to love a set of birds who probably only associated me with food and water.  'My' pigeon was a white one (named 'Whitey', with the stunning originality of a child).  These birds were not pets, but they are a vivid memory.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thoughts on Thursday: Logical approach to geneaLOGICAL data

I found genealogical treasure at the weekend.  But at the same time: why don't people look at their data?  A GEDCOM was passed to me with thousands of ancestors, yet one man was married 30 years before he was born, and had his first child 130 years after his own christening.  It took me several hours to unravel all the other errors, working from the parish records that I have, and when I did, it became obvious that this particular line came from one small town in South Devon.  Obvious only when tweaked (sigh). 

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee and his recommendation to clip things to Evernote, I was able to go back to the South Hams website  with an online transcription of baptismal records dating back to 1602. 
* Genealogist's Happy Dance in living room*  

Margery BEERE (chr 1640) is my 8th great-grandmother, and she is a new addition to another of my lines which became unbelievably tangled over the years, where each genealogist thought they were right, even if their data didn't actually make sense (boys being sons of their own grandfather, who was in turn married to his own great-grandmother, and so on).  Because I knew it was in such a terrible state, I kept shying away from doing any research at all on this particular line.

But then I gathered up my courage along with my skirts, sat down with the parish records, and added my own logic, and I have made sense of my ELLIOTT line, into which Margery married.  It was nice to have my common sense/logic confirmed by the knowledgeable FamilySearch elves; when the site had a technical glitch, preventing me from entering all this yummy information into new.familysearch, they fixed it by putting the children in the right order with the right parents and linking the right generations without me making suggestions!  So although some might think that I was just another "genealogist who thinks she's right", I had a second opinion who came to the same conclusion completely independently.

Although I am hugely grateful to have received the initial GEDCOM, I can't help thinking: Why couldn't people have thought through their data logically in the first place?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Nicknames

My nickname when I was small was Posy - from Rosy-Posy, I suppose (my proper name is Rosamund).  But the very best nickname in my family was my Uncle Erks.  When I searched for him as part of my genealogical quest, boy! did I have trouble.  I looked for Eric and many more variations of the name, only to find he was called George Henry Hubert BALL.  Where does 'Erks' fit into that?  Nowhere - but I found its source.

Uncle Erks was so weedy and thin when he was a child at school, that his schoolfriends (?friends?) called him 'Hercules'.  'Hercules' got shortened to 'Erks', and his family adopted the nickname.  He was in his 40s when I knew him, and he was still called 'Erks'.

His brother was called 'Wigs'.  At least I knew he was called Walter Eli.  But where did 'Wigs' come from? In other parts of my family tree, Beatrice HAYWOOD is recognisable in 'Beattie', Henry HAYWOOD is recognisable as 'Harry', and Edward (EDGCOMBE) becomes 'Ted'.  Mary Georgina EDGCOMBE becomes 'Ena', but Ernest Harry BALL became 'Cockney' (because he lived in London, unlike the rest of the family).

I have found (from bitter experience) that you have to be careful, especially in the censuses, to look for nicknames when using search engines.  My great grandfather, Samuel Murch HAYWOOD, was known as 'Murch' on the 1881 census...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Amanda Malvina Ley BUCKINGHAM (1852-1895)

Amanda Ley BUCKINGHAM was my great great grandmother.  The name 'Amanda' is quite familiar to a lot of people; it is derived from Latin and means 'lovable, worthy of love'.  But how many people are familiar with its abbreviated version - Minda?  Some websites insist that 'Minda' is a Native American name and means 'knowledge'.  But those of us who come from the south-west of England know that it is actually a shortened version of 'Amanda'.

Amanda calls herself 'Minda' on the certificate of her marriage to Joseph BUCKINGHAM, when they married in 1872 in East Stonehouse.  Yet, poor enumerators have struggled over the years, one calling her 'Aminta' and the 1881 census enumerator giving up entirely!

Star Trek fans will of course know that 'Amanda' means 'beloved', and further details on her can be found here. The first moving pictures were invented in 1877, when my Amanda was 25; roll film for cameras didn't come along until 1881.  The Lumiere Brothers invented a portable motion-picture camera, film processing unit and projector called the Cinematographe and presented a projected motion picture to an audience of more than one person in the same year that my Amanda died.   

Monday, 4 July 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Mary Ann EDGCOMBE (1836-1912)

My great great grandmother, Mary Ann Edgcombe EDGCOMBE (yes, she married her first cousin) was christened in the small village of South Milton on 19 June 1836, the same day as her sister, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth and Mary Ann might even have been twins!

Fitting her life dates into a timeline shows that she was alive during many many inventions and discoveries - but what fascinated me most (because it gave a window into what must have been a very emotional time) was the birth and early deaths of four of her children.  Her first child, James Henry, was christened on 4 February 1860, probably in the same church as Mary Ann (and his father, George).  But he is recorded as buried on 12 August of the same year.  What happened?  I have found that this often happened in rural families.  The wife goes back to her mother for the first baby's birth, but the baby only lives a few months.  Then the dead infant's name is 'handed down' to a later child of the same gender.  Thus, James Henry was born in February and buried in August, and another child is christened James Henry on 21 March 1869.  Rather a large gap?  Read on...

A year after the first James Henry's burial, Mary Ann gave birth to Bertha Ellen, who was christened in South Milton church on 3 August 1861, then Noah George was christened on 20 February 1864.  However, Noah died on 21 January 1865, and Bertha Ellen died of scarlet fever on her fourth birthday: later that same year; her mother, Mary Ann, was not even allowed to be present at the death, because she was seven months pregnant with twins.  I wonder if little Noah also died of scarlet fever?

c. 1869: Mary Ann (mother) with Lewis, baby James, and Augusta
On 21 November 1865, Augusta Ann and Lewis Albert were born - and they both lived to adulthood, got married, and had children of their own.

Another James Henry followed in 1869, then John Samuel in 1870 (my great grandfather), followed by Amelia Agnes in 1874 - who lived for less than a week.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the photograph - Mary Ann wanted to record the tiny lives entrusted to her before they were taken away....

Saturday, 25 June 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History #26: Songs

This challenge asked me to find out the No.1 when I was born: "Travellin' Light" by Cliff Richard and the Shadows (by going to ).

I also remember my mother telling me that, when I would cry as a baby and wouldn't go to sleep, she and Dad took turns in pacing up and down the living room, singing Adam Faith's "What Do You Want?" - over and over again.  It was the only song that worked...

Part of the lyrics:
What do you want if you don't want money
What do you want if you don't want gold
Say what you want and I'll give it you darling
Wish you wanted my love baby

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Father's Day 2011: I Miss My Dad So Much

I began to sort through some photos of my Dad in preparation for today's post. And I ended up crying. He died in 2002 - how I miss him! Here are the photos that aren't tear-stained of Edmund Samuel Murch HAYWOOD (1933-2002):

His first computer - a ZX81


Monday, 13 June 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Jane Ball DAMERELL

Jane BALL was one of my great great grandmothers.  She was born on 6 October 1831 in Charleton, Devon, and christened in the same place on 23 October 1831.  Her first child, Emma Jane, was born in 1850 when Jane was just 19.

On 24 June 1857 - again, in Charleton - Jane married Henry DAMERELL; the witness were Jane Clements and Mary (surname illegible).  Her best friends?  Henry is recorded as a sailor.

Jane went on to bear seven children, and died on 30 August 1880 - I wouldn't be surprised if this event also occurred in Charleton!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Why are you doing this?

I read a fascinating post written by Marian of Marian's Roots and Rambles, in which she discussed her three top bits of advice for blogging.

She first asked: what is your goal in blogging? (for instance, to attract clients, share  your knowledge etc).  This made me think.  Why am I blogging? Why am I doing this? is it just to give myself another excuse to beat myself up at the weekends when I realise I haven't posted even once during the previous week?

No, I'm not trying to attract clients.  Nor even distant cousins.  I am happy to demonstrate my knowledge of a particular area, but don't for a moment imagine that anybody reads it.  So why am I blogging?  When I set up GenWestUK, it was just along the lines of "it seemed a good idea at the time", and "everybody else is doing it".  What I found was something quite surprising.   When you have to post about a time, an ancestor, a type of occupation, and so on - it focuses you tremendously!  Although for years I have been warning beginners against the scattergun approach of trying to research all your ancestors at once, I have not followed my own advice.  This sees me "doing family history" like a butterfly, zooming from the same ancestor to another same ancestor - you know, the brickwalls that frustrate you every time.  So many of my ancestors are missing out on my attention.

Blogging has changed all that.  In order to write a decent post, I have been forced to sit down and concentrate on one th (oh, look! a bird) ing at a time.  And this has opened up new horizons for me - gosh, new vistas.  I had never slowed down and stayed in one place long enough to realise that my great-grandmother, Annie Marian BUCKINGHAM, saw the first horse-drawn tram in Plymouth, travelled to Ireland, lived through the invention of the car and plane, then went to Australia! or that a great great grandmother, Eliza ELLIOTT wasn't just a dressmaker- she made fancy frocks out of damask and brocade. 

I look forward to learning more about my forgotten ancestors, now that blogging has made me sit still in one place...

Monday, 30 May 2011

National Family Week UK: 30 May - 5 June 2011

Hooray! Thousands of events attracting hundreds of thousands of people throughout the UK, National Family Week is all about connecting families. Perhaps we genealogists should have a lifetime membership?

From their website: "National Family Week is the largest annual celebration of families and family life in the UK.

National Family Week is unique in that it provides an ideal opportunity for brands and not for profit organisations to engage with families, showcasing the work they all do to enhance family life. Our ambition is to encourage families to spend more time together and we work with our partners to provide opportunities, events, ideas and money saving offers to achieve this.

Last year's National Family Week saw over 5,000 events take place all over the UK attracting more than 500,000 people. The campaign's research raised mass awareness of issues impacting family life in the media and highlighted the importance of family life.

National Family Week is also part of the new website, a one stop destination for families with children of all ages. The site will provide families with valuable information on what to do and where to go together in their local area and beyond. Plus with the Family Value Club there will be great money saving offers for families to save money."

Monday, 23 May 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Eliza ELLIOTT, the mantua maker

Eliza ELLIOTT (1818-1908) was my great-great-grandmother from South Pool, Devon.  A dressmaker on some censuses, on the 1841 census she is described as a "mantua maker".  Intrigued, I looked up a description of mantuas and their makers...

Mantuas were loose gowns worn over a petticoat and open down the front (what a relief, after all those stays!).  They were usually made of damask or brocade and were worn when an occasion required something a bit special.  Although they were loose and open, they were slightly fitted - they just didn't have the dreaded stays.  From

"[T]he mantua was constructed from a single length of material, with few if any cuts. Our image of dressmaking is cutting out a variety of pieces from the fabric, some small, then sewing those pieces together. Mantua-making was not at all like this.

One of the things that identifies a true mantua is that it did not have a separate skirt and top. The material was one continuous piece from shoulder to floor. Mantuas fit the figure, yet had a very full skirt. This was accomplished by shaping the material to the body with a series of deep, outward-facing stitched-down pleats that flared gracefully below the waistline.

This single-piece construction with few unreversable actions meant that gowns could be altered for changes in fashion, weight, and ownership. A skilled mantua maker could, literally, disassemble a mantua and remake it into a new garment, saving the beautiful material.

Depending on the current style and the mantua-maker's construction, the rich fabric might be longer in back, almost forming a train. The mantua was not closed at the front (usually just caught at the waist, sometimes belted), exposing the shirt of the lightweight petticoat (you will recall from the earlier article that this could refer to a dress-length garment), which was often of silk. As you can imagine, this allowed interesting and attractive contrast in color and fabric. It also permitted more freedom of movement. I can practically hear the swishing sounds as mantua-wearing women made their social calls.

A stomacher was often worn with a mantua. This was an elaborate, decorated, ornamental piece, shaped in a V to help create the illusion of a slim waist."

Monday, 16 May 2011

Annie Marian Buckingham EDGCOMBE and Transport

Annie Marian Buckingham EDGCOMBE was my great grandmother (1873-1961).  The first horse-drawn tram in Plymouth, Devon, UK, appeared the year before she was born, she went to County Mayo in Ireland in the 1890s with her coastguard husband and small children, and she travelled to Australia in 1926, where she lived in Sydney, New South Wales until she was 88 years old.

Other transport events of note:
In 1869 (four years before she was born) the Suez Canal was opened.
When she was 12, Karl Benz invented the first practical automobile to be powered by an internal-combustion engine, then Gottlieb Daimler built the world's first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
In 1894, the same year that she got married, the Manchester Ship Canal was opened.
By the time she was in Ireland (1900), the zeppelin had been invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
When she was aged 30 and had 5 small children (1903), the Wright Brothers invented the first gas motored and manned airplane
Only 4 years later in 1907, the very first piloted helicopter was invented by Paul Cornu
And of course in 1912 - the Titanic sank...

Annie Marian Buckingham EDGCOMBE
Since the small child on her knee is probably Frederick Charles, the photo was probably taken just after World War I, which ended in 1918 - she was still in the UK at this stage!

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Pinch of Salt

Bertha DAMERELL (my great grandmother) died of pneumonia.  The story goes that several of her children were ill, and she got up to tend to them in the night, even though she was ill herself...and died shortly thereafter.

Or is this all rather muddled?  She was only 51 when she died (the same age as me!), and her death certificate does indeed say that she died of pneumonia, but something just doesn't feel right.

This is an example of how stories that are passed down from generation to generation are not always 100% correct.  Several times I have been told a family legend, and then when I have done the names-and-dates research I have found that the dates mean that Person A just couldn't have married then, as they were only five years old, or Person B was dead by the time they were supposed to have completed the task described in the legend...

However, I never discount family stories.  Often, they are not complete fabrications, but do have a grain of truth in them, and these grains put together form a clue.  Clues put together can often create a research avenue - and then you find the bare-bones truth.  For instance: there was the family story of great-great-grandfather being kicked in the head by a horse, and his daughters had to be taken out of convent school because the business was ruined.  Actually, they ended up in the workhouse for another reason entirely, along with the sons - but I would never have thought of looking there, if I hadn't had the exciting story of the horse and the convent school - besides which, I had thought he only had one daughter...

Or how about the ancestor who changed his age and ran away to sea? Except he didn't: the General Register Office method of dividing a year into quarters meant that he was registered in a different quarter to his birth - and later he became a coastguard in Ireland...

So my advice to anybody new to research is: take everything with a pinch of salt, but don't discard the salt cellar.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Matrilineal Monday: What's she been up to?

I remember a story my grandma used to tell about my mother when she was small.  My mother had a beautiful "best dress"; my grandmother had a flatiron.  Can you see where this is going?

One day, as my grandmother (Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL) stood chatting with her neightbour at her kitchen window, she saw my mother (Audrey Ball HAYWOOD) rocketing past.  Immediately, my grandmother's suspicions were roused: "What's she been up to?" she wondered.  She soon found out.  My mother had seen my grandmother using the flatiron, and obviously thought there was nothing to it - so she decided to iron her "best dress" - except the iron was very hot, and she left a perfect iron-shaped print on the dress...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Matrilineal Monday: My mother and music

"Toreador, don't spit upon the floor. Use the cuspidor - that's what it's for!" - this is the song that I can hear my mother singing with great gusto; her bravura piece, if there ever was one.  And she didn't even need a glass of sherry to spur her on (although it often helped).  Bizet's Carmen - what an introduction to the opera.

She also sang to me about scarlet ribbons:

I peeked in to say good-night
And there I heard my child in prayer
"And for me, some scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for my hair"

All our town was closed and shuttered
All the streets were dark and bare
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

Through the night my heart was aching
Just before the dawn was breaking
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

I peeked in and on her bed
In gay profusion lying there
Lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

She introduced me to true pathos in a song.
And she taught me how to sing harmony with "Starlight Serenade".

In our house, there was always music. The radio was on, or the red-and-white Dansette; my parents had LPs by the Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, and Julie Andrews (what a mix!). Just like reading, my mother always encouraged me to listen to anything and everything, so I grew up listening to Johann Sebastian Bach as well as Brook Benton.
What a wonderful start to a life.

Later, when I was 10 and learning the piano, my party piece was Beethoven's "Fur Elise".  I practised that piece over and over until it drove my mother half-crazy.  Then, when I grew up, I bought her a Mother's Day card one year which played "Fur Elise" when you opened it.  I did it just for a sarcastic laugh - but she loved that card and brought it out year after year...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History #17: Pets

Week 17. Pets. Did you have any pets as a child? If so, what types and what were their names. Do you have pets now? Describe them as well. If you did not have pets, you can discuss those of neighbors or other family members.

Well, the pet I remember most when I was tiny was my mother's cat. Jet black and a VERY superior animal, Chloe was in fact a boy cat. And my cousin, when she was learning to talk, called him "Coe the Clat"... Here is my favourite photo of him. He is sitting just out of my reach (I am the baby), and you can just imagine him saying "Humans!" in a very long-suffering way.
After he died (he was knocked over by a speeding motorist) my mother never had another pet.  She had loved Chloe too much.  I remember the night I found him lying in the gutter, and how I ran screaming all the way home (I was six), and how she held him in her arms and just cried.  My mother never cried.

When I was a child, I had two gerbils: Mischief and Garibaldi.  'Mischief' because...well...he was always into mischief; and 'Garibaldi' because his two tiny black eyes looked just like the currants in Garibaldi biscuits.

When I was small, my father used to race pigeons when we lived in London.  Later, when I was older and we lived in Somerset, Dad still kept pigeons, but they were no longer for racing.  They were homing pigeons, and I learned to take care of them - and have solemn funeral services for the chicks who never made it all the way out of the egg.  Maybe that's what sparked my interest in religion? LOL

Friday, 22 April 2011

1700 census: Finished!

Today I completed transcribing the 1700 census of Ottery St Mary.  It has taken me about 6 weeks.  I have sent the transcription to Brian Randell of GENUKI; it will form part of the "Pre-1841 Devon Censuses and Population Listings" project on the GENUKI pages, and will (hopefully) be a help to anyone researching their ancestors who came from the area.

The census itself was not like the later ones, where families were listed, their ages, where they were born and so on.  No, this was merely a list of the men (and sometimes widows or wives living alone); no families, no ages, no places of birth.  So some may say it won't be of much use to anybody.  Well, actually, I beg to differ.  If you suspected your ancestor came from that area, but weren't too sure, it may help you pinpoint him (or her).  And then again, it is just so special for we genealogists who love that sort of thing: to be able to see your ancestor's name - it gives you a sense of connection to the past that we thrive on.  I have found my 8th great grandfather there - and just to see his name gave me a shiver.  You may have heard of the "genealogy happy dance" - well, now here's the "genealogy shiver" !  Here he is: Walter Bastyn:

and I came across many familiar names, whose descendants I have met across the decades in other censuses - they may be 'nothing to do with me', but they are so familiar, they might just as well be friends.  Who knows? they might even have been my ancestors' friends, too! The Peryams, the Menifeys, the Eveleighs, the Churchills, the Blackmores all appear - and I know that the Hudys and the Norringtons are part of my family tree.

I have loved deciphering the Secretary Hand that the document was written in.  As soon as I have finished transcribing the 1841 census for Ottery St Mary, I might just go back for more, and transcribe another parish.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

1700 census: Secretary Hand - help required

I have been working steadily away at transcribing the 1700 census for Ottery St Mary, and I have LOVED it.  it is written in Secretary Hand, and trying to work out what something says when it looks nothing like modern English handwriting is actually very absorbing.  It gives the little grey cells a lot to concentrate on!

Of course, there were bound to be letters, words, names and so on that I could not decipher.  And there are several which are making me frown at the screen.  But I am really stumped at one particular abbreviation that crops up a few times, and wonder if someone else out there can tell me what it means:

It's the first word.  Believe it or not, that is a lower case 'r', followed by a lower case 'p' - or is it?  the census itself only lists men and widows (no families) - so I wonder if it stands for 'relict of'? although in other parts of the document, widows are listed as 'Mistress Clode', 'Mrs Hues' and so on.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Research Toolbox, creation of

Last Wednesday (6th April) I attended another of Legacy's webinars, where the speaker was Thomas McEntee.  The subject of the webinar was 'Building a Research Toolbox', and it was excellent.  Thomas went through the different types of container for your toolbox (which essentially holds your Useful Links that you frequently use and forget!).  There are all sorts of ways to keep yourself organised, and these range from documents on your desktop to containers in the cloud.

Although I have quite a few containers with useful links, I decided to put them all in one place.  Mine ranged from 'that email from so-and-so, yes, that one, now where did I put it, hope I didn't delete it' - which are usually totally unfindable (is that a word?) to browser bookmarks.  Then, because I use Firefox 4 as my browser, I have a useful little add-on to it called Speed Dial, which shows even more of my bookmarks as tiny web pages about an inch high. But both these would be useless if, say, I were researching at the local Family History Library and was sat in front of their computer and wanted to use a particular site whose URL I couldn't remember...

So I chose Evernote.  This is a program of notebooks much like OneNote, but it has an advantage.  Evernote resides on the web AND on your desktop (well, it will if you download it).  It is free (one of my favourite words), and will not only capture URLs, but whole web pages if you want.  You can then build up your list of useful links/pictures of web pages when on your PC at home, the desktop version will sync to the web version when you are connected to the Internet, and then if you are at that computer on the other side of town, you can just log into your account at Evernote and all your useful links will be there!  You can also put your links and images into your web version, and it will sync to your desktop version.  There is no limit to how many notes you can have there, but there is a limit on the free version of 60Mb-of-uploading per month.  I somehow don't think I will get anywhere near that!  There is a paid-for version as well.

And you don't just have to keep your genealogy research toolbox there, either.  I have a notebook on Star Trek useful links, and people use it to compose songs, write novels - all sorts of things.

Now, other people might prefer other ways of building their own research toolbox.  They may want to put other things in it; after all, how many out there (apart from me, that is) are interested in a town museum in the depths of the Southwest of England, or a small local Cornish newspaper when your family comes from America?

But I'm thrilled with my choices - both of container and content.  And if you think "I haven't got much to put in there", like I did, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Fearless Females: Emma Elizabeth Dunstone AVERY - an educated woman

Emma Elizabeth Dunstone AVERY(1837-1915) was my paternal great-great-grandmother.  On the 1891 census, her husband is described as a widower - but Emma Elizabeth had not died.  She had been committed to the Bodmin (Cornwall) Lunatic Asylum on 25th July 1889 as a 'pauper patient' being of 'unsound mind'.  The Medical Gentleman (the form actually calls him that!) had to record various notes and medical reasons for her being there, and give a description of her - in this case, not a physical description as such, more of a mental one.

Emma Elizabeth is described as being 'fairly well educated for her station in life', that is, as the wife of a dockyard labourer.  I wonder what constituted 'fairly well educated'?

She was given tonics, and appeared cured, so was discharged on 3 June 1896.  Seven years in a Lunatic Asylum - and the cure was taking tonics!  Was that because medical knowledge hadn't advanced far enough, or because her 'illness' wasn't actually that severe?  She lived for nearly twenty years after that, but I'm sure her stay in the Asylum had left its mark.

This post is part of the Fearless Females theme to honour National Women's History month.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Fearless Females: The Brickwall Belles

A brickwall in genealogy usually means that you have looked everywhere, but still can't get any further on in your research into a certain individual.  My Brickwall Belles are females in my family tree that have made me stop short in my research - because I don't know where to look in the first place.

It''s not that I have 'looked everywhere' and got stuck.  I haven't looked, because I don't know where to go.  Each lady seems to have her own distinct difficulties, but the main one is that she has the sort of name which was immensely popular (and therefore which one is she?) such as my great-great-great-grandmother, Mary WEBBER.  I have her marriage certificate to James LETHBRIDGE (14 July 1839 in East Stonehouse), and on it is her father's name - John (really unusual).  Oh, and she is 'of full age'...

Mary's daughter, Mary Ann, married John BLAGDON, whose mother was another Brickwall Belle. Another great-great-great-grandmother: Elizabeth Thomas HALL, born in 1800 in Plymouth (Devon), married John BLAGDON on 9 July 1817 in Stoke Damerel, and died in 1876, also in Plymouth.  But I have no idea of her parents or siblings.  At the moment, she is still just a name.

And, unfortunately, there are quite a few more.  One thing that this month's blog posts have taught me: I know little or nothing about many of my female ancestors.  Time to remedy that, methinks...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fearless Females: Thomasine Dunstone AVERY in six words

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme to honour National Women's History Month.

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

Nearly eighty and still working hard.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

1700 census Ottery St Mary

Well, I finally received the photocopies from the Devon Record Office of the 1700 census for Ottery St Mary, Devon.  They had already told me that there would be 4 pages, so I thought to myself, "Huh! I can do that easily - it'll take no time at all!"  That was until I got the photocopies.

The pages are written in a beautiful antique hand that I am not allowed to post online until I get permission from the local incumbent.  Some of the names are easily readable, such as 'John Mills' or 'William Taylor', but others will take a lot of studying - and, oh, I am going to have to work through the National Archives tutorials on palaeography.  Oh-dear-how-sad.  Can't you just see me rubbing my hands in glee? *huge grin*

From a vague guess, it looks as though the only people who are listed are heads of households and widows.  No children.  Not even 'John Bloggs, 1 wife, 6 children, 4 pigs, 2 cows...'.  Just 'John Bloggs'.  But I have already found my great great great great great great great grandfather, Walter Bastyn.

This looks exciting!  And as soon as I get church permission, I will post a snatch of the handwriting on this blog.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

My First Award

I was so excited to get this award!  The 'One Lovely Blog Award' is the first one I have ever received, and as I said to the genealogist who nominated me: thank you! it means I know I'm doing something right!  So thank you again, Christine of So That's Where I Get It From .   And now for the rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link. 
2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

The blogs that I have chosen are the ones that pique my interest, and keep it long enough for me to want to keep on coming back to them - and they've made me want to write more on my own blog:

Anglo-Celtic Connections
Genealogy's Star
Old Stones Undeciphered
Shades of the Departed
The Armchair Genealogist
UK/Australia Genealogy
Winging It
The Family Curator
The Faces of my Family
The Accidental Genealogist
Growing Family Trees and Vegetables
The Wandering Genealogist
The Professional Descendant


Fearless Females: Audrey Ball HAYWOOD outside the home

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme to honour National Women's History month.

Audrey Ball HAYWOOD (1932-1995), my mother, worked outside the home as a teacher's assistant in St John's Infant School, Glastonbury, Somerset.  She worked with the four-year-olds who were coming to school for the first time, and often had amusing stories to tell about what they said and did.

The most recent thing, which impressed me the most, was after she had died.  I was staying with my father in Glastonbury, to look after him and arrange the funeral.  I popped down to the local supermarket to buy basics like bread and milk, and the checkout girl commented on the passing of my mother (by then it had been in the local paper).  I'll never forget what she said:  

"She taught me to read."

I wonder how many other children around the area could say that - and I wonder how many women have that distinction?  My mother taught me to read as well, and in fact we still have a tape of me reading Peter Rabbit (very fast indeed, with prompts from my mother).  She it was who encouraged me to read anything and everything, which meant that I owned some 400 books by the time I was 14, and had read even more. She opened a whole new world to me, and I am forever grateful.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Fearless Females: Generations of religious women in Devon, UK

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme to honour National Women's History Month.  Today we were asked what role religion played in our families; as far back as I have researched on the MURCH line, women either married into a Nonconformist religious atmosphere, or were searching for the truth themselves.  Here they are in Ottery St Mary, Bovey Tracey, and Chudleigh (all in Devon), beginning with my 6th great-grandmother::

Elizabeth Bastin: bap 1720, married Gideon Murch 21 July 1744
Margaret Marshall,: b abt 1749, mar Samuel Murch, previously married Richard Littley (very religious family who appear regularly in the Nonconformist records) on 26 December 1774
Eleanor Bending: bur 1834, married to Samuel Murch 14 March 1791 (2nd wife after Margaret died)
Mary Bending: baptised on Boxing Day 1785, married Samuel Murch16 September 1799
Johanna Yeates married Samuel Murch 5 August 1828
Johanna Murch and John Haywood, married 30 September 1869 in Independent Meeting House, Ottery St Mary

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fearless Females: Audrey Ball HAYWOOD's Boiled Cake

I find traditional Christmas fruit cake far too stodgy.  Here is Audrey Ball HAYWOOD (my mother)'s recipe for boiled cake (where you boil the ingredients before making the cake), which is much lighter.

1/2 pint milk
6 oz marge
6 oz sugar
10 oz mixed fruit
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarb
10 oz self-raising flour
2 eggs

Place all ingredients, except bicarb, flour and eggs, into a large saucepan.  Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes.  Add bicarb while still hot, mix well, and leave to cool.  Add flour and beaten eggs.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees or Reg 4.

8" tin

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Fearless Females: Elsie Beatrice BLAGDON

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme for 
National Women's History Month

Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

When I was 14, my paternal grandmother (Elsie Beatrice Blagdon HAYWOOD) called me to her and gave me her eternity ring.  She knew she was going to die fairly soon, and she also knew that "the vultures would descend" (her words) and I would be highly unlikely to get any of her property.  But she wanted me to have her ring, which she kept in its little velvet box because her fingers had grown too fat for her to be able to wear it.

It was a band of gold, studded with tiny chips of diamonds and rubies (well, I thought so at the time, anyway).  About 10 years later, some of the "real diamonds" fell out, so I took it to a jeweller to have him quote me how much it would cost to replace them.  He told me that it would cost more to replace them than the entire ring was worth, as they were not diamonds and rubies, but zirconia and garnets, and the ring itself was fairly inexpensive.

But to me? even the holes they sat in were precious.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

1841 census: I've started!

Today I made a start on transcribing the 1841 census for Ottery St Mary.  It took me about 20 minutes of reading the instructions - seemed like an eternity before I could put finger to keyboard, but eventually I did it.

And, needless to say, within minutes I had a question to ask about what code to enter if a person was born out of the county...fortunately, it was answered the same day.  And on the first page I attempted were my great great great uncle and aunt! it made me feel as though I were among friends already - I was certainly among family.

I just love the thought that, in the future, my humble tappings may help another genealogist, who may shriek something like, "There they are!" and do the Genealogy Happy Dance.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Fearless Females: Scanning for Girls

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme for 
National Women's History Month 
Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when.

Yes, I have a marriage certificate scanned for one set of grandparents.  Yes, I have marriage certificates for great-grandparents - but they are sitting neatly in folders and not scanned. promotes a once-a-month event called Scanfest, where (as Thomas MacEntee says) "geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at [the ancestories] blog to chat while they scan their precious family documents and photos."
And guess what?  When I came to write my post for today's entry in the Fearless Females theme, I found that almost-unheard of thing: everything was put away nicely.  Oh, and by the way - not scanned for immediate use.  I missed Scanfest in February (I find this often happens when translating timezones from the US to the UK).  It's usually the last Sunday in the month, but in March we in the UK will change our clocks, so I hope I can work out when I am supposed to be there! If not, I will at least make a date with myself to do some scanning...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Fearless Females: Rosamund and Loveday

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme for 
National Women's History Month

3 March - Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.
Rosamund Gwendoline HAYWOOD (20 June 1927-16 March 1943) was my aunt.  My father’s eldest sister.  Everyone called her ‘Gwennie’, and apparently she was some sort of saint.  She died of diphtheria in 1943, aged only 15.  Family legend has it that her boyfriend was so distraught, he threw himself off a cliff and is buried beside her.  Unfortunately, the cemetery which housed their graves has been covered over and is now a car park.

My parents always maintained that I was not named after her. But where else did my name come from?  I can only think of a couple of other Rosamunds that were around at that time: Rosamund John (the actress) and Rosamunde Pilcher (the authoress, born in Cornwall).  So I will have to claim the distinction of being unique.  I think.

The most unusual name I have come across in my family history research – one that I loved instantly and have used as both username and password from time to time over the years – is 'Loveday'.  Loveday Anna French (born 1870 in Bovey Tracey, Devon) was my first cousin three times removed; her father died when she was only three years old, and her mother, an earthenware painter, lived with Loveday's grandparents, John and Eliza HAYWOOD. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Fearless Females: Minda Mary Edgcombe BALL

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme for National Women's History Month.

Minda Mary Edgcombe Ball (1894-1985)
  Isn't she beautiful?  this is my maternal grandmother.  The photo was taken in (I think) the 1930s, when she was a young married woman with seven children.  She taught me (by example) the meaning of femininity and grace, and I have many fond memories of hearing her rich Devon accent as she remembered things of long ago.  Yet she had a great sense of humour; she wasn't in the least bit prim.  She was loved by all her children, grandchildren and the rest of her family.  I can remember the surprise party we had for her 85th birthday, and how the whole hall buzzed with the enjoyment we felt.

Minda 1979

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fearless Females: Johanna Yates MURCH

I am participating in the Fearless Females theme for National Women's History Month.

The female ancestor who got me the most interested in my family tree was my great great grandmother, Johanna Yates MURCH (4 February 1844-17 December 1875).  Before I knew much about her, I imagined her as having lived to a 'ripe old age' (as they say).  Imagine my shock when I found out that she actually died when she was only 31.  She had just given birth to her third baby, and died when he was nine days old.  The cause of death on her death certificate was: "Confined 8 days, gastritis 3 days, diarrhoea, exhaustion."  Now, I am single and have never had a child, but even I winced when I heard of her last few days of life.

She has given me more reason to participate in 'Scanfest' at the end of the month; I have her death certificate and need to scan it to put it here!

She was also the last MURCH in my family (unless you count my father's middle name).  All the MURCHes were Protestant Dissenters of some sort, and Johanna got married in the local Congregationalist meeting house.  This also makes me love her specially, as her family was obviously looking for something, and although the HAYWOODs she married into do not seem a particularly religious lot, I feel as though she and I have something in common: a searching for the truth.  And I maintain that I have found it.


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