Showing posts with label genealogy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label genealogy. Show all posts

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Live Bait Squadron : Centenary

Today marks 100 years since the sinking of three Cressy-class armoured cruiser ships, HMS Hogue and her sisters HMS Aboukir and HMS Cressy. All three ships were hit by German U-Boat torpedoes in the morning of 22 September 1914.

The three ships which were to become known as the "Live Bait Squadron" were patrolling in the North Sea when they were torpedoed without warning. The combined total from all three ships was approximately 837 men rescued and 62 officers, and 1,397 men lost.
HMS Hogue

One of these men was my great-grandfather, Albert Humphries. Born in 1884, he lied about his age to join the Royal Navy in 1899. He served a total of 12 years, and joined the London Police Force in 1907. Ill-health prevented him from staying with the Force, taking retirement in 1911. When World War One broke out, Albert joined the Royal Naval Reserve and was posted to HMS Hogue. His commander was Reginald A Norton. Both men survived.

In November 1914, my great-uncle was born. His given name was Reginald Norton Humphries. The Norton name was passed from Reginald to his son and daughter and to his grandsons.

The Times newspaper, September 1914
My great-grandfather's name (top, right)

We will remember them. Lest we forget. God Bless them all.

For more information please see this wonderful website: and Albert Humphries' details have been kindly added by Henk van der Linden:

Friday, 29 August 2014

One Lovely Blog

I've been nominated for the ONE LOVELY BLOG Award by the very lovely Elizabeth Lloyd (thank you for thinking of me). You can find her Lovely Blog Award post here

If I've nominated your blog, please don't feel under any obligation to join in with this; I was just pleased to be nominated so that I could share the blogs that I like.

Here are the rules for the One Lovely Blog Award:

• Thank the person that nominated you and link back to that blog. 
• Share seven things about yourself – see below.
• Nominate 15 bloggers you admire – also listed below (or as many as you can think of!).
• Contact your bloggers to let them know you've tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Seven Things About Me

1. I love Family History

Ever since I was a child, listening to all the stories my grandmother Freda told me about the family and about the town I grew up in, I have loved it. When I had my daughter there was a strong voice within me that told me to get back into it and pursue it seriously. I took the baton from my mother who had made some inroads into her side of the family. Armed with a notebook I had kept years before, I made a start and have never looked back. My daughter turns 13 next week and I haven't finished yet.

2. Which leads me to my second best love...Beccles

I grew up in the Suffolk market town and even though I left to live in Australia with my Mum at the age of 12, I have never forgotten my roots. Beccles is deep within my heart, and firmly under my skin. I am currently writing a house & street history on Peddars Lane, where I grew up in the 1970s. My e-published novella, Symphony of War, is based in Beccles and I also write a blog about the history of the town called Relics of Beccles. I did have a Twitter account of the same name but I gave it away when it became harder to only tweet 140 characters at a time! My second novel is also based in Beccles and loosely utilizes some of the factual history of the period in which it's written (1912).

Beccles from the Church Tower, 2014
Taken by Brett Ford @ Guru Photo Genix

3. I love Writing

From a very early age I loved to write stories and English was always my favourite subject at school. When I was a little older I became a lover of writing letters and when I moved to Australia that passion flourished as I wrote regularly to my father and grandmother. In my teenage years writing left me (well, I left it) and for a long time stories stayed dormant inside me until I was in my mid-twenties. Even then, I only got so far as the fifth chapter before I threw it away. Then I met my husband. He has spent the last twelve years encouraging me to let loose the inner demons and to start writing again. If it wasn't for his support, I wouldn't have started blogging and writing again. Symphony of War would exist only in my head.

4. I love Cats

I had several cats growing up but it wasn't until 1996 that I really learned what loving a cat meant. I had some nightmare times with Oliver "Ollie" Twist but he came into my life at the right time and he left it only two years ago. In February this year, my husband and I rescued an 18-month-old female cat from the Cat Haven. She has a forever home with us now and we love her to bits. Her given name was Spearmint but we call her Minty Moo.

5. I love London

Don't ask me why, I just do. Whenever I go there, I feel my heart swelling with a deep pride to be British and I can't stop smiling. I love the Underground smells, I love the Embankment, I love the alleyways, the pubs, the lamps, the Thames, the architecture, the whole atmosphere. I walk taller when I'm in London. I watch anything if it is set in London. I read books that are set in London, especially in Victorian London.

Victoria Embankment, London

6. I love Historical Novels/Historical Crime

I cannot get enough of them, especially ones that are set in England. I devour all books by these authors: Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, Essie Fox, D.E. Meredith, Charles Dickens (<3), Lynn Shepherd, Tracy Chevalier, Lena Kennedy and Ruth Park. I love reading all things Victorian Crime such as Squizzy Taylor, Eugenia Falleni, William Palmer and Constance Kent.

7. I love Supernatural

Since its inception in 2005, I have been avidly following the trials and tribulations of those gorgeous hunks, the Winchester brothers, Dean and Sam. I can't get enough of the show and now that my daughter has become a fan, I get to watch the whole series from scratch.


My blog nominations:

A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England
The Virtual Victorian 
Family History Across The Seas
Dance Skeletons
Jottings Journeys and Genealogy
Lone Tester HQ
Desperately Seeking Surnames

Monday, 4 August 2014

My Ancestors : Centenary of the Great War

August 4 marks the 100th year since Great Britain declared war on Germany. The 1914-1918 campaign would become known as The Great War. This blog post commemorates all of my ancestors who fought for "King and Country".

My great-grandfathers Arthur, Percy and Albert all fought in the Great War. Arthur was married with two young sons, the eldest of whom was my grandfather Herbert who was four years old when war broke out. Percy was married with one son, my grandfather Percy junior who was barely a year old. Albert was also married and had three children, a daughter and two sons.

If Albert had not have survived the war, he would not have gone on to have seven more children with my great-grandmother, Elizabeth. My grandmother Lilian, born in 1920, would not have existed which meant she would not have married Percy junior and had my mother, Denise. In the words of my friend Brett, that is a sobering thought.

This blog post is to say "Thank You" to my great-grandfathers who fought in the war, who left their wives and their homes, their children, their jobs, their regular life. They went to the mud, the filth, the front lines, the rats and the lice, the uncertainty of their future.

"Thank You" also to my two cousins and my great grand-uncle; James, William and Sidney, who never came home. William and Sidney left behind their families and their widows. William had three children when he died of wounds in 1917. Sidney had been married just shy of two years.
Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:  
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
"Come, what was your record when you drew breath?"
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

Charles Hamilton Sorley  (1895-1915)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Five Minutes With An Ancestor

If I had five minutes with an ancestor, who would it be and what would we talk about?

This is kind of unfair because there are so many. The list truly is endless.

Just five minutes with my grandmother's Freda and Lilian - just because I want to hug them, tell them how much I love them and miss them every single day, and to say I am sorry.

From a purely family history perspective:

  • My great-grandmother Elizabeth Dare - to dispel some awkward family rumours and to confirm how many children she actually gave birth to.
  • My g/g-grandfather William Preston - to ask him the truth about why he was estranged from his father and his two brothers.
  • My great-grandmother Barbara Hargreaves - to ask her about her life as a Domestic Servant to a London physician and to ask her who Arthur Ward was.
  • My 4 x great-grandmother Mary Ward - to ask her why she never married and yet she gave birth to six illegitimate children, three of whom died in infancy.
  • My 4 x great-grandfather Joseph Powell - to ask him all about his life as a Thames Waterman.
  • My 4 x great-grandparents John Humphries and Ann Rogers - to ask them why they never married and to confirm where they were both born before they lived together in Hammersmith and raised a family.
But, most of all, I would definitely ask my 3 x great-grandfather Richard Humphries:

Where the heck did you disappear to after 1871? What really happened to your first wife Mary Ann and why did she die alone in a workhouse? Why did you "shack up" with Sarah Spencer, not marry her and yet have a family with her? She gave birth to a daughter in 1872, and then just four years later, she marries another man. Meanwhile, you've completely disappeared from the face of the earth. What happened to you Richard?

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Sampson Family of Suffolk

Following the interest and enthusiasm which my last two blog posts (Alden and Gilding families) brought to my step-family, I've since been asked to write up a family history. I am more than happy to do this for them as they have been a crucial part of my life for more than forty years.

While I am very tempted to write up the recently promised blog post on the Sampson family, I have now decided to postpone it for the time being. I don't want to give everything away, there will be nothing left to surprise my relatives with. Sorry :-)

If there is anybody out there, reading this, who is related to the Sampson, Alden or Gilding families of Suffolk, please know that I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below with an email address and I will get back to you. If anybody knows anything and feels willing to share stories or photographs of the aforementioned families, I would be really pleased to hear from you.

My step-grandfather was Alfred James Sampson, who was born in Mettingham in Suffolk. You can read more about my memories of him in my 2011 blog post here. Alfred was known to everyone as 'Buster' so if you don't recognise the name Alf or Alfred, you would have possibly have known him better by this nickname.

The Sampson family lived in Mettingham, and previously the Sampson lineage came from Redisham, Stoven, St James, St Elmham all in Suffolk.

Alice and James Sampson c.1970

Alf 'Buster' Sampson with his son and daughter-in-law

Grave site in Mettingham, Suffolk
of James & Alice Sampson

Thank you in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Gilding Family

Last time I wrote about my step-grandfather's first wife, Jean Alden and her family. Jean's mother was Mollie Joan Alden, daughter of Robert Alden and Emily Gilding. This blog post is dedicated to the Gilding family.

Emily Gilding was born in Bungay in 1871. She was one of eight* children. The census returns for that year were taken on the night of 2 April and Emily is listed as being two months old. Her parents, Jacob Gilding and Sarah Ann (nee Rogers) were then residing in Beccles Road, in Bungay.

Emily's father Jacob Gilding was a Wherryman/Waterman by trade, in the counties of Norfolk and North Suffolk - this being stated in the 1851, 1861 & 1871 census returns. By 1881, however, Jacob was a Railway Labourer, as part of the General Eastern Railway (G.E.R). Jacob and his wife and children were by that time residing in Beccles.

Jacob Gilding was born on 6 June 1838 in Smallburgh, county Norfolk. He was the son of Benjamin Langley Gilding and Mary, nee Cork. On 2 July 1838 Jacob was baptised at St Peter's Church, Smallburgh. In 1851 the Gilding family lived at Broad Fen in Dilham. Benjamin, Jacob's father was a Waterman by trade. I like to imagine him rowing his way through the Norfolk Broads on an early Spring day, chewing on a piece of reed.

Picking Water Lillies

Jacob left the county of Norfolk some time before 1860 and took up residence in Bungay, county Suffolk. Jacob married Sarah Ann Rogers, daughter of William Rogers, at Bungay Holy Trinity Church on 3 April 1860. Both signed the marriage register with an "X". The Rogers family were from Loddon, county Norfolk. William Rogers' first wife Mary Ann (nee Harris), Sarah Ann's biological mother, died in 1845 and William later married Amy Harris in 1849. Any relation?

Jacob and Sarah Ann's first child, George, was born in August 1860 but he did not thrive, and died on 3 September 1860. His burial service was held at Bungay Holy Trinity Church. Jacob and Sarah had only been married for five months. They went on to have eight more children:

Frederick George Gilding
George Rogers Gilding
Benjamin Gilding
Harry Gilding
Emily Gilding
Ernest William Gilding
Ellen Mary Gilding
Anne Gilding

They remained in Bungay until some time before 1881 when they moved with their children to Beccles: Emily, aged 10. Ernest William, aged 8. Ellen Mary, aged 6 and Anne, aged 5. What I find especially intriguing about the 1881 census return for the Gilding family is two-fold: 1) Jacob and Sarah Ann's sons George, then aged 16 and Benjamin, then aged 14, were "Inmates" (Students) at a Boys Reformatory School in Thorndon All Saints (near Eye); and 2) Jacob and Sarah Ann have an extra adopted child: Jeremiah Sturman, aged 1.

Upon further investigation, Jeremiah Sturman was born in Skelton in North Riding, county Yorkshire. He was the illegitimate son of Rebekah Sturman, a Domestic Servant. What I found to be even more intriguing was that the 1891 census return puts Jeremiah back with his mother Rebekah (along with a half-brother Harry and another Jeremiah Sturman aged 87) but this time they are all Inmates of the Loddon and Clavering Union Workhouse, in county Norfolk. This begs the question: What happened to the Sturman family and why did the Gilding family have temporary care of Jeremiah?

The 1901 census return has Jacob and Sarah Ann Gilding living at Knights Yard, Ravensmere with a grandson, Walter Belward Gilding. Walter was then aged 12, born to one of Jacob and Sarah Ann's children but which one? (Walter was living with the family in 1891 as well, when they resided at Northgate Street). He remained with his grandparents even in 1911, when he was aged 22. I don't believe he ever married. Another grandson appears on the 1911 census with Jacob and Sarah Ann: Ernest Alden, aged 18 (He was Mollie Joan Alden's eldest brother). What is interesting to note is that the 1911 census states Jacob and Sarah Ann had eight children, seven living and one who had died. But I know that they had at least nine children because I found George Gilding who was baptised and died in 1860, in Bungay. Why did they claim they had eight children instead of nine?

Jacob Alden, 1911 census return
(click on image to enlarge)

Jacob Gilding died in 1914, aged 75. Sarah Ann Gilding died in 1930, aged 94.

My next blog post will concentrate on my step-grandfather's SAMPSON family heritage.

The British Newspaper Archive brings up several previously unknown articles in regards to Jacob Gilding who was frequently brought up before the Beccles Petty Sessions in the 1880s because he repeatedly refused to pay the ordered one shilling per week in payment of his son at Thorndon Reformatory School. For example: The Ipswich Journal of Tuesday 25 January 1881 reported that Jacob Richard Gilding was "causing much trouble" from neglecting to make payments for his sons and was "22 weeks in arrears". Jacob's wages as a Railway Labourer at that time was stated in the paper as being 18 shillings 6 pence per week and that he had "five other children to provide for".
(In July 1879 The Ipswich Journal reported that brothers George Gilding and Benjamin were caught stealing fruit from a garden in Ravensmere, the property of Edward Masters. This was the reason they were sent to Reformatory School. They had previous convictions of stealing at Gillingham.)
In January 1885 Jacob Gilding was fined five shillings for neglecting to send his daughter Ellen Gilding, regularly to school

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Alden Family

As much as it shames me to confess this, I really haven't given much conscious thought to my step-family's ancestry. My grandmother Lilian married Alfred James Sampson (who I knew as my Grandad Buster when I was a child). I knew that Lilian was a widow when she married Alfred and I also knew that Alfred was a widower.

When Lil and Alf married my relations increased from three aunts and uncles to eight aunts and uncles. Until much more recently I hadn't paid attention to the fact that my Grandad Buster's first wife Jean - the mother of my step-family - had her very own family story too. Better late than never, I am now working hard to rectify my oversight.

Jean Sampson (nee Alden) with her niece & nephews
in Beccles, around 1950

Jean Nora Alden was born in 1929, the illegitimate daughter of Mollie Alden. In 1948 Jean married Alfred Sampson and they had five children (my step-aunts and uncles). The family were dealt a cruel blow when Jean died of cancer in 1964. She was only 34 years old.

Mollie Joan Alden, Jean's mother, was born in Beccles in 1910. She was the second youngest of fourteen children born to Robert Alden and Emily, nee Gilding. Robert and Emily were married at Saint Michael's Church, Beccles on 28 April 1892.

The 1911 census states that Robert Alden was a Brick Layer by trade, which caught my attention as my Grandad Buster (Alf Sampson) was also a Brick Layer. The 1891 and 1901 census returns show Robert as a Maltsters Labourer. Interestingly, Robert and Emily's childrens names were written on the 1911 census form rather haphazardly which made double-checking them against the GRO Birth Index challenging. They were as follows:

Ernest Leonard Alden
Annie Norah Alden (known as Norah/Nora)
Ellen Catherine Alden (known as Nellie)
Emily Hilda Alden (known as Hilda)
Robert Benjamin Alden
Harry Edward Alden (known as Edward)
Frederick George Alden
Agnes Mercy Alden (known as Mercy)
Florrence Alden
Nancy Alden
Ivy Elizabeth Alden
Mollie Joan Alden
Frank Stanley Alden (was born in 1912)
There was also a 'Female' Alden born (possibly stillborn) and died in 1894

Robert English Alden was born in 1872, some records state Beccles as his birthplace and others say Bungay. He was the son of James Alden and Mary Ann, nee English. James Alden was previously married to Elizabeth Aldred (m. 1845) who died in 1859. James and Mary Ann English were married at Saint Michael's Church, Beccles on 6 August 1871. Both signed their names with an "X".

Robert Alden (right)

James Alden was born in 1818 in Ringsfield. He was an Agricultural Labourer by trade and lived for most of his life in Ingate Road, Beccles. He also lived in Puddingmoor and Hungate Lane, both in Beccles. James died in 1897, aged 79. After his death James's wife Mary Ann made her living as a Charwoman and in 1901 was living in Ingate Road with two of her daughters. In 1911 the census returns show her working as a Housekeeper for the Ashley family of Newgate Street, Beccles. It is believed that she died in 1914 in the county of Essex.

My next blog will concentrate on Emily Gilding and her ancestry (the mother of Mollie Joan Alden). Mollie Alden's father Robert died in 1950, aged 78 and her mother Emily died in 1929, aged 57. Mollie married in 1941 to Samuel Barley, known as Toby. She died in 1987.

I must acknowledge and thank S. Howlett for sharing the photographs you see on this blog post, via the Ancestry website.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Ode To Remembrance

This is the time of year when I reflect on the year that has passed, my achievements and my mistakes, my ups and my downs. I think about the new year ahead, and what may come to pass. Every November though, I stop and think primarily of my ancestors who fought in the Great War.

Last year I wrote a blog post called We Will Remember Them: Lest We Forget as well as various war-based blog posts on my ancestors and Remembrance Day 2011. As I prepare to take the train and bus journey to Kings Park to witness the Remembrance Day service this coming Monday morning, I will have the war years firmly at the forefront of my mind.

I have a great and deep respect for all of my ancestors who fought in the wars, from the Boer War; the Great War; World War Two; and my cousin Jim who has valiantly served in several peace-keeping engagements in more recent times.

I want to take this opportunity to say a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU to every man and woman all over the world, what ever your country of origin, who fought in all wars, and for my grandfathers' Percy and Herbert; my great-grandfather Albert (who almost died in 1914 after a u-boat sank his ship off the North Sea) and my great-grandfather Arthur who fought in the Boer War and the Great War; and to all of my great-uncle's who served in the Army, Navy and Air Force, and my three distant cousins Sidney, William and James who were taken from this world during the Great War, who died so young.


They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
Lest We Forget 

Friday, 26 July 2013

Family Letters and Strange Dreams

Last night I had some very strange dreams, from leaving my daughter in the middle of the busy city to catch a train home on her own to finding letters that were written by my paternal grandmother. I just knew that I had to blog about the latter.

Freda wrote to me frequently when I left England in 1978 to live in Australia with my mother. She always wrote at least one page, even when she was in hospital (which was often) and she sent cards to my mother and I every year, without fail. I wish I had kept more of her letters to me but over time I threw many of them out (my way of downsizing during my frequent moves from house to house in my twenties). It was only the last letters that she wrote me, before her eyesight failed her completely, that I had the good sense to keep. What a relief, I did something right then.

My letters from Freda (1990-1993)

When my great-aunt Joan passed away in 2005, her son Terry sent me some letters and cards, written by my grandmother Freda to Joan and my great-uncle Billy, which he found amongst his mother's personal effects.

When I woke up from my dream this morning I had a strong sense that Freda was trying to communicate something to me. In the dream I opened a drawer and took out some papers. Among the handful of papers were letters and I immediately recognised the handwriting as my grandmother's and started to cry. My tears were of happiness and relief that I had found her letters but sadness as well because I really miss her. One of the letters I held in my hand was typed and was dated 1933. It talked of all sorts of historical facts about pre-war threats and her feelings on the subject. I folded it up and made a mental note to read it in greater detail later. The second letter is more vague in my waking memory but it was definitely her handwriting and on seeing it, I burst into tears. Then I woke up.

Freda, about 1933

Here is a transcript from a letter that my grandmother Freda wrote to my great-aunt Joan in 1961. My cousin Robert was a newborn and she was writing to send her congratulations:

Dear Joan & Billy,
Many Congratulations on the birth of your little Son. I am so glad it all went off well & that you are both well.
I am writing to your home address Joan, as I don't know how long you stay in Hospital. I bet you felt important being waited on, its nice for a change, but I expect you're like me you rather be up & about.
Julian [my cousin, who was eighteen at the time] seemed quite pleased to tell the news to everyone, you'll have plenty to think about now.
I'm sorry I haven't written before, but time flies & I haven't been too well with my legs, when it comes to tea-time I can't do another thing.
We shall look forward to seeing him now.
Love from us all,

On the subject of family letters, I also have a letter that was written to my great-aunt Muriel from my great-uncle Billy in 1941. Muriel's first husband died suddenly, aged 31, and the news was devastating to the say the least (They had only been married four years and they had no children).

Dear Muriel,
Very sorry to hear bad news received from Joan by telegram: it does seem so cruel after you being so very happy with Jack but I suppose God has a time for us all.
Well Muriel I will never forget the happy evenings we three had at No. 15 and I'm sure wherever Jack is he will never forget either. Now Muriel old girl if there is anything I can do for you anytime, don't be afraid to ask. Myself & Joan will willingly do anything, anytime. You don't forget that cause I mean it....If you feel like taking little Terry out on your own, Joan would only be too pleased. I know you like children & little Terry so don't be afraid to say so. (Now can you keep a secret Muriel, don't say anything to anybody, not a word. Don't even let Joan know. Promise? Well we are expecting an extra in the family. Sometime next June [1942, which would have been Julian]. Now promise not to breath a word...

I love his closing salutation:
Yours for always,
Your loving brother, 

Brother and Sister: Billy & Muriel, 1935

I can't begin to express just how much I truly miss Freda. She was such a lovely woman and a fabulous grandmother to me and my sisters.

Monday, 8 July 2013

William Sibley : In the wrong place at the wrong time?

My 3xgreat-grandfather William Sibley (1826-1889) was charged, and later acquitted, in 1860 for conspiring to steal from the publican Thomas Rule of the Coopers' Arms public-house in Putney. When I discovered his name in the Police Intelligence section of The Morning Post (at British Newspaper Archive), I was initially shocked. As I read on, however, I found out that William Sibley was innocent. What follows is an extract from the aforementioned newspaper, dated 30 January 1861:

William Carlton, who described himself as a photographer, and William Sibley, a wheelwright, were placed in the dock before Mr Ingham, charged with being concerned with stealing £5 from the Coopers' Arms public-house in Putney, the property of the landlord Mr Thomas Rule.
The robbery was committed on the 11th of December 1860 and the money, consisting of gold, silver, and halfpence was taken from the bureau in Rule's bedroom. The bureau was locked but not the bedroom. William Sibley was in the house during the said afternoon and was in and out several times and in different parts of the premises. He had a cart at the back door and he went out two or three times to examine it. William Carlton was at the bar with another man, and they had some gin-and-water at the bar. They appeared very fidgety, for they kept going out and returning alternately, and they both left without drinking their gin-and-water. It further appeared that Sibley lived in Putney [in 1861 census he lived at Stratford Grove] and Carlton formerly carried on his photography business opposite to the Coopers' Arms.
My 3xgreat-grandfather denied all knowledge of the robbery, and explained the reason for the cart being at the back of the public-house. He had it to repair and was waiting for assistance to drag it home. Thomas Rule claimed that Sibley had been in his bedroom before, to do repairs to a set of drawers but that he and his daughter [Caroline Rule] were unable to say whether Sibley and Carlton had actually communicated with one another on the day in question.
Mr Ingham refused to allow bail for Sibley, despite Sergeant Blanchard knowing nothing against Sibley before. The evidence of the witness [who was not named during the trial] was that he had evidence that Sibley had known about the robbery one week before it occured.
According to the Criminal Registers on Ancestry, William Sibley and William Carlton were acquitted at Newington on 18 February 1861.

Coopers' Arms public-house, Putney circa 1905

The Coopers' Arms public-house gave its name to Coopers' Arms Lane, which was later renamed Lacy Road. Coopers' Arms Lane was formerly known as Warpell-Way, warp meaning "distinct pieces of ploughed land seperated by the furrows". A thoroughfare in Putney partly preserves the ancient nomenaclature in Warpole Road. The Putney High Street was largely unchanged until Edwardian times when the pub and cottages alongside were demolished and replaced by Edwardian shops. These were removed in the 1980s to make way for the Putney Exchange shopping centre.

Sources used for this blog post: British Newspaper Archive & Ancestry
Putney & Roehampton by Patrick Loobey


Saturday, 11 May 2013

For My Mum

Tomorrow is a special day on the Australian calendar for it marks the celebration we know as Mother's Day. I get to take part in this special opportunity to be thankful for my Mum by being on the receiving end as well as the giving end. As my mother is currently not in the same state of Australia as I am, I won't be able to have her over for a luncheon and shower her with cups of tea,  home-made cakes and nostalgic anecdotes of gratitude. A blog post will have to suffice this time around, sorry Mum.

I have long been thankful to my Mum for being there for me. Now that I am a mature (cough) adult and I have a daughter of my own, I have grown to really appreciate what she went through in life. She really was a trooper and she did it tough for many years as a single mother, especially when we were living in England. What a blessing it was that she took the plunge and decided all those years ago to emigrate to Australia - the land of opportunity for many. She got stuck in almost immediately and wasn't afraid to grab the bull by the horns. She got a job within weeks of landing in Perth, and quickly found herself a place to live. She got her driver's licence and bought herself a white Ford Escort. Remember Betsy, Mum? Or was it "The Little White Chicken"? :-)

However, my appreciation for my mother really hit home this past week. Over the past five weeks the SBS television network aired the five-part BBC series "Turn Back Time: The Family". This series charts the evolution of the family, as one of Britain's most important institutions. Blending living history with genealogy, "Turn Back Time" explores what it means to be a mother, father and child in British society today and historically. Three modern day families (The Meadows; The Taylors; The Goldings) return to the 1900s and through five pivotal eras of family life:
Episode One : The Edwardian Era
Episode Two: The Inter-War Years
Episode Three: The 1940s
Episode Four: The 1960s
Episode Five: The 1970s

Turn Back Time : The Family

What made the last episode most special to me personally was that I was a child of the 1970s and my mother was the parent. She was a single mother who had to work two jobs just to keep us afloat. She made most of our clothes (on her trusty Singer sewing machine) because she couldn't afford new, and our jumpers were usually made by my grandmother Lilian. I was babysat a lot as a child (thank you, Brenda G xxx), while my mother was out earning, and I resented this for many years solely because I missed her so much. When we did spend time together though, it was precious. We danced and sang to all the latest chart toppers, we watched The Liver Birds, T.O.T.P, Whodunnit, Opportunity Knocks, Are You Being Served? and Crossroads together. We made cassette tapes (usually from comedies scripts like The Two Ronnies) for loved ones and family in Australia. I used to love sitting behind her on the sofa so that I could brush her hair. Those were my favourite times. But "Turn Back Time" made me see the 1970s from a different perspective - my mother's.

1970s Britain was a time of political upheaval with strikes, power cuts, water shortages, the introduction of the three-day week, and women's liberation. I didn't fully realise the impact all this would have had on my family, I was too busy worrying about my scooter and if we'd had a decent amount of snowfall to run around in. "Turn Back Time" illustrates the upheavals faced in the 1970s perfectly, showing scenes where families were plunged into darkness, having to fill their kettles and pans with water from the street tap, and constant worrying about the weekly wage. The Rhodes family joined the "T.B.T" families in this last episode: Lisa (single mother) and her two young sons, Harrison and Daniel. My heart went out to Lisa Rhodes as she symbolised everything about my own mother, doing it tough in the 1970s, and she had two children to clothe and feed! They were housed in one of the upstairs bed-sits where Lisa's kitchenette was sparse in every capacity. She had a temperamental immersion heater, a tiny sink, draining board, worktop and a two-burner, camping-style stove. At least my Mum and I had a decent sized kitchen with a proper stove! And we had seperate bedrooms, whereas the Rhodes family were cramped together in one room.

I used to complain a lot when I was growing up, wondering why we had so little when others had so much. I was jealous of my sisters (sorry lovelies xxx) and jealous of my school friends, and I did give my Mum a hard time, asking her for things she just couldn't afford to give me. I'm sorry for being so selfish Mum, I know you did your utmost best for both of us, and you did it almost single-handedly (you were a stubborn little buggger at times!). I didn't mean to take you for granted and I didn't mean to continually harp on at you about what I wanted differently.
Happy Mother's Day Mumsy. Thank you. I love you very much xxx xxx xxx xxx

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Body of a Child : My Ancestors Involved in a Mystery

My last blog post referred to two of my Jolly cousins - well, second cousins three times removed to be precise. This time I'm embarking on another Jolly story, as shared recently by my third cousin. She has contact with a Jolly descendent who sent her an article which involves our 3 x great-grandfather Josiah Jolly, who was with two of his sons Josiah Jolly (jnr) and Charles or David Jolly (our second great-grand uncles), when Josiah (jnr) discovered the body of a baby in a field.

*At the time of this event Josiah Jolly (snr) and his wife Susan were living in Plough Street, Bungay. The Plough Inn mentioned below was on this street. Today, Plough Street is known as Wingfield Street. Josiah Jolly (jnr) had married the previous December and the 1851 census return (taken 30 March 1851) puts them both at Shipmeadow Workhouse as Inmates.

The Bury and Norwich Post Newspaper, dated 27 August 1851, reported:

Body of a child found: -- On Saturday evening, as a labouring man, named Jolly, was going home from his work, in the company of his father and brother, he went into a barley-field near St John's-Hill, to gather some rabbits' meat. He saw a parcel lying there, three or four yards from the gate, apparently done up in white cloth. He mentioned it to his father, who told him to leave it alone, as someone might have placed it there intentionally and would come for it. On the following Monday morning, on going to work, he again saw the parcel, and on examining it, found it was an old basket, wrapped up in a cloth, and inside another cloth he found the body of a female infant. The cloth round the body was marked with red cotton, "C.E.O.T." Information was sent to the police, and an inquest was held before Mr Lawrence, on Tuesday, at the Plough Inn*, where Chas. W. Currie, surgeon, who made a post-mortem examination of the body, deposed that it was that of a full-grown infant, and must have been perfectly healthy when born. He did not discover any external marks of violence : it had lived but a very short time, if it had lived at all...


The article my cousin received was from The Bungay Society Journal, No 71, dated December 2010. Here is an extract:

On Monday 18 August 1851 the police received information that the body of an infant had been found on a field near St John's Hill. Local Inspector Nagle went immediately to the spot, and was handed a basket, containing the body of a child by a labourer, Josiah Jolly, who had discovered it.
The following day an inquest into the death was held in the town. Mr Lawrence, a coroner from Ipswich had been summoned to attend, and the sessions were held at the Plough Inn, in Wingfield Street. At that time pubs were often used for such proceedings if there were no other public building available. The Plough was an ancient tavern, and was the last building in Bungay to retain a thatch when it was finally demolished in 1964.
The coroner heard this evidence from Josiah Jolly. "I am a labouring man, and live at Bungay. About half past seven on Saturday evening, as I, my father and brother went to the gate of a field near St John's Hill, intending to gather some rabbits' victuals, and as I was getting over the gate, I saw a parcel lying in the field, about four yards from me, which I pointed out to my father. He desired me to leave it alone...When we reached Mr Sewell's house on the Ollands, I saw him standing by the gate talking to three persons who appeared to be begging and I told him what I had seen...On the Monday morning, as I, my father and brother were going past the same field I went to the gate to see if the parcel was still there and on seeing it, took it up, and brought it into the road to my father. I untied the cloth and found an old basket, on opening which I saw something pinned up in a cloth. I took out the pin and began to remove the cloth, when I observed a child's foot...

On 22 August 1851 the police apprehended a woman named Leggate, against whom there were some peculiarly suspicious circumstances. She was remanded in custody until the 28th, and afterwards consented to a medical examination, but it was certified that she had not given birth to a child, and was discharged.
The final inquest was conducted on 6 September, with negative conclusions. The Jury returned a verdict that the child had "been found dead, but whether born alive or not, the Jury have not sufficient evidence".
It as further reported that many rumours had been in circulation, one traced to a man named George Codling, who was said to have stated that the parcel containing the body had been seen at Jolly's house on the Sunday preceding the day of the discovery in the field. As Codling refused to attend the inquest and confirm his statement before the Jury, the coroner concluded that it was just malicious fabrication: for which he regretted that there was no punishment...

Ordnance Survey Map of Bungay
Shows St John's Hill, The Ollands & Wingfield Street
Click to enlarge

It would appear that my Jolly ancestors had a penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or were mixed up with and embroiled in misdemeanours, rumours, and, pardon me for saying so, a series of unfortunate events.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Peter Lanyon : Cornish Artist

My husband's side of the family tree is rather intriguing and much has been researched on both his father's and his mother's sides of the tree. There are tin merchants, photographers, carpenters, musicians and composers, outfitters and tailors, farmers and pioneers, midwives and Indian Army Majors but one man became a well established name in Cornish history. My husband's maternal grandfather: Peter Lanyon the potter, sculptor, and painter.

One evening not too long ago, I was idly googling Peter for any new images or paintings and on the fifth or sixth line of results I discovered a photograph I had never seen before. It was taken by Ida Kar in 1961 and it's a really lovely shot of him.

There is so much expression in his face. I wish I could've met him.

I remember once listening to an old reel-to-reel audio of Peter Lanyon talking about his love of art and his heady youth in St Ives. Of all the things he said I will never forget when he responded to a question by saying, "I like cliffs. They're very tall...and thin." My husband and I still say that to each other from time and time and fall about laughing. Of course, Peter was referring to the view from his beloved glider. Imagine being an artist, looking for inspiration along the Cornish coastline. You would be absolutely spoiled for choice, and Peter used every opportunity he had to create masses of paintings, drawings and sculptures of Cornwall.

Peter loved each of his children and he took them with him on many walks and hikes around Cornwall, and he taught each of them to appreciate and hone their own unique craft. Today his sons are renowned painters, including Andrew Lanyon and Matthew Lanyon. I didn't get to meet Andrew during our 2006/7 trip to England as he was away in Japan but I did meet Matthew and I recall him being hilarious fun and great with my daughter.

George Peter Lanyon was born in 1918, one of two children born to William Herbert Lanyon and Lilian Vivian. Peter was educated at Clifton College in Bristol but St Ives remained his base and his first love however extensively he travelled throughout his life. As his love of art grew so did his ties with fellow artists Patrick Heron, Borlase Smart, Victor Pasmore, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Adrian Stokes, and Naum Gabo.

Peter at Little Park Owles Studio, 1955

From 1940 to 1945 he served with the Royal Air Force in the Western Desert, Palestine and Italy. In 1946 he married Sheila St John Browne. Peter and Sheila had six children (including my mother-in-law, Jane). Also in 1946 he became an active member of the Crypt Group of Artists, St Ives. During the 1950s he became established as a leading figure in the St. Ives group of artists.

Peter in his glider, c. 1960

Peter took up gliding as a pastime and used the resulting experience extensively in his paintings. One day in August 1964, on a training course with the Devon and Somerset Gliding Club, he came in to land too low; the glider nose-dived and catapulted him out. He died four days later as a result of his injuries. He grave slab carries and inscription from one of his own poems:

I will ride now
The barren kingdoms
In my history
And in my eye

The Returned Seaman, 1949
In The Trees, 1951
Chesil Bank, 1958