A Norfolk Diary

In my last blog I drew on the writings of The Revd Benjamin Armstrong, one time Vicar of East Dereham in Norfolk.  Having discovered the publications of his diary excerpts I can’t put them down!

I now find there are three volumes:    ‘A Norfolk Diary – Passages from the Diary of The Rev Benjamin John Armstrong, Vicar of East Dereham 1850 – 88’, published in 1949, edited by his grandson Herbert Armstrong; ‘Armstrong’s Norfolk Diary, further passages from the diary of the Reverend Benjamin John Armstrong’, published in 1963, edited by Herbert Armstrong ; and  ‘Under the Parson’s Nose’, published in 2012, edited by his great grandson Christopher Armstrong.  There are some entries which are common to more than one book, but one may give more detail of the entry than another.

As I said last time, there are many names mentioned in these publications.  They would be particularly worth reading if you have nineteenth century ancestors in Norfolk who were clergy or landowners, since there are descriptions of many social engagements.  But even if, like me, your ancestors were humble ag labs, the books give some valuable background information which would have had an impact on those ancestors, mentioning for example periods of drought and extreme cold, town festivities and tragedies and national and international events which our ancestors would undoubtedly have been aware of, such as the Crimean War, the death of Prince Albert and various rail disasters and shipwrecks.  The number of deaths from smallpox in 1872, for example, must have been a worrying time.

I have been trying, since last time, to do some background research on some of the more ‘ordinary’ people mentioned, using the parish registers and sometimes the British Newspaper Archive to see what light they can shed.

Could John Flowers be one of your ancestors?  25th January 1854 “old John Flowers…is a pious and, in person, a beautiful old man, who, notwithstanding he lives 3 miles from the Parish Church, sits regularly every Sunday  on the pulpit steps, in devout attention and occasionally in the sermon murmurs approbation”.  14th July 1856 “likely to die from mortification in his foot”.  I found his burial entry on 7th September 1856, aged 83.

Another long-lived parishioner was Benjamin Tollady of Hoe, who was buried on 17th April 1859:  “one of those righteous peasant patriarchs…the last of his days were spent in saying the Creed and The Lord’s Prayer…he could not read and had worked hard all through life until he lost an arm, amputation being necessary from a thorn prick from which mortification ensued”.  The burial register gives his age as 97.

Other diary entries comment on unusual names.  1st April 1864 (not, as it turns out, an April Fool):  “a poor woman whose child is about to be baptized will call her Withburga, after our local saint”.  I found the baptism entry on 6th April – parents Robert and Perey Peake.  St Withburga’s well was a notable feature in the churchyard, which Rev Armstrong took pains to have tidied up in the early years of his ministry in East Dereham.

The baptism of Withburga Peake

On 25th December 1866 the Revd Armstrong conducted the wedding of one Mahershallalashbaz Tuck. “He accounted for the possession of so extraordinary a name thus:  his father wished to call him by the shortest name in the Bible and for that purpose selected ‘Uz’, but the clergyman making some demur, the father said in pique, if he can’t have the shortest name, he shall have the longest.”  It turns out from the marriage register that the bridegroom was an innkeeper – I should think pronouncing his name was a challenge for his customers when they’d had a merry evening!

The marriage of Mahershallalashbaz Tuck

On other occasions the Revd Armstrong comments on the disparity of ages in marriage couples.  On 9th January 1877 he married his organist, John Upchurch Martin, to Eliza Smith.  He was 66 and a widower and she was 28.  On 19th September 1861 he married James Elvin, a widower aged 70, to Maria Moore aged 45.  James was a coachmaker, and a bit of detective work in the censuses indicates that he did quite well for himself since in 1851 he was employing 21 men in his business.

The Revd Armstrong was certainly not afraid to say what he thought of someone, and his disapprobation of ‘dissenters’ is a regular feature.  On 10th October 1871 he mentions the Andrews family whom he was pleased to have “rescued from dissent”.  He was obviously encouraged when on 15th February 1878 Mr Tyas, the town’s Congregational Minister, came to see him about “leaving dissent and asking to be put in the way of becoming a clergyman of the Church of England”.  On Easter Day in 1862 he conducted the wedding of two parishioners who I think had been cohabiting, this following a conversation he had had with the man in question only the month before when he expressed the opinion that he was “fast going to ruin in spiritual and temporal matters”.  There was only one wedding recorded in the register on that day – that of David Gudlestone/Girdlestone, a hairdresser, and Elizabeth Spurrell.

Despite his apparently  forthright manner, his pastoral care was, however, obviously appreciated by many.  On 3rd November 1853 we read “was surprised to see a Chelsea Pensioner in the garden, in all the glories of cocked hat and scarlet coat.  It turned out to be old Nicholas Peake, late a parishioner of Hoe.  He had left the Hospital for a holiday and had brought me some flower roots as a present in acknowledgment of former kindness”.    Ancestry has a reference to a Private Nicholas Peake, birth date about 1780 in Hoe, who enlisted in the 63rd Regiment of Infantry in 1808 and was discharged in 1825.

The Revd Armstrong suffered his own personal trials and tragedies over the years.  His diary entries record the death of a baby daughter, his concerns over what he saw as the unwise marriage of another daughter, worries about a son in the army, a nephew in a mental hospital, the deaths of his parents and sister in quick succession.  But through the years you also get a strong sense of the integrity and honesty of a man with a strong sense of vocation and a love of the people he served in East Dereham for over 30 years.

 

 

 

Don’t just book it….

“Mr Cook of Leicester having planned an excursion to North Wales and Ireland, and undertaking to take any individual from Dereham to Dublin and back, first class, for 42s, I thought it a chance not be thrown away.”  So reads the entry for 17 September 1855 in the diary excerpts of The Revd Benjamin Armstrong, one time Vicar of East Dereham in Norfolk.

It was while browsing the Norfolk shelves at the Society of Genealogists that I chanced upon this publication:  ‘A Norfolk Diary – Passages from the Diary of The Rev Benjamin John Armstrong, Vicar of East Dereham 1850 – 88’.  Flicking through the pages I could see at once that it would be fascinating reading, but it was near closing time and there was no name index, so reluctantly I put it back on the shelf whilst taking note of the title.  This volume was published in 1949, edited by his grandson Herbert Armstrong.

Happily I was able to find a copy of the book through Amazon and have enjoyed reading it immensely.  I also found that there was a second book of excerpts published in 2012 with the title ‘Under the Parson’s Nose’, this one edited by his great grandson Christopher Armstrong.  For anyone with an interest in East Dereham in particular but also an interest in the social history of mid nineteenth century Norfolk, these books are invaluable and I would really commend them.

The character and views of the Revd Benjamin Armstrong really come through – his integrity, his concern for the poor, his enjoyment of travel, his love of his family, but also his firmly-held High Church position and abhorrence of poor preaching.

These are name-rich books, particularly worth reading if you have clergy ancestors in Norfolk or ones who moved in the higher echelons of society.  There are descriptions of frequent dinner parties, garden parties, concerts etc as well as meetings of local clergy.  There are plenty of descriptions of pastoral visits to the poor and needy, but frustratingly those indviduals are usually not named.  What I would like to do is try to match some of the specific references to burials etc with entries in the parish registers to see what light they can shed.

It was, however, greatly ironic that I should read the 17 September 1855 entry on the very day that we heard the news that the Thomas Cook travel company had collapsed.  I believe that the company had already been going for about 14 years when Revd Benjamin Armstrong and his father ventured to Dublin via Holyhead, visiting Bangor and Snowden on the way back.  He is fairly scathing of what he saw in Dublin, despite declaring it to be a ‘fine city’.

Three years later Revd Benjamin Armstrong chose to join another Cook’s excursion, this time to Scotland, and was again accompanied by his father.  They visited Edinburgh and Glasgow in September 1858 and greatly enjoyed the scenery on the drive from Callendar to Trossachs:  “One feels, on such occasions, the desire to keep silence in order to enjoy the great luxury of contemplating the wonderful works of God”.  Unfortunately the combination of a talkative driver and an annoying fellow passenger made silent contemplation impossible!  Such are the risks of group tours, I guess, but risks which thousands have taken in order to enjoy organised travel around the world with Thomas Cook over the last 178 years.

The Revd Benjamin Armstrong certainly found travel informative:  “One is better able to judge of people and things by coming in personal contact with them, than by all the descriptions in the world”.

Have you visited us before?

“Have you visited us before?” asked the receptionist at the Society of Genealogists in London.  I paused and said, “well, yes, but it was about 30 years ago!”.  The receptionist recorded that as a ‘no’.  My memories of that one visit are very vague, but the handwritten notes in my family history files are testament to the fact that I found some useful information on that occasion, in the days long before online access to data.

My investigation of sources relevant to my newly-found Mormon ancestors has continued apace since my last couple of blogs.   Last time I wrote of finding on Family Search that LDS membership records existed for East Dereham in Norfolk for the period 1848 – 1871.  I phoned the Portsmouth LDS Family History Centre to enquire, only to learn that they did not hold any microfilms.  The person I spoke to didn’t seem to know how I might find this record, which was very disappointing.  However, fellow family historians are wonderfully helpful, and shortly after posting my question on a family history society facebook page, I learnt that it was to the Society of Genealogists in London that I needed to direct my enquiry.  Apparently it stopped being possible to order microfilms at local LDS Family History Centres a couple of years ago, and all those held by the London Centre are now housed at the Society of Genealogists. http://www.sog.org.uk/ 

I had a very positive response to my phone call to the latter:  the person I spoke to went off to investigate and phoned me back with the good news that yes, they had film number 86996.  I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to get to London to view it!

The journey was not helped by the fact that no trains were running on the Circle Line, but finally I was there, loading the microfilm and scrolling through to find the documents.  “A record of births and baptisms of the Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ East Dereham Norwich Conference of Latter Day Saints.  Organised 24th Day of March 1849 on 18 Members at Conference in Norwich.”

The pages recorded the LDS baptisms of members:  for most it also gives the individual’s birth date, and says who baptized them and confirmed them.  Further columns sometimes indicate if an individual emigrated, died or was ‘cut off’.

I quickly spotted both James and Bartha Lina George, both baptized on 10 June 1849 by John Lickerish.  The entry for James includes the information that he was ordained both Deacon and Priest in October that same year.  Scanning through the records shows that James himself baptized members from around 1852 onwards, so it looks as though he became a significant leader in that local Mormon branch.  In fact, he subsequently baptized three of his own children:  Martha and James in 1860 and Ann in 1862.  John was baptized in 1866 and Alice in 1870.  I had read previously that the Mormon church did not (and I believe still does not) baptise children under the age of 8 years old:  Martha was 10, James was 8, Ann was 8, John was 10 and Alice was 12.

James’ wife Bartha Lina died in 1865 – before the baptisms of the last two children.  I was interested to see the baptism recorded of James’ second wife Frances Gathercole in December 1866 – about 6 months before they married.  A Mary Gathercole had already joined the church in 1852 and Harriet Gathercole would be baptized there in 1869.  The latter turns out to be Frances’ daughter by her first husband John.

So, apart from learning the baptism dates of James’ family, what else have I learnt from this particular document?  Well I had wondered whether many wider members of the family had also converted to the Mormon church even if they did not subsequently emigrate.  I think the answer to this is not really.  I did find three other George baptisms:  a Mary in 1851, born in Gressenhall in 1811, an Elizabeth in 1863 (unfortunately her date of is not birth given) and another Mary in 1864 (again no date of birth given). Now I think that the first Mary could be the wife of James’ oldest brother David.  Her maiden name was Burrell and there is also an entry for a Susana Burrell, born in Gressenhall, who could well be related.  Mary’s entry says that she was ‘cut off’ in June 1853, which I take to mean that she was excommunicated in some way.  Without dates of birth it is hard to work out who the other two women are, unfortunately.

In case you have any East Dereham ancestors yourself, some of the other family names which occur in this document are:  Johnson, Jones, Baker, Wright, Butter, Baker, Everett, Pooley, Savage, Thompson, Smith, Moore, Roberson, Taylor, Bowman, Gunn, Hill, Carr, Rawlins, Reynolds and Hayhoe.

The document entries cease in 1871, but James George is recorded as baptising people during that last year.  I do wonder whether the numbers in the church had dwindled by that time, with a number having emigrated to America including most of James’ children.  The same surnames crop up in the document again and again, so it looks like perhaps a relatively small number of families comprised the Branch.  This is speculation, but it could be another contributory factor to James’ decision to emigrate to Utah himself in 1878.

A book which I found on the open shelves at the Society of Genealogists is ‘A Norfolk Diary – passages from the diary of Rev Benjamin John Armstrong’.  He was vicar of East Dereham from 1850 – 1888.  Time did not permit a longer perusal, but it looked fascinating.  I subsequently found reference to it on the Hoe and Worthing Archive site http://www.hoeandworthingarchive.org.uk/church.html describing the vicar’s visit to parishioners in Hoe where he found “two families who are Mormonites”.  One of those families was that of Jeremiah Jones, whose name occurs frequently in the East Dereham document, frequently baptising people.  He was the same age as James and apparently Jeremiah and his family emigrated in 1862.

My visit to the Society of Genealogists was not quite a first, but my visit to a LDS Family History Centre a few days earlier certainly was.  I may not have been able to view microfilms, but I was able to view a document only available online at a LDS Centre as well as taking the opportunity to use Ancestry Worldwide.  My learning continues!

 

The Utah Connection

The discovery of Mormons amongst my ancestors has certainly given my George research a new lease of life!  A whole tranche of hitherto untapped sources has been revealed, so I’m on a big learning curve currently.

Having established that James George, brother of my 2 x great grandfather John, most probably sailed from Liverpool bound for New York on 15 June 1878 accompanied by his youngest daughter Alice, I wanted to know when the rest of his children crossed the pond.

From a historical narrative on Ancestry it seemed that James Jnr was the first to go, in the winter of 1868, but what of Martha, Ann and John?

Not having a Worldwide subscription to Ancestry, I took myself off to our local library last Friday to use the library version (hooray for libraries!).  Firstly I looked for death certificates and found ones for all five of the children under Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates 1904 – 1961.

James George Jnr was the first to die, in January 1926 in Bountiful, Davis County.  The death certificates have two particularly useful questions:  “length of residence in city or town where death occurred” and “how long in US if foreign birth”.  Now this information is only as good as the knowledge of the informant.  In this case James’ wife Viola seemed to think he had been in Bountiful since 1869 and in the US since 1857.  However the 1910 census, which I looked at next and where James himself is likely to have provided the information, gives his “year of immigration” as 1869.  That would make him about 16 – 17 years old when he emigrated from England.

Next to die was Ann just three months later in Park City, Summit County.  In this case the informant was her son Joseph who stated that he believed his mother had immigrated in 1876.  At the time of the US Federal census in 1920 Ann was living with her daughter Mae, who had given her mother’s immigration year as 1880.  Another time I must look for a marriage date for Ann, but with her first child born in 1881, I’m speculating that her arrival in Utah might have been nearer 1876 than 1880.

After Ann was Martha, who died in October 1932 in Ogden, Weber County.  Her eldest son Fred was the informant and was way out on her birth date, giving that as 1844 rather than 1850.  He stated that she had been in the US since 1862.  However, in the 1920 census Martha herself had given the information that she immigrated in 1870, which should be the more reliable date except that she appears on the 1871 census in East Dereham, Norfolk, working as a dairymaid!   I found a marriage date for her on Family Search of 1874 in Salt Lake, so her immigration was sometime between 1871 and 1874.

Next to die was brother John, in June 1944 in Logan, Cache County, at the advanced age of 88.  His son Horten was the informant and he gave the immigration date of 1873.  John himself, on the 1930 census, gave the year as 1872.  That looks pretty reliable to me as the dates are so close.  He, too, was in East Dereham in 1871.

Alice outlived them all, dying in July 1948 at the age of 90 in Salt Lake City.  The informant’s signature is unclear, but may have been her daughter Alice.  She gave the immigration date as 1876, whereas Alice’s husband in 1930 had given the date as 1904, which was obviously inaccurate since her first child was born in Utah in 1883.

It would be great if I could find all of the above on a passenger list, but until I do my best guess is that their immigration dates were James 1868/9, John 1872, Martha 1872/4, Ann 1876 and then James Snr with Alice in 1878.  Quite probably all (with the possible exception of James Jnr) went by steamship to New York and then by rail to Salt Lake.  Prior to 1869 the journey was far more arduous, consisting of sailing to New Orleans and then by boat up the Mississippi before the wagon train or handcart route to Salt Lake.

I mentioned Family Search earlier, and this is just one source which I am just beginning to investigate.  I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea how much primary source material was on this site!  Till the last week I had only been aware of user-submitted material on there, often with no sources given whatsoever, and so had treated the information with a good deal of scepticism.  But, for example, looking up East Dereham I see there are scanned pages from Court rolls – definitely something to come back to.

I am beginning to work out how to use the Catalog search and have found some of the sources mentioned in ‘My Ancestor was a Mormon’, such as the Early Church Information File.  This appears to act as a signpost to other records, some of which I believe can only be accessed at LDS Family History Centres.  Though aware for many years of the existence of these centres, I have never had occasion to use one.  But this, I think, will be my next line of enquiry, since the Family Search site indicates that membership records exist for East Dereham for the period 1848 – 1871, which is just the period I need to potentially throw more light on my Mormon George family.  Who knows – it may just reveal other family members who also converted!

John George’s death certificate from 1944 (accessed from Ancestry 28/6/19)
John George and family probably taken in the late 1880s.
Photo originally shared on Ancestry by Summer Cooper.

They went to live in Utah

A 73 year old twice widowed ag lab from rural Norfolk dying in Utah, USA?  It seemed pretty implausible and so I had treated that particular Ancestry ‘hint’ with a good deal of scepticism.

However, it was another of Mark’s suggestions (the AGRA member I saw at Family Tree Live) to take a good look at the trees of others who might be interested in the George family from East Dereham in my efforts to break down my brick wall.  So I did just that, with my sceptical hat on, particularly looking at who had saved photos from other trees to their own.  What I discovered was a number of people with James George b 1818 and his five children ending up in Utah.  It was not, however, until I spotted a death certificate for James’ daughter Alice, that I got the proof I needed.  That certificate gave the names of parents matching those on my tree, plus her birth date in East Dereham.  It looked as though the family had indeed emigrated.

Alice George’s death certificate gave me the proof I needed

James is the younger brother of my 4 x great grandfather John George.  His first wife Bertholina (nee Hudson) had died in 1865 (I mentioned her in my last blog).  His youngest child, Alice, was then only 8 years old.  Two years later James married a widow, Frances Gathercole, and she subsequently died in January 1878.

Trawling through the information on these various trees on Ancestry with the ‘US connection’ revealed some astounding information:  that James appears to have converted to Mormonism whilst in East Dereham and then responded to the call to emigrate to Salt Lake City to help build the new Zion!  A couple of people have biographies of James on their Ancestry pages, which sound like stories passed down through the family.  I think there’s an element of oral tradition there, too, as there is more than one reference to ‘East Durham’.  If you say ‘Dereham’ with a Norfolk accent you could well hear it as ‘Durham’.  I think that helps to lend credence to the stories.

Now I have to say that until recently my knowledge of the Mormon church was pretty much limited to the Osmonds!  However, I got hold of an extremely informative book called ‘My Ancestor was a Mormon’, by Ian Waller, published by the Society of Genealogists.  It was published in 2011, and of course the digital age has continued apace since then, so I am hoping that even more of the sources might be available online than was the case then.  I’m learning a lot about the early history of the church and the early patterns of migration.

By the 1850s there were more Mormons in the UK than in the USA due to the evangelism that had taken place in this country and from the 1840s onwards there was positive encouragement of members to emigrate.  Initially this was by ship to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to St Louis, before an overland journey by wagon train to Utah.  Later on, once the railroad was complete, the journey was much quicker, with emigrants sailing to New York and then by rail to Salt Lake.

The biographical information for James states that he “received his endowment in the Endowment House on 23 October 1879”.  This was a very sacred ceremony in the Mormon church and it indicates he was in Utah by that stage; he was also recorded on the 1880 US census.

One of the sources of information which I have looked at as a result of this book is the Castle Garden website www.castlegarden.org .  From 1855 to 1890 immigrants arriving in New York passed through this processing centre, the forerunner of the better known Ellis Island.  Though not conclusive evidence, I found on this site a James George, labourer, arriving on 26 June 1878 on board the Montana, having sailed from Liverpool.  He had paid for his own passage and was aged 59.  The age just about fits, but the fact that a 20 year old Alice George was on the same boat, makes it seem more likely that these are our people.  James was no spring chicken, so his resilience in making that journey at that time of life is remarkable.

Why did James choose to emigrate at that point?  Well it looks as though he made the journey quite soon after the death of his second wife.  Economically probably rural Norfolk was not a great place to be at that time, but probably just as importantly, it looks as though the rest of his children had preceded him to Utah.  According to his son John’s death certificate, he emigrated in 1873 and his eldest daughter Martha had her first child in Utah in 1875.  I need to do a bit more investigation to see when daughter Ann emigrated, but son James appears to have been the first to go, as early as 1868.   So I’m guessing that James Snr felt there was little to keep him in Norfolk with the rest of the family already in Utah and no doubt telling him about the opportunities there.

I’ve sent messages via Ancestry to two of the people who are descended from James and was thrilled when one of them replied.  I’ve found a 4th cousin in Utah!  Who’d have thought it?

James George b 1818, brother of my 4 x great grandfather

The Hudson report

I’m not quite sure why I had not realised it, but I had never got round to getting a copy of David George’s death certificate – not until last month, that is.  It was Mark, an AGRA member, who pointed out this omission.

I had taken the opportunity to sign up for a free 20 minute consultation at Family Tree Live to discuss my George ‘brickwall’.  Mark made a number of helpful suggestions as well as providing reassurance that my methods thus far were sound.  I believe that David George was born around 1786 in East Dereham, Norfolk, but so far I have been unable to find a baptism record for him in order to determine his parents or any other document which would give this proof.  And so I am stuck and have been for some time.

Mark suggested that one thing I might do would be to get David’s death certificate to see if that gave any further information.  Did he, for example, die in the workhouse, which could lead to Settlement papers?  I duly ordered a pdf straight away.

I had already found the burial entry for David on 30 April 1851 at East Dereham church, so I suppose it hadn’t occurred to me that I needed a death certificate too.

The death certificate revealed that no, David George did not die in the workhouse.  It indicates that he died on 26 April 1851 at North Hall Green, East Dereham (in other words, at home, since that was the address given in the 1851 census taken earlier that month).

The cause of death is given as “Peritonitis from perforation of the intestinal canal, 12 hours certified”.  The informant was George Walden “in attendance” of White Lion Yard, East Dereham, and the death was registered on 29 April.

My research into this cause of death indicates that the perforation could have been the result of an injury or the result of cancer or an ulcer.  The onset of pain is likely to have been sudden and the peritonitis (inflammation as intestinal contents seeped into the abdomen) is likely to have resulted in blood poisoning.  Today this would be treated with surgery and antibiotics.  Poor Great Great Great Grandfather David – it sounds awful.  It also sounds as though he didn’t suffer for long, and indeed the newspaper entry published a few days later says “very suddenly”.  What a shock to his family.

Norfolk News Sat 3 May 1851   Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

So who was George Walden and why did he register the death rather than one of David’s many children?

George was present when David died, so could he have been his best mate?  It wasn’t that George was literate (he made his mark).  But maybe George had registered a death before and knew what to do, offering to perform this service for the family while they all came to terms with David’s sudden demise.

George is most likely to be the one at Green Yard on census night 1851.  Green Yard was off Church St, and the White Lion pub was on the left of Church St as you look towards the Church.  No doubt the yard went up to one side of the pub.  Maybe they were actually one and the same place.  George was also 65 and a sawyer.

I then wondered what else I could find out about George.  I discovered that his wife Frances (Hudson) came from Yaxham as did David’s wife Elizabeth.  Perhaps the two women were great friends?  Frances and George married on 9 Feb 1812 in East Dereham.  Frances was born 28 Nov 1786, the daughter of Edmund Hudson and Mary Shilling, who, according to the Norfolk Online Record Search available through Norfolk Family History Society, had 6 other children, all born in Yaxham. https://www.norfolkfhs.org.uk/nors/about/ 

Now the name Hudson rang a bell.  I remembered that David’s son James married a Bartholina Hudson in 1845.  I looked her up and found she was baptised on 11 Jan 1818 in Costesey, father Edmund Hudson, mother Bertolina. One of Edmund and Mary’s children was an Edmund, baptised in 1792.  Annoyingly I have been unable to find a marriage for Edmund and Bertolina, but I think it quite likely that this Edmund (and therefore the father of Bartholina who married James George) is the brother of Frances who married George Walden.  So Bartholina could well have been Frances’ niece, therefore forming a connection between these two families which went beyond David and Elizabeth, George and Frances being good friends.

So yes, it was definitely worth getting that death certificate.  I learnt where David died, who was with him when he died and what caused his death.  More unexpectedly, I found the name of someone hitherto unknown to me which has given me a glimpse into the social interaction of the family.  Though some of this is a little speculative, it helps to create the picture of a real, living family.  I find it a little surprising that a humble ag lab family went to the trouble or could even afford to put a death notice in the paper.  But perhaps that indicates the extent to which David was indeed “much beloved and respected by all who knew him” as the notice says.

So what is next in my efforts to knock down that brickwall?  Well, manorial records look worth pursuing, but whether I wait some time for a possible visit to Norfolk or whether I pay a researcher I’m not sure.

Talking to the Family Search people at Family Tree Live confirmed my suspicion that the information on the Millenium File which indicates that David was the son of John George and Ann Gallant should be treated with caution since no source is given.

However, Mark did encourage me to take a look at other Ancestry trees which might include David (though of course proceeding warily).  I’ll let you know how I get on with that particular line of enquiry.  That vital clue may yet be out there somewhere!

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary!

Well today is the third anniversary of my family history blog!  I can’t quite believe that I’ve been doing it for so long, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back over the subjects I have written about during that time.

My computer records tell me that this is my 88th blog post.  From the outset I wanted to write about thoughts that occurred to me both while making progress with my family history research and in just normal everyday life, since the topic of family history is never far from my mind. So what subjects have I tackled over these three years?

I’ve written, unsurprisingly, of trips I’ve undertaken with primary research very much in mind.  I started out three years ago writing about our trip to Norfolk to research both the George family of East Dereham and the Muskett family of various locations in that county.  I talked about visiting Norfolk Record Office and the Norfolk Family History Society’s research base at Kirby Hall as well as our tour round a number of villagesI’ve subsequently written about visits to West Sussex Record Office, researching the Mitchell family and The Keep in Brighton, looking at Combridges and Bryants.

There have been other opportunities to undertake what you might call ‘family history tourism’:  visiting West Grinstead in Spring 2017, Staffordshire in May 2017 and Chalvey in the summer of 2017.  More recently there has been our memorable trip to France and Belgium this Spring, marking the centenary of William Wakefield’s death.

I have written about types of resources often used in family history:  wills, newspaper archives and inquests, for example.  Then there have been artefacts which have proved a trigger for a train of thought:  buttons, a doll’s house, Christmas toys, old photos, memorable trees as well as the ‘mystery object’ of early 2017.

A couple of authors, namely Jane Austen and Flora Thompson, have been the inspiration for blogs and I have dipped into a couple of antiquarian books on Sussex, too.

Whilst ancestral occupations is an area that I think I could explore more fully in the future, I have frequently written about other family activities such as gardening, marmalade making and picking winterpicks.

Overall I’m pleased with the eclectic mix and I hope that you, too, have enjoyed the variety and will continue to post your comments.

Now, what shall I write about next….?