28 December 2008

I've been missing . . . .

Slight problem with the computer, the Festive Season and the beta-testing for the 1911 census site have all combined to keep me away from here for a couple of weeks, so I guess this entry had better be worth reading . . . .

What to write? I had a look through my main family file and found a few Christmas-related events. Such as:-

7 christenings and 4 marriages on Christmas Eve in various parts of East Anglia;
24 christenings and 3 marriages on Christmas Day and
a mere 3 christening and 7 marriages on Boxing Day.

I actually expected higher numbers on all three days, as most of my ancestors were of humble stock and would only have had two of these days off. Dredging my memory, I can't remember when Boxing Day actually became a holiday, so I would imagine that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the 19th Century days of rest.

Unlike nowadays when the whole country seems to settle down on Christmas Eve for a good ten days of holiday, and all the public transport with them! Shops, of course, only really close for one day but it's so easy to get sucked in and buy enough food for a siege!

Speaking of which, I must go and reduce the chocolate mountain . . . . !!

16 December 2008

Walter the Forger

Back on the criminal lineage, here's one devious ancestor I'm not too proud of (or is that, of whom I am not too proud . .?).

When the 1901 census first came on line (and after it stopped crashing every few minutes), I discovered this chap, Walter T Staden, on the indexes. Being too mean at that point to pay for sight of the details, I noted that he was on the Isle of Wight and assumed he was having an early Spring break that year. Oh how naive!

(Young Walter was born in Shoreditch in 1861 and grew up to be a clerk (well, someone's got to)).

Once I'd discovered Ancestry, I found young Walter . . . in Parkhurst Prison. Some amusement ensued because he most certainly was not a Warder, but listed as "Convict, age 39, clerk banker's". Then I was able to follow it up via the wonderful Times online digital archive.

He first appeared at Guildhall in February 1900 charged with Forging and Uttering transfers of shares; he pleaded guilty to 14 charges, although only four indictments were actually "preferred". I'll be putting a transcript of the Times articles onto my website shortly (www.praeteritus.co.uk).

He was sentenced to five years' penal servitude - and presumably served them all at Parkhurst. Somehow I can't seem to like this guy - there's something far too underhand about forging.

Onwards, to christmas present wrapping.

12 December 2008

Public Speaking . . .

. . . is something I avoid if I possibly can but I plainly did not get this particular gene from my great-great-grandpa Freeman.

According to the Hunts County News of 6th February 1897:-

"The chief feature of the service was an excellent address by Mr J.E. Freeman on "Proverbs and quotations of wit and humour". Mr Freeman kept his audience highly interested for three-quarters of an hour."

Keeping an audience "highly interested" for a short time is quite a trick so 45 minutes is pretty impressive, remembering that there would be no PowerPoint presentation or other such gadgets with which to distract people.

Well done g-g-gramps!

10 December 2008

Another cracking name . . .

So there I was, looking for a marriage in a Cambridgeshire village, and I found the best name so far this year . . . .

In 1894, in a village in the county (no names, no pack drill) I found the marriage of a Lily Savidge! Well, Lilian Savidge, to be correct, but it certainly made me smile!!

Brightened up an otherwise manky December afternoon spent in ultimately fruitless searching. But, hey ho, such is the life of an amateur genealogist - sometimes you get days like this. Luckily they don't come too often!

Onwards . . .

6 December 2008

Monumentally interesting . . . ?

Interesting that I started this rambling to talk about my Culpin ancestors - and I've hardly mentioned them recently.

So, to remedy this, let me leave the Constables in Stretham for a moment and pass comment on the best Monumental Inscription it has been my pleasure to collect:-

"A light is from the household gone;
A voice we loved is stilled.
A place is vacant in the home
That never can be filled.

Not lost, but gone before."

So says the gravestone of Millice Campbell Culpin, my great-great grandfather. He was born in 1841 in St Ives and spent his life as a blacksmith/agricultural implement maker; married to Naomi Fordham they had eleven children between 1864 and 1887. Sadly he took his own life in January 1899; the verdict of the Inquest jury being that the balance of his mind was disturbed.

According to the newspaper report (Hunts County News) : " He was a man of fine stature, but for three years had suffered from heart disease and diabetes, and these complaints had evidently unhinged his mind. "

The family lived on The Quadrant in St Ives and I think their house, complete with outbuildings which could have housed the forge, are still there; I really ought to take my camera next time I go out there.

2 December 2008

Time rolls on

And it's December already. First two days of the Advent calendar are open (chocolate calendar - the friend who sent it wants me to be the size of a barrage balloon) and it almost snowed today.

So, like any sensible person, I'm indoors and I've been searching the records of Stretham (in Cambridgeshire) for Constables. No, not the police version.

These, unlike the uniformed version, are many and frequent the Parish Registers . . . . well, frequently.

The reason I bring them up, so to speak, is that I've just picked out one family from the baptisms; twelve children in 20 years, including three Elizabeths and two John Henrys. That should give a clue to what happened - I count nine deaths among these twelve children, all of them within their first year of life.

Makes you think.

27 November 2008

Check & check again . . .

OK, so I've done it again. My g-grandmother is Sarah; that was never in doubt. I'd got her name from the census and then, on getting my grandfather's birth certificate, I'd discovered her surname, as in "formerly xxxxx". So far, so good. That was about fifteen years ago.

Last week I was looking at the website of one of my second cousins (possibly once-removed, I'm not sure) and noticed that he had a different surname for said g-grandma. So, I looked again. Now, FreeBMD has come on apace since I first found g-granddad's marriage so I was able to match him up with his wife at this point. And her surname was Brown.

This struck me as an odd way to spell the surname I had, so I checked again on the cuz's site. Ah yes, there she is as Mrs Brown; so, she must have been a widow when she married g-grandpa.

It shows how you gain the experience (or perhaps cynicism) the longer you do this genealogy lark. Nowadays I'd look at her date of birth and the date she married great-grandpa . . . and wonder why she married him so relatively late in life (she was about 34 years old and that is late for the mid-1800s).

Still, I've got great-grandpa's marriage certificate now and. lo and behold, she's listed as a widow. On the positive side I don't have to re-jig her parents etc because I did at least get them right first time.

Unless you know better . . . . .

24 November 2008

Outlawed from Scotland

If I had a criminal in my immediate family, I'd probably be slightly ashamed; yet when I found another ancestor who came up against the law, I was quite amused . . . . how strange is that!

This chap, my 4x Great uncle, was born in Sundridge in Kent in 1805, married in 1826 and again circa 1839, and then turned up in Edinburgh . . . read on:-

The first conviction in Scotland before a court of justice for keeping a gambling-house took place on Monday week, in the case of Bernard Greenhuff, Charles Staden or Staten, Charles Stockwell and Mornington Parry. Greenhuff pleaded guilty; the others failed to appear.

The sentence against Greenhuff, which the Court considered they had made lenient in respect of certain alleviating circumstances but which they hoped would nevertheless be effectual as a timely check upon the offence, was, that he be imprisoned in Calton Gaol for the term of two months, and on the expiry of that to find caution to the amount of 50l. for his good behaviour for two years; failing which to undergo imprisonment for two months longer.

Outlawry was passed against Charles Staden, or Staten : and in the case of the other two, Stockwell and Parry, at the request of the counsel, Mr. Patrick Robertson, the diet against them was continued till Wednesday.

This comes from The Times of 31st January 1839 and I found it courtesy of their wonderful archives site.

I guess it's safe for me to go to Scotland . . . . .

19 November 2008

Odd thoughts from a broad

I thought I'd try and recreate the JK Rowling thing of sitting in a cafe, drinking coffee and writing a bestseller . . . . . . hmmmm, can't think that's really going to happen, but the coffee was good!

Then I got home and got wound up by all the hoo-ha about Strictly. What a bunch of hypocrites! So I completely lost track of time and also of what I had planned to put on here today.

Instead, I've just nicked something from my own website (a bit of "cross-pollenation" here) which amused me.

Back in May this year, I discovered that there were two Oliver Cromwell Freemans in my tree. Plainly not at the same time, but the first one, born in 1874 to James & Eliza Humphrey in Spitalfields, only lived a couple of months. The second OCF was born a year later and died in 1891. I think we can safely assume that their parents weren't ardent royalists . . !

I only found this out because I sent for his death certificate (1891) in the hope it might also give me a clue to where his older sister Mabel was. It didn't; but instead told me that he died of "enteric fever and exhaustion" in The London Hospital in Whitechapel.

That's the same London Hospital featured on BBC1's Casualty 1907 and "starrring" Doctor Millais Culpin and his future wife Nurse Ethel Bennett. This was a three-episode miniseries in April/May this year and quite good it was too - but I might have been slightly biased.

17 November 2008

More names. . .

In my "Stray Culpins" file is one of my favourite names amongst all those I've "collected" along the way.

Ethra Jenny Culpin was born in 1876 in Great Easton in Leicestershire, daughter of John & Fanny (nee Nicholls). The youngest of seven children, she appears with her parents in the 1881, 1891 & 1901 censuses; in the first two, still in the village of her birth, and then, in 1901, in Easton Magna which, I assume, is not far away.

Ah, remember note to self: don't assume. So, I need to look up Easton Magna and Great Easton to assess their proximity to each other.

In 1909, Ethra Jenny (I like the name so much, I'm going to keep using the full moniker) married Walter Ashby Ward in Great Easton. And there, so far, the trail goes cold. I guess I'll have to wait for the 1911 census in order to make much more progress there.

So . . . Ethra Jenny . . . . is still lovely name.

14 November 2008

It's always worth checking . . .

One of the good things about having a subscription to Ancestry (other websites are available) is that your search for one person may bring up details about another . . . which you'd got wrong.

So there I was, looking for a John Culpin and I saw John Arthur Whatford Culpin, a direct relation, in the 1901 census. So I had a quick gander at my database, saw that I didn't have an entry for him at this census and duly noted it down. Then I realised that his wife was down as Sarah, whereas I had her as Selina.

Now, I accept that some of the transcribing leaves a bit to be desired (but some of the enumerators' writing was appalling) but I don't think anyone could make "Sarah" out of "Selina" so I looked again at the particular marriage entry that I had for John & his wife.

OK, so I made a mistake. It wasn't Selina Denison at all, it was Sarah Jennings. That made a lot more sense. And I then went on to find them in the 1891 census and therein discovered another son of John & his first wife. Result!

Memo to self (again) - don't assume!

11 November 2008

A soldier from a different time . .

Armistice Day, so I joined nearly 200 others at the War Memorial. As with the last few years, there are a variety of people there - school children, brought out from lessons in a long crocodile, staff from the local offices, forces personnel from the nearby recruiting offices and a Russian former naval officer!

One more soldier to mention, this time from a much earlier time than the Great War. The lad in question was born in 1860 in Hertfordshire and I discovered the following on the Bedfordshire Archives website:-

"By contrast Albert Culpin, son of the Rev. Ben Culpin, minister at Shillington Congregational Church, never saw active service. He seems to have enlisted in the 41st foot in 1877 almost by accident and he deserted soon afterwards:

....you will be sad when you here I have listed in the army. I cant make out how it was I left Hitchin, but I must have been a fool like a great many who join .... When I got to London .... I did think a little about joining the navy. I asked a police[man] the way to Westminster.... He said come and list in something better so the Sargent gave me 1 shilling at St. George's barracks, so I come to London on the 3rd and listed and passed the doctor all before 12 o'clock on Sunday the 4th... I will tell you a bit about food and bed breakfast bread and coffee, for dinner, meat and potatoe; tea, bread and tea; straw bed and pillow, 2 blanckets and 2 sheets - it makes me think about your good beds. Don't break your hearts about me - I fancy I coud here you praying for me."

To date I have found no more information on him after 1877. More research required here, methinks!!!

9 November 2008


As it's Remembrance Sunday, I thought I'd put up a few names of people who fought in the Great War . . . .

My grandfather, FW Pates, who was a sapper with the REME and served in Egypt - apparently there's a photo of him, on a camel in front of the pyramids, on display in an Australian War museum.

My grandmother's brothers - Freeman Langford, who served in India and contracted malaria, was invalided home, sent to a hospital in the northwest and, a couple of years later, married his nurse!

John Langford, of Stretham, who was married with five children when he went off to war.

Ben Langford, also of Stretham, joined the Bedfordshire Regiment in August 1914. He arrived in Belgium on October 6th and was killed at Ypres on 31st October. He is the reason I started this family history lark and I have seen his name on the Menin Gate.

Then there's my friend's uncle who served in the Great War and was a prisoner of the Japanese in the Second World War. Another friend's grandfather who kept a diary during his Great War service - through which she discovered that he was at the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.

I'm sure there were many others but I'm doing this completely without notes; there are more family members on my website if you're interested.

Onwards . . . .

5 November 2008

Staden to Culpin in one step

From George Staden back to the Culpins is very (almost relatively) simple and best described thus:- in 1881 my grandmother's father (George) lived a few doors down from my grandfather's mother (Blanche Culpin).

Yep, both families lived in The Quadrant in St Ives. George's father (also George) was a merchant's clerk and was presiding, in early April 1881, over a family group comprising his second wife Fanny (nee Carter - and therein lies another tale), his four children (Carter, John, Eleanor & young George) by his late wife Sarah, and one small daughter (Fanny) by his new wife.

And, living a few doors away, were Millice Culpin and his wife Naomi, together with the first eight of their eleven children. In chronological order, the children were Sophia, Millice Charles, James, Frances, Albert, Arthur, Blanche & Tom (not bad, I did that from memory) . . . . yet to make their appearance in the world were Henry (aka Bob, who's already had a mention in this blog), Margaret and May.

Millice was a blacksmith of some standing in the small market town of St Ives, following the family tradition - which was also to extend to his oldest two sons. He was born in Hemingford Abbots in 1841 and married Naomi (nee Fordham) in Hemingford Grey in 1864.

3 November 2008

I hate my smoke detector

Ok, so I understand why we have smoke detectors. I tested mine a couple of weeks ago - well, the toaster set it off, but it was as good as a test. And then, early this morning, it started to beep. That beep which it uses to tell you that its battery needs changing.

My question is this - why, oh why, does the smoke detector NEVER run down during the day? It's always, always in the middle of the night! WHY???

Rant over, back to the family history.

The ancestor most in my mind at the moment is my great-grandfather George Staden. He was born in St Ives at the end of September 1873, the youngest of four children of George & Sarah, nee Carter. Sarah died four weeks later of consumption. Fairly unsurprisingly, George suffered with Tuberculosis (consumption by another name) all through his life.

He was apprenticed to a draper by the age of 17, working in Cambridge and Ware and married my great-grandmother in Cambridge in 1901. They had two children; first a daughter, my grandmother, and then a son who sadly died before his second birthday.

As the TB took hold, George became a patient at The Colony in Papworth. In October 1920, at the age of just 46, he died at Papworth. His photograph stands proudly to the left.

1 November 2008

November already . . . ?

To continue the criminal theme, I found the following in the Huntingdon Gaol Register online:-

26 March 1872 - James R Culpin, St Neots, bricklayer, age 35, drunk & disorderly

I am pretty certain that he is the son of James Culpin & Harriet Markham and that makes him one of the family.

He was born in St Ives in 1837 and I found him in the previous year's census in Godmanchester, working as a bricklayer. That's what gave me the clue . . . !!

Fortunately these criminal Culpins seem to be very much in the minority but I will be able to produce a Staden who more than matched them in law-breaking. Walter Thomas Staden was on the Isle of Wight in 1901 . . . . in Parkhurst Prison, and not as a Warder!

31 October 2008

Violence & Death

In the 1871 census James Culpin and his wife Sophia (nee Sheppard) were living in London Street, St Pancras. He was a tailor and she a tailoress.

The previous May James, then aged 59, was sentenced to six months hard labour. He was convicted of beating his wife - broke a chair over her head and back, broke her arm with the poker. And apparently this was not the first time - according to the newspaper report, she'd been married to him for 18 years and he was "in the constant habit of beating her".

Sophia died in September 1875 in fairly gruesome circumstances; Lloyds Weekly Newspaper (found at the British Library) gave up the following . . .

"Fatal Fire near Tottenham Court Road: Shortly before 10 o'clock on Thursday night a fire took place at Mr J Culpin's, tailor, 54 Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road. Some patterns, wearing apparel, and furniture, in a room on the ground floor, were burned and Sophia Culpin, aged 66 years, was burnt to death."

Interesting priorities: they list the damage and then, oh yeah, someone died!

And then the inquest: "Dr Hardwicke held an inquest on Monday, at the St Pancras Coroner's Court, touching the death of Sophia Culpin, aged 66, of 54 Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road. On the night in question John McArthur, who resided in the house, on coming home observed smoke issuing from deceased's room, and he at once tried to get in by the window, the door being fastened, but failing in this he took a chopper and, smashing the panels of the door, effected an entrance, when he found that the room was on fire. He raised the alarm and with two buckets of water extinguished the fire, when a horrible sight presented itself. On the table were the remains of an exploded paraffin lamp, there being a strong smell of oil in the room. At the side of the room, half sitting and half lying, and with her head against the wall, was the deceased, burnt to death. Her clothes were a mass of smouldering rags, her hair was burnt off, her breast burnt, and one of her legs was frightfully charred. The deceased had suffered from bad legs and rheumatism and could not get about much. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was recorded."

29 October 2008

Names . . .

In the years I've been researching my family history I have discovered all manner of names. Most are fairly ordinary, run-of-the-mill names and some are a bit unusual.

However, the prize for "Longest name given at Christening" goes to the son of Arthur & Holland Watts, who was born in Cambridge in 1900.

The poor lad was called Clarence Arthur William Preston James Watts.

Somehow I feel he must have hated filling in forms in later life!

28 October 2008

101 years old

No, not me; one of my distantly-related Culpins. Ethel May, born in 1899 in the Peterborough (hereinafter called Pebo) area, who died in 2000 (also in the Pebo area). Pretty impressive, and bound to have been reported in the newspapers.

Pebo is, of course, in Cambridgeshire now . . . . but I'll have to schedule a trip to their central library/local studies to have a look at the Evening Telegraph because Pebo is a unitary authority which is, I guess, a sort of independence from the county. A variation on "Passport to Pimlico", I suppose!

However, I might try and pick a day when the weather is better than today. (No, I'm not obsessed with the weather - I'm just British). Beautiful morning - cold and sunny; and then this afternoon . . . grey, cold, manky and full of "wintery precipitation". That's what the weathermen call it when they don't know whether it will fall as rain, sleet or snow. I think we got the middle one!

26 October 2008

Autumn Leaves & stuff

Just imagine how good the two new pictures to the left would have looked if there had been the "azure" sky I'd hoped for!

Still . . . more on the Culpins who came to the Ely area. William Culpin, who was born in Caistor circa 1824, married Mary Ann Binder in Whittlesey in 1846. By 1871 the family had moved across the Fens to Little Downham and they mostly stayed in the area until the early 20th century. Sightings have been mainly in Little Downham, Manea, Littleport and Ely.

Just to confuse me, tho', a couple of them were born in St Ives; this made me mix them up with what I think of as the "main" branch. These are my direct ancestors - Blanche and her siblings, the children of Millice Campbell Culpin and Naomi Fordham.

Not to sidetrack myself, though - I find it fascinating when I know the places these Culpins lived. New Barns Road, in Ely - been there many a time; not so familiar with Manea but I do go through there on the train to Peterborough - Dr Beeching didn't manage to close them down!! Little Downham? Go straight on past the old High School . . . . !

It's no good - got to go and check some of these out, I can see some question marks in my notes!

24 October 2008

Names on a Memorial

Yesterday in Ely I noticed repeating names on the War Memorial. Nothing unusual, particularly in small cities & villages, but these gentleman all shared the same middle initial. So I looked them up on the excellent War Memorial site http://www.roll-of-honour.com/

Bert, James, Thomas and Edward McGee were indeed brothers. And three of them died on the same day. Bert (18), James (20) & Thomas (22) died on 12th October 1916. Edward (24) died ten months later in August 1917. How did their parents go on after that?

I'll be thinking of them on 11th November, the 90th anniversary of the Armistice.

Pig Jobbers Anonymous

According to an Old Occupations website (http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/p.html) a pig jobber bought pigs and then sold them off for profit - a pig trader.

Not what I thought at all!!

23 October 2008

Ely on an autumn day

Thought I'd go to Ely today and take some photos of the trees in the park. As the weather so far this week has been stunning, I thought I'd get some really good shots of the red & orange leaves against an azure sky.

It was breezy and grey.

Still, I wandered round the city, noted that my favourite cafe (Steeple Gate) has now closed, and paid my respects, as usual, at the War Memorial.

No Culpins on there, but there were Culpins in Ely; Henry Culpin, my great-grandmother Blanche's brother, moved there from St Ives with his wife Grace (nee Whittaker) and set up as a jeweller in the city. Henry, also known as Bob, and Grace are buried together in the City cemetery and I've just put on a photo of their memorial stone.

In Cambridge, the Gasworks Memorial on Newmarket Road has the name of Henry Richard Culpin on it. He was the son of James Culpin & Alice May Etheridge, born in Cambridge in 1913, and died 8 March 1940. His grave, duly marked with the Commonwealth War Graves headstone, is in the City Cemetery in Newmarket Road, Cambridge. If memory serves, he is also commemorated on a plaque on St Paul's Church, Hills Road, Cambridge.

As for Samuel, he and Ann (nee Dickinson, married in 1858) were still at the "Punch Bowl" in Spalding in 1881, with the younger two of their children - Richard, a stonemason's apprentice, and Frederick, a pig jobber.

Pig jobber? What on earth did was that? Not sure I'd really like his job description, but I'll put it on the To Do list.

More soon . . . .

22 October 2008

Samuel Culpin

OK, refreshed by a cup of tea . . . Samuel Culpin, christened 5 Sep 1827 in Spalding, Lincs, son of Richard & Maria.

He appears in 1861 as the Master of the vessel "Hope", presumably a fishing boat, out of Hull (I think). By 1871, he's the landlord of the Punch Bowl Inn, New Road, Spalding; married to Ann and with four children at home.

He caught my eye, as it were, because his daughter's full name is Maria Mary Gostelow Culpin and when I first "saw" her online, I was tracing a related line of Fordhams in Huntingdonshire and one of those married a Susannah Gostelow. With such an unusual name, my ears pricked up at once.

So, back to Samuel - his parents turn out to be Richard (Culpin, obviously) and Maria Gostelow, who were married on 24 Sep 1810 in Spalding. They had seven other children, of whom more later, and I estimate that Richard would have been born circa 1790.

Problem is that I have a number of potential candidates for this chap . . . I guess I just need to eliminate them one by one and apply the Sherlock Holmes theory that "whatever remains, however unlikely, has to be the truth" (with apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for mangling his quote).

Onwards . . . . .

Primary Ramble

Ooooooh .... so, here we are.
My first blog. My first entry. How shall I start this?
I intend this to be about my link to the Culpin family from Northamptonshire & Rutland. I expect that other branches of my family will creep in as I congratulate them on their ability to hide from me, and as I agonise over who's linked to whom.
In the meantime, I'm going to have a cup of tea and think about how to find out how Samuel Culpin, born in Spalding, can be connected back to the Kings Cliffe/Woodnewton branch.
A bientot!