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!