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.