30 January 2009

Dinosaurs in the Fens

Today's weather check - cold but sunny, with the promise of a high pressure system straight from Russia! Nice . . . remind me not to go and stand on the coldest place in the county in this sort of weather - that's Ely railway station where it gets v.v.v.v. cold!!

Anyway, I know I make a rubbish weather forecaster so onwards unto the latest anniversaries in my files. How about William Quince & Susan Whittlesea, married yesterday in 1828 in Doddington, near March. Ooooh, a subliminal link . . . . why I was thinking about cold railway stations? Because March used to be a massive railway depot before Dr Beeching.

I digress again. So, William & Susan married and went on to produce ten children, of whom all seem to have survived infancy, with only two dying before their 20th birthday. Listen to me, "only two" . . . I'd say that 20% infant mortality was quite high. The family moved to Whittle End, March by 1851 and there they stayed, at least until William died in 1886. I have no info on what happened after that - they're not the biggest pieces in this family jigsaw of mine, but I will look out for them.

Of similar size in the jigsaw, but no less important, are Susan Webb & Jabez Peachey. She was born in Landbeach and he in Burwell and presumably they met when Susan's father James (my g-g-g-grandfather) moved his family to Poor Fen Farm near Burwell in the 1870s. From what I can gather, Poor Fen Farm was leased by a local charity to provide money for the poor - money which had previously been amply provided by royalties from copralite diggings.

Copralite? Fossilised dinosaur dung.

Some serious rambling tonight, I notice; I'm so easily straying off the point. Back to Susan & Jabez . . . Susan had (possibly) had a son, Charles, before she married and she & Jabez had no children during their marriage - she died in 1885. Jabez went on to marry again and I found him in 1891 in the village of Gazeley, listed as Christian Missioner. Plainly Gazeley had previously been a Godless place! This conversion, for want of a better word, did not seem so unusual after I'd seen that one of Jabez's brothers was called Job and his sisters all had names from the bible!

And finally, for today, an observation made during my wanderings around Cambridge. In the churchyard of Holy Trinity in the city centre, there are two things of interest:- the War Memorial and the graves. The War Memorial takes the form of a small covered seating area, a bit like a circular wooden bus shelter, but it was closed to the public a few years ago after it was adopted by some locals who preferred to drink in there.

The other things of interest are the many gravestones, all fairly old and looking as though they might fall over at a small push - but the best thing is that a number of them are engraved with the name Hunnybun!

So, a Jabez, a Job and some Hunnybuns. Not a bad haul for a cold Friday evening!!

28 January 2009

How long is a year . ?

So while I wait for music to download onto the pc, let me tell you about today's birthday boys and girl.

Edward Wright, son of Thomas & Rebecka (nee Langford) was born in 1695 in Stretham and died in April 1696. Now . . I think I've just noticed a glitch in my expensive genealogy database's thinking - because, although that period of time looks like 15 months, it's actually only three. This was the time of the old calendar which ran from late March - but the software which writes the reports has decided that Edward was 1 year old when he died. Hmmmmm, something to speak to the makers about, methinks.

Interesting fact - according to Wikipedia, a £2 fine was introduced in 1695 for swearing in England.

Moving on some 140 years, Elizabeth Young was born in 1834 in Chatteris, daughter of David & Jane (nee Bigley) and, sadly, she too only lived a short while, dying the following year. Sidetracking slightly, the Bigley line (on my maternal side) is really rather short and problematical. I think that John, my g-g-g-grandfather was born around 1776; I know that he married Mary Smith in 1807 in Great Yarmouth and I know that he died in 1860 in Chatteris. However, I don't know where he was born and, just to complicate matters, he was a soldier when he got married. This makes it likely that he was somewhat peripatetic and there were no national registers at this time; soooo, you'll understand when I say that this slows down the research slightly. What is known in the trade as a "brick wall".

And finally, introducing Arthur James Staden of this parish. As he lived in the 20th century, I will not be quite as free with info as I have been previously. Suffice to say that he was born on this day, son of Alfred & Catherine (nee Derby) and he died in 1997. His sister Iris was born yesterday, but I ran out of space to mention her - so I do so now; another with a sadly-short life, she died at the age of three (I checked the calculation) and was buried at St Edward in Cambridge.

The weather? It's been raining most of the day.

27 January 2009

A publican, a weaver & a currier

The title sounds rather like the opening line of a joke, but . . . .

George Frederick Brown, my g-g-g-grandfather (no, I'm not stuttering, that's great-great-great), was born today in 1827 in Norwich and christened at "St Martin at Palace" in the city. His parents were Thomas, a weaver, and Bridget - a Scot from Leith. So far, she's the only celtic relation I've found. George married Ann Moore on 1st January 1851 at Thorpe Episcopal in Norwich and they begat Mary Ann who went on to marry my g-g-grandfather James Freeman.

In the 1851 census George is at the Thorpe Road Lunatic Asylum . . . but, no, not an inmate -none of the family has yet been officially certified nuts. Then he and Ann go to London - Shoreditch, Bethnal Green & Mile End being the places I found them in the successive census returns - that's me, by the way, trying to avoid saying "censuses" as I'm never too sure of the plural noun; any advice happily taken on the subject.

Then their daughter & her husband move out to Hemingford Grey and George & Ann follow them; by 1891 George is the innkeeper of the Woolpack Arms in Fenstanton, a nearby village to Mary Ann & James. Plainly being a publican was harder work that he realised as he died the following year or maybe the country air just didn't agree with him.

Today's marriage is between Millice Culpin and Sarah Squires Barrett, who tied the knot in Little Downham, Cambs, in 1846. He was a Currier who, although born and brought up in St Ives, set up business in Stevenage and, as a true son of the Culpin lineage, this apple didn't fall far from the tree - he may have opted for a variation on the blacksmith role but two of his sons (of the twelve children he and Sarah had) did carry on the strict family tradition! Millice & Sarah left the town in the 1880s and moved to West Ham, which was probably a small village in Essex then, where Millice died in 1888. Sarah lived on to move to the South Coast and died in Ramsgate in 1915. She's buried in St Nicholas churchyard but I've seen no sign that Millice is there too - but, having said that, I have no idea where the church is, all my information has come from elsewhere.

Meteorological update - there's a strange yellow orb in the sky. Any offers?

25 January 2009

Meteorology & Matrimony

It's been raining here for most of the day so I've actually given some thought to this entry. You probably won't notice any improvement but I felt I ought to let you know that not all of this rambling is just thrown together.

Having moved Robert Milton's birthday to yesterday, I can bring out two marriages for today; firstly Joseph Staden & Caroline King, in 1847, at the wonderfully-named St Botolph-without-Aldersgate in London. The previous view of Joseph was in 1841 with his mother Sarah (nee Dodd) and a young Charles, who may well have been his son - but I can't seem to prove it either way. Joseph & Caroline went on to have five children and stayed mostly in Westminster. Plainly life in London at the time wasn't all it was cracked up to be as Caroline was only 47 when she died in 1867; Joseph died a few months later at the age of 59, which strikes me as quite good for the time.

On a bumper day for marriages (well, two is fairly bumper), Millice Charles Culpin married Emily Armes at St James, Hemingford Grey, in Huntingdonshire. Millice, named after his father Millice Campbell Culpin, was known universally (although not all over the world as the word implies) as Charlie, was born in Bishops Stortford and was brought up mostly in St Ives; he & Emily spent most of their married life in the Cambridgeshire village of Swavesey where he was the blacksmith (wonder if there was a spreading chestnut tree?). According to the local paper at the time of his death in 1942, they moved to the village in 1905 (1942 minus 37 years) and he was "bluff in manner but with a kind heart and ever ready to help others". That's nice!

One good thing about doing this blog-thing is that I've managed to keep away from spending too much time and (let's be honest) money on the 1911 census. That's good news but I suspect it's more a question of slowing down the inevitable!!

Wonder if it will stop raining soon . . . ?

24 January 2009

Always read the small print

So there I was, sorting out the loose pages in my Staden file and I found some emails which I'd plainly only half-read. I'd totally ignored my contact when she gave me the correct date of Thomas's marriage to Sarah Dodd (11th February) and told me that she'd been sent a copy of the actual Parish Register by way of confirming it. Sorry, Cathy, I resolve to read your emails from top to bottom next time!

Have to pause here, because I'm sorry I haven't a Clue has just come on the radio and for the next 30 minutes I won't be able to see for laughing.

Tomorrow would be the birthday of Robert George Henry Milton, an ancestor on my maternal side, who was born in 1891. So he'd be 117 - that's an awful lot of candles.

Robert was born in Biggleswade, son of Robert William & Mary Janet Willmer, and christened at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in the town on 22nd October of the same year. In 1901 he & his family were living in King's Langley in Herts, where his father was a member of the constabulary; by 1911, the family had moved (not terribly far, I think) to Bishop's Stortford, where Robert senior is still a copper and junior is aged 20 and "assisting baker".

According to my random notes, he was a shoo-in for being remembered as "Uncle Bob from Hitchin", but I now wonder if that title could also refer to his father?

Embarrassing moment of the week - when I was informed that two elderly and distant cousins had, sadly, died last year. Unfortunately I had prematurely killed one of them off fifteen years ago . . . by finding a death registered to someone with the same name and the same date of birth. Thinking about it now, I realise that she couldn't really have attended her sister's funeral in 1998 had she stuck to my dates. Oooops, sorry again.

Check and check again - now where have I heard that before . . . . ?

22 January 2009

Where was I . . ?

Before I so easily sidetracked myself last time, I had a plan. So let me start to ramble about Thomas Staden.

So far, he's the oldest "connected" Staden I can claim, as discovering information about him has been really quite difficult. What I know so far is that he married Sarah Dodd on 8th February 1801 in Keston in Kent and he & Sarah begat eight known sons. And that's it.

Until yesterday . . . . . I think. Whilst perusing the Google offerings, I saw one link to The National Archives (to give them their Capital Letters) taking me to a Register of Allotments. This is not a long list of horticultural spaces but rather a Royal Navy term for the sending of wages to next of kin and brought forth the following:-

Thomas Staden, Ship's Name: HMS Dart, Pay book number: SB39, Rank: Landsman, Relation: Mother Jane, When alloted: 1799.

Now, at the risk of being accused of A-level standard leaping-to-conclusions (which, incidentally, will probably be the only exercise I get tomorrow if the promised rain in the form of stair-rods materialises first thing), I might just consider adopting this Thomas as one of mine. The fact of his mother's name might just help me in deciding whether he's a Derbyshire Staden or a Devon Staden - I suppose that if he came from Chatsworth he could be both, ho ho!

A Landsman, by the way, turns out to be an inexperienced sailor/a sailor on his first voyage., according to an online dictionary. I think I might just double-check that one.

Onwards, to decide the direction of my next Staden foray. North or South . . ? Hmmmmmm.

21 January 2009

Right side of the law

I worry sometimes about my ability to maintain some sort of concentration but today this weakness has been a blessing. I thought I'd write about Thomas Staden in today's blog entry and, by way of preparation, I went to Google and entered his name. Of course, his less-than-illustrious descendant Walter Thomas Staden was conspicuous amongst the search results and this led me to the wonderful Old Bailey website (http://www.oldbaileyonline.org) where I found one of my ancestors on the right side of the law for a change.

Richard Markham Culpin (1841-1895) was the son of James Culpin and Harriett Markham and started his working life in St Ives as a Post Office Messenger (1861 census). By 1871 he was a Police Sergeant in Kensington so it was no great leap to decide that he was the "Policeman P97" of the following tales.

In 1868, the Old Bailey saw the case of Johnson & Webb, up in front of the beak for "Stealing a lamb, the property of Daniel Phillips". The main witness for the prosecution was "Richard Culpin (Policeman P97)" who kept watch to catch Messrs Johnson & Webb with the lamb actually in the pot. These gentlemen lived and worked on Mr Phillips' farm and it seems that they tried to pass it off as bacon but the long arm of the law knew his stuff. The defendants went down for twelve months each.

In the second case, in 1869, Richard only got a partial result. The case was against Edwards Sims and Martha Lewis for "unlawfully attempting to break and enter the dwelling house .... with intent to steal". Or, according to William Larigan, Policeman P125, "for attempting burglariously . . . " What an excellent word! Anyway, my ancestorial Plod (Policeman P97) turned up just after the attempt and found a chisel lying on the lawn outside the kitchen window, together with a knife and a file. He concluded that "they would be useful instruments for getting into a house". Sims got two years but Lewis, who appeared to be an astonishingly useless look-out, was let off.

By 1881, Richard seems to have forsaken the constabulary and has married Selina Garland; together they are running a lodging house in Skegness. He was in the same business ten years later and died in 1895 in Derbyshire.

Remember the word of the day: Burglariously.

20 January 2009

Across the seas . . . .

On this auspicious day let me bring out my very own George Washington.

That's George Washington Debney, the fourth child of Catherine Culpin and George Debney, born in Buntingford, Herts, in 1847. I don't know much about him yet because he and his family went to Australia, voluntarily, in the early 1850s. I know that his mother, Catherine, died in 1858 in Castlemaine, Victoria and his father in 1878 in Melbourne. I must do some more work on them.

Catherine was the aunt of my own great-great grandfather Millice Campbell Culpin and she was one of quite a few Culpins who went to the Antipodes. Australia has some excellent archives, many of which are now online, and I have already discovered a Newspaper Index which brought forth a few little snippets. I particularly appreciate the Australian War Memorial, a magnificent institution, which has even shown me a few photos.

I'm being slightly sidetracked by the new US President's Inaugural address and also quietly amused by the ear-muffs worn by the US Naval Guard! Even allowing for the distortion of distance by the tv cameras, there seem to be people standing in the cold for hundreds of yards along what I think is called The National Mall (that's Maul, obviously). Apparently the out-going Vice President damaged a few muscles whilst carrying boxes out of his official accommodation!!

Onwards, I feel the need to search for Debneys in Oz.

18 January 2009

Pier of the Realm . .

No, that wasn't a speeling mistook.

It was an entry in the 1851 census for someone who may be related to an ancestor of mine Confused? You will be! But concentrate, I may ask questions later . . . .

I was tracing a lady who I first discovered as Sarah Cavan. She then married Joseph Staden, or Sladen, and they had a lot of children with the middle initial "L". When I found her marriage register entry, I noticed that she married as Sarah Lambart; so I checked for a birth and found two:- Sarah Sophia Cavan and Sarah Sophia Lambart, same place, same reference. So, I guess they're the same person. She also seems to have some wonderfully named brothers - Octavius Cavan (don't think he's the eighth, though), who morphs into Octavius Henry Lambart, and Arthur Lambart Cavan, who simply drops the Lambart.

Pah! I'm just glad I'm from peasant stock - imagine how confusing it must be to have to keep track of which name to use and when!

And just to confuse me further, I now need to find out whether she really married a Sladen or a Staden. All their children are registered as Sladen but she keeps appearing in the census as a Staden. Aaaaargh.

Pier of the Realm . . . . still making me chuckle.

Have a good day!

16 January 2009

Found him . . . .

It's taken a while on the 1911 census site but I've finally found my great-grandfather & his second wife. OK, so it's only been online for a couple of days now but I knew exactly where Isaac should have been and I knew when & where he was born . . . . . and could I find him? Hmmmm.

And then I saw a tip on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to (or to which I subscribe, depending on who's reading this); to search with only christian name, dob, place of birth etc, simply put a comma and a space in the surname box. And it works - yippeeeee!!

Another of the mailing lists brought forward a new, to me, website which could prove useful to people with ancestors who died in the Peterborough area. It's the Book of Remembrance for Peterborough Crematorium and obviously doesn't include everybody who, er, used their services but it's at:-


So far I've managed to find a number of Culpins commemorated there - not sure if they're in the main file but I'll check over the weekend.

I also found a few more Stadens in the census; including a duplicate - unless there were two Annie Stadens born in Cambridge in 1905/6. I've checked all the various sources for an additional "Annie-birth" and can't find one so I suspect that both families, her widowed father on one hand and her aunt & grandmother on the other, claimed her. Thanks for including her, dear ancestors, but do try not to confuse me again!

Back soon.

13 January 2009

So it's here . . .

This morning I got the email telling me that the 1911 census has gone live. Funny tho', I'm not as excited as I thought I would be - maybe it was the beta-testing which got it out of my system.

So, after a morning out, I decided to look for Bert & Blanche - and, this time, I found the right combination, hiding in West Ham. Actually, they're still where they were living three years previously. Quite pleased with this find!

Interestingly, Bert's mother was living/staying with them, which would make sense as her husband had died the year before and they had left Woolpack Farm in 1905. There was a flurry of newspaper articles in this year as the village of Hemingford Grey gave James a portrait (of himself) and an illuminated address (answers on a pc, please!) in recognition of his service to the village over the previous umpteen years.

One of the best bits was contained within the Hunts Post article about the sale of farm stock in October 1905; amidst the horses and oil paintings was this sentence:-

"A very fine cockatoo, which by the bye was exceptionally talkative at the sale, made £7 2s 6d."

Fantastic! But makes me wonder why he wouldn't take the bird with him to his next house. Takes all sorts, I suppose.

Anyway, back to the census. More soon.

4 January 2009

People finding . . .

Thanks to a very wise friend of mine, the less-technical approach to computer mending was not required (although a new wireless dongle-thing was) and all is well again with my machine. As you can tell, it is now talking to the internet again quite happily (she says, with fingers well crossed!)

The 1911 census-testing was great fun and I found quite a few people. My maternal grandmother was exactly where the stories said she would be in Sussex; her future husband precisely where I thought he would be, although his name had been reversed and slightly mangled - I didn't report it as requiring correction because I didn't spend the money to see the actual household entry; perhaps when I've saved up!

My great-uncle Ben, who was to die three years from then, was not where I thought he would be - I expected him to return to Stretham, the village where he was born, but he was still in Ely with his aunt.

George Staden, my g-grandfather, was living with his father-in-law in Cambridge, together with his wife and daughter. Interesting because I'd been told that, as he suffered from TB all his life, he was often unable to work and, therefore, at times they (his little family) lived with various of his brothers-in-law (who, incidentally, were reported to have a low opinion of him because of this - hmmmmmm.)

I did look for Bert & Blanche Freeman and their sons but they eluded me; the search facility was not as useful as the Ancestry version for the other censuses and I couldn't find the right set of Albert, Blanche, James & Millice. I suspect that I might have been more successful if I'd looked at a couple of transcriptions but, at over £1 each, I wasn't going to waste the money at this point. I'll just have to wait until it comes out properly.

Point to ponder:- the difference between the 1911 & 1921 censuses will be enormous; not just the Great War casualties and movements but also the 'Flu epidemic. There's a good subject for a Phd thesis!

1 January 2009

It's next year . .

So, here it is - 2009. And does it feel any different?

One thing I have managed to avoid this (last) year is the dreaded "round-robin" letter, where people, who you don't see from one year to the next, send out a letter describing their family achievements of the year. It always includes their marvellous offspring, who have always passed two dozen exams with flying colours, come top in the Pony Club competitions and will be joining the Royal Ballet next year!

Funny that we never receive one where Crispin has just been sent down for supplying the sixth form with drugs and Henrietta is awaiting a bail hearing for shoplifting!!

However, in the spirit of the above, I will now summarise my year for posterity . . .

I went to the British Library once; to the Records Office a few times; to Huntingdon library two or three times; to see I"m sorry I haven"t a Clue in Cambridge and to see John Barrownman in London (my, but he was good!); to the village of Tuddenham; to Scotland twice, once to travel on the West Highland Line to Mallaig - that was just amazing; took up swimming again (but haven"t been since the school holidays started - ooops); saw the Prince Caspian film and the Quantum of Solace film (I"d happily go and watch Daniel Craig opening an envelope) and have seen other friends and drunk a great deal . . . and coffee too!

Happy New Year!!