31 March 2009

From Queensland to Fenstanton

In my last entry, I briefly mentioned Rose Culpin, daughter of Millice & Hannah, and it's her I'm going back to. She married John Howard Simmonds, a stonemason, yesterday in 1900 in her father's house in Queensland and they had went on to have two children. I also know that she was a well-known photographer and that she died in July 1960.

I was able to find this out thanks to yet another magnificent Australian online resource - the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and her entry can be found here. There is also a photograph of her in the Picture Australia collection and, although it says it's free of copyright, I think I'll play safe and refer you to the picture here, rather than reproduce it myself (until I've read the small print).

Looking back at that final sentence, it sounds a bit big-headed - I mean, how likely is it that someone will read my blog and immediately make the connection to the actual photo? Best not to take the risk, methinks!

Back to Blighty now and meet Emily Armes, my great-great-aunt (or, wife of her great-granduncle, as my genealogy program puts it), who was born today in Fenstanton in 1874, the daughter of James and Elizabeth. She married (Millice) Charles Culpin in Hemingford Grey in 1894 and they started their married life in Conington, Huntingdonshire. After a few years they made their home in Swavesey, Cambs, and begat ten children in all. I know very little about her life in the village other than that she died in 1949. I think I need to look in the local papers at the time to see if there was a funeral report.

However, that will have to wait until the Central Library returns to its home in Cambridge and, as it's already running pretty late, I'm not holding my breath for their proposed re-opening at the end of May this year. Watch this space . . . . .

More soon.

28 March 2009

Culpins down under

Today I want to introduce Millice Culpin & Hannah Munsey, who married on 26th March 1869 at the Congregational Church in Ware, Herts. Millice, one of quite a few with that name, was born in 1846 in Buntingford, the oldest of twelve children of Millice & Sarah (nee Barratt) and was a working currier by the age of 14, when the family were living in Railway Street, Stevenage.

In 1877 he changed careers completely, qualifying as a Doctor and was practicing in Stoke Newington according to the 1881 census. However, in another complete change, he then decided to take the family (Hannah & six children) to Australia, sailing on the New Zealand ship Ruapehu in 1891 to Melbourne. The southern part of the continent plainly wasn’t hot enough so they settled in Queensland, where Millice set up practice in Magull Road, Taringa (according to the Brisbane Courier of 16th June that year). Interestingly another entry in the Brisbane Courier tells us that he wasn’t registered as a Medical Practitioner with the Queensland Medical Board until early August 1891!

At some point I know that Millice became an MP for Brisbane and he & Hannah remained in Taringa. Hannah died in 1934 and Millice in 1941. They are both buried in the Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane.

Of their six children the one I feel I “know” the best is Millais Culpin, about whom the book “Letters from Laura” was written by his daughter. He too became a doctor (as did his younger brother Ernest) but his life deserves its own entry in this blog, not just a footnote to his father’s.

Rose Culpin, Millais’s sister, married John Howard Simmonds and became a well-known photographer; their brother Clarence, like his brothers, joined up to fight in the Great War and was sadly killed on the Somme in 1918. Daisy, the youngest of the family, became a headmistress in Brisbane.

Photographs of all of them can be found at the magnificent "Picture Australia", part of the National Library of Australia: http://www.pictureaustralia.org/index.html . Simply type “Culpin” into the search box and then sit back and watch the pictures come up.

More another time.

25 March 2009

Fen children . . .

Richard Wright was born today in 1702 in Stretham, son of Thomas and Rebecka (nee Langford) . . . and that's all I know about him.

Moving on to tomorrow, to make room for a few marriages, I should like to introduce Jane Bigley, who was born in 1814 in Chatteris, daughter of John and Mary (nee Smith). She married David Young on 29 July 1833 in Chatteris and stayed in the small market town for the rest of her life. The family was in Slade Lode in 1841 and then in Hive Lane ten years later. By 1861 they were back in Slade End where she stayed until her death in 1874. She was buried at St Peter's church.

Staying in the area, meet Arthur Burrows Warboys who was born in 1862 in Manea, son of Ellis and Betsy (nee Burrows). He grew up to be a blacksmith and stayed in the village until at least 1891. He married Elizabeth Powell in 1888 and in 1901 he turns up in Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, as a potato merchant.

And finally for today, come back with me to Stretham: Nathaniel Wright, brother of Richard, was born in 1690 in Stretham. He married Anne Jermyn on 12 November 1734 in St James church, and sadly, died only five years later.

Now I've got to go and sort myself out for tomorrow - the gas man is coming to call (shades of Flanders and Swann, although it's not Monday).

More soon.

Yesterday . .

I meant to do this last night, but I got sidetracked by the Incoming Passenger Lists on Ancestry. So, pretend you've borrowed HG Wells' Time Machine and you've gone back about twelve hours . . .

Samuel Wright, born today in 1733, was my 4th cousin 7 times removed so he's quite a distant relative! The son of Samuel and Margery (nee Granger), he lived his short life (he died at 11 months) in Stretham.

Slightly closer, in two senses, was Ethel Culpin (1st cousin twice removed) who was born in 1904 to Millice Charles & Emily (nee Armes). The family lived in Swavesey at the time, and I think she married Alex Stephens in the 1920s.

And then there's the marriage of Susanna Fordham and James Mehew (Mayhew/Mahew). She was my great-great-great-great-great-aunt, born in Hemingford Grey and married there in 1799. I haven't found any offspring of this union and she died in 1806. Interestingly her gravestone has the inscription: "In memory of Susan, the wife of James Mahew and daughter of William and Susan Fordham of this parish . . ." Maybe her ma & pa paid for the stone because I've never seen one worded like that before.

Right, time to get back into the Time Machine and zoom forward to Wednesday!

More soon.

22 March 2009

Quiet time

So, here we are again and, this time, we're in the middle of four whole days without a single ancestor birthday! And only one wedding . . .

Rose Ann Bigley, the daughter of Charlotte Bigley and an unknown father (well, unknown to us, I like to think that Charlotte knew who it was), married yesterday in 1881 to James Vaughan. The wedding took place at Holy Trinity, Ely (the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral) and two weeks later she and her new husband (did I mention that James was her third?) were to be found in the census at Common Muckhill in Ely. What an address!

Fortunately they were soon to move to Nutholt Lane in Ely, an altogether nicer address, and they begat Abraham. They also had Rose's son Charles from her marriage to Frederick Constable and they took in the three youngest of her brother Isaac's children when their mother died. Must have been quite crowded.

That's all for now. More soon.

19 March 2009

PM Discoveries

Today I'm nearly back to normal and I can present three birthdays, in order of closeness:-

Firstly, my great-great-aunt Eleanor Staden, born today in 1872 in St Ives, daughter of George and Sarah (nee Carter). She remained in the town, as far as I am aware, until her early death, at the age of 45, in 1918. She's one of a number of ancestors who grace the precincts of Broadleas Cemetery in St Ives.

And then there's Alfred Wade (1st cousin, 3 times removed), born in 1857 in Chatteris, son of Edward and Phebe (nee Bigley). Until about four hours ago, my last sighting of him was in the 1871 census but I have since found him two wives (not at the same time, honest), three children of his own and three step-children. All this and he found time to transmogrify into a market gardener by 1901.

Finally, meet James Fordham, my 1st cousin, 4 times removed. He was born in 1868 in Hemingford Grey, the son of John and Mary Ann and, like Mr Wade above, I had very little about him until this afternoon. Until, that is, I logged on and his Army Pension Records positively threw themselves at me. A farrier when he signed up at the age of 18 years 9 months, he joined the Hussars in January 1887 and stayed with them for the next 20 years, including service in South Africa during the Boer War. He was discharged in Aldwych in 1907, by which time he had also found time to marry Katherine (Christmas Eve 1894 in Ireland) and to begat six children. I must try to find them in 1911.

All in all, a good afternoon's discovering!

More soon.

17 March 2009

Two birthday boys . . .

I'm a bit behind after time out on another project so I'll pick out just two anniversaries from the gap.

Firstly the birthday of my great-great-grandfather James Edmund Freeman who's already had a couple of mentions in this 'ere blog. He was born at 12 Johnson Street, Westminster, on 15th March 1853, the son of James & Eliza (nee Humphrey) who had, incidentally, married only eight days previously (bet the vicar was nervous!). By the age of 18 he is listed as a saleman in the 1871 census yet, when he married Mary Ann (Polly) Brown in 1875, he appears to be a ships' steward. After a further incarnation as a boot salesman, he moves with his wife and son to Hemingford Grey and turns into a farmer with a number of farms in the area. An eminent member of the local society, he became the chairman of the parish council by 1896 and, politically, an ardent Liberal. Once he gave up farming he spent more time at the firm he built up in the Borough and Stratford markets in London. According to the extensive reporting of his death, he started at the firm as a porter but hauled himself up by the proverbial bootlaces and was able to buy the company when the owner died.

There was some fantastic descriptive stuff on his funeral . . . "the floral tributes were of exquisite beauty . . " and "Certainly a more lovely collection of flowers has never before been witnessed in the little cemetery [Hemingford Grey]". Best of all, though, was the line from the Cambridge Daily News report on 9th September 1910: "On the coffin were placed four large white roses from the garden at Fulbourn, "From Mr Punch", Mr Freeman's favourite dog."

The second anniversary I picked out was the birth of John Langford, my grandmother's brother. He was born on 17th March 1876 in the village of Calver, on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire. Quite what his parents, Isaac & Emma (nee Quince) were doing up there, so far from Stretham, is completely beyond me but I have John's birth certificate so it must be true! By 1881 the family were back in Stretham where John married Harriet Sindall in 1903. They begat six children between 1904 and 1918 but both of them died relatively young; Harriet in 1918 at just 41 and John in 1920 aged 44. This meant that the younger children were scattered around the country, with Violet & Nellie going to Uncle Freeman in the Manchester area and Kate to Aunt Kate in Biggleswade. However, to this day, I still don't know who looked after the youngest daughter Rosie. I guess that, as she died in 1998, it's a bit too late to find out now. Shame.

Anyway, back to normal soon . . . I hope!

13 March 2009


Just the one anniversary today.

My grandfather Frederick William Pates was born today in 1885 in Biggleswade, eldest son of John & Sarah. By 1901 he was a market gardener's labourer and, in 1911, a general labourer.

He served with the Royal Engineers during the Great War, arriving in Egypt on 6 September 1915. Apparently his unit worked with an Australian unit and there's a picture in an Australian War Museum of him, wearing an aussie slouch hat, perched on a camel. (I had to think about that sentence to make sure that the camel wasn't wearing the hat!) Obviously I've never seen the picture and, somehow, I've never felt confident that the description would get me far towards identifying it, even if I add ". . . . well, there was a pyramid in the background."

This is a photograph (well, obviously) of a genre which was very popular at the time, with the soldier (in this case Frederick William himself) and his sweetheart's image in the background. He came back to the UK in early 1919 and married my grandmother on 6th June that year. I also have a copy of their wedding photograph and, my word, there's some ladies in there that you wouldn't want to argue with!!

I never met him, as he died just after I was born. He is buried in Biggleswade cemetery.

Onwards . . . . I should be doing something else but I couldn't miss his birthday.

12 March 2009

Popping out . . .

OK, excitement over and it's time to catch up again. A quick zip through some birthdays . . . Marey Wright, born 7th March 1698 in Stretham, daughter of Thomas & Rebecka (nee Langford); Mary Wright, 8th March 1736 in Stretham, to Samuel & Margery; Sarah Wolf, 9th March 1838 in Girton, of Thomas Wolf & Elizabeth (nee Flavel) who went on to have a son, Thomas Henry, in 1857. Don't know a lot about any of these, as you can probably tell!

Also on the 9th was born Herbert Staden, in Cambridge. Technically, according to his birth certificate, he was registered as Herbert Derby, with a middle name of Staden. We know that his mother was Catherine Derby and 18 months after Herbert's birth she married Alfred Staden; I would suggest, members of the jury, that his father was definitely a Staden but it's unusual, in my limited experience, for a couple to marry quite so long after the birth of their child. But . . . . I could be wrong! In both the 1901 and 1911 census returns, he appears to be living (well, certainly staying) with his Derby grandparents (Edward & Catherine) - which makes me wonder which Staden brother was his father!

Whatever, he married Violet Stinton in November 1914, served in the Great War, worked afterwards as a tailor in Cambridge and lived until 1972. I met his daughter and she also suggested that her father served in the Boer War but I have no other evidence of that.

And then there's Emma Sparkes, born 7th March 1841 in Tuddenham. She was the daughter of John Sparkes & Mary (nee Freeman) and like so many of my ancestors, she ended up in service - by 1861, she's in Fornham St Marin, in Suffolk, working as a kitchen girl at the Parsonage.

Finally, for the moment, meet my great-great-grandmother Mary Wiltshire; she was born on 7th March 1811 in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, daughter of John & Jane. She married George Carter circa 1833, most likely in March (the town, that is, not the month, although I can't rule it out), and they went on to have nine children. I can place her in all the censuses until 1881 where her occupation is listed as "farmer's widow".

That'll do for now, methinks. I've got three weddings to research for the next blog entry . . . .

10 March 2009

Family History Day

So, what a fascinating day yesterday turned out to be.

Firstly I had lunch with my uncle in a pub a few miles out of town. We chose to sit next to the big old fireplace - because there was a fire and I was cold. And there it was . . . . an old earthenware jar marked:-

Home Brewed Ales

This can only have come from the ancestors in the village who were, at various times, innkeepers and beer retailers. What else could I do but make the pub an offer for it? And they, very kindly, sold it to us for a very reasonable exchange of coin of the realm! How fantastic is that!!

And here's a photograph I took at the time . . . .

And then, in the evening, I discovered that Charlie Culpin (formally Millice Charles) of Swavesey got a mention in Mike Petty's column in the Cambridge News. Mike is an excellent local historian who really knows his stuff and I look forward to reading what he wrote - my sources are keeping it for me!

Cracking day, hence "Family History Day".

More soon.

7 March 2009

Hither & Thither

Hello, sorry for that short gap; let me introduce you to the latest birthday- and wedding-celebrants plucked from my family file.

Firstly, on the 4th, Francis Wiltshire, born in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, in 1813. He married Elizabeth and they had at least one child. My last sight of them was in the 1851 census in Chatteris.

Staying (sort-of) in that area, we arrive at the wedding of Robert Burrows and Elizabeth Jallen, in Mepal (Cambs) in 1794. I know that together they had seven children and they lived in the nearby village of Manea, but little else. You'd think that with an unusual surname like Jallen I'd be able to trace Elizabeth back through the generations - but no such luck. Just goes to show, doesn't it!

Same day, back to Huntingdonshire, for the birth of Catherine Culpin in St Ives. The daughter of Charles & Catherine (nee Watts), she was christened in the Parish Church and went on to marry George Debney on 18 March 1841. By the census of that year (6 June), she and her new husband are living in the High Street, Buntingford, Herts, moving on to Stevenage by 1851. One of their six children has already had a mention, being the wonderfully named George Washington Debney, so you will doubtless remember that the entire family emigrated to Oz in 1854. Catherine died in Castlemaine, Victoria, on 18 October 1858 and was buried in the Campbell Creek Cemetery.

Now, let's move on a day . . . the wedding of Thomas Langford and Ellen Densone on 5 March 1675 in the small Cambs village of Westwick. By virtue of the fact that this is over 300 years ago, I feel I can legitimately claim virtual ignorance of much else about them! I do have the Stretham Parish Registers on CD and I plainly need to do some more work on them!!

Finally, for now, back to Huntingdonshire again, for the birthday of Millice Culpin, younger brother of Catherine, born in St Ives in 1820. He was plainly quite attached to his older sister as he was staying with her and George in the 1841 census, working as a currier. He married Sarah Squires Barratt (see 24 February) in Little Downham on 27 January 1846 and they settle in Stevenage, where he continued to work, indeed employ other people, as a Currier. By 1861 he has six men on the books and a number of apprentices. He died in West Ham on 30 December 1888, having begat twelve children who included the wonderfully named Benjamin Ephraim Lamartin and, inevitably, yet another Millice. The latter was one of a number of Culpins who decided that life would be better in the sun of the Southern Hemisphere.

Anyway, that's caught up. Hope to be back soon . . . .

4 March 2009

Brief ramblings . .

So, last time I was here I was boasting of my leap-year ancestor; in the excitement, I didn't have room for three birthdays and I'll just give them a quick mention now . . . .

Ida Florence Maud Culpin, born in St Ives in 1903, daughter of Albert & Florence; Rebecca Pates, born in Biggleswade in 1811, daughter of James & Elizabeth, went on to marry Thomas Street in 1832 and then moved, with Thomas, to the village of Old Warden, which has already had a mention in this blog. I recommend the Flying Displays at the airfield. Finally, Ann Smith, also born in 1811, to Joseph & Elizabeth, in Chatteris.

Well, I said I'd be brief!

Let's move on to a new month and start at the beginning (numerically and alphabetically). Mary Barker was born on 1st March 1806 in Blunham, Bedfordshire, daughter of William and Ann; Ann Bullard, born on 2nd March 1819 in Somersham, Cambs (altho' possibly Hunts then) to James and Sarah, married Charles Bullard in Bluntisham in 1841, and turned up in Royston in the 1851 census.

Staying in Hertfordshire (ace link, eh?), for the birthday of William Milton, son of Robert and Mary. His father has already had a good mention - the policeman and candidate for "Uncle Bob from Hitchin" - so we know that the family moved to King's Langley and then Much Hadham, both in the same county. In the 1911 census William is listed as a grocer's assistant but I can't follow that any further at present.

And then there was yesterday . . the marriage of William Fordham & Susannah Gostelow at St James, Hemingford Grey in 1774. All I know of them is that they produced ten children - I really need to get to the parish registers for the village!

And, finally . . . . happy birthday, Diana, for yesterday!

More soon.