24 June 2009

Strawberries & . . . . .

OK, the sun is shining and we've got perfect blue skies. I've just had some strawberries and it's Wimbledon on the TV. For any/all of these reasons, I completely forgot yesterday's significant birthday - that of my great-grandmother's sister.

So, let me rectify my mistake and introduce you to Sophia Culpin, the oldest of the eleven children of Millice & Naomi, who was born yesterday in 1864 in Hockerill, Bishop's Stortford. The family moved to St Ives before 1871 and Sophia grew up in The Quadrant. In April 1887, according to the Hunts County News, she was involved in a road traffic accident on the Fenstanton Road - she was thrown "completely out of the trap. In addition to receiving ugly cuts upon the face, she sustained a severe shaking." Alas, we can't blame an early boy-racer as the other driver was also a woman!

On 8 March 1892, Sophia married Samuel Rowland Robb at the Free Church; Sam was the oldest son of the Robb rope-making business in the town (see Betty Yeandle's excellent book "Robb's Walk - A history of rope making in St Ives" for more details) and he and Sophia went on to have two children:- Jessie, who sadly died in childhood, and George William (Bill) who went on to follow in his father's footsteps in becoming Mayor of St Ives.

Sophia died on 24 February 1934 and, as you would expect for the wife of a Councillor and former mayor, her death and funeral merited a good write-up in the Hunts Post. Under the headline of "St Ives Councillor's Loss", the opening paragraph conveyed the tone of the article:-

"The death occurred on Saturday of Mrs Sophia Robb, wife of Councillor S. Robb, of East Street, St Ives, at the age of 69 years. Though not a native of the town, she had lived in St Ives since childhood. She was a member of St Ives Free Church, and in her younger days was a Sunday School teacher. Though she had been in indifferent health for some considerable time, her death was not expected, and came somewhat suddenly. Much sympathy will be extended to her bereaved husband, and an only son. During the year Mr Robb filled the Civic chair, Mrs Robb worthily upheld the position of Mayoress. "

There appeared to be a fairly substantial turn-out and Sophia was buried in Broadleas alongside her daughter Jessie.

I can't promise to be back tomorrow as Andy Murray is playing again (I'm watching Roger Federer as I'm typing this) but I will try to get back soon.

PS. Very pleased to report a new reader - welcome Sam!

PPS. Casualty 1909 is back on the TV for a six-episode run. This is the one based in the London Hospital and "starring" Millais Culpin and Ethel Bennett - shock, horror, they kissed (on the doorstep - how common!) in the latest episode . . . . they'll have to get married now!

More soon.

20 June 2009

Lots of little people . . .

Just the one anniversary today - the birthday of Ena Staden, the ninth child (of twelve) of Alfred Thomas & Catherine (nee Derby). She was born in Cambridge in 1906 and was christened in October at St Philip's, on Mill Road in the city, close to Sedgwick Street where the family lived. I know very little about Ena, except that maybe she was something to do with the Girl Guides. She died on 11 June 1969 at her home in Fulbourn, a small village on the outskirts of Cambridge and when the family acknowledgement appeared in the Cambridge Evening News, special thanks were reserved for the "Girl Guides for their kindness" - hence the earlier supposition about Ena's involvement with them!

Going back, again, to the Sutton family - descendants of Catherine, nee Watts, my 4xgreat grandmother (for those of you who joined us today). Thanks to Sue, I was able to add three more children to the mix but I'm still a way short of the numbers quoted in a report Sue sent to me; this, written in a beautiful old-fashioned hand, said that Catherine had 15 children (check - less one), 89 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild . . . "numbering in all 167. At the time of her death 130 survived. The deceased was a member of the Independent Congregation 43 years."

Note carefully that last bit . . . and then look back to my "Lots of Greats" entry: this is the same woman who, seemingly, lived in sin with Charles Culpin for 17 years or so before marrying him in 1828. Speculation has reached me that her first husband did a runner (in the modern vernacular) so maybe she was unable to divorce from him. Whatever the reason, it does rather seem that Caz & Chas managed to convince the Church that they were legally wed . . . . which goes to prove that you can fool the people!!

I'll try to make my next entry a"Caz & Chas"-free zone!

More soon.

16 June 2009

A follow up . . .

So, for once I thought I would follow up on what I said I'd do and I spent the last few days following the family of John Sutton who got a mention in the last entry.

We left him, as it were, at the 1871 census and now I can expand: not much on John who remained in Sawtry as a vet until his death in 1884. His nine children between them produced 31 children, and they produced a further 33 children . . . .and all before 1901!

The majority of them stayed in Sawtry; Frances (1826-1911) married William Branson and lived in Sawtry with their 13 children; their daughter Florence married William Sansom and disappeared up north to Wakefield, Cassandra married William Salter (that's a lot of Williams in one family) and went the other way down to Hemel Hempstead; but two people stand out in Frances's family - daughter Kate married John Slater in 1877 and, a first for this blog, he is listed in the 1881 census as a Gold Miner! I didn't know there were any goldmines near Sawtry - maybe I need to look at the geography more carefully!

The second "stand-out" in this branch is the wonderfully named Alvaro Bianchi Branson. I have no idea who his parents are but he appears to live with his grandmother Frances for at least 20 years; I must assume that he was born out of wedlock but how to work out who his mother is? I wonder if his father was Italian? I can certainly trace the young Alvaro until his marriage in 1914 to Edith Clayson that have gone no further at present.

It's just occurred to me that Slater is an anagram of Salter - maybe that was the alternative if you couldn't marry a William!

One more from this branch is Millicent who married yet another William; together they produced four children with some excellent names:-there's Vanda born 1890, William Leon born 1893, Kama Millicent born 1894 and Olga Titiana born 1897. It's a bit early for the Russian Revolution but I do wonder where they got these names from!

Moving on, John's daughter Catherine (presumably named for his mother, my 4xgreat-grandmother) married Thomas Bowland in 1851 and together they went down to the great metropolis ending up in Lambeth where they produced six children. This family still doesn't appeared after the 1871 census in my records . . .but give it time.

Adding to the southward migration was Catherine's brother John who got as far as Hemel Hempstead and then Amersham with his wife and four children. Alas, for the moment, they also fall victim to the "no further than 1871" disease!

Going north again and William Sutton, having married in Uxbridge, gave in to the call of Yorkshire and his brood of nine children up to the Leeds area so far, I have at least tracked this family as far as the 1901 census!

There are a couple of children I still need to follow; Eliza, for example, who was born in 1846 in Sawtry and who I last saw in 1861 as a straw bonnet maker. Where did she go? Her brother Charles, born in 1840, doesn't even get past the 1851 census - you'd be amazed how common the surname Sutton is!

Anyway, time for some research . . . .

More soon.

8 June 2009

1871 and all that

Nothing for today, so let's go back to yesterday . . . . .

Charles Blaydon (2nd cousin 5 times removed) & Eliza Howe were married in Herringswell, Suffolk, in 1860. Together they produced seven children but I can't seem to find any of their offspring beyond the 1871 census; Chas & Eliza went from Herringswell, to Barrow, Debach and then Ipswich but, of their children, I know nothing. I'd like to think that this is because of the various spelling possibilities of their surname, rather than sheer idleness . . . .

Moving on to one of yesterday's birthday boys - George Fordham, my 1st cousin 4 times removed, who was born in 1866 in Hemingford Grey and, unlike the siblings above, I don't have him in the 1871 census. His only appearance, other than his christening, is in the 1881 census as a fourteen year old printer compositor. More research there too . . . .

And finally, meet John Sutton who was born in St Ives, Huntingdonshire, in 1807, the son of Joseph & Catherine (nee Watts, who went on to marry Charles Culpin & become my 4xgreat-grandmother). John became a vet and moved out to Sawtry with his wife Anna and their nine children. The 1871 census, in John's case, is where I last saw him (or any of his family) so maybe I was researching all today's ancestors at the same time!!!

Plainly I need to work on them so . . . .

More soon.