27 March 2010

Archie in the sky

A random entry for today, brought on by research following yesterday's rambling about the Watts family.

I mentioned that Louisa Watts married William Day and they had four children; I followed this family a bit further this afternoon (so to speak, I wasn't out stalking them) and found them in Perowne Street, Cambridge in 1901 and then, in 1911, just up the road in Emery Street. If my memory is correct, this particular street backs on to the Mill Road Cemetery so I guess they probably weren't troubled by noisy neighbours!

Moving on from that old joke . . . . . William Seymour Day, to give him his full name, was a printing machine manager in 1911, working for the Cambridge University Press; Sidney & Leonard, aged 24 & 20 respectively, worked for a Corn Merchant/Miller (of which more later) and third son Archibald (of the title) produced a first for my family file:

He too worked for the University - as an Observatory Assistant. Now this may not catch your eye as much as it did mine but I like the idea of him working in the Observatory. Not sure why, but it just struck me as unusual.

Going back to his older brothers; living off Mill Road as they did, it is entirely possible that they worked at Spiller's Mill near the Cambridge railway station. Particularly relevant today as the now-empty Spiller's buildings went up in flames early this morning. So hot was the blaze that it looks as though at least one of the two buildings will need to be demolished.

Guess that will pave the way for even more house building . . . .

More soon.

26 March 2010

Watts in a name

Today's anniversary is from 1861. That's the year of a census, taken on 7th April; the American Civil War started and Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President; Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Prince Albert (he of Queen Victoria fame) both died.

From a slightly more personal perspective, this day saw the wedding, in Landbeach, of my first cousin four times removed. Ann Webb, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah (nee Wayman) was born in the village in 1831 and she married wheelwright James Watts of Lode. Ten days later, when the census was taken, the couple were in Bottisham where their oldest daughter Alice was born . . . . . quite possible only a few days later!

The family's next appearance is in Stow-cum-Quy for the birth of their second child Anne - in November the same year. I'll pause for a second so everyone can count on their fingers . . . . I can only assume that there may have been some smoke & mirrors involved in the registration of Anne's older sister! For my own peace of mind, I will check again.

Moving on, Ann & James went on to have ten children in all, the majority of whom were also born in Stow-cum-Quy and, actually, seemed to stay in the village. By 1901, the family seems to have been involved in the running of the Post Office, with James as the Postmaster in 1911 after the death of his wife in 1907.

They were quite a prolific family, in terms of offspring. Alice married Albert Abraham, moved to Landbeach and produced ten children; Louisa married William Day and they had four children; James & Laura Richardson produced two daughters and a son; Ann & Jonathan Golding added another three; Tom married Eliza Wright - they rather lowered the average by simply begating one child; and Arthur married Holland Preston, producing the final four .

So, that's a total of 25 grandchildren for Ann and James, which is no mean haul, considering that I have lost track of one of their children and the youngest three - Minnie, Mack and Emily - weren't married by 1911.

I've just proved to myself (again) how useful doing this 'ere blog actually is; I hadn't seen the significance of the fact that Ann and James appear to have had two daughters named Ann (give or take an "e"). In my humble experience, it is unusual for parents to give two of their children the same name . . . . unless one of them (the older, I've noticed) has already died. Better check this one out then.

More soon.

21 March 2010

What's in a name . . ?

I'm back . . . .

On this glorious morning in deepest Cambridgeshire I thought I'd introduce you to my third cousin three times removed William Garka. That's Garka, not Gorka, Gorba or Garha. And that's just the mis-spellings I've found today.

Anyway, William was born in 1848, son of William and Ann (nee Bullard) in the next door county of Huntingdonshire; in fact, in the county town itself. My info, before this morning, suggested that he married Martha Todd in 1871, but had managed to produce a daughter in 1870.

Before you all gasp in horror (as if, eh?), I was mildly puzzled as to how the supposedly born out of wedlock daughter was named Garka but plainly I didn't give it a great deal of thought. And then, whilst preparing for this entry, I did a bit of investigating. First of all I found the daughter (Rose) in the 1871 census in Great Staughton, listed as granddaughter, with a family named Burgess - more mild puzzlement.

And, of course, he'd been married before. Well, obviously. Children out of wedlock? Perish the thought.

So, step forward first wife Amelia . . . . Burgess. That explains the grandparents and, of course, the daughter named Garka born before he married in December 1871. And, strangely enough, Amelia was born in Great Staughton. Ever had one of those moments when everything started to click into place? This morning was such a time!

As you have probably guessed, Amelia died. In the June quarter of 1871. So, with a baby to care for, William did the only sensible thing - he married again. Quickly (in fact, probably the quickest I've known). At least he didn't follow the example of a few in the file and marry his late wife's sister!

I found William & Martha, with the aforementioned Rose (I did mention her, didn't I?) and two more children (William and Mabel) in 1881 and then I couldn't find them again. You'd think that with such an unusual name they'd be easy to find but, oh no . . . . see the possible variations of their surname above. So I went forward to 1911 and found them, still in Godmanchester but presenting me with another puzzle: the new census requirement to list the number of children of the marriage shows 5:3:2; i.e. 5 children born, 3 still alive and 2 died.

So, you'd think that I would have sighed at this point but no - more children to search for? Excellent. That's the thing about this hobby (did I say hobby? I probably meant "mild obsession") is the thrill of the chase. And then, once you've found them, the next bit is to turn them into real people, not just names on the page.

So, if you'll excuse me, I shall go off and do just that.

More soon.

18 March 2010

Above the parapet

Hello . . . . just wanted to say that I'm still here but I've been a bit busy.

More soon!

7 March 2010

For Ernest read Henry


The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed a slight error in Friday's entry:- when I said Ernest Culpin was born in 1895 and went on to lose his life in the Great War, I did, of course, mean Henry Culpin.

So when I went on to say that Ernest married in 1909, it doesn't mean he was 14 years old. Ernest was one of Henry's older brothers and was born in 1885 - so he was ten years older and, therefore, it was legal for him to marry!!

Memo to self - Concentrate!

More soon.

6 March 2010

Missing from Benwick

Today we celebrate Freeman Andrew, my second cousin three times removed, on the 174th anniversary of his christening in Benwick, Cambs. He was the oldest of the three children of William & Jane, and spent his formative years in the village of his birth. But then he disappears for 30 years.

On his re-appearance, he turns up in Whittlesey, living with his sister & her husband; then he marries Alice Ransome in 1883. Together, in 1891, Freeman and Alice seem to be running The Wheatsheaf PH in Doddington with Freeman doing a bit of farm labouring on the side. This seems to have been a pattern with the publicans in my family - presumably the wife ran the Inn during the day whilst the old man was out in the fields . . . . . ?? Anyway, Freeman died the following year (1892).

But I'm puzzled by his disappearance from the record-keepers. Two possibilities, I suppose - he was either in the Army or toiling for Her Majesty in an entirely different capacity.

So, while I'm thinking about that and googling any thoughts that come to me, let me point you at a website about the village of Benwick, for a little light reading . . . . .

More soon.

5 March 2010

Last night I looked to see who I could ramble about and then got stuck into searching the 1911 census . . . . and forgot to actually ramble.

So, come back with me to yesterday in 1901 - Deacon's Lane in Ely saw the birth of Hannah Culpin, my sixth cousin twice removed. She was the daughter of Hannah (nee Stevens) and . . . . er, someone else. Ordinarily I would have said her father was Henry Culpin but he died in 1895 (twice, according to my database - glad I was able to correct that one!) so a bit of a mystery there. Sadly little Hannah only lived for three weeks and was buried, unbaptised, at the end of March in Ely City cemetery.

This then led me to investigate the whole family, as you do, and I found that the widow Hannah married again in 1911; two possible husbands showed up on FreeBMD but, for some reason, I latched onto the name of George Hobbs. No idea why but it seemed to ring a bell. And, finally, this morning I found out why . . . .

Ernest, son of Hannah and Henry, was born in 1895 in Little Downham and was living with his mother in 1911 in Deacon's Lane, Ely, working as a farm labourer. When the Great War came, Ernest joined the Suffolk regiment and was a Lance Corporal by 1917 when he lost his life on the Somme. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/) entry for him finally told me why I thought his mother married George Hobbs:

"Son of Mrs. Hannah Hobbs, of Third Drove, Little Downham, Ely, Cambs."

You find the clues in the strangest of places!

Another find was the marriage of Ernest to Alice Watson in 1909. Given that his older brother Charles married Susan Watson in 1905, what are the chances that they married sisters?

Anyway, more hunting to do as their sister Ethel is hiding from me . . . .

More soon.