11 November 2014

Great War Centenary: George Culpin

On this Armistice Day let me introduce you to my sixth cousin twice removed George Frederick Culpin.

Fifth of the six children of Thomas & Emma (nee Carter), George was born in Thornhaugh, near Peterborough in 1888.  In the following two census returns he is shown at home with the family and presumably, as soon as he was able, he followed his father and older brothers into life as a farm labourer.

But not for long as, by the 1911 census, he was serving in India as a private in the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch, having enlisted in Edinburgh.  The battalion returned from India at the outbreak of war and George, by now promoted Sergeant, was killed on 11 November 1914.

He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Menin Gate and the Thornhaugh War Memorial.

We will remember them.

31 October 2014

Great War Centenary: Ben Langford

Ben Langford was my great-uncle, born on 4 June 1891 in Stretham, Cambs, the youngest of the eight children of Isaac & Emma (nee Quince) and christened on 25 July 1894 at St James’ church in the village.  In 1896 he and two older siblings, Kate & Freeman, went to live with their aunt Rose Ann Vaughan (nee Bigley) in Newnham Road, Ely.  By July 1897 all three were enrolled at the Market Street School and, in the 1891 census, the Vaughan family plus the three Langfords were living in Nutholt Lane, in the house next to the Vicarage.

In 1911, Ben was a 19-year-old bricklayer’s labourer still living with his aunt, and he completed the census form – which at least proves he could read and write, so that education wasn’t wasted!  And then came the Great War…….

Ben was living in Stretham but enlisted in Bedford, joining the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.  On 4th October 1914 the 2nd Battalion embarked at Southampton, arriving Zeebrugge on the 7th.  After a lot of marching, they arrived at Ypres on 14th October and joined the 21st Infantry Brigade on the front line.  There followed ten days of heavy artillery and the brigade was ordered to “hold on”.

On 26th October the Brigade was relieved and moved back to rest….for one day, after which they moved forward again.  Much more shell fire and the Bedfordshires were ordered to cover the withdrawal of the 20th Brigade from the Ypres salient.  On 31st October there was more heavy shelling and the Bedfordshires withdrew to a new line at dusk.  The fighting was very fierce and there were many casualties, with the Battalion “losing their CO and many officers”.

And 23-year-old Lance Corporal 9921 Ben Langford.  The story is that he was in the trench and lifted his head to get a cigarette out of the breast pocket of his tunic.  He was shot by a sniper.

Ben has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres and the Stretham war memorials.

We will remember them.

26 October 2014

That's entertainment??

Found in the Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 December 1922:

The Chingford Fire Brigade had just sat down to the annual brigade dinner when the fire alarm sounded. Hurriedly leaving the table, the firemen discovered that the outbreak was at Low Hall Farm, of which the owner was Mr J Soper, one of the guests at the dinner. It was a haystack fire, and the brigade were kept busy until after midnight. Portions of the dinner and liquid refreshments were sent to them at the farm, while their guests, after waiting vainly for the brigade to return, proceeded with the function at the hotel.

Charged with setting fire to a stack, the property of Mr Soper, and doing damage to the extent of 300 pounds, James Webb, of Stewardstone, was committed for trial at the Essex Assize.

I suspect that Mr Soper would've preferred a string quartet as entertainment, but I like the idea of sending some of their dinner to the firemen!

More soon.

19 October 2014

Speechless, for once.....

Last weekend was one of those rare genealogical moments when I was struck dumb by the events unfolding in front of me.

I was idly researching a Culpin branch:  Sarah Jane Culpin married William Thomas Pridmore in Thornhaugh, Northants, in 1877 and they moved to Sheffield.  Over the next twenty years or so they begat eleven children (including nine sons), raising all but one to adulthood.  And then came the Great War.

To sidetrack slightly, when I find sons of military age I first look to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but I couldn't be sure what I'd found.  So Ancestry helpfully gave me De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour of the Great War and I found a young Pridmore in there......

Topped and tailed in the index by three of his brothers.  And, as if it could get any worse, two of them died within four days of each other.  Speechless is one of the words you could have used to describe me.

John Thomas Pridmore, third son, was born in 1881 and enlisted in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) in 1899, serving in the Boer War and then with the Expeditionary Force in France in 1914.  Married to Harriet, with whom he had two children, he died on 14 October 1914.

Arthur Edward Pridmore, fourth son, was born in 1883 and followed his brother into the KOYLI, also serving in South Africa and France. He died on 18 October 1914.    Neither brother has a grave, but both are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

Albert Pridmore, second son, was born in 1879.  He was married to Margaret and they had four children.  He enlisted in the Yorks & Lancs  Regiment in 1915 and died in Bradford hospital on 22 June1917 from wounds received in May that year.

George Harry Pridmore, presumably named after his brother George who died in infancy, was the eighth son. Born in 1896 he too joined the KOYLI before the war, enlisting in January 1914.  He served in France in 1916 and then returned to Blighty to train as an officer.  Gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the West Yorks Regt, and by now married to May (nee Foster), he was sent back to France in January 1918.    He died on 31 August 1918.

No more words....

16 October 2014

Tower of London

Having been alerted to the fact that the installation starts to be dismantled soon after Armistice Day I thought I'd better get a move on if I wanted to see the poppies at the Tower of London.  So I went on Monday, despite the pouring rain (I always think of what the soldiers had to endure in the Great War, and mentally declare myself a wuss on these occasions).

It was a moving and magnificent sight, made all the more so because of the sheer number of people looking.....

More soon.

5 September 2014

Back from north of the border.....

Here I am, back fro m, my annual trip to Scotland, and I'm pleased to report that we had some good weather this time.... yes, plenty of sun!  Mind you, the weather forecast for a couple of days was "Raining hard all day, with occasional periods of not-raining-quite-so-hard.

We did get out a bit - a trip to the seaside (sea was nice and warm but the beach was so windy that I've only just got rid of the sand in my teeth and boots) and also to Peebles, which I love.

Also saw some more War memorials, which I continue to photograph:

More soon.

16 August 2014

Amazing what you find.....

Yesterday I had a trip to the new sorting/delivery office in Cambridge (yes, I know, it's a rock and roll life). Said office has now moved to the other side of the city, on the old Cattle Market site, so it's now only one bus ride for me but I had forgotten how far it was from Cherry Hinton Road to the back of the site (virtually on the railway line) where the office now is.....!

However, it was worth it for the item which awaited me (once they'd found it) and the surprise package (scuse the pun) which I found on the wall:

More soon.

5 August 2014

A felon in the family.....?

Ah, those newspapers...... the Stamford Mercury from 30th November 1835 suggests a rather unpleasant character on the outskirts of the Culpin family.  I haven't yet discovered if he was caught!


WILLIAM CULPIN, labourer, is charged upon oath with ROBBERY and brutal ATTEMPT to MURDER.  He was born at Warmington, near Oundle, is about 5 feet 4 inches high, 22 years of age, rather stout and robust, a bad walker, knees rather bent, toes turned out, keen eye, prominent cheek-bones, flat nose with expanded nostrils, wide mouth, upper lip rather turned up, hair with a curl of two at the temples, hoarse voice, and a peculiar twirling of certain muscles of the face when eating or talking.  Had on light cotton cord smallclothes, drab gaiters (the bottom button mostly undone), blue and white shirt.

Any person apprehending the said William Culpin, lodging him in any of his Majesty's gaols, and giving notice thereof to Mr Bristow, constable, Peterborough, shall receive the above reward.

More soon.

27 July 2014

Good Advertising......

Found in the North Devon Journal, 18 May 1922

"Continued Success: Mr Culpin’s Marvellous scientific cure for deafness, all catarrhal troubles, Nerve wracking head and buzzing ear, Noses, Rheumatism and nervous troubles cured.

No operations under any circumstances are necessary.  No appliances of any kind need be worn.

Owing to numerous applications for appointments, Mr Culpin decides to remain at The Forresters’ Hall, High Street, Barnstaple, the whole of next week."

I have no idea whether he's related to "my" Culpins but......

I also have no idea what Blogger are doing - it has taken me a while to find my way back in on the laptop.  No longer can I just log in from the usual page.  This is probably "progress".......

More soon.

5 July 2014

Back to anniversaries......

When I first started this blog I used anniversaries to introduce my rellies; today shall be no different....

Mindful of a family barbecue coming up, I thought I'd better brush up my Freemans - make sure all the references are there and generally update where possible; there is so much more information available online now, compared to when I started, that it's not difficult to add to the "older" old data!

So, combining the two tasks above, let me introduce you to my first cousin 5 times removed Edward Freeman.  Born in Camberwell in 1820, youngest of the five children of  Charles and Martha (nee Cross), he grew up to become a shopman in the metropolis and married Mary Ann Faulkner on 5 July 1846 (there's the anniversary) at St George's Church Camberwell.  

They stayed in the Camberwell/Bermondsey area and produced six children (Edward (1847), Mary (1849), George (1858), Alfred (1861), Emily (1861) and Amelia (1871)) prior to Edward's death in 1888.

To be honest, this is the kind of family which would not get me onto WDYTYA because they're, well, ordinary.  Warehousemen and domestic servants, you know the type - just like 99% of all our rellies!  The only thing I can find of any significance is that Amelia, the youngest, married James Blatchford and....,shock horror..... moved out of London to Worthing!  

I didn't want to be on TV anyway.....

More soon.

PS.  Looking at a chum's family the other day, not only did I find the name "Wulfhilda", I also found the occupation "Finisher, Jam".  Both made me smile!

1 June 2014

Back on source....

So now the holiday is over it's back to the genealogy..... and I'm still going through my data to find the missing sources.

My surname of choice today was Branson..... and I was going to make a gag about being in a pickle.

New thing, though, is that I'm doing this on the phone.   Let's see what this app is like.....

More soon.

23 May 2014

The last leg.....

Last seen in Montreal, which I loved, I moved on to Quebec and, virtually for the first time, it actually rained!  Squally, nasty stuff while I was on the top of the Heights of Abraham - sheer cliffs which the British army climbed in 1759 to take Quebec from the French.

The rain came and went so sometimes I could see the St Lawrence river and sometimes I couldn't.......

The other predominant memory I have of the city is that it's pretty steep!  Very French, as it's the capital of Quebec province, which some great buildings:-

And then, in a De Havilland Dash-8 plane, I flew back to Montreal as part of my flight to Halifax:-

And very cosy it was too!!  Two short flights and I made it to the East coast and the Atlantic ocean at Halifax, Nova Scotia.  In the 19th century it was the major British Naval port in North America, until the Navy moved to Bermuda, and today it is a Canadian Navy base.  Home to many of the Atlantic Convoys in World War Two, it has a very good Maritime Museum.  There's also a graveyard dedicated to victims of the Titanic and, more cheerfully, it has "Pier 21" which is the old immigration shed for people arriving in Canada in the early 20th century.  Gotta like it, because there's also an Archives office there!  Alas, I don't have any ancestors who passed through Halifax at the time but it would be a godsend for anyone who has!!!!

A couple of days in Halifax and, having completed my Coast-to-Coast trip, it was time to board the red-eye flight (2345 from Halifax) to return to dear old Blighty.

Fabulous trip and I shall start saving for a return journey!!

More soon.

18 May 2014


So, I left you in Ottawa and here's a photo of the Canadian parliament to prove it! I also spent three hours in the Canadian War Museum - a well-laid out, and very moving, display of Canadians at war from the 17th century to the present day. Well worth a visit.

13 May 2014

Horseshoe Falls.....

....Niagara, which I missed out from yesterday's post.

12 May 2014

Still going.....

.....and, ten days on, I've made it as far as Ottawa.

I left Vancouver on The Canadian train which took me, in four days, across the country to Toronto. Through the Rockies, over the prairies and through verdant, fertile Ontario. Cloud in the mountains meant that the views were too lacking in contrast for any decent photographs but there were some stunning views.

The prairies, really the bread-basket of the country were vast; coming from our small island, I'm still struggling with the vastness of this astonishing country. Until we turned south towards Toronto and Lake Ontario there was snow and ice on every river and lake we saw, to remind us of the harsh winter they endured here.

Although the journey by train was relaxing and enjoyable, the majority of the line is single-track and we had to keep moving onto the sidings to let the freight trains past. There were a lot of these going to the port at Vancouver and they were spectacularly long - I counted 99 wagons on one! These delays added ten hours to our trip and rather took the edge off it.

After getting off at Toronto, I went down to Hamilton to stay with a friend who I originally made contact with though our shared family history (I knew I could get genealogy in this post somehow!). She took me out and about, most memorably to Niagara (photo below, hopefully). A few days with her and now I'm in Ottawa, prior to moving on to Montreal in the morning.

More soon.

2 May 2014

If it's Friday, it must be......

So, physically rambling now, rather that just with words...... I'm currently in the awesome Vancouver Public Library.  Or VPL as I keep seeing everywhere around me; those initials mean something else entirely where I come from!

Having arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday after a ten-hour flight, and with an eight-hour time difference, I'm beginning to feel somewhat jet-lagged - particularly as I didn't sleep much last night - so my powers of observation are fading slightly and I shall content myself with whiling away the time on this entry and then, quite frankly, trying to stay awake.

Having been blessed with a couple of days of beautiful weather, and a nephew who works well as a tour-guide, I've seen a fair bit of the city.  I also took a two-hour Trolley Bus tour yesterday afternoon which just hinted at the attractions of the place.  I'm not normally a fan of high buildings but Vancouver has many of them ..... the streets are so wide, though, that there's no feeling of being crowded.

Although not a great fan of heights, I went up the Lookout Tower this morning.  Can't say I enjoyed the elevator (40 seconds in a glass-doored lift) but it was worth it for the stunning views at the top.

All for now; photos next time.  Shall now be working my way east across the country towards the atlantic.

More soon.

20 April 2014

The peripatetic lodger....??

From an "Aaaah" moment a couple of entries ago to an "Eugh" moment this time......

Aliases again, to protect the "innocent"......  Way back in the 1840s John stole two bushels of wheat (presumably to feed his family) and, having been apprehended by the long arm of the law, was duly transported for fifteen years.

Ann, his wife, stayed in the village with their five children and appears in the 1851 census with the notation "husband transported".... oh, and with a lodger called John.  By 1861 she's lost the "husband transported" tag.  And still has a lodger called John.  The same John, by the way.  In 1863, dear reader, she married the lodger.  And wouldn't it be nice to think they lived happily ever after.....?

In 1869 Ann's youngest daughter, Hannah, has a daughter and moves away to deepest Lancashire with her.  And then she marries a chap called John who, coincidentally, has the same surname as her mother's erstwhile lodger.

I didn't really connect the two until I entered a newspaper cutting about Ann & John this morning and then thought...."she didn't, surely?".

Oh dear, reader, I do believe she did.  Lodger John, and husband to mother & daughter, does rather seem to be the same person; same age, same place of birth (small village).  Further investigations are required, if only to dispel the mild feeling of queasiness....

More soon.

9 April 2014

What's in a name.......?

Now here's a puzzle: I shall use aliases throughout ........

Fred & Ginger, the parents, are not yet married. Ginger is still married to Mr Bloggs but has left him to live with Fred. Divorce proceedings, citing Fred, have not yet been started by Mr Bloggs.

Child One is born to Fred & Ginger and is given three Christian names, the last of which is his mother's maiden name, and Fred's surname.

Child Two, born 18 months later and still before Ginger's divorce, is also given three Christian names. This time, the third one is his father's surname. Child Two's own surname is his mother's current (i.e. married) surname.

Whilst Child Two's name certainly explains why it took me so long to find him, I am curious as to why he didn't get his father's surname. The only possible reason that I can come up with is that Ginger registered his birth and could only prove her own surname, not Fred's.

Pointless speculation, I know, but........

More soon.

8 April 2014

Culpin's Agricultural Implements

So there I was, on the bus coming into the bus station at St Ives and I finally realised what a prime site it was.....

The bus station, you see, is on the site of the old cattle market and, from there, you can see the buildings which replaced my great-great grandfather's forge.  So I strode out, in the rain and before I even had a cup of coffee, to check the view from the other side.

The resulting photos are below.  I realise that this might not be terribly exciting  but it was rather a "eureka moment" for me..... :-D

More soon.

 The view from in front of the former forge site
 The site of Culpin's Agricultural Implements business
Running to the rear of the site, this may be an original building

29 March 2014

George and Jennie......

It's not often that I stop in the middle of my genealogical-huntings and go "aaah, that's sad" but it happened to me this morning.......

So there I was, probing the new Ancestry search-engine (not good for those of us with dodgy hands, there are far too many keystrokes required) for George Culpin.  The youngest of the five children of Henry Culpin and Caroline, nee Marriott, George was born in Ryhall, Rutland, in 1875.  He doesn't seem to trouble the record-keepers much; growing up in Ryhall he appeared in the census and by 1901 he was a platelayer on the railway.  

On 17th June 1907 he married Mary Jane (Jennie) Chantrey at the parish church, Deeping St James, and they next appeared on the 1911 census in Belmisthorpe.  George is now a foreman platelayer.

Nothing more until Jennie died on 7th March 1954 in the Stamford & Rutland hospital.  I was mildly curious at to why a Jack Culpin suddenly appears to deal with probate, but went back to my search for George.

The "aaah, that's sad" moment came when I discovered that George died just three weeks after Jennie.  Died suddenly, I'm guessing, because it appeared to have happened at someone's house and probate (sorted out by the mysterious Jack Culpin again) is done by Administration (with Will) so maybe George didn't even have enough time to rewrite his Will......

I know this kind of thing probably happened a lot but it just stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds....

More soon.

23 February 2014

Worth a look....

If you do nothing else today, have a look at 'Family Tree Rhapsody' on YouTube.

More soon.

19 February 2014

Where would we be without newspapers.....?

In the pursuit of my goal of joining my various Culpins in one family-file, I was furkling again through the British Newspaper Archives today (it was either that or watch the curling at the Winter Olympics).  And yet again I found tragedy in the family:-


Suicide of a Former Master of Stamford Union - An inquest was held at Holbrook, near Derby, on Monday, touching the death of Richard Markham Culpin, who was found hanging in an out-house in the village.  The body was identified by the deceased's widow, Selina Culpin, who said that her husband was 54 years of age.  He was at one time master of Stamford workhouse, and afterwards of Stow-on-the-Wold workhouse, Gloucestershire.  That was eight or 10 years ago, and since then he had kept a lodging-house at Skegness for about five years.  He had lately had no regular employment and, for the past two or three months, had been lodging in Regent-street, Derby,  He had lately been steady in his habits, but whilst at Stow-on-the-Wold he was somewhat addicted to drink and had become deranged.  Last Thursday witness and deceased went to Holbrook on a visit to her sister.  During the past ten days deceased had been very depressed, and had cried a good deal.  He also said he should die broken-hearted at having nothing to do.  Two or three years ago he threatened witness with violence and took up a knife to her, but as a rule he was very kind.  At Stamford, about 16 years ago, he attempted to take his life, and cut his throat seriously.  At Skegness, also, he attempted to commit suicide.  Last Thursday, whilst at Holbrook, he went in and out of the house several times, and seemed uneasy.  He went out again in the afternoon, saying he would not be long, but never returned.  She heard on Saturday that his dead body had been found.  Deceased told her that his grandmother had "walked into the river," and she understood his father was queer in the head.  Charlotte Godbye, sister of the last witness, gave corroborative evidence, and also testified to find the body in an out-house on Saturday afternoon.  A framework knitter, named Herbert Shaw, of Holbrook, having deposed to the cutting down of the body, the jury returned a verdict of "suicide whilst temporarily insane".

THE LEEDS MERCURY, 20th April 1895

FATAL INJURIES ON THE RAILWAY: A man named Henry Culpin, of Downham, Norfolk, died in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, yesterday, from injuries received on the railway between March and Ely on the previous evening.  He was found lying on the line by the driver of a goods train, with both legs cut off just below the knee, and afterwards conveyed to Cambridge by an express train from York, which stopped at the spot.  Dr A G Hebblethwaite, of Keighley, who was a passenger in the train, attended to the man's injuries.

Both these men appear on my website, if you want further information about them.

More soon.

2 February 2014

It's daft, I know......

..... But I've just been looking at the WW2 Civilian Deaths Index on Ancestry and found a couple who died in the Blitz.

Nothing unusual in that, sadly, but I then discovered they had four daughters aged between fifteen and none, and now I'm wondering where they were at the time.

Charles Saunders, his wife Louisa (nee Culpin) and her sister Lillian, died at the Saunders home, Prospect Terrace, St Pancras in October 1940. No mention is made of their four daughters.

And, just to make it even more intriguing, Louisa died three days after the others. This, presumably,  is why the Probate Index shows her as a widow.

I shall keep looking for the girls.

More soon.

28 January 2014


To give myself a break from finding missing sources and other.....er...little problems, I've set myself another *small* task......

To find the link between my "family" Culpins, who started out in Woodnewton, in Northamptonshire, and those Culpins in Spalding in Lincolnshire.  Geographically, not far apart but who can tell.....????

More soon.

27 January 2014

Trains and stuff.......

Well, what a fabulous day I had on Saturday!!

This was lunch with my "new" cousins, in Reading.  A simple journey, down to London, round to Paddington and then the train to Reading.  A good lunch with the cousins and my sister, laughs and discovering some surprising similarities.  Then home again, sister and I in opposite directions but still hit by the same mini-tornado which seemed to cross southern England late Saturday afternoon.  My train was stopped in driving rain and very strong winds, when the overhead power tripped out, and sister's train by the more prosaic "tree across the line".  Good ol' Mother Nature.  Didn't spoil the day, though, so that's fine.

Finding the new cousins was the result of ....well, sheer bloody-mindedness on my part really; which is what we all need as genealogists (although we dress it up as "persistence" to be polite!)  I'm still in "check, check, check" mode and am updating my database to my somewhat-more-exact standards; more exact, that is, than when I started this hobby/obsession about 20 years ago.  And, of course, the software is so much better and can record things in a much more useful way.

I'm lucky that one side of my family comes from my neck of the woods so I have access to local newspapers as well as the records office; therefore I have a number of funeral reports, and a couple of marriages too, which give some wonderful lists of names of the attendees.  All good stuff!

So, back to the checking.

More soon.

5 January 2014

Sources and how to make a note of them........

So, here we are in the new year and I haven't written a post about my resolutions.  That's mainly because my resolution for 2014 was decided for me by an email from someone who'd seen one of my trees on Ancestry.    It showed me quite clearly the way forward.....

Which is to check, check and check again.  Back when I was a baby genealogist I didn't seem to bother with sources, being more interested in simply logging the information I was finding.  This is now coming back to bite me; apart from offending my reasonably tidy mind, it also caused much embarrassment when the aforementioned contact asked me where I'd found a set of christening dates.

The precision of them suggested that I'd got them from the parish register, rather than a compiled index..  The particular village is not on the IGI so I must've been to the Records Office for them.  But I didn't write it down so I have no idea.

So I'm off to Huntingdon again tomorrow in the hope of a seat in their archives searchroom so I can look again at the parish register and, this time, note that I have done!!

On the positive side, I'm looking to keep in touch with some new contacts I made last year and lunch has just been arranged with my sister & I and our "new" cousins.  Excellent.

Happy hunting in 2014.

More soon.