Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 26 June 2007

The past week has provided much of interest.

Last Tuesday I was at a monthly meeting of the Shropshire Family History Society at the shirehall, Shrewsbury. While we were hearing a talk about the history of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and their now defunct ground - the Gay Meadow - all hell let loose outside! Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the rain came down with such force as is rarely seen in this part of the world. The lights went out for a short while, but our speaker manfully carried on!

By the time I left for home the rain had eased a little - it was by then only thrashing it down! The M54 motorway was awash, as were parts of Newport town centre. Not a good night to be driving! I was glad to get home.

On Thursday last I was booked in for a session at the LDS Family History Center. The usual venue is having some work done to its roof, so the Family History Center has been temporarily relocated in the new LDS temple at Lawley. What a magnificent edifice that is! It really stands out - being visible from quite a way off. A white building, built in what I would describe as a colonial style. The inside is also impressive.

The object of my research this time was the Wright family of High Wycombe. I had arranged the loan of a microfilm containing baptisms at High Wycombe 1782-1810, but in fact the film contains records from a greater time frame than that. I found the baptisms of the children of Joseph & Elizabeth Wright - nine of them between 1782 and 1802 - and then another, dated 1810. My ancestor - Hannah - was baptised in 1789. There seems little doubt that this is "my" family, as there were no other Wrights bearing the names Joseph and Elizabeth.

I shall return to the Family History Center this Thursday, and research this film further. I'm looking for any further Wright entries, as they may prove to be relevant to my research.

Last Friday evening Jan and I were looking after our grandchildren, and I passed away the hours by doing a bit of internet research, mainly on Ancestry.com. I looked at a couple of lines, but had the most success with the Heppells. I am quite amazed at the success I've had with this line of research since I started looking at it last Autumn.

On this occasion my main sighting was Richard Bryan Heppell (born 1812 in Sunderland). On the 1851 census I found him living with his spouse and two sons at Mile End Old Town, Middlesex. I then looked at the Civil Registration index and found his marriage, which took place in December 1837. His wife was Ann Maria Holt, born c1817 in Somerstown, Middlesex, and their marriage took place in St Pancras registration district. Furthermore, I traced both his sons in the births index, born 1838 and 1840 in Islington registration district.I then looked for the deaths of Richard and Ann. Free BMD told me that there were two entries for the name Richard Bryan Heppell, one in Sunderland in 1854 and one in Stepney in 1861. I pretty well knew that the 1861 entry would be my man, but needed to prove it to myself - after all, he could have moved back to Sunderland and died there. I therefore sought him on the 1861 census in Stepney, and I found him - albeit indexed as Keppell! There is no doubt that the man who died in September 1861 was the man I was interested in - the son of George Bryan Heppell (1777-1832). I wonder who the man who died in Sunderland in 1854 was. Probably a relation, I would imagine, as the Bryan name appears a number of times in "my" Heppells. I shall have to look into that.

All this leads to further questions (wouldn't you know it!). What became of the two boys, and when did Ann Maria (Holt) Heppell die? I haven't yet started to investigate the boys, but I have found a death in March quarter 1886 that may well relate to Ann. The age ties up, and the location was Stepney. However, I need to prove it, and if this was her it begs the question of where Ann was in the period 1861-1886? I haven't yet found her on the censuses.

Incidentally "my" Richard Bryan Heppell had a most interesting occupation. He was a Coal Meter. I had never before heard of such an occupation, so I looked it up on an online dictionary at www.thefreedictionary.com/Coal-meter. This told me that a Coal Meter was 'A licensed or official coal measurer in London'. Further information on Richard's occupation came from 'Coal Trade: Introduction' the Journal of the House of Lords: volume 62: 1830, pp. 1435-437. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=16568, which told me that:

'The Coal is heaved out of the Hold of the Ship into the Lighter under the Inspection of a Meter appointed by the Corporation of the City of London. He is entitled to have an Assistant. The Meter is paid Three Shillings a Day, and Three and Sixpence in lieu of Eating and Drinking, although generally the Captain invites him to Dinner.These Payments are in addition to Four-pence per Chaldron Metage, paid to the Corporation of London, out of which they allow One Penny per Chaldron to the Working Meter, and provide the Vats, leaving a Clear Annual Surplus of about £16,000, which is applied to the general Purposes of the Corporation, and to One Halfpenny per Chaldron paid the Meter by Government.

Evidently Richard had a very responsible job. I shall have to check whether there are any records of his employment in the Corporation of London archives.

That's about all for now, until next week.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 15 June 2007

The fact that this is my first posting since 5 June is indicitave of the fact that I have been quite busy these past ten days. During this period I have made progress on several lines of research.

Firstly, on 7 June I went to the LDS Family History Center to complete my research into the Baptisms at Monkwearmouth, Co Durham, 1716-1823. I searched the last part of the microfilm, and found records of the baptisms of three of the children of George Bryan Heppell and his wife, Ann nee Liddle. These entries went beyond the basic information to record the birth dates of the children and their mother's maiden name. Very valuable information.

Having completed this research, I made a start on my next research enterprise - searching the records of baptisms at Newington, Surrey, for entries relating to my Smedley clan. I had already searched the IGI for these entries, and knew that the film should contain records of the baptisms of six daughters of William and Mary Smedley, so the discovery of these records was no surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was an 'extra' Smedley baptism - their son, William, baptised on 20 January 1828. This came near the end of the register, after the girls' entries, and its discovery was quite a thrill. Once again, this register contained the birth dates of the children, and in the case of the entry relating to William, it included the annotation "Father deceased". I had surmised that William had probably died before the date of the 1841 Census, but here was a piece of information that narrowed down the date of his demise to within nine months! Especially valuable because up to the date of the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837 such events are often difficult to trace.

In addition to the above gleanings, I had some success on the Guyatt front. I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I knew of a marriage at Eton in January 1844 between a certain James Guyatt and Elizabeth Holden. I believed that this James may have been the brother of "my" John Guyatt (bap 1827 at High Wycombe), but was surprised to see that he had strayed to Eton. Well, I ordered the relevant marriage certificate, which duly arrived the other day. As I had hoped, it showed that James was a hairdresser, and his father was John Guyatt, Carpenter. This fitted my man, but was not conclusive proof of his identity. However, the clinching evidence was the fact that the witnesses to the marriage were William Guyatt and Amelia Harding. Knowing that "my" James had a brother named William who married a lady named Amelia, I thought that this was probably the proof I sought. Sure enough, when I checked the Civil Registration Indexes online at Ancestry.com I found that in 1846 William Guyatt married Amelia Harding in London. Hey presto, two genealogical problems were solved by one document!

My research is "on a roll" at the moment! Hopefully, when I next update the blog I will have yet more progress to report.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 June 2007

As the three microfilms that I had ordered from the LDS all arrived together last week I thought I'd better get stuck into loking at them, so last Tuesday I went to my local Mormons' Family History Center.

I decided to start with the film that contains late c18 to early c19 baptisms at St Peter Monkwearmouth, searching for Heppell events. See my previous posts re my Heppell research if you wonder what on earth I'm on about!

As I started searching I noted that the events were listed as births, rather than baptisms, and were grouped by family. In other words, you saw all the births for one family, all recorded together, then all the events for another family and so on. Thus, the events relating to "my" Heppells were all recorded in a cluster. In twenty years of treeing I've never seen baptisms/births recorded in this way. After a while the reason for this became clear.

The parish register for contains an annotation written by the vicar, which states that on 16 October 1785 there was a fire at the clergyman’s home, which destroyed the previous original registers. The records that had been lost were listed as follows:

Marriages up to 16 October 1785
Baptisms up to 2 September 1779
Burials up to 3 January 1768

The register of births (sic) was reconstructed by advertising for people who had been involved in baptisms at the church to bring the relevant documentation to the church, where it was re-recorded. Thus, births were listed by family. This certainly makes it easier to search the register, as once you find the first entry you find the lot. Anyway, after each family’s entries the informant signed a declaration as follows:

“The above details taken from a copy in my possession so witness my hand this 27 Day of June 1791 (signed) John Heppell"

John Heppell was the ancestor of my mother's cousin - Alice (Heppell) Wren, and he had a very fine signature indeed. If you can judge from the signature he must have been quite well educated. I discovered that he earned his living as a coal fitter, and, curious to find out what this term meant, I googled it. I discovered that a coal fitter was a “middle man” who arranged the sale of coal between the coal mine owners and the purchasers. As such, he was probably a bit above the ordinary working man.

I think I have now pushed my Heppell research back to the marriage of John Heppell to Mary Abbs at Monkwearmouth St Peter’s on 19 December 1768. Although I have only seen this record on the IGI I feel confident that this is the correct entry, because "my lot" seem to have been the only Heppells in the parish. Naturally, I looked on the IGI for a baptism of John Heppell, and here things became a bit trickier, as there were a number of candidates, none of whom were baptised at Monkwearmouth. My favourite would be John Heppell, baptised 28 Feb 1737 at Chester le Street – about 20 miles from Monkwearmouth, but I am probably wrong. The reasons why I favour this man are twofold, and highly suspect. Firstly, I note that John Heppell's son George Bryan Heppell’s first wife – Mary Fish – came from Chester le Street, and their marriage took place there. Secondly, of all the candidates listed on the IGI, the date of this man’s baptism best fits my idea of when I would expect our man to have been born.

I’m not sure how much further I shall pursue these Heppells. I’m very pleased with what I have achieved, and may decide to call it a day at this point. However, Durham is a beautiful county, and if Jan and I should once again go there for a holiday I would certainly not rule out a visit to the repository that holds the records for the county.

I shall return to the Family History Library on 7 June, to continue looking at these microfilms.

See you next week.