Monday, 28 April 2008

Geoff' Genealogy Update 28 April 2008

Since my last blog entry I've been as busy as ever. Lots of new information has come to light, partly through new contacts made via Geoffs Genealogy and partly through contacts made via the Genes Reunited website.

My Culshaw research has been sadly neglected for a few years now, which is a shame, because I have made some wonderful friends in Lancashire during my work on this line, and also thoroughly enjoyed carrying out the research in places like Preston, Leyland and Ormskirk.

The truth is, I'm stuck, and have been for some years!

If anybody can tell me who were the parents of John Culshaw, born c1760, probably at Burscough, I'll be very grateful. I have searched as many Lancashire Wills as I have been able to, looked at some of the estate papers for the Earl of Derby's estate, and looked at as many parish registers as seem relevant, but the problem really is that there was more than one John Culshaw who came into the world at about that time, in the Ormskirk area, and I can't say which one was my ancestor.

Anyway, I made contact with Valerie, a Culshaw researcher who is registered with Genes Reunited. It turns out that Culshaw is not her main research interest, and her Culshaws are on the line I call the "Catholic Culshaws". This is to distinguish them from my forebears, some of whom were catholics, but most of whom were not.

The "Catholic Culshaws" have long attracted our interest because their lives seem to run parallel to my forebears. On the 1841 census for Farington the two households were living very near to one another, and they continued to live close to one another for most of the nineteenth century. Our belief has always been that there is very likely to be a link between the two families, but we have not yet found it. If there was a link, it must be pre 1760.

Anyway, it was good to exchange trees with Valerie, and to make one another aware of our respective interests. Who knows, one day we may be able to link up our trees!

Another Genes Reunited contact was on the Hewitt line. In his Hawkridge tree Arthur has a certain Charlotte Hewitt, born Ardwick, Manchester in 1858. She was a sister of my great grandfather - Arthur Thomas Hewitt (1852-1915). I knew she had married a certain George Pratt in 1878 and that he had died before the date of the 1881 census, in April 1881. What I didn't know was that she then married John Frederick Hawkridge (b 1851 at Derby) with whom she produced four children. This intelligence set me off researching this clan, and I traced the births of their children and also the available relevant census entries (1891 & 1901). I also traced some army service papers re one of the sons of John and Charlotte - Thomas Hawkridge (b 1890).

Arthur lives in the USA, and has a most impressive Hawkridge pedigree.

These examples point up the benefit that can be gained from websites such as Genes Reunited. I don't keep up my membership long term, preferring to pay for a short term membership every now and again, but there is no doubt that the network of researchers on GR has grown a lot since I was last a member, a few years ago.

Among recent visitors to
Geoffs Genealogy was Ronnie, my recently acquired contact in the USA. He is descended on the Clements line. Emily Jeans Clements features in the Bankes pedigree because she married Robert Hanham Collyer as a 16 year old girl in London in 1864. He was aged 50 at the time, and already married! After the couple had produced two children Emily evidently realised that her spouse's first wife was still alive, and sued for divorce - a very rare event in 1873. Anyway, the marriage was annulled in London. Robert Hanham Collyer said at the hearing that he had not heard from his wife for many years, and had believed her dead. I assume that this explanation was accepted by the court, because he was not imprisoned for bigamy. My last sighting of Emily in the records was on the 1881 census, when she was living at Camberwell, Surrey, with her two children, aged 15 & 14. I don't know what became of her after that. Her daughter, another Emily, married William Sleigh (I wrote about this marriage in this blog a year ago). I don't know what happened to the son - Robert L Collyer, who was born in France c1867.

Ronnie is descended from one of Emily's siblings, and has provided me with a wealth of material about the Clements family, including some lovely photographs. Obviously, the Clements line is not of direct relevance to the Banks pedigree, but I'm always delighted to receive information such as this, as apart from its intrinsic interest, it helps to put the characters who married into the Bankes descendants' lines into their context.

Thankyou Ronnie.

As if all that were not enough I've also had very enjoyable contact with Bankes descendants who are descended on the Welsh line from Joseph Rand, half brother of Bankes. I've long taken a great interest in the Welsh line, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jan & I visit Carmarthenshire quite often, so are able to use the relevant local records quite easily. Secondly, this branch of the pedigree has within it a lot of very interesting people. On the whole they were quite prosperous people, so they have left behind them a decent quantity of records. Finally, my interest has been kept up by the fact that I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the people descended on the Welsh branch - and very pleasant people they have proved.

It has long been my aim to add a section on these Welsh Bankes descendants to Geoffs Genealogy, but as yet that ambition remains unfulfilled. So much to do, and so little time in which to do it. Still, hope springs eternal .....

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Geoffs Genealogy Update 05 April 2008

I'm a bit late writing this entry on my blog, so apologies for that.

Since my last entry the time has passed so quickly! We have had the earliest Easter holiday of my lifetime, which we spent decorating - a necessary evil. Just before Easter Jan & I went to Birmingham to see a Welsh National Opera performance of Verdi's Falstaff, with Bryn Terfel in the title role. What a treat this was. Terfel is the most fantastic Falstaff ever, I'm sure, and the rest of the cast were simply wonderful. The performance passed so quickly! The following week it was shown on S4C tv, who had recorded the performance in Cardiff, so we were able to enjoy it all over again. A real treat.

We are eagerly awaiting details of Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival, to be held in North Wales in August. I keep on checking the website (every day!) but still no news!

Last week we went to Symphony Hall to hear the CBSO perform Beethoven's 5th Symphony under the baton of Louis Langree - an exhiliarating performance of a familiar but enduringly brilliant work. The programme also included a performance of Bartok's 3rd Piano Concerto, with soloist Andreas Haefliger. This, also, was wonderful.

Symphony Hall was only about half full for this performance, which was a bit surprising to me. The seats are not particularly expensive, and it seems to me sad that more people don't take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy such world class music in world class surroundings.

On the treeing front I've been as active as ever. I've had some very interesting contacts with people who have visited the
Geoffs Genealogy website, and found something there that interests them. The research I've been doing over this period has mainly centred on the Heppell line, which I've mentioned several times on this blog - mainly last year.

Regular readers of this blog (yes - I assure you - there are some!) may recall that among my finds when I made my trip to London on 12 February was a probate entry relating to the estate of Anna Maria (Holt) Heppell, who died on 21 February 1866. This stated that her sole kinsman was her son, Richard William George Heppell, who lived at that time in a place called Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, New York state, USA. I thought I would see what I could find out about this man and his life in the USA, and this is what I have been doing of late - with quite good results.

First of all I found Richard and his wife on a couple of US censuses. I noted that on the 1870 US Census he was married to a lady who had, like him, been born in England. I also noted that the children of this couple had been born in New York, USA. I therefore surmised that they probably married before going to the USA.

I found Richard and his wife on the passenger list of the vessel City of London, which arrived in New York on 21 August 1866, indicating that they were, indeed, married before their emigration. This led me to trace their, marriage in the civil registration indexes - Richard William George Heppell m Harriet Sarah Houghton and the event was registered in the December quarter of 1865 in Pancras, Middlesex district registry.

I went on to look for family members on successive US census entries which are available online, which gave me a great deal of information, not only about Richard and Harriet and their ten children, but also about the families of their children. The finds I made gave me information that extends some branches of the research right through to 1930. I ascertained that Richard William George Heppell must have died between the 1900 and 1910 censuses, and also that his son - Richard H Heppell (b 1868) took part in the Alaskan gold rush which started in 1909. In 1910 he was enumerated as one of many miners in the goldrush town of East Nome.

I was very pleased with all this. I had found out so much interesting information that the fact that I had not found the deaths of many of these folk did not concern me too much. However, I decided to carry out an internet search for Heppell in New York and came up with a website that contains an index to the burials at Forest Hill cemetery, Fredonia, New York. This, I now know, was the burial place of many of the Heppell clan, and there they all were! Not only that, but the index includes some of the maiden names of some of the spouses of Heppell males, the names of the parents of many of the deceased, and the cause of death of many of the deceased. Fantastic!

All this information has been added to my records. Yes, I know, I should check the original source, but at the moment I do not have the means to do that ..... unless of course the LDS has filmed it.

Another avenue to pursue sometime. This treeing lark never stops, does it???