Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Journey across Grimsby 1050 to 1935.

Dairy of a Family Tree Researcher

St Mary's in Old Clee
My research took me to Grimsby , North East Lincolnshire this morning to look up and photograph a number of head stones and inscriptions.
Contrary to the image that modern Grimsby portrays, it is a City of great historical interest  and it’s hidden beauty shows evidence of its once affluent society.

My first visit took me to the heart of Grimsby’s residential district, to photograph homes and also to visit the area of Old Clee’, where the parish church dates back to 1050 and has seen much of the areas inhabitants walk through its gates.
St Mary’s in old Clee is is the oldest building in Grimsby. My client’s ancestors had been baptised and married in St Mary’s.  Holy Trinity and St Mary served for many centuries as the parish church for the farming village of Clee and the fishing hamlet of Clee Thorpes.  The Saxon tower dates from c1050.  The nave was rebuilt and the transepts added in Norman times.  St Hugh, the first Bishop of Lincoln, re-dedicated the church on 5th March 1192, during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart.

From Old Clee, I travelled a bout 1 mile to visit site of Grimsby’s first school , where the building is currently under renovation. Holme Hill school  was the place of education for several of my client’s ancestors in this case. Holm Hill was so named by the Saxons but it was the Victorians who built the first school there.
Holme Hill School

Across the road from Holme Hill school  is the Church and Vicarage of St Mary’s of the Sea Catholic Church.  A stunning restoration has exposed beautiful wall paintings from 1908 in this Victorian church.  The work has also uncovered the decorations on the chancel arch and the reredos screen.
In 1869, Sir John Sutton purchased part of the Holme Hill Estate of Lord Heneage for the building of a church. Unfortunately Sir John died before it could be built. In the meantime, Canon George Johnson arranged for the building of the school and presbytery. Eventually the foundation stone for the church was laid in 1880 and Bishop Bagshawe of Nottingham officially opened it on 19th August 1883. The church has many stained-glass windows, the most impressive being the Hawkins Window, situated above the organ balcony and dedicated to the memory of Canon Hawkins, who died in 1913 and is buried in the Sacred Heart Chapel. The sanctuary has a wonderful reredos with paintings of archangels, evangelists and saints. In 1892, a local parishioner donated the richly carved pulpit in memory of her late husband.

Scartho Cemetary
My final stop of the day, is also the final resting place of many of Grimsby’s past inhabitants;  Scartho Cemetery . This huge cemetery is  difficult to explore but I have mad my own map over the years and am confident of the coordinates I have for it. The cemetery first opened it gates in 1889 and extends to 67 acres. On average it has nearly 200 new burials each year.
One interesting point of discovery, in the cemetery was the people of Grimsby ‘s valuable part in both War’s, with much evidence of merchant seaman and royal naval reservists giving their life at sea and also evidence of other maritime tragedies. Grimsby is after all, a great sea faring city.

My morning ended successfully with a number of great images, though if I can complain about such a thing, the sun was just too bright !
What journey will your family history take you on ?

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Full size images on Flickr.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, the origins of Captain Cook

Captain James Cook
Immortalised  in Queensland
When John Cook was born on the Scottish Arran Islands in 1645, he could not have known that a few hundred miles away in beautiful Yorkshire, was born Thomas Butler. Though it is likely they  never met, Butler and Cook’s grandchild James would have a major impact upon travel to the continents of the Americas  and Australasia.

The Voyages of Captain James Cook from his early life shipping Urine and Coal from the North East Coast to London as a Merchant Seaman, through his self educating in mapping and navigation under Wolfe’s  Royal Naval command in Nova Scotia and then Newfoundland, to his famous voyages to Australia and New Zealand.
Indeed  Cook’s navigation skills and mapping were so accurate they had been in use until late in the last century and had been responsible for guiding many thousands of  passengers migrating to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. To that end we have Captain Cook to thank in ensuring their safe arrival.

Cooks pedigree was from the names of Butler and Cook but what are the origin of these names ?

This famous aristocratic surname is of Norman-French origins, and is one of the very few to be accepted as being pre-1066 in origin and recording, and even rarer still to be recorded in France itself. It is in a sense job descriptive, deriving the Olde French 'bouteillier' and meaning "one who supplies the bottles" but more specifically the wine. However 'Bouteillier'in the surname sense defines status in a royal or at least noble, household, along with the Marshall (Master of the Horse), The Steward (Head of the Estate), The (dis)Spencer (Head of Provisions) and the Bouteillier or Butler (Master of the Pantry). That the original 'Butlers' were much more than servants of any sort is shown by the fact that when Theodore Fitzwalter accompanied King Henry 11 on his conquest of Ireland in 1171, he was not only appointed 'Chief Butler of Ireland' but he subsequently adopted 'Butler' as his surname. In England and Ireland no less than ninety four Coats of Arms have been granted to Boteler and Butler, the first being to Robert de Pincerna, butler to Randolf, Earl of Chester, in 1158, and the first of the Butlers of Cheshire. This original and ancient arms has the blazon of a red field, a bend between three goblets, all gold. The Butler's were also amongst the first into the new American Colonies, Francis Butler, aged 18, being recorded as a settler at 'Elizabeth Cittie, Virginea'in January 1624. He arrived on the ship 'Bonaventure' and was a member of the governors guard, history repeating itself. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Buteiller, which was dated 1055, The calendar of preserved ancient documents of France, during the reign of King Henry 1 of France, 1031 - 1060. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Whitby was Cook's Home
This distinguished surname, with forty entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than fifty Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a cook, seller of cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "coc", ultimately from the Latin "cocus", cook, and the surname has a particularly early first recording (see below). It also has the distinction of being recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, when one Galter Coc was noted in Essex. The surname is also widespread in early Scottish records. Richard Cocus held lands in Berwick after 1147, and Raginaldus the Cook witnessed the gift of the church of Cragyn in Kyle to the Abbey of Paisley, circa 1177. One Henry Coke, and a Ralph le Cook were recorded in Somerset and Sussex in 1279 and 1296 respectively. Notable bearers of the name were Sir Thomas Cooke, sheriff of London, 1453, and Lord Mayor of London, 1462, and Sir George Cooke who commanded the first division of guards at the Battle of Waterloo, 1815. Garret Cooke, aged 20 yrs., who embarked from London on the "Primrose" bound for Virginia in July 1635 was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a gold shield with a red chevron between two lions passant guardant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aelfsige thene Coc, which was dated circa 950, in the "Anglo-Saxon Wills Records", during the reign of Edred the Saxon, Ruler of England, 946 - 955. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Ironically the term used in the title of this blog; Chief Cook and Bottle Washer refers to a person  who can do anything, In the case of Captain James Cook, he certainly could but not only, he excelled  at it.

What does your family history reveal about you ?

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Source of name origins. The Name Database.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Matrimonial Expedition kills two birds with one stone.

Drumshanbo early 1900's
‘Dairy of a Family Tree Researcher’

Celebrating Census Day in the UK with access to the Times archives, I decided to perform a search on my   2 x Great Grandfather; George Henry Taylor I, I did not expect to find anything. I’d always been told by my Grandmother that  once Widowed, George had advertised for a ‘wife of means’ and I  had been lead to believe that was in a newspaper in North Yorkshire. To date I had not been successful, seeking out the elusive advertisement. There was also a family rhyme about George, that had been handed down and survived over 100 years :

‘He courted a Swan and married a Crow, he lost his money at Drumshanbo’

George’s first wife and mother of all his children was Elizabeth Mary Crow, quite who the Swan was we are yet to ascertain and the reference to Drumshanbo, exploring many reasons, we had been unable to find any why George would travel across Ireland , first by boat and then overland – it would just be such and arduous journey and for what?, so we had put it down the  ‘sense of humour’ of our family. 

The Times had to be worth a try ? and so it was, at the top of the list of searches was this :

‘The Times, Wednesday, Nov 20, 1872; pg. 7; Issue 27539; col A Ireland.’

It could not be? Could it?

20 Nov 1872
The story (duplicated in the image)read that George Henry Taylor, a Gentleman from Lincolnshire had embarked up a ‘Matrimonial Expedition’ to Drumshanbo in Ireland. A venture that had ended in him being robbed of his possessions and also hit in the eye by a man with a stone.

Quite what the outcome of the case was, I am not sure but what I have now is sufficient information to track down the Court Documents to find out in more detail. 
What I am certain of is that George lived to be 81 years old , and undeterred by this episode, married a further 3 times ! Perhaps finding each new wife , by taking a less complicated route.

Newspaper articles are a great find and tell you more about your ancestors than many other documents.

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Friday, 25 March 2011

Search UK, USA and Irish Newspaper Articles from 1785

I have recently subscribed to a  number of services that give me access to Newspaper Archives dating back to 1785, information at my finger tips which could prove valuable to your Family Research.

Times Digital Archives

Full text and look of paper from 1785-1985 including advertisements. Searchable.

Guardian/Observer archive

The full, searchable text of The Manchester Guardian (1821-1959), The Guardian (1959 to date) and Britain's oldest Sunday paper, The Observer (1791 to date). Nearly 220 years of history 


Read an article you missed - full text of the main UK papers including tabloids, the Economist, and some Irish and US papers. From 1998 up to a few days ago.
Did you know – Funeral Notices placed in these newspaper reveal information about your family and their relatives.
If you have something for me to search, please contact me.

Leaving Home, A Historical Journey.

‘Dairy of a Family Tree Researcher’

Death of a Mayor 1961
My Journey to London by train is always steeped in my own personal history, even when I am researching for other families. Today will be no exception, and  I have scheduled a sufficient local visits to keep me busy for the whole day.

A March day full of sunshine , leaving home to walk to the Railway station, the air , as always, was filled with ancestors past and as I walked through my local park. My Maternal Great Grandfather worked in the Dock Timer Yard, which in it’s heyday had be sited close to where my home is today  and as I walked the cobbled street of the City’s old town, I passed the building that , until the early 1900’s, had been a Shoe Makers run by my Paternal Ancestors for several generations.

Ancestral connections throughout my journey would not stop there, as the train departed I could see the church in which my Maternal Great Grandparents were married and the area in which their daughter’s future husband was born during a dirigible air raid during the Great War. There were many more connections during a journey that took me in the direction of my sister’s birth place but today’s journey was not about my ancestors.

The Society of Genealogists 
Arriving in London, my first stop was the Holborn Library in Camden Town, the staff there were so friendly and helpful, I had almost forgotten I was in London. My aim had been to examine some 1961 copies of the Hampstead and Highgate Express, the Hampstead News and the Kilburn Times. I already had some information from the Times Archives and just wanted to supplement it. The quality of what I could find turned out to be top notch and all the staff continued to be very helpful.

The National Portrait Gallery
Next it was onto the National Portrait Gallery via the office of the Society of Genealogists to collect some research information. The National Portrait Gallery was a little disappointing, a series of related images had been prepared for me to view and as it was , all but one, we already had, and even that was a side elevation of one we did have !

Finally time to meet up with a Colleague from Nova Scotia, Canada and lunch at Sergio’s on Titchmarsh Street.  We spent a pleasant couple of hours discussing Anglo Canadian Connections and agreed to meet up gain next time at Pier 21 in Halifax. A Plate of pasta and a glass of wine later, and once more I entered into the breach.

My first two stops in the afternoon were sites of old the London Work Houses, Wallis Yard and Mount Street in the St Georges and Hanover Square district. Each visit had a different history , but each equally important to their descendants and in both cases, in some kind of quirk of irony, the districts that once  was home for some of the most poverty stricken of our Victorian ancestors, now represent the very opposite. In both cases the districts now house high class fashion houses, the best hotels and most exclusive private clubs , the most fashionable of eateries and the streets are littered with the most expensive of motor vehicles.

A Classic Work House Look
Mount Street was my first visit and I discovered the building to have all but disappeared. Rebuilt on the site had been Council Offices, which have now become the work places and apartments of wealthy businesses and the location had been renamed Charles Place and then  Carlos Place, as it is today. Perhaps to fit in with the Sebastian’s and Tarquin’s now frequenting the area. Despite this, I believe traces of the work house are visible from the front of the building , those chimneys certainly don’t match the period and the rear the building still resembles a classic work house.

I could not say the same for my visit to Wallis Yard, not only renamed but it would seem to have been completely eradicated once and for all.
In regard to my work house visits, I cannot help a but have slight feeling of disgust for something I am finding a little unpalatable. I mentioned before that my two visits had been connected to different history’s. One of them had been an employee of the work house and the other had fallen on hard times, had more than her share of bad luck and this had been the only course to ensure her survival but ensure it she did , and her descendents were born with strength because of it. Yet, what was as noticeable as the absence of any physical remains was a seeming desire to bury this history. Both areas are without those touristic blue plaques, reserved for authors of note, poets, pop musicians and sculptors few have even heard of. Some of those had long lasting effects on our future, some were mere fleeting visits of Any Warhol styled fame.  The Work House’s are more than that, they are part of our history. Perhaps we are too ashamed of some of the darker elements of Victoriana but at the very least their locations should be more conspicuously identified. 

From there my journey was to head to much grander locations in the direction of Buckingham Palace and to Ebury Square, a home in which an  ancestor had lived along with several other large families at the turn of the century. I wanted to feel what life would have been like for her. Ebury Square close to the famous Eaton Place had been high quality housing in the 19th  and early 20th centuries, surrounded by lush greenery and an idyllic city centre park to relax in, built at the behest of the Marquis of Westminster. Alas, like so many parts of London, parts of it had been destroyed during WWII but I was lucky enough to discover a sketch of the square from circa 1930.

Next to Marylebone, Hayes Place and for a personal trip to Hamilton Terrace.  My 2 x Maternal Great Grandfather’s family had been educated at home by a Governess who was educated herself in Hamilton Terrace, Marylebone. By the time I arrived in Marylebone, the light was failing me and as you can see from my images, this was affecting the quality of my photography. None the less, I persevered and I think that Hayes Place threw up some good results, the next street to Hayes Place for example with the pub on the corner, is a classic example of how Victorian life would have looked in the area, as is too, the cobbled street of Hamilton Close. My image of Hamilton Terrace can only show the scale of the school that housed 17 scholar boarders, a number of teachers and maids and is now sub divided into 2 homes. I think it looks pretty impressive.

From then on , it was a slow walk back to Kings Cross to get the last train home.
It’s been a long, fulfilling and successful day, with many new stones being unturned but no matter what the outcome, one thing is certain, ancestry is in every path we walk. I have the blisters to prove that !

See Images Here

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Marriage in Marylebone – A Dickens Tale.

Marriage in Marylebone – A Dickens Tale.

Parish Church of St Marylebone
On 13th March 1872, Hubert Brackenbury, an Inn Keeper of Horbling in Lincolnshire, England married Tailors daughter Dorothy Sophia Short in St Marylebone Parish Church, the church after which Marylebone is named. Curiosity caused me to visit this church and find out a little about its history.

The Parish Church  situated close to Baker Street, the home to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes,  is in what would have been a thriving part of High Society Victorian London, yet close enough to the tranquillity of one of the City’s green areas; Regent’s Park. Noticeable too, are the many renowned public schools and colleges in the immediate area,  in fact The Royal Academy of Music, Britain's oldest degree-granting music school has been opposite the church since 1822. The world renowned ‘Harley Street’ is also in the same vicinity, and listed amongst it’s notable former inhabitants are  Lionel Logue who successfully treated King George VI, who had a pronounced stuttering and who has since been depicted in the film ‘ The King’s Speech’

Marylebone was simply the type of place, you could imagine from the writings of Charles Dickens, who lived in nearby Devonshire Terrace. The Author, though born near Portsmouth, lived in Marylebone for some time and his son was baptised in this church. The ceremony is described by  in his novel "Dombey and Son" and many of the characters in the novel ‘David Copperfield’ are said to be based on well-known persons then living in Marylebone.

A Rake's Progress V:
The Rake marrying an Old Woman
By: William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) 
Though the Church has had three reconstructions, it has stood in the same location for centuries, and many famous persons from British history have walked the same path as Hubert and Dorothy, including the great Author and Philosopher; Sir Francis Bacon, who was married there  in 1606.  18th century artist William Hogarth immortalised the church in the marriage scene from his famous series "A Rake's Progress. Whilst Poet’s, Robert Browning and  Elizabeth Barrett were also married there in 1846  and the scene in the  film  ‘The Barrett’s of Wimpole Street’ was shot on location in the St Marylebone Parish Church.

This area of London has certainly been paved with the romance and artistry of musical and literary genius of by gone days, and just as many historic churches across the world, you never know in who’s footsteps your ancestors have followed.

Further Information about Hubert and his family can be viewed here

Images from this trip can be viewed here .

This week I am heading to London's Camden Town to discover 'A Mayor in the Family' look out for images on Flickr

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Monday, 21 March 2011

Census Confusion in 1881

1881 8 High Street Horbling
The 1881 Census was a confusing one for George Taylor’s family, as  can be seen by the transcript at So confused are they, that George’s daughter; Rose Emma is transcribed as being the daughter  of the next door neighbour (Anis Bank’s).
It reality, this family had far more Census ‘savvy’  than we often credit our ancestors of 130 years ago with.
George , a farmer, was married to the second of his four wife’s at that time, Susanna Palethorpe . Susanna in her final years was being cared for by family in Spalding.

The Plough Inn , Horbling
At the precise time of the Census was taken at number 8 High Street and by definition  the ‘head’ was absent. Those present listed in order. In this case ‘Step Daughter’; Carrie Palethorpe is the Susanna’s daughter from her previous marriage.
George , meanwhile was enjoying the hospitality of his niece and husband, 50 metres away at the Plough Inn in Horbling. 

Full size Images available here 

Friday, 18 March 2011

1815 Prussia Search

1815 Prussia
Researching a family now resident in the USA for several generations, I find I have embarked upon a challenging quest.

Possibly originating in Prussia (now part Germany and part Poland), the first part of my research has been to place the boundary changes in order and gain an understanding of when and where official registrations may have been made.

1815 Prussia covered an area from the West of Berlin to North West and into the North East of Poland. Within that The Kingdom of Hannover existed between 1815 and 1866 and included the cities of Hamburg and Hannover, and also the region of Mecklenburg.

The Province of Hannover, so it became, was part of The Kingdom of Prussia from 1868 and in what was the Kingdom of Hannover, the Crowns of Hannover and Great Britain had been held since 1837 , first by George’s I – IV and William IV (William Passed the Hanoverian Crown to his brother and the British crown to his niece Queen Victoria)

Prussia was of course an area much fought over between 1870 and 1945, particularly involving what is Poland today (Silesia, Pomorskie, Warmia and Mazuria in Poland are former parts of Prussia). When the Soviets made Poland a communist state after the 2nd world war, they had been so keen to ensure these parts of former Prussia became Polish, that they offered  relocation and better jobs to natural Poles from the South of Poland, willing to relocate.   German visitors to Poland today refer to place names in the old German and not in the Polish variation. So perhaps the country will the most frequently changing borders in European history, Poland will also have an impact upon how I do my research.

In the far East of Old Prussia lies Konigsburg, what is today the Russian City of Kalingrad.

My research for this client will also take me to the nearby region of Mecklenburg (Old German : Big Castle) region.

I understand that Mecklenburg, to be a relatively rural district in what became the region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , until 1952 , when the East German government (Under the Soviets) divided it to the three regions of Rostock, Schwerin and Neubrandenburg.

The reunification of Germany saw the state return as Mecklenburg-Vorpommer .

Mecklenburg would be an interesting region to visit as it is home to  over 1000 megalithic sites, such as cave dwellings. The state capital is Schwerin and Rostock is its largest city.

So there is much to do, not only will I need to brush up on my German reading skills, I might need to learn a little Polish and Russian too, should I need to visit I will need to know when to use which !!!!

A note about registrations.

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in Germany began following the French Revolution in 1792. Beginning with regions of Germany under French control, most German states eventually developed their own individual systems of civil registration between 1792 and 1876. In general, German civil records begin in 1792 in Rheinland, 1803 in Hessen-Nassau, 1808 in Westfalen, 1809 in Hannover, Oct 1874 in Prussia, and Jan 1876 for all other parts of Germany.

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Family Search Results in Hanging

In search of Thomas Creasey of Heckington, I encountered this interesting tale of a dalliance with infamy. I had long known of the antics of Dick Turpin, indeed also the Essex Gang. What I had not foreseen is that one day I would be more much more interested in his antics.
Although the following extract is one of several versions available in various archives across the country, the facts never vary; Turpin was executed for horse theft and Thomas Creasey of Heckington, Lincolnshire, though sometimes spelt Creasy was responsible for helping bring him to justice.
1739 Court Records
Highway robbery in Lincolnshire
Highway robbery was a common occurrence in Lincolnshire in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly in the southwest corner of the county, where the Great North Road (the present A1) crosses the border. Gonerby Hill, near Grantham, was a favourite spot, as it presented a considerable obstacle to heavily laden coaches.
Dick Turpin - The Lincolnshire Connection
Although Dick Turpin was born in Essex, Lincolnshire was to play an important part in his life and his eventual downfall. Turpin began his career in crime by stealing livestock, but he soon joined a group of brutal robbers known as the Essex Gang.
A substantial reward was soon being offered for the capture of the Essex Gang and Turpin decided to move on to pastures new. He eventually teamed up with the highwayman Tom King and the pair began robbing travellers near Epping Forest. This partnership, however, proved to be short-lived, as Turpin accidentally shot King while trying to free him from a local constable!
Essex had now become too hot for Turpin and he moved northwards, living for a number of years at Long Sutton. Turpin immediately returned to crime and he would regularly steal horses in Lincolnshire and take them into Yorkshire to be sold. The village of Heckington became a popular stopping off point and it was here that Turpin finally overreached himself.
Despite being well known in Heckington, Turpin stole two horses belonging to a local farmer called Thomas Creasey. He then made his usual journey to Yorkshire, but was arrested for brawling and while he languished in prison the stolen horses were recognised by a Heckington man who happened to be in the area. Turpin would have escaped the brawling charge with a minor sentence, but horse stealing was a capital offence and he was hanged at York on 7th April 1739.
Picture:   Tied bundle of court records including the indictment of Richard ‘Dick’ Turpin, for stealing a mare worth three pounds from Thomas Creasy, at Welton, Yorkshire. Date: 1 March 1739. Source : The National Archives