Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Ancestral Homes of Kingston Upon Hull

The Ancestral Homes of Kingston Upon Hull

These recent images capture the essence of a thriving City centre in Victorian Britain. Each one represents the life and livelihood of our past ancestors and the City’s history from William Gill the shoe maker who operated at 34 Bishop Lane to the now infamous Brown family of High Street. Slave abolitionist William Wilberforce walked these cobbled streets to and from his home and in 1642 the stench of treason would have choked any blue blooded royalist in the City.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Unidentified Images of People and Places

Do you recognise any of the people , places or things highlighted in this series of images ?
If so please contact us and share what you know ?

Hull , about 1930.

Walter and Kate Billington along with the family dog ; Jack. The Gentleman with the pipe is possibly John Henry Simpson , Kate's brother. The rest of the family could be some the Simpson children.
3 Soldiers
Taken about 1914, 3 soldiers (See Image for details)

Raymond's health meant he was never enlisted. Walter Cyril on the right was in the East Yorkshire Regiment.
Do you recognise the uniforms ?

1914 Wedding Party 
The Wedding of Lillian Billington and Henry Hall , As detailed in the picture.
Do you know the lady on the right hand side of the picture ?

1921 Pierrots
Kate Adelaide Billington ( nee Simpson) was an entrepreneurial woman owning property and retail businesses in Withernsea, East Yorkshire. In 1921 she acquired this group of travelling 'Pierrots'
Do you recognised any of them ?
Trip to the Coast
Early / Late 40's - a party from Hull head for the Seaside ?
Raymond Billington is again on the back row and third from right.
Do you know anyone on this trip ?
Do you know where it is ?
1920's Outing 
We think this is 1922, Raymond Billington is 4th from the left , on the back round standing ?

Where is it ?

Who are his friends ?

Scarborough 1914
The Date is August 14th 1914, the Great War is two weeks old.
Scarborough, East Yorkshire.
The Lady on the Right Hand Side of the Picture at the rear of the Vehicle is Kate Adelaide Billington (born 1873)
Who are the other 4 females and who are the 2 Children ???
St David's Hall in Hull 
This picture is taken at St David's Hall in Hull in the 1920's.
At the Piano, My Great Grandfather Walter Billington. MY Grandfather Raymond Billington is 7th from the right on the second row in.
Do you know anyone on this photo ?
What can you tell us about St David's Hall?
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Full Size Images Here 

Monday, 25 April 2011

US Airbase RAF Goxhill, Lincolnshire 1942-1945 ( USAAF Station 345)

Or Goat-Hill as the American Airmen unofficially named it.

Captain Gable in Britain
Goxhill was not the most luxurious of Airbases, nor the most suitable as a command base, so much so, despite being used by the Royal Flying Corp in the First World War, at the onset of World War II, it’s sole purpose was to be the site of a Barrage Balloon with the sole intention of providing a defence mechanism for the nearby ‘East Coast Town’ of Kingston upon Hull.
In 1940 Goxhill was transferred to RAF Bomber Command and was planned and rebuilt as a Class-A bomber airfield. The base was equipped with three intersecting runways, the main runway at 1600 yards and two secondary runways of 1100 yards. Three hangars were built - two T-2's, one J-Type and four blisters and fifty aircraft hardstands. Temporary accommodation was provided for 1700+ personnel.
Its location, however, was too close to the air defences of Kingston upon Hull to be used for that purpose. Its first occupant was No. 1 Group that took up residence on 26 June 1941. The mission of No. 1 Group was towing practice targets with Lysander bombers, its first operation beginning on 25 October.
In December 1941, RAF Fighter Command replaced the Bomber Command training unit with No. 12 Group, flying Spitfires from No. 616 Squadron at RAF Kirton in Lindsey. Fighter Command operated the base until May 1942.
Goat-Hill 1943 Goxhill 2011
The base was relegated to satellite field use by near by RAF Kirmington until August 1942, when it was taken over by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). The transfer ceremony was attended by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and thereafter it was known as USAAF Station 345.
The facilities at Goxhill, however, had a lot to be desired. Three wooden barracks were supplemented by a number of metal fabricated buildings (aka: tin cans) for living quarters. Typical of the RAF bases of that period, living quarters and mess facilities were 1–2 miles from the hangars and flight operations area.
The USAAF used Goxhill as a training base though the balance of the war, with several squadrons using it after their initial deployment to the UK, then moving on to a permanent facility for their operational missions.
Both the USAAF 8th and 9th Air Force utilized Goxhill. Units which trained there.
Amongst those trained at Goxhill during the period it is said was actor, Clark Gable. Though exact evidence of this is unconfirmed , we can place ‘William Clark Gable’ in Britain in 1943, as pictured.
P38 Lightening
Although Goxhill was used as a training base there was still the tragedy of the loss of young men’s lives - 23 young men lost their lives in air related accidents.
In 1944, the propeller blade from a P38 which suffered mechanical failure taking the life of it’s pilot Lieutenant Lane A. Ferrara actually forms part of the memorial statue shown in the picture which pays tribute to all those who served at RAF Goxhill.
Curiosity encouraged me to find out a little about those who served and died at Goat - Hill.
Second Lieutenant Lane A. Ferrara died on 26th May 1944 , the reasons are stated :
‘Caught Fire in the Air, Crashed 1 Mile North of the Airfield’
He was flying a P38 Lightening. Curiously, involved in an accident the same day, in the same aircraft type was Pilot Willard G Erfkamp and as I trawl through the list of Airforce accidents and deaths in 1945, I see many accidents that occurred over Lincolnshire and notably many at Goxhill, in total 44 flying accidents in the area of this airfield.
Of those accidents, Pilot Reginald Pitzer also flying a P38 Lightening had a landing accident in July 1944, that time he was lucky to return to base but in November of the same year, he was reported missing in action. A burial followed sometime later with the official records stating the disposition to be ‘nonrecoverable’. It would seem that only as recently as the early part of the 2000’s Reginald Pitzer’s P38 was recovered close to Strasbourg and his remains identified.
Memorial at Goxhill to
US Airman
In 1945 the last of the Americans left the airbase and it reverted to control of RAF Kirton Lindsay when it was used for various supply purposes before being sold off in parcels over the years by the MOD - it is now in private hands.
I understand that the friendly nature and generous hospitality of the Americans won over the locals and they were very popular and welcome visitors to the area.
Look out for images of the airbase on Flckr
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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Railway Children of Goole.

Tom Caukill - Marathon
Walker, Cyclist and Marksman

The Caukill and Taylor family that grew up in Parliament Street and Fourth Avenue, Goole, East Yorkshire were as close as any family living in the terraced streets of a northern town in Victorian Britain but more than that, both had been driven to the town by the decline in the farming industry in the late 19th century. Their life’s had changed considerably.   
William Pearson Caukill  and family lived across the street from fellow railway worker George Henry Taylor’s family in 1901. George’s brother Frederick had married William’s daughter . George and Frederick also worked on the town’s railways, along with brother in law’s Frank, George and Tom Caukill. In fact the only adult Caukill of this family not to work on the Railway in some capacity or other was mother and daughter, both named Mary.
Each of the male Caukill’s , as with their other relatives were well known in the small town of Goole and in turn, each would appear in the local newspaper, the Goole Times between 1890 and 1953, as a result of working with the Railway.
The first to hit the headlines was Francis Flint Caukill, born in 1869 , who’s life was tragically taken in an accident at work in 1890. The twenty one year old Pilot Guard’s story would appear in the newspaper on the days following his death. An inquest reported their findings of the accident leading to his departure ahead of time. Before death, Francis had been last seen 10 minutes before and he later was discovered face down on the Railway lines having been run over by a passing train. The newspaper report .concludes with details of Frank’s funeral.
William, Frank and Mary Ann
Twenty three years passed for the Caukill’s and then in 1903, Frank’s father William Pearson Caukill suffered a similar fate. At the age of 59, with his last train in sight, William , a Plate Layer was hit by a Pilot Train, only a matter of metres away from the location in which his son was also killed. The inquest followed almost as swiftly as the newspaper hit the streets. This time the inquest focused on the carelessness of the Platelayers, and seemed to lay the blame on them in general. Unlike his son, however, William hung on for a good 20 minutes after admission to hospital, in what a best, must have been an uncomfortable journey. The inquest delivered a verdict of ‘Accidental Death’. Perhaps the case today would have taken a different direction.
Mr G H Caukill –
 Old Railway Servant’ 
In 1935, it was the turn of Thomas Caukill. Thomas was born to William and Mary in 1870. Tom, also a Plate Layer on the Railway, hit the newspapers for completely different reasons. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, Tom, reluctant to retire, presents his case. Citing miles walked at work over the last 46 years of work as in excess of 130,000. Following a medical examination, it was claimed that Tom’s eye sight was no longer up to scratch , yet despite this Tom had successfully won some Local Rifle Shooting competitions and this against men half of his age. Not only this but Tom enjoyed nothing more than cycling 10 miles on his 30 year old bicycle. The final line of the news report summed up his attitude to work and to life ’ he is now to be a gentleman of leisure, and the prospect is not a pleasing one to him’
The final Caukill to be covered by the local Newspaper was George, born in 1863, George died aged 89 in 1953. His obituary was headlined ‘ Death at 89 of Mr G H Caukill – Old Railway Servant’ which could not be more apt for this family’s story of life on the Railways.
Images have been created and manipulated from old photocopies and microfiche records. Full versions can be seen here.

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Newspaper articles are one of the best ways to find out about your family history.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bringing the past to life.

Eastern Cemetery, Hull, East Yorks
In life we associate cemeteries with our own losses and they are often regarded as gloomy and miserable places to be. Yet in my capacity as a Family History Researcher, I see these places in an entirely different light, not just associated to death.  In fact they help bring the past to life and my experience combined with good information on a headstone, can open the doors to a celebration of that life and the achievements of those that have gone before us.
Several visits to local cemeteries over the last few weeks have enabled me to select an excellent example of just that: 

Ernest Hibbard (1889 - 1952) 
Ernest Hibbard
Not only is this a great example of a 1950’s memorial headstone, it tells significant information about the lives of those buried here.
Ernest was born about 1889 and married Florence Sarah, who was born about 1892. They had two children; John William, also buried here and Margaret. Ernest was the first to be buried here following his death on 29 Jan 1952, Florence followed 31 years later on 29 Jan 1952 and finally son John William on 20 Nov 2004. That gives me plenty of reference points to research from. Judging by John William’s age, it is likely that Florence and Ernest were married about 1918, though that could shift for a number of reasons. Particularly as the date is on the cusp of World War I.
So, what did I find out form this information:
First of all , Census records in my possession tell me that Ernest was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire. His parents were  John W, a Cutlery Gilder and Mary J  , his siblings Charles, Alice and Annie (aged 14) were also employed in the industry in 1901, whilst Ernest and brother Sidney are still of School age. In 1891, a child born between Ernest and Sidney is recorded; Mary. Father John W is in the same cutlery occupation but wife Mary is recorded as a grocer.
On 19 June 1919, Ernest, by now a Merchant’s Manager, still living in Sheffield married Florence Sarah Jarvis a spinster of Glasgow. The marriage was witnessed by Dorothy Jarvis and Sidney Hibbard. Florence’s parents are listed as Edwin Jarvis (Factory Manager), and Margaret Jarvis. Mother’s maiden name is unclear but it reads M S Hubbert. The marriage is in the district of Govan. I can imagine that tracing Hibbard and Hubbert to the same family line can provide its own confusions. 
Even from that little information, we can see naming patterns in the family; Margaret( Daughter and Mother) and John W (Father and Son). It is also likely that Dorothy Jarvis is a sister of the bride and we already know that Sidney is Ernest’s closest brother in age. A further search then shows Florence Jarvis on the 1901 Census in Glasgow, living with parents detailed above and siblings including Dorothy. In fact the family is shown as living in Govan and Dorothy is shown as one of 8 other siblings. 
A birth search reveals Florence to have been born on 20 May 1892, and son John William to be born on 26 Jul 1920.
Hibbard Location
That is just some basic information from a few quick searches, further searches would reveal John and his wife and more details of the family. Do court records, wills, newspaper articles exists at all. Was either John or his father Ernest involved in either War ? In short many more avenues to explore. Least of all the connections that would take a Steel Workers son from Sheffield to a Factory Manager’s daughter from Govan and finally to their resting place in Kingston Upon Hull , once one of the country’s major ship builders and ports. I think the answer lay in either Steel or the import and export of products involving the 3 cities. Ernest’s roll clearly afforded him the opportunity of travel in the UK but most of all the opportunity to meet his wife Florence who’s love is clearly there for all to see in the memorial in Eastern Cemetery inscribed: Erected by Florence Hibbard. 

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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Cemeteries of Hull

Death ,Disease and Decay Waiting
in Hull
A selection of my photographs from a recent exploration of cemeteries in Hull. Dating back to the early 1800’s, there is certainly much evidence of death, decay and disease. Many of the surviving stones had in fact been relocated from previous locations as the City expanded.
One of the most interesting finds was evidence of the 1849 Cholera epidemic in the City and the headstone of Labour Master James Myers of the Hull Work House, who died in 1883. Buried along with his wife Ellen, James is recorded on the 1861, 1871 and 1881 Census documents as a Joiner living at James Place in Hull with his wife and  6 Children and according to Census information James was born at nearby Paull in 1813. Curiously, on none of the Census documents for the period is the Workhouse mentioned. Which means one of a few things, his employment there was between 1881 and 1883, he chose not to state his place of work or his activity there took place during years when the census was not taken. In any event his role was significant enough to be mentioned on his stone and any future researcher would be left checking other records for confirmation.
See Pictures on Flickr
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Hangmen and the Hanged man – what’s in a name?

The Signing of the Mayflower Compact
Being of the surname Billington, my family, though in Yorkshire for over 100 years, is often asked about its Lancashire origins and in particular I am often asked by historians if I have any connections to the Hangmen of Bolton. In the south of England the question is quite different and I am asked of my connections to John Billington who travelled with the Pilgrim father’s from Plymouth on the Mayflower.
My second name is John, so you could say John Billington is my namesake but  the similarities end there. Born in 1580, somewhere in Lincolnshire, John Billington arrived at  the Plymouth Colony on the famous voyage of with his wife and two sons. He soon made enemies with many aboard the ship and was known as a "foul mouthed miscreant" and "knave" and he had fled England to escape creditors. His sons were also seen as troublemakers.
In September 1630, after a heated argument over hunting rights, Billington (that's him not me) fatally shot fellow colonist John Newcomen in the shoulder with a blunderbuss. A crime for which the 50 year paid the ultimate penalty  was convicted of murder in what would become the United States, and the first to be hanged for any crime in New England.
The Mayflower Compact
Signed by John Billington
Despite this his name lives on, in the Mayflower records but also in ‘Billington Sea’; which had be sited by his son Francis Billington on arrival to New England in 1621. Francis prospered in New England and went on to father 9 children to his wife Christine Eaton.

The Hangmen of Bolton existed  more than 200 years after John of Mayflower infamy and consisted of father James and his three sons; John , Thomas and William. Like many father to son occupations, the boys would help father at work in order to learn the trade until they each became fully fledged hangmen in their own right.

Father, James was of course the most prolific executing 141 men and five women in England and Wales, at least one man in Ireland and three men in Scotland. The three sons combined carried out more than 100 executions but the most famous was that of ‘Baby Farmer’ Amelia Dyer, executed by father James. Dyer had been responsible for the death of as many as 400 babies in Victorian London, many of which were disposed of in the River Thames in a practice known as Baby Farming. She was not the UK's only Baby Farmer to be executed and was one of many, as many unmarried mother's being unable to afford to bring up a child, paid Bay farmers to find families for them.Of course, homes were never found for these children.

Amelia Dyer
Depsite the huge amount of executions carried out, this was only a part time occupation for the Hangmen of Bolton and in normal life they carried out their duties at the family business in Goodwin Street, Bolton, Lancashire – as Barbers. Quite remarkable !

Although being neither a descendant of the Hangmen or the Hanged Man, I have to confess that my 2nd Great Grandfather, who himself was a master craftsman, a carpenter and woodworker and who had more vision than the executioners, who’s economic life came to an end of its own,  chose an occupation offering much more sustainability in life but just as those from Bolton, he made his money from death, in his case as a coffin maker.

What interesting occupations did your ancestors have ?

Were your family aboard the Mayflower?

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Monday, 11 April 2011

From Death is Life

Hull Cemeteries - A Close
Look at History
This week, I will be spending some time researching the Cemeteries of Kingston upon Hull, in East Yorkshire.  Between 1880 and 1910, the Cemeteries grew  at a rate only equalled by the continued growth of the City. From a tiny medieval town surrounded by green fields, Henry VIII’s favourite stop over expanded to more than 10 times its original size.
Recent records  exist of Burials dating back to 1847 and  Parish records detail burials before that.
Cemetery records
Before the 1850s the vast majority of burials were recorded in the registers of Anglican parish churches, although some non-conformist chapels had their own burial grounds. An act of Parliament in 1853 enabled local authorities or private companies to purchase and use land for the purpose of burial. 
There are five main cemeteries within Hull’s boundaries. Hull General Cemetery was privately run by the Hull General Cemetery Company until 1972, when it closed for burials and the council took over its maintenance. The remaining four were created as municipal cemeteries and are still run by the council. Western (old), Spring Bank West  1861 – present  
  • Western (new), Chanterlands Ave  1889 – present
  • Hedon Road (old)     1875 – present
  • Hedon Road (new)     1897 – present
  • Northern Cemetery, Chanterlands Ave  1915 – present
  • Eastern Cemetery, Preston Road   1931 – present
  • General Cemetery, Spring Bank West  1847 – 1972
Aunt Hannah
This week, I shall visit each cemetery looking for burials connected to various family names but not only that I shall be looking for anything that can tell me a little more about the history of Hull; it’s wealth, it’s communities and it’s disasters.
I shall also be seeking out information of the German Church on Nile Street,Hull 1848-1872 as well as The Jewish cemetery on Delhi Street, Hedon Road,  opened in June 1858.

Dairy of a Family History Researcher.

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Friday, 8 April 2011

Who Redeemeth thy life from Destruction

1916 Coming Home
In 1916, the Reverend John Stuart Holden arrived home having crossed the Atlantic from New York, arriving safely  in Plymouth, England. Earlier that year,  the Liverpool born Clergyman had made the reverse journey  from the UK to the East Coast. In fact on many occasion, historical records show him to travel to Boston or New York. Aboard, the Britannic on 25 July 1931, the Adriatic on 6 Jan 1929 and the Oceanic on 23 Jul 1908. All in all he travelled  back and forth between the Amercia’s  on many occasions.  One such crossing would stay in his memory much more until his death in 1934.
2 days after Sinking
The Times ran the story
on page 9
Reverend Holden, had been the vicar of St Paul’s Church, Portman Square, London and he would make regular trips to New York to deliver sermons or to Preach  along with others at conferences in New York City. On one such journey,  hewas preparing for his departure to America   to speak at the Christian Conservation Congress (a six-day convention opening at Carnegie Hall April 20 of that year) when his plans were interrupted by his wife’s sudden illness. On April 9, one day before sailing, the Rev. Holden postponed his trip to stay at his wife’s side.
Later, the Reverend Holden would frame his ticket along with writing of his own hand ‘ Who Redeemeth thy life from Destruction’. Reverend Holden had the ticket mounted and kept it above his desk until his death
On April 11th 2011, in Liverpool’s ‘Merseyside Maritime Museum’ the Ticket will once again be at the centre of attention as it again goes on display as being the only surviving first class ticket of the of the now infamous Southampton to New York crossing departing England on 10th April 1912. The ship of course was the RMS Titanic .

Did your family cross the Atlantic ?, would you like to know more about their past?

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Murphy’s Law for Genealogists

Murphy’s Law: Why Can’t I find my Ancestors ?

20 reasons and excuses for being unable to find your ancestors:
1) The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed from under him turned out to be a hanging.
2) When at last after much hard work you have solved to mystery you have been working on for two years, you aunt says “I could have told you that.”
3) Your grandmother’s maiden name that you have searched for, for four years, was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.
4) You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren’t interested in genealogy then.
5) The will you need is in the safe on board the Titanic
6) Copied of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames, especially the ones you need.
7) John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at age 10.
8) Your great grandfather’s newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue of records.
9) The keeper of the vital records you need has just been insulted by another genealogist.
10) The relative who had all the family photographs gave them all to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.
11) The only record you find your great grandfather is that his property was sold at a sheriff’s sale of insolvency.
12) The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead-end line has been lost due to fire, flood, or war.
13) The clerk to whom you wrote for information sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.
14) The spelling of your European ancestor’s name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronunciation.
15) None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother’s photo album have names written on them.
16) No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued, or named in wills.
17) You learn that your great aunt’s executor just sold her life’s collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer ‘somewhere in New York City.’
18) Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.
19) The 37-volume. 16,000 page history of your country of origin isn’t indexed.
20) You finally find your great grandparent’s wedding records and discover that the bride’s father was named John Smith.
Taken from
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Monday, 4 April 2011

A Very English Mrs Simpson

Dairy of a Family Tree Researcher

Coram Cottage Ambleforth
In 1873 Kate Adelaide Simpson was born in an area of East Yorkshire, then known as Beetonviile in the registration district of Hessle.  Kate’s father was Joiner/Carpenter; John Simpson who had been born in the village of Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire in 1834 to John and Hannah Simpson (Thompson). It is believed that Kate’s father and mother, Frances Simpson (Hoyland) had left Oswaldkirk at a time of economic change.
After arriving in East Yorkshire, John’s family developed, as did many others who had changed locality, like so many other migrating families effected by the passing of time but today’s family had very little information about from where they came and decided to visit the North Yorkshire villages that had been their residences to   find out more. Very often such an exploratory visit can yield superb results.
The plan for the day, starting out at York, to head north taking in the villages of Ambleforth, Helmsley, and Oswaldkirk.

Fine medieval glass
North Street, York.
John Simpson married Frances Hoyland, the daughter of Tailor; Joseph Hoyland and Ann Beeston. The Hoyland’s lived in North Street, York (1841 Census).
The highlight of North Street is the medieval church of All Saints, and the tiny lane that leads to it and the church, one of the oldest in the City is valued particularly for its fine medieval glass.  Today, there is still evidence of the type of housing in which the Hoyland’s would have lived and worked. The Medieval timber framed houses by the front of All Saints Church date to the 15th Century and the building that now houses the public House, was erected later on in 1896. North Street runs parallel to the western bank of the River Ouse and is afforded marvellous views.

St Hilda's Ambleforth
The rolling hills of North Yorkshire welcome you to Ambleforth, approaching from York, a huge white image of a horse is carved in the landscape and the vision of Ambleforth College and monastery is an imposing one. This is Britain’s most beautiful county at its tantalising best.
Ambleforth is a village and civil parish in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, about 23 miles (37 km) north of York. The village is situated on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. The parish has a population of 883 according to the 2001 census and includes Ambleforth College.
Up until immediately after the Second World War the village of Ambleforth mainly consisted of houses built along the main road which serves as the principal thoroughfare. Here there are several buildings dating back to the 19th century including the village's shop and the adjoining Coram Cottage, constructed in 1856.
Nowhere is more beautiful than
God's Own County
John, Frances and the Simpson family had lived in Ambleforth during 1861, shortly before they left the area. We are uncertain as to which address they lived but we do know they lived 2 houses away from the Post Office Proprietor, the Post Office. During its history the Ambleforth Post office’s location may have differed from where it is today and to which direction from the Post Office the Simpson’s resided – we do not know but they may have lived in what is called Coram College (pictured). Today Coram College is  one property but as can be seen, it was originally two cottages. In any event, this is the style of house and the street address that the family would have lived in back in 1861.
The increased population and popularity of the Catholic College of Ambleforth at that time, which grew from a small commencement to great size and consequence, received the addition of a church in 1856, and of new college buildings in 1861, quite possibly gives   John Simpson excellent opportunities for employment.
As well as these factors, the main focus of our time in Ambleforth was centred on St Hilda’s, the parish church, searching the surviving graves of the period. What is quickly evident is the lack of Simpson burials in this village but also the numerous Thompson’s. It suggests these Simpson’s had been ‘passing through’. The Thompson names are also commemorated on the War Memorial inside St Hilda’s and the exterior wall of the church yard is marked in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887: F Thompson builder. Hanna Thompson had married John’s father in 1859, at nearby Oswaldkirk so the likelihood of family connections in a village with a population of less than 600 back then, is a strong one.

All Saints Helmsley
Helmsley is a market town and civil parish in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the River Rye. Helmsley is perhaps most famous for the siege of Helmsley Castle by Thomas Fairfax during the darkest period of British history, the Civil War.
Helmsley only 4 miles from Ambleforth was the birth place of Hannah Thompson and the sole reason for our visit was to make connections to her.
There’s was little to be found in Helmsley, except the addition of the much large ‘overflow’ cemetery, often found in towns of this size .and the interior of All Saints Church housing such beautiful artwork as the image of Jesus of Nazareth (Pictured)

One of many Headstones we found
in Osbaldwick
Arriving in Oswaldkirk, we were stunned by its beauty as a typically idyllic North Yorkshire village, a beauty equalled only by the friendliness of the local inhabitants. Arriving at St Oswald’s Church, we received the warmest of welcomes from locals busily preparing for Mothering Sunday. In this tiny Yorkshire village, I could certainly sense something that is in short supply in many Cities’ and that perhaps disappeared in them amidst the competition of Victorian migration; Community Spirit. In fact before I had chance to return home later that evening, I had been sent an email by one of the lady’s we had met at St Oswald’s. It was not just the friendliness of the greeting though, their helpfulness too, was second to none and when we discussed the reasons for our visit; we were given a marvellous information pack containing church information, Cemetery plans and records of burials. You could only say, that Family History Researcher’s dream of such information being presented to them immediately upon arrival. All that was missing was the plate!
One of the more challenging items
to have been 'unearthed'
So very quickly, we were able to identify several graves belonging to the Simpson and Thompson families, the oldest of which dates back to the 1700’s. Sadly though, on some of the headstones, time had taken it’s toll and the inscription had been illegible but thanks to the diligence of St Oswald’s and the local people in producing their guide, the location and record lives on. Even down to one of the stones, which was buried beneath a mountain of undergrowth, the only one like this in the graveyard it has to be said, one which I had great fun trying to uncover, I would not have discovered without the help of the Church information pack. The stone itself had been preserved a little by Mother Nature, sufficiently anyway for me to brush away the dirt and just about make out the name (pictured).

So what happens now.
I now have a pictorial record of the residential locations of the Hoyland, Simpson and Thompson families prior to 1841 but not only that I have a record of the locations for baptisms, weddings and funerals. It certainly helps to understand the life that perhaps they had lived and also the connections they may have made but most importantly I have much information about other relatives from the area to enable me to create a better picture of family life in the 1700’s and maybe even further back. Most importantly this information will see the tree grow further.

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