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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