Tag Archives: alton

Why Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT?

10 Jan

I know I don’t really need to justify why I should be interested in finding out about a particular ancestor (after all that is what family history is all about). This is in part as a way of establishing what it is that I want to find out and thinking about how I am going to achieve it.

I already know a fair bit about Henry. I know who his parents were and where he was baptised. I know where and when he was married and to whom. I know where and when most of his children were born and baptised. I know where Henry spent most of his adult life, what he did for a living and where he died and was buried.

At first glance there seems very few basic facts (eg census, BMDs and parish registers) left to find out, in fact it is really just a question of finding Henry (and family) in the 1841 census and identifying where his first two children (Mary Ann and Harriet) were born and baptised. Given that Harriet is my 2x great-grandmother, I am quite keen to find out where she was born.

These few simple missing facts are indicators of a much more complicated situation with many unanswered questions and life changing events in a relatively short space of time. There is a five-year period (roughly speaking 1837 to 1842) where Henry’s life changed dramatically and it is these five years that I am really interested in.

In those five years the following events happened in Henry’s life and I would really like to find out more about them and the reasons behind what happened:

  1. In 1838 he was tried and convicted of larceny for which he served 12 months in prison.
  2. In 1840 he married Sarah LAY in Milton Next Gravesend, Kent.
  3. At some time between 1837 and 1840 Henry and Sarah had two children, one possibly before they married.
  4. At some time between 1840 and 1842 the family moved from Kent to Alton, Hampshire.

I would really like to get an accurate timeline of events and try to establish what were the reasons behind these events and whether there was any cause and effect between the events.

I would also like to find out as much as I can about Henry’s life in Alton and to some extent that of his children as well. One aspect that I really want to clarify is Henry’s occupation(s). At various times in his life Henry seems to have been employed as a chimney sweep, cutler and lodging house keeper and I would like to find out more about these, especially the lodging house keeper. What was the lodging house called? Was he there for long? Did he own the lodging house?

I can feel a research plan coming on

8 Jan

I am not quite sure why, but I am gravitating towards a full-blown research project on Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT, my 3x great-grandfather from Kent and Hampshire. I have written about Henry many times but there are still many unanswered questions. I feel it might be time to answer some of those questions.

It all started with me cancelling my plan (not that is was really anything more than an idea) to visit Carlisle, Cumbria in the next couple of months, because they haven’t finished re-building their record office yet. Carlisle can wait, what is more pressing is my need to use up the few days holiday that I still have left, before I lose them.

Instead of taking a trip to the other end of the country I hope to take several shorter trips that can be completed in a day, mainly to archives and libraries but also to a church and cemetery or two.

The key destination will be Alton, Hampshire because this was where Henry WRIGHT (as he was then) spent most of his life. As well as exploring the town further, visiting the church and cemetery I also want to take advantage of the family history resources at The Curtis Museum. I might also need to fit in a visit to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire.

The other destination will be Kent, probably both of the archives in Maidstone and Canterbury, and maybe a visit to Ospringe where Henry SHORNDEN (as he was then) was born, although the latter is probably not quite so important.

Now I need to start putting together a proper research plan, check the availability of resources, check travel arrangements and decide what I actually want to find out. Before I go anywhere though I need to sit down and update my family history database with as much information as possible from the sources I already have at hand, namely Henry’s will and whatever else I can find online.

Expect to hear lots more about Henry and his family over the coming weeks …

Satisfying my curiosity – ordering the wills of my ancestors

27 Aug

The recently released National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk has tempted me into ordering copies of four wills, three of which I wouldn’t have even thought about ordering for a long time, the other one I probably would have ordered in the near future.

I don’t think any of these four wills are actually going to solve any particular research problems, but they should hopefully satisfy my curiosity.

  • John FAIRS (my 3x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in November 1915. John FAIRS was an agricultural labourer and if the cross on his daughter’s wedding certificate is anything to go by he was not well educated. So why was his estate valued at over £982? Where had this wealth come from?
  • William TROWER (my 4x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in January 1875. William TROWER was a farmer, almost the last of several generations to farm and live at Harwoods Farm in Henfield. I will be interested to see if the TROWER family were still owners of the farm.
  • Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) of Blackboys, Sussex who died in January 1914. Henry HEMSLEY was the licensee and owner of the Gun Inn, and the attached farm. This is the will I would probably have ordered quite soon, in the process of trying to find out everything I can about the inn.
  • Henry WRIGHT (my 3x great-grandfather) of Alton, Hampshire who died in August 1895. Henry WRIGHT was originally known as Henry SHORNDEN and he moved from Kent to Hampshire for some reason, I don’t really expect find answers as to why he changed his named and moved to Kent, but I would like to find out as much as I can about his life.
    If nothing else these wills are going to give me plenty of work to do as I process this lot, but it is also going to force me to get my act together when it comes to recording all the details in my database, in fact it might be worth starting now and deciding how all the information should be recorded.

Whilst I am waiting for them to arrive I should probably also write a post on how to order copies of wills, and how easy it is if you live in the UK and have a cheque book, otherwise things start getting a little more difficult.

South Downs Way: Exton to Winchester

29 Jun

South Downs Way sign

Today I completed the final section of the South Downs Way, from Exton to Winchester (both in Hampshire). It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision last night, and it meant another early start and a marathon bus journey to get home.

The weather started rather grey and overcast, with a forecast of rain, but I was still in my shorts and short-sleeve shirt (and an umbrella in my rucksack). I did wonder whether I had got it wrong, but once I started walking it became clear that although the sun was not visible it was still a going to be a warm day.

I spent a little longer than I had planned in Exton, mainly at the church (pictured below), St. Peter and St. Paul, which was open and is a delightful church. There were several baptisms, marriages and burials of my ancestors that took place at that church and it was good to see it in detail at last.

Exton Church

I hurried off from Exton, trying to make up for the time I had spent in the church, heading in a north-westerly direction up Beacon Hill. The first half a mile or so was a gentle rolling landscape and I could almost see my ancestors working on these fields 150 years ago. Then things got steep and the thoughts of my ancestors turned to thoughts of mountain goats.

Stile on a slope

The view from the top was worth the climb, even in the gloom and haze there were quite spectacular views to the south and west. Also there was a trig point there as well, which made it really worthwhile. From Beacon Hill the South Downs Way continues in the same roughly north-westerly direction, and to be honest the path became a little dull again.

The views were very limited, often blocked by hedgerows either side of the track. The only thing that kept me going was trying to catch up with and stay ahead of a couple of groups of walkers, who had also got off the bus at Exton. My dalliance at the church had allowed them to get ahead of me, but it was a great motivator to try and catch up with them.

Fingerpost on Gander Down

The path started to open up a bit more after the halfway point and also it started to rain, fortunately it was nothing more than a few spots, although the skies threatened more. Within an hour or so the clouds started to break up, there was more blue sky than cloud.

The views at Cheesefoot Head were quite spectacular, and before long the city of Winchester came into view, then promptly disappeared as I rounded the side of the hill, but at least I could now see where I was heading, albeit still more than a couple of miles away.

Chilcomb church

As I descended towards Winchester I checked my watch and decided I could fit in a visit to Chilcomb church. I couldn’t remember exactly which one it was, but one of my MITCHELL relatives was baptised here, and I felt that I ought to get a photo otherwise I would probably never get around to visiting it again. It is such a delightful little church, I was really glad I took time out to visit, there are stunning views of Winchester from the churchyard.

The final couple of miles from Chilcomb to Winchester were not particularly interesting, the entry in the city is across a footbridge over the motorway, and then about a mile along pavements into the heart of the city. The final stretch is along the side of the River Itchen, which was quite nice, but it seems all traces of the South Downs Way had disappeared from the city.

Despite my brief efforts, I couldn’t find any sign marking the end of the South Downs Way, the statue of King Alfred has apparently been adopted as the end (or start) of the route, but having walked the 12 miles from Exton (and over 100 miles from Eastbourne over the last couple of months) I had hoped to find some official indication that I had reached the end.

King Alfred at Winchester

I must confess the path did bring me into a different part of the city, one which I hadn’t seen before because it is at the opposite end of the city from the Hampshire Record Office, and it was a much nicer part of the city, and somewhere I would like to come back to and explore further.

Then came the question of getting home. There were two options, bus or train. I had been hoping I would get to Winchester in time to get the bus, because I have been wanting to get the bus home from Winchester for over six months now, so I made my way to the bus station.

The bus journey home is an epic journey, and one that cuts through my Hampshire ancestral homeland. From Winchester the bus goes to Alton (home of the WRIGHT family) and then on to Guildford, Surrey. The journey takes about an hour and forty minutes, and as well as Alton it passes through Alresford, Hampshire which is home to my MITCHELL roots.

Racing through the Hampshire countryside on the top deck of the double-decker bus was a perfect way to end the day, especially as when we neared Ropley we passed alongside the Mid Hants Railway and were treated to the sight of one of their preserved steam trains heading for Alton.

From Guildford, Surrey it was another hour by bus to Horsham, Sussex where I was finally able to get on a bus that would take me home. For some people four hours on buses would be torture, but for me it was just a perfect way to end another little adventure in my life.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 24

13 Jun

Although most of last week was spent sorting out files and folders, I did manage to do quite a bit of new research as well. This is just what I needed, starting the transition from organising to researching.

Hopefully next week will see the bulk of my organising done. Of course it will never be completely done, as new material will be turning up all the time in need of processing and filing, but at least I have everything in place and a system that should make it easier in future to know where to filing things, and where to find them when I need them.

Most of the research was about the branch of BATEMAN family that grew up in Australia. The pursuit of the descendants of my 2x great-uncle William Joseph Henry BATEMAN is something I will be taking on in the forthcoming weeks. As part of this I want to try and write some posts about what I already know about the family.

In terms of organising, the GASSON surname folder is virtually sorted and that only leaves the GEERING folder to go. It is my intention to get both of those folders completed this week, and by the following week I want to have gone through all the surname folders and make sure everything is as it should be and I will produce a template that will enable me at a glance to see where new information fits into the system.

The amount of new BATEMAN research meant I didn’t get chance to start going through my database and start defining some goals, I would like to try and start that this week, although I don’t expect to complete it. I do however need to decide which projects I am going to be working on next.

One of those projects might involve the WRIGHT/SHORNDEN family of Alton, Hampshire. Having visited Alton last weekend I would like to find out more about their time in Alton. One long term goal is to find out how they came to be in Hampshire in the first place, when they were previously in Kent.

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