Tag Archives: alton

Christmas Tree Project Update

19 Oct

Most of my work last week was focused on trying to find the 4x great grandparents for my Christmas Tree Project. All in all it was quite successful, but I have still have quite a bit of work to do.

The present state of play is that I am still missing four individuals, there are another three 4x great grandmothers where I have no maiden name for, only a married name, and there are a couple of connections I have made that are not as strong as I would have liked (like the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS).

The missing individuals are the parents of Susannah POCOCK, and the parents of Sarah Ann the wife of Henry SHORNDEN.

I don’t know Sarah Ann’s maiden name, I thought she was the SHORNDEN and Henry was the WRIGHT, but I have since found that to be wrong. Now I need to find out if Sarah Ann was the WRIGHT.

Logic would suggest that if they didn’t use Henry’s surname, then they used Sarah Ann’s instead, but logic and the WRIGHT/SHORNDEN family don’t seem to sit together well in the same sentence.

Tonight I have ordered a copy of the birth certificate for Henry SHAWNDEN, who I believe was the first of their children to be registered and baptised in Alton, Hampshire in the first quarter of 1842.

This promises to be the most eagerly awaited birth certificate yet (apart from my illegitimate grandfather’s one). If I were a betting man I would put my money on Sarah Ann being a WRIGHT, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost it all.

I just hope that the Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union settle their differences quickly so my certificate doesn’t get held up in the post too long.

I am going off the SHORNDEN family

17 Oct

I really am starting to go off the SHORNDEN family. Apologies to any SHORNDENs reading this, but they are my ancestors too so I think I am allowed to get annoyed with them.

Not only does it look like Henry SHORNDEN was a criminal and changed his name and moved to Hampshire, but it is beginning to feel like he did it with the intention of making my research as difficult as possible.

Several things are starting to annoy me. Like why can’t I find the family in the 1841 census, there should be four of them at least, Henry and Sarah (possibly his wife) and their two children Mary Ann and Harriet.

And why was Henry’s sister Marianne baptised twice? First on the 31st July 1808 as the daughter of William and Ann SHORNDEN and then again on the 25th December 1808 as the “spurious” daughter of Ann SHORNDEN. Did William deny she was his daughter?

Why can’t I find a birth registration for Harriet? What happened to Mary Ann after the 1851 census? I have a baptism in Ospringe, Kent for Mary-Ann Hannah SHORNDEN in 1836, could this be Henry and Sarah’s first daughter? Well possibly, but her parents are given as William and Sarah, was Henry also known as William? Had he already started changing his name by then?

I know I need to go to Kent and look for some answers, but I don’t trust the information I already have. I think I will trade-in this family for a better one. A nice family that stayed put in the same parish, knew how to spell their name and didn’t get up to anything naughty or illegal. Anyone want to swap?

Did Henry SHORNDEN change his name to hide his criminal past?

15 Oct

I have been trying to make sense of some of my notes from the London Family History Centre today, in particular I was trying to work out what was going on with Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT.

While I think I have located Henry’s baptism in Ospringe, Kent I would like to prove a connection between Henry SHORNDEN in Kent and Henry WRIGHT in Hampshire, other than the fact that some of his children were baptised and registered under the surname of SHORNDEN or some other variant.

I thought I would try a search on Ancestry.co.uk on the Criminal Registers they released earlier this year. I searched for Henry SHORNDEN and only one result came up. A 28-year-old called Henry SHORNDEN was tried at the County Sessions at Maidstone, Kent on the 4th January 1838. My Henry SHORNDEN would have been 28 in 1838 and he was last heard of in Kent (he first turns up again in Hampshire in 1842), this has to be my 3x great grandfather.

His crime was larceny, of which he was found guilty and was imprisoned for 12 months. To me this seems a perfect reason for him to move away from him home and change his name once he got out, to try and hide his past.

So now I need to find out what it was he actually did, whether there was any mention of a family and where he went to prison. Perhaps he was imprisoned in Hampshire, which is why he ended up in that part of the world? I still haven’t done anything about finding out more about Wybrants KINGHORN’s criminal activities, and now I have another criminal in my tree to investigate.

Searching for the WRIGHT family at the London Family History Centre

14 Oct

Today I was back at the London Family History Centre, trying to fill in a few missing ancestors in my Christmas Tree Project, but most of all trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that I opened there back in May this year.

All in all it was quite a successful day, I think I have added another four or five of my 4x great grandparents, including the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS whose lack of marriage in Lewes, Sussex has been causing me some consternation. Once again though it was the WRIGHT family that has been most surprising.

I have Henry and Sarah (or Sarah Ann) WRIGHT living in Alton, Hampshire from about 1842. Their eight youngest children were baptised and registered in Alton using various surnames: WRIGHT, SHAWNDEN, SHORDEN, WRIGHT SHAWNDEN, SHAWDON WRIGHT and WRIGHT otherwise SHORDEN.

I had taken this as indicating the Henry and Sarah had probably never married, and there was some confusion over whether they should use the father’s name (WRIGHT) or the mother’s name (SHORDEN or some variant thereof).

What I discovered in the Ospringe, Kent parish registers was a baptism on the 1st October 1809 for Henry son of William and Anne SHORNDEN. This was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting, and my many hours of searching the 1841 census for Henry WRIGHT have probably been wasted. Tonight I shall be seeing what comes up for Henry SHORNDEN in the 1841 census.

So this has left me wondering whether Sarah was Sarah WRIGHT, or whether the WRIGHT surname was just plucked out of nowhere for whatever reason. I still couldn’t find a marriage for Henry and Sarah in Ospringe, but I didn’t really expect to. Now I have Henry’s parent’s names (and some siblings for Henry) and hopefully I will be able to find them in the 1841 census (and later), which might enable me to discover more information about the family.

As well as searching for Henry SHORNDEN in the census, I also have a handful of notes that need sorting out, on top of what I still have left from my trip to the Hampshire Record Office last Saturday. Looks like I shall be busy catching up for the next few days.

On the way home with two of my 4x great grandparents

10 Oct

After about four hours at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire I am back on the train again making my way home, mentally trying to make sense of what I found.

The Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire

The Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire

I found all the information I was looking for with the WRIGHT family, but then I was only double checking most of it. I have written about this WRIGHT family before and the confusion that surrounds whether Henry and Sarah Ann were in fact married. As I need to find their parents for my Christmas Tree Project it is time to try again and solve this puzzle.

Both Henry and Sarah Ann WRIGHT were buried in Alton, Hampshire, but checking the monumental inscriptions for the parish it doesn’t look like their gravestone has survived, if there ever was one.

The MITCHELL side of things went quite well, I now have William MITCHELL’s parents (John MITCHELL and Elizabeth LOCKETT) and some details of William’s siblings. The family were where I was expecting them, in New Alresford and latterly in Old Alresford. I think I have found John MITCHELL’s parents (John and Olive MITCHELL) there as well, so that takes me back another generation.

The POCOCK side of things was not so straight forward, and I am still left with no parents for Susannah POCOCK, it doesn’t appear that she was baptised in Hampshire (according to the Hampshire Baptism Index), and certainly not Micheldever.

There is an elderly POCOCK couple living in New Alresford (or was it Old Alresford) who seem to be the only POCOCKs for miles around. My instincts tell me that this couple (Richard and Mary) are Susannah’s parents.

They don’t appear to have been married in Hampshire (according to the Hampshire Marriage Index) and Mary’s place of birth on the census was Lambeth, Surrey. So when I get home I will be searching for POCOCK marriages and baptisms in Surrey and Sussex.

All in all it was a successful trip, so far the trains have gone according to plan and the weather has stayed dry, despite a few threatening clouds. I have added two more 4x great grandparents to my Christmas Tree Project so I feel this morning’s optimism was justified.

Feeling very pleased with myself

10 Oct

I am feeling very pleased with myself, it is Saturday morning and I am on the train making my way to Winchester and the Hampshire Record Office.

Why am I feeling so pleased with myself? Well, for once I am off to a record office with a clear idea of what I want to find, I have a plan, a pretty simple one admittedly, but it is a still a plan.

I am hoping to find the parents of William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK and check the baptisms for the children of Henry and Sarah Ann WRIGHT in Alton, Hampshire. Also I want to check for the burial of Henry and Sarah Ann, which I would expect to find in Alton as well.

So I am feeling confident, I know what I want to do, I had a reasonably early night and slept well, the trains appear to be running on time, and it has stopped raining and the sun is starting to appear.

What could possibly go wrong?

Harriet WRIGHT is giving me sleepless nights

8 Jun

I awoke this morning and it felt like my brain hadn’t been to sleep. I am sure that whilst the rest of me was sleeping my brain was going through possible name variants and spellings for Harriet WRIGHT (or whatever her name was).

At 7am this morning I very nearly ordered the birth certificate for one of Harriet’s siblings, but I stopped at the last minute, just as I was about to enter my debit card details.

What stopped me (apart from not liking to spend money, especially that early in the morning!) was the fact that I probably already know Harriet’s mother’s maiden name. I am convinced it is SHOREDEN/SHAWDEN/SHALDEN or some variant thereof.

It is my guess that Henry WRIGHT (Harriet’s father) and Sarah SHOREDEN (Harriet’s mother) never saw the need to get married and just lived together under his name as husband and wife.

However, when it came to naming children things got more complicated and the surname recorded depended on who asked for it, how the question was worded and to whom the question was asked.

I could be wrong (quite likely) but that is my only hypothesis at the moment. So initially I am going to be searching for the baptisms of Henry and Sarah, in the hope of being able to work forward and locate Harriet’s birth and baptism (and their 1841 census entry).

Both of their dates of birth are pretty consistent across the census years, Henry was born in 1811 and Sarah in 1821 and this is confirmed by their entries in the GRO death indexes.

Places of birth are a different matter, for Henry the choice of place of birth is not too bad, either Ospringe (Kent), Canterbury (Kent) or Alton (Hampshire), with Ospringe being the most popular. For Sarah there are more options, Alton (Hampshire), Harrow (Middlesex), Deptford (Kent) or Lincolnshire. I think I can rule out Lincolnshire and Alton, but the other two are quite plausible.

Of course I need to bear in mind that all of the census returns could be wrong, and none of these are the correct places, but it is one of the few records I have to go on. Wish me luck!

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