Tag Archives: alton

North Downs Way: Seale to Farnham (and a bus to Alton)

12 Jun

Today we finished off last week’s walk, and it was equally disappointing, but the day wasn’t a complete waste because as it was only a short walk it gave us time to visit the nearby town of Alton, Hampshire.

This section was short, only four miles (hardly worth the effort) and pretty flat, very short on points of interest and largely devoid of any interesting views.

River outside Farnham

We did pass through some quite nice woodland (Runfold Wood), and some of the path was alongside the River Wey, which was quite nice, but after two weeks largely devoid of hills it is high time we got back to Kent and some proper hills.

Farnham is quite a nice town, or at least what I have seen of it, and it marks the start or end of the North Downs Way. The actual start/end is marked by a fingerpost at the side of a rather busy road junction bristling with traffic lights, hardly a fitting point to start or end the North Downs Way.

Start or End of North Downs Way

The only saving grace for today was the chance to catch the bus from Farnham, Surrey to Alton, Hampshire. Alton was the home of my 3x great-grandparents Henry and Sarah WRIGHT. Although time was limited, we found time to visit St Lawrence Church (below) and Market Square where the WRIGHT family lived.

St Lawrence's Church, Alton, Hampshire

The visit was really just a scouting trip, getting my bearings, having a quick poke around and buying a decent map of the town. Alton has some lovely buildings, some interesting history, a small local history museum, a steam railway and an unusual war memorial (below). I am clearly going to have to go back to Alton and explore further.

War Memorial - Alton, Hampshire

A SHORNDEN/LAY marriage certificate arrives, but what to do next?

3 Nov

The marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY arrived yesterday, and it has already been scanned and filed away. For once this appears to be a pretty straightforward marriage certificate, no unexpected surprises, in fact it confirms much of what I already know.

Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY were married on the 25th December 1840 (I wonder how much it would cost to get married on Christmas Day now?) at the parish church in Milton next Gravesend, Kent. Henry was a bachelor and Sarah a spinster, but unfortunately their ages are only given as “full”. Both gave their residence as Milton.

I was pleased to see that Henry’s rank or profession was given as “Cutler”, that ties in nicely with information from the census and baptism records from Alton, Hampshire. Not surprisingly Sarah has no rank or profession shown.

Henry’s father is William SHORNDEN, this matches the information from the Ospringe parish registers, and he was a labourer. Henry’s profession and the name of his father mean this provides a nice link between the Henry from Ospringe, Kent and the one from Alton, Hampshire, adding to the evidence that suggests they are the same person.

Sarah’s father was Joseph LAY, and he to was a labourer. Joseph would be another of my 4x great grandfathers. That leaves me with only three left to find, including Joseph’s wife.

Interestingly neither Henry nor Sarah signed their names, I am sure this led to much of the confusion with different surname spellings once they got away from their native Kent. The other interesting thing is that the witnesses were William and Mary Ann WICKER, could these be relations of either the bride or the groom?

So where now? Well there are still two questions to be answered:

1) Where and when was Sarah born and who was her mother? I have an approximate date of birth (1821), but no definite place for Sarah’s birth, Kent seems most likely, so I need to check all the baptism registers for the places previous mentioned, Milton next Gravesend, Ospringe and surrounding parishes for a daughter of Joseph LAY.

2) What about the two daughters that Henry and Sarah had, who are shown in the 1851 census as being born before the couple were married? These two girls were most likely Henry and Sarah’s daughters, but as well as checking all the above parishes for their baptisms, I need to check for a variety of different surnames as well. It would be nice to find the family in the 1841 census, but their appears to be very few SHORNDENs in the south of England that year.

This family are certainly one of the most challenging I have worked on so far, they are the first case I have in my tree of a name change, rather than just different variants. I do feel however that this is a story worth investigating and I will probably try and put together a full report on the family once more of the facts emerge.

Another certificate ordered in the search for the SHORNDEN/WRIGHT family

26 Oct

I have just ordered the marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY. I decided that it would be far easier and quicker to sit and wait for the certificate to come to me, than go out trying to find a copy of the entry in the parish register.

I am hoping that this certificate will confirm that the Henry SHORNDEN I found in the Ospringe, Kent baptism register, son of William and Ann SHORNDEN, is the same one that ended up in Alton, Hampshire.

More importantly I should give me the name of Sarah’s father, which may just be enough to enable me to find her baptism, and then both of her parents. I really have no idea where Sarah came from, as most census entries for her give a different place of birth.

Now I just need to sit back and wait, I can’t really do much more on that part of my tree without that certificate. I can’t help but wonder what further surprises it is going to turn up!

The birth certificate for Henry SHORNDEN arrives

24 Oct

The birth certificate for Henry SHAWNDEN (probably Henry SHORNDEN later WRIGHT) arrived today. Another pretty quick turn around from the GRO considering there have been two 24 hour postal strikes this week.

As usual the certificate brings with it as many questions as answers. Henry was the son of Henry and Sarah (possibly Sarah Ann) SHORNDEN (my 3x great grandparents) and he is the eldest child I have been able to trace a birth registration and baptism for.

Henry was born on the 10th January 1842 in Alton, Hampshire and his birth was registered on the 25th January 1842. He was baptised in Alton on the 6th February 1842. When his birth was registered the surname was spelt SHAWNDEN and when he was baptised it was spelt SHORDEN.

Within a couple of years the surname WRIGHT was being used for Henry’s brothers and sisters. Initially in combination with the surname SHORNDEN (or variants thereof) and then on its own. In the 1851 census the family are listed as WRIGHT. I have not yet traced many of the children in later years to find out what surnames they used when they got older.

The name of Henry’s mother is given as Sarah SHAWNDEN formerly LAY, and that is probably the key piece of information to take away from this certificate. This not only tells me that Sarah’s maiden name was LAY, but it also implies that Henry and Sarah were married after all.

This gives me another name to use to search for a marriage, baptisms of their two older children (including my 2x great grandmother), their whereabouts in the 1841 census, birth registrations and a marriage entry in the GRO Indexes.

Only slightly worrying thing is that Henry’s father’s occupation is given as bricklayers laborer which is not what I was expecting. Henry’s baptism entry has his father recorded as a cutler, this puts the seed of doubt in my mind, whether I have the right people, but I am pretty certain that this is the correct family, because of the overlap or combination of surnames for later baptisms.

I suspect that Henry’s father did whatever he could to earn a living. In the 1844 edition of Pigot’s Hampshire Directory he is listed as a cutler and grinder, but in later years he is a chimney sweep and a lodging house keeper. I suspect one job wasn’t enough for Henry’s father to support the family, so he did whatever he could to bring in some money.

The birth itself was registered by Henry’s mother Sarah, she couldn’t sign her name so just made her mark. This is probably the reason why the spelling of the name changed so much, she probably had no idea how to spell it. At least the surname LAY shouldn’t give me too many variations.

So what now? The next step is to search for any marriages for Sarah LAY and Henry SHORNDEN before 1842, also search for baptisms and birth registrations for the two children possibly under the surname LAY instead of SHORNDEN or WRIGHT. I am not sure what to look for in the 1841 census or where. I think it is safe to assume somewhere in the south of England, but possibly not necessarily confined to Kent or Hampshire.

At least I feel as if I am making some progress now, another piece of the puzzle slots into place. I would be interested to see what the other birth certificates say, whether the spellings and details changed depending on who was actually registering the birth, but with another seven children registered after Henry that is not the sort of thing I can really afford to do, just to satisfy my curiosity.

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.

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