Tag Archives: baptism

The font of St James’s Church, Piccadilly

22 Jul

One of the most outstanding features inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London was the beautifully carved white marble font.

St James's Church font

The font is said to have been installed in 1686 and to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, and is described on the church website as:

an ovoid bowl raised on a stem realistically carved to represent the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent entwined about it, Adam standing on one side and Eve on the other. The bowl is decorated with three kidney-shaped panels carved in low relief to represent (a) the Baptism of Christ, (b) St. Philip baptising the Eunuch of Candace, (c) Noah’s Ark afloat

I mentioned yesterday that four of the children of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN were baptised in this church, they were:

  • 29 Apr 1851 – Eliza KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his second wife Eliza WARREN
  • 30 Jul 1854 – Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM (my 2x great grandmother)
  • 22 Jun 1856 – Abraham Graham KINGHORN son of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM
  • 26 Dec 1858 – Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM

Most of the fonts that I have come across previously have been in country churches, and whilst many of them are a lot older than this one, none of them have been quite so beautifully carved. It is wonderful for me to think that such a beautiful piece of sculpture was probably used during the baptism of my 2x great grandmother and of her siblings.

Where did Vernon Alphonso GASSON get his name from?

21 May

One of the curious records that I transcribed at the West Sussex Record Office a couple of weeks ago was the baptism of Vernon Alphonso GASSON. He was the son of John and Alice Catherine Maud GASSON and was baptised at the parish church in Slaugham, Sussex on the 8th September 1907.

Now don’t get me wrong, but the name Vernon Alphonso doesn’t strike me as an English name, let alone a Sussex one. So where did he get it from?

I thought that Alice Catherine Maud might not have been from England, but her name doesn’t sound particularly exotic. This was further confirmed when I checked FreeBMD for a marriage, Alice’s maiden name was MITCHELL (they were married in Q3 1906 in Cuckfield Registration District).

So I have no idea where the name Vernon Alphonso came from, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a family name. Sadly Vernon Alphonso died in 1910 and was buried in Slaugham on the 26th November.

There must have been some confusion when it came to filling in the 1911 census because Vernon is included with his parents and their other son, Jack. The entry clearly shows that John and Alice had two children, one of whom had died.

I guess I will never know where the name Vernon Alphonso came from, but the one thing I must find out is who John GASSON was, or rather which John GASSON this is. He is probably the son of my 3x great uncle Edward GASSON, but I need to get a copy of the marriage entry/certificate to make sure.

Impromptu visit to the West Sussex Record Office

8 May

Today I made an impromptu visit to the West Sussex Record Office. I had nothing else planned for today, the weather forecast was not too good so I had decided not to go walking, so last night I printed off my to-do list ready for a visit.

West Sussex Record Office

My to-do list has been growing rapidly as I go through my digital files, and although I hadn’t planned on doing any more research until I had got most of my digital files sorted out, I felt it would be beneficial to get to an archive and do a bit of proper research, if not for my research then at least for my sanity.

The record office closes for lunch on a Saturday, so it split the day quite nicely. In the morning I worked on parish registers and in the afternoon I worked on wills.

The morning went quite well. I was able to pick up several baptisms and burials that I was after from Slaugham, Sussex (mainly GASSONs) and several others dotted around the county that I needed, including the baptism of my mother, but curiously not those of her younger brothers.

The afternoon wasn’t too bad, but I continue to be disappointed by the number of my ancestors that didn’t leave wills. I did however have some luck with my direct PIERCY ancestors. I found wills for both George PIERCY (my 6x great-grandfather) and Thomas PIERCY (my 7x great-grandfather).

Although I wasn’t really prepared for a visit, with my growing to-do list it wasn’t likely that I would come away empty handed, but I was pleasantly surprised at how successful my visit was.

St Andrew’s Church, Nuthurst, Sussex

19 Apr

Here are a few photos of St Andrew’s Church, Nuthurst, Sussex. I took these on my visit last week, when I passed through the parish on my way to Horsham.

St Andrews Church, Nuthurst

I have previously posted a postcard of Nuthurst Church and as I commented at the time, not a lot has changed, there are of course fewer headstones and fewer trees now in front of it now.

Nuthurst Church

Burials are still taking place in the churchyard, to the west of the church. I found the view of the western end of the church was quite striking, but I am not quite sure why.

Interior Nuthurst Church

The interior of the church was equally striking, I certainly wasn’t expecting to find such a highly decorated interior, although of course my photo doesn’t really do it justice.

Nuthurst Font

I couldn’t leave without getting a photo of the font, my 3x great-grandfather Thomas GASSON was baptised here in May 1831, along with four more of his siblings in subsequent years. According to the church guide and history it is made of Purbeck marble and may date back to Saxon times.

Some progress in tracing “the old druggist”

8 Mar

Last Saturday I came away from the West Sussex Record Office with copies (and transcriptions) of two wills, one for Richard GEERING and one for his wife Mary GEERING (possibly “the old druggist”) probably my 6x great-grandparents from Hailsham, Sussex.

The information in them is not conclusive, Richard was a shopkeeper but no mention of what it was he sold. Both wills mention three children: James, Mary and Ann. In Mary’s will her daughter Mary has married someone with the name Baily.

So I have some useful clues to follow up here, I know what happened to James and Ann (remained in Hailsham), but I have no idea what happened to Mary. I have a baptism record for James, but not one for Mary or Ann.

It would appear that James left no will, or it wasn’t needed, but Ann did leave a will (according to the National Probate Calendar) and her niece Jane was her executrix. I need to order a copy of that will to see if any other family members are mentioned. It doesn’t appear that Jane left a will when she died in 1874.

It seems likely that Jane was the daughter of James (my 5x great-grandfather), because there is no indication of another son, so unless Mary or Ann had an illegitimate daughter there doesn’t appear to be any other option. I need to try and find her baptism somewhere.

I really would have liked to find a will for James GEERING, that made the connection to my 4x great-grandfather Richard GEERING in Lewes, Sussex. I don’t think I am going to find conclusive evidence unless he is mentioned in his aunt Ann’s will.

Now I have all this information to integrate into my research, and several baptisms to locate, also a marriage to find (and possibly some children). I then need to assess what other records I can hope to find at East Sussex Record Office.

Another birth certificate and more questions than answers

8 Dec

The birth certificate for Rebecca BATEMAN arrived yesterday, and it wasn’t quite what I expected, in fact it has given me more questions than answers.

It should have been quite simple, Rebecca BATEMAN was the daughter of my 4x great-grandparents Thomas and Rebecca BATEMAN, born in Ford in the parish of Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire on the 10th December 1839. The reason for ordering this particular certificate was to find out the maiden name of Rebecca.

I had suspected it was TOWNSEND, based on the most likely marriage entry I could find on the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The birth certificate however gives her maiden name as TOWNLEY. Quite close, but not really close enough to be explained away as a transcription error or a mis-spelling.

As there is a baptism in Temple Guiting (also on the IGI) for a Rebecca TOWNLY at about the right date, coupled with the fact that the marriage I was looking at wasn’t in Temple Guiting, but about ten miles away, makes me think that the registrar was correct. I am clearly going to have to do some more work in this.

The other anomaly is the birth date (or baptism date). The certificate says that she was born on the 10th December 1839, yet there is a baptism record for Rebecca BATEMAN in Temple Guiting on the IGI, with a date of the 4th December. Either there is a transcription error on the IGI (most likely) or Thomas and Rebecca lied about (or couldn’t remember) their daughter’s exact birth date. Again more work needed on this family in the original parish registers.

So I think I have the maiden name of my 4x great-grandmother, which leaves only one 4x great-grandparent with no maiden name and three missing completely. Hopefully next year I can pay a visit to the Gloucestershire Record Office and do a bit more research on these branches of my tree. I have enough of a start to make it worthwhile visiting now.

Which WREN is which?

30 Nov

I was updating the details for my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin WREN last night, when I came across another potential stumbling block with the identity of his parents.

I knew from the census that Benjamin was born around 1803 in Framfield, Sussex. In the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive there is a baptism for a Benjamin WREN in Framfield on the 7th Jan 1803. His parents were Thomas and Sarah WREN, so whilst I was there I looked for other children of Thomas and Sarah.

I came up with another ten children, the earliest was Mary, baptised in 1768, and the last child was Hannah, baptised in 1810. I cursed my ancestors for giving me so much work to do when I wanted to get to bed, but something didn’t seem right.

The forty year time span seemed unlikely, and the last two entries were for Thomas senior and Sarah. So, much like the situation with the HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey, it seemed like I had a couple of different Thomas and Sarah’s here producing children at the same time.

When I checked the Sussex Marriage Index things became a little clearer. There are three marriages of Thomas WREN to a Sarah around that time in Framfield. Firstly a Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD in 1764, then a Thomas WREN married Sarah CORNWALL in 1783 and lastly Thomas WREN married Sarah COLEMAN in 1800. The final marriage was by licence, which reveals more helpful information. Thomas WREN was a widower aged 60 and Sarah COLEMAN was a widow aged 36, both were from Framfield.

So it looks like Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD, had several children including a Thomas in 1772, but he was not the middle Thomas. Then Thomas’ first wife died and he married Sarah COLEMAN who was many years younger than him, carried on having children.

The question is which set of Thomas and Sarah’s were the parents of my Benjamin WREN? I can rule out Thomas WREN and Sarah HARTFIELD, as presumably she had died before Benjamin was born, because Thomas had re-married by then, but it seems like it could be either of the other two.

My next step will to have a look at burial records for Framfield, and hopefully the burials for Sarah WREN will help separate the two. There is also the possibility that one of the Thomas’ left a will which might help differentiate between the two.

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