Tag Archives: boxall

Free Friday: Leaving them standing at the dock

5 Nov

In one of the local newspapers that I checked last Saturday was another slightly different report about the diamond wedding anniversary of James and Caroline BOXALL (my 2x great-grandparents) of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex. It included a paragraph which mentioned that one of their 27 children had emigrated.

When visited yesterday by a “Sussex Daily News” representative, Mrs. Boxall was a-tiptoe with anticipation. All her seven surviving children, except a daughter in Alberta, Canada, have promised to visit the tiny cottage snuggling against a wooded slope of the Downs.

Sussex Daily News (Wednesday 15th April 1936)

It occurred to me that I already knew there were descendants of James and Caroline in Canada, but the fact had been pushed to the back of my mind, only now taking on new significance when I actually read it in print.

My first instinct of course was to find out which daughter it was that had emigrated, which didn’t take long as I had pretty much traced all but one of the daughters already. It was Florence Mabel BOXALL, who married Frederick AYRES in 1906.

I found Florence and her two children on a passenger list leaving Southampton on the Ascania bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 18th December 1913. The problem is that they are crossed out on the list, does this mean they didn’t make the voyage? The only record I have found so far on the other side of the Atlantic is a passenger list for the arrival of the Ausonia at Quebec on the 8th June 1914.

I don’t really know what is happening, my guess is that they took the Ausonia from Halifax to Quebec. Her husband Frederick had probably already made his way to Canada in advance. It is an interesting puzzle, I would like to find out what really happened but I don’t really have the time to investigate it.

Now this is making me feel guilty. I have a mental image in my mind of Florence and her two children and a handful of suitcases standing at the docks at Southampton looking bewildered and lost. I feel I should be helping them make their way across the Atlantic, but I don’t have the time. All I can do is wish them good luck and wave them goodbye.

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about not following every branch of my family tree, I just don’t have the time at the moment to learn all about the passenger lists and follow the family over to Canada. For now I need to concentrate on what I already know about and that is English resources.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 44

31 Oct

Last week was quite a good week, with the high point being yesterday’s visit to Brighton History Centre and coming home with lots of photocopies of newspaper articles. Of course that means more work, as I need to get the copies scanned, transcribed and the details included in my database.

Two of the newspaper articles concern a very distant pair of relations, but it was such an interesting story that I needed to follow it up. This means even more work as I need to put all the details for these distant relations into my tree to make the connection with my ancestors and me. On top of that the story needs more work done on it, there are still lots of loose ends to tie up.

Last week I did more work on the 27 children of James and Caroline BOXALL. I spent some time having a detailed look at the baptisms, births, deaths and burials for West Dean, Sussex trying to discover whether I am ever likely to find all 27 children. The are probably three or four death certificates that I need to order, but even if they are all James and Caroline’s children I am still some way from finding all 27 children. This makes me wonder whether it is worth the effort (and money) when I am never going to find all of the children.

I did get last weeks newspaper articles scanned and transcribed, but I never got around to scanning and transcribing the wills. They have been sitting on my desk now for at least three weeks, and nothing is going to happen to them unless I start the process and get them scanned. At least once they are scanned I know they will be backed up and easily accessible whether at home or on the move, so that I can work on them wherever and whenever I have the time.

So this week is going to be mainly a scanning week, there are a couple of postcards that I need to do, but it is going to be mostly photocopies of newspaper articles. I might even try some “spot” scanning of my maps, they are rather large (3½ft x 2½ft) so I can only scan small parts of them and even that is going to be a bit of a juggling act.

Free Friday: TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN – truth or myth?

29 Oct

I have written about my surprise and partial disbelief at the story that my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL had 27 children. This sort of story demands proper investigation, a process which I began last Saturday at West Sussex Record Office.

I had previously checked parish register transcriptions for baptisms and burials at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and knew there weren’t baptisms for 27 children. Even taking into account a few unidentified burials and birth and death registrations I was struggling to come up with 27 children.

The 1911 census records that the couple had 13 children born living and that four had died. Obviously for there to have been a total of 27 children then there must have been another 14 that were either stillborn or died within a few hours, this seems a shockingly high number, more than were born living.

In the absence of official records I searched for some other evidence. The earliest record that I have found mentioning the 27 children is a report in the local newspaper, the Chichester Observer, on the 15th April 1936. Subsequent reports seem to draw on this first report and duplicate the error with the year of marriage.

TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN

WEST DEAN COUPLE CELEBRATE DIAMOND WEDDING

Wednesday will be a happy day in the lives of two of West Dean’s oldest residents, when they celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their wedding.

They are Mr. and Mrs. J BOXALL, of Scout Cottage, who were married at West Dean Church on April 15th, 1886 the Rev. HUTCHISON. Mr. BOXALL, who is 83 years of age, has been confined to his bed for a number of years, but Mrs. BOXALL, at 79, is still active, and as cheerful as ever. Only one person who attended their wedding is alive to-day, and she is Mrs. MERRITE of Tillington.

Of Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL’S twenty-seven children, only seven survive, the eldest of whom is 59. Mrs. BOXALL told an “Observer” representative who visited her on Monday that she had triplets once and twins three times. There are 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Two of Mrs. BOXALL’S sons were killed in the War.

The walls of the little old cottage in which Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL now live, are hung with portraits of members of the JAMES’ family, who held West Dean Park.

Mrs. BOXALL’S most treasured possessions include a case of gold spoons which the late Mrs. WILLIE JAMES gave her when Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL celebrated their golden wedding in 1926, and a necklace which Mrs. JAMES bequeathed her.

Five years ago, Mr. BOXALL was taken ill, and all hope of his recovery was given up, but he pulled round after a stiff fight. He finds it now a great hardship to be confined to his bed, after an active life on the land.

“There’s nobody to-day would work like he did,” said Mrs. BOXALL.

Both Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL can claim a life-long association with the locality, for Mr. BOXALL was born at West Dean, and Mrs. BOXALL at Singleton.

There is some interesting information included, but nothing that really helps prove the story. One thing that didn’t seem right was the mention of two sons killed during the First World War. Having spent some time looking at the West Dean war memorial I knew that only one son was listed on the memorial, furthermore the two other sons that I knew about survived the war. Did this mean one of the missing children was another son who died during WW1 and had some how escaped the census enumerator for several decades?

After searching all the BOXALLs on the CWGC and Soldiers Died in the Great War looking for a connection to West Dean, but I still drew a blank. Then it dawned on me who this missing son was, what is more I had already researched his life and even written about him on this blog. He had to be Walter Henry BOXALL, the illegitimate son of James and Caroline’s daughter Alice Ruth. He was killed during WW1 and although he wasn’t their son it appears that he may have been treated as such after his mother married. When he started school in 1901 his parent or guardian was recorded as Caroline, although the 1901 census did show him as their grandson.

To me it looks like the story of 27 children can’t true, although they were only short by one. 26 children is still quite impressive, and it is still going to take some work to see if I can prove some more (I need to order some death certificates now), but now I can’t help but wonder about Walter Henry BOXALL, and why James and Caroline felt the need to continue pretending he was their son all those years later? or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Picture Postcard Parade: West Dean Church

19 Oct

The postcard below is one that I have had for quite a while. It shows the ivy clad St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and a few of the headstones in the churchyard.

West Dean Church

There is not a lot more that can be said about this postcard. The card was posted from West Dean on the 6th September 1920 and sent to Mrs C BOXALL of Brown Hill Farm, Ashington, Sussex. The BOXALL connection was naturally of interest, but from what I can find it doesn’t look like this Mrs BOXALL was a close relation.

In light of my current obsession with the parish of West Dean I have decided that I am going to start seriously collecting picture postcards of the parish. It is not that I haven’t been collecting them already, just that I haven’t been making a special effort to find them.

What makes collecting postcards of West Dean (in West Sussex) particularly challenging is the fact that not only is there another West Dean in East Sussex (as I previously mentioned), but also one in neighbouring Hampshire. From what I saw at the Shoreham Postcard Fair last Saturday most postcard dealers don’t distinguish between the eastern and western parishes, and sometimes Hampshire cards are to to be found amongst the Sussex cards. Likewise I probably should check for Sussex cards in with the Hampshire cards.

Examining postcards of an area, working out where the views were taken from and when, is a great way of learning about a place and how it has changed over the years, although of course the bulk of the postcards I am likely to find will only cover a short period of time, probably from 1900 to 1930.

Apart from learning more about the parish of my ancestors the other bonus is that my increased attention on West Dean postcards will hopefully turn up a postcard sent to (or by) one of my closer relations.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 42

17 Oct

Last week was a good week. I managed to get quite a bit of work done, discovered a couple of other stories to follow up and best of all, the four will copies arrived in the post on Thursday.

Having written about the delays with the issuing of copies of wills, the four wills I had ordered towards the end of August have arrived. I haven’t studied them in great detail yet, but like I suspected there doesn’t appear to be any major revelations contained within them. This week I have to get them scanned and transcribed and see what information I can extract from them.

Most of my work has has been focused on the BOXALL family of West Dean, and I have made good progress on tracing the six BOXALLs on the West Dean war memorial, although two of them are proving rather tricky to track down. The other four are definitely related to me, but this week I need to try and pin down the final two.

I now also want to investigate the story that James and Caroline BOXALL, my 2x great-grandparents, had 27 children. I only have details of 12 children and the 1911 census records that they had 13 "Children Born Alive", but four had died. I am going to have to do some careful analysis of some baptism and burial records and birth and death registration indexes, to see if I can identify any of the missing children.

I need to spend some time looking in local newspapers, possibly for birth announcements, but more likely for obituaries of James and Caroline and also for their wedding anniversaries. I also need to check the local newspapers for a mention of the six BOXALLs on the war memorial, and of course any mention of the dedication of the war memorial itself.

My hope is to visit Chichester next weekend and spend several hours on a microfilm reader and in the archives. So this week I need to create a list of dates and subjects to look up in preparation for my visit. I also want get the four wills scanned, although I don’t think I will have time to get them all transcribed during the week, whilst I am scanning them I need to scan the latest batch of postcards as well.

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