Tag Archives: boxall

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.

Coincidence and confusion in the pages of a newspaper

13 Oct

I was online last night looking for some information (for a future blog post) on West Dean church in the archives of The Times newspaper, when I stumbled across the following news item on page seven of the newspaper for Wednesday the 15th April 1936:

Mr. and Mrs. J. Boxall, of Scout Cottage, West Dean, near Chichester, who celebrate their golden wedding to-day, are 83 and 79, and have had 27 children, and have 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Mrs. Boxall had triplets once and twins thrice.

Without doubt "Mr. and Mrs. J. Boxall" are my 2x great-grandparents, James and Caroline BOXALL, but not everything in the story is true. Their ages are correct and the 15th April was the date of their wedding anniversary, but they were married in 1876, so it would have been their 60th wedding anniversary, not their 50th.

I believe the number of children is also wrong. I have only confirmed twelve so far, although the 1911 census says they had thirteen, and I don’t believe there were any more after 1911. It is possible that some were stillborn because the census does specify "Total Children Born Alive", and they were probably not registered or baptised. It is not the first time that I have heard this story, although I think the highest I had previously heard was 23 children, but even that seemed unlikely at the time.

I am not sure where this story originates, I can’t imagine that The Times had a correspondent in West Dean, so presumably this came from a local newspaper. I obviously need to check the local newspapers to see what they reported and if the wires have become crossed at some stage. I would really like to find out the truth behind this story.

As I scrolled up the page there was another story that caught my eye:

James Horace Dunford, 28, Malling Street, Lewes, a permanent way employee attached to Lewes Station, was killed when crossing the railway line yesterday by a train from Eastbourne, which he apparently failed to notice.

Could this be one of my relations as well? I have a Horace James DUNFORD, from Lewes, Sussex who would have been 28 years old in 1936. I don’t know much about the DUNFORDs, Horace James was the son of Horace DUNFORD and his wife Margaret GASSON (my 2x great-aunt).

The coincidence seems too great, the death is registered under the name James Horace DUNFORD, and I can’t find a death record for a Horace James DUNFORD. Of course there are lots of other scenarios that could lead to Horace James not being in the GRO Death Indexes, such as immigration or death whilst on military service. Again I probably need to look at some local newspapers, perhaps a coroners report and maybe employment records from the railway. I really need to find some mention of his parent’s names or those of his siblings.

Finding one of these stories was quite a surprise, but to find two in the same newspaper (and so close to each other on the same) was really unexpected, especially as neither story is really of national interest. I would never have dreamt of searching in The Times for either of these events, but I certainly will be in the future.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 41

10 Oct

Last week got off to a slow start, or rather it got off to a very quick start and before I knew it I was half-way through the week and hadn’t really achieved much. This spurred me into action and although I didn’t really achieve a great deal I did come to a decision about yet another new project that I want to start.

My recent visit to West Dean, Sussex has brought the project into focus, but it was something that I had been meaning to start for a long time. I had been intending to write a series of blog posts about the BOXALLs of West Dean remembered on the parish war memorial, the plan was for this to be in time for Remembrance Day this year.

There are six BOXALLs mentioned on the war memorial and at least four of them are related to me. My plan is to fill in some details on my family tree and hopefully identify my relationship to all six of the men, and provide some details on them and their service. So I am going to kill two birds with one stone, fill in some details on my family tree and generate some material for a few blog posts.

I have no doubt that I will still find other things to distract me whilst carrying out the research on this particular project, hopefully this focus will encourage me to get on with some research and I am already planning to visit the West Sussex Records Office and Chichester Library in the next couple of weeks. There is much I can do online as well, and there is a lot that I need to do before I go the WSRO.

What to call Singleton Church?

18 Jun

After walking part of the South Downs Way on Wednesday I took the bus to Singleton, West Sussex, just to have a quick look around the village and especially the parish church, which is really the only place that I knew for certain had a connection with my BOXALL ancestors.

Singleton parish church

A notice on the door proclaimed the church to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it wasn’t until I was on the way home that I thought something was quite right with that.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered seeing a postcard which had referred to it as being dedicated to the St John the Evangelist, now I was confused. It is not unheard of for postcard publishers to get their captions wrong on postcards, but I am sure it wasn’t just on one postcard that I had seen that name, had I imagined it?

I went online in search of an answer, to the catalogues of the West Sussex Record Office on Access to Archives, and soon found the answer among the catalogue of records for the parish of Singleton:

Administrative history:

Surviving medieval sources indicate, but do not prove absolutely, that Singleton church was originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The dedication appears to have been lost after the Reformation, and the church was simply referred to as the parish church. A misreading by C. Gibbon in ‘Dedications of Churches and Chapels in West Sussex’ (SAC vol. 12, 1860) of money bequeathed to Sir John of Singleton as money bequeathed to St. John of Singleton, led to the belief for the next century that the church was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. When the error was discovered, the church was rededicated in March 1979, and is now the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Singleton. (See SAC vol. 118, p.385-387)

So it seems that I hadn’t imagined the wrong name, it had once been dedicated to St John the Evangelist, mistakenly as it turned out, and then in 1979 it reverted back to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The postcard would almost certainly have been published in the early 1900s when it was known as St John the Evangelist. It also seems that for a period it didn’t have a dedication at all.

This raises questions for my research and I certainly need to be careful how I refer to the church in my research. Would my ancestors have known it as St John the Evangelist? or just the parish church? What do the actual parish registers record as the dedication? I sure know how to make things more complicated for myself.

Interior of Singleton parish church

Missing (but now found) from the 1911 census transcription

12 Feb

The birth certificate of Walter Henry BOXALL encouraged me to investigate what happened to his mother Alice Ruth and her husband Walter William WEST, one source I checked was the 1911 census.

It took me quite a bit of searching to find the couple and their five children. I had almost given up on finding them, even trying a search of the passengers lists to see if they had left the country. I found a death entry in the GRO indexes that seemed to indicate that Alice was still living in Sussex when she died in 1968, and this encouraged me to continue searching.

I tried so many different searches, it didn’t help from my side that I didn’t have a reliable date of birth for Walter William WEST, but it expected to be able to find the couple together in Sussex, somewhere near Chichester.

Eventually I found Walter William WEST, living in Cocking, Sussex, according to the transcription he had six children, but his wife was missing. Curiously there were two sons with the same name (Charles), age (9 years) and place of birth (West Dean, Sussex). I thought that a bit bizarre, but all was revealed when I checked the actual census page.

There was only one Charles on the page, and there was Alice the wife of Walter William. In the transcription Charles had been duplicated and somehow Alice had been missed altogether. I have submitted a correction, in fact six or seven corrections, so that hopefully anyone searching for Alice in future will not have the same problem as me.

Ironically, this particular page was one of the neatest I have seen in my searches, Walter William WEST had the sort of handwriting that I wish all my relations had, clear and legible, not what you would expect from a labourer on the railways.

Generally though I have found that the 1911 census transcription is pretty good, although I do find the odd mistake now and then, but nothing as major as an individual actually missing.

Walter Henry BOXALL’s birth certificate

11 Feb

The three certificates I ordered from the GRO last week have arrived, with mixed results. The first one I will deal with is the birth certificate of Walter Henry BOXALL.

At last I now can put Walter Henry BOXALL in the correct place in my family tree, he was my first cousin twice removed, the son of Alice Ruth BOXALL, who was one of the sisters of my great-grandmother Lilian Mary BOXALL.

Walter Henry was born at 10 Arthur Street, Caerleon, Monmouthshire, Wales, on the 27th May 1897. His mother is recorded as domestic servant at the same address, but there are no details for his father.

To be honest I am not too worried about the identity of his father at the moment, and I doubt I will ever get around to doing any further research into his father, at least I have his mother’s name which is enough to fit him into my tree.

Of course it is quite interesting to speculate about why Alice was in Caerleon. Had she really found a job there or had she been sent away to have her child? Was she staying with relatives? Did she get pregnant before she moved to Wales? It would be interesting to know, but they are all questions that are going to be hard (if not impossible) to answer.

I already knew what happened to Walter Henry, he was killed during the First World War (I still need to write a summary of his army service), but I had not done any work on his mother, so that was my next step.

It turned out that she married Walter William WEST in West Dean, Sussex in March 1901, he was a platelayer on the railway (which really pleases me, another railwayman in my family tree) and they had at least five children.

Both Walter Henry and Alice Ruth were back in West Dean for the 1901 census, but living apart. Walter Henry was with his grandparents and Alice Ruth with her new husband. I guess this indicates that Walter William WEST was not the father of Walter Henry BOXALL.

So this birth certificate has done what I hoped, it has found a home for another orphan on my tree, and as an added bonus it has encouraged me to find out more about my 2x great-aunt Alice Ruth BOXALL.

February GRO certificate order

3 Feb

Birth, marriage and death certificates are one of the key sources in English family history, but are also one of the most expensive as well. At £7 a certificate, a genealogist on a budget (like me) can’t afford as many as they would like.

I try and ration myself to just three certificates a month, so I need to make sure they are not only the correct ones (my relations, not someone else’s), but also that they are going to benefit my research more than just providing an exact date of birth or cause of death.

After some careful thought this month’s lucky winners have been selected:

  • BIRTH – Walter Henry BOXALL (Q2 1897)

Walter Henry BOXALL is one of the orphans in my database, he is described in the 1901 census as the grandson of my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL, but there is no indication of his parents.

Tragically his life was cut short by the First World War. Interestingly his birth was registered in Wales, not Sussex, where I would have expected it. I really would like to be able to correctly place him in my family tree and try to piece together the reason why he was in born in Wales.

  • MARRIAGE – Ernest John TROWER and Emma P WILDING (Q1 1913)

Ernest John TROWER was the son of Mercy TROWER, who should need no introduction by now. I am hoping that the marriage certificate will identify his father, whose identity has so far remained a mystery. This may give me a clue to the identity of Mercy’s husband.

Interestingly I cannot find any details of Emma WILDING. I was hoping I could find out where she came from so that I might find a record of their marriage locally, but so far she has remained elusive.

  • DEATH – Jane K TROWER (Q4 1922)

Jane TROWER is another daughter of Henry and Jane TROWER, making her the sister of Mercy TROWER, she was my 3x great-aunt. There is a large gap in my knowledge of her life between the 1881 census and her death in 1922 and burial in Henfield, Sussex.

I am hoping that her death certificate will give me a few clues, at least it should tell me where she was living, and the identity of the informant might give me another clue. Even the cause of death may help me identify where she had been hiding.

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