Tag Archives: burial

Ellen NICHOLLS: a confession

10 Apr

I have written before about Ellen NICHOLLS and how she was causing problems in my research. In brief, the problem was that I had a baptism record for Ellen which was in the right place, with the correct spelling of her name, but the baptism was too early compared to other records. I had found no marriage record that would give me her father’s name.

I had accepted this baptism as the correct one, my justification was that her father died not long after her birth, and I have no idea where Ellen was in the 1851 or 1861 census, certainly not with her mother. I saw this as a good enough reason for Ellen not to know her exact age.

I have to confess that there was another reason why I accepted this baptism record as correct.

I wanted to have her father Thomas NICHOLLS as my 4x great-grandfather. His occupation was given as excavator, and to me this sounded like he was building the local railway. I wanted to be able to say that one of my ancestors helped build part of England’s railway network.

What is more he may have died whilst building the railway. That one of my ancestors lost his life helping to build part of England’s railway network was something that really appealed to me.

Of course this is not the way to build a family tree. We can’t pick and choose our ancestors, but in my defence I would say that the baptism was a pretty good match for my Ellen NICHOLLS.

What I discovered at the Centre for Kentish Studies today has left one branch of my tree looking decidedly unsafe. I was looking for a burial record for Thomas in the Chiddingstone parish registers, but what I found was a burial record for Ellen instead. The age was correct, she was just two years and nine months old, she was buried on the 7th February 1844.

I was gutted that I had made a fundamental mistake, I was feeling guilty and ashamed that I had been caught out. My desire to have a railway navvy in my family tree had lead me down the wrong route.

Fortunately I had not done any further research beyond trying to find out what had happened after Thomas’ death, so I haven’t wasted much time and effort on the wrong people.

Tombstone Tuesday: Dorothy May TROWER

9 Mar

This is a Tombstone Tuesday post with a difference. I mentioned on Sunday that I had found the burial place of Dorothy May TROWER (née BATEMAN) my great-grandmother. The reason that I hadn’t found it sooner was because there is no headstone.

I already knew that Dorothy was buried in the churchyard at Sayers Common, Sussex from the memorial card pictured below, but didn’t know exactly where.

In loving memory of Dorothy May TROWER

As you can see Dorothy died in 1916 aged just 27 years old. She left her husband of less than five years with two daughters, Dorothy Annie (not yet four years old) and Eleanor May (under six months old). It is my belief that is was Dorothy’s death that prevented (or saved) her husband Henry John TROWER having to serve in the First World War, but I have no proof of this yet.

Dorothy’s exact burial place was revealed on a plan of Sayers Common Churchyard at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 478/7/8). The catalogue description for the plan was not very inspiring, something along the lines of “Plan of burial ground of Christchurch, Sayers Common”. I have often looked at the entry and wondered what the plan actually showed.

The plan itself is about one metre square and was marked with the outline of the church (before it’s extension) , the paths and boundaries and most importantly burial plots. The plots were laid out in a grid like pattern, with the rows labelled by letters.

Some of the plots had names written in them, some were readable, some weren’t. There was a variety of handwriting, ink and legibility. I checked the area of the churchyard where the known TROWER headstones are and next to them in rather blurred writing was the name Dorothy May TROWER. It wasn’t clear, but unmistakably the name of my great-grandmother.

I couldn’t believe that I had actually found her resting place, to be honest it wasn’t something I had been looking for, which made the discovery all the more rewarding. There was also the thrill that comes from knowing that I was probably the only family member that knew where she was buried.

I have been there many times, photographing the graves and cleaning them up, but had never known my great-grandmother had been laid to rest so close to the rest of the family.

The exact location is shown in the photo below (taken in last June). Dorothy May TROWER is buried between the grave in the top-left (Ruth TROWER) and the double grave in the top-right (not my family) behind the one in the middle (Mabel Annie TROWER).

Sayers Common Churchyard

Are the Brookwood Cemetery records going online?

23 Feb

An email from Deceased Online announcing the release of approximately 32,000 burial records and 143,000 cremation records from Cambridge City Cemetery also hints at a forthcoming record release.

According to the email “…. the UK’s biggest cemetery (by burials) is coming to http://www.deceasedonline.com very soon.”

My immediate thought was Brookwood Cemetery, I checked the Brookwood website and they claim it is “the largest cemetery in Britain and is probably the largest in Western Europe.”

I could be jumping to conclusions here, but it sounds to me as if the Brookwood Cemetery Records are going to be available online later this year. The significance is that Brookwood was the main burial place for Londoners after 1854.

Brookwood Cemetery near Woking, Surrey was opened in 1854, and once boasted two railway stations receiving trains from it’s own railway terminus in London. According to their website there have been over 235,000 burials since 1854.

If my guess is correct the release of this database should elevate Deceased Online to the ‘A’ list British genealogy websites. Watch this space!

UPDATED 26/02/2010:  I spoke to a respresentative from Deceased Online today, and sadly it is not Brookwood they are talking about, not yet anyway.

Tombstone Tuesday: Jane TROWER

12 Jan

I wrote about Jane TROWER yesterday and the fact that I am missing several census entries for her.

At least I know when she died and where she was buried, because here is a photo of her headstone at the cemetery in Henfield, Sussex.

Gravestone of Jane TROWER

This photo was taken nearly two years ago in March 2008, on a bright spring morning, when the weather was obviously much better than it has been here recently.

Jane’s headstone is next to that of her parent’s and somewhere nearby in an unmarked grave is her brother Luther TROWER. In fact within ten metres of this headstone two other members of the same family are buried. Jane’s brother Abraham and his wife, and her sister Anne and her husband.

I really need to spend some time with the Framfield burial registers

10 Dec

It looks like I have very strong roots in the parish of Framfield, Sussex. This is very pleasing because not only does it seem a nice place and it is quite easy for me to visit, but also it is quite easy for me to access the records for the parish.

The original registers are held at the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO) in Lewes, East Sussex, but I already have easy access to indexes of the baptisms and marriages for the parish, thanks to the hard work of the Sussex Family History Group.

The one area I am lacking is burial records. I really need to pay the ESRO a visit and spend some serious time with the parish registers. I know it is not going to be a quick exercise, although I think the ESRO already have an unpublished index/transcription for some of the registers.

There must be hundreds of relations buried at Framfield, for which I have only found a few gravestones from my visit earlier in the year. I can see I am going to have to spend several hours in front of a microfilm reader extracting records in the new year.

Christmas Tree Project update – fill in the gaps

2 Nov

I still have four missing people, hopefully I should find at least one of them this week when the marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY arrives, but nothing should be taken for granted with that family. Two other from Hampshire will probably have to wait a couple of weeks, before I can do any more work on them down at Winchester.

Now my focus has turned to filling in the gaps with the ancestors I have already located and think about what I want to display on my finished chart. For each individual I would like to have a date and place for each of the following events: birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial. Also I would like to find a census entry for them in every census for which they were alive.

For display purposes I would also like some sort of general sentence that describes where they lived and another describing what they did for a living. This will probably have to be hand written (or hand typed), summarising information contained in many different sources rather than using the residence and occupation attributes. I haven’t decided about education yet, I probably don’t have enough information at the education of my ancestors to make it worth including.

Last week I downloaded a query from the Family Historian User Group query store (thank you to whoever upload that), which reports which census years are present for each individual. I then modified it to show all the birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial information I want, plus restricted it to only include me and six generations of my direct ancestors. I then saved the output as a tab-delimited text file and opened it up in Microsoft Excel.

The result was slightly surprising and rather disappointing, the query had worked without any problem, it was just that there were an awful lot of holes in my data. I added in a few formulas at the bottom of the data and came up with some statistics on how complete my data was based on the 123 individuals I have already found.

Marriage data was the best, I have 85% (105 out of 123) of the marriages for my direct ancestors, and I know at least one couple were never married, so that is never going to be 100%.

Birth dates are at 65% and birth places at 63%. The low figures I think are due to the fact that I have not entered a birth date or place when I already have a baptism record, rather than assume that the person was born just before the baptism and in the same parish I have left it blank. I need to see if I can find other data to confirm place of birth from the census and the GRO Indexes.

Baptism data is surprisingly low at 42%. I thought I had found more baptism records than that, as that is where much of my early research was focused.

There is quite a discrepancy between the date of death (53%) and place of death (45%). This discrepancy is largely due to me not assuming that the person died in the same parish as they were living previously or where they were buried. This is never going to be 100%, at least not whilst I am still alive!

Perhaps the most surprising figure of all is that for burials, I only have dates and places for 28% of the individuals. Like baptisms I would have expected to have found more, but I guess I haven’t really been killing off my ancestors and burying them as diligently as I should have. Again this is never going to be 100% whilst I am still alive.

I haven’t paid too much attention to the census data. I will save that for once I have established birth and death (or baptism and burial) dates for as many as possible, although in some cases the census data helps find when an individual died leaving their spouse behind.

Now I need to stop analysing and start researching, I want to have as much data as possible in place for the end of November, so I can spend the first couple of weeks in December tweaking the chart and getting it printed.

A quick dip into the London Historical Records on Ancestry.co.uk

17 Sep

I only had time for a brief look in the new London Historical Records on Ancestry.co.uk last night, but it has thrown up a few interesting records. All my searches were focused on the family of Thomas KINGHORN my 3x great grandfather.

The marriage of Margaret KINGHORN

I was able to find the marriage entry for Thomas’ daughter Margaret, and confirm that the marriage I had found in the GRO Marriage Index was the correct one. She married Thomas Christopher GREGORY at Saint George, Bloomsbury on the 4th January 1864.

One of the facts that confirmed that this was the correct marriage, apart from her father’s name and occupation, was the fact that one of the witnesses was Margaret’s brother Wybrants. So not only do I have the marriage details for Margaret, I also have another sighting of Wybrants my elusive half 3x great uncle.

Now I can follow the marriage up with census searches to identify what happened to Thomas and Margaret GREGORY during their married life, and I will probably be back into the London parish registers to find their children’s baptisms.

The burial of Eliza KINGHORN x2

I was surprised to find burial records for both Eliza KINGHORNs, Thomas’ second wife and his only daughter by her, in St Marylebone parish in 1851. I had expected to find them in St James Westminster.

The younger Eliza was only 12 days old when she died, and her mother had died when she was only three or four days old and before she had even been baptised. Both died of small pox.

Curiously the abode (Foley Street) given on the burial entry for both mother and daughter is not the same as the address given on the death certificate (10 Great Windmill Street). I have the address in Great Windmill Street from other sources so that has left me puzzled.

I am sure they are the correct individuals, so I can only assume that as they died of small pox they were being cared for (or isolated) elsewhere in Foley Street. That is going to need a bit more investigation.

Missing Westminster parishes

It appears that several of the Westminster parishes that I need to search, such as St Annes Soho and St James Piccadilly, are not available. Whether they ever will be or not I don’t know, I believe the original registers are held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre and not the London Metropolitan Archives. I need to seek some clarification from Ancestry, as well as letting them know there are no source citations for the St George Bloomsbury marriage entries I looked at.

Despite only a brief time spent in the collection it has proved quite fruitful, and I have created myself more work to do in the process!

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