Tag Archives: canterbury

News: Canterbury Cathedral records to go online at findmypast.co.uk

29 Jan

The most exciting news for me this week was the announcement from findmypast.co.uk that they are going to be digitizing parish records from the Archdeaconry of Canterbury.

Starting “in the coming weeks” the website will be adding the Canterbury Collection to its existing collection of parish register records. This has been timed to coincide with the temporary closure of their current home, Canterbury Cathedral Archives.

Initially the collection will consist of just browsable images, but the records will ultimately be transcribed and an index provided “later this year”.

I have written several times about my difficulties in researching in Kent, so this marks a great step forward for me. The county of Kent has been under-represented online until now and although most of my interests are further west nearer the Sussex border (the Archdeaconry of Canterbury covers eastern Kent) I am sure this is going to prove a valuable asset in my research.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Did Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT spend time in Canterbury?

19 Jan

A few months ago I ordered a copy of the will of Henry WRIGHT (as he was known when he died), it wasn’t particularly detailed and didn’t contain any major revelations or death-bed confessions, just the usual stuff you would expect to find.

From a genealogical point of view the helpful feature of the will was a list of all his children, which gave the married names of his daughters. This is a great help if you are trying to piece together a family tree and don’t have copies of marriage certificates or access to the relevant parish registers.

Most interesting to me was Henry’s eldest daughter Mary Ann because she (like my 2x great-grandmother Harriet) was born before the family moved to Alton, Hampshire. Knowing that Mary Ann had married Henry William TRIMMER has led to a couple of interesting discoveries:

1.  When she married her name was recorded as Mary Ann LAY – LAY was Mary Ann’s mother’s maiden name, suggesting that Mary Ann was born before Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY were married, and thus raising the question of whether she was actually Henry’s daughter. I need to get the full marriage certificate to see who she named as her father.

2. Mary Ann claimed to have been born in Canterbury, Kent – Knowing Mary Ann’s married name has enabled me to trace her in the census and the information about her place of birth is pretty consistent. Whether Canterbury actually means the city itself or whether it means somewhere nearby remains to be discovered.

Although at first glance the Henry’s will didn’t look particularly helpful (or to be honest particularly interesting) it has provided a lead to some potentially useful information, which I may not have found easily because I wouldn’t have looked for a marriage of Mary Ann LAY.

Harriet WRIGHT is giving me sleepless nights

8 Jun

I awoke this morning and it felt like my brain hadn’t been to sleep. I am sure that whilst the rest of me was sleeping my brain was going through possible name variants and spellings for Harriet WRIGHT (or whatever her name was).

At 7am this morning I very nearly ordered the birth certificate for one of Harriet’s siblings, but I stopped at the last minute, just as I was about to enter my debit card details.

What stopped me (apart from not liking to spend money, especially that early in the morning!) was the fact that I probably already know Harriet’s mother’s maiden name. I am convinced it is SHOREDEN/SHAWDEN/SHALDEN or some variant thereof.

It is my guess that Henry WRIGHT (Harriet’s father) and Sarah SHOREDEN (Harriet’s mother) never saw the need to get married and just lived together under his name as husband and wife.

However, when it came to naming children things got more complicated and the surname recorded depended on who asked for it, how the question was worded and to whom the question was asked.

I could be wrong (quite likely) but that is my only hypothesis at the moment. So initially I am going to be searching for the baptisms of Henry and Sarah, in the hope of being able to work forward and locate Harriet’s birth and baptism (and their 1841 census entry).

Both of their dates of birth are pretty consistent across the census years, Henry was born in 1811 and Sarah in 1821 and this is confirmed by their entries in the GRO death indexes.

Places of birth are a different matter, for Henry the choice of place of birth is not too bad, either Ospringe (Kent), Canterbury (Kent) or Alton (Hampshire), with Ospringe being the most popular. For Sarah there are more options, Alton (Hampshire), Harrow (Middlesex), Deptford (Kent) or Lincolnshire. I think I can rule out Lincolnshire and Alton, but the other two are quite plausible.

Of course I need to bear in mind that all of the census returns could be wrong, and none of these are the correct places, but it is one of the few records I have to go on. Wish me luck!

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