Tag Archives: christmas tree project

Christmas Tree Project Update

19 Oct

Most of my work last week was focused on trying to find the 4x great grandparents for my Christmas Tree Project. All in all it was quite successful, but I have still have quite a bit of work to do.

The present state of play is that I am still missing four individuals, there are another three 4x great grandmothers where I have no maiden name for, only a married name, and there are a couple of connections I have made that are not as strong as I would have liked (like the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS).

The missing individuals are the parents of Susannah POCOCK, and the parents of Sarah Ann the wife of Henry SHORNDEN.

I don’t know Sarah Ann’s maiden name, I thought she was the SHORNDEN and Henry was the WRIGHT, but I have since found that to be wrong. Now I need to find out if Sarah Ann was the WRIGHT.

Logic would suggest that if they didn’t use Henry’s surname, then they used Sarah Ann’s instead, but logic and the WRIGHT/SHORNDEN family don’t seem to sit together well in the same sentence.

Tonight I have ordered a copy of the birth certificate for Henry SHAWNDEN, who I believe was the first of their children to be registered and baptised in Alton, Hampshire in the first quarter of 1842.

This promises to be the most eagerly awaited birth certificate yet (apart from my illegitimate grandfather’s one). If I were a betting man I would put my money on Sarah Ann being a WRIGHT, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost it all.

I just hope that the Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union settle their differences quickly so my certificate doesn’t get held up in the post too long.

Two birth certificates arrive

12 Oct

The two birth certificates that I ordered last week arrived today and they were both as I expected. Whilst it is re-assuring that I was able to identify the correct spouses for two of my 4x great grandfathers, it does mean that in effect I didn’t actually need to order them.

The first one was the birth certificate of William GEERING my 3x great grandfather, this confirmed that his mother was Eliza RICHARDSON. He was born on the 21st August 1843 and the only other useful piece of information on the certificate was that he was born in the parish of St John under the Castle, Lewes, Sussex.

The second certificate was the birth of Alfred George MITCHELL in Bolney, Sussex on the 23rd February 1841. This confirmed that his and his sister (my 3x great grandmother) Harriet’s mother was Mary SMITH. There wasn’t really anything else of use on that certificate.

Although I had to buy these two certificates to confirm the identity these two of my 4x great grandmothers, it does feel a bit of waste, as I already knew pretty much all that was on them. Still, I have been able to follow up on Eliza RICHARDSON and identify her baptism and her parent’s marriage as well, so that makes me feel a little bit better about it.

Missing from my Christmas Tree: The parents of William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK

9 Oct

Four of the missing individuals on my Christmas Tree Project stem from this couple. William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK are my 3x great grandparents, and were married on the 16th January 1832 in the parish of New Alresford, Hampshire.

To my knowledge they had ten children, including my 2x great grandfather William Henry MITCHELL (who I have written much about previously), and they appear to have spent most if not all of their married life in the parish of Exton, Hampshire.

I have found them in every available census from 1841 up to the 1881 for William (he died in 1888 aged 81) and the 1891 for Susannah (she died in 1898 aged 90).

The ages and places of birth are pretty consistent for both of them across the range of census years. William was born in Alresford, Hampshire and Susannah was born in Micheldever, Hampshire.

Their ages give a year of birth around 1807-08 for William, and 1808-09 for Susannah. There is a slight discrepancy with the 1861 census where both of them are a couple of years younger than they should be according to the other census data.

So there is a possibility that they may have been born slightly earlier, if the 1861 census was correct and the others are wrong, but that seems unlikely. Also the ages in the other census years also tie up with their ages in the GRO Death Indexes.

All of this seems quite straight forward, all I need to do is look in the parish registers for (New and Old) Alresford and Micheldever and there they will be. The problem, other than not having copies of the parish registers to hand, is that the baptisms for Micheldever are on the International Genealogical Index on familysearch.org and they don’t include Susannah or any other POCOCKs.

My saviour will hopefully be the Hampshire Baptism Index, this is available on CD from the Hampshire Genealogical Society and I know they have a copy at the Hampshire Record Office. I could buy a copy, but unlike the Sussex Marriage Index (from the Sussex Family History Group) I am not sure I will get enough use out of it to justify the cost. Perhaps one for my Christmas wish list.

POCOCK is an unusual enough surname that there shouldn’t be too many of them about and hopefully there will only be one Susannah in the right time frame. Hopefully I will be able to find William in Alresford without too much trouble, if not the problem will be just the opposite, there will probably be too many William MITCHELLs to choose from.

Time to schedule in a trip to Winchester I think. If I can find both sets of parents then I should hopefully be able to find out more details on their families, confirm what is in the index and hopefully go back a generation or two on the same visit. Now where is my calendar?

Ordering two birth certificates for my Christmas Tree Project

8 Oct

Last night I ordered two birth certificates from the GRO as part of my Christmas Tree Project. Both were in an attempt to find the maiden names of two of my 4x great grandmothers.

The first was for William GEERING, my 3x great grandfather (who may or may not have married Ellen NICHOLLS). His birth was registered in the Lewes Registration District in Q3 1843. I am sure it is the right William GEERING because I have his baptism in Lewes around the same time.

The only problem with this one was reading the page reference, it looks like 383 to me, but that middle number is not clear. I am expecting that it will show his mother’s maiden name as RICHARDSON, as that is the closest match I can find for a marriage between Richard GEERING and Eliza.

The marriage took place in Brighton on the 7th June 1829. To be honest if the marriage was in Lewes, Sussex I would probably have accepted it, but Brighton is just that bit further away so I want to be certain.

The second certificate is for Alfred George MITCHELL, he was the younger brother of my 3x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL. His birth was registered in the Cuckfield Registration District in Q1 1841.

I wouldn’t normally bother with getting the birth certificates for siblings of my ancestors, unless I was doing an in depth study of the family, but Harriet was born three or four years before the start of civil registration in 1837. Annoyingly I already have the birth date for Alfred George MITCHELL from his baptism record, but he was the easiest of Harriet’s brothers and sisters to locate in the indexes.

I am expecting this one to show that his mother’s maiden name was SMITH. My heart sank when I was searching for possible marriages and found the most likely one was between George MITCHELL and Mary SMITH in Cuckfield, Sussex on the 29th September 1828.

I suppose it inevitable that I would come across a SMITH in my direct ancestry eventually, I just hope there weren’t too many SMITHs in that part of Sussex at that time.

My Christmas Tree Project

5 Oct

I have mentioned my goal of having a chart of all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents printed in time for Christmas several time recently, but I thought it would be a good idea to go into some detail about my why I want to do this and what I want to achieve.

I have decided to call it My Christmas Tree Project because it is my family tree and I want it to be ready for Christmas, but mainly because I needed something short and simple to call it when I write or talk about it.

The finished product will be a printed chart, showing all my direct ancestors up to and including my 4x great grandparents. I am not sure if it is all going to fit on one chart and still be readable, I may have to have it printed in two halves.

The choice of 4x great grandparents was purely because that seemed the most achievable. I could have chosen 3x great grandparents and printed it tomorrow, but that would have given me nothing to aim for. Instead I now have a challenge to work towards, as well as a deadline.

I want to be able to show the tree around at Christmas when families gather, or visit. It will be a talking point, and whilst I don’t expect anyone to be able to add anything else to earlier generations, I do hope that I will be able to draw out information, and possibly photos of more recent ancestors.

Naturally part of it is an ego trip for me, being able to show off what I have achieved and show that all the time spent in front of the computer or in the record office and library has achieved something tangible.

So far most of my research has been trapped on my PC and more recently with the purchase of a netbook I have been able to share it easier, but I think people will be able to relate better to a printed chart than a small computer screen.

Of course a printed chart will only be able to contain a fraction of my research, for starters it will only have my direct ancestors on it, and I won’t be able to go into much detail on each individual, and will miss out some of the more interesting characters I have come across in my extended family.

The process of researching and preparing my data will also force me to review my data and fill in a lot of gaps that I have either forgotten to finish, or just skipped over on the way to something which seemed more interesting.

Currently I have twelve of my 4x great grandparents still to find, and five 4x great grandmothers whose maiden names I do not know yet. This week I will be putting together a plan to identify each of these seventeen individuals.

Some will be quite straight forward, such as requiring the purchase of a child’s birth certificate to provide the mother’s maiden name, but some are going to be more tricky because they are before the start of civil registration and detailed census returns.

Over the next couple of months I won’t be working exclusively on this project, and in many cases it will necessary to wait for a certificate to arrive or to get chance to visit a record office, so some of my other projects will get a look in. Also I won’t just stop at my 4x great grandparents, whilst I am at an archive it makes sense to carry on and try and go back further if possible.

Ultimately if I don’t find all 64 of my 4x great grandparents I am just going to have to live with the fact that my tree won’t look perfect, but in nature trees seldom do, so I shouldn’t get too hung up if mine doesn’t either.

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