Tag Archives: drapper

Time to pull myself out of a genealogy slump

9 May

The last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet for my family history research. Apart from doing a little bit of filing, which took far longer than it should have, I haven’t really done my family history work.

I have done quite a bit of reading and an awful lot ofworrying about what I should be doing, but not actually getting down to actually doing any research. It hasn’t helped that there have been plenty of distractions this last couple of months.

I have been working longer hours recently, the weather has been fantastic enabling me to get out and do some walking (with lots of bank holidays providing me the opportunity to get out and about). On top of that we have entered lawn mowing season and several hours a week have been spent cutting my parent’s grass.

So I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing but I am starting to miss the pleasure of family history research. I am missing the excitement of waiting for a certificate to arrive, the sense of discovery in following a previously unexplored line or the challenge of overcoming a brick wall.

I need to try to get back into a routine again, of doing some family history research every evening after work. There are plenty of projects I could be working on at home, without having to get out to an archive. I am still supposed to be trying to find all my 5x great-grandparents and although I am going to be more reliant on visiting archives for this, there is still a lot I can do at home.

This week I am going to try to get a birth certificate ordered for one of the children of Thomas and Mary WELLER of Twineham, Sussex. This should give me Mary’s maiden name and give me the confidence to explore this branch of my family tree with some certainty.

Whilst I am waiting for the certificate to arrive I need to get back into my DRAPPER/NICHOLLS research, if only in preparation for a visit to an archive. I know that visit probably won’t be soon, but at least I can be ready for it when the time does come.

The other thing I want to work on is the Gun Inn/Farm in Blackboys, Sussex. Whilst organising my notes a couple of weeks ago I went through my notes from the license registers and need to tie all these together with newspaper reports and other census and directory information to create a history of the inn (technically it was actually a beerhouse).

I have a couple of other non-genealogy tasks to complete this week, but once I get them out of the way I am going to get stuck back in again!

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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It’s been a bad week for my family history… so far

21 Apr

Once again I seem to have achieved very little this week when it comes to family history, in fact I don’t really know where the time has gone.

I have done much thinking about family history, but not much real work. That thinking about family history usually pays off in the long run, it usually helps me organise my thoughts and plan the way forward on particular projects.

I know what I need to do next with the NICHOLLS/DRAPPER families from Kent, a little bit more research from home using the IGI and the census to build up a basic framework and then head for an archive or library to check some copies of the original parish registers.

I know that project is going to grind to a halt shortly as I wait for the opportunity to visit that archive or library, so I have lined up my next project, working on Thomas WELLER and his wife (possibly Mary NEWNHAM). This puts me back on home territory (Sussex) again and hopefully I should be able to make some progress on this without too many problems.

The next step for Thomas and Mary WELLER is to prove I have found the correct marriage, I should be able to do this by ordering the birth certificate of one of their children. I would like it to be Mary Ann WELLER my 3x great-grandmother but I am having trouble finding the correct reference, so it might have to be one of her brothers.

The good news is that the long Easter weekend means that I should have opportunity to get on with some family history. Unfortunately I can’t spend all four days on my family history, but should have enough time to get a decent amount done.

Is Compasses pointing me in the right direction?

6 Apr

I like to know about the places my ancestors lived and worked, and if possible go and visit those places and explore the area, but until the other day I don’t think I had ever come across a situation in my research where an address has potentially solved a mystery for me.

I was looking the problem of Thomas NICHOLLS (my 4x great-grandfather) of Kent, hoping to be able to find his parents. I know his father’s name and a rough period for his year of birth. Whilst searching the IGI I came up with a possible baptism in Leigh, Kent. Thomas’ wife ended up living in Leigh when she re-married after his death and it is next door to Chiddingstone where Thomas and Martha had a couple of children. The connections with Leigh were strong enough to investigate this baptism record further.

The parents of this Thomas were James and Grace NICHOLLS and I hoped that they might still be alive in 1841 so that I could find them in the census. There were no obvious hits for them in Kent, either as a couple or as individuals, so I decided to change my approach. I decided to switch to the old-fashioned way of doing things, searching the census page by page, line by line, looking for any clues to their whereabouts. Leigh was a fairly small place in 1841 and it didn’t take long to find a pair of NICKELS children living with Joseph and Grace STONE in one of several properties in Leigh called Compasses.

Of course no relationship is shown in the 1841 census, but the age difference between Joseph and Grace led me to believe that this was Grace NICHOLLS, but having lost her husband she had re-married and the two children were from her first marriage. The IGI shows a marriage for Joseph STONE and Grace NICHOLLS in 1833 in nearby Sundridge, Kent (where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married) but it doesn’t tell me if she was a widow or not.

So it looks to me like James and Grace NICHOLLS were married and had at least three children (including a Thomas, but not necessarily my Thomas). James then died and Grace re-married. Her two young children came with her when she married. The problem is the “not necessarily my Thomas” bit, as far as I can see there is only one piece of evidence to link my Thomas to James and Grace.

Joseph and Grace STONE were living at Compasses, Leigh which is the same group of properties where Thomas’ wife ended up living. It could just be a coincidence because there are several properties of the same name, but it gives the strongest evidence so far of a connection. Without more evidence I can’t be absolutely positive, but it is certainly worth investigating further.

It is almost certainly worth investigating the place as well as the people, if rate books are available for the parish I might be able to fill in the gaps between the census and see if there was a period of continuous habitation by the NICHOLLS family. They almost certainly wouldn’t have owned the property, instead it was probably tied to a job at the local farm.

I will also “adopt” this new family and try to find out some more about them. Trying to find a link from that family to mine whilst continuing to work the other way from my known ancestors. I can’t believe just how complex this little branch of my family tree is becoming, things seem to be slotting together far too neatly for my liking.

The contrasting DRAPPER and NICHOLLS families

3 Apr

So far my research into the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS (my 3x great-grandmother) has provided a contrasting picture of the families of her parents. The contrast stems from the fact that I know a lot about her mother’s side of the family (DRAPPER) and almost nothing about her father’s side of the family (NICHOLLS).

Almost everything I know is about the DRAPPER family. Starting with the marriage of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER in 1840 where both of the witnesses were DRAPPERs. In the 1841 census Thomas and Martha are living with the DRAPPERs (her father and siblings). After the death of Thomas (before 1851), Martha and the two children are living with various DRAPPER families.

All I know about the NICHOLLS family is that Thomas’ father was James. I don’t know the name of Thomas’ mother or have the names of any of his siblings. This obviously poses a major problem as I am not even sure when and where Thomas was born.

It would be easy for me to jump to conclusions and assume that there was some sort of division between the families, but in reality it is almost certainly down to a lack of data, and the fact that all these events (marriage and census) only provide us with a snapshot of their lives. I have no idea what else was going on between these events.

The good news is that I think I might have a lead on Thomas’ parents, the problem is that at the moment I don’t see any way of proving the connection, but you never know something may present itself as I keep on digging.

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER

1 Apr

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER arrived last Saturday whilst I was enjoying myself at Haywards Heath and to be honest I was a little disappointed by the result.

Most of what I knew was correct, the date was the 21st March 1840 not the 15th as I had expected, but that was really the important bit.  The important information was the name of the bride and groom’s fathers.

From the census I already knew Martha’s father was George DRAPPER (the certificate confirmed this) but it was Thomas’ father I was most interested in. He was named as James NICHOLLS, a labourer. This was a bit of a set back because I was hoping it was going to be Joshua. I had found a very likely looking baptism for Thomas (and several other siblings) in Blean, Kent but his parents were Joshua and Mary NICHOLLS.

Of course it is always possible that the marriage certificate was wrong, possible but unlikely. Unfortunately this little project is not working out quite as nicely as I had hoped.

I really need to find out a more exact birth date for Thomas. All I have at the moment is the 1841 census where he is recorded as 20 years old, but this may or may not have been rounded down correctly. The marriage certificate just gives both bride and groom as being of full age.

The next step is to investigate Thomas’ death, to pinpoint the date of his death and how old he was when he died and if I am “lucky” there might also be an interesting cause of death to follow-up.

Ellen NICHOLLS: the story gets even more complicated

29 Mar

Just when I thought I was starting to get a handle on my 3x great-grandmother Ellen NICHOLLS and her parents Thomas and Martha NICHOLLS, along comes something that has me shaking my head in disbelief.

Thomas died before 1851 and the family (Martha and her daughters Mary and Ellen) appears to have split up. I could find the individual members of the family in 1851 but never knew what became of Mary and Martha or where Ellen was in 1861 (by 1871 Ellen was in Lewes, Sussex).

In all honesty I hadn’t put a lot of effort into finding the family members before, just a few simple searches of the GRO BMD indexes and census returns, but last night I actually sat down and put some time and thought into the search.

When I actually put some thought into what I was doing it didn’t take long to find Martha. I knew her place and year of birth so I was able to search the 1861 census using just that information and her first name. There were only a few results, none with the surname of NICHOLLS or DRAPPER, so it was a simple case of checking for marriages to see if one of them was previously a NICHOLLS.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I checked the census entry for William and Martha GASSON, surely she couldn’t have married a GASSON. I have enough GASSONs in my family tree already, adding another who was probably distantly related would just make things more confusing.

According to the census entry William and Martha’s eldest child was Ellen GASSON aged 14, born in Blean, Kent, better known to me as Ellen NICHOLLS. It was quite easy to confirm William and Martha’s marriage, not in Kent as I had expected but in neighbouring Surrey (Q1 1854 in Godstone Registration District), where Martha’s surname had been recorded as NICKOLS.

The tragic end to the tale is that it looks like Martha died in 1866 aged just 45 years (William is shown as a widower in the 1871). The unfortunate Ellen NICHOLLS had now lost both her parents before reaching 21 years old.

To make things even more complicated the 1871 census shows William GASSON living with Thomas NICHOLLS, who is described as his son in law. I suspect this means that he was the son of Martha NICHOLLS before she and William were married (and after her first husband had died). Interestingly he is shown as Thomas GASSON in the 1861 census, and his age would mean he was born about a year before William and Martha were married.

This family is getting larger and more complicated with every piece of information I discover. It is certainly proving to be the most complicated set of relationships in my direct ancestry and I wonder just how much more complicated it can get.

Turns out I already knew where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married

24 Mar

It turns out that I already had a pretty good idea of where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married. Last week I went to the London Family History Centre and checked the parish registers for Chiddingstone, Kent expecting to find the marriage of my 4x great-grandparents.

I didn’t find the marriage, but I wasn’t really that surprised, the only reason I was expecting to find the marriage in Chiddingstone is because that is where the couple were living in the 1841 census, the year after they were married. I had hoped to avoid the cost of buying a certificate, but short of searching every nearby parish I had no real option but to order their marriage certificate.

Then last night as I was doing some digital filing I discovered that I already had a pretty good idea where the couple were married and even a very good idea of when. It seems that last time I was doing some research into the NICHOLLS family I had found the banns of marriage for Thomas and Martha, but hadn’t done anything with that information because I was unable to prove that they were the parents of my 3x great-grandmother Ellen NICHOLLS.

I had just filed that snippet of information away on my spreadsheet and completely forgot about it when I started looking at the family again. The good thing is that I wouldn’t have been able to check the marriage register last week anyway because the LFHC don’t hold that particular microfilm.

It might have saved me a little bit of time, but even that is unlikely as I still needed to check Chiddingstone marriages for Martha’s siblings. So in the end the impact wasn’t too great, but I could have wasted a lot of time and effort when I didn’t really need to.

Now I am pretty confident that Thomas and Martha were married in Sundridge, Kent (about 7 or 8 miles north of Chiddingstone). The banns were published in Chiddingstone (and presumably also in Sundridge) on the 23rd February, 1st March and 8th March 1840. From this the likely date for the marriage was 15th March 1840.

To my surprise Thomas was of the parish of Chiddingstone and Martha was of the parish of Sundridge. I had expected it to be the other way around, assuming that Martha and her family came from Chiddingstone and Thomas was travelling around to wherever there was work. I am sure future research will clarify the picture.

In the meantime I still need to wait patiently for the marriage certificate to confirm the date and place, and more importantly the father’s names for the bridge and groom.


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