Tag Archives: exton

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 25

20 Jun

My organising is done, for the time being at least. There will be plenty more organising to do in the future, and that is the challenge, to keep this state of affairs in the future. I still have to go through and create a template for all my file and folder names, but that shouldn’t take long.

Last week the GASSON and GEERING surname folders were sorted out, and I started doing some preparation for GEERING research. I feel a little in limbo now, I have my entire family history at my fingertips, my research could head in any direction I want, but I am not sure where to go next.

The GEERINGs are a definite, but before I get back to Hailsham and the druggists, I have a couple of service records to sort out, downloaded during the recent findmypast.co.uk free for all. After sorting these out I need to get to the East Sussex Record Office and check some records before I decide if there is anything else I can do.

I need to do a quick bit of research about the MITCHELLs of Exton, Hampshire, I need to make sure I have all the place names and dates ready for when I visit Exton as part of my South Downs Way walk.

This week I need to decide what to do next, do I throw all my resources and concentration into one big project or do I just fill in gaps in my research covering as many different branches as possible. Perhaps I should concentrate on one particular area, or time period. I don’t really know, so this week I will see which way my research takes me.

South Downs Way: Cocking to Queen Elizabeth Country Park

19 Jun

South Downs Way sign

I just can’t get enough of the South Downs at the moment, and although the weather was a little disappointing, it turned out to be one of the most memorable days for a long time, mostly for the right reasons.

It is getting more complicated to get to the start and get back from the end of these walks, but getting to the start provided the first surprise of the day, our train was held up because of a steam train! I knew there was a steam tour passing through Sussex today, but didn’t think I would actually see it. Not that I could actually see much, but it was unquestionably a steam train, a rare sight on the mainline this day and age.

After the train came a bus ride to Cocking Hill Car Park, and almost straight away a walk up Cocking Down. Halfway up the hill is a rather large chalk boulder (pictured below). Like a giant marble, it is begging to be pushed down the hill, but I guess it is probably fixed in some way (or too heavy to be moved). According to my guide book it a work by sculptor Andy Goldsworthy and is part of the Chalk Stone Trail.

Chalk boulder

Up on the top of the Downs the views are quite spectacular, unfortunately because of the combination of poor light and haze my photos don’t do them justice. To the south Portsmouth with it’s Spinnaker Tower was clearly visible, with the Solent and Isle of Wight beyond that.

Closer to the path the next point of interest was a cemetery, but not the sort of cemetery I am used to, there were no headstones at this cemetery. The Devil’s Jumps (part of which is pictured below) are described on the information board as being "the best example of a Bronze Age (2000BC – 800BC) barrow cemetery on the South Downs". The Downs are dotted with smaller barrows and tumuli but these certainly take some beating.

Devil's Jumps

Not far from the Devil’s Jumps is a much newer memorial, a nice flint built memorial to Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann, a German pilot. It seems rather unusual that a German pilot should be remembered in such a way, and the story is certainly worthy of further research, such as who actually put it there?

Flint memorial

The path continued in a north-westerly direction, before turning westwards near Mount Sinai and climbing up Pen Hill, there once again the were some spectacular views, this time mainly to the north-east. Dropping down from Pen Hill, you are confronted by the bulk of Beacon Hill. The South Downs Way actually goes around the side of Beacon Hill, but I took a quick detour up to the top to visit the trig point and admire the views.

Looking east from Beacon Hill

As you can see from the pictures, there was plenty of cloud about. There were larger gaps in the cloud which allowed the sun to briefly spotlight certain favoured parts of the landscape. For most of the walk though it was still pretty warm, despite the lack of sunshine.

The biggest surprise of the day came after retracing my steps down Beacon Hill and walking around it to the other side. I was just beginning the climb up from Bramshott Bottom to Harting Downs when I heard the sound of a plane, or was it a helicopter? It certainly didn’t sound right, not a normal light aircraft, something bigger perhaps? Suddenly a big black shape appeared above the trees, no wonder it didn’t sound right, it took me a few seconds to realise it was a Lancaster bomber, passing a couple of hundred feet above my head!

I quickly pulled my camera out, but only managed to catch it disappearing to the east. There is only one Lancaster bomber flying in this country, with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, but what was it doing over the South Downs?

After the physical and emotional high points the rest of the walk became rather disappointing, heading west from Harting Down the path entered a thin strip of woodland and the temperature seemed to drop dramatically, and I was glad to get out into the brief spells of sunshine again.

The path westward from Harting was quite a challenge, not so much physically, but mentally. I had been going for nearly four hours without a break, I was starting to get hungry, my legs were beginning to ache, but worst of all the South Downs Way was becoming boring.

There were no real views to speak of, the path was pretty flat and mostly farm tracks and roads. Worst of all it seemed to go on for miles, although in truth it was only a couple of miles. Then came the county boundary, leaving West Sussex and entering Hampshire, this should have been an occasion worth celebrating, but there was no sign marking the border and it wasn’t easy to tell I had crossed it. The only noticeable indicator was a slight change in the style of signposts.

It was a real struggle to keep going, I needed to find somewhere to sit down and have a bite to eat, ideally somewhere in the sun, preferably with a view and a bench, and definitely soon. But there wasn’t anywhere, finally as I came to a bend in the road, I seized the opportunity. There was a length of wood acting as a step up to a footpath, that would have to do for a seat.

Not your usual picnic spot

It wasn’t much of a picnic spot, but I set off after only ten or fifteen minutes rest with spring in my step. I had looked at the map, there were only about four miles to go, the end was almost in sight. Suddenly I heard bells, they were loud and clear, I thought for a moment it was a mobile phone ringtone, but no it was definitely church bells, presumably carried up on the wind from Buriton Church.

It didn’t take long to finish of the last four miles. The last two were through the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, with nice wide paths and lots of signposts. In the end it took me about five hours to walk the fourteen miles and was glad to finally sit down in the bus shelter, by the side of another busy road as usual.

Getting home wasn’t easy: bus to Petersfield, train to Havant, train to Horsham and finally a bus home. Although I didn’t have to wait long at each change of transport, it still took me about two and a half hours to get home, but at least I was sitting down all the way.

So now I am in Hampshire, with only two sections to go until Winchester, the signpost at the country park said 23 miles to Winchester. The next section is going to be interesting, it should finish in Exton, Hampshire the home of some of my MITCHELL ancestors. I am really looking forward to having a look around the village and at the church where some of them were baptised and buried. The problem is that I still haven’t worked out how I am going to get home from there.

Susannah POCOCK: the known facts

16 Nov

Susannah POCOCK is my 3x great-grandmother, and her claim to fame is that she is the only one of my ancestors for which I have been unable trace a set of parents.

The purpose of this post is to put out the known facts about Susannah POCOCK in the hope that someone somewhere knows who here parents were, or that someone has an idea where to go next.

Although I am using the christian name Susannah, she has also been recorded under the christian name Susan and Susanna, although Susannah has been most commonly used.

The earliest reference I have to Susannah is her marriage in New Alresford, Hampshire on the 16th January 1832 to William MITCHELL. Both were living in the parish of New Alresford at the time, William was a bachelor and Susannah was a spinster.

The two witnesses at the marriage were Ann WESTWOOD and John LOCKETT. William MITCHELL’s mother’s maiden name was LOCKETT, so I believe that John LOCKETT was almost certainly a relative of William. Ann WESTWOOD was probably Ann LOCKETT who married Richard WESTWOOD in January 1816, so again probably another relative from the MITCHELL side.

Susannah appears in six census returns from 1841 to 1891, in Exton, Hampshire. The 1841 census information is not as precise as later years, because of the rounding of the individual’s age and the question asked about the place of birth. However the later years do provide more useful data.

Census Year Age Place of Birth Calculated Year of Birth
1841 30* Hampshire 1807-11
1851 43 Micheldever, Hampshire 1808
1861 55 Micheldever, Hampshire 1806
1871 62 Micheldever, Hampshire 1809
1881 72 Micheldever, Hampshire 1809
1891 83 Micheldever, Hampshire 1808

*her actual age could have been anywhere between 30 years and 34 years.

All this data (with the exception of the 1861 census) seems to indicate a birth year of around 1807-09 and almost certainly in the parish of Micheldever.

According to the GRO Death Index Susannah died in Q2 1898 in Droxfield Registration District aged 90, pointing to a birth year around 1808. She was buried on the 28th April 1898 at Exton, Hampshire. The entry in the burial register gives her age as 90 years, so once again giving a birth year around 1808.

So all this data points to the fact that Susannah POCOCK was born in Micheldever, Hampshire around 1808. The problem is that there is no record of a baptism in Micheldever for Susannah POCOCK around that time. In fact there is no Susannah POCOCK baptism anywhere in Hampshire around that time. Without a baptism record I am unlikely to find out who her parents were.

The Hampshire Genealogical Society (HGS) Baptism Index only records the baptism of two Susannah POCOCKs, one in 1785 and another in 1827. There don’t appear to have been any POCOCK baptisms in Micheldever during the years covered by the index.

The HGS Baptism Index only includes Church of England baptisms, so there is the possibility that Susannah’s parents may have been non-conformists, but there was no non-conformist chapel in Micheldever around that time. If they were non-conformists then they could have worshipped almost anywhere in the county.

So where does this leave me, I have three other leads to explore, which I will detail over the next few days. It is probably worth me following up the names of the witnesses at the marriage of William and Susannah, to prove that they were both on the MITCHELL side of the family.

It might also be worth searching the registers of all non-conformist chapels close to Micheldever and then gradually working further out. Also there is a possibility that the baptism in 1827 could have been a late baptism for my Susannah, so I should try and rule that one out of the equation as well.

If anyone has any other suggestions then please let me know, all suggestions are welcomed, although there are very few avenues that I haven’t already explored.

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?

Preparing for another trip to Winchester, possibly!

21 May

I’ve been preparing for a visit to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, just in case I decide to go (still can’t make up my mind!)

In terms of research goals for this visit my main priority is to find the parents of my 3x great grandparents William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK, who married in New Alresford, Hampshire on the 16th January 1832. I have pretty consistent census information (ages and places of birth) for them, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem finding their baptism records.

Next I would like to find out some more details on Henry and Sarah WRIGHT (another pair of 3x great grandparents) who lived in Alton, Hampshire. I would hope to find baptism records for some of their children and maybe some clue as to where they were living before the moved to Alton. I also need to check for burial records and monumental inscriptions for both Henry and Sarah, in preparation for a visit to Alton at some stage in the future.

Hopefully I can also find some school records for the children of both the MITCHELLs and the WRIGHTs and try and get some more details on where they lived exactly in Exton and Alton. Then I need to do the same for William Henry and Harriet MITCHELL (2x great grandparents) which I started last time.

That should give me more than enough to be getting on with, but if I do run out of things to do then I can always start on some of the siblings of my 2x and 3x great grandparents, that is if I decide to go of course…!

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