Tag Archives: framfield

Tombstone Tuesday: Benjamin and Charlotte WREN

1 Dec

I mentioned Benjamin WREN of Framfield, Sussex yesterday, so what better reason to show you a picture of his gravestone, photographed back in May 2009 when I visited Framfield.

There is some writing around the top of the stone, which I can’t make out, but the main part of the inscription is very clear:

OF
BENJAMIN WREN,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
DECEMBER 21ST 1852
IN THE 50TH YEAR OF HIS AGE
ALSO OF
CHARLOTTE, HIS WIDOW.
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
NOVEMBER 19TH 1882,
IN THE 83RD YEAR OF HER AGE.
IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH.

Which WREN is which?

30 Nov

I was updating the details for my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin WREN last night, when I came across another potential stumbling block with the identity of his parents.

I knew from the census that Benjamin was born around 1803 in Framfield, Sussex. In the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive there is a baptism for a Benjamin WREN in Framfield on the 7th Jan 1803. His parents were Thomas and Sarah WREN, so whilst I was there I looked for other children of Thomas and Sarah.

I came up with another ten children, the earliest was Mary, baptised in 1768, and the last child was Hannah, baptised in 1810. I cursed my ancestors for giving me so much work to do when I wanted to get to bed, but something didn’t seem right.

The forty year time span seemed unlikely, and the last two entries were for Thomas senior and Sarah. So, much like the situation with the HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey, it seemed like I had a couple of different Thomas and Sarah’s here producing children at the same time.

When I checked the Sussex Marriage Index things became a little clearer. There are three marriages of Thomas WREN to a Sarah around that time in Framfield. Firstly a Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD in 1764, then a Thomas WREN married Sarah CORNWALL in 1783 and lastly Thomas WREN married Sarah COLEMAN in 1800. The final marriage was by licence, which reveals more helpful information. Thomas WREN was a widower aged 60 and Sarah COLEMAN was a widow aged 36, both were from Framfield.

So it looks like Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD, had several children including a Thomas in 1772, but he was not the middle Thomas. Then Thomas’ first wife died and he married Sarah COLEMAN who was many years younger than him, carried on having children.

The question is which set of Thomas and Sarah’s were the parents of my Benjamin WREN? I can rule out Thomas WREN and Sarah HARTFIELD, as presumably she had died before Benjamin was born, because Thomas had re-married by then, but it seems like it could be either of the other two.

My next step will to have a look at burial records for Framfield, and hopefully the burials for Sarah WREN will help separate the two. There is also the possibility that one of the Thomas’ left a will which might help differentiate between the two.

Picture Postcard Parade: Church and Lich Gate, Framfield, Sussex

7 Nov

This is another gem from the WSFHS Open Day and Family History Fair last weekend. The subject will need no introduction to readers of my blog. I have featured Framfield church several times because of its connection to my HEMSLEY ancestors.

Church and Lich Gate, Framfield

This card was published by J. Frisby of Uckfield, it was posted in Uckfield on the 14th November 1912. It was sent to Mr J. Bolton of 11 Commercial Street, Scarborough. The message is a little cryptic: Dont think we have forgotten you altogether. We heard about you having one of our set in the Church. What do you think of the Lytch Gate.

A couple of different postcards of the church can be found in my posts Framfield Church postcard – another new addition to my collection and Framfield Photos: Part Three – Framfield church then and now

Another late night with the WRENs

22 Sep

My quick bit WREN follow up research took longer than expected, the problem was that at this stage I didn’t want to get too drawn into the family, but it was very difficult to get to a point where I could stop without leaving things unfinished.

The particular problem was the fact that Charlotte WREN, my 4x great grandmother was living with her son Charles and his wife (and their family) on the 1881 census and with two of her grandchildren on the 1871 census. I couldn’t just record Charlotte and leave the rest of the family off.

So I added Charles and his wife Mary, but I couldn’t stop there I had to find her maiden name, interestingly it was GASTON one of the variants of my own surname, and details of their marriage from the GRO Marriage Index.

Then came the children, seven or eight of them altogether, with some very strange spellings of their christian names on a couple of them. I had to check the GRO Birth Indexes to see what the names were meant to be.

So what should have been a quick little exercise has taken me three or four times longer than I had planned, but I just couldn’t leave the job half done. Hopefully tonight I will be able to get on with some more filing and organising.

Stretching the branches of my tree wider

21 Sep

I couldn’t resist a bit of follow up work on one of the pieces of information I picked up at the West Sussex Record Office on Saturday.

It was the marriage entry for Henry HEMSLEY and Charlotte WREN (my 3x great grandparents) in Framfield, Sussex on the 25th February 1853. I was already quite confident about the details, but this confirmed the father’s names for both parties, Samuel HEMSLEY and Benjamin WREN.

It was Charlotte’s side that I decided to follow as I already had some details for Samuel HEMSLEY. I did the usual thing of tracing Benjamin and his wife Charlotte (and their children) back through the census. This threw up a couple of surprises.

According to the census Benjamin was born in Framfield around 1803, and according to the 1841 census he was an inn keeper. In 1851 he was just shown as a farmer. Now the interesting thing is that Benjamin’s son-in-law Henry HEMSLEY was later to become licensee of the Gun Inn at Blackboys, was this the same inn? Was it passed down from Benjamin to his daughter and/or son-in-law?

When I visit the East Sussex Record Office I need to see what licensing records exist from Framfield parish and also see whether Benjamin WREN left a will.

The second surprise was with Benjamin’s wife Charlotte. I am pretty certain that her maiden name was THATCHER, what I am not sure about is where she was born. Charlotte survived her husband by about 30 years so there are more census records, but each census year gives me a different place:

1841 – Same county, so she was born in Sussex

1851 – Cleavedon, Somerset

1861 – Bristol, Somerset

1871 – Framfield, Sussex

1881 – Somewhere in Somerset, which I can’t read

So Somerset wins three votes to two. It looks like one of the branches of my family tree now stretches out to Somerset, probably somewhere around the Bristol area. I will probably have to try out the new 1881 census images on findmypast.com to see if I can read that place name for 1881.

So I still have more work to do, especially with such conflicting data, but either way I have added another two 4x great grandparents to my tree, bringing the total to 42 out of 64.

Ambrose DRIVER and the day Sussex died

17 Aug

Today I was doing some sorting out of the photos I took last May over at Framfield, Sussex. I have been meaning to get all the gravestones sorted out, transcribed and where possible integrated into Family Historian. As I was separating the gravestone photos from general photos of the church and churchyard I took a closer look at the war memorial inside the church.

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

I hadn’t really paid much attention to it before, I think I checked for HEMSLEYs when I was there but there weren’t any, as I looked down the list I noticed the name Ambrose DRIVER. That name rang a bell and I was certain he was in my family tree.

I checked my family tree and sure enough I had an Ambrose DRIVER, my 2x great uncle. I checked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and there he was at the top of the search results, and he was listed as the son of Thomas and Ellen DRIVER my 2x great grandparents. No doubt about it.

I did the usual searches on ancestry.co.uk for a medal roll index card, service record and Soldiers Died in the Great War, picking up bits and pieces here and there. There appears to be no surviving service record (which is not surprising) but I now have a basic outline of his details, and perhaps I can find more with a search in the local newspapers. The Royal Sussex Living History Group website even has a photo of Ambrose’s gravestone at Bethune Town Cemetery, which is not really a substitute for going and visiting in person, but is probably the closest I will get for the time being.

Not only that but I also have a pretty good idea of the action in which he was wounded and which lead to his death. It appears the he would have been part of the Battle of the Boar’s Head on the 30th June 1916. This little known action has been overshadowed by the Battle of the Somme, but it became known as “the day Sussex died” because of the huge loss of life amongst the three battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment that were involved.

His battalion’s war diary is available online through The National Archives DocumentsOnline service, so I will probably be downloading a copy of that shortly, as well as checking in my local library for the regimental history.

In those famous words, whether it is in a church on Armistice Day, at a cemetery in some foreign field, in our hearts or in our family trees, “we will remember them”.

Framfield War Memorial

Framfield War Memorial

Framfield Church postcard – another new addition to my collection

29 Jul

Just when you thought you had heard the last about my visit to Framfield, Sussex in May 2009, I have found another excuse to post about the subject. Below is a recently acquired postcard of the interior of Framfield Church.

Framfield Church (postmarked 20th March 1913)

Framfield Church (postmarked 20th March 1913)

It was published by John Frisby of Uckfield and the postmark is from nearby Uckfield and dated the 20th March 1913. It was sent to Mr F [Fred] WREN of Cliveden Gardens, Taplow, Bucks by his mother, and also mentions Mary and Bertie (possibly Fred’s sister and brother?) in the message.

Interestingly my 3x great grandmother was Charlotte WREN from Framfield (1832-1909) so I am going to have to do a bit of digging and see if I am related to these people.

Naturally the interior of the church hasn’t changed a great deal, here is a similar view taken during my visit in May 2009.

Framfield Church 9th May 2009

Framfield Church (9th May 2009)

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