On two previous occasions I have produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree (in February 2010 and May 2011) and I decided it would be interesting to see if much had changed since the last time.
The results were quite interesting (for me at least) and illustrated just how little work I did on my family tree last year.
- TROWER (152)
- GASSON (133)
- MITCHELL (92)
- HEMSLEY (75)
- BOXALL (52)
- KINGHORN (49)
- FAIRS (45)
- GEERING (39)
- HAYBITTLE (36)
- WREN (31)
None of the positions have changed since last year and the actual number of entries had changed very little. Only the number of Trowers and Gassons have increased and somewhat worryingly the number of Mitchells and Boxalls had decreased.
I remember removing a family of Mitchells who I haven’t been able to link into my family tree yet, but I am not sure why I have lost a Boxall. I think it might have been the result of a merger.
I know it is not really about the numbers, but it would be nice to see them increasing a bit more.
Where am I now with my research?
Most of my very limited time has been devoted to Henry and Catherine GASSON and in particular their children. I have been trying to find out what happened to all their children, mainly using census returns and various parish register transcriptions.
There have been a few challenges but on the whole this has been pretty straight forward stuff, however I am reaching the stage where I really need to supplement the transcriptions I already have with a trip to the West Sussex Record Office. I can’t remember the last time I paid a visit to an archive, so it is long overdue.
I still have several more of the children to work on so I will probably try to complete the work on them and make sure I have a nice bundle of look-ups to do when I do finally get to the record office.
I don’t want to get dragged too far down these family lines, researching people who are not my direct ancestors, and need to remember that my original plan was to find out more about the migration of Henry and Catherine from Horley, Surrey to Nuthurst, Sussex and identify similar migrations by other GASSONs.
The “other GASSONs” part got unintentionally sidelined, but it is something I still want to pursue so I really need to start doing something about it. The trouble is I am not really sure how it is going to work, but I will probably start by looking at the 1841 census and parish register entries for Nuthurst and see if I can pick out any other GASSONs and see what develops from there.
Another one of the children of Henry and Catherine GASSON (my 4x great-grandparents) is causing me some problems.
Eleanor Ann Judith GASSON was their last child, baptised in Nuthurst, Sussex on the 9th January 1839. There is a birth registration in the GRO indexes in Q4 1838 in Horsham Registration District which would seem like a good match, however the name is simply registered as Female.
This is probably the correct birth registration but I can’t be 100% certain, not that it is really that important to my research. It might provide an address for Henry and Catherine, but apart from that I don’t think there is anything else useful that could be learnt from ordering the actual birth certificate.
In the 1841 census Eleanor Ann Judith is living with her parents at New House in Nuthurst, she is aged two years and her name is recorded as Judith. In 1851 she is still with her parents, now aged 13 years and recorded as a scholar. In 1851 her name is record as Elleanor A J GASSON.
Unfortunately that is where the trail ends.
I can find no marriage or death registration that seems to fit and my best efforts have failed to find any trace of Eleanor in any census from 1861 to 1911. I have tried many combinations of the variations of Eleanor’s names and the surname GASSON, but I have still found nothing that seems to fit.
So what became of Eleanor Ann Judith GASSON?
I don’t want to spend too much time working on finding her, but now I have found a little challenge which has me hooked. The problem of course is that there are many possible forenames that Eleanor could have been recorded under and many variations of spellings. If I am going to find her then I need to be methodical and record all the places I have looked and all the name variations I have checked.
I don’t think ordering her birth certificate is going to help, I just need to be a bit smarter with my searching.
Quite often it is the simplest discoveries that are the most satisfying for me in my family history.
I was looking at the life of Edward GASSON, the son of my 4x great-grandfather Henry GASSON and quite possibly the person who registered his death.
With the help of one of my cousins I had put together a chain of census entries, a probable marriage and a burial entry, but I couldn’t find a death registration for him in FreeBMD.
So what did I do? What any other genealogist would have done, went to another source. Sure enough there on Findmypast was Edward’s death registration in the right registration district, in the right quarter of the right year and with the right age.
I could have also just looked at the original index image, because I knew where and when it should be, but it was just quicker for me to search on Findmypast at the time.
It was nothing really clever and it certainly doesn’t rank as a major breakthrough in my family history but still it felt so satisfying to have found his death registration, and I don’t really know why?
It was such a simple thing but it really made me feel so pleased that I had found his death. Perhaps I need to get out more!
Postcards of the village of Slaugham, Sussex are not that easy to come by, so I snapped up this one when it came up even though it is not in top condition. It shows the interior of St Mary’s Church, Slaugham.
The Interior of St Mary's Church, Slaugham, Sussex
I visited the church earlier this year (see the photo below) before I got this postcard and to be honest it took me a while to verify that this was the same church, such were the changes that have been made to the interior.
The Interior of St Mary's Church, Slaugham, Sussex (30/04/11)
The quality of my photo is rather poor (I will take more care next time and perhaps find the light switch) but it is good enough to see the similarities in the structure of the building even if most of the furniture and fittings have changed. Although not included in my photo the font on the right-hand sign is definitely the same.
The postcard itself is unused but it does have printed on the back that it is part of “The Dolphin Series” which almost certainly means it was the work of Harry Tullett of nearby Haywards Heath, Sussex, and probably dates the card to somewhere around 1910. It may be possible to date the picture more accurately if the changes inside the church were recorded and carried out over a number of years.
There are a number of family connections with this church, including the marriage of my 3x great-grandparents Thomas GASSON and Harriet MITCHELL, the burials of my 4x great-grandparents Henry and Catherine GASSON and the baptism of my 2x great-grandfather George Thomas GASSON.