Tag Archives: geering

My top-ten surnames updated (or not as the case may be)

31 Mar

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.

  1. TROWER (152)
  2. GASSON (133)
  3. MITCHELL (92)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (52)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. 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.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My top-ten surnames revisited

4 May

Fifteen months ago I produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree, for fun really more than anything, however it did highlight an imbalance in the names in my family tree.

I thought it was about time I had another look at the most common surnames in my family tree, so I fired up my copy of Family Historian and Microsoft Excel and produced an updated list (the number of individuals with the surname is shown in brackets):

  1. TROWER (139)
  2. GASSON (123)
  3. MITCHELL (94)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (53)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

This is much “better” than last time, the top four names are the surnames of my grandparents. The HEMSLEY surname was way down at number ten last time, so it is good to see that I have done enough work to push it higher up the “chart”.

The HAYBITTLE and WREN surnames are both new entries. I remember doing some work on the HAYBITTLEs, but I don’t remember doing much work on the WRENs but I suppose I must have done.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ancestral Profile: Ellen NICHOLLS (c1847-1897)

8 Mar

Ellen NICHOLLS was my 3x great-grandmother and she is one of the most troublesome individuals in my family tree. It is not that her life was that different from any of my other ancestors, just that find the records has not been quite so straight-forward as it should have been.

Her birth and childhood have been particularly tricky to trace and whilst I have a pretty good idea in my head about where Ellen came from, I don’t have the evidence yet to prove it. It shouldn’t be tricky to prove it if I am correct (it just means spending a bit of time and money).

What I do know about Ellen’s birth comes from various census returns. They all give her place of birth as Chiddingstone, Kent and a date around 1846-1847. I only know that her maiden name was NICHOLLS from the birth certificate of her first son William (my 2x great-grandfather).

I have not been able to find a marriage certificate for Ellen NICHOLLS and William GEERING (although I have only searched the GRO Indexes, not the locally kept indexes) so I don’t know for certain the name of Ellen’s father.

William GEERING and Ellen certainly lived as husband and wife, even if they weren’t officially so. The first record I have of them together is the birth registration of their son William in 1868, however he isn’t baptised until 1875 at the same time as two of his younger sisters. This apparent disregard for baptisms and the church may explain why there is no marriage record.

It appears that the couple had seven children in all, all born and baptised (eventually) in Lewes, Sussex apart from the last two for whom I have not found baptism records yet:

  1. William GEERING (born Q3 1868, baptised 5 January 1875)
  2. Ellen GEERING (born Q4 1869, baptised 5 January 1875)
  3. Emily GEERING (born Q4 1872, baptised 5 January 1875)
  4. Clara Gertrude GEERING (born Q1 1875, baptised 7 October 1877)
  5. Edith GEERING (born Q3 1877, baptised 7 October 1877)
  6. Richard Thomas GEERING (born Q3 1879)
  7. Arthur GEERING (born Q2 1884)

The family lived at a variety of addresses in Lewes, in 1868 when William was born they were living in Sun Street. In 1871 they were living in Priory Street and in subsequent census returns they were living at 11 St. Nicholas Lane.

Ellen’s death was registered in Q1 1897. I don’t have a copy of her death certificate so I don’t know what the cause was, but she was aged 49 years at the time. She was buried on the 16th March 1897 at All Saints Church, Lewes, Sussex.

Moving on from Ann the wife of James GEERING

6 Mar

It appears that I have reached a dead-end with my research into Ann the wife of James GEERING. I am reluctant to call it a brick-wall at the moment because I haven’t quite exhausted all avenues of research yet, but I have certainly exhausted all the quick and easy avenues.

The marriage register entry for Ann HOWLETT and James GEARING gave me the names of two witnesses, one of which I couldn’t read properly, but neither looked like any name that was familiar to me. I have a copy of the marriage licence allegation, but haven’t checked the bond which might give me a couple more names to work on.

I am still pretty certain that Ann was a HOWLETT because of the naming of her children and that there is probably a connection with Francis HOWLETT the schoolmaster and postmaster of Hailsham, Sussex. Francis was born about 1751 and Ann was born about 1777 so it is possible that Francis was Ann’s father.

I have two problems, first that Francis HOWLETT was “one of a party of strolling players who arrived in the place on a professional tour, he gave up the buskin and settled down to quiet domestic life, married a wife from the neighbourhood” (according to Thomas Geering in his book Our Sussex Parish), so he could have come from just about anywhere in the country, and I don’t know what happened to his wife.

The second problem is that I don’t know much about James GEERING between his baptism in 1776 and the 1841 census. There is a suggestion that he may have been in the military, but I haven’t come up with any evidence for this yet.

Anyway for the time being I think it is time to move on, there are plenty of other ancestors I need to trace, but I have planted the seed now and I will wait and see if anything else comes to mind whilst I focus my attention on someone else.

Next on my list is Ellen NICHOLLS, my 3x great-grandmother. I need to be certain that I have the correct parents and then find their parents. It is quite a complicated affair but I do at least have some idea of the work I need to do. I also need to have another look at finding evidence of her marriage to William GEERING.

All that work for one tiny little fact

23 Feb

As is so often the case the search for one little fact led to much more work than I had anticipated.

I wanted to find out where Ann GEERING (the daughter of my 5x great grandparents James and Ann GEERING) was born. She was baptised in the parish church at Hailsham, Sussex on the 26th April 1806, but the parish register recorded that she was actually born on the 18th September 1803.

The parish register didn’t say where she had been born, but as her other three siblings were baptised in Hailsham in a timely manner it seemed likely that the family weren’t at home when Ann was born and they waited until they got back home to have her baptised, at the same time as her younger brother (who was nine months old when he was baptised).

Having found a likely suspect for Ann GEERING in Brighton, Sussex (working as a servant) I had to set about proving it was in fact her. Fortunately in 1861 she was living with James and Margaret GEERING and she was listed as James’ aunt.

I then had to find out who James GEERING was. I followed him through the census, his first wife died and he remarried and finally in 1911, after he had been widowed for a second time, he was living in Lewes, Sussex with his brother Mark Anthony GEERING.

As you might imagine there haven’t been that many Mark Anthony GEERINGs in the world, but I do have one in my family tree and all the details matched. James and Mark Anthony’s father was Richard GEERING, sister of the Ann GEERING I was looking for.

Success at last, and I now know that Ann GEERING was born in Heathfield, Sussex (perhaps a dozen or so miles north of Hailsham where she was baptised) or at least she thought that she was born there. What the family were doing there will probably remain a mystery unless some other connection emerges further down the line.

Next steps….

I need to check to make sure that I have checked the parish registers for Heathfield. I have searched FamilySearch and the SFHG Data Archive but I need to check that Heathfield is included in one of these and if so what time period is covered.

I am not sure who or what I would be looking for, probably other GEERINGs and maybe some HOWLETTs in the registers. I would probably have found a marriage for James and Ann if it had been in Heathfield because the SFHG marriage index covers all of Sussex up to 1837, but it would be a perfect place to look for the older Ann’s baptism.

Why so many of my 5x great-grandparents are missing

22 Feb

I have started in my attempt to find all my 5x great-grandparents with a review of the existing data, the work needed and possible problems. I didn’t get very far before I realised that there was a good reason why I hadn’t identified these direct ancestors yet.

It is not going to be an easy project (if it was that easy then I would probably have found them already) for a number of reasons, there are a few specific issues like illegitimacy but several common issues, largely due to the dates I am talking about.

Specifically I am talking about a time before civil registration began in 1837 and before the first detailed census in 1841. So there is now marriage certificate to give me a father’s name, no birth certificates with a mother’s maiden name and no age or place of birth information from the census.

Although these obstacles are not uncommon and not insurmountable, when they are coupled with missing parish registers, illegitimacy and even a bit of migration within the country it can all add up to a major challenge.

In some cases it is going to mean a bit of guess-work to narrow down the choices to several likely parents and then work forwards trying to find evidence for children (and grandchildren) perhaps in a will or as an informant in a later birth or death certificate, hopefully building up enough evidence to prove a connection.

Fortunately most of these people lived locally (in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire) with only a few slightly further afield (Cumberland, Gloucestershire and possibly Somerset) which will be a bit harder to research, but not impossible.

My Ancestral Profile post a couple of days ago was the result of my first review of information. Since then I think I have found out what happened to Ann’s daughter (also called Ann) and where she was born (Heathfield, Sussex) but still need to prove it. Checking my dates it is quite possible that Ann was the daughter of Francis HOWLETT but I just don’t have the hard evidence to back it up yet.

Ancestral Profile: Ann, the wife of James GEERING (c1777-1844)

20 Feb

Ann was my 5x great-grandmother, known as the wife of Jame GEERING of Hailsham, Sussex because I don’t know much about her life before she married.

Ann’s date of birth is based on the age given on her death certificate and allowing for rounding it matches the age on the 1841 census. The 1841 census suggests that she was not born in Sussex, but that is the only piece of evidence that points to where she came from.

I don’t have any marriage details for Ann and James GEERING, and the only hard evidence that I have that suggests they did marry is her death certificate which records her occupation as “Wife of James Geering Chemist”. I do have a marriage which I suspect is them (see below) but have not been able to prove so far.

If a marriage did occur it was probably between 1795 and 1798, because their four children were born not long after this period. All four children were baptised in Hailsham, Sussex:

  • Jane Howlett GEERING (baptised 24 Apr 1798)
  • John James GEERING (baptised 9 Aug 1800)
  • Ann GEERING (born 18 Sep 1803, baptised 26 Apr 1806)
  • Richard GEERING (born 20 Jul 1805, baptised 26 Apr 1806)

The late baptism of Ann’s daughter Ann suggests that the family had more important things to do at the time or may have been away elsewhere. I have been unable to find any more information about the younger Ann, but her census information might reveal where she was born and what the family was up to. There is a possibility that James GEERING was serving in the army, but I have also been unable to prove this.

The middle name of James and Ann’s first child is almost certainly an indicator of Ann’s maiden name. There is a marriage of James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT at St. Martins in the Field, Westminster, Middlesex on the 30th September 1797, but so far I have been unable to prove that these are my ancestors.

There is a second piece of evidence which gives a connection with the HOWLETT surname, one of James and Ann’s grandchildren was named Francis Howlett GEERING (he was the eldest son of John James GEERING). There was a schoolmaster and postmaster named Francis HOWLETT living in Hailsham, so there is a chance that Jane and Francis were named after him and there is no family connection, but it seems more likely that there is a family connection with the HOWLETT surname and quite possible that Ann and Francis HOWLETT were related.

The 1841 census shows Ann living in Lewes, Sussex with her son Richard GEERING and his wife Eliza and their five children. The odd thing about this situation is that Ann’s husband James was living in Hailsham at the same time. I don’t know whether this was a temporary situation, or whether this was a more permanent separation.

Ann died before her husband, on the 2nd May 1844 aged 67 years old, and still in the town of Lewes. The cause of death was paralysis and her death was registered on the 6th May 1844 by Eliza GEERING (presumably her daughter-in-law). She was buried on the 7th May 1844 presumably at St. John’s Church, Lewes. Interestingly when her husband died in January 1850 he was buried in Hailsham, adding further to the speculation that James and Ann had split for some reason.

Further Research

I really need to take a closer look at the marriage of James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT, the data I have comes from the IGI and doesn’t give me the names of the witnesses. I have a copy of the marriage licence allegation for the marriage but that doesn’t give me any further information.

I need to try to find out more about Francis HOWLETT, hoping that a connection will emerge if I can trace his parents. The problem is that I have even less genealogical information for Francis HOWLETT than I do for Ann.

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