Tag Archives: geering

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.

Hailsham Photo

15 Jan

I have been having a bit of a sort out today, nothing major just catching up on some paperwork and a bit of filing, a bit of scanning and a bit of file organisation on my PC. Also I decided today that I really ought to digitize my CD collection so that the originals can be boxed up and put in storage, but that is another story.

Whilst sorting out some stuff I rediscovered the photo below which I purchased last year that I never got around to showing you.

If you were reading my blog at the start of last year of last year you will remember that I spent a long-time working on the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex. Well this photo is of their shop, or rather what became of their shop. The great thing about this photo is the amount of detail. Looking closely you can see what was on offer in the shop and even read the boards to the left of the doorway.

These boards give great dating evidence for the photo, the two on the left both have the date of Saturday May 22nd, and there are plenty of headlines to enable us to find out what year it was. The shop windows are full of patriotic souvenirs and photos of Queen Victoria indicating that it was a jubilee year, checking in The Times newspaper to find out when the Queen visited Sheffield confirms that it was in 1897 the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

I have previous featured a postcard of the shop on this blog, and paid a visit to the shop last year when visiting Hailsham. It is now a newsagents, but still recognisable if you look above the shop windows. It is particularly nice to see that over 110 years later it was still possible to by photo frames from the same shop!

I have often thought that I should put together a report on the history of the building, listing all the different owners over the years. Perhaps this year if time permits I will make a start on it.

The marriage licence allegation proves inconclusive

18 Sep

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about ordering a copy of the marriage licence allegation for James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT, who may be my 5x great-grandparents. I was hoping this might prove that the marriage in St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London on the 30th September 1797 is the correct one.

The marriage licence allegation arrived last weekend, but unfortunately it doesn’t really prove anything either way. The allegation shows that both James and Ann were over 21 years old and James had been living in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields for at least four weeks, and would be marrying in the same parish.

The only thing that might throw a spanner in the works is that Ann would only have been 20 years old, but James may not have known his intendeds true age, or may have just lied to save time and trouble (and probably money).

The only saving grace might be the signature of James GEARING that is on the bottom of the allegation, it might not even be his actual signature. At some stage I might be able to tie that signature up with a known copy of the signature of my James GEERING (although I don’t think I actually have one at the moment).

The marriage licence allegation is a pre-printed page with the details written in by hand. The actual allegation reads:

Appeared perfonally James Gearing and made Oath, that he is of the Parish of Saint Martin in the Fields in the County of Middlesex a Bachelor of the age of Twenty one years and upwards and intendeth to marry with Ann Howlett of the same Parish a Spinster of the age of twenty one years and upwards and the he knoweth of no lawful Impediment, by Reafon of any Pre-contract, Confanguinity, Affinity, or any other lawful Means whatfoever, to hinder the faid intended Marriage, and prayed a Licence to folemnize the fame in the Parifh Church of Saint Martin in the Fields and further made Oath, that the ufual Place of Abode of him the appeaser hath been in the faid Parifh of Saint Martin in the Fields for the Space of four Weeks laft paft.

Searching for Mrs GEERING

3 Sep

I seem to be flitting about my family tree like a butterfly, seemingly alighting on people at random, but I guess I am getting drawn back to the same old favourites. Last night I was back looking at the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex.

I have written much about the GEERINGs and their chemist and druggist shop in Hailsham, and the one that ended up drowning in the Common Pond, but still one problem remains unsolved. Who did my 5x great-grandfather James GEERING marry?

I know it was Ann, but Ann who? My money is on HOWLETT. According to the International Genealogical Index James GEARING married Ann HOWLETT on the 30th September 1797 at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. James and Ann GEERING’s first child was Jane Howlett GEERING, born in Lewes, Sussex around the beginning of 1798 and baptised in Hailsham in April 1798.

So everything seems to point to Ann HOWLETT, but there is just not quite enough evidence for me to say for certain, which is why my database still shows her as just Ann.

Searching online last night I remembered Origins.net and the fact that my membership of the Society of Genealogists gives me 72 hours of free access every quarter. As I haven’t used it this quarter, and we are not far from the end of the quarter I thought I ought to have a look.

Origins.net is not as well known as the likes of Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk and their collections are not so large, but there are some useful collections on the site, and some interesting resources which I have never really looked at closely.

To cut a long story short, I ended up ordering a hard copy of the marriage licence allegation for the marriage of James GEERING and Ann HOWLETT in the hope that this will give me enough information to be able to confirm that this marriage is the correct one. It should at least give me the parishes where both the bride and groom came from.

It is a bit of a long shot, I have no evidence that James or Ann were ever in London. James may have been a soldier, so that may have taken him to the city, but even that is not a definite. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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