Tag Archives: genealogy

Making the News: Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire – Postscript

8 May

Yesterday I shared a newspaper article about the fortunate discovery made by my 3x great-grandfather Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire. The article suggested that his wife had hidden away some money (totalling £260) which was only discovered after her death in 1889.

I suspect there is probably more to the story than meets the eye. There is a possibility that Henry in his younger days (back in 1838) served twelve months in prison for larceny, so I can’t help wonder if this money could be the result of some nefarious deed. However any secrets probably went to the grave with Henry.

That thought got me thinking. Henry died six years after his wife and I have a copy of his will and the grant of probate and I wondered just how much of this “windfall” had survived until Henry’s death.

The entry for Henry in the National Probate Calendar (on Ancestry.co.uk) reads:

WRIGHT Henry of Model villa West-street Alton Hants died 1 August 1895 Probate Winchester 4 November to William Wright builder and contractor Effects £127 9s.

So it looks like in those six years Henry had managed to get rid of half of the money that he had “discovered”, assuming that he didn’t have much to start with, because he was having to sell some furniture in the first place.

I wonder what he did with that money in those six years? The 1891 census shows him (aged 80) living with his son William (the executor named above) and his family and quite appropriately he is described as “Living on his own means”.

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Making the News: Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire

7 May

You never know what you are going to find when you start delving into newspapers. The article below, from the Hampshire Advertiser of Saturday 23rd March 1889, has to one of the most bizarre that I have come across in my searches.

ALTON, MARCH 23.

A PROVIDENT WIFE.-A man named Henry Wright, formerly a chimney sweeper at Alton, has made a fortunate discovery. His wife died a few days ago, and preparatory to selling his furniture to a local dealer he inspected an old chest of drawers, when, to his surprise, he discovered, concealed behind a piece of board let into one of the drawers, two purses, one of which contained £200, and the other £60 in gold. At one time Wright kept a lodging-house, and it is supposed that his wife accumulated the money then.

Henry Wright and his “provident” wife were my 3x great-grandparents, all the facts fit with what I know. He was at one time a lodging-house keeper and later on a chimney sweep and his wife Sarah died in Alton in 1889.

Quite why Sarah should have felt the need to hide £260 from Henry is a mystery, unless she was frightened he would drink or gamble it all away. Perhaps the rainy day that she was waiting for never arrived?

I can see that it might have been hidden for safe-keeping (perhaps a distrust of banks), but could you really forget that you had put away that sort of money? Based the retail price index £260 in 1889 would be worth £22,400 today, not the sort of money that would be easy to forget.

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My Family History Week: Sunday 6th May 2012

6 May

It was another good week, although most of what I did wasn’t really what I had intended, but it was interesting and varied, which certainly helps keep me motivated.

Challenging times: Sorting out Patrick Vaughan’s information

I have to confess that I didn’t get very far with sorting out all the stuff that I have on Patrick Vaughan. I did make a start, but was almost immediately distracted by another part of the Finding Minnie story that needed sorting out.

One day I will get around to telling the story of these relations of Minnie Allison and answering the question Who Was Daisy Denyer? The information I has bundled up with that of Patrick Vaughan, so it made sense to get that sorted out at the same time.

There were two reason why I chose to start with this information, first I didn’t think it would take too long and secondly it was all English so I wouldn’t have any problem entering and sourcing the information, whereas Patrick’s was Irish, Scottish and Canadian and that would take some time to work out my source citation.

Thomas Acock of Malvern, Worcestershire, England

I decided that I would also like to clear a couple of items from my to-do list as well this week. Both of these items involved Thomas Acock who married my 4x great-aunt Anna Trower.

Anna was his third wife, so I wanted to include some details from these previous marriages in my database and I wanted to expand on the information that I had on their descendants.

I was able to delete these two entries from my to-do list although I really need to add a new one that will remind my to keep a look out for the parish registers for Malvern so that I can verify the work that I have done.

Upgrading Family Historian

Version 5 of Family Historian (my genealogy software of choice) has been out several weeks and this week I finally got around to paying for and downloading the update.

As expected everything went smoothly and I think the only thing I had change was the default project on opening, all my other settings were exactly the same.

This is just the sort of upgrading I like, whilst the core of the program looks and behaves the same as before there are several new features that are waiting to be explored. I had a quick play with the new fan charts and can see I am going to be having some fun with them in the future.

British Newspaper Archive

Part of the reason I didn’t get very far sorting out the Patrick Vaughan stuff was because I decided to take the plunge and buy a few credits for the British Newspaper Archive.

It has taken some getting used to and some of the image quality is dreadful, but there are more stories of interest than I had first imagined, but finding them has proved a big challenge requiring some careful searching. Capturing the information proved to be a bigger challenge in many cases, and my Print Screen button has not seen such use for many a year.

I still have a few credits left and a few hours to use them, so I will make the most of them to try to uncover more of what my relatives got up to.

Future Challenges

There is no question, no excuses, next week I must carry on sorting out the Patrick Vaughan information. I know that with the searching of the British Newspaper Archive I have gathered even more information to be sorted, but I will try to put that to one side for now and work on Patrick.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Challenging times: Sorting out Patrick Vaughan’s information

30 Apr

I have been taking a bit of a break from Finding Minnie and Patrick Vaughan whilst I get a bit of family history housekeeping done. Now it is the turn of Patrick Vaughan to be on the receiving end of that housekeeping.

If I am ever going to move forward with my research on Patrick and Kate Vaughan then I really need to get all the material that I already have into some sort of order.

I have gathered quite a lot of information from Ireland, Scotland and Canada like passenger lists, census returns, marriages and baptisms, but I haven’t actually input them into my family tree yet.

This week I am going to concentrate on Patrick Vaughan get everything sorted and updated. That means:

  1. Setting up dedicated sub-folders for digital image downloads
  2. Making sure all the digital images are correctly named and in the correct sub-folders
  3. Making sure all the information is entered into my family tree

As well as needing to make sure I have solid foundations to move forward I also want to be able to tell the story of Patrick’s life before he married my 2x great-aunt, hopefully system generated reports will provide the framework for this.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My Family History Week: Sunday 29th April 2012

29 Apr

It was another reasonably good week, nothing really new, mainly re-visiting various parts of my family tree inspired by going through my to-do list.

Challenging times: Updating my to-do list

I am now pretty happy with the state of my to-do list, I am also aware that it still has some short-comings. Although I have cleared some duplicates and even completed a few items, however there is still a lot to be done.

I think a lot of the items don’t really need to be on the list at all. By that I mean that I ought to be in a position to run selected queries on my Family Historian software to give me lists of individuals for whom I still need to find births, baptisms, burials etc. for a particular place.

Various parts of my family tree

I put in a fair bit of work on Edward Gasson and his wife’s first family and this brought my thoughts back around to my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson and his brief time with the Metropolitan Police. I must order Edward’s birth certificate this coming week.

A little bit of creative searching has uncovered a missing baptism record for the son of another of my 3x great-grandfathers, Thomas Kinghorn. John Kinghorn’s baptism in London had eluded me for several years. It turned out he had been baptised in Holborn, rather than Westminster where his siblings had been, this still leaves me two more children to find, but every little nugget of information helps.

Future Challenges

I am still finding my weekly challenge to be a helpful motivational tool, but with so many things that I could do it is getting hard deciding what to do next. I may take the opportunity to go through my to-do list again this week and try to clear a few more entries.

It still has over 140 entries so there is no shortage of things to do, however there is a shortage of things that I can do without visiting a record office, and that is not likely to happen this week.

There are several people where I have more information to be entered into my database (Patrick Vaughan and William Joseph Henry Bateman are two examples) so I might get around to updating them.

One thing that did surprise me when I was looking through my to-do list was the number of men whose First World War service was not properly recorded. I have copies of their service records or in some cases just a medal index card, but I haven’t really recorded all that data anywhere.

On the same theme there must be many more men in my family tree who served in the First World War, but whose records I haven’t found (or looked for) yet. I owe it to them to make sure I have at least checked to see what was recorded.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Metropolitan Police Constable Thomas Gasson: a timeline

27 Apr

I mentioned yesterday (and on several occasions before that) that my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson spent a short time a constable in the Metropolitan Police.

What I haven’t done until now is put together a timeline for this particular period of his life, bring together the evidence that I have for his time in the Metropolitan Police.

His exact dates of service are not known, so every little bit of evidence helps build up a picture, and may hopefully lead to further records.

28th July 1858 (Slaugham, Sussex)

  • Alfred Gasson son of Thomas and Harriet Gasson is baptised in St Mary’s Church, Slaugham. This is the last record of the family that I have in Sussex before Thomas joins the Metropolitan Police. Thomas is recorded as a labourer.

Q3 1860 (Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex)

  • The birth of their son Edward Gasson was registered in Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex. This places the family in Middlesex, but without checking the actual birth certificate I can’t tell whether Thomas was serving with the Metropolitan Police at the time.

7th April 1861 (Winchmore Hill, Edmonton, Middlesex)

  • Thomas, Harriet and their four children are shown in the 1861 census in Winchmore Hill in the parish of Edmonton, Middlesex. Thomas is recorded as a “Metropolitan Police Constable”.

16th May 1861 (N Division, Middlesex)

  • The Metropolitan Police Orders for the 16th May 1861 record that P.C. 265, Gasson was dismissed for being drunk on duty. This doesn’t provide enough information to confirm that P.C. 265 was my Thomas Gasson. I am also not sure what made up the boundaries of N Division, but I don’t think this matches Winchmore Hill.

Q1 1863 (Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex)

  • The birth of their daughter Harriett Gasson was registered in Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex (later census returns give her place of birth as Bolney or Warninglid, Sussex). This places the family back in Sussex, although it is not conclusive that Thomas had lost his job and they had permanently moved back home.

The only real evidence of Thomas’ service is the 1861 census, but it looks like he probably joined between July 1858 and Q3 1860, and he left between April 1861 and Q1 1863, probably in May 1861. With a bit more work I might be able to narrow these date ranges down a bit, especially with the purchase of a couple of birth certificates and a couple of baptism records.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Why Edward Gasson is also interesting

26 Apr

A couple of days ago I wrote about Jane Linfield who after the death of her first husband David Burtenshaw married my 3x great-uncle Edward Gasson.

Edward himself is already of interest to me because his birth in 1860 is one of the few clues to his father’s brief time serving in the Metropolitan Police.

His father Thomas Gasson (my 3x great-grandfather) served with the Metropolitan Police for a few years around 1860. I still don’t know the exact dates, but the family were up in Middlesex in the 1861 census and possibly were there for a couple of years either side of that date.

Apart from the 1861 census and the birth of Edward the only other possible bit of evidence I have is an entry in the Metropolitan Police Order Book for 1861 (TNA MEPO 7/22) which records that P.C. 265 Gasson was dismissed for being drunk on duty. I can’t say for certain that this is my Thomas Gasson, but the date would fit.

I am naturally interested in finding out more about Thomas, because someone serving in the Metropolitan Police makes a welcome change from the typical agricultural occupations of my ancestors.

I had hoped to be able to learn something more from Edward’s baptism record and perhaps one day I might, if I can ever find it. As more and more records are indexed and put online there is a chance that it might turn up eventually.

I have long known that Edward’s birth certificate could be a key piece of evidence, hopefully this would give me an address for Thomas and his wife Harriett. I am not quite sure where I might be able to go after that, but in this business every little piece of information helps.

It is for this reason that there has been an entry on my to-do list for several years, reminding me that I need to order a copy of Edward’s birth certificate. I think it might be about time I got my credit card out and ordered that certificate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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