Tag Archives: hailsham

Picture Postcard Parade: Hailsham High Street

6 Apr

Below is a postcard of the High Street, Hailsham, Sussex and of course there is a connection with what are hopefully my GEERING ancestors.

Hailsham High Street

This postcard was published by Edgar Smith (like the one of Hailsham Church), but I can’t read the date on the postmark on the back. Observant readers will notice that the building on the left is Edgar Smith’s shop.

That shop is the site of the GEERINGs shop, probably some forty years earlier. I don’t know how much of the shop is original, it looks like it may had been enlarged between 1842 (tithe map) and 1874 (Ordnance Survey map) which presumably meant a new roof as well as new windows.

The windows on the right-hand side obviously don’t match with the two large windows and doorway on the left-hand side. This suggests to me that the left-hand side is original, and the right-hand side a later addition.

One hundred or so years later the same view is still recognisable, the shop fronts have changed, but above them (and above the cars) the scene is not that different, at least as far as the first three buildings are concerned.

Another HOWLETT/GEERING connection emerges

3 Apr

I have previously written about the possible connection between the HOWLETT and GEERING families. My suspicion is that James GEERING married Ann HOWLETT.

I have also noted that there is the possibility that James’ grandson was named after Francis HOWLETT, who was seemingly a well-loved member of the Hailsham community.

Whilst checking another set of parish register transcriptions at Hailsham Library I came across another piece of evidence which links the names HOWLETT and GEERING.

It appears that the first child of James and Ann GEERING (my 5x great-grandparents) was Jane Howlett GEERING (this is the same Jane GEERING who drowned in the common pond, Hailsham in 1874) and she was baptised at Hailsham Church on the 24th April 1798.

So I have another piece of evidence linking the GEERINGs to the HOWLETTs, and this connection is much earlier than the previous one (Francis Howlett GEERING was baptised on the 14th October 1822 in Lewes, Sussex).

I clearly need to look in more detail at Francis HOWLETT, unfortunately there is one factor that might make it tricky. According to Thomas Geering he 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 and became factotum of the parish.

The fact that Francis HOWLETT wandered into Hailsham from somewhere else (and it could be almost anywhere) could make things rather tricky for tracing his life. The good news is that his wife was a local woman, which might make things slightly easier.

Who is the Ann GEERING that I have found in Lewes?

1 Apr

I made another (possibly) significant discovery in my GEERING research, which once again was something that I had previously discovered, but hadn’t quite realised the significance at the time.

My 4x great-grandparents Richard and Eliza GEERING were living in Lewes, Sussex at the time of the 1841 census. Their listing is a bit confusing as the household is arranged in age order, with all the males first, then all the females.

Where you would normally expect to find husband then wife, in this example it is the husband, then eldest son, then next son, etc. As it is the 1841 census there are no relationships shown, but from other sources it is possible to identify everyone, with one exception.

There is a 65 year old woman by the name of Ann GEERING living with the family. Again, being the 1841 census it means that her actual age could be anything from 65 to 69, as it should have been rounded down. The only other piece of information is that she wasn’t born in Sussex.

Richard’s mother would have been Ann GEERING and the Ann in the census would be about the right age. Unfortunately Ann died before 1851, so I can’t find the relationship, marital status, exact age or place of birth from the next census.

Ann was buried in Lewes on the 7th May 1844 and was aged 67, so at least I can work out a rough year of birth. Also, as it is after 1837 I can order a death certificate, which might detail the nature of the relationship with Richard and tell me about her occupation.

There is one problem, that gives me cause to doubt.

If this Ann is the mother of Richard, then why was she in Lewes, when her husband James was still alive and well in Hailsham?

She might have just happened to be visiting on census night, Richard and Eliza also had a two month old daughter, so Ann might have been helping them look after her or the rest of the children. It might be the other way round, did James usually live in Lewes and just happened to be visiting Hailsham on census night.

I could accept this explanation if it wasn’t for the fact that Ann was buried in Lewes, and James (her supposed husband) was buried in Hailsham when he died five years later.

Had there been some sort of disagreement and they were living apart? or was it just a question of the cost of taking James’ body back to Lewes. I shall probably never know, but at least I could order the death certificate for Ann in search of more evidence.

So, not only am I finding new records to investigate, but I am also having to go backwards and retracing my steps by visiting sources that I have already checked.

The death of Jane GEERING: a timeline of events

31 Mar

I found some of the newspaper report into the death of Jane GEERING rather confusing to follow, because of the use of days of the week to refer to when events happened.

Using a program such as Calisto it is easy to find the calendar for a particular year, or it would be possible to work backwards knowing that the newspaper report was published on Saturday the 19th September 1874.

Laid out in the table below it all seems to make a lot more sense to me.

——————– ————————- ————————————————-
Monday
14 Sep 1874
Unspecified time Jane was seen by Edwin Isaac Baker, bookseller and stationer, who was paying Jane an annuity of £20.
————————- ————————————————-
About 9:30 pm Jane was seen going to bed by James Foster, a fellow resident at Cobden Place.
——————– ————————- ————————————————-
Tuesday
15 Sep 1874
About 8:30 am According to James Pymar Billing this was about the time that Jane drowned.
————————- ————————————————-
Between 8:30 am and 9:30 am Jane’s body was discovered in the common pond, possibly by James Foster.
————————- ————————————————-
About 9:30 am Jane’s body had been removed from the pond and was being taken by stretcher to a nearby shed, then to the Home.
————————- ————————————————-
After 9:30 am Jane’s body was examined by the surgeon James Pymar Billing of Hailsham.
——————– ————————- ————————————————-
Wednesday
16 Sep 1874
Unspecified time Inquest held at The Terminus Hotel, Hailsham before L.G. Fullagar, Coroner for East Sussex.
——————– ————————- ————————————————-
Monday
21 Sep 1874
Unspecified time Death of Jane GEERING registered with Thomas Gray.
——————– ————————- ————————————————-

Dissecting the newspaper report of the inquest into the death of Jane GEERING

30 Mar

Yesterday I posted the newspaper report of the inquest held into the death of Jane GEERING. Today I am going to break it down to provide more detail and explain why the information contained in the report is so important.

An inquest was held on Wednesday at the Terminus Hotel, before L. G. Fullagar, Esq., coroner, touching the death of Jane Gearing, single woman, aged about 76.

The Terminus Hotel was probably the public house at the top of Station Road (now called simply The Terminus), a short distance from Cobden Place and about the same distance again from the common pond. It seems common practice for inquests to be held in public houses.

The fact that her surname is spelt GEARING is perhaps not surprising and not necessarily a problem. At this time Jane was the last of the GEERING family living in Hailsham, and there is no reason to suggest that the exact spelling her surname was known to anyone else in the town.

James Foster stated that he and deceased lived at Cobden-place, Hailsham. Witness last saw her alive on Monday night about half-past nine o’clock when she was going to bed. He noticed nothing particular about her. Witness did not see deceased again until he found her in the common pond dead. She was drawn to the shore by a rake being tied on the end of a pole. Deceased had got so that her landlady (Mrs. Carey) could not bear it any longer, and so asked her to look out for fresh apartments.

It is not clear whether James Foster lived in the same house as Jane. In the 1871 census Jane was living with Walter and Elizabeth Carey at 11 Cobden Place, but there is no sign of a James Foster in Hailsham.

The report suggests that James Foster was the person who discovered Jane’s body in the pond, but this is not clear. From his evidence it sounds like he was certainly there when her body was being recovered with a rake on the end of a pole.

I would like to have known what it was that the landlady “could not bear” any longer. Perhaps it was her physical appearance or health referred to later in the inquest in the surgeon’s evidence.

Mrs. Elizabeth Carey gave evidence much to the same effect.

Jane’s landlady gave evidence, but evidently this confirmed what had previously been said by James Foster.

Mr. James Pymar Billing, surgeon, stated that about half-past nine on Tuesday morning he went to the common pond and saw deceased being taken on a stretcher to a shed close by. Witness directed her to be taken to the Home, where he thoroughly examined her. She had apparently been dead about an hour. There were no external marks upon the body, but she was covered with fleas and vermin, and was in a filthy state. Witness stated that he had not the least doubt that she died from drowning.

The surgeon who examined Jane gives evidence next. His evidence suggests that Jane died about 8:30 on Tuesday morning. He is certain that she drowned, and graphically describes her state, which sounds rather unpleasant, but presumably this was as a result of her normal lifestyle rather than when she drowned.

The use of the word Home (with a capital H) suggests that this wasn’t just Jane’s home or his home, but rather some specific house, possibly a workhouse which may have served as an infirmary.

Edwin Isaac Baker said he was a bookseller and stationer, and had known deceased all his life. Witness allowed her an annuity of £20, as her brother left him property on that condition. She was a very peculiar woman, and suffered intense pain with her head, and had very weak nerves. Witness saw her on Monday, and she seemed very comfortable.

For me this is the most interesting part. The annuity of £20 explains Jane’s occupation (annuitant) on the 1871 census. It is the circumstances of this annuity that are of most interest.

This suggests that after the death of Ann GEERING (Jane’s aunt) in 1864 the property passed to at least one of her nephews, possibly John James GEERING, who in turn left it to Edwin Isaac Baker when he died in 1866. As you can see there is a whole website about Edwin Isaac Baker and his photographs, including photos of the inside of his shop.

If this is the case then this effectively provides the proof that I am looking for which links the GEERINGs in Hailsham to the GEERINGs in Lewes. Clearly the will of Ann GEERING is going to be critical to my research, and it also means I need to see if John James GEERING did leave a will.

If that wasn’t enough, this also provides further evidence of what became of the GEERINGs shop. Thomas Geering wrote in his book Our Sussex Parish that the shop had been taken over by a bookseller, the newspaper report suggests that this was Edwin Isaac Baker. This agrees with other evidence from maps and photos about the location of the shop.

The jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned,” but there was no evidence to show how she came into the water.

So ultimately we know Jane drowned, but we don’t know how she ended up in the pond. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Murder? Unfortunately we will probably never know.

One thing that stood out in the report is the timeline of events. It is not immediately clear what happened when, all the references are to days of the week, so it is not really clear which dates they were on. It is crying out for a proper timeline of events.

Newspaper report of the inquest into the death of Jane GEERING

29 Mar

I had hoped that I would be able to find a newspaper report of the inquest into the death of Jane GEERING. Usually they provide more information than the inquest itself, and quite often they are the only record of the inquest.

I had checked several of the county newspapers for a report but had drawn a blank, so I moved down a level, and tried to locate the local paper that would cover Hailsham around that time. It wasn’t clear, but it seemed likely that Eastbourne would be the place and there were two newspapers that were published around the right time, the Eastbourne Chronicle and the Eastbourne Gazette.

Eastbourne Library has copies on microfilm of both newspapers and sure enough they did cover Hailsham, and they both had reports of the inquest into Jane’s death. They are both almost identical, the version below is from the Eastbourne Chronicle dated Saturday 19th September 1874.

DEATH BY DROWNING. – An inquest was held on Wednesday at the Terminus Hotel, before L. G. Fullagar, Esq., coroner, touching the death of Jane Gearing, single woman, aged about 76. – James Foster stated that he and deceased lived at Cobden-place, Hailsham. Witness last saw her alive on Monday night about half-past nine o’clock when she was going to bed. He noticed nothing particular about her. Witness did not see deceased again until he found her in the common pond dead. She was drawn to the shore by a rake being tied on the end of a pole. Deceased had got so that her landlady (Mrs. Carey) could not bear it any longer, and so asked her to look out for fresh apartments. – Mrs. Elizabeth Carey gave evidence much to the same effect. – Mr. James Pymar Billing, surgeon, stated that about half-past nine on Tuesday morning he went to the common pond and saw deceased being taken on a stretcher to a shed close by. Witness directed her to be taken to the Home, where he thoroughly examined her. She had apparently been dead about an hour. There were no external marks upon the body, but she was covered with fleas and vermin, and was in a filthy state. Witness stated that he had not the least doubt that she died from drowning. – Edwin Isaac Baker said he was a bookseller and stationer, and had known deceased all his life. Witness allowed her an annuity of £20, as her brother left him property on that condition. She was a very peculiar woman, and suffered intense pain with her head, and had very weak nerves. Witness saw her on Monday, and she seemed very comfortable. – The jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned,” but there was no evidence to show how she came into the water.

There are so many details in the report that it almost demands a sentence by sentence analysis, to provide explanation, further information and it’s importance to my research.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 13)

28 Mar

Last week it felt like I achieved quite a lot, although this might be because I had such a successful today on Saturday.

I got most of my scanned documents sorted, at least the ones that I wanted to. I still have some older ones to go back over and make sure that they are in the correct folders.

I expect to spend most of the week working on the GEERING family of Hailsham, Sussex. I have all the new material from Saturday’s trip to integrate into my research, plus some new leads to follow up on.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • More GEERING work. Sorting out stuff from Saturday and update my plans and to-do lists to take into account my latest discoveries.
  • I didn’t get around to creating a timeline for the GEERING family last week, so I need to try and do that this week.
  • I am hoping that the will of Ann GEERING arrives this week, this will hopefully prove the link to my GEERING ancestors in Lewes.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers

%d bloggers like this: