Tag Archives: hampshire

At last Minnie has a surname

16 Jan

Towards the end of 2011 my interest in family history began to return and although I made no real attempts to find the identity of Minnie, it was a challenge that was still at the back of my mind.

I had mentioned to my mother several times that I still wanted to find out who she was, but I hadn’t made any effort to get over to Hampshire and find some directories that might give me some clues.

Then in the week before Christmas my mother gave me a surname, it was one of my uncles who had uncovered or remembered (I’m not sure which) Minnie’s married name. She was Minnie Collins.

I had hoped for something a little more unusual, to make my life easier, but at least now I had enough information to search the GRO Marriage Index. This turned up three marriages in Hampshire and a couple in Sussex. Of course she could have married elsewhere but I had to start somewhere.

Unfortunately the week before Christmas was not a good time to get down to any serious research and I never got the opportunity to explore much further. I did  discover that one of the Minnies had been born in Essex, which seemed an unlikely match, but at last I realised that I was getting nearer to my goal, it just seemed a matter of time now.

Then on Christmas Eve I visited my uncles and we talked about Minnie Collins and how I should now be able to find out who she was given a bit more time. It was then that he took out my grandmother’s address book and we found four addresses for Minnie.

I wasn’t the addresses that were the key thing here, but the name under which they had been recorded. The first three addresses (all in Warnford, Hampshire) had been recorded under the name Mrs A E Collins. My grandmother using the traditional practice of recording married women under their husband’s initial(s).

The fourth address was recorded under the name Min Collins, which suggested to me that she outlived her husband and I knew that I was getting that much closer to being able to prove that.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Some more facts about Minnie

14 Jan

My search for the identity of my grandmother’s adopted sister Minnie took a step forward after Christmas 2010 when I was given a photo of a couple and it was identified by my mother as possibly being Minnie and her husband. I wrote about this photo last March in the hope that someone might recognise the mystery couple.

I also mentioned that there were several other “facts” that came to light after the discovery, the most obvious being that she got married. Although I didn’t know if this was her wedding photo it was thought that she did get married.

Furthermore it was thought that her husband’s name was either Fred or Stan (presumably short for Frederick and Stanley), unfortunately I could find no likely marriages in the GRO Indexes for a Minnie and Frederick or Stanley (or variants). It was also thought that the couple had at least one son.

Perhaps the best clue is the fact that they lived in “one of the Meon villages” in Hampshire, possibly either East or West Meon, but somewhere in the Meon Valley. Not only that but they had a connection with a local garage (possibly a Jaguar dealership) although whether it was owned by them or they simply worked there wasn’t clear.

This didn’t really progress the search that much further forward. At least I now had a geographical area to home in on and the connection with a garage raised my hopes. I felt sure that if I was able to get access to some directories for the county around the 1950s and 1960s I might be able to locate that garage and perhaps find the name of the proprietor.

Unfortunately the chance to check any directories never emerged during 2011, but fortunately I was to receive a much better clue just before Christmas 2011.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Personal Research Update: Thursday 29th September 2011

29 Sep

In the couple of weeks since my last update I have done very little family history whatsoever. It is not something I am particularly happy about because I do feel that I have been a bit lazy, but I think in part is also due to having no energy left after a long day at work.

It is not all bad news however, I have done a little bit of work on my great-grandmother Minnie DRIVER and in particular her death certificate. Inspired by my recent South Downs Way walk I was looking for a good reason to return to the Petersfield area of Hampshire and do a bit more exploring.

I will probably write more about Minnie in the coming days, especially if I get to go for the walk, but the bringing together of her death certificate and an Ordnance Survey map has given me a much better understanding of where she and her husband were living and corrected a misconception that I had developed.

It has also raised the question of where she was buried. Was it with her first husband (probably somewhere in East Sussex, maybe High Hurstwood) or where her second husband was buried much later on (Oving in West Sussex) or was it somewhere completely different? Another little challenge to work on…

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Wandering: South Downs Way – Exton to Winchester

26 Sep

After a break of almost a month my wife and I were back walking the South Downs Way last Saturday. This was the last section taking us from the tiny village of Exton to the city of Winchester, both in Hampshire and although the distance was only twelve miles they did seem a world apart.

The highlight of Exton for me (apart from it being an ancestral village) was the River Meon (see below), a beautifully clear chalk stream and I could have stood for hours watching the trout feeding in the shallow waters. Winchester has its own river (the Itchen) which is quite pretty in its own right, but Winchester also has a motorway, crowds, shops, cafes, noise and everything we had been blissfully free of on our walk over the Downs.

The weather wasn’t perfect, visibility was pretty poor on our journey down and we wondered whether we would actually be able to see anything once we reached Exton. Fortunately the sun did come out as the weather forecasters predicted and started to burn of some of the mist and fog. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the sky clouded over and we were left with slightly better visibility but by no means perfect.

The sun did reappear after lunch, but it was a little too late in the afternoon. I had hoped for a clear view of Winchester as we descended from the hills, but instead we were greeted by a rather dull and grey jumble of buildings, rather disappointing in the end.

Footbridge over the River Meon at Exton, Hampshire

We passed through many places with ancestral connections during the day, both whilst walking and whilst getting to the start. It is a beautiful part of the country and one which I have ever intention of visiting again and exploring further. Public transport is not brilliant among the small villages and hamlets, so some careful planning is need.

So that is it, the walk is over, we reached our destination but it did take an incredibly long time. It was actually only ten days, which works out at ten miles a day, but we didn’t have the luxury of lots of free time to complete it, so it was stretched out over many more months than we would have liked. Next year I will try to do it all in one go.

So here is the final set of facts and figures for the walk:

Starting point: Exton, Hampshire
Finishing point: City Mill, Winchester, Hampshire
Distance walked: 12.0 miles
Highest point: Beacon Hill (659 ft)
Places of note: Exton, Beacon Hill, Lomer, A272, Cheesefoot Head, Chilcomb, Winchester
Number of trig points spotted: One – Beacon Hill
Number of sandwiches eaten: Two halves (egg and cress, cheese and onion)
Number of times I said “my ancestors used to live here”: I lost count, but probably too many times!
Number of bus journeys taken: One (we had to get an early start so my wife drove us to the station)
Number of train journeys taken: Five
Number of ice creams eaten: None
Shorts or long trousers: Long trousers (although it did get quite warm once or twice)

The River Itchen and City Mill, Winchester, Hampshire

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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NEWS: Over 1.4 million new Hampshire parish records published on findmypast.co.uk

30 Mar

Findmypast.co.uk have been steadily adding parish register transcriptions to their website, but until now there hasn’t really been much to get me excited. That was until last night when I read the news that they had added over 1.4 million Hampshire parish records.

This is great news for my research, having online access to these records is going to be a great boost to my research and especially for tracing my MITCHELL ancestors. Of course these are only transcriptions and would need checking against the original parish register entries, but they represent a great finding aid and starting point.

These records are the work of the Hampshire Genealogical Society and I suspect they are the same records that they publish on CD, which I have previously used at the Hampshire Record Office. Ironically I was very close to buying a couple of the CDs at Who Do You Think You Are? Live last month, but decided I couldn’t justify the cost.

According to the website the collection features:

  • 574,192 baptisms (covering the period 1752 to 1851)
  • 153,011 marriages (covering the period 1754 to 1837)
  • 720,468 burials (covering the period 1400 to 1841)

Links to lists of the actual parishes included can also be found on the announcement page on the website. The cost to view the full entry appears to be 5 credits each or free for those with a subscription.


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