Tag Archives: hampshire

“Death must have been almost instantaneous”

9 Jan

My relatives continue to amaze me with their ability to make the national newspapers and in the quite gruesome ways their lives are cut short. To the two relations who were killed in railway accidents I can now add another who died in a maritime accident.

Thomas Henry HUTFIELD married my 2x great-aunt Harriet Ellen MITCHELL in 1900, I don’t have the exact details only that it was in Q4 1900 in Portsmouth Registration District. I had been unable to find Harriet in the 1901, but then I didn’t know at the time that she had married. It wasn’t until I was searching for her widowed mother in the newly released 1911 census that I found both Harriet and her mother living in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The fact that she was living in Portsmouth and that despite being married her husband was not at home immediately made me think that her husband was serving in the Royal Navy. That is pretty much where my research ended. I added a few children to the marriage but never took the research any further until a few days ago.

I bought and downloaded a copy of Thomas’ naval service details from DocumentsOnline, in the hope of finding out a bit more on him and his family. I have found naval records to be largely devoid of family or personal detail in the past, and this one was no exception.

What I did find however, beneath the long list of vessels on which Thomas had served was the following intriging note: “21 July 1911. Accidentally killed on board ‘Kangaroo’ owing to bursting of a steam pipe during steam trials.”

Using my membership of  the Surrey Library Service I was soon searching copies of The Times newspaper online for a mention of the accident. It didn’t take long to find a report of the accident, a message of condolence from the King and details of the inquest.

According to The Times for the 22nd July 1911:

While the destroyer Kangaroo was carrying out steam trials off Beachy Head, about four miles out, shortly after noon yesterday, a steam pipe burst. Two stokers were killed by the explosion and five injured. The bodies of the dead men and four of the injured were put on board the cruiser Topaze, which brought them into Portsmouth, and the injured were sent to Haslar Hospital.

The above article lists the casualties and the report of the subsequent inquest gives further details of the accident. Bearing in mind that this was in a national newspaper, I would expect the local newspapers to give more information and probably mention of his funeral and the family he left behind.

This incident poses many research questions such as did Harriet receive some pension or compensation? Was there a memorial service for the two dead men? Where are they buried? What became of Harriet and her children after the death of Thomas? In other words, plenty of reasons to go and visit the Portsmouth Records Office and do some more digging.

I can feel a research plan coming on

8 Jan

I am not quite sure why, but I am gravitating towards a full-blown research project on Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT, my 3x great-grandfather from Kent and Hampshire. I have written about Henry many times but there are still many unanswered questions. I feel it might be time to answer some of those questions.

It all started with me cancelling my plan (not that is was really anything more than an idea) to visit Carlisle, Cumbria in the next couple of months, because they haven’t finished re-building their record office yet. Carlisle can wait, what is more pressing is my need to use up the few days holiday that I still have left, before I lose them.

Instead of taking a trip to the other end of the country I hope to take several shorter trips that can be completed in a day, mainly to archives and libraries but also to a church and cemetery or two.

The key destination will be Alton, Hampshire because this was where Henry WRIGHT (as he was then) spent most of his life. As well as exploring the town further, visiting the church and cemetery I also want to take advantage of the family history resources at The Curtis Museum. I might also need to fit in a visit to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire.

The other destination will be Kent, probably both of the archives in Maidstone and Canterbury, and maybe a visit to Ospringe where Henry SHORNDEN (as he was then) was born, although the latter is probably not quite so important.

Now I need to start putting together a proper research plan, check the availability of resources, check travel arrangements and decide what I actually want to find out. Before I go anywhere though I need to sit down and update my family history database with as much information as possible from the sources I already have at hand, namely Henry’s will and whatever else I can find online.

Expect to hear lots more about Henry and his family over the coming weeks …

Wandering into the New Year

31 Dec

This blog focuses on the two hobbies which give me great pleasure (most of the time), walking and family history. As described yesterday I had plenty of family history resolutions/goals in 2010, but I don’t think there were actually any walking resolutions.

I did end up walking the South Downs Way in 2010, which I had hoped to do for some time, but it wasn’t really a new year’s resolution. I also walked parts of the North Downs Way and the Capital Ring around London in 2010, but again I wouldn’t consider either of them to have been brought about by a new year’s resolution.

For 2011 however I have a pretty clear idea of the walking I want to do. I haven’t really considered whether it is actually going to be possible to fit it all in, and of course a lot will depend on what the weather is like.

The walks I would like to complete in 2011 can be divided into three categories:

Long Distance Walks

South Downs Way – I want to do the South Downs Way again, this time it will probably be from west to east, and all in one go. In 2010 I walked it on one or two days a week, but in 2011 I want to take a week off in the Summer and do it all in one go.

North Downs Way – In 2011 my friend Chris and I need to get the North Downs Way finished and out of the way. We have about five days worth of walking to go, but it is a bit of a headache getting out into Kent to actually do it.

High Weald Landscape Trail – This is another walk Chris and I hope to complete in 2011, and one I am really looking forward to because the first half is through true ancestral landscape with opportunities to many churches along the way.

Shorter Named Walks

There are several shorter routes dotted around the south east that I would like to walk:

Worth Way – A fairly short walk (about seven miles) along a disused railway between Three Bridges and East Grinstead (both in Sussex). It shouldn’t be particularly challenging but will serve as a nice little warm up for some of the longer/steeper walks.

Chalk Stones Trail – Another shorter walk, taking in part of the South Downs and the village of West Dean, Sussex. What is there not to like?

There are also several shorter walks in London that I wouldn’t mind doing, and I would like to revisit the site of the 2012 Olympics and see how the building works have progressed over the intervening months.

Genealogy Walks

There are lots of places that I want to visit, just to go and visit the areas where my ancestors came from and explore a few churches and cemeteries. In fact there is hardly a village in Sussex that isn’t on my list (admittedly it is as yet an unwritten list) of places to visit and photograph.

The list isn’t just limited to Sussex, there are plenty of places in Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and London that I want to visit. I definitely want to spend more time in the town of Alton and the village of Exton, both in Hampshire.

Unlike most of the other walks, these walks will be more about the destination rather than the actual walking itself. All I need to work out is how I am going to fit it all into 12 months.

Ancestral Profile: George MITCHELL (1873-1951)

25 Oct

George MITCHELL is my great-grandfather, unfortunately I have no known photograph of him, although there are so many descendants that I feel sure there is one out there somewhere.

George was the son of William Henry and Harriet MITCHELL, he was born on the 13th April 1873 in East Meon, Hampshire and was one of thirteen children. His birth was registered by his mother on the 23rd April 1873 and he was baptised in Clanfield, Hampshire on the 25th May 1873.

Throughout his childhood the family appear to have moved frequently, eventually crossing from Hampshire into Sussex and settling in West Dean, Sussex. It was at St. Andrew’s Church in West Dean that he married Lilian May BOXALL on the 6th October 1894, George was aged 21 and Lilian was 17 years old and also from West Dean.

George and Lilian appear to have spent the rest of their lives living at Warren Farm (sometimes known as Warren Barn) in West Dean. Together they had a total of sixteen children, divided equally between eight boys and eight girls. It appears that all but one of them survived to adulthood.

Precise details of George’s working life are thin on the ground, census returns show him carrying out various roles associated with farming, leading him to be best described as an agricultural labourer, but the focus appears to have been on working with horses. His obituary records that he had worked “29½ years for Mr. Knight, 4 for Mr. Ruff and 18 for Mr. Heyler”, all presumably the tenant farmers at Warren Farm, although the farm itself was probably owned by the West Dean Estate.

I have written about George’s death before, he died on the 4th January 1951 at St. Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, Sussex having been kicked on the head by a horse on the 31st December 1950. His funeral took place at St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean the 10th January 1951. He is buried in the burial ground at West Dean, with his wife Lilian who died several years previously in 1939.

Grave of George and Lilian May MITCHELL

Grave of George and Lilian May MITCHELL (West Dean, Sussex)

 

Statistically speaking… "a huge great chunk of Sussex"

8 Oct

I am proud of the fact that my ancestral roots run deep in Sussex, but just how much of my ancestry stems from Sussex. Just to satisfy my own curiosity I decided I would try and analyse where my roots come from.

Using the place of birth or baptism for my 4x great-grandparents, I summarised the English counties that they came from (to the best of my knowledge none of them were born outside of England). Then using Microsoft Excel I came up with a simple pie chart that would illustrate the figures, the resulting chart shows quite clearly where my roots lie.

Pie Chart It is only a very simple chart, I could probably have spent ages tweaking it, but it is only meant to give a basic idea, and I think it does that quite well with it’s huge great chunk of Sussex ancestors. Approximately two-thirds of my 4x great-grandparents were from Sussex. If I took this further and grouped together the southern counties of Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent you would find almost 80% of my 4x great-grandparents.

So what does this prove, not a lot really, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have inherited any of the traits of my Sussex ancestors, any more than those of my Gloucestershire ancestors. I does show that I haven’t strayed far from the homes of most of my ancestors, and they themselves didn’t stray far either. Of course there is still the annoying ‘unknown’ segment, there is possibly one Scottish ancestor within there, and I am sure as I go further back I will eventually find some foreign blood.

All these statistics are based on the best information currently available. If I wanted to be more sophisticated I could probably further refine it by using an earlier generation where known (so one 5x great-grandparent would equal 1/128 of my roots) and eliminate the unknowns by using a more recent generation. However, I think I probably have better things to do with my time than playing with numbers and pie charts.

Satisfying my curiosity – ordering the wills of my ancestors

27 Aug

The recently released National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk has tempted me into ordering copies of four wills, three of which I wouldn’t have even thought about ordering for a long time, the other one I probably would have ordered in the near future.

I don’t think any of these four wills are actually going to solve any particular research problems, but they should hopefully satisfy my curiosity.

  • John FAIRS (my 3x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in November 1915. John FAIRS was an agricultural labourer and if the cross on his daughter’s wedding certificate is anything to go by he was not well educated. So why was his estate valued at over £982? Where had this wealth come from?
  • William TROWER (my 4x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in January 1875. William TROWER was a farmer, almost the last of several generations to farm and live at Harwoods Farm in Henfield. I will be interested to see if the TROWER family were still owners of the farm.
  • Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) of Blackboys, Sussex who died in January 1914. Henry HEMSLEY was the licensee and owner of the Gun Inn, and the attached farm. This is the will I would probably have ordered quite soon, in the process of trying to find out everything I can about the inn.
  • Henry WRIGHT (my 3x great-grandfather) of Alton, Hampshire who died in August 1895. Henry WRIGHT was originally known as Henry SHORNDEN and he moved from Kent to Hampshire for some reason, I don’t really expect find answers as to why he changed his named and moved to Kent, but I would like to find out as much as I can about his life.
    If nothing else these wills are going to give me plenty of work to do as I process this lot, but it is also going to force me to get my act together when it comes to recording all the details in my database, in fact it might be worth starting now and deciding how all the information should be recorded.

Whilst I am waiting for them to arrive I should probably also write a post on how to order copies of wills, and how easy it is if you live in the UK and have a cheque book, otherwise things start getting a little more difficult.

Four font photos

23 Jul

After showing you the beautifully carved marble font at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to show you a few of the other fonts I have photographed this year.

They are all from rural churches in the counties of Sussex and Hampshire and all have a family connection. As you can see they are not quite as ornate as the one at St James’s and most of them are not as old.

From left to right they are:

Chilcomb, Hampshire – the VCH of Hampshire says that “all the internal fittings are modern, the font, with a small bowl on an octagonal shaft, standing on a marble coffin-lid”.

Exton, Hampshire – this font is not as old as it seems, according to the VCH of Hampshire, “near the south door is the modern octagonal font of thirteenth-century style.”

Singleton, Sussex – described in the VCH of Sussex as being “octagonal, perhaps 15th-century”, not very descriptive really.

West Dean, Sussex – much of this church was destroyed by a fire in 1934 and this is obviously a modern font, which doesn’t even get a mention in the VCH of Sussex.

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