Tag Archives: hemsley

Making the News: The four Hemsley brothers from Framfield, Sussex

15 May

Probably the most unusual article I discovered on my recent trawl of the British Newspaper Archive concerned four probable relatives from Framfield, Sussex.

SHOOTING.

To the Editor of the Sussex Advertiser and Surrey Gazette.

MR EDITOR,- Will you favor me with an odd corner in your paper for the following:-

  Four brothers, named Hemsley, living at Framfield, gave a challenge to shoot with any four brothers in the county, out and home. I accepted the challenge on behalf of four brothers, in Lewes, named Baker, and tossed with the Hemsleys’ backer for the choice of the first match, which I won; and it was arranged between us to come off in Lewes.

  Strange to say, the boasting challengers have shewn a white feather, and decline the trial of skill!

  Now, Sir, will you allow me space to say, that on behalf of the Bakers, I publicly challenge the Hemsleys to shoot a match (out and home) at six birds each man; or to make a match (out and home) with a larger number of men on each side if they prefer it.

  If they decline this, I recommend them to boast less for the future, and not give a challenge they do not intend to fulfil if accepted.

WM. EAGER.

Southover, Lewes,
7th March, 1851.

This letter was published in the Sussex Advertiser on the 11th March 1851. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out whether any match did take place or who the boasting Hemsley brothers actually were. It is quite likely that they were relatives, most of the Hemsleys in Framfield seem to have been related to me in one way or another.

Without any more information I am not going to be able to do much more with this article, but it is a lovely glimpse into life 160 years ago nonetheless, which admittedly doesn’t paint the Hemsleys in a very good light.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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A puzzling group photograph

21 Apr

Of all the photographs in my collection this is probably the most distressed, but it is also one of the most interesting. I just wish I knew more about it.

There are a couple of people in this photo who look familiar, the woman on the front-left could be my great-grandmother Minnie Driver/Hemsley/Farlow and the young woman on the front-right could be my grandmother Annie Hemsley.

The old man at the back might be my great-grandmother’s second husband but I less sure about that. Also the woman with the large black hat looks familiar, but I am not sure from where.

That still leaves plenty of other people to be identified, including the little boy at the front. Of course there is also the location to be identified, a lovely rural backdrop with farm buildings and a haystack.

Using the digital image I need to put in some work on cleaning up the photo and then attempt to put a date to the photo, to see these are the people I think they might be.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My top-ten surnames updated (or not as the case may be)

31 Mar

On two previous occasions I have produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree (in February 2010 and May 2011) and I decided it would be interesting to see if much had changed since the last time.

The results were quite interesting (for me at least) and illustrated just how little work I did on my family tree last year.

  1. TROWER (152)
  2. GASSON (133)
  3. MITCHELL (92)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (52)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

None of the positions have changed since last year and the actual number of entries had changed very little. Only the number of Trowers and Gassons have increased and somewhat worryingly the number of Mitchells and Boxalls had decreased.

I remember removing a family of Mitchells who I haven’t been able to link into my family tree yet, but I am not sure why I have lost a Boxall. I think it might have been the result of a merger.

I know it is not really about the numbers, but it would be nice to see them increasing a bit more.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Who was Minnie?

12 Jan

It was never going to be easy finding the identity of my grandmother’s adopted sister, as I had very little information to go on. Initially all I had to go on was the first name Minnie and the adopted sister relationship.

Of course the term “adopted sister” is suitably vague enough to mean just about anything, was it an official adoption? Was she actually related in some way? Perhaps a cousin? Perhaps she was a half-sister or step-sister?

There were too many possibilities, but my only real hope would be that somewhere there would be a record of my grandmother and Minnie living together or going to the same school, that would give me a clue to her surname (which of course might not be the name her birth was registered under).

The fact that her name was Minnie might not seem particularly helpful, assuming that this was her real name and not a nickname. At least it is a relatively unusual name which always helps when you don’t have much else to go on, but more importantly it was a family name.

My grandmother’s mother was Minnie Driver and my grandmother also had an aunt on her father’s side of the family by the name of Minnie Hemsley. This hinted at a family connection, but of course there were no likely Minnie Drivers or Minnie Hemsleys that seemed to fit the idea of being around my grandmother’s age.

That raises another issue, just how old was Minnie? Was she a younger or older sister? Natural sisters can be born years apart and presumably adopted sisters (whatever that means) could be born even further apart.

So in short there were virtually no hard facts to go on, but slowly a few more “facts” came to light.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The Gun Inn, Blackboys: A little background on pub history

11 May

Pub history is something I became interested in through my local history studies, so it was really pleasing to discover that one of my ancestors had been the owner and licensee of a pub.

That ancestor was Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) and the pub in question (actually a beerhouse) was The Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written several posts about Henry HEMSLEY before, but haven’t written a lot about the pub itself.

Pub history is closely related to family history because an important part of the pub is its people, whether it is the owners/workers or the people/organisations that used it. Many of the same sources are used such as census returns and directories.

Pub history is also closely related to house history after all it is about a building and it’s contents. As such it uses many of the same records that are used in house history, like tax and rate books and maps and plans.

Pubs have also generated their own set of records as a result of the fact that they were licensed. Of course they weren’t unique in being licensed but it has helped generate a potentially large set of records to investigate.

It also helps that pubs have always needed to attract customers, so they needed to be advertised, which means they are often mentioned in guide books and in more recent decades there have been books devoted to lists of pubs and their facilities.

As well as providing a resting place for the weary traveller they also served an important role in the local community, they have served as meeting places for a range of organisations and groups, another excuse for the pub to be featured in newspaper reports.

Then there is the physical building itself (if it still exists) which potentially offers many clues to its history and what it used to look like. There might be architectural features that provide a connection to a brewery or maybe the layout of the building will provide clues to the original layout of the building.

In short there are lots of sources of information for pub history, pulling them all together to create a complete picture can be a complicated task. Just like family history part of the challenge is knowing where to look for the information and not being disheartened when that missing piece of information is not where it should be.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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