Tag Archives: henry wright

Staying up late with Sarah LAY

11 Jan

Why is it that so many of my most important genealogical discoveries happen late at night, when I should be going to bed? Last night it was the turn of Sarah LAY, the wife of Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT (and my 3x great-grandmother) to keep me up half the night.

Like her husband Henry I know quite a bit about her already and many of the same questions that apply to Henry also apply to Sarah. One important difference (other than not going to prison) is that I was missing Sarah’s baptism, but I believe that mystery has now been solved.

Although I had a rough idea of her year of birth and her father’s name (from her marriage certificate) what I was missing was a place. Sarah is one of those people whose place of birth changes between every census:

  • 1851 – Harrow, Middlesex
  • 1861 – Alton, Hampshire
  • 1871 – Lincolnshire [at least that is the best I can make out]
  • 1881 – Deptford, Kent

Then of course there could be Ospringe, Kent (where Henry was baptised) or Milton next Gravesend, Kent (where the couple married). To be honest Sarah could have been born/baptised almost anywhere in the country, but most likely within the South-East of England.

I had a quick search of the new FamilySearch.org website, which came up with a hit for Deptford, Kent. The father’s name was correct and the date was about right, in fact there was nothing about it that gives me cause to doubt it is the right one.

Knowing that Deptford is now part of London (in the borough of Lewisham) I wondered why it hadn’t come up when I had searched the London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 on Ancestry.co.uk, but when I browsed the baptism register for St. Paul’s Deptford it soon became obvious why it hadn’t come up.

The transcription had been mangled, although it wasn’t really Ancestry’s fault, the Rector who had filled in the original register had transposed the surname and abode boxes. It didn’t help that their address was quite unusual, “Loving Edwards Lane”, so their names ended up well and truly mangled.

Instead of Sarah being the daughter of Joseph and Hannah LAY she was transcribed as Sarah daughter of Joseph Louis and Hannah Jane Edwards. All quite straight forward to untangle once you know what you are looking for.

This is an important lead in the search to find out more about Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT as I now have another set of relatives to track down which might in turn lead me to Henry and his family in the 1841 census.

Also this means I now have another direct ancestor on my family tree, Sarah’s mother Hannah, my 4x great-grandmother. All I need to do now is find out what her maiden name was and hopefully I can also push both the branches of my tree back a few more generations.

However that will have to wait, I have promised myself that I will try to get an early night tonight!

Why Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT?

10 Jan

I know I don’t really need to justify why I should be interested in finding out about a particular ancestor (after all that is what family history is all about). This is in part as a way of establishing what it is that I want to find out and thinking about how I am going to achieve it.

I already know a fair bit about Henry. I know who his parents were and where he was baptised. I know where and when he was married and to whom. I know where and when most of his children were born and baptised. I know where Henry spent most of his adult life, what he did for a living and where he died and was buried.

At first glance there seems very few basic facts (eg census, BMDs and parish registers) left to find out, in fact it is really just a question of finding Henry (and family) in the 1841 census and identifying where his first two children (Mary Ann and Harriet) were born and baptised. Given that Harriet is my 2x great-grandmother, I am quite keen to find out where she was born.

These few simple missing facts are indicators of a much more complicated situation with many unanswered questions and life changing events in a relatively short space of time. There is a five-year period (roughly speaking 1837 to 1842) where Henry’s life changed dramatically and it is these five years that I am really interested in.

In those five years the following events happened in Henry’s life and I would really like to find out more about them and the reasons behind what happened:

  1. In 1838 he was tried and convicted of larceny for which he served 12 months in prison.
  2. In 1840 he married Sarah LAY in Milton Next Gravesend, Kent.
  3. At some time between 1837 and 1840 Henry and Sarah had two children, one possibly before they married.
  4. At some time between 1840 and 1842 the family moved from Kent to Alton, Hampshire.

I would really like to get an accurate timeline of events and try to establish what were the reasons behind these events and whether there was any cause and effect between the events.

I would also like to find out as much as I can about Henry’s life in Alton and to some extent that of his children as well. One aspect that I really want to clarify is Henry’s occupation(s). At various times in his life Henry seems to have been employed as a chimney sweep, cutler and lodging house keeper and I would like to find out more about these, especially the lodging house keeper. What was the lodging house called? Was he there for long? Did he own the lodging house?

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 …

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