Tag Archives: high hurstwood

I need to find out more about my grandmother

12 Feb

All the work I have been doing “Finding Minnie” and the subsequent blogging of the story has brought back into focus one of the big weaknesses in my family history. It is something that I have known for a long time, but perhaps not really acknowledged fully.

The more I began to dig around the story of Minnie, the more it became obvious that I have some big gaps in the knowledge of my grandmother’s life. Those gaps haven’t stopped my research, I know all the basic facts that I need to build a family tree, but I am missing background on her early life.

When I say early life I really mean from when she was born to when she married my grandfather at the age of sixteen. My knowledge of her first sixteen years is pretty much limited to her birth and baptism records, and as she was born in 1916 I don’t even have a census record for her.

I am not sure how much more information can be found, school records and church records are obvious sources that need to be investigated, but it would also be good to confirm exactly where she lived and what work did she do after she finished school?

Further information can probably be learnt (or implied) by looking into the lives of her parents (like using Electoral Rolls), but there may be other sources that I haven’t yet considered.

I don’t really know much about High Hurstwood, Sussex where my grandmother was born and presumably grew up, I really need to find out more about the village and village life. This might present further opportunities to find out more about my grandmother.

One big question that I would like to answer is how did my grandparents meet? My grandmother was from East Sussex and my grandfather from West Sussex, many miles apart, what brought them together in a geographical sense?

Further to this lack of knowledge there is another problem. Much of the information I do have after their marriage is not recorded in my database. From things such as baptism and school records for their children I have addresses that should be recorded and dates when the family moved house.

To some extent this problem doesn’t just apply to my grandmother, but to all my grandparents, but I have to start somewhere and it is a natural addition to my ongoing work on “Finding Minnie”.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: High Hurstwood Church, Sussex

7 Feb

Several of my Finding Minnie posts have mentioned the High Hurstwood, Sussex and this postcard shows Holy Trinity Church, where my great-grandmother was married (twice) and where my grandmother was baptised.

This particular postcard is unused, but probably dates from around 1910, perhaps a little later. The style of the caption gives it away as being published by Cecil Travers and it is a really super photo.

Then line of the hedgerow clearly illustrates the fact that the church is built on a slope, and I love that the photographer must have been standing up to his waist in the meadow grass to get the photo.

I love this church, not just because of the family connections, but because it is one of the most unusual churches I have seen. I haven’t been inside yet, but the outside is a pleasing assortment of architectural features and adornments, and there have been more since.

I really must try to get back over to High Hurstwood this year and explore the area further.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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What happened next to Kate Allison?

30 Jan

With the widowed Kate Allison (who I could confidently call my 2x great-aunt) and presumably her five children back in Uckfield Registration District, it seemed only natural that she should turn to her family for help.

Maybe the Allison family were even living with my great-grandparents (Minnie and Henry Herbert Hemsley) in High Hurstwood, Sussex, but whether they were or not it makes perfect sense for my great-grandparents to help out and even “adopt” one of her daughters.

But maybe the picture I had built in my mind of the poor, helpless Kate, unable to look after her family wasn’t being fair, perhaps I shouldn’t be making that assumption. Sure it seemed like she had given up at least one of her children to be looked after by her sister and brother-in-law, but I still wasn’t sure whether that was the end of the story.

One other possibility was that after she had moved back to Sussex Kate herself had died and the children had been left orphans. I shouldn’t automatically assume that Kate simply couldn’t cope.

There was no sign in the GRO Indexes that Kate had died, not under the name of Kate Allison anyway, but what I did find was a marriage for Kate Allison in Q4 1917 in Uckfield Registration District. I knew I needed to get a copy of the marriage certificate to clear away any remaining doubts that I might have had about her identity.

The certificate that arrived showed that Kate Allison married Patrick Vaughan at High Hurstwood on the 25th December, the certificate said the year was 1918, but the marriage had been indexed in the last quarter of 1917. Hopefully that will turn out to be a clerical error, with the certificate having the wrong year, but filed in the correct year and quarter, but I still have to check that out.

The details for Kate were what I had expected, she was a 40-year-old widow living in High Hurstwood and her father was Thomas Driver, this time still alive and kicking despite what had been recorded at her first marriage.

Interestingly Patrick Vaughan was a widower, his age was given as 43 years old, he was living in what looked like Seaford (not many miles away on the Sussex coast) but the handwriting was a bit dodgy so I couldn’t be certain. His occupation was given as Soldier Sapper and his father was Thomas Vaughan a labourer. I wasn’t totally surprised to find Patrick was a soldier, after all the majority of the male population were fighting in the Great War, so that wasn’t unusual.

Then my brain started filling with the questions:

  • Was Patrick the father of the unfortunate Georgina Allison who was born and died in 1916?
  • Was Seaford his real home or was he merely stationed there?
  • Did Patrick survive the First World War? And did his service record survive the Second World War?
  • What happened to the children of Kate’s first marriage, is this why Minnie was “adopted”?
  • Did Patrick have any children from his previous marriage(s)?
  • Who were the two strangers who were witnesses to their marriage?

With access to many First World War service records on Ancestry.co.uk I knew that I should at least be able to answer a few of these questions. I hoped for Kate’s sake that this marriage would see her enter a new settled phase of her life, after several years of dramatic changes, but only further research would tell.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

28 Jan

The widowed Kate Allison had returned to Uckfield Registration District sometime between the death of her husband Robert Cecil Allison in 1914 and the birth (and death) of an illegitimate daughter Georgina in 1916.

This pretty much confirmed that she was my 2x great-aunt, but the final confirmation came when I looked back at the marriage certificate of my great-grandmother Minnie Driver. Four years after the death of her first husband (my great-grandfather Henry Herbert Hemsley) Minnie re-married Robert Farlow in High Hurstwood, Sussex.

Just under four years ago I ordered a copy of their marriage certificate to confirm some details and make sure that I had the right husband (Moses Farlow). When I looked again at the certificate I realised that I had undeniable proof that Kate Allison was my 2x great-aunt.

Until I had started on this search for my grandmother’s “adopted” sister the two witnesses were unknown to me, and to be honest they weren’t that important to me. I mean why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

Actually that is not strictly true, I knew I should try to find out who they were, but they were a low priority. Four years ago there were plenty more important people to work on and fewer records online, so they never really got the attention they deserved.

Of course the importance of the two witnesses should not be measured by the importance they have to me (are they my relations?) but by the importance that they had to my relatives.

I am sure you can guess where I am going with this, one of the witnesses on the marriage certificate was Kate’s daughter, Minnie Gladys Allison the adopted “sister” I had been searching for along.

Her name had been sitting in my records all along, it felt like I had gone full circle, but without making that journey I probably wouldn’t have realised the significance of the name on the marriage certificate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Picture Postcard Parade: High Hurst Wood, Buxted

18 Feb

This is my latest bargain buy from eBay, a view of High Hurstwood in the parish of Buxted, Sussex. It hasn’t been used, and there is no publisher or photographer named.

High Hurstwood

This is the sort of view that I think of as typical of the Sussex countryside, gently rolling hills, well not really hills more slopes. It is criss-crossed with hedgerows, some hiding roads and tracks others just providing boundaries.

Of course if I take off my rose-tinted glasses, I can see that the Sussex landscape is much more varied, and many of the hedgerows have now gone.

I have spent sometime looking at a map trying to pick out some of the features on this card, but the only feature I can pick out is Holy Trinity Church. It is over on the left-hand side just below the skyline, fortunately it is quite a distinctive shape (see my post from High Hurstwood last year).

High Hurstwood Church close-up

If I can get hold of an older map I will probably be able to identify some of the other buildings, but based on the position of the church it appears that most of my ancestors homes are too far to the left to be in the picture.

Wandering around Buxted

19 Aug

From High Hurstwood I made my way to the village of Buxted. I was hoping I might find a few ancestral gravestones here, but my hopes weren’t very high as I have no evidence that any of my ancestors were buried at Buxted, but merely lived in the parish for a while.

To be honest I was a little disappointed with the church of St Mary the Virgin at Buxted. I am not sure why, it looks quite nice, but I just didn’t warm to it. There was a small graveyard behind the church, which was being kept trimmed by sheep (at least I think those shaggy things that moved to the next field when they saw me coming were sheep).

St Mary the Virgin, Buxted

St Mary the Virgin, Buxted

A short walk down the road from the church is Buxted railway station. At one stage I had planned to catch the train back to Uckfield, but by this time I had decided I would walk back to the bus route and take the bus home. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the station because it looked quite charming.

Buxted railway station

Buxted railway station

Next stop was the church of St Margaret the Queen, Buxted, set in the grounds of Buxted Park. This was much more to my liking, lovely and cool inside and well presented outside. There was lots going on here, a stone mason at work in the churchyard, and a gang of men on the roof replacing the shingles on the spire.

St Margaret the Queen, Buxted

St Margaret the Queen, Buxted

I was surprised by the number of people that visited the church whilst I was poking around amongst the gravestones. There are some very old gravestones here with some wonderful carvings, but sadly none that I could identify from any of my ancestral lines.

I resisted the temptation to visit Buxted Park Hotel. I don’t think they would have been amused at a hot and sweaty genealogist turning up in their lovely expensive hotel asking if they had any record of his great grandmother having worked there nearly 100 years ago. Perhaps one day when I am feeling very rich!

Blogging to you live from High Hurstwood, Sussex (well nearly)

19 Aug

This is the first time my new netbook has been out in the field with me, and although it is extra weight to carry, this is only a gentle walk today so it is not too bad.

I have made my way to Holy Trinity Church, High Hurstwood, Sussex first by bus (or rather buses) and then about an hours walk. I am sitting on a bench in the churchyard and this is the wonderful view I can see.

View from a bench at High Hurstwood, Sussex

View from a bench at High Hurstwood, Sussex

Holy Trinity is to my mind quite an unusual church because of it’s shape, all sorts of odd bits are sticking out here and there. I think quirky would be a good word to describe it. The photo from the front (below) will show you what I mean.

Holy Trinity Church, High Hurstwood, Sussex

Holy Trinity Church, High Hurstwood, Sussex

My route here took me past Stone House Cottage, just outside High Hurstwood itself, where my grandmother Annie HEMSLEY was born and where her father Henry Herbert HEMSLEY died. It is his gravestone that I am hoping to find here at Holy Trinity Church, although I have no idea whether he was buried or cremated here or not.

The other reason for visiting Holy Trinity is because my widowed great grandmother Minnie DRIVER (HEMSLEY as she was then) married Moses FARLOW here in February 1925.

From here I will head back along the Vanguard Way to Buxted and visit the church there and then probably along to Buxted Park and visit the church there, before making my way back to Uckfield to catch a bus back to Brighton and home.

[Just as I tried to send this post I discovered I had no mobile broadband signal, so it had to wait until I was back in Uckfield on the bus to send it]

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