Tag Archives: howlett

Moving on from Ann the wife of James GEERING

6 Mar

It appears that I have reached a dead-end with my research into Ann the wife of James GEERING. I am reluctant to call it a brick-wall at the moment because I haven’t quite exhausted all avenues of research yet, but I have certainly exhausted all the quick and easy avenues.

The marriage register entry for Ann HOWLETT and James GEARING gave me the names of two witnesses, one of which I couldn’t read properly, but neither looked like any name that was familiar to me. I have a copy of the marriage licence allegation, but haven’t checked the bond which might give me a couple more names to work on.

I am still pretty certain that Ann was a HOWLETT because of the naming of her children and that there is probably a connection with Francis HOWLETT the schoolmaster and postmaster of Hailsham, Sussex. Francis was born about 1751 and Ann was born about 1777 so it is possible that Francis was Ann’s father.

I have two problems, first that Francis HOWLETT was “one of a party of strolling players who arrived in the place on a professional tour, he gave up the buskin and settled down to quiet domestic life, married a wife from the neighbourhood” (according to Thomas Geering in his book Our Sussex Parish), so he could have come from just about anywhere in the country, and I don’t know what happened to his wife.

The second problem is that I don’t know much about James GEERING between his baptism in 1776 and the 1841 census. There is a suggestion that he may have been in the military, but I haven’t come up with any evidence for this yet.

Anyway for the time being I think it is time to move on, there are plenty of other ancestors I need to trace, but I have planted the seed now and I will wait and see if anything else comes to mind whilst I focus my attention on someone else.

Next on my list is Ellen NICHOLLS, my 3x great-grandmother. I need to be certain that I have the correct parents and then find their parents. It is quite a complicated affair but I do at least have some idea of the work I need to do. I also need to have another look at finding evidence of her marriage to William GEERING.

All that work for one tiny little fact

23 Feb

As is so often the case the search for one little fact led to much more work than I had anticipated.

I wanted to find out where Ann GEERING (the daughter of my 5x great grandparents James and Ann GEERING) was born. She was baptised in the parish church at Hailsham, Sussex on the 26th April 1806, but the parish register recorded that she was actually born on the 18th September 1803.

The parish register didn’t say where she had been born, but as her other three siblings were baptised in Hailsham in a timely manner it seemed likely that the family weren’t at home when Ann was born and they waited until they got back home to have her baptised, at the same time as her younger brother (who was nine months old when he was baptised).

Having found a likely suspect for Ann GEERING in Brighton, Sussex (working as a servant) I had to set about proving it was in fact her. Fortunately in 1861 she was living with James and Margaret GEERING and she was listed as James’ aunt.

I then had to find out who James GEERING was. I followed him through the census, his first wife died and he remarried and finally in 1911, after he had been widowed for a second time, he was living in Lewes, Sussex with his brother Mark Anthony GEERING.

As you might imagine there haven’t been that many Mark Anthony GEERINGs in the world, but I do have one in my family tree and all the details matched. James and Mark Anthony’s father was Richard GEERING, sister of the Ann GEERING I was looking for.

Success at last, and I now know that Ann GEERING was born in Heathfield, Sussex (perhaps a dozen or so miles north of Hailsham where she was baptised) or at least she thought that she was born there. What the family were doing there will probably remain a mystery unless some other connection emerges further down the line.

Next steps….

I need to check to make sure that I have checked the parish registers for Heathfield. I have searched FamilySearch and the SFHG Data Archive but I need to check that Heathfield is included in one of these and if so what time period is covered.

I am not sure who or what I would be looking for, probably other GEERINGs and maybe some HOWLETTs in the registers. I would probably have found a marriage for James and Ann if it had been in Heathfield because the SFHG marriage index covers all of Sussex up to 1837, but it would be a perfect place to look for the older Ann’s baptism.

Why so many of my 5x great-grandparents are missing

22 Feb

I have started in my attempt to find all my 5x great-grandparents with a review of the existing data, the work needed and possible problems. I didn’t get very far before I realised that there was a good reason why I hadn’t identified these direct ancestors yet.

It is not going to be an easy project (if it was that easy then I would probably have found them already) for a number of reasons, there are a few specific issues like illegitimacy but several common issues, largely due to the dates I am talking about.

Specifically I am talking about a time before civil registration began in 1837 and before the first detailed census in 1841. So there is now marriage certificate to give me a father’s name, no birth certificates with a mother’s maiden name and no age or place of birth information from the census.

Although these obstacles are not uncommon and not insurmountable, when they are coupled with missing parish registers, illegitimacy and even a bit of migration within the country it can all add up to a major challenge.

In some cases it is going to mean a bit of guess-work to narrow down the choices to several likely parents and then work forwards trying to find evidence for children (and grandchildren) perhaps in a will or as an informant in a later birth or death certificate, hopefully building up enough evidence to prove a connection.

Fortunately most of these people lived locally (in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire) with only a few slightly further afield (Cumberland, Gloucestershire and possibly Somerset) which will be a bit harder to research, but not impossible.

My Ancestral Profile post a couple of days ago was the result of my first review of information. Since then I think I have found out what happened to Ann’s daughter (also called Ann) and where she was born (Heathfield, Sussex) but still need to prove it. Checking my dates it is quite possible that Ann was the daughter of Francis HOWLETT but I just don’t have the hard evidence to back it up yet.

Ancestral Profile: Ann, the wife of James GEERING (c1777-1844)

20 Feb

Ann was my 5x great-grandmother, known as the wife of Jame GEERING of Hailsham, Sussex because I don’t know much about her life before she married.

Ann’s date of birth is based on the age given on her death certificate and allowing for rounding it matches the age on the 1841 census. The 1841 census suggests that she was not born in Sussex, but that is the only piece of evidence that points to where she came from.

I don’t have any marriage details for Ann and James GEERING, and the only hard evidence that I have that suggests they did marry is her death certificate which records her occupation as “Wife of James Geering Chemist”. I do have a marriage which I suspect is them (see below) but have not been able to prove so far.

If a marriage did occur it was probably between 1795 and 1798, because their four children were born not long after this period. All four children were baptised in Hailsham, Sussex:

  • Jane Howlett GEERING (baptised 24 Apr 1798)
  • John James GEERING (baptised 9 Aug 1800)
  • Ann GEERING (born 18 Sep 1803, baptised 26 Apr 1806)
  • Richard GEERING (born 20 Jul 1805, baptised 26 Apr 1806)

The late baptism of Ann’s daughter Ann suggests that the family had more important things to do at the time or may have been away elsewhere. I have been unable to find any more information about the younger Ann, but her census information might reveal where she was born and what the family was up to. There is a possibility that James GEERING was serving in the army, but I have also been unable to prove this.

The middle name of James and Ann’s first child is almost certainly an indicator of Ann’s maiden name. There is a marriage of James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT at St. Martins in the Field, Westminster, Middlesex on the 30th September 1797, but so far I have been unable to prove that these are my ancestors.

There is a second piece of evidence which gives a connection with the HOWLETT surname, one of James and Ann’s grandchildren was named Francis Howlett GEERING (he was the eldest son of John James GEERING). There was a schoolmaster and postmaster named Francis HOWLETT living in Hailsham, so there is a chance that Jane and Francis were named after him and there is no family connection, but it seems more likely that there is a family connection with the HOWLETT surname and quite possible that Ann and Francis HOWLETT were related.

The 1841 census shows Ann living in Lewes, Sussex with her son Richard GEERING and his wife Eliza and their five children. The odd thing about this situation is that Ann’s husband James was living in Hailsham at the same time. I don’t know whether this was a temporary situation, or whether this was a more permanent separation.

Ann died before her husband, on the 2nd May 1844 aged 67 years old, and still in the town of Lewes. The cause of death was paralysis and her death was registered on the 6th May 1844 by Eliza GEERING (presumably her daughter-in-law). She was buried on the 7th May 1844 presumably at St. John’s Church, Lewes. Interestingly when her husband died in January 1850 he was buried in Hailsham, adding further to the speculation that James and Ann had split for some reason.

Further Research

I really need to take a closer look at the marriage of James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT, the data I have comes from the IGI and doesn’t give me the names of the witnesses. I have a copy of the marriage licence allegation for the marriage but that doesn’t give me any further information.

I need to try to find out more about Francis HOWLETT, hoping that a connection will emerge if I can trace his parents. The problem is that I have even less genealogical information for Francis HOWLETT than I do for Ann.

The marriage licence allegation proves inconclusive

18 Sep

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about ordering a copy of the marriage licence allegation for James GEARING and Ann HOWLETT, who may be my 5x great-grandparents. I was hoping this might prove that the marriage in St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London on the 30th September 1797 is the correct one.

The marriage licence allegation arrived last weekend, but unfortunately it doesn’t really prove anything either way. The allegation shows that both James and Ann were over 21 years old and James had been living in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields for at least four weeks, and would be marrying in the same parish.

The only thing that might throw a spanner in the works is that Ann would only have been 20 years old, but James may not have known his intendeds true age, or may have just lied to save time and trouble (and probably money).

The only saving grace might be the signature of James GEARING that is on the bottom of the allegation, it might not even be his actual signature. At some stage I might be able to tie that signature up with a known copy of the signature of my James GEERING (although I don’t think I actually have one at the moment).

The marriage licence allegation is a pre-printed page with the details written in by hand. The actual allegation reads:

Appeared perfonally James Gearing and made Oath, that he is of the Parish of Saint Martin in the Fields in the County of Middlesex a Bachelor of the age of Twenty one years and upwards and intendeth to marry with Ann Howlett of the same Parish a Spinster of the age of twenty one years and upwards and the he knoweth of no lawful Impediment, by Reafon of any Pre-contract, Confanguinity, Affinity, or any other lawful Means whatfoever, to hinder the faid intended Marriage, and prayed a Licence to folemnize the fame in the Parifh Church of Saint Martin in the Fields and further made Oath, that the ufual Place of Abode of him the appeaser hath been in the faid Parifh of Saint Martin in the Fields for the Space of four Weeks laft paft.

Searching for Mrs GEERING

3 Sep

I seem to be flitting about my family tree like a butterfly, seemingly alighting on people at random, but I guess I am getting drawn back to the same old favourites. Last night I was back looking at the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex.

I have written much about the GEERINGs and their chemist and druggist shop in Hailsham, and the one that ended up drowning in the Common Pond, but still one problem remains unsolved. Who did my 5x great-grandfather James GEERING marry?

I know it was Ann, but Ann who? My money is on HOWLETT. According to the International Genealogical Index James GEARING married Ann HOWLETT on the 30th September 1797 at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. James and Ann GEERING’s first child was Jane Howlett GEERING, born in Lewes, Sussex around the beginning of 1798 and baptised in Hailsham in April 1798.

So everything seems to point to Ann HOWLETT, but there is just not quite enough evidence for me to say for certain, which is why my database still shows her as just Ann.

Searching online last night I remembered Origins.net and the fact that my membership of the Society of Genealogists gives me 72 hours of free access every quarter. As I haven’t used it this quarter, and we are not far from the end of the quarter I thought I ought to have a look.

Origins.net is not as well known as the likes of Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk and their collections are not so large, but there are some useful collections on the site, and some interesting resources which I have never really looked at closely.

To cut a long story short, I ended up ordering a hard copy of the marriage licence allegation for the marriage of James GEERING and Ann HOWLETT in the hope that this will give me enough information to be able to confirm that this marriage is the correct one. It should at least give me the parishes where both the bride and groom came from.

It is a bit of a long shot, I have no evidence that James or Ann were ever in London. James may have been a soldier, so that may have taken him to the city, but even that is not a definite. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My 6x great-grandmother was “the old druggist”

17 Apr

I am finally in a position to be able to say with confidence that my 6x great-grandmother Mary GEERING was the woman that was described by Thomas Geering in his book Our Sussex Parish as “the old druggist”.

It was about eight weeks ago that I first wrote about the discovery of Thomas Geering’s book and set about proving to my own satisfaction that my ancestor was described in the book (so far I have not been able to find a family connection with Thomas Geering himself).

It always seemed quite likely to me that I was related to “the old druggist” and quite often over the past couple of months I have referred to the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex as my ancestors even when I haven’t been 100% certain until now.

The final piece of evidence was the death certificate of Ann GEERING (my 5x great-grandmother), but really it is not just that one piece of evidence but all the other bits of evidence I accumulated over the weeks, and the complete absence of any trace of contradictory evidence.

Although I have achieved my major goal, I still feel that I have a lot more work to do on the GEERINGs before I move on, not least of all to write up their story. I still have a long list of things to-do at the East Sussex Record Office, and a few other records dotted around other archives to check.

I am also aware that I have very nearly missed out a whole generation, jumping from one Richard GEERING (my 4x great-grandfather) to another Richard (my 6x great-grandfather) almost bypassing James GEERING in between. I still need to find out if his wife Ann was in fact a HOWLETT and find out if James did serve with the army and in what capacity.

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