Tag Archives: london

WDYTYA? Live 2011: just five weeks away

21 Jan

Five weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 at Olympia, London, and it is about time that I got myself organised. I have already ordered my tickets (although there are still plenty of discount codes about on the internet if you haven’t) and I don’t really need to worry about travel arrangements.

Really all I need to think about is making the most of my time whilst I am there, so which talks do I want to attend? What questions do I want to ask? Which products to I want to try/buy? And what am I going to have for lunch? (OK so maybe that last one is not actually that important)

Next week a copy of the show guide is being given away with the upcoming edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, but if you can’t wait until then the show website has copies of the floor plan (for use in conjunction with the list of exhibitors) and the timetables of talks and workshops (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This weekend I will try to print off the timetables and decide who I want to see this year (I don’t think I will bother with the celebrities this year, they always over run and are always packed to bursting point).

This weekend I need to decide whether to create a couple of t-shirts (or three) to advertise my blog and some business cards for a bit of networking here and there. Also I need to scrape some of the mud off my walking boots, I don’t want to be trailing mud around Olympia as I wander from stand to stand.

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!

Thirty minutes well spent

6 Jan

I don’t watch a lot of television, apart from Who Do You Think You Are? there is not much else that I would make the time to watch. This evening I put aside 30 minutes to watch the first episode of series two of Great British Railway Journeys on the BBC iPlayer.

I didn’t watch the first series and very nearly missed this one. In this episode former MP Michael Portillo travels by train from Brighton to Crystal Palace via Godstone (although Godstone is a bit of a way out if you are travelling from Brighton to Crystal Palace) armed with a copy of George Bradshaw‘s Tourist Guide.

The programme was is a travel documentary with plenty of history (and historic film) and discussions with historians thrown in for good measure. It helped of course that the places featured were familiar to me.

Starting at Brighton on the Sussex coast we saw the Brighton Aquarium (now the Sea Life Centre) which I think I have only visited once, probably about 30 years ago whilst still at school, I really ought to go back again this year. Then we heard about the long destroyed Chain Pier and took a ride on the Volk’s Electric Railway.

Heading up the railway line towards London we saw briefly the magnificent Ouse Valley Viaduct, which I believe at least once of my distant relatives helped to build. In fact I would imagine that plenty of my relatives were involved in the construction of the London to Brighton railway, if only there were records to prove it.

Portillo took a detour to spend the night at Godstone, Surrey. I have been through Godstone on the train several times, but have never actually visited despite have connections there with my GASSON ancestors. I certainly had no idea that there were underground quarries there and wonder if my ancestors had anything to do with them.

The programme finished at Crystal Palace, an intriguing place with a fascinating history. I paid a brief visit to the park and the remains of the Crystal Palace last year as part of my Capital Ring walk. It was one of several places on that walk which I hope to be able to visit again to explore the park and museum further.

This programme seemed very personal to me, it was almost as if the programme was made specifically for me, truly thirty minutes well spent. Now where can I get hold of one of Bradshaw’s Guides?

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.

Lisa Louise Cooke is coming to Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011

17 Dec

The latest celebrity guest for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 was announced yesterday. Hugh Quarshie is scheduled to be attending the show at Olympia, London on Saturday 26th February, but for me there is a far more important visitor the following day.

Preliminary workshop timetables have also been released on the show’s website and hidden away on the timetable for Sunday 27th February at 12:oopm is the description of a talk by Lisa Cook entitled “How to make Google work harder for your family history!”

The talk is described as follows: “Discover innovative ways to work smarter and find more family history golden nuggets than you thought possible with the power of Google. Create a Genealogy Research Homepage. Learn quick and easy ways to follow the best genealogy Podcasts and Blogs. Make Google Your own personal genealogy research assistant with Google Alerts. We’ll make Google search the web for you 24 hours a day and provide tips for how to get Google to deliver the best results to your email inbox.”

Although her name is spelt wrong this sounded very much like US genealogy podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcast. As a long time listener of the Genealogy Gems Podcast it look forward to seeing Lisa over here in London and to seeing one her presentations in person. The latest edition of the Genealogy Gems e-Newsletter arrived in my inbox today and the list of upcoming appearances confirmed that she will be attending Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

I am sure we will hear more about Lisa’s upcoming visit in a future episode of the podcast, but let me just say thank you Lisa for coming over to see us in England and sharing some your Gems with us.

Ancestral Profile: Isabella GRAHAM (1818-1900)

13 Dec

Isabella GRAHAM was my 3x great-grandmother and came from the county of Durham in the north of England, but ended her days at the other end of the country in Brighton, Sussex on the south coast of England.

Isabella was baptised in St. Mary’s Church, Staindrop, Durham on the 11th June 1818. She was the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth GRAHAM of New Raby, Staindrop. She appears to have been one of eleven children, although at least three of these did survive to adulthood.

New Raby appears to have been a small settlement about a mile north-east of the main part of the village of Staindrop and about half a mile east of Raby Castle. The houses now appear to have disappeared completely and the woodland surrounding it has engulfed them. I am sure there is an interesting story behind this if I had the time to look into it.

I have no record of Isabella until the 1841 census where she is still living with her father at New Raby, Staindrop along with a six year old John GRAHAM, who doesn’t seem to be one of Isabella’s siblings so is probably a nephew. Her father is described as an agricultural labourer but Isabella herself has no occupation given. Her mother had died a couple of years earlier in 1839, and her father would die three years later in 1844.

I have been unable to trace Isabella in the 1851, so the next record I have is of her marriage to my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN in London in 1853. They were married on the 31st July 1853 in the parish church of St. James Piccadilly in Westminster, London. This was Thomas’ third marriage but Isabella first, both were described as being of full age.

Thomas was a tailor and lived at 10 Great Windmill Street, whereas Isabella was living at 19 Great Windmill Street. Thomas’ father was Thomas KINGHORN, the mail guard about whom I have written a great deal in the past. The witnesses at the wedding were Henry MORGAN (about whom I know nothing) and Dorothy GRAHAM, who was presumably one of Isabella’s older sisters.

Together Thomas and Isabella had three children, before Thomas’ death in May 1863, all three were baptised at St. Jame’s Church where their parents had married.

  1. Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN (born 22 Jun 1854) my 2x great-grandmother
  2. Abraham Graham KINGHORN (born 25 March 1856)
  3. Isabella KINGHORN (born 1 Nov 1858)

In the 1861 census Thomas and Isabella are living at 3 Golden Place (just off Golden Square) in Westminster with their three children and one of Thomas’ sons from his first marriage, also called Thomas. In 1871 the widowed Isabella (whose occupation is given as a nurse) is still at 3 Golden Place living with her son Abraham and three lodgers.

By 1881 Isabella has moved to Brighton, Sussex. She is living with her son Abraham and his wife Sarah and their three children at 79 Hanover Street, Brighton. By 1891 she has moved to join her daughter Dorothy Isabella and her husband Henry BATEMAN and their two children in nearby Preston, Sussex (on the outskirts of Brighton) at 19 Yardley Street. Her occupation is given as a retired nurse.

I don’t know the exact date or cause of Isabella’s death. Her death was registered in Brighton Registration District in Q3 1900. By this time her daughter Dorothy and her family had moved to Hurstpierpoint, Sussex but I don’t know if Isabella had remained in Brighton or whether she went with them. The fact that the death was registered in Brighton doesn’t mean that she was living there, she may have died at the hospital in Brighton. The only way to know for sure would be to get a copy of her death certificate.

I don’t know where Isabella was buried (or cremated), I am guessing it was at one of the cemeteries at Brighton, but may have been at the cemetery at Hurstpierpoint. The problem is that the Brighton cemeteries charge an arm and a leg to search their records, I am hoping one day that they will become available online for a reasonable price.

Unplugged: Capital Ring – Plaistow to Woolwich [THE END]

11 Dec

It was a slightly warmer day than a fortnight ago when my friend Chris and I walked the previous section of the Capital Ring in London. Today we continued from where we left off at Plaistow on the Greenway (which you might remember follows the route of the Northern Outfall Sewer).

The Greenway is nice and flat and makes for quite easy walking, but unlike the previous section there was not much to see along this section, really just houses, a cemetery and a hospital. The only thing that broke it up were frequent road crossings and gateways like the one above.

Eventually the route broke off from Greenway and passed through a string of parks (seemingly known collectively as Beckton District Park). This at least broke some of the monotony, but they weren’t particularly attractive or appealing under grey cloudy skies, although we did meet a group of geese out for a walk.

Having passed through a residential area we then arrived at the modern buildings of the University of East London on the banks of the Royal Albert Dock. Across the water was London City Airport and beyond that the King George V Dock. The only boats moving on the water today were rowing boats and in the sky above were a surprisingly small number of planes arriving at the airport.

The path cuts through another residential area to take us out to the banks of the River Thames with just the river separating us from the finish point on the south side. The official route uses the Woolwich Foot Tunnel to cross under the river, but this is closed for rebuilding work until March 2011 so we had to take the Woolwich Free Ferry across the Thames instead.

I have never used the foot tunnel before, so I was a little disappointed not to be able to walk under the Thames, but I don’t recall ever using the ferry before either so that was a new experience for me as well, although admittedly not that exciting.

The start and finish point of the Capital Ring is the southern entrance to the foot tunnel and it was somewhat of an anti-climax in the end to arrive and find it surrounded by hoardings, but at least we made it round.

So, that completes the 78 miles of the Capital Ring around London (actually I am not sure about the accuracy of some of the mileage, but it doesn’t really matter). For the most part it has been an enjoyable walk, there were some parts of the route where I felt less than comfortable and was glad to keep moving and there were places where I could have lingered for longer, and will possibly re-visit at some stage.

It has been quite varied, not many hills, but a pleasing amount of woodland and parks, although many of those parks were really playing fields and not proper parkland (like Richmond Park). There was usually something of historical interest for me to see and many of these sights would warrant closer examination (we never really had time to linger for long). Of course there was also plenty of modern features to admire (like the Olympic Stadium) or cast scorn upon. Really everything you would expect from the City of London.

Thoughts now turn to the next route for the new year, I am currently considering the High Weald Landscape Trail, 94 miles from Horsham, West Sussex to Rye, East Sussex. Being more rural might mean waiting for a few months for the ground to dry up a bit. We also still have the North Downs Way to finish, but that is for the summer when the days are longer and we can spend more time walking.

I also want to try to get in some more family history themed walks next year. There are lots of places in Sussex (and beyond) that I want to visit, with houses and churches to photograph and generally get a feel for some ancestral landscapes. I also intend to walk the South Downs Way next year, this time all in one go, or rather all in one week, rather than spread out over several weeks.

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