Tag Archives: mitchell

Missing from my Christmas Tree: The parents of William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK

9 Oct

Four of the missing individuals on my Christmas Tree Project stem from this couple. William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK are my 3x great grandparents, and were married on the 16th January 1832 in the parish of New Alresford, Hampshire.

To my knowledge they had ten children, including my 2x great grandfather William Henry MITCHELL (who I have written much about previously), and they appear to have spent most if not all of their married life in the parish of Exton, Hampshire.

I have found them in every available census from 1841 up to the 1881 for William (he died in 1888 aged 81) and the 1891 for Susannah (she died in 1898 aged 90).

The ages and places of birth are pretty consistent for both of them across the range of census years. William was born in Alresford, Hampshire and Susannah was born in Micheldever, Hampshire.

Their ages give a year of birth around 1807-08 for William, and 1808-09 for Susannah. There is a slight discrepancy with the 1861 census where both of them are a couple of years younger than they should be according to the other census data.

So there is a possibility that they may have been born slightly earlier, if the 1861 census was correct and the others are wrong, but that seems unlikely. Also the ages in the other census years also tie up with their ages in the GRO Death Indexes.

All of this seems quite straight forward, all I need to do is look in the parish registers for (New and Old) Alresford and Micheldever and there they will be. The problem, other than not having copies of the parish registers to hand, is that the baptisms for Micheldever are on the International Genealogical Index on familysearch.org and they don’t include Susannah or any other POCOCKs.

My saviour will hopefully be the Hampshire Baptism Index, this is available on CD from the Hampshire Genealogical Society and I know they have a copy at the Hampshire Record Office. I could buy a copy, but unlike the Sussex Marriage Index (from the Sussex Family History Group) I am not sure I will get enough use out of it to justify the cost. Perhaps one for my Christmas wish list.

POCOCK is an unusual enough surname that there shouldn’t be too many of them about and hopefully there will only be one Susannah in the right time frame. Hopefully I will be able to find William in Alresford without too much trouble, if not the problem will be just the opposite, there will probably be too many William MITCHELLs to choose from.

Time to schedule in a trip to Winchester I think. If I can find both sets of parents then I should hopefully be able to find out more details on their families, confirm what is in the index and hopefully go back a generation or two on the same visit. Now where is my calendar?

Ordering two birth certificates for my Christmas Tree Project

8 Oct

Last night I ordered two birth certificates from the GRO as part of my Christmas Tree Project. Both were in an attempt to find the maiden names of two of my 4x great grandmothers.

The first was for William GEERING, my 3x great grandfather (who may or may not have married Ellen NICHOLLS). His birth was registered in the Lewes Registration District in Q3 1843. I am sure it is the right William GEERING because I have his baptism in Lewes around the same time.

The only problem with this one was reading the page reference, it looks like 383 to me, but that middle number is not clear. I am expecting that it will show his mother’s maiden name as RICHARDSON, as that is the closest match I can find for a marriage between Richard GEERING and Eliza.

The marriage took place in Brighton on the 7th June 1829. To be honest if the marriage was in Lewes, Sussex I would probably have accepted it, but Brighton is just that bit further away so I want to be certain.

The second certificate is for Alfred George MITCHELL, he was the younger brother of my 3x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL. His birth was registered in the Cuckfield Registration District in Q1 1841.

I wouldn’t normally bother with getting the birth certificates for siblings of my ancestors, unless I was doing an in depth study of the family, but Harriet was born three or four years before the start of civil registration in 1837. Annoyingly I already have the birth date for Alfred George MITCHELL from his baptism record, but he was the easiest of Harriet’s brothers and sisters to locate in the indexes.

I am expecting this one to show that his mother’s maiden name was SMITH. My heart sank when I was searching for possible marriages and found the most likely one was between George MITCHELL and Mary SMITH in Cuckfield, Sussex on the 29th September 1828.

I suppose it inevitable that I would come across a SMITH in my direct ancestry eventually, I just hope there weren’t too many SMITHs in that part of Sussex at that time.

The fear of failure and finding my 4x great grandparents

3 Oct

I have been slowly working through my tree trying to identify all my 4x great grandparents, but I think I have reached a point now where there is very little I can do without a visit to a couple of archives, and spending a serious amount of time searching.

So far I have identified 52 out of 64 of my 4x great grandparents to a varying degree. Some of the women haven’t got a maiden name yet, some I have only the briefest of details for, but most have more than just a name. Some have more detail if they were alive during the census years.

Filling in the gaps is going to be my goal for November, although I may start early. What is really worrying me is the missing 12 individuals, and the realisation that I might never find out who they all are.

There are some who I just need to get to the right archive. For instance the MITCHELLs and POCOCKs from Hampshire will probably require a visit to Winchester and the Hampshire Record Office, or maybe the London Family History Centre.

Then there are the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS who may or may not have married William GEERING. From the census I have a clue where she came from but without a marriage record giving me her father’s name it is going to be hard to say for certain that I have found the right person.

Many months ago I wrote about Henry WRIGHT and his wife (or partner possibly) Sarah Ann, who appear not to have married either. I have not looked at their data for a while, because it was doing my head in.

Part of me thinks that if I never find all these 12 people I will have failed, I will never know completely who my ancestors were and it is not worth continuing, so I should stop now.

I need to accept that whether it is this generation, the next one or four generations further back I will inevitably run into a dead end that is never going to be solved no matter how much time and money I throw at it.

But now is not time to give up, perhaps it is a time to focus on something else for a while, but I have given myself October to identify all my 4x great grandparents, so I still have time to complete it (ultimately I want to find all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents so I can produce a printed tree to share with the family at Christmas).

I have one weeks holiday coming up soon which will enable me to get out and get some research done. So the next step will be to draw up a research plan for each of these 12 individuals to make sure I make the most of my research time. With the other 52 I need to identify any obvious gaps, such as missing maiden names so I can fill in those as well whilst I am out researching.

Most of all I need to stop worrying and accept that one day I will have a brick wall that cannot be destroyed no matter how hard I try, and that I will not have failed when that does happen. It will just make my tree look a bit odd, with one branch shorter than the others!

Clueless in Chichester, no just disorganised!

19 Sep

I was in two minds about going, I hadn’t done any preparation for a trip to the West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) and really wanted to stay in bed this morning. It wouldn’t have seemed so bad if it was a little bit later, but I was leaving the house at the same time as I would if I went to work.

Things started going wrong when the guy in the ticket office sold me the wrong ticket and I had to go back and get them changed. When my normally quiet and peaceful train pulled up it was all most completely full. This is unheard of at this time on a Saturday morning, I am almost guaranteed a carriage to myself as we speed through the sleeping Sussex countryside. Today I was sharing my carriage with people on the way to Goodwood Revival.

I knew there was plenty I could do when I got to the record office, but I had no plan. It started very hit and miss, with me wondering what to look at next, but then I remembered one of the thing I had wanted to do, find out some more about Thomas and Mary WELLER my 4x great grandparents from Twineham, Sussex. I think I have discovered who they are and where they came from and have the baptisms for all their children including Mary Ann my 3x great grandmother.

The WSRO closes at lunchtime on a Saturday and I got kicked out along with all the other researchers, but my research doesn’t stop just because the record office closes. First stop was Chichester Cathedral and memorial chapel of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Here I found the name of my 2x great uncle Ambrose DRIVER on the Roll of Honour for those killed from the First World War. The chapel is just off to the right of the entrance and the sun was shining through the stained glass window above and creating such a lovely pattern across the chapel. I really must spend some more time there and have a good look around the cathedral.

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Next stop was Chichester library, for a quick look at some local papers on microfilm. Sadly I could find no mention of the death or funeral of my great grandmother Lilian Mary MITCHELL in the pages of the West Sussex Gazette for December 1939. Still it was worth having a look.

Then I just had time to grab a bite to eat, sitting in the sunshine in front of the Cathedral, before heading back into the record office for a couple more hours research. The afternoon was a bit more organised, some original documents and more microfilm, covering a wide range of people and places.

In the end it was quite a productive day, many of my searches were negative, but even those are helpfully in a way. I know I should have had a plan when I set out and it would probably have been even productive. It was the first time I used my netbook in the record office, and I was glad I had it with me, but I am wondering know what is the best way to create a research plan on it. My next record office trip will probably be to the East Sussex Record Office and I promise to be better prepared for that!

I may not have had a plan, but I did come away from Chichester with a map. I stopped at the second-hand bookshop on my way back to the railway station and picked up a 1953 one-inch map of the Cheltenham and Evesham area, this is where my BATEMAN ancestors originated from. I would have preferred something a bit older, but it was cheap and will be useful in getting used to the area I am researching.

Friday Night Folder Frustration

11 Sep

It’s Friday night, and all across Britain people are out enjoying themselves, perhaps at the cinema or down the pub or even just with their feet up in front of the TV. Not me. I’m sat in front of my computer trying to work out what to name my folders!

You see I have a problem. My family history files are fairly well organised on my hard drive, in nicely named surname folders, then sub-divided into record types, such as census images or certificate images. All was going well until tonight, when I came to save a census image for my 4x great grandmother Mary MITCHELL (although that is not her maiden name).

This is not them same MITCHELL family as the ones from Hampshire that I was researching earlier in the year, this is a different lot, or at least I assume they are, maybe a long way back I will find a connection, but until then I am assuming they are different. So where do I stick this census image?

Do I save it in the same folder with all my other MITCHELLs or do I put it in a separate folder? I would rather keep the two branches separate, so what do I call this new folder? To make matters worse I am pretty certain there is another MITCHELL family coming into my tree a bit further up, again probably not related.

I tried to think of what I could use in my folder name to separate them, perhaps including the husband’s surname, or maybe a place, or generation when they first appear in my tree, but nothing seems quite right. Instead I have gone for MITCHELL 1 and MITCHELL 2, by no means ideal, but at least it works for now.

Does anyone else have a better idea? How do you cope with filing multiple cases of the same surname? Should I go to bed now and worry about it in the morning?

I just can’t stop filing and a couple of firsts for my research.

30 Aug

I did do some research yesterday evening, but I am slightly embarrassed to admit that by the end of the evening I was back filing and organising my paperwork again.

It wasn’t that the research wasn’t interesting, I had intend to use the marriage and death indexes on ancestry.co.uk to fill in some details on the children of George and Lilian Mary MITCHELL (my great grandparents) of West Dean, Sussex. I got distracted and started filling in some details on Lilian’s parents James and Caroline BOXALL, starting with the census.

James and Caroline had a lot of children, and several of the later ones didn’t survive very long. I wasn’t sure that I had found all the children and knowing James and Caroline were still alive in 1911, I decided to spend the money and get the census image for that year.

In 1911 James and Caroline had been married for 34 years and Caroline had given birth to thirteen children, nine of whom were still living and four who had died. From the West Dean parish registers and earlier census returns I had only come up with twelve. I wonder if the problem comes from Walter Henry BOXALL who in the 1911 census is listed as their son, but in the 1901 census he is shown as their grandson.

Interestingly Walter Henry is the first person in my family tree to have been born in Wales. Both census returns give his place of birth as Caerleon, Monmouthshire. I think it unlikely that James and Caroline made the trip to Wales and then returned to Sussex, so I believe that he is their grandson, but who his parents were is still a mystery (until I buy a birth certificate).

After this I moved on to the children of George and Lilian Mary MITCHELL, as I know the dates of birth for most of them I have been able to find quite a few in the GRO death indexes. I have also found some likely marriages for some of them and was able to fill in a missing spouse for Robert Charles MITCHELL. He married Emily S SMITH in 1932 in the Chichester Registration District.

That marked another first for my family tree, the first person with the surname SMITH. I am almost up to a thousand individuals but this is the first SMITH I have found, and I have yet to find a JONES either. On the whole I have been blessed with uncommon surnames to research!

It wasn’t long before I returned to my filing. I made a start on the TROWER surname folder, and weeded out lots of paper I don’t need, at least now I can close the folder properly. In fact I am enjoying being able to pull out a folder without the whole lot collapsing on me. It really is a great feeling!

Taking a break from organising

28 Aug

Organising fatigue is starting to set in, I feel I have made great progress in sorting out my folders, but I need a break and want to get back to some proper research this weekend.

Sorting out my paper files hasn’t been without it’s problems, although on the whole it has been a lot easier than I expected. One problem occurred when I wanted to save a page from a website as a pdf so that I could throw out the paper copy. I checked the website, but it had changed, the information I wanted was no longer there, and the URL I had wasn’t working either. So for now it looks like I shall have the keep the paper copy. A perfect example of the fact that the internet doesn’t stay the same. I haven’t tried the Wayback Machine to see if there is a copy of the site still there.

I have just one big folder to go, and it is the biggest folder, the TROWER surname folder. After that I just have to sort through the odds and ends that I have lying around and the papers I have put to one side so that I can devote more time to them.

I have been looking at my family tree deciding what to do next. At first I was looking at Family Historian and the women who appeared at the top of the list of names because they have no surname (I have eleven of them at the moment), I really ought to find the maiden names for these women, especially as some of them are direct ancestors.

Then I sorted the records window by the date updated column, and scrolled to the bottom of the list where I would find those individuals who I hadn’t worked on for a long time. The earliest one was Herbert SEYMOUR, husband of my 2x great aunt Edith Ellen TROWER. I hadn’t done any work on him since the 14th October 2006. It is definitely time I added so more information on him, as I have very little on there at the moment.

There are three other individuals that I haven’t worked on since 2006, and a lot from the beginning of 2007 (mostly recent MITCHELL relations such as great aunts and uncles). So there is plenty of scope for research there, especially when you consider how much has changed online since the end of 2006.

Whatever I chose to research over the weekend you can be sure I won’t be printing off any more paper if I can help it!

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