Tag Archives: national probate calendar

My Family History Week: Sunday 27th May 2012

27 May

Family history activity has been a bit haphazard this week. Nothing really very focused, just poking about my family tree adding bits and pieces here and there.

National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk

I spent a while conducting some searches on the newly updated National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk but I soon realised that I probably ought to be a bit more methodical about it.

There are potentially hundreds of records in this collection that I ought to be looking for, but unless I actually make a point of being more methodical I am probably going to miss plenty of people along the way.

I am going to have to give some consideration to what is going to be the best way to achieve this.

Early Trowers in my family tree

I also spent a while looking at the information I have for some of the earliest (17th and 18th Century) Trowers in my family tree. I am conscious that I have lots of different bits of information floating about, mainly from wills.

I felt it was probably about time that I actually translated some of this “floating” information into some hard facts in my family tree or at least decide what further work is needed to be able to include this information.

Adding a pair of 7x great-grandparents

One off-shoot of this work on the early Trowers was that I was able to add another pair of 7x great-grandparents, Robert and Mary Greenfield of Henfield, Sussex whose daughter Ann married Henry Trower in 1747. This brings the total number of 7x great-grandparents in my family tree to eight individuals or four pairs.

Challenging times: Sorting out Patrick Vaughan’s information

As I suspected I never got around to doing anything about sorting out the information I have about Patrick Vaughan. I don’t want to let this slip but it has been several weeks since I said I was going to do this.

We have a long bank holiday weekend coming up soon and I am hoping that this will give me the opportunity to get back on track. Hopefully after this I can get on with setting myself with some new weekly challenges.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Making the News: Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire – Postscript

8 May

Yesterday I shared a newspaper article about the fortunate discovery made by my 3x great-grandfather Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire. The article suggested that his wife had hidden away some money (totalling £260) which was only discovered after her death in 1889.

I suspect there is probably more to the story than meets the eye. There is a possibility that Henry in his younger days (back in 1838) served twelve months in prison for larceny, so I can’t help wonder if this money could be the result of some nefarious deed. However any secrets probably went to the grave with Henry.

That thought got me thinking. Henry died six years after his wife and I have a copy of his will and the grant of probate and I wondered just how much of this “windfall” had survived until Henry’s death.

The entry for Henry in the National Probate Calendar (on Ancestry.co.uk) reads:

WRIGHT Henry of Model villa West-street Alton Hants died 1 August 1895 Probate Winchester 4 November to William Wright builder and contractor Effects £127 9s.

So it looks like in those six years Henry had managed to get rid of half of the money that he had “discovered”, assuming that he didn’t have much to start with, because he was having to sell some furniture in the first place.

I wonder what he did with that money in those six years? The 1891 census shows him (aged 80) living with his son William (the executor named above) and his family and quite appropriately he is described as “Living on his own means”.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Now look what you’ve done Ancestry!

11 Oct

Thanks to John D Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog for pointing out the following notice on the HM Courts Service website:

Due to a significant increase in the volume of search requests there is currently a delay in the processing of search applications at York Probate Sub Registry. We are taking steps to rectify this and apologise for any inconvenience this delay may cause. Information regarding the length of time we are currently taking to process applications is given on an automated message on the telephone number 01904 666778.

I tried calling the number yesterday and the message says they are currently processing applications from the 27th August, which is still a couple of weeks before my cheque was cashed. I have been patiently waiting for several weeks already, so I guess I have a few more weeks to wait.

Of course this is all down to the release of the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk back in August this year. I commented at the time that “I only hope the Probate Registry can cope with the increased demand for copies of wills this release is almost certainly going to create.”

Well I guess they weren’t prepared for the increased demand, much like the GRO weren’t prepared when Who Do You Think You Are? was screened and family history took off in a big way. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long and the steps they are taking will soon get things back on track.

A string of HEMSLEY probate entries

6 Sep

On the whole my ancestors weren’t very helpful when it came to leaving wills, perhaps it was the case that by the end of their lives they didn’t have anything left to leave, either way I don’t have many wills for my ancestors. There is however one exception, the HEMSLEY family.

Whilst searching the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk I have discovered a string of four entries in the calendar for my direct HEMSLEY ancestors, from the Framfield area of Sussex. The first is for my great-grandfather Henry Herbert HEMSLEY, because he died suddenly and prematurely (aged only 38 years old), there was not a will so this refers to letters of administration.

HEMSLEY Henry Herbert of Stone House Cottage High Hurstwood Buxted Sussex died 1 July 1921 Administration Lewes 15 August to Minnie Hemsley widow. Effects £82 7s. 7d.

Next up is Henry Herbert’s father Henry Charles HEMSLEY (my 2x great-grandfather), who died almost ten years after his son.

HEMSLEY Henry Charles of 50 Alexandra-road Uckfield Sussex died 24 June 1931 Probate Lewes 10 August to Charles William Hemsley bricklayer and George Ralph smallholder. Effects £825 19s. 5d.

Then we come to Henry HEMSLEY, the father of Henry Charles and my 3x great-grandfather. I have already ordered a copy of his will in my search to find out more about Henry and his beerhouse the Gun Inn.

HEMSLEY Henry of the Gun Inn Blackboys Sussex died 10 January 1914 Probate Lewes 6 February to Joseph Hemsley farmer and George Hemsley gardener. Effects £106 12s. 4d.

Finally we come to Samuel HEMSLEY, Henry’s father and my 4x great-grandfather. I know very little about Samuel because my research has more or less stopped at his son and the Gun Inn, but no doubt I will go back further eventually.

HEMSLEY Samuel. 21 December. The Will of Samuel Hemsley late of Framfield in the County of Sussex Labourer deceased who died 9 March 1867 at Framfield aforesaid was proved at Lewes by the oath of Henry Hemsley of Framfield aforesaid Sawyer the Son the sole Executor. Effects under £20.

As usual there are some useful little snippets of information amongst these basic entries, especially the more recent ones which give addresses. I will need to go to East Sussex Record Office to see if I can follow the chain back any further.

At least I know I have some more wills that I can order after the current batch have arrived, and it will also be interesting to see how many of the siblings of my ancestors also left wills. As you can see most of them didn’t have much to leave, so I wonder why they felt the need to write wills?

Satisfying my curiosity – ordering the wills of my ancestors

27 Aug

The recently released National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk has tempted me into ordering copies of four wills, three of which I wouldn’t have even thought about ordering for a long time, the other one I probably would have ordered in the near future.

I don’t think any of these four wills are actually going to solve any particular research problems, but they should hopefully satisfy my curiosity.

  • John FAIRS (my 3x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in November 1915. John FAIRS was an agricultural labourer and if the cross on his daughter’s wedding certificate is anything to go by he was not well educated. So why was his estate valued at over £982? Where had this wealth come from?
  • William TROWER (my 4x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in January 1875. William TROWER was a farmer, almost the last of several generations to farm and live at Harwoods Farm in Henfield. I will be interested to see if the TROWER family were still owners of the farm.
  • Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) of Blackboys, Sussex who died in January 1914. Henry HEMSLEY was the licensee and owner of the Gun Inn, and the attached farm. This is the will I would probably have ordered quite soon, in the process of trying to find out everything I can about the inn.
  • Henry WRIGHT (my 3x great-grandfather) of Alton, Hampshire who died in August 1895. Henry WRIGHT was originally known as Henry SHORNDEN and he moved from Kent to Hampshire for some reason, I don’t really expect find answers as to why he changed his named and moved to Kent, but I would like to find out as much as I can about his life.
    If nothing else these wills are going to give me plenty of work to do as I process this lot, but it is also going to force me to get my act together when it comes to recording all the details in my database, in fact it might be worth starting now and deciding how all the information should be recorded.

Whilst I am waiting for them to arrive I should probably also write a post on how to order copies of wills, and how easy it is if you live in the UK and have a cheque book, otherwise things start getting a little more difficult.

Interesting puzzle in the National Probate Calendar

18 Aug

During my rather haphazard searches of the National Probate Calendar last week I came across an interesting pair of entries that I felt warranted further investigation. Unfortunately the people concerned are pretty distant relations, but at least they are related.

The first entry I discovered was for Dorothy GASSON:

GASSON Dorothy of 3 North-road Haywards Heath Sussex widow who was last seen alive on 13 October 1940 and whose dead body was found on 15 October 1940 Administration (limited) Lewes 31 December to Robert George Richards public assistance officer. Effects £143 1s. 11d.

This seemed rather unusual, but presumably no-one knew the exact date that she had died, and I assumed that the “public assistance officer” was acting as executor in the absence of any other appointed executor or next of kin.

Further down the page was an entry for another GASSON also living at the same address:

GASSON William Edward of 3 North-road Haywards Heath Sussex died 15 October 1940 Probate Lewes 6 January to Percy William Woodland postman and Jessie Mary Woodland (wife of the said Percy William Woodland). Effects £280 16s. 8d.

The mystery deepens, my first thought was “why was the postman acting as executor?” but I guess there is probably some family connection. William died on the same day as Dorothy’s body was discovered, had someone seen William the day before so they knew he had died on the 15th October, but couldn’t be certain about Dorothy.

Several other questions came to mind, what was the relationship between Dorothy and William? How did they both die? Why was the postman not acting as executor for Dorothy as well as William?

The first question is probably the easiest to answer, according to the GRO Marriage Index William Edward GASSON married Dorothy BACKSHALL in Q2 1939 in the Cuckfield Registration District. This has got to be them, so they must be husband and wife, but had only been married for about a year when they died. Given the date, the most likely cause of death is probably as a result of their house being bombed during the Second World War

I checked the GRO Death Indexes for both Dorothy and William, and that just made matters worse, perhaps they weren’t husband and wife after all. Dorothy’s age was given as 41 years and William’s as 71 years. Perhaps Dorothy was a daughter from an earlier marriage or a niece, but for a 40 year old woman to marry a 70 year old man in 1939 seems unusual.

Now I have the question of whether to follow up the story further. Like I said earlier they are pretty distant relations, but I just can’t resist a mystery like this. I need to know what was going on. The problem is that I can’t afford two death certificates, probably a marriage certificate, a copy of a will and a grant of administration. Although it is an interesting puzzle I have more important things to spend my genealogy budget on. Instead I will add another item to my to-do list, to check the local newspapers for the time to see if any mention is made of their deaths.

The National Probate Calendar is certainly proving to be a very rich source of information, every time I find one of my relations it always seems to lead to new information and more research, without even going as far as ordering a copy of the will.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 33

15 Aug

There was one big distraction this week, fortunately it was a genealogical distraction. I spent much longer than I had anticipated looking at the newly released National Probate Calendars on Ancestry.co.uk.

So far my searching has been very unstructured, just checking out my surnames to see if there was anyone I recognised. You know what it is like when you get your hands on a new database, all pretences of order go out the window as you just dive in. So far I haven’t actually recorded any of the data, but have found some interesting entries, but I now need to start being more methodical and start capturing the data.

As a result of my searches I will probably be ordering a couple of wills this week. More out of curiosity than anything else, as they will probably not actually move my research forward, but should be interesting to read.

The two certificates that ordered last week arrived this weekend, so I will be processing those this week and probably writing about them. As I expected there were no real surprises contained in them, but they help tie down some details about the BATEMAN family and their time in Brighton, Sussex. They also give me more work to do next time I am at the Brighton History Centre and East Sussex Record Office.

I haven’t forgotten the Australian BATEMANs, I need to carry on sorting out their data and seeing what else I can find out. Is there an equivalent to the National Probate Calendars for Australia? Where can I find a copy of William Joseph Henry BATEMANs will?

I have picked up a copy of Tracing Your Naval Ancestors from my local library and will go through that and put together a list of records I need to check next time I am up at The National Archives. The aim being to try and fill in some more details on William Joseph Henry BATEMAN’s naval service.

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