Tag Archives: newspaper

Making the News: Death announcement of Thomas Kinghorn

10 May

It was only one sentence, but finding the death announcement for my 4x great-grandfather Thomas Kinghorn in the Carlisle Journal (for Saturday 11th May 1833) adds a few more useful snippets of information.

Here, on Tuesday week, Mr. Thomas Kinghorne, Crosby Street, aged 52.

“Here” presumably means Carlisle and Crosby Street is a new address for Thomas, although his son George and family were living in Crosby Street in the 1841 census. There might be some rate books or such like that would tell me more about the residents of Crosby Street.

The “on Tuesday week” part is a little vague. It is not particularly clear to me which Tuesday it refers to, does it mean a week before the next Tuesday (the 14th May) or a week before the previous Tuesday (the 7th)?

Knowing from the parish register for St Cuthbert’s Carlisle that Thomas was buried on the 4th May helps to clarify what was meant. It has to be the week before the previous Tuesday, which gives a date of death of the 30th April 1833.

Obviously this is four years before the start of civil registration so I am not going to be able to get a death certificate for Thomas. The only other possible place where his date of death might be recorded is on a gravestone if one has survived or if there was one in the first place.

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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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Making the News: Henry Wright of Alton, Hampshire

7 May

You never know what you are going to find when you start delving into newspapers. The article below, from the Hampshire Advertiser of Saturday 23rd March 1889, has to one of the most bizarre that I have come across in my searches.

ALTON, MARCH 23.

A PROVIDENT WIFE.-A man named Henry Wright, formerly a chimney sweeper at Alton, has made a fortunate discovery. His wife died a few days ago, and preparatory to selling his furniture to a local dealer he inspected an old chest of drawers, when, to his surprise, he discovered, concealed behind a piece of board let into one of the drawers, two purses, one of which contained £200, and the other £60 in gold. At one time Wright kept a lodging-house, and it is supposed that his wife accumulated the money then.

Henry Wright and his “provident” wife were my 3x great-grandparents, all the facts fit with what I know. He was at one time a lodging-house keeper and later on a chimney sweep and his wife Sarah died in Alton in 1889.

Quite why Sarah should have felt the need to hide £260 from Henry is a mystery, unless she was frightened he would drink or gamble it all away. Perhaps the rainy day that she was waiting for never arrived?

I can see that it might have been hidden for safe-keeping (perhaps a distrust of banks), but could you really forget that you had put away that sort of money? Based the retail price index £260 in 1889 would be worth £22,400 today, not the sort of money that would be easy to forget.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Unplugged: “He did not appear to be a bit worse for what he had to drink…”

4 Dec

I mentioned on my Ancestral Profile post on Monday that I thought my 4x great-grandfather George MITCHELL might have been killed in an accident on the London to Brighton Railway, well today I had chance to try and find out more with a visit to the Brighton History Centre.

Once again a local newspaper has proved itself to be an invaluable source, the report below was published in the Sussex Advertiser on Tuesday 5th November 1844. As usual there is not enough detail for me to be 100% certain that this is my man, but I am pretty confident. It is another tragic story, I don’t know why my relations (or in this case a direct ancestor) seem to get themselves in the newspapers so frequently.

FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE LONDON AND BRIGHTON RAILWAY.

An inquest was held on Tuesday last, at the Station Inn Hayward’s Heath, by Alfred Gell, Esq., Deputy Coroner, on the body of George Mitchell, a labourer, on the above railway, who met his death on Saturday, the 26th, in the awful manner shown in the following evidence given at the inquest.

Robert Whaley, sworn-I am an engine driver on the London and Brighton Railway, and live at Croydon. I left Brighton on Saturday night at half-past 11 o’clock with the engine No. 70 of the London and Brighton Railway Company, and arrived at the place where the accident occurred a few minutes before 12. We were in the Folly Hill cutting in the parish of Keymer, [p]roceeding at the rate of 15 miles an hour when I felt a sudden [j]erk of the engine; I said to the fireman that was with me, w[hat] is that, he said we had run over a man, I said that can’t be, he said he was sure of it for he saw a man’s hat fly past the engine, by this time we had stopped the engine and we went back about 30 yards but I could see nothing, my mate said here he is, and I then saw the deceased lying in the ditch which carries the water off from the line; we took him out and placed him by the side of the line, and started off to Hayward’s Heath station for assistance; we then took the body back to the Station Inn; this was about quarter past 12; It was a moonlight night and I could see a long distance before me; I am sure the man was not walking on the line or I must have seen him; my opinion is that he was lying down on the line; it was on the left hand side of the line from
Brighton; the deceased was quite dead when we took him out of the ditch; we had our usual signals on the engine and the deceased must have heard us coming had he not been asleep.

John Wright sworn: I am a fireman or stoker on the London and Brighton Railway; I was with the last witness at the time of the accident, in Folly Hill cutting; I felt the engine jerk and at the same instant saw a man’s hat fly past the engine; I said we have run over a man and Whaley said, “surely not,” we stopped the engine, took the lamp and found the deceased in the ditch.”-This witness corroborated the evidence of the engine-driver in most particulars.

Thomas Spry Byass sworn: I am a surgeon and reside at Cuckfield; about twenty minutes past one, on Sunday morning, I arrived at Hayward’s Heath Station; deceased was quite dead when I got there; I found a large wound in the abdomen, the intestines protruding, which was quite sufficient to cause sudden death; It appeared as if a heavy weight had pressed upon the body; I have no doubt but that deceased was dead in an instant after the accident happened.”

George Pratt sworn: I am a labourer and I live at St. John’s common; I saw deceased at Ellis’s Beer Shop, at Burgess Hill about nine o clock on Saturday night, and we drank together, he had one pint of beer when he first came in and had one glass with me; we then went to another beer shop, the New Anchor, kept by Agate, also at Burgess Hill; we stopped there till ten o’clock, during which time we had three pints of ale between us; I walked with deceased to Cants Bridge, which crosses the Railway; I asked him if he was going home and he said yes, but he did not want to get home till mid-night as there was a warrant out against him for poaching, and he has been away from home some time. He was working on the Line between Burgess Hill and The Hassocks; the deceased’s wife and family live at Balcombe, and I last saw him walking in that direction, on the Line, about two miles from Folly Cutting. He did not appear to be a bit worse for what he had to drink; I have known him for some years.”-

Verdict: that deceased was accidentally killed by the engine No. 70, of the London and Brighton Railway Company, passing over his body, and that there was no evidence to shew in what position deceased was in at the time the engine came up to him. Fine one [shill]ing on the engine.

Im[med]iately after the inquest, a subscription was entered into by the [c]oroner and Jury on behalf of the widow and six orphan children of the deceased, who are left in a most deplorable state of distress. The subscription list is lying at the Station Inn, and Mr. John Bennett, junior, landlord, will be happy to receive donations on behalf of the bereaved family.

This is a wonderfully detailed report of the accident and of the effects of the accident, the “widow and six orphan children” matches with my George MITCHELL’s family. There are so many questions going through my mind: What was the engine like? Where is Folly Cutting? How much was the subscription in the end? Did the family receive any poor relief? What about the warrant for poaching, what was that about? Are the beer shops still in existence? Where is Cants Bridge?

George MITCHELL was buried in Cuckfield (where it is likely he was born) although the family were living in Balcombe. I am guessing the parish of Balcombe washed their hands of him, not wanting to have to support his family financially. There might be some record of that? Does he have a gravestone at Cuckfield? It sounds like his family couldn’t afford one but perhaps the railway company might have done.

So many questions but only handful of answers. If I can find a death certificate for George, then I should have another piece of evidence for his date of birth (the burial record says he was 32 years old). This might enable me to find his baptism, probably in Cuckfield and push that branch of my family tree back another generation.

Making the News: “An extraordinary double tragedy”

26 Nov

A couple of weeks ago I decided to follow up one of the mysteries that I uncovered in the National Probate Calendar, and it turned out to be one of the most heart-breaking stories that I have uncovered whilst researching my family history.

Whilst searching the probate calendar I came across the entries for a pair of GASSONs from Haywards Heath, Sussex. I wrote about my discovery and a few thoughts about what might have happened here. I suggested that their deaths might have been as a result of enemy bombing during the Second World War, but the truth is that although it could be attributed to the war, the story was far more tragic.

I will let the newspaper report from the Sussex Daily News dated Thursday 17th October 1940 tell the story:

COUPLE DIE IN DUG-OUT

HAYWARDS HEATH TRAGEDY

An extraordinary double tragedy which occurred at Haywards Heath was discovered on Tuesday afternoon at about 1.15, and the inquiry into it was held the same afternoon by East Sussex Coroner, Dr. E. F. Hoare.

Deceased were William Edward Gasson and his wife, Dorothy Gasson, of 3 North-road. They had been found dead in the dug-out in their garden.

In the dug-out was a brazier with coal ashes in it and an oil stove. The latter had not been used. There was also a candle.

Deceased were found in a sitting posture. Everything went to show that the previous night they had gone to their dug-out and had lighted the fire in the brazier, and that while they were sitting there the fumes had overcome them.

A neighbour made investigations on Tuesday on finding that the morning milk had not been taken in.

Evidence was given at the inquiry by the neighbour, Jesse Laker, and by the son, William Ernest Gasson, who did not live at the house.

The Coroner found death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning and recorded a verdict of “Death by misadventure.”

I have read some pretty sad stories in the course of my research, but this really touched a nerve and I was almost in tears as I read the article. I don’t know quite why it touched me so, they are not particularly close relations, but regardless of that it is still a really sad story.

The couple had only recently married (the son was from William’s first marriage) and to die in such an unnecessary and avoidable way when people were dying as a result enemy bombing (from which the GASSONs were trying to escape) seems desperately unlucky.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 44

31 Oct

Last week was quite a good week, with the high point being yesterday’s visit to Brighton History Centre and coming home with lots of photocopies of newspaper articles. Of course that means more work, as I need to get the copies scanned, transcribed and the details included in my database.

Two of the newspaper articles concern a very distant pair of relations, but it was such an interesting story that I needed to follow it up. This means even more work as I need to put all the details for these distant relations into my tree to make the connection with my ancestors and me. On top of that the story needs more work done on it, there are still lots of loose ends to tie up.

Last week I did more work on the 27 children of James and Caroline BOXALL. I spent some time having a detailed look at the baptisms, births, deaths and burials for West Dean, Sussex trying to discover whether I am ever likely to find all 27 children. The are probably three or four death certificates that I need to order, but even if they are all James and Caroline’s children I am still some way from finding all 27 children. This makes me wonder whether it is worth the effort (and money) when I am never going to find all of the children.

I did get last weeks newspaper articles scanned and transcribed, but I never got around to scanning and transcribing the wills. They have been sitting on my desk now for at least three weeks, and nothing is going to happen to them unless I start the process and get them scanned. At least once they are scanned I know they will be backed up and easily accessible whether at home or on the move, so that I can work on them wherever and whenever I have the time.

So this week is going to be mainly a scanning week, there are a couple of postcards that I need to do, but it is going to be mostly photocopies of newspaper articles. I might even try some “spot” scanning of my maps, they are rather large (3½ft x 2½ft) so I can only scan small parts of them and even that is going to be a bit of a juggling act.

Free Friday: TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN – truth or myth?

29 Oct

I have written about my surprise and partial disbelief at the story that my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL had 27 children. This sort of story demands proper investigation, a process which I began last Saturday at West Sussex Record Office.

I had previously checked parish register transcriptions for baptisms and burials at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and knew there weren’t baptisms for 27 children. Even taking into account a few unidentified burials and birth and death registrations I was struggling to come up with 27 children.

The 1911 census records that the couple had 13 children born living and that four had died. Obviously for there to have been a total of 27 children then there must have been another 14 that were either stillborn or died within a few hours, this seems a shockingly high number, more than were born living.

In the absence of official records I searched for some other evidence. The earliest record that I have found mentioning the 27 children is a report in the local newspaper, the Chichester Observer, on the 15th April 1936. Subsequent reports seem to draw on this first report and duplicate the error with the year of marriage.

TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN

WEST DEAN COUPLE CELEBRATE DIAMOND WEDDING

Wednesday will be a happy day in the lives of two of West Dean’s oldest residents, when they celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their wedding.

They are Mr. and Mrs. J BOXALL, of Scout Cottage, who were married at West Dean Church on April 15th, 1886 the Rev. HUTCHISON. Mr. BOXALL, who is 83 years of age, has been confined to his bed for a number of years, but Mrs. BOXALL, at 79, is still active, and as cheerful as ever. Only one person who attended their wedding is alive to-day, and she is Mrs. MERRITE of Tillington.

Of Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL’S twenty-seven children, only seven survive, the eldest of whom is 59. Mrs. BOXALL told an “Observer” representative who visited her on Monday that she had triplets once and twins three times. There are 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Two of Mrs. BOXALL’S sons were killed in the War.

The walls of the little old cottage in which Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL now live, are hung with portraits of members of the JAMES’ family, who held West Dean Park.

Mrs. BOXALL’S most treasured possessions include a case of gold spoons which the late Mrs. WILLIE JAMES gave her when Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL celebrated their golden wedding in 1926, and a necklace which Mrs. JAMES bequeathed her.

Five years ago, Mr. BOXALL was taken ill, and all hope of his recovery was given up, but he pulled round after a stiff fight. He finds it now a great hardship to be confined to his bed, after an active life on the land.

“There’s nobody to-day would work like he did,” said Mrs. BOXALL.

Both Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL can claim a life-long association with the locality, for Mr. BOXALL was born at West Dean, and Mrs. BOXALL at Singleton.

There is some interesting information included, but nothing that really helps prove the story. One thing that didn’t seem right was the mention of two sons killed during the First World War. Having spent some time looking at the West Dean war memorial I knew that only one son was listed on the memorial, furthermore the two other sons that I knew about survived the war. Did this mean one of the missing children was another son who died during WW1 and had some how escaped the census enumerator for several decades?

After searching all the BOXALLs on the CWGC and Soldiers Died in the Great War looking for a connection to West Dean, but I still drew a blank. Then it dawned on me who this missing son was, what is more I had already researched his life and even written about him on this blog. He had to be Walter Henry BOXALL, the illegitimate son of James and Caroline’s daughter Alice Ruth. He was killed during WW1 and although he wasn’t their son it appears that he may have been treated as such after his mother married. When he started school in 1901 his parent or guardian was recorded as Caroline, although the 1901 census did show him as their grandson.

To me it looks like the story of 27 children can’t true, although they were only short by one. 26 children is still quite impressive, and it is still going to take some work to see if I can prove some more (I need to order some death certificates now), but now I can’t help but wonder about Walter Henry BOXALL, and why James and Caroline felt the need to continue pretending he was their son all those years later? or am I barking up the wrong tree?

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