Tag Archives: newspaper

Genealogy gold discovered in a newspaper

21 Apr

Sometimes it is worth taking a chance and searching for things which you don’t really expect to find. Such was the case last week at the Brighton History Centre, when I had an hour to spare in Brighton and wanted to check a local newspaper for details of the sale of the Gun Inn at Blackboys in Framfield, Sussex.

I had a date for the sale and wanted to find out who had been the auctioneers responsible, so I could see if there might be a sale catalogue for the Gun Inn languishing in an archive somewhere. I found the advert I was expecting (although not as much information as I had hoped) and a brief report the following day confirming that the sale took place.

The sale was as a result of the death of Henry HEMSLEY my 3x great grandfather who was the owner, occupier and licensee of the Gun Inn. I thought that as I had the microfilm loaded into the reader and I knew the date of Henry’s death from his headstone, that I might as well check to see if there was a mention of his death or burial.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting to find anything, perhaps a brief notice about his death or maybe something longer if his cause of death had been unusual. There didn’t really seem much chance of find anything more than a few sentences.

What I found was a report of his funeral that had so much detail in it that it will probably take me several weeks to actually process it all. I don’t think I have ever seen a newspaper report for one of my ancestors that goes into such detail, come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever found the report of a funeral for any of my ancestors.

I don’t think I have the space to bore you with all the details in this post, but if you are interested you can have a look at my transcription as a pdf. Over the next couple of days I will highlight some of the information that makes it so valuable to my research.

When two sources are sometimes better than one

13 Jul

Yesterday I showed you an example of a newspaper report for a wedding (my grandparents wedding as it happens), now I wouldn’t want you to think that newspapers were better than having a marriage certificate.

They provide two different records of the same event, and hopefully they don’t contradict each other. What they will do however, is record two different perspectives of that event.

There is one key fact on the marriage entry in the parish register that the newspaper report doesn’t mention (other than their ages) and that is the groom’s father’s name. Until last year the identity of my grandfather’s father was a mystery.

No father’s name was recorded on his birth certificate, and I hadn’t been able to find a baptism record, but to my surprise there it was on the marriage entry in the parish register for Keymer, Sussex. I have since found one other source, a school record, with this name so I am pretty confident it is correct.

That discovery opened up a whole new branch of my family tree, and if I hadn’t checked the marriage entry I would never have known. If I had known the date of the newspaper report I could have worked out the date of the wedding (the Saturday before publication) so I would probably have not needed (or bothered) to check the marriage entry.

Always remember that information on an event may be recorded in more than one source and whilst some of the details may overlap, some may also be unique to that source.

An example of why I love old local newspapers

12 Jul

A few months ago I wrote about how much I like local newspapers, well here is and example of a wedding report which illustrates one of the reasons perfectly.

It is the marriage of my grandparents Charles Percy GASSON and Dorothy Annie TROWER on the 5th December 1936 in Keymer, Sussex. As you can see it is only a cutting and I am not sure which newspaper it came from, but I believe it is probably from The Mid-Sussex Times (one day I will get around to tracking it down).

Wedding at Keymer

The fact that the bride “wore a dress of blue figured crepe with a brown coat and hat to tone” and had a bouquet of “of red and yellow chrysanthemums” is probably the next best thing to having a wedding photograph, which I don’t.

Where else are you going to find such detail? Certainly not on the marriage certificate and likewise with the information about the bride’s employers and where the happy couple were going to live.

It is worth remembering that there was nothing special about this couple, he was a decorator and she was a servant. So your relatives don’t necessarily have to be rich or posh to make it into the local newspaper.

The tragic death of George MITCHELL

21 Apr

When I heard from a family member that my great grandfather George MITCHELL had died as a result of a kick from a horse, I knew that I just had to find out more details.

I already knew when he was buried (10th January 1951) and where (West Dean, Sussex), in fact I had already been and located his grave and from the inscription on the kerb stones knew the exact date of death.

I had the GRO reference, so I could have ordered a death certificate, but that would give me very little detail that I didn’t already have. Instead I guessed such a story would have made the local newspaper, even though he was “only” a carter, not a public figure.

I was correct. Not only was there a report of the Coroner’s inquest (in two separate local papers) but also a report of his funeral as well.

The inquest heard evidence from George’s son Lawrence, who had witnessed the accident. He told how on New Year’s Eve his father had let the 11 year old horse out of the stable (where it had been kept for several days due to bad weather), so that he could clean it out.

Once George had cleaned the stable he took the horse by the mane to lead it back, then the horse reared and kicked him in the side of the face and he fell to the ground. A doctor was called and George was taken to St. Richard’s Hospital in Chichester where he remained, unconscious, until his death on the 4th January 1951, aged 77 years old.

The coroner returned a verdict of “Death by misadventure” but was unable to say whether the injury, “a fracture to the base of the skull and accompanying brain injury”, was caused by the kick from the horse or when George fell to the ground.

The report of the funeral was unexpected, and also contained more detail than I would have expected. I am including the full report as an example of what can be found by searching local newspapers:

The funeral of Mr. George Mitchell (77), who was fatally injured on New Year’s Eve and died in St. Richard’s Hospital on January 4, took place at West Dean Church last Wednesday. The Rev. J. B. Hunt conducted the service. Mr. Mitchell lived at Warren Farm, Chilgrove, for 52 years and worked 29½ years for Mr. Knight, 4 for Mr. Ruff and 18 for Mr. Heyler, the present tenant. His wife died in 1939. They had 14 children, 58 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, and four generations were born in the same house. Chief mourners were Messrs. Henry, Robert, John, Laurance, Walter, Alfred and Edward Mitchell (sons), Mrs. N. Cutler, Mrs. D. Clark, Mrs. D. Daughtry, Mrs. E. Elliott and Mrs. R. Treagust (daughters). The inquest on Mr. Mitchell is reported in our Chichester news on page 2.

West Sussex Gazette, 18 January 1951.

There is so much information contained in that single report that I can follow up on and verify with other sources (proof that it shouldn’t be trusted 100% is evident by the fact that some of the names are spelt wrong). It is hard to think of another source where you will find the names of someone’s previous employers and the length of service for each of them.

I think I did have all the daughter’s married names, but it is a good check for my research. Then there are those 58 grandchildren, I think I have details for about seven or eight of them so far!


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