Tag Archives: nicholls

Turns out I already knew where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married

24 Mar

It turns out that I already had a pretty good idea of where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married. Last week I went to the London Family History Centre and checked the parish registers for Chiddingstone, Kent expecting to find the marriage of my 4x great-grandparents.

I didn’t find the marriage, but I wasn’t really that surprised, the only reason I was expecting to find the marriage in Chiddingstone is because that is where the couple were living in the 1841 census, the year after they were married. I had hoped to avoid the cost of buying a certificate, but short of searching every nearby parish I had no real option but to order their marriage certificate.

Then last night as I was doing some digital filing I discovered that I already had a pretty good idea where the couple were married and even a very good idea of when. It seems that last time I was doing some research into the NICHOLLS family I had found the banns of marriage for Thomas and Martha, but hadn’t done anything with that information because I was unable to prove that they were the parents of my 3x great-grandmother Ellen NICHOLLS.

I had just filed that snippet of information away on my spreadsheet and completely forgot about it when I started looking at the family again. The good thing is that I wouldn’t have been able to check the marriage register last week anyway because the LFHC don’t hold that particular microfilm.

It might have saved me a little bit of time, but even that is unlikely as I still needed to check Chiddingstone marriages for Martha’s siblings. So in the end the impact wasn’t too great, but I could have wasted a lot of time and effort when I didn’t really need to.

Now I am pretty confident that Thomas and Martha were married in Sundridge, Kent (about 7 or 8 miles north of Chiddingstone). The banns were published in Chiddingstone (and presumably also in Sundridge) on the 23rd February, 1st March and 8th March 1840. From this the likely date for the marriage was 15th March 1840.

To my surprise Thomas was of the parish of Chiddingstone and Martha was of the parish of Sundridge. I had expected it to be the other way around, assuming that Martha and her family came from Chiddingstone and Thomas was travelling around to wherever there was work. I am sure future research will clarify the picture.

In the meantime I still need to wait patiently for the marriage certificate to confirm the date and place, and more importantly the father’s names for the bridge and groom.

Exploring the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families at the LFHC

19 Mar

The reason I visited the London Family History Centre yesterday (other than to use up the last of my holiday entitlement before the end of the month) was to do some basic investigations into the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families from Kent.

There were only two films that I wanted to look at, the parish registers  for Blean and Chiddingstone both in Kent. Technically speaking the film for Blean was of the Bishop’s Transcripts and not the actual registers, but at this stage it is not really that important. I am still finding my way in these families, trying to get a feel for what I am dealing with and hoping to find some further proof that I have the correct families.

In Chiddingstone I had expected to find the marriage of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER (my 4x great-grandparents), Martha’s baptism record (and those of her siblings) and possibly the marriage of her parents. In Blean I was hoping to find a baptism for Ellen NICHOLLS (my 3x great-grandmother) and a burial for Thomas NICHOLLS.

What I actually found was not quite as I had expected, but that is not to say that it was a bad thing. In Blean I found a baptism for Ellen, except it was Eleanor not Ellen, but everything else matched. There was a burial of a Thomas NICHOLLS, but he was an infant (clearly I am going to need to search again for his death).

The biggest surprise to me was to find the likely baptism for Thomas NICHOLLS and his siblings in Blean. I hadn’t really considered why Thomas and Martha were in Blean, but it makes perfect sense that this was where Thomas came from. Likewise Chiddingstone was supposed to be the place where Martha came from.

I could find no trace of Martha’s baptism in Chiddingstone, although some of her sibling’s baptisms were there. There was no sign of her marriage to Thomas or of her parent’s marriage, but I did find the marriage of one of her sisters that is particularly helpful. Jane DRAPPER married James BARNES in Chiddingstone on the 12th October 1841 and one of the witnesses was Thomas NICHOLLS, which further cements the family relationship.

So a few of the records I had hoped for didn’t turn up, but I certainly didn’t go away empty-handed or disappointed. It has helped clarify a few points and disproved  a few others. It was no accident that Thomas and Martha were in Blean and the DRAPPER family may not have been so firmly rooted in Chiddingstone as I had first imagined.

The next step is obvious to me now, I had hoped to find the Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER and save the cost of ordering a certificate, but clearly I am going to need to do that now. That should confirm whether the baptism I found for Thomas in Blean is the correct one and also point to the likely place for Martha’s baptism.

It may have been a complicated theory, but I think it was correct

15 Mar

Last week I described a rather complicated theory about the birth of Ellen NICHOLLS my 3x great-grandmother. I took a chance and ordered one of the two likely birth certificates. The certificate arrived yesterday and it looks like the gamble paid off.

The unnamed girl was born on the 27th March 1847 in Blean, Kent. Her parents were Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha NICHOLLS formerly DRAPPER, the parents were the two that I had hoped for.

The birth was registered a whole month after she was born, so I find it very hard to explain why they still did not have a name for their daughter a whole month after she was born.

I am pretty confident now that my theory is correct, Thomas and Martha had three children (all daughters) and my Ellen NICHOLLS was born in Blean and not Chiddingstone, Kent. The unnamed girl is almost certainly the 4-year-old Ellen NICHOLLS living with her uncle and aunt James and Jane BARNES.

I need to check the parish registers for Blean to see if the unnamed girl was actually baptised there, and whether she had been given a name then. Also I need to check if her father Thomas was also buried there. Then I need to get into the parish registers for Chiddingstone to confirm that Jane BARNES was actually Martha’s sister.

There should be plenty of DRAPPERs in the Chiddingstone parish registers that need extracting and entering into my database, hopefully including Martha’s parents and her marriage. I am not sure where Thomas comes from, but hopefully the marriage entry should give me enough clues to make a start tracing his parents.

Ellen NICHOLLS: a rather complicated theory

9 Mar

Ellen NICHOLLS, my 3x great-grandmother, has so far been one of my trickiest ancestors to track down. I wrote yesterday about what I do know, which is mainly that she and William GEERING had some children and some years later she died.

From the census I have a date and place of birth (c1847, Chiddingstone, Kent) and back in 2009 I put together a family tree which looked plausible, until I discovered that the Ellen NICHOLLS I was looking at died aged 2 years and 9 months. Clearly not my 3x great-grandmother.

Oddly enough though I think I still have the correct pair of parents. They are Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER, who married in Q1 1840 in the Sevenoaks Registration District. Chiddingstone is in Sevenoaks Registration District, but I haven’t actually requested a copy of the marriage certificate or searched for the parish register entry yet. I don’t want to start heading down that road until I am happy that I have the correct set of parents, although it is nice to know that a certificate (with fathers’ names) is waiting to be ordered once I am certain.

I already have a fair bit of information on Martha’s family because she and Thomas are living with them in 1841, on the census is Martha’s father (George) and at least five siblings. Thomas is listed as an excavator, which suggests to me that he was working on building the railway from Redhill to Tonbridge.

Thomas and Martha had two children Ellen (in 1842) and Mary (in 1845), both baptised in Chiddingstone, unfortunately Ellen was buried at Chiddingstone on the 7th February 1845. That wasn’t the only tragedy, because by the time the 1851 census comes around Martha is a widow, and she is working as servant in Penshurst, Kent, without any sign of children.

Her daughter Mary turns out to be living with a family by the name of COLLISTER in Bletchingly, Surrey. She is shown as a nurse child of John and Mary COLLISTER. In Q3 1849 both John COLLISTER and Mary Ann DRAPPER were married in Godstone Registration District (hopefully to each other) and I suspect that Mary Ann is Martha’s sister.

Also in 1851 there is an Ellen NICHOLLS living with James and Jane BARNES in Seasalter, Kent. Ellen is shown as the niece of James and Jane, and once again I suspect that Jane is another of Martha’s sisters. James BARNES and Jane DRAPPER were both married in Q4 1841 in Sevenoaks Registration District.

I believe this Ellen NICHOLLS is my 3x great-grandmother, in 1851 her age is given as 4 years, which would mean she was born around 1847. Her place of birth is given as Blean, Kent which doesn’t fit quite so well. I seems to me quite likely that the second Ellen NICHOLLS was named after her deceased older sister.

It also seems reasonable that given the upheaval in the early years of her life that she was not really aware of where she was born or even who her parents were. Her sister Mary was born in Chiddingstone, but not Ellen herself although she may have known that her mother’s family at least came from Chiddingstone.

The big problem with this is that there is no birth registration in the GRO indexes in Sevenoaks or Blean Registration Districts for Ellen NICHOLLS around 1847. There are however two registrations for a female NICHOLLS, one in the first quarter and one in the second quarter of 1847 in the Blean Registration District. I am hoping that one of these girls will have Thomas and Martha as parents, even if they hadn’t decided on a name for their daughter yet.

Interestingly there is also a death registration for a Thomas NICHOLLS in Blean Registration District in Q1 1848, could this be the death of Ellen’s father? He must only have been in his late twenties when he died, so there must be an interesting story there.

There is lots of uncertainty in all of this, lots of ifs and buts, but it all goes together far too well. A lot of the relationships need proving but I feel I have enough evidence to build a very strong case that the 4 year old Ellen on the 1851 census is my 3x great-grandmother.

It would be very easy to use this information to go back from Thomas and Martha, but having been caught out once (with the death of the younger Ellen) I need to be 100% certain.

My next step is to get copies of the two birth certificates and hope that one of those has the names Thomas and Martha on it. Then I need to use that to try to find a baptism record, hopefully they would have settled on a name for their daughter by then.

Last night I ordered one of the certificates (the one from the second quarter of 1847) hoping that I strike it lucky with that one and save the cost of a second certificate. Now I need to wait patiently for the postman to bring it and hope that it brings the news I am after!

Ancestral Profile: Ellen NICHOLLS (c1847-1897)

8 Mar

Ellen NICHOLLS was my 3x great-grandmother and she is one of the most troublesome individuals in my family tree. It is not that her life was that different from any of my other ancestors, just that find the records has not been quite so straight-forward as it should have been.

Her birth and childhood have been particularly tricky to trace and whilst I have a pretty good idea in my head about where Ellen came from, I don’t have the evidence yet to prove it. It shouldn’t be tricky to prove it if I am correct (it just means spending a bit of time and money).

What I do know about Ellen’s birth comes from various census returns. They all give her place of birth as Chiddingstone, Kent and a date around 1846-1847. I only know that her maiden name was NICHOLLS from the birth certificate of her first son William (my 2x great-grandfather).

I have not been able to find a marriage certificate for Ellen NICHOLLS and William GEERING (although I have only searched the GRO Indexes, not the locally kept indexes) so I don’t know for certain the name of Ellen’s father.

William GEERING and Ellen certainly lived as husband and wife, even if they weren’t officially so. The first record I have of them together is the birth registration of their son William in 1868, however he isn’t baptised until 1875 at the same time as two of his younger sisters. This apparent disregard for baptisms and the church may explain why there is no marriage record.

It appears that the couple had seven children in all, all born and baptised (eventually) in Lewes, Sussex apart from the last two for whom I have not found baptism records yet:

  1. William GEERING (born Q3 1868, baptised 5 January 1875)
  2. Ellen GEERING (born Q4 1869, baptised 5 January 1875)
  3. Emily GEERING (born Q4 1872, baptised 5 January 1875)
  4. Clara Gertrude GEERING (born Q1 1875, baptised 7 October 1877)
  5. Edith GEERING (born Q3 1877, baptised 7 October 1877)
  6. Richard Thomas GEERING (born Q3 1879)
  7. Arthur GEERING (born Q2 1884)

The family lived at a variety of addresses in Lewes, in 1868 when William was born they were living in Sun Street. In 1871 they were living in Priory Street and in subsequent census returns they were living at 11 St. Nicholas Lane.

Ellen’s death was registered in Q1 1897. I don’t have a copy of her death certificate so I don’t know what the cause was, but she was aged 49 years at the time. She was buried on the 16th March 1897 at All Saints Church, Lewes, Sussex.

Moving on from Ann the wife of James GEERING

6 Mar

It appears that I have reached a dead-end with my research into Ann the wife of James GEERING. I am reluctant to call it a brick-wall at the moment because I haven’t quite exhausted all avenues of research yet, but I have certainly exhausted all the quick and easy avenues.

The marriage register entry for Ann HOWLETT and James GEARING gave me the names of two witnesses, one of which I couldn’t read properly, but neither looked like any name that was familiar to me. I have a copy of the marriage licence allegation, but haven’t checked the bond which might give me a couple more names to work on.

I am still pretty certain that Ann was a HOWLETT because of the naming of her children and that there is probably a connection with Francis HOWLETT the schoolmaster and postmaster of Hailsham, Sussex. Francis was born about 1751 and Ann was born about 1777 so it is possible that Francis was Ann’s father.

I have two problems, first that Francis HOWLETT was “one of a party of strolling players who arrived in the place on a professional tour, he gave up the buskin and settled down to quiet domestic life, married a wife from the neighbourhood” (according to Thomas Geering in his book Our Sussex Parish), so he could have come from just about anywhere in the country, and I don’t know what happened to his wife.

The second problem is that I don’t know much about James GEERING between his baptism in 1776 and the 1841 census. There is a suggestion that he may have been in the military, but I haven’t come up with any evidence for this yet.

Anyway for the time being I think it is time to move on, there are plenty of other ancestors I need to trace, but I have planted the seed now and I will wait and see if anything else comes to mind whilst I focus my attention on someone else.

Next on my list is Ellen NICHOLLS, my 3x great-grandmother. I need to be certain that I have the correct parents and then find their parents. It is quite a complicated affair but I do at least have some idea of the work I need to do. I also need to have another look at finding evidence of her marriage to William GEERING.

Ellen NICHOLLS: what next?

15 Apr

Having confessed that I made a mistake identifying the wrong Ellen NICHOLLS as my 3x great-grandmother, I now need to think about what I can do to put it right.

I can’t get the idea out of my head that my Ellen NICHOLLS may still be the daughter of Thomas and Martha NICHOLLS, named in memory of her dead sister.

There is a four year old Ellen NICHOLLS living in Seasalter, Kent who is the niece of James and Jane BARNES. Jane BARNES was born in Chiddingstone, Kent (which is where Ellen was supposed to have been born). Interestingly James BARNES married Jane DRAPPER in Q4 1841 in Sevenoaks Registration District.

Could it be that this Jane DRAPPER was the sister of Martha DRAPPER who was the wife of Thomas NICHOLLS. This would match the niece relationship in the census.

The 1851 census gives Ellen’s place of birth as Blean, Kent, and her age means that she would have been born about 1847. This date of birth matches quite well with what I know about my Ellen NICHOLLS, but of course the place of birth  doesn’t.

Now there should be a birth registration entry for Ellen around 1847, but there isn’t. What there is however are two entries in the GRO Birth Indexes for female NICHOLLS (meaning the baby girl hadn’t been named). Both were registered in the Blean Registration District, one in Q1 1847 and another Q2 1847. Could one of these have been Ellen?

I know that Thomas NICHOLLS died before the 1851 census because his wife Martha is shown as a widow, and guess what? There is a death entry in the indexes for Thomas NICHOLLS in Q1 1848 also in Blean Registration District.

Maybe I am just clutching at straws, but I have a good feeling about this scenario. It is the best bet I have at the moment. My next step is to have a look at the parish registers for Blean, Kent to see if there is any mention of the NICHOLLS, otherwise I might have to take a chance and spend some money on some GRO certificates.

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