Tag Archives: nicholls

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 15)

11 Apr

Last week was unusual, it felt like I was not doing much genealogy but by the end of the week I think I had achieved quite a bit. Having said that it is hard to actually quantify what I have done.

Much of my time seems to have been spent thinking about GASSONs and GEERINGs, with a quick look at some MITCHELLs.

  • The will of Ann GEERING has arrived, and I need to process that and decide where to go next with the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex.
  • Review my research into Ellen NICHOLLS, trying to find out what I can do to put right my previous mistake and where I can go now.
  • Transcribe all my notes from Saturday morning’s visit to the Centre for Kentish Studies. Create another plan for finding the parents of John GASSON (my 5x great-grandfather) based on the findings.
  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames. This week I will focus on the GASSON and MITCHELL families. I have so many loose ends that need tying up.

Ellen NICHOLLS: a confession

10 Apr

I have written before about Ellen NICHOLLS and how she was causing problems in my research. In brief, the problem was that I had a baptism record for Ellen which was in the right place, with the correct spelling of her name, but the baptism was too early compared to other records. I had found no marriage record that would give me her father’s name.

I had accepted this baptism as the correct one, my justification was that her father died not long after her birth, and I have no idea where Ellen was in the 1851 or 1861 census, certainly not with her mother. I saw this as a good enough reason for Ellen not to know her exact age.

I have to confess that there was another reason why I accepted this baptism record as correct.

I wanted to have her father Thomas NICHOLLS as my 4x great-grandfather. His occupation was given as excavator, and to me this sounded like he was building the local railway. I wanted to be able to say that one of my ancestors helped build part of England’s railway network.

What is more he may have died whilst building the railway. That one of my ancestors lost his life helping to build part of England’s railway network was something that really appealed to me.

Of course this is not the way to build a family tree. We can’t pick and choose our ancestors, but in my defence I would say that the baptism was a pretty good match for my Ellen NICHOLLS.

What I discovered at the Centre for Kentish Studies today has left one branch of my tree looking decidedly unsafe. I was looking for a burial record for Thomas in the Chiddingstone parish registers, but what I found was a burial record for Ellen instead. The age was correct, she was just two years and nine months old, she was buried on the 7th February 1844.

I was gutted that I had made a fundamental mistake, I was feeling guilty and ashamed that I had been caught out. My desire to have a railway navvy in my family tree had lead me down the wrong route.

Fortunately I had not done any further research beyond trying to find out what had happened after Thomas’ death, so I haven’t wasted much time and effort on the wrong people.

A visit to the Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent

10 Apr

Today I went to the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone, Kent. It was my first visit there and the first time I have actually been to a Kent archive or record office, my Kent research previously being confined to online searching or the London Family History Centre.

There were three goals for today’s trip:

  1. See how easy it is to get to the Centre for Kentish Studies and find out where it is, what it is like and how it works.
  2. Try and find some details for John GASSON my 5x great-grandfather and his parents and siblings, possibly in the parish of Brasted, Kent.
  3. Locate the marriage of my 4x great-grandparents Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER, and the burial of Thomas between 1844 and 1851.

It wasn’t what you could call a successful day. I achieved only one of the three goals (actually getting there) and as opposed to most research trips where on a good day I will be able to add to my tree, on a bad day I would come away empty handed. Today, I came away with the realisation that I am probably going to have to unpick part of my family tree (more about that at another time).

On the positive side, it was a nice journey, the cheapest train route (avoiding London) is also the quickest (just under two hours), but it involves three different trains, Horsham to Redhill, Redhill to Tonbridge and Tonbridge to Maidstone Barracks. I can see that it is not an ideal way of getting there, because there are far too many opportunities for things to go wrong, with a long wait between trains.

Today the sun was shining and the trains reasonably quiet and running on time so there was no problem, in fact it was one of the best train journeys I have been on for months. I don’t think I have ever been to Maidstone before, and the train ride from Tonbridge to Maidstone is quite idyllic, following the River Medway for a large part of the route.

The Centre for Kentish Studies is ideally situated for the train station, better for Maidstone East station, but only a short walk (about five minutes for me) from Maidstone Barracks station alongside the railway and over the river.

Finding the entrance to the Centre proved slightly tricky, there didn’t appear to be any signs to the Centre itself, and the entrance to County Hall (where the Centre is housed) wasn’t obvious, but I soon found it to the right-hand side of the rather impressive building shown below.

The Centre was quite quiet, perhaps everybody else was outside enjoying the sunshine. It is not open every weekend, only the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, and even then only up to 1pm (make sure you check opening times).

The facilities were pretty much what you would expect from an archive. It is quite small, so booking a seat is probably a good idea. The microfilm room is well equipped and well organised, that was where I spent most of my time, searching parish registers.

I know I will be back there again, I have lots more Kent research to do, but in terms of practicalities, although it will cost me more (no one ever said family history was a cheap hobby obsession), it is probably better for me to go on a weekday when I can spend longer there.

2010 to do list – some actual research goals

31 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

So far most of what I have written is about the actual research process and organisation of my family history information, so now it is time to look at some of the people and stories I want to actually find out more about in 2010.

John GASSON – I already know quite a bit about John GASSON my 5x great-grandfather, but there are still a lot of pieces to put together, including sorting out his will and his three wives. Ideally I would also like to find his baptism (around 1715 in Surrey) and identify his parents. Ultimately I want to pursue the GASSON surname as far back as possible to find out where it comes from.

Mercy TROWER – I wrote about my 3x great-aunt before, but haven’t really done any more about finding the missing marriages. Even though see is not a direct ancestor I think it is time I got this troublesome character sorted out once and for all. I going to have to hand over some money for a death certificate and a copy of her will. The death certificate will hopefully give me her deceased husband’s name and that will give me further clues.

William Joseph Henry BATEMAN – This is my 2x great-uncle, who joined the navy and ended up in Australia, getting married and starting a family. I would really like to find out more about him and his family, and hopefully trace some distant cousins down under.

The ALLCORN and EADE families – These two families left Brighton, Sussex for America in the mid to late 1800s, Mary EADE and Hope ALLCORN were sisters, both the daughters of William and Mary TROWER of Henfield, Sussex. Whilst it would be nice to trace some relations in the US, what really interests me is why and how they left England and why did they settle where they did, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Thomas KINGHORN – My 3x great-grandfather, the tailor from London (although born in Scotland). I still want to piece together more of his life, especially find out where he is buried (I suspect Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey) and what happened to all his children, and why did the family seem so attracted to Brighton.

Thomas KINGHORN – My 4x great-grandfather, the mail coach guard from Carlisle, Cumberland. There is so much I would like to find out about his life, but really I need to try and establish where he was born. I suspect he was originally from down south, probably London, and was only up north because of his job. Proving that is not going to be easy to say the least.

Wybrants KINGHORN – There is so much about this man that intrigues me, firstly his own crime and punishment, and then his subsequent murder. I have feeling that his life story would make a good book, if only I could find enough evidence.

Luther TROWER, Henrietta KING and Charles BRINTON – Talking of good stories, this story is rather tragic and quite complicated. I don’t think I have mentioned them before, only in passing perhaps. Luther TROWER was my 3x great-uncle. One of these was a bigamist, there were two marriages, one divorce, two suicides (although seemingly unrelated) and quite a bit of alcohol and blood. I have a few more pieces of evidence to try and gather, but I would like to get this story told, in one form or another.

Thomas NICHOLLS – Another of my 4x great-grandfathers, about whom I know very little. He appears to have come from Chiddingstone, Kent and died quite young. It looks like he was a navvy working on building the railway, and I have a gut feeling that he died as a result of an accident at work. I would love to be able to prove that, and also find out what happened to his widow and children.

It looks like I am going to have my plate full in 2010, what with this little lot, plus all the other families that I will no doubt end up chasing, and the 5x great-grandparents I want to find and all the re-organising I want to do.

I can guarantee that within a week or two of the new year I will have found something else that seems much more exciting will be heading off somewhere totally different, notebook in hand and camera at the ready.

How much evidence is enough?

15 Oct

I have written several times about my problems with Ellen NICHOLLS one of my 3x great grandmothers. The lack of a marriage record is one problem, it is not the fact that there wasn’t a marriage that is the problem, but it is the fact that I am missing the evidence that the record contains that worries me.

From the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census I have a place of birth of Chiddingstone, Kent and a birth year of 1846-47. When I checked the Chiddingstone baptisms yesterday I found an Ellen NICHOLLS, but it wasn’t in 1846-47 it was in 1842.

So I have a baptism of a child with exactly the same name, in exactly the right place, but the date is four or five years out. I have no father’s name from a marriage record to confirm that I have the correct parents (Thomas and Martha).

Is it just coincidence that there is an Ellen NICHOLLS in the right place about the right time? Did she not know when she was born? Did she just lie about her age? Am I asking too many questions? Do I have enough evidence to make the connection?

What do you think? How much evidence do I need? Would you accept this as proof of her parentage?

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