Tag Archives: ospringe

I can feel a research plan coming on

8 Jan

I am not quite sure why, but I am gravitating towards a full-blown research project on Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT, my 3x great-grandfather from Kent and Hampshire. I have written about Henry many times but there are still many unanswered questions. I feel it might be time to answer some of those questions.

It all started with me cancelling my plan (not that is was really anything more than an idea) to visit Carlisle, Cumbria in the next couple of months, because they haven’t finished re-building their record office yet. Carlisle can wait, what is more pressing is my need to use up the few days holiday that I still have left, before I lose them.

Instead of taking a trip to the other end of the country I hope to take several shorter trips that can be completed in a day, mainly to archives and libraries but also to a church and cemetery or two.

The key destination will be Alton, Hampshire because this was where Henry WRIGHT (as he was then) spent most of his life. As well as exploring the town further, visiting the church and cemetery I also want to take advantage of the family history resources at The Curtis Museum. I might also need to fit in a visit to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire.

The other destination will be Kent, probably both of the archives in Maidstone and Canterbury, and maybe a visit to Ospringe where Henry SHORNDEN (as he was then) was born, although the latter is probably not quite so important.

Now I need to start putting together a proper research plan, check the availability of resources, check travel arrangements and decide what I actually want to find out. Before I go anywhere though I need to sit down and update my family history database with as much information as possible from the sources I already have at hand, namely Henry’s will and whatever else I can find online.

Expect to hear lots more about Henry and his family over the coming weeks …

A SHORNDEN/LAY marriage certificate arrives, but what to do next?

3 Nov

The marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY arrived yesterday, and it has already been scanned and filed away. For once this appears to be a pretty straightforward marriage certificate, no unexpected surprises, in fact it confirms much of what I already know.

Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY were married on the 25th December 1840 (I wonder how much it would cost to get married on Christmas Day now?) at the parish church in Milton next Gravesend, Kent. Henry was a bachelor and Sarah a spinster, but unfortunately their ages are only given as “full”. Both gave their residence as Milton.

I was pleased to see that Henry’s rank or profession was given as “Cutler”, that ties in nicely with information from the census and baptism records from Alton, Hampshire. Not surprisingly Sarah has no rank or profession shown.

Henry’s father is William SHORNDEN, this matches the information from the Ospringe parish registers, and he was a labourer. Henry’s profession and the name of his father mean this provides a nice link between the Henry from Ospringe, Kent and the one from Alton, Hampshire, adding to the evidence that suggests they are the same person.

Sarah’s father was Joseph LAY, and he to was a labourer. Joseph would be another of my 4x great grandfathers. That leaves me with only three left to find, including Joseph’s wife.

Interestingly neither Henry nor Sarah signed their names, I am sure this led to much of the confusion with different surname spellings once they got away from their native Kent. The other interesting thing is that the witnesses were William and Mary Ann WICKER, could these be relations of either the bride or the groom?

So where now? Well there are still two questions to be answered:

1) Where and when was Sarah born and who was her mother? I have an approximate date of birth (1821), but no definite place for Sarah’s birth, Kent seems most likely, so I need to check all the baptism registers for the places previous mentioned, Milton next Gravesend, Ospringe and surrounding parishes for a daughter of Joseph LAY.

2) What about the two daughters that Henry and Sarah had, who are shown in the 1851 census as being born before the couple were married? These two girls were most likely Henry and Sarah’s daughters, but as well as checking all the above parishes for their baptisms, I need to check for a variety of different surnames as well. It would be nice to find the family in the 1841 census, but their appears to be very few SHORNDENs in the south of England that year.

This family are certainly one of the most challenging I have worked on so far, they are the first case I have in my tree of a name change, rather than just different variants. I do feel however that this is a story worth investigating and I will probably try and put together a full report on the family once more of the facts emerge.

Another certificate ordered in the search for the SHORNDEN/WRIGHT family

26 Oct

I have just ordered the marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY. I decided that it would be far easier and quicker to sit and wait for the certificate to come to me, than go out trying to find a copy of the entry in the parish register.

I am hoping that this certificate will confirm that the Henry SHORNDEN I found in the Ospringe, Kent baptism register, son of William and Ann SHORNDEN, is the same one that ended up in Alton, Hampshire.

More importantly I should give me the name of Sarah’s father, which may just be enough to enable me to find her baptism, and then both of her parents. I really have no idea where Sarah came from, as most census entries for her give a different place of birth.

Now I just need to sit back and wait, I can’t really do much more on that part of my tree without that certificate. I can’t help but wonder what further surprises it is going to turn up!

I am going off the SHORNDEN family

17 Oct

I really am starting to go off the SHORNDEN family. Apologies to any SHORNDENs reading this, but they are my ancestors too so I think I am allowed to get annoyed with them.

Not only does it look like Henry SHORNDEN was a criminal and changed his name and moved to Hampshire, but it is beginning to feel like he did it with the intention of making my research as difficult as possible.

Several things are starting to annoy me. Like why can’t I find the family in the 1841 census, there should be four of them at least, Henry and Sarah (possibly his wife) and their two children Mary Ann and Harriet.

And why was Henry’s sister Marianne baptised twice? First on the 31st July 1808 as the daughter of William and Ann SHORNDEN and then again on the 25th December 1808 as the “spurious” daughter of Ann SHORNDEN. Did William deny she was his daughter?

Why can’t I find a birth registration for Harriet? What happened to Mary Ann after the 1851 census? I have a baptism in Ospringe, Kent for Mary-Ann Hannah SHORNDEN in 1836, could this be Henry and Sarah’s first daughter? Well possibly, but her parents are given as William and Sarah, was Henry also known as William? Had he already started changing his name by then?

I know I need to go to Kent and look for some answers, but I don’t trust the information I already have. I think I will trade-in this family for a better one. A nice family that stayed put in the same parish, knew how to spell their name and didn’t get up to anything naughty or illegal. Anyone want to swap?

Did Henry SHORNDEN change his name to hide his criminal past?

15 Oct

I have been trying to make sense of some of my notes from the London Family History Centre today, in particular I was trying to work out what was going on with Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT.

While I think I have located Henry’s baptism in Ospringe, Kent I would like to prove a connection between Henry SHORNDEN in Kent and Henry WRIGHT in Hampshire, other than the fact that some of his children were baptised and registered under the surname of SHORNDEN or some other variant.

I thought I would try a search on Ancestry.co.uk on the Criminal Registers they released earlier this year. I searched for Henry SHORNDEN and only one result came up. A 28-year-old called Henry SHORNDEN was tried at the County Sessions at Maidstone, Kent on the 4th January 1838. My Henry SHORNDEN would have been 28 in 1838 and he was last heard of in Kent (he first turns up again in Hampshire in 1842), this has to be my 3x great grandfather.

His crime was larceny, of which he was found guilty and was imprisoned for 12 months. To me this seems a perfect reason for him to move away from him home and change his name once he got out, to try and hide his past.

So now I need to find out what it was he actually did, whether there was any mention of a family and where he went to prison. Perhaps he was imprisoned in Hampshire, which is why he ended up in that part of the world? I still haven’t done anything about finding out more about Wybrants KINGHORN’s criminal activities, and now I have another criminal in my tree to investigate.

Searching for the WRIGHT family at the London Family History Centre

14 Oct

Today I was back at the London Family History Centre, trying to fill in a few missing ancestors in my Christmas Tree Project, but most of all trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that I opened there back in May this year.

All in all it was quite a successful day, I think I have added another four or five of my 4x great grandparents, including the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS whose lack of marriage in Lewes, Sussex has been causing me some consternation. Once again though it was the WRIGHT family that has been most surprising.

I have Henry and Sarah (or Sarah Ann) WRIGHT living in Alton, Hampshire from about 1842. Their eight youngest children were baptised and registered in Alton using various surnames: WRIGHT, SHAWNDEN, SHORDEN, WRIGHT SHAWNDEN, SHAWDON WRIGHT and WRIGHT otherwise SHORDEN.

I had taken this as indicating the Henry and Sarah had probably never married, and there was some confusion over whether they should use the father’s name (WRIGHT) or the mother’s name (SHORDEN or some variant thereof).

What I discovered in the Ospringe, Kent parish registers was a baptism on the 1st October 1809 for Henry son of William and Anne SHORNDEN. This was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting, and my many hours of searching the 1841 census for Henry WRIGHT have probably been wasted. Tonight I shall be seeing what comes up for Henry SHORNDEN in the 1841 census.

So this has left me wondering whether Sarah was Sarah WRIGHT, or whether the WRIGHT surname was just plucked out of nowhere for whatever reason. I still couldn’t find a marriage for Henry and Sarah in Ospringe, but I didn’t really expect to. Now I have Henry’s parent’s names (and some siblings for Henry) and hopefully I will be able to find them in the 1841 census (and later), which might enable me to discover more information about the family.

As well as searching for Henry SHORNDEN in the census, I also have a handful of notes that need sorting out, on top of what I still have left from my trip to the Hampshire Record Office last Saturday. Looks like I shall be busy catching up for the next few days.

Harriet WRIGHT is giving me sleepless nights

8 Jun

I awoke this morning and it felt like my brain hadn’t been to sleep. I am sure that whilst the rest of me was sleeping my brain was going through possible name variants and spellings for Harriet WRIGHT (or whatever her name was).

At 7am this morning I very nearly ordered the birth certificate for one of Harriet’s siblings, but I stopped at the last minute, just as I was about to enter my debit card details.

What stopped me (apart from not liking to spend money, especially that early in the morning!) was the fact that I probably already know Harriet’s mother’s maiden name. I am convinced it is SHOREDEN/SHAWDEN/SHALDEN or some variant thereof.

It is my guess that Henry WRIGHT (Harriet’s father) and Sarah SHOREDEN (Harriet’s mother) never saw the need to get married and just lived together under his name as husband and wife.

However, when it came to naming children things got more complicated and the surname recorded depended on who asked for it, how the question was worded and to whom the question was asked.

I could be wrong (quite likely) but that is my only hypothesis at the moment. So initially I am going to be searching for the baptisms of Henry and Sarah, in the hope of being able to work forward and locate Harriet’s birth and baptism (and their 1841 census entry).

Both of their dates of birth are pretty consistent across the census years, Henry was born in 1811 and Sarah in 1821 and this is confirmed by their entries in the GRO death indexes.

Places of birth are a different matter, for Henry the choice of place of birth is not too bad, either Ospringe (Kent), Canterbury (Kent) or Alton (Hampshire), with Ospringe being the most popular. For Sarah there are more options, Alton (Hampshire), Harrow (Middlesex), Deptford (Kent) or Lincolnshire. I think I can rule out Lincolnshire and Alton, but the other two are quite plausible.

Of course I need to bear in mind that all of the census returns could be wrong, and none of these are the correct places, but it is one of the few records I have to go on. Wish me luck!

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