Tag Archives: surrey

Joseph and Hannah LAY: an update

14 Jan

Following the discovery of a likely baptism record for my 3x great-grandmother Sarah LAY (the wife of Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT) I have been poking around looking for more details on her parents Joseph and Hannah LAY.

Things have not been quite as straightforward as I had hoped. I have found a likely couple in the 1841 census, in fact I think they are the only couple of that name in the 1841. The problem is that they are living in Reigate, Surrey with no obvious connection to Deptford, Kent (where Sarah was baptised).

This is not as neat as I would have liked, it doesn’t rule them out, but makes my life a lot harder trying to prove they are the correct parents. This hypothesis ignores the fact that one or both of the parents may have died before 1841. However Deptford and Reigate are only about 20 miles apart, so it is not that long a journey and not completely inconceivable.

The other fly in the ointment is that Joseph and Hannah were married in Reigate in 1824, two years after Sarah’s baptism. Again this doesn’t rule them out and may actually explain why Sarah wasn’t baptised in Reigate. The Vicar at Reigate would presumably known that her parent’s weren’t married.

Joseph and Hannah had several other children in Reigate after they were married. Hannah appears to have died between 1841 and 1851, and Joseph remarried between 1851 and 1861. Joseph’s second marriage could be useful because it was after the start of civil registration, so his marriage certificate should have his father’s name on it, where the parish register recording the first marriage probably won’t.

What I really need to find now is a record that links the Reigate LAYs to Sarah. That might be a witness on a marriage certificate or an informant on a death certificate. It seems unlikely that Joseph or either of his wives would have left a will, but it is worth checking that as well. I certainly need to check the 1841 census for Reigate very carefully just in case Henry and Sarah SHORNDEN/WRIGHT is hiding in there.

Thirty minutes well spent

6 Jan

I don’t watch a lot of television, apart from Who Do You Think You Are? there is not much else that I would make the time to watch. This evening I put aside 30 minutes to watch the first episode of series two of Great British Railway Journeys on the BBC iPlayer.

I didn’t watch the first series and very nearly missed this one. In this episode former MP Michael Portillo travels by train from Brighton to Crystal Palace via Godstone (although Godstone is a bit of a way out if you are travelling from Brighton to Crystal Palace) armed with a copy of George Bradshaw‘s Tourist Guide.

The programme was is a travel documentary with plenty of history (and historic film) and discussions with historians thrown in for good measure. It helped of course that the places featured were familiar to me.

Starting at Brighton on the Sussex coast we saw the Brighton Aquarium (now the Sea Life Centre) which I think I have only visited once, probably about 30 years ago whilst still at school, I really ought to go back again this year. Then we heard about the long destroyed Chain Pier and took a ride on the Volk’s Electric Railway.

Heading up the railway line towards London we saw briefly the magnificent Ouse Valley Viaduct, which I believe at least once of my distant relatives helped to build. In fact I would imagine that plenty of my relatives were involved in the construction of the London to Brighton railway, if only there were records to prove it.

Portillo took a detour to spend the night at Godstone, Surrey. I have been through Godstone on the train several times, but have never actually visited despite have connections there with my GASSON ancestors. I certainly had no idea that there were underground quarries there and wonder if my ancestors had anything to do with them.

The programme finished at Crystal Palace, an intriguing place with a fascinating history. I paid a brief visit to the park and the remains of the Crystal Palace last year as part of my Capital Ring walk. It was one of several places on that walk which I hope to be able to visit again to explore the park and museum further.

This programme seemed very personal to me, it was almost as if the programme was made specifically for me, truly thirty minutes well spent. Now where can I get hold of one of Bradshaw’s Guides?

Wandering into the New Year

31 Dec

This blog focuses on the two hobbies which give me great pleasure (most of the time), walking and family history. As described yesterday I had plenty of family history resolutions/goals in 2010, but I don’t think there were actually any walking resolutions.

I did end up walking the South Downs Way in 2010, which I had hoped to do for some time, but it wasn’t really a new year’s resolution. I also walked parts of the North Downs Way and the Capital Ring around London in 2010, but again I wouldn’t consider either of them to have been brought about by a new year’s resolution.

For 2011 however I have a pretty clear idea of the walking I want to do. I haven’t really considered whether it is actually going to be possible to fit it all in, and of course a lot will depend on what the weather is like.

The walks I would like to complete in 2011 can be divided into three categories:

Long Distance Walks

South Downs Way – I want to do the South Downs Way again, this time it will probably be from west to east, and all in one go. In 2010 I walked it on one or two days a week, but in 2011 I want to take a week off in the Summer and do it all in one go.

North Downs Way – In 2011 my friend Chris and I need to get the North Downs Way finished and out of the way. We have about five days worth of walking to go, but it is a bit of a headache getting out into Kent to actually do it.

High Weald Landscape Trail – This is another walk Chris and I hope to complete in 2011, and one I am really looking forward to because the first half is through true ancestral landscape with opportunities to many churches along the way.

Shorter Named Walks

There are several shorter routes dotted around the south east that I would like to walk:

Worth Way – A fairly short walk (about seven miles) along a disused railway between Three Bridges and East Grinstead (both in Sussex). It shouldn’t be particularly challenging but will serve as a nice little warm up for some of the longer/steeper walks.

Chalk Stones Trail – Another shorter walk, taking in part of the South Downs and the village of West Dean, Sussex. What is there not to like?

There are also several shorter walks in London that I wouldn’t mind doing, and I would like to revisit the site of the 2012 Olympics and see how the building works have progressed over the intervening months.

Genealogy Walks

There are lots of places that I want to visit, just to go and visit the areas where my ancestors came from and explore a few churches and cemeteries. In fact there is hardly a village in Sussex that isn’t on my list (admittedly it is as yet an unwritten list) of places to visit and photograph.

The list isn’t just limited to Sussex, there are plenty of places in Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and London that I want to visit. I definitely want to spend more time in the town of Alton and the village of Exton, both in Hampshire.

Unlike most of the other walks, these walks will be more about the destination rather than the actual walking itself. All I need to work out is how I am going to fit it all into 12 months.

Statistically speaking… "a huge great chunk of Sussex"

8 Oct

I am proud of the fact that my ancestral roots run deep in Sussex, but just how much of my ancestry stems from Sussex. Just to satisfy my own curiosity I decided I would try and analyse where my roots come from.

Using the place of birth or baptism for my 4x great-grandparents, I summarised the English counties that they came from (to the best of my knowledge none of them were born outside of England). Then using Microsoft Excel I came up with a simple pie chart that would illustrate the figures, the resulting chart shows quite clearly where my roots lie.

Pie Chart It is only a very simple chart, I could probably have spent ages tweaking it, but it is only meant to give a basic idea, and I think it does that quite well with it’s huge great chunk of Sussex ancestors. Approximately two-thirds of my 4x great-grandparents were from Sussex. If I took this further and grouped together the southern counties of Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent you would find almost 80% of my 4x great-grandparents.

So what does this prove, not a lot really, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have inherited any of the traits of my Sussex ancestors, any more than those of my Gloucestershire ancestors. I does show that I haven’t strayed far from the homes of most of my ancestors, and they themselves didn’t stray far either. Of course there is still the annoying ‘unknown’ segment, there is possibly one Scottish ancestor within there, and I am sure as I go further back I will eventually find some foreign blood.

All these statistics are based on the best information currently available. If I wanted to be more sophisticated I could probably further refine it by using an earlier generation where known (so one 5x great-grandparent would equal 1/128 of my roots) and eliminate the unknowns by using a more recent generation. However, I think I probably have better things to do with my time than playing with numbers and pie charts.

2010 Autumn South of England Postcard Fair

25 Sep

Today I made my way to Woking, Surrey to The 2010 Autumn South of England Postcard Fair held at the Woking Leisure Centre. You may remember that I wrote about the postcard fair held at Woking earlier in the year.

Autumn 2010 South of England Postcard Fair

To be honest there are only a few reasons why I go to Woking: for a postcard fair, family history fair or to visit the Surrey History Centre. It is not that Woking is a bad place (or so it seems to me), just that there is not much else to entice me into the town, although Brookwood Cemetery is nearby.

An added bonus is that I got to travel along one of my favourite stretches of railway line, the North Downs Line, which travels along the foot of the North Downs for part of it length. In the bright sunshine the southern slopes of North Downs looked so wonderful, with their trees starting to show the first signs of their Autumn colours.

The fair itself seemed a little quiet, there were lots of stalls with postcards, cigarette cards, ephemera and various other paper collectables, but it didn’t appear to be that busy. Personally I got off to a slow start, and despite my best efforts I struggled to find anything to spend my money on.

Eventually I got lucky and in the end I came away with six postcards and one photo. Not really what I would call a successful day, but it was quite enjoyable nevertheless. I am sure you will be seeing some of these cards in the future, I know I always say that, but I really must get around to writing about some of them, after all that is the reason I am buying many of my postcards these days.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 34

22 Aug

I don’t know quite what happened last week, I didn’t really achieve a great deal, in fact I am struggling to remember what I did achieve this week. I guess I have been a bit lazy this week, I have had opportunities to do family history but have been distracted by other things.

I did get started on capturing details from the National Probate Calendar, but I didn’t get far. One entry I did look at was the entry for Thomas DRIVER (my 3x great-grandfather) and this illustrated one of the problems of these entries. The names of the two executors, his daughter and son-in-law, lead to tracing them and their children. It is a good problem to have, but it makes it all very time consuming.

One positive thing that I did do last week was join Surrey libraries. My week means that I have the opportunity to visit Horley library during my lunch break and after work, in fact it will probably be easier to visit Horley library than my local library at Horsham. The main benefit of library membership is access to their online library including the Times Digital Archive and Nineteenth Century Newspapers websites.

I need to try and get focused again this week, I suppose I have been spending more time writing about family history than actually doing any research. I guess it boils down once again to being more organised.

I need to order the copies of wills that I said I was going to last week, and I need to process the two BATEMAN certificates that I didn’t get around to working on last week. Apart from that I will probably just work on capturing more probate entries.

Picture Postcard Parade: Horley Church

24 Jul

I bought this postcard today in the lovely town of Rye, East Sussex. It is of St Bartholomew’s Church in Horley, Surrey. The card was posted on the 26th June 1905, the name in the bottom right-hand corner is W. Wilkins, who was probably Walter Wilkins, who is recorded in the Kelly’s 1911 Directory of Surrey as a stationer in Station Road, Horley.

Horley Church

My 4x great-grandparents Henry and Catherine GASSON had nine of their children baptised here between 1814 and 1830. One of those children, James was also buried here in May 1830. After this the family moved to Nuthurst, Sussex where another five children, including my 3x great-grandfather, were baptised.

There is another reason for showing you this card. Horley is the town in which I now spend my working day. You can expect to hear lots more about Horley in the future, as I make the most of my lunch breaks (and my season ticket for the train).

I have previously written about their wonderful library, so I can explore their holdings further (not just Horley but surrounding parishes) and also visit the church and get some photographs. Eventually I hope to be able to find out where my 4x great-grandparents lived and pay that a visit too, if it has survived. I am sure there must also be other GASSONs that remained in Horley after my direct ancestors moved on.

All in all lots of things I can be doing to take advantage of the fact that I am am going to be working in a place with an ancestral connection. The truth is that there are very few places where I would have been able to work that didn’t have a family connection of some sort.

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