Tag Archives: surrey

Henry GASSON – some migration questions

28 Jul

I mentioned the other day that I have a particular fondness for my 4x great-grandfather Henry GASSON because he was the one that brought my particular GASSON line over the border from Surrey into Sussex.

It happened some time around 1830 and as migrations go it wasn’t particularly spectacular, being only about 15 miles or so in distance but even so it was quite a big jump, not just to the neighbouring parish. It wasn’t as if it was only Henry and his family that made the move, there seem to have been several other GASSON families that migrated southwards over the border about the same time, and in the big scheme of things it is just part of the gradual movement of my GASSON line westwards from Kent into Surrey and then southwards into Sussex.

Whilst I am waiting for the two death certificates I ordered to turn up I will take a closer look at this particular migration and try to answer a few questions:

  1. Exactly when did Henry and family move to Sussex?
  2. Was their move straight from Horley, Surrey to Nuthurst, Sussex or was there somewhere in between?
  3. How many other GASSON families moved from Surrey to Sussex around that time?
  4. And what were their relationships to Henry GASSON?
  5. Did any other families that moved from Horley to Nuthurst around that time?
  6. Were there any related GASSON families already living in the Nuthurst area?
  7. Can I identify any particular reason for this relocation?

My main resources for this will be parish registers and census returns, but there may also be some rate books that will help me narrow down some details. The good news is that I work in Horley and travel back home through Horsham, so can make use of the libraries in both of tho se places, although I will probably still need to visit the West Sussex Record Office and the Surrey History Centre to dig a little deeper.

Of course it goes without saying that if the distance is only 15 miles or so then it would make for a good days walk. I may not be able to follow exactly in their footsteps with any certainty, but by using some old maps I could probably find a route that would have been available to them at the time.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Ellen NICHOLLS: the story gets even more complicated

29 Mar

Just when I thought I was starting to get a handle on my 3x great-grandmother Ellen NICHOLLS and her parents Thomas and Martha NICHOLLS, along comes something that has me shaking my head in disbelief.

Thomas died before 1851 and the family (Martha and her daughters Mary and Ellen) appears to have split up. I could find the individual members of the family in 1851 but never knew what became of Mary and Martha or where Ellen was in 1861 (by 1871 Ellen was in Lewes, Sussex).

In all honesty I hadn’t put a lot of effort into finding the family members before, just a few simple searches of the GRO BMD indexes and census returns, but last night I actually sat down and put some time and thought into the search.

When I actually put some thought into what I was doing it didn’t take long to find Martha. I knew her place and year of birth so I was able to search the 1861 census using just that information and her first name. There were only a few results, none with the surname of NICHOLLS or DRAPPER, so it was a simple case of checking for marriages to see if one of them was previously a NICHOLLS.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I checked the census entry for William and Martha GASSON, surely she couldn’t have married a GASSON. I have enough GASSONs in my family tree already, adding another who was probably distantly related would just make things more confusing.

According to the census entry William and Martha’s eldest child was Ellen GASSON aged 14, born in Blean, Kent, better known to me as Ellen NICHOLLS. It was quite easy to confirm William and Martha’s marriage, not in Kent as I had expected but in neighbouring Surrey (Q1 1854 in Godstone Registration District), where Martha’s surname had been recorded as NICKOLS.

The tragic end to the tale is that it looks like Martha died in 1866 aged just 45 years (William is shown as a widower in the 1871). The unfortunate Ellen NICHOLLS had now lost both her parents before reaching 21 years old.

To make things even more complicated the 1871 census shows William GASSON living with Thomas NICHOLLS, who is described as his son in law. I suspect this means that he was the son of Martha NICHOLLS before she and William were married (and after her first husband had died). Interestingly he is shown as Thomas GASSON in the 1861 census, and his age would mean he was born about a year before William and Martha were married.

This family is getting larger and more complicated with every piece of information I discover. It is certainly proving to be the most complicated set of relationships in my direct ancestry and I wonder just how much more complicated it can get.

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.

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