Tag Archives: trower

Finding Frank: his death certificate

27 Oct

One of the key pieces of information missing from the limited information available about the F TROWER recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was how old he was when he died.

It was fairly obvious that in the absence of helpful genealogical information (other than the name and address of his brother) that finding out when he was born was going to be especially crucial if I was going to place him in my family tree.

The most obvious way of finding this out was to order a copy of his death certificate. Yes, you can get death certificates for men who died during the First World War, they are not that different from a normal death certificate and can be ordered from the GRO website in a similar manner and for the same cost.

They don’t tell you a great deal more than what is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and in Soldiers Died in the Great War, but in my case Frank’s age was missing from both of these sources.

For Frank the following information was recorded, and as you can see there wasn’t really any new information other than his age:

Rgtl. or Army number: G/15980
Rank: Pte.
Name in Full (Surname First): TROWER Frank (13th Bn.)
Age: 36
Country of Birth: England
Date of Death: 19:6:1917
Place of Death: France
Cause of Death: Killed in action

So Frank was 36 years old when he died on the 19th June 1917, which in theory means that he was born between the 20th June 1880 (if he died on the day before his 37th birthday) and the 19th June 1881 (if he died on his 36th birthday) if my maths is correct. This fits quite nicely with the census information that I have which starts with a one year old Frank in 1881.

Unfortunately this doesn’t fits quite so well with the most likely Frank TROWER in the GRO Birth Indexes. The most promising match is a birth registered in Steyning Registration District (which included the parish of Hove) in Q4 1879. The next registration in the index is also in Steyning Registration District, but in Q2 1883 which is perhaps a little too late.

So although I have a good match with the census information, I don’t have a good match for his birth registration. I am not sure whether this is really a problem or not, we have to accept that things don’t always tie-up quite as neatly as we would like sometimes.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Finding Frank: some census searching

18 Oct

Based on what little information I could glean from military records I have been searching the 1911 census to see if I can find any likely candidates for the Frank TROWER whose sacrifice is remembered on the Brighton War Memorial.

The 1911 census on findmypast.co.uk only brings up four Frank TROWERs in Sussex, two of which are children and can probably be ruled out at this stage (one would have been only ten in 1917 when Frank died and the other fifteen).

This leaves us with two possibilities, one of whom is already in my family tree whilst the other isn’t. According to the 1911 census they are both the same age (29 years) although further research would suggest that there is about three years age difference between them.

One of the pieces of information I was able to gather was that Frank was the brother of J TROWER of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton. I checked 2 Oxford Place and there were no TROWERs living there in 1911, so this is not a great deal of help in my search. I need to fast forward a few years with some directories and see who was living there in 1917.

The other thing that is not a great help in my search is that both of the Frank TROWERs I am looking at were brothers of a J TROWER, one a Joseph Charles TROWER and the other a Jane Elizabeth TROWER. I haven’t established whether Jane had married before the First World War, in which case she probably wouldn’t be a TROWER any more, that is something else I need to do.

There is one distinguishing factor between the two Franks in the 1911 census and that is that one is married and the other isn’t. I think it likely that the Frank I am looking for is the unmarried one, otherwise there would have been some mention of his widow, rather than a brother in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.

The unmarried Frank is the one who is not in my family tree but it didn’t take long to place him, by working back through the census it seems that he was the grandson of George TROWER who is in my family tree (according to my software he is my 1st cousin 5 times removed, but that doesn’t sound quite rigth). I never really did much work on George and his wife Mary because they are on the extremes of my family tree, but this is a perfect excuse to extend that branch a little further.

I still can’t say for certain that this is the correct Frank TROWER, there are two things I would like to confirm before I make that assumption. Firstly how old was Frank when he died and secondly which J TROWER was living at 2 Oxford Place?

Finding Frank: some basic information

13 Oct

Although the Brighton War Memorial simply records him as F TROWER the Roll of Honour website has  identified him as Frank TROWER, and this does seem to be a reasonable assumption based on the available evidence, which it has to be said is pretty limited.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website only has two entries for an F TROWER, one of whom is named Fred Edward TROWER and is buried in Norfolk, which makes him an unlikely candidate for a man on the Brighton War Memorial, so it seems like the other one must be my man.

According to the website F TROWER was a Private in the 13th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental number G/15980). He died on the 19th June 1917 and is buried at the Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery in Belgium.

As far as genealogical information goes details are sparse. One critical piece of evidence is missing and that is his age. What we do have instead is the fact that he was the brother of J. Trower of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton”.

The first name of Frank is given in Soldiers Died in the Great War, which also gives a couple of other scraps of information, namely that he was born in Hove and also enlisted in Hove, but it doesn’t really add a lot to the story other than that he was Killed in Action. I am certain this is the same man because the service number, regiment and battalion all match up.

His medal index card adds a little bit more to the story, with the addition of a previous regimental number (3719) and an indication that he had probably served in a different battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment before joining the 13th Battalion. He received the British War Medal and Victory Medal, but there is no further details of where these were sent or even that he died.

Unfortunately his service record doesn’t seem to have survived, that would have answered a lot of questions, so initially that is pretty much all I have to go on. I can dig a little deeper into military records and try to uncover some more details, for instance the actual medal roll to which the index card refers may tell me which battalion he was with before joining the 13th Battalion. It would also be interesting to check the war diary for the 13th battalion to find out what they were up to and it might be worth a search of the local newspaper, although this would be rather time-consuming.

As for finding out if and how he is related to me, the biggest clue I have is the details of his brother. I need to try to find out what the J stood for, and hopefully the address of 2 Oxford Place should help me do this if I can lay my hands on a street directory of the time.

I would really like to find out how old he was when he died, otherwise I am never really going to be 100% certain that I have the right man, and I guess I am going to need a death certificate for that.

For now though I can start my search in the 1911 census, hopefully I can find a J and Frank TROWER who are siblings or a J TROWER living at 2 Oxford Place, Brighton.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Climbing out of the hole

11 Oct

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I had done practically no family history recently, well that trend has continued more or less unabated, until yesterday. I feel like I have been stuck in quite possibly the deepest rut ever, struggling to find any enthusiasm for family history and blogging, but at last I feel like I am starting to climb out of the hole.

Last night I spent some time working on an unrelated (at the moment) name on the Brighton War Memorial. As the surname is TROWER and the place is Brighton, Sussex there is a very good chance that he was distantly related, so I don’t feel that I am completely wasting my time.

It is quite an interesting challenge as there are very few details given for F TROWER, my plan is to try to identify him and work backwards until I run into someone already on my family tree. Hopefully it will only be a generation or two before I find the connection, but it is something I have meant to investigate for a long time.

Not only will this hopefully clear up a long-standing mystery, but also spark a little enthusiasm for family history and blogging again. Time however is a still a real issue, but hopefully I can nibble away at this little project, doing a little bit each day, just enough to get me back into the swing of things.

What’s in it for me: Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures

25 Aug

Ancestry.co.uk have added to their collection of occupational records with the release of a collection entitled UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710-1811. The records which make up this collection are from The National Archives (series IR1) and whilst various indexes to these records have been available online previously I believe this is the first time that they have been fully indexed along with images of the registers.

According to the Ancestry website:

This collection contains registers of the money received for the payment on taxes for an apprentice’s indenture between 1710-1811. The registers kept track of the money paid by masters of a trade to have an apprentice. The dates in the records are for when the tax was paid and may be some years after the apprenticeship, not when it started or finished.

The information in each record does differ from across the collection, so earlier records may name the apprentice’s father the later ones don’t. Along with the name of the apprentice you should find the name of the master, their occupation, their location, the length of the apprenticeship, the amount the master was paid and the amount of duty that they had to pay.

One thing that is particularly confusing is the layout of the records, both on Ancestry and in the original registers. On Ancestry each record is covered by two images (or it is on the ones I have looked at) clicking a search result will take you to the first page and then you need to click to the next image to view more details. With the original registers  there doesn’t appear to be any headings to the different columns (although I am not sure if this is the same throughout the collection), presumably there is a header at the start of each register, but it takes a bit of work to interpret each record.

For more background on apprenticeship records see The National Archives research guide covering the subject.

So what’s in it for me…

Some initial searches have turned up a few records of interest, however I am sure over time more will emerge. This is one of those collections that will need to be checked again and again, although the lack of detail in some of those records may well make it difficult to identify whether you have the correct individual or not.

One particularly interesting record is for Henry TROWER who was apprenticed to Charles WARD of Henfield, Sussex a carpenter and joiner for 6 years. For this Charles WARD was paid £10, for which he had to pay five shillings duty. This was paid on the 17th June 1766 which means this might be my 5x great-grandfather who was born in 1750.

My Henry TROWER does seem to be the most likely fit given the date but without any more detail it is not possible to say for certain whether this is my ancestor or not.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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TNA Podcast – Time travel: a journey through the timetables of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway 1860-1901

22 Aug

You might have guessed from the title that the latest podcast from The National Archives would catch my attention. To many “a journey through the timetables of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway will probably sound incredibly dull, but do give it a chance.

I know I am somewhat biased, because as I mentioned last week the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway was my local railway company, and the talk mainly focuses on stations within Sussex and on routes with which I am familiar. Whilst the location is not particularly critical to the theme of the talk, it was a help because I was able to visualise the routes he was talking about, which is just as well because none of the visual presentation appears to be available on the TNA website.

After an introduction to the history of the railway timetable Dr Wakeford illustrated some of the ways in which data from these historic timetables can be used. I do have several historic railway (and bus) timetables in my collection, but have never carried out any serious study of their contents in the way that Dr Wakeford has.

He used various examples to show how many aspects of rail travel changed over time. From drastically reducing the time taken to travel from A to B and increasing the range of opportunities, to showing how increasing railway traffic would affect those working on the railway.

Of course I couldn’t listen to it without wondering what impact the railway had on my ancestors. It is something I have wondered about many times before, but never really explored. Take for example the TROWER family of Henfield, Sussex. Did the arrival of the railway (the Horsham to Shoreham line briefly mentioned in the podcast) in 1861 increase the mobility of the family? Did the children spread their wings further when it came time to leave home? Did the family seek employment further afield?

It would be interesting to take a closer look at the mobility of successive generations of TROWERs, but that is an awful lot of data to process, fortunately I do have a lot of that data already available, but it would still be a lot of work. Maybe I will add it to my list of things to do.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Ancestral Profile: Jane HAYBITTLE (1827-1905)

15 May

Jane HAYBITTLE was one of my 3x great-grandmothers. As is fairly typical of many of my female ancestors most of what is known about her relates to her role as a wife and mother, rather than as an individual in her own right.

Jane was born in 1827 in Ashurst, Sussex and was the daughter of John and Harriet HAYBITTLE, she was the third of nine children (six daughters and three sons). She was baptised at St. James’ Church, Ashurst on the 16th December 1827.

In the 1841 census the thirteen year old Jane is living with her parents and four siblings in Ashurst at Little Wood Ease. Her father is recorded as an agricultural labourer.

On the 3rd November 1847 Jane married Henry TROWER in St. Peter’s Church in the neighbouring parish of Henfield, Sussex. The TROWER family had been resident in Henfield for about 200 years by this time.

It seems quite likely that they began their married life living at the TROWER family home of Harwoods, on the western edge of the parish of Henfield, very close to the boundary with Ashurst. In 1851 the couple are living with Henry’s parents, William and Mary TROWER and his older brother William Luther.

By 1851 Henry and Jane had three children and they would go on to have another ten children together. Their first child, Abraham, was born on the 29th February 1848, a little under four months after the couple were married.

  1. Abraham TROWER (baptised 9th April 1848)
  2. Anne TROWER (baptised 15th May 1849)
  3. Isaac TROWER (baptised 11th May 1851)
  4. Mercy TROWER (born Q3 1852)
  5. Faith TROWER (born Q1 1854)
  6. Luther TROWER (born Q1 1856)
  7. Mary TROWER (born Q1 1858)
  8. Sarah TROWER (born Q2 1859)
  9. Jane Kate TROWER (born Q3 1862)
  10. Ruth TROWER (born Q4 1864)
  11. Ebenezer TROWER (born Q1 1866) [my 2x great-grandfather]
  12. Martha TROWER (born Q4 1867)
  13. Eliza TROWER (born Q3 1870)

It appears that all the children were born in Henfield, but I have only found baptism records for the first three. During this time the family were still living at Harwoods Farm. After the death of Henry’s mother (in 1855) and father (in 1875), Henry and Jane took over farming at Harwoods Farm. Jane’s own father died in 1874 and her mother in 1879, both were buried in Ashurst churchyard.

The family remained at Harwoods Farm for many more years, they are living there in 1861, 1871 and 1881. At some time between 1881 and 1891 Henry and Jane moved to Rusper, Sussex. In the 1891 census they are living at New Barn Farm and Henry is listed as a farmer, their eldest son Abraham and his family are living at Harwoods Farm. Abraham and his family appear to have moved back to Henfield (from the Brighton area) between 1885 and 1887, and this may have coincided with Henry and Jane’s move to Rusper.

Henry and Jane were back in Henfield by the time of the 1901 census, they are not at Harwoods Farm but living nearer to the centre of the village at Rose Cottage in Church Street. By this time Henry appears to have retired because his shown as living on his own means, he was aged 77 and Jane was 73 years old.

Jane died on the 14th October 1905 aged 77 years old. Less than two weeks later her husband died. They were both buried in Henfield Cemetery, Jane on the 17th October and Henry on the 28th.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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