Tag Archives: walder

Postcard Album: Interior, Bolney Church, Sussex

29 Apr

It may not be Westminster Abbey, but this is more typical of the sort of place where my ancestors were married (sorry I just had to get in a reference to the Royal Wedding).

As the caption says this is the interior of Bolney Church. The church of St. Mary Magdalene in the village of Bolney, West Sussex has more family associations than just the usual baptisms, marriages and burials. Many of the individuals in my family tree passed through the doors to this church, including GASSON, WALDER, HARMES and LEWRY families.

Both of the other family associations relate to the church bells. Several generations of the WALDER family and at least one GASSON have served as bellringers in the church and are remembered on boards in the church tower.

Secondly it seems that one of my probable ancestors, Michael HARMES, paid for four of the eight bells in the church tower. That is one branch of my family tree I would really like to investigate and prove that I am related.

The reason for choosing this postcard today is because hopefully tomorrow I will be walking to Bolney, not strictly speaking for genealogy purposes, but I might “accidentally” end up wandering into the churchyard.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Ann HARMES – my next challenge

20 Mar

This should have been an Ancestral Profile post, but it would be the shortest one yet, because I know very little about Ann HARMES. Ann was one of my 4x great-grandparents. She married Samuel WALDER in Bolney, Sussex on the 14th November 1815.

To my knowledge they had six children, all baptised in Bolney between 1817 and 1831, including my 3x great-grandfather Edward WALDER. Then some time between that last baptism in 1831 (or possibly just before) and the 1841 census Ann died.

At least I assume that she died, she is not with her husband Samuel in 1841 and he re-married in February 1842 (in Bolney) claiming he was a widow. The problem is that I can’t find a burial record for Ann WALDER or anything like it (or HARMES) in Bolney.

I have been using indexes and transcriptions for my research, so I need to check the original records to make sure that the record hasn’t been missed. I also need to make sure that I have covered all surrounding parishes just in case.

The problem is that without knowing when she died and how old she was when she died I don’t know when she was born. She may have been about the same age as Samuel and died young, or she could have been considerably older and died at a ripe old age.

She may even have been a widow (that should be easy to check on the original parish register entry) when she married Samuel and in that case HARMES might not be her maiden name.

The good news is that there is an eligible Ann HARMES in Bolney. Michael and Hannah HARMES had at least nine children one of whom was Ann, who was baptised on the 4th March 1798 in Bolney. This would make her about a similar age as Samuel WALDER, but of course I don’t know how old Samuel’s wife was, so I am reluctant to accept this at face value without further evidence.

Further Research…

I need to double-check the Bolney parish registers, for details of Ann’s marriage and to find her burial, I really need to find an age from somewhere. I also need to pay attention to Michael and Hannah HARMES, my best bet would be to find a will that mentions the WALDER family.

Don’t neglect your orphans

18 Jan

I spent three or four hours last week trying to identify some of the orphans in my database. These are the individuals who are relations, but I am not sure exactly how they were related (Ernest John TROWER was one of these).

When I wrote about cleaning up my database I think there were fifteen or sixteen individuals or families that weren’t linked, now I am down to nine of them, unfortunately I don’t thing there is much more I can do with them without spending more money on certificates.

As well as tidying up my database, which is pleasing in itself, I have also discovered one or two interesting stories. These individuals seemed unpromising, mostly grandchildren of my ancestors, but as I discovered it was well worth investigating them. Embarrassingly a couple of the orphans were duplicates. One orphan was already linked elsewhere and there were two orphans who were actually the same person.

Walter Henry BOXALL was the grandson of James and Caroline BOXALL, born in Wales in 1897. I still don’t know who his parents were or why he was born in Wales when the rest of his relatives were seemingly all in Sussex, England. What I did discover was that Walter Henry was killed in World War One. His name appears on the war memorial at West Dean, Sussex (one of six BOXALLs named on the memorial). He is definitely worth ordering a birth certificate for.

James LEWRY was the grandson of Thomas LEWRY, but it wasn’t until I started investigating him that I discovered he was actually the illegitimate son of my 3x great-grandmother Elizabeth LEWRY. She married Edward WALDER in 1846, three years after James had been born.

Alfred MITCHELL married Violet Florence CHAPPELL in 1920 in Hampshire. There doesn’t appear to be a direct connection, but they had three children baptised in West Dean, Sussex. What interests me is the migration from Hampshire to Sussex, which seems to mirror the migration of my direct ancestors. I need to get the marriage certificate for Alfred and Violet find his father’s name so I can link them up. After that I want to find out if any other MITCHELLs migrated from Hampshire to Sussex.

Initially these orphans did not seem important, and whilst they aren’t direct ancestors they had some interesting stories to tell which no doubt did impact my direct ancestors, so don’t neglect your orphans.

Investigating Elizabeth LEWRY

15 Sep

Last night I spent some time working on Elizabeth LEWRY my 3x great grandmother. My goal was to fill in some details on her life (from the census) and find out who her parents were.

I already knew that she married Edward WALDER in Bolney, Sussex on the 19th December 1846, and together they had my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann WALDER and at least one other child. From the marriage entry I also know her father’s name was Thomas.

Everything went surprisingly smoothly, most of the census returns were easy to locate (except the 1841 I think it was, in which they were recorded as LOWRY on Ancestry.co.uk). I still need to find out more details on the birth and baptism of their children but that wasn’t on the agenda for last night. I was going backwards, not forwards in time.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Thomas LEWRY and Mary MANSBRIDGE who married in Bolney on the 8th August 1809, she was baptised in Bolney on the 10th April 1825, one of possibly seven or eight children. Thomas’ occupation is variously described over the year as either a labourer, higgler, huckster or poulterer. Thomas died in 1855 aged 68 and Mary in 1870 aged 80, both of them were buried at Bolney.

So that means I have added another set of 4x great grandparents to my family tree, and whilst I still need to do more work on this line I achieved what I set out to do and could go to bed happy (if somewhat later than I had planned).

Confusion in the Bolney parish registers

4 Sep

When I was looking at the Victoria County History of Sussex the other day for information on the lych gate at Bolney I noticed that the next paragraph concerned the church bells, and that five of the eight bells had been given by Michael HARMES.

I have an Ann HARMES in my family tree, who married Samuel WALDER in Bolney in 1815. I thought there was a good chance that Michael and Ann HARMES were related and it would be nice to be able to say that one of my ancestors had provided some of the bells in Bolney church. So I thought tonight I would have a quick look to see if I could find the connection.

I didn’t even get as far as finding Ann’s parents because I got tangled up in verifying that my Samuel WALDER did marry Ann HARMES and had my 3x great grandfather Edward WALDER. This is where things started to get very confusing.

The 1881 census gives Samuel as Edward’s father, no sign of his mother by then, and that is the only census they appear together. In earlier census returns Samuel is with his wife Maria, so presumably Ann had died and Samuel married again.

The problem comes with Edward’s baptism, there is an entry in the transcript’s of the Bolney parish registers for an Edward WALDER, but his parents are James and Ann WALDER. There is no marriage in the Sussex Family History Group Sussex Marriage Index for James WALDER and Ann in Bolney, or nearby, that would fit.

So were James and Samuel the same person? James and Ann WALDER had four children baptised and Samuel and Ann WALDER had three children baptised, all around the same time, there is one pair of baptisms that are quite close together (8 months apart) but that of course doesn’t mean they were different couples.

What seemed like a fun bit of research to prove my ancestor had given some bells to the church has turned into a bit of a nightmare, and one which I am going to have to spend a lot more time on to get to the bottom of. I am beginning to wish I had never started now, still I would have to sort it out eventually, like it or not. There are several other WALDER researchers about so it might be time to get in contact and see what they have found out.

A Bank Holiday walk to Bolney

31 Aug

What a way to spend Bank Holiday Monday, contrary to expectations the sun was out (in fact it was a lovely afternoon) and I was out walking making the most of it.

The destination for today’s walk was Bolney, Sussex, home to many GASSON and WALDER ancestors and relations. In particular I wanted to visit the church at Bolney and try and find some gravestones.

The South Downs, from near Twineham

The South Downs, from near Twineham

The walk started in a small place called Wineham (thanks to my wife for dropping me off). From here I followed the wonderfully named Bob Lane to Twineham, which is slightly bigger than Wineham and has it’s own delightful little church.

St Peters Church Twineham, Sussex

St Peters Church Twineham, Sussex

There should be a couple of my WELLER ancestors buried here, although I haven’t confirmed that in the burial register. If they are they either never had a headstone or it has long since vanished, because I couldn’t find one.

From Twineham I followed Bolney Chapel Road up to the main A272 and then a short way along the A272 into Bolney itself. I like following these small country roads because I don’t have to worry too much with a map, I can just get on with enjoying the scenery and not have to worry about which footpath I have to take.

St Mary Magdalene is a beautiful church, set on the top of a small hill. About a dozen stone steps lead up to a fabulous lych gate, quite possibly the largest I have ever seen. From the lych gate a path leads up the hill to the church.

Bolney Church from the lych gate

Bolney Church from the lych gate

The church itself was closed, but there was plenty to see outside, but one day I ought to actually try and get inside. There is a huge variety of gravestones in the churchyard, so many different ages and types. Of course the older ones are not so easy to read, in fact many are now just slabs of stone with no sign of an inscription.

A pair of gravestones in Bolney Churchyard

A pair of gravestones in Bolney Churchyard

Unfortunately I didn’t have the churchyard to myself, there appeared to be some sort of treasure hunt going on as small groups of people with clipboards made their way through the churchyard searching for a particular gravestone before moving on.

My own hunt was quite successful, several modern GASSON gravestones and some older WALDER and LEWRY ones, although how much of the older ones I am going to be able to make out is another question. I need to have a look and see if there are any monumental inscriptions available that I can use to fill in some gaps. Hopefully someone went around a hundred years ago and recorded all the older ones for me before the inscriptions disappeared.

From the church I head further into the village, past the war memorial and then headed west. This long and winding road (and quite hilly) took me through some nice woodland, with a beautiful scent of pine in the air and past an ancestral home Chatesgrove. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the present owners of Chatesgrove are that keen on letting anyone see their house. Lots of thick hedges and tall fences, meant all I could see were a few glimpses of a timber framed building.

The road eventually took me back to Wineham, where I was due to get picked up again. All in all a nice afternoon spent walking (about 11 miles), lots of photos on my camera, although I don’t think any of the gravestones are direct ancestors. It is surprising how quick the temperature dropped and the light began to disappear, there is no escaping it, autumn is on the way.

Madness Monday: George Thomas GASSON wasn’t just a lunatic

8 Jun

So far pretty much all I have written about George Thomas GASSON concerns his time at the asylum and his mental illness. I wouldn’t want you to think that George Thomas GASSON was just a lunatic, he was a normal son, brother, husband and father for a large part of his life. So to put my previous posts in some perspective here is a summary of what I also know about George Thomas.

George Thomas GASSON was born in Slaugham, Sussex on the 13th November 1853 and was baptised in the parish church on the 29th January 1854. His birth was registered under the surname GASTON, on the 25th December 1853 by his grandmother Mary MITCHELL, which presumably accounts for the incorrect spelling of his surname (I say incorrect because this is the only time I have seen him referred to as GASTON not GASSON).

He was the eldest child of Thomas GASSON (1830-1914) and Harriet MITCHELL (c1835-1904) who were married in the parish church at Slaugham, Sussex on the 17th September 1853. They went on to have twelve children in total, eight boys and four girls.

Around 1859-60 Thomas, Harriet and their three children at the time (George Thomas, Margaret and Alfred) moved to Edmonton, Middlesex whilst Thomas was briefly in the Metropolitan Police. The family are there for the 1861 census and had another child there (Edward, registered Q3 1860). Before long the family were back in Sussex (probably Slaugham), as their next child, a daughter named Harriett was registered in Cuckfield District in Q1 1863.

It is not clear when George Thomas left the family home, he was certainly with his parents during the 1871 census, when the family was in Slaugham, and sometime around 1874-75 the family moved to Bolney, Sussex. It was in Bolney that George Thomas married Mary Ann WALDER at the parish church on the 30th December 1876.

George Thomas and Mary Ann’s first child, George, was born in 1877 (baptised on the 29th April 1877) about the same time as George Thomas’ youngest brother Michael. George Thomas and Mary Ann had fourteen children in total, including in 1893 my great grandmother May GASSON. The youngest was Harold, born in 1898. During this time they were living in Bolney, in the 1881 census at Bee Houses and in 1891 at Chatesgrove.

I have been unable to trace any record of George Thomas’ schooling, if there was any. His working life was spent as a labourer, although there is no evidence that shows where and for whom, presumably he was an agricultural labourer working on one of the farms in the parish.

A couple of their children had died before George Thomas was admitted to the asylum, Edward in 1894 (aged 15) and Albert Henry also in 1894 (aged just 3 months). One son was killed during the First World War, William James (in 1915). The youngest Harold served in the navy during the First World War, but I have been unable to discover where and with whom the others served.

After George Thomas was admitted to the asylum the family seems to have drifted eastwards, firstly to Cuckfield (Cuthedges in 1901) and then to Hurstpierpoint (Gorewood Green in 1911). It was in Hurstpierpoint that Mary Ann died in 1935 aged 78, although she was buried back in Bolney churchyard.

As far as I can tell the majority of their children married, with a couple of exceptions (my great grandmother being one of them) and many went on to have large families (at last count I had positively identified 34 grandchildren).

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