Tag Archives: west sussex record office

Where did Vernon Alphonso GASSON get his name from?

21 May

One of the curious records that I transcribed at the West Sussex Record Office a couple of weeks ago was the baptism of Vernon Alphonso GASSON. He was the son of John and Alice Catherine Maud GASSON and was baptised at the parish church in Slaugham, Sussex on the 8th September 1907.

Now don’t get me wrong, but the name Vernon Alphonso doesn’t strike me as an English name, let alone a Sussex one. So where did he get it from?

I thought that Alice Catherine Maud might not have been from England, but her name doesn’t sound particularly exotic. This was further confirmed when I checked FreeBMD for a marriage, Alice’s maiden name was MITCHELL (they were married in Q3 1906 in Cuckfield Registration District).

So I have no idea where the name Vernon Alphonso came from, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a family name. Sadly Vernon Alphonso died in 1910 and was buried in Slaugham on the 26th November.

There must have been some confusion when it came to filling in the 1911 census because Vernon is included with his parents and their other son, Jack. The entry clearly shows that John and Alice had two children, one of whom had died.

I guess I will never know where the name Vernon Alphonso came from, but the one thing I must find out is who John GASSON was, or rather which John GASSON this is. He is probably the son of my 3x great uncle Edward GASSON, but I need to get a copy of the marriage entry/certificate to make sure.

Impromptu visit to the West Sussex Record Office

8 May

Today I made an impromptu visit to the West Sussex Record Office. I had nothing else planned for today, the weather forecast was not too good so I had decided not to go walking, so last night I printed off my to-do list ready for a visit.

West Sussex Record Office

My to-do list has been growing rapidly as I go through my digital files, and although I hadn’t planned on doing any more research until I had got most of my digital files sorted out, I felt it would be beneficial to get to an archive and do a bit of proper research, if not for my research then at least for my sanity.

The record office closes for lunch on a Saturday, so it split the day quite nicely. In the morning I worked on parish registers and in the afternoon I worked on wills.

The morning went quite well. I was able to pick up several baptisms and burials that I was after from Slaugham, Sussex (mainly GASSONs) and several others dotted around the county that I needed, including the baptism of my mother, but curiously not those of her younger brothers.

The afternoon wasn’t too bad, but I continue to be disappointed by the number of my ancestors that didn’t leave wills. I did however have some luck with my direct PIERCY ancestors. I found wills for both George PIERCY (my 6x great-grandfather) and Thomas PIERCY (my 7x great-grandfather).

Although I wasn’t really prepared for a visit, with my growing to-do list it wasn’t likely that I would come away empty handed, but I was pleasantly surprised at how successful my visit was.

Tombstone Tuesday: Dorothy May TROWER

9 Mar

This is a Tombstone Tuesday post with a difference. I mentioned on Sunday that I had found the burial place of Dorothy May TROWER (née BATEMAN) my great-grandmother. The reason that I hadn’t found it sooner was because there is no headstone.

I already knew that Dorothy was buried in the churchyard at Sayers Common, Sussex from the memorial card pictured below, but didn’t know exactly where.

In loving memory of Dorothy May TROWER

As you can see Dorothy died in 1916 aged just 27 years old. She left her husband of less than five years with two daughters, Dorothy Annie (not yet four years old) and Eleanor May (under six months old). It is my belief that is was Dorothy’s death that prevented (or saved) her husband Henry John TROWER having to serve in the First World War, but I have no proof of this yet.

Dorothy’s exact burial place was revealed on a plan of Sayers Common Churchyard at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 478/7/8). The catalogue description for the plan was not very inspiring, something along the lines of “Plan of burial ground of Christchurch, Sayers Common”. I have often looked at the entry and wondered what the plan actually showed.

The plan itself is about one metre square and was marked with the outline of the church (before it’s extension) , the paths and boundaries and most importantly burial plots. The plots were laid out in a grid like pattern, with the rows labelled by letters.

Some of the plots had names written in them, some were readable, some weren’t. There was a variety of handwriting, ink and legibility. I checked the area of the churchyard where the known TROWER headstones are and next to them in rather blurred writing was the name Dorothy May TROWER. It wasn’t clear, but unmistakably the name of my great-grandmother.

I couldn’t believe that I had actually found her resting place, to be honest it wasn’t something I had been looking for, which made the discovery all the more rewarding. There was also the thrill that comes from knowing that I was probably the only family member that knew where she was buried.

I have been there many times, photographing the graves and cleaning them up, but had never known my great-grandmother had been laid to rest so close to the rest of the family.

The exact location is shown in the photo below (taken in last June). Dorothy May TROWER is buried between the grave in the top-left (Ruth TROWER) and the double grave in the top-right (not my family) behind the one in the middle (Mabel Annie TROWER).

Sayers Common Churchyard

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 10)

7 Mar

There seems to have been little time for genealogy last week. My job hunting continues with little success, although last week was more positive than previous weeks.

I don’t seem to have got much family history done, I seem to have been on a genealogical wind-down after Who Do You Think You Are? Live last weekend. I have made some significant discoveries this week, in Henfield churchyard and the West Sussex Record Office.

Gloucestershire records have occupied much of my time, and in particular my search for Winchcombe parish registers. Pub history didn’t get a look-in this week, and my take a back seat for a while.

This week I have a lot of information to get sorted out, not only what I gathered at the West Sussex Record Office, but also some family documents and photos uncovered by my father that need scanning.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Scan the ‘new’ family documents and photos.
  • Sort through the information gathered at West Sussex Record Office and integrate it into my database.
  • Review my GEERING research in light of the latest information from the West Sussex Record Office.
  • I haven’t ordered my monthly ration of birth, marriage and death certificates yet. I need to decide who gets my money this month.
  • I would like to create a catalogue of my old maps collection, I love maps, both old and new, and often find old copies available cheaply, but have trouble remembering which ones I already have, so I need a list.

Success at West Sussex Record Office

7 Mar

Yesterday I went down to the West Sussex Record Office, with a handful of records to look-up. It was a successful visit and things went better than I could have hoped, even with the disruption on the trains (more engineering work).

I made some useful progress on proving that my 6x great-grandmother was “the old druggist” (more about that in a later post).

I found the exact burial place of my great-grandmother Dorothy May TROWER, something which has eluded me for years (more about that in a later post).

I have located the school admission record of Walter Henry BOXALL, part of what seems to be evolving into a project to document his life and death.

I also picked up several baptism records that I needed, not really critical for my research, just distant relations not ancestors.

It is a little worrying that a lot of the records on my to-do list are parish registers, which have still not been deposited by the parish church at the record office. I am starting to build up quite a list of registers that I check every visit to see if they have arrived yet. Soon I will have to start bothering local vicars for access to the registers.

Whilst out in Chichester at lunchtime I picked up a second hand copy of a book called Goodwood Country in Old Photographs, which includes a photo of one of my 3x great-grandmothers as well as at least two other relations, but probably more. I must say thank you to my (distant) cousin Lisa who told me about this book.

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