Tag Archives: will

Did Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT spend time in Canterbury?

19 Jan

A few months ago I ordered a copy of the will of Henry WRIGHT (as he was known when he died), it wasn’t particularly detailed and didn’t contain any major revelations or death-bed confessions, just the usual stuff you would expect to find.

From a genealogical point of view the helpful feature of the will was a list of all his children, which gave the married names of his daughters. This is a great help if you are trying to piece together a family tree and don’t have copies of marriage certificates or access to the relevant parish registers.

Most interesting to me was Henry’s eldest daughter Mary Ann because she (like my 2x great-grandmother Harriet) was born before the family moved to Alton, Hampshire. Knowing that Mary Ann had married Henry William TRIMMER has led to a couple of interesting discoveries:

1.  When she married her name was recorded as Mary Ann LAY – LAY was Mary Ann’s mother’s maiden name, suggesting that Mary Ann was born before Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY were married, and thus raising the question of whether she was actually Henry’s daughter. I need to get the full marriage certificate to see who she named as her father.

2. Mary Ann claimed to have been born in Canterbury, Kent – Knowing Mary Ann’s married name has enabled me to trace her in the census and the information about her place of birth is pretty consistent. Whether Canterbury actually means the city itself or whether it means somewhere nearby remains to be discovered.

Although at first glance the Henry’s will didn’t look particularly helpful (or to be honest particularly interesting) it has provided a lead to some potentially useful information, which I may not have found easily because I wouldn’t have looked for a marriage of Mary Ann LAY.

High expectations = big disappointment

14 Apr

It seems like I have been waiting for months for the will of Ann GEERING of Hailsham, Sussex (my 6x great-aunt) to arrive. I was hoping this would provide me more details of her relations and confirm a connection between the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex and Lewes, Sussex.

There was such disappointment when I opened the envelope and read the will. The only beneficiary was Ann’s niece Jane. I already know about Jane (the one who drowned in the common pond at Hailsham), I knew she was the sole executrix, but had hoped that someone else also benefited from Ann’s will.

Despite the wait I am no further forward with my research, perhaps it is my fault. Perhaps the disappointment is of my own making, was I creating false expectations about the contents of the will? Yes, with hindsight I probably was expecting too much.

Interestingly there is one further record that is probably related to Ann’s will that I need to investigate. East Sussex Record Office have a series of valuation books from A. Burtenshaw and Son who were auctioneers and valuers in Hailsham.

The valuation book dated March to May 1864 (ESRO BUR/2/1/134) contains an entry described in the catalogue Access to Archives as “p.51 Hailsham: household (late Geering), 1864″. I feel that this has got to be related to the execution of Ann’s will and although it probably won’t help my research, it might give me a bit of an insight into the life of Ann.

Some progress in tracing “the old druggist”

8 Mar

Last Saturday I came away from the West Sussex Record Office with copies (and transcriptions) of two wills, one for Richard GEERING and one for his wife Mary GEERING (possibly “the old druggist”) probably my 6x great-grandparents from Hailsham, Sussex.

The information in them is not conclusive, Richard was a shopkeeper but no mention of what it was he sold. Both wills mention three children: James, Mary and Ann. In Mary’s will her daughter Mary has married someone with the name Baily.

So I have some useful clues to follow up here, I know what happened to James and Ann (remained in Hailsham), but I have no idea what happened to Mary. I have a baptism record for James, but not one for Mary or Ann.

It would appear that James left no will, or it wasn’t needed, but Ann did leave a will (according to the National Probate Calendar) and her niece Jane was her executrix. I need to order a copy of that will to see if any other family members are mentioned. It doesn’t appear that Jane left a will when she died in 1874.

It seems likely that Jane was the daughter of James (my 5x great-grandfather), because there is no indication of another son, so unless Mary or Ann had an illegitimate daughter there doesn’t appear to be any other option. I need to try and find her baptism somewhere.

I really would have liked to find a will for James GEERING, that made the connection to my 4x great-grandfather Richard GEERING in Lewes, Sussex. I don’t think I am going to find conclusive evidence unless he is mentioned in his aunt Ann’s will.

Now I have all this information to integrate into my research, and several baptisms to locate, also a marriage to find (and possibly some children). I then need to assess what other records I can hope to find at East Sussex Record Office.

Mercy STEADMAN’s will provides no answers

21 Jan

The will of Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) has arrived and for once a document has arrived that hasn’t provided me more questions than answers.

The truth is that it hasn’t provided me with the answer I was after, the name of Mercy’s husband, but it has given me a few more scraps of information that fill in a bit more of her life, and where her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER were living at the time.

The problem with the will, like the death certificate, is that it was written many years after her marriage and the death of her husband. The will was written on the 14th August 1928 whilst Mercy was at Whitesmith near Chiddingly, Sussex.

The will is quite simple, basically all Mercy had was to be divided equally between her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER, who was also named as sole executrix.

The only slight mystery is what Mercy was doing in Chiddingly (presumably she was in domestic service there) and did the choice of witnesses (Laura Julia Rebecca LEWER and Harriet AKEHURST) have any significance?

So the search for the husband of Mercy STEADMAN is no further forward and as I write this I am not sure what my next step will be. Time to go back to the drawing board and re-assess what I have discovered so far.

Update on the will of William HOLMAN

17 Nov

On Saturday morning, whilst sitting on the train on the way to Winchester, I transcribed the will of William HOLMAN, my 5x great-grandfather.

Most of it was quite straight forward, but in taking the time to go through the will word by word I did pick up on a couple of mistakes.

The National Archives had the will indexed as being the will of William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey. When I looked at the word farmer it didn’t seem right. In fact I am pretty certain that William wasn’t a farmer but a farrier.

The second mistake was mine, in my earlier post about William’s will I said that his nine sons and six daughters inherited one guinea each upon his death. However on reading the will again I discovered that they inherited the one guinea each after the death of William’s wife Elizabeth.

Both of these may seem quite minor points, but could make a big difference further down the road in my research.

William HOLMAN’s will

13 Nov

Last night I downloaded the will of William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey from The National Archives, via their DocumentsOnline service.

I am certain that this William HOLMAN is my 5x great-grandfather, and the will has laid to rest my fears about two William and Elizabeth HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey around the same time, so it was well worth spending £3.50 of my money on.

Although the will only mentions one wife (Elizabeth), it does also mention bequests to nine sons and six daughters. It also mentions another son (Thomas), who stood to inherit everything after the death of Elizabeth. By my reckoning that gives me 16 children in all, so it looks like William was married twice, both times to a woman called Elizabeth. Panic over!

The nine boys were Joseph, William, John, Benjamin, Stephen, James, Anthony, Richard and Robert. The six girls were Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Judith, Peggey and Catherine (my 4x great-grandmother). All of them were left the sum of one guinea each. These names don’t all tie-up exactly with the baptisms I have, but the majority do, so I am convinced this is the right family.

I need to take some time now and sit down and transcribe the complete will, I find it takes quite a bit of time to get used to the handwriting, but once I get back into the right frame of mind it is usually quite easy.

Hopefully I can get to have a look at the Burstow parish registers soon, and check for the burial of the first Elizabeth and William himself, the will was dated the 11th September 1807 and proved in London on the 4th March 1808, that should help me find his burial.

All in all this is looking like quite a happy ending to a worrying scenario that was forming in my mind about my HOLMAN ancestors, but I needn’t have worried. Why do I always suspect the worst of my ancestors and assume they were trying to give me a headache?

Things could get messy in Burstow

12 Nov

I was filling in gaps for my Christmas Tree Project last night, and it was going quite well, I was mainly focusing on Sussex baptisms, and added several 5x great-grandparents as I was going along. Then I started looking at some Surrey baptisms.

I was working on Henry GASSON and Catherine HOLMAN, who married in Burstow, Surrey in 1814. I have their ages and places of birth from the census, so it wasn’t too difficult to find their baptisms on the Surrey Baptism Index CD from the West Surrey Family History Society.

Henry GASSON was born in Charlwood, Surrey around 1786, he was baptised in Charlwood on the 11th February 1786. He was the son of John and Ann GASSON/GASTON. Catherine HOLMAN was born in Burstow, Surrey around 1795, she was the daughter of William and Elizabeth HOLMAN and was baptised in Burstow on the 12th July 1795.

The worrying thing was that when I looked for other children of William and Elizabeth HOLMAN in Burstow, I found another 16 children. That seemed rather a lot, not impossible, but rather unusual. Some of the names were duplicated, and there was a group of four children all baptised on the 21st October 1790. The baptism dates ranged from 1765 to 1795.

Further information came from checking the Surrey Marriage Index CD (also from the WSFHS) that I bought at Woking a couple of weeks ago. William HOLMAN married Elizabeth STREAP at Burstow on the 17th October 1764, and then on the 1st January 1779, a William HOLMAN married Elizabeth HUGGETT.

This could be a serious problem, I am hoping that I can find a burial for an Elizabeth HOLMAN before 1779, and the first William married another Elizabeth, otherwise I am going to have a devil of a job picking out which pair of William and Elizabeth HOLMANs had which children.

I really need to have a look at the original parish registers on microfilm/fiche, to check the accuracy of the index and look for other clues. Interestingly there is a will on The National Archives DocumentsOnline for William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey. That has got to be worth spending £3.50 of my money on.

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