Tag Archives: wren

My top-ten surnames updated (or not as the case may be)

31 Mar

On two previous occasions I have produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree (in February 2010 and May 2011) and I decided it would be interesting to see if much had changed since the last time.

The results were quite interesting (for me at least) and illustrated just how little work I did on my family tree last year.

  1. TROWER (152)
  2. GASSON (133)
  3. MITCHELL (92)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (52)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

None of the positions have changed since last year and the actual number of entries had changed very little. Only the number of Trowers and Gassons have increased and somewhat worryingly the number of Mitchells and Boxalls had decreased.

I remember removing a family of Mitchells who I haven’t been able to link into my family tree yet, but I am not sure why I have lost a Boxall. I think it might have been the result of a merger.

I know it is not really about the numbers, but it would be nice to see them increasing a bit more.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My top-ten surnames revisited

4 May

Fifteen months ago I produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree, for fun really more than anything, however it did highlight an imbalance in the names in my family tree.

I thought it was about time I had another look at the most common surnames in my family tree, so I fired up my copy of Family Historian and Microsoft Excel and produced an updated list (the number of individuals with the surname is shown in brackets):

  1. TROWER (139)
  2. GASSON (123)
  3. MITCHELL (94)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (53)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

This is much “better” than last time, the top four names are the surnames of my grandparents. The HEMSLEY surname was way down at number ten last time, so it is good to see that I have done enough work to push it higher up the “chart”.

The HAYBITTLE and WREN surnames are both new entries. I remember doing some work on the HAYBITTLEs, but I don’t remember doing much work on the WRENs but I suppose I must have done.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ancestral Profile: Charlotte THATCHER (c1800-1882)

15 Nov

Charlotte THATCHER was my 4x great-grandmother and although I know quite a bit about her later years, details of her birth, baptism and parents still remain something of a mystery to me.

The first record I have of Charlotte is her marriage to Benjamin WREN on the 14th October 1828 in East Hoathly, Sussex. Benjamin was from nearby Framfield, Sussex so presumably East Hoathly was Charlotte’s home.

Because the marriage was before 1837 I wouldn’t expect to find her father’s name on the marriage register entry. Their marriage was by licence (granted on the same day), so there may be more details included on that which I need to check.

In the years following their marriage Benjamin and Charlotte appear to have had eight children in total, all baptised (and presumably born) in Framfield, Sussex.

  1. Benjamin WREN (baptised 31 May 1829)
  2. Charlotte WREN (baptised 21 August 1831) [my 3x great-grandmother]
  3. Charles WREN (baptised 7 December 1834)
  4. George WREN (baptised 23 October 1836)
  5. Alfred WREN (baptised 20 May 1838)
  6. Lewis WREN (baptised 19 July 1840)
  7. Mary Anne WREN (baptised 24 April 1842)
  8. Thomas Thatcher WREN (baptised 2 February 1845)

Benjamin died relatively young (not long after his fiftieth birthday) on the 21st December 1852. He had been a farmer and inn keeper, and whilst Charlotte appears to have carried on as a farmer, the inn keeping appears to have been dropped. Benjamin and Charlotte’s daughter (also called Charlotte) married Henry HEMSLEY in 1853, and the inn keeping part of the “business” may have passed down to Charlotte and Henry and may have been the origins of the Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex.

Charlotte carried on farming in Framfield with the assistance of various of her sons and grandsons. I need to do some further research to identify exactly where the farm was, what type of farming took place and whether they were just tenants or actually owned the land they worked on.

Charlotte died on the 19th November 1882 aged 83 years and was buried with her husband in Framfield churchyard on the 24th November 1882.

Going back to the beginning of Charlotte’s life, the best evidence I have is from the census, which indicates that she was born in Somerset, but it is not clear where in Somerset or exactly when. I wrote about this a while ago but haven’t really made any serious effort since to find her origins, but now would be a good time to review the available sources and see if anything helpful has appeared online in the intervening months.

Tombstone Tuesday: Benjamin and Charlotte WREN

1 Dec

I mentioned Benjamin WREN of Framfield, Sussex yesterday, so what better reason to show you a picture of his gravestone, photographed back in May 2009 when I visited Framfield.

There is some writing around the top of the stone, which I can’t make out, but the main part of the inscription is very clear:

OF
BENJAMIN WREN,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
DECEMBER 21ST 1852
IN THE 50TH YEAR OF HIS AGE
ALSO OF
CHARLOTTE, HIS WIDOW.
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
NOVEMBER 19TH 1882,
IN THE 83RD YEAR OF HER AGE.
IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH.

Which WREN is which?

30 Nov

I was updating the details for my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin WREN last night, when I came across another potential stumbling block with the identity of his parents.

I knew from the census that Benjamin was born around 1803 in Framfield, Sussex. In the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive there is a baptism for a Benjamin WREN in Framfield on the 7th Jan 1803. His parents were Thomas and Sarah WREN, so whilst I was there I looked for other children of Thomas and Sarah.

I came up with another ten children, the earliest was Mary, baptised in 1768, and the last child was Hannah, baptised in 1810. I cursed my ancestors for giving me so much work to do when I wanted to get to bed, but something didn’t seem right.

The forty year time span seemed unlikely, and the last two entries were for Thomas senior and Sarah. So, much like the situation with the HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey, it seemed like I had a couple of different Thomas and Sarah’s here producing children at the same time.

When I checked the Sussex Marriage Index things became a little clearer. There are three marriages of Thomas WREN to a Sarah around that time in Framfield. Firstly a Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD in 1764, then a Thomas WREN married Sarah CORNWALL in 1783 and lastly Thomas WREN married Sarah COLEMAN in 1800. The final marriage was by licence, which reveals more helpful information. Thomas WREN was a widower aged 60 and Sarah COLEMAN was a widow aged 36, both were from Framfield.

So it looks like Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD, had several children including a Thomas in 1772, but he was not the middle Thomas. Then Thomas’ first wife died and he married Sarah COLEMAN who was many years younger than him, carried on having children.

The question is which set of Thomas and Sarah’s were the parents of my Benjamin WREN? I can rule out Thomas WREN and Sarah HARTFIELD, as presumably she had died before Benjamin was born, because Thomas had re-married by then, but it seems like it could be either of the other two.

My next step will to have a look at burial records for Framfield, and hopefully the burials for Sarah WREN will help separate the two. There is also the possibility that one of the Thomas’ left a will which might help differentiate between the two.

Another late night with the WRENs

22 Sep

My quick bit WREN follow up research took longer than expected, the problem was that at this stage I didn’t want to get too drawn into the family, but it was very difficult to get to a point where I could stop without leaving things unfinished.

The particular problem was the fact that Charlotte WREN, my 4x great grandmother was living with her son Charles and his wife (and their family) on the 1881 census and with two of her grandchildren on the 1871 census. I couldn’t just record Charlotte and leave the rest of the family off.

So I added Charles and his wife Mary, but I couldn’t stop there I had to find her maiden name, interestingly it was GASTON one of the variants of my own surname, and details of their marriage from the GRO Marriage Index.

Then came the children, seven or eight of them altogether, with some very strange spellings of their christian names on a couple of them. I had to check the GRO Birth Indexes to see what the names were meant to be.

So what should have been a quick little exercise has taken me three or four times longer than I had planned, but I just couldn’t leave the job half done. Hopefully tonight I will be able to get on with some more filing and organising.

Stretching the branches of my tree wider

21 Sep

I couldn’t resist a bit of follow up work on one of the pieces of information I picked up at the West Sussex Record Office on Saturday.

It was the marriage entry for Henry HEMSLEY and Charlotte WREN (my 3x great grandparents) in Framfield, Sussex on the 25th February 1853. I was already quite confident about the details, but this confirmed the father’s names for both parties, Samuel HEMSLEY and Benjamin WREN.

It was Charlotte’s side that I decided to follow as I already had some details for Samuel HEMSLEY. I did the usual thing of tracing Benjamin and his wife Charlotte (and their children) back through the census. This threw up a couple of surprises.

According to the census Benjamin was born in Framfield around 1803, and according to the 1841 census he was an inn keeper. In 1851 he was just shown as a farmer. Now the interesting thing is that Benjamin’s son-in-law Henry HEMSLEY was later to become licensee of the Gun Inn at Blackboys, was this the same inn? Was it passed down from Benjamin to his daughter and/or son-in-law?

When I visit the East Sussex Record Office I need to see what licensing records exist from Framfield parish and also see whether Benjamin WREN left a will.

The second surprise was with Benjamin’s wife Charlotte. I am pretty certain that her maiden name was THATCHER, what I am not sure about is where she was born. Charlotte survived her husband by about 30 years so there are more census records, but each census year gives me a different place:

1841 – Same county, so she was born in Sussex

1851 – Cleavedon, Somerset

1861 – Bristol, Somerset

1871 – Framfield, Sussex

1881 – Somewhere in Somerset, which I can’t read

So Somerset wins three votes to two. It looks like one of the branches of my family tree now stretches out to Somerset, probably somewhere around the Bristol area. I will probably have to try out the new 1881 census images on findmypast.com to see if I can read that place name for 1881.

So I still have more work to do, especially with such conflicting data, but either way I have added another two 4x great grandparents to my tree, bringing the total to 42 out of 64.

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