I didn’t really get a great deal achieved last week. Of course there was the trip down to Chichester yesterday, but I spent most of my free time thinking about this blog and the way forward, essentially trying to streamline things and make more time for actual family history research.
I have scanned my latest batch of postcards, like I was planning to, but I never got around to scanning the four wills, let alone start transcribing them. I must at least get them scanned this week and try to make a start on transcribing them. I also need to scan the two newspaper articles that I copied down at Chichester, and transcribe them as well.
I have done more work on the BOXALLs of West Dean, Sussex and I think I have achieved my original goal of identifying the six BOXALLs on the war memorial at West Dean. I am still a little unsure about one of the men, and there may also be one other who is not recorded on the memorial. This week I need to start pulling everything together, but also there is so much more work that I could be doing on the BOXALLs, there are so many of them that I could keep going for ages.
So this week is going to be mostly organising and sorting out, a bit of scanning and possibly some transcribing. I will be really interested to see if my blogging plans actually help free up my time for family history. Also I need to try and decide what I am going to do with the bundle of maps that I bought yesterday.
After a break of several months I finally found myself back in an archive again doing some proper research. After a bit of a later start than usual (an extra hour and a half in bed) I made way down to Chichester, West Sussex.
First stop was Chichester Public Library to have a look at some local newspapers on microfilm. I didn’t have a great deal of success, I was looking for a mention of the six BOXALLs on West Dean war memorial, it was a bit of a long shot from the start, but I wasn’t finding the results I was expecting and the microfilm reader was not very good. So rather than waste any further time and run the risk of headache from trying to read the screen I decided to cut my losses and head down the road to the West Sussex Record Office.
Things improved at West Sussex Record Office, but only marginally. I more or less gave up on finding mention of the war memorial BOXALLs and the Roll of Honour for West Dean (WSRO PAR 65/7/9) was very disappointing, without any BOXALLs whatsoever. So instead I switched to searching newspapers for information on James and Caroline BOXALL and their 27 children. I had moderate success with this, finding two references, one was an obituary for James and the other was their sixtieth wedding anniversary.
Both articles were illustrated with the same photo of James and Caroline, which sadly is too poor quality to worry about reproducing here. I would have to scan the photocopy of the print from a microfilm image of the original newspaper article, after all that I would be surprised if there was anything recognisable left. It might be worth contacting the newspaper itself to see what has happened to their photo archive, but I doubt it will have survived.
I did learn one interesting fact however, which I need to follow up and confirm. It looks like one of the grandchildren of James and Caroline BOXALL became Mayor of Chichester. You never know quite what you are going to find once you start digging.
The real highlight of the record office was not in the records, but out in the reception area. The record office were selling off some of their duplicate Ordnance Survey maps. There were loads of them, and I am not talking about the small folding kind of maps that would fit in your jacket pocket, these were mostly large scale (25″ to 1 mile) and across a wide time range. Needless to say I came away with a bundle (actually a roll) of maps, for places where my ancestors lived. Now I am not quite sure what I am going to do with them, but it was an opportunity too good to miss.
Last week was a good week. I managed to get quite a bit of work done, discovered a couple of other stories to follow up and best of all, the four will copies arrived in the post on Thursday.
Having written about the delays with the issuing of copies of wills, the four wills I had ordered towards the end of August have arrived. I haven’t studied them in great detail yet, but like I suspected there doesn’t appear to be any major revelations contained within them. This week I have to get them scanned and transcribed and see what information I can extract from them.
Most of my work has has been focused on the BOXALL family of West Dean, and I have made good progress on tracing the six BOXALLs on the West Dean war memorial, although two of them are proving rather tricky to track down. The other four are definitely related to me, but this week I need to try and pin down the final two.
I now also want to investigate the story that James and Caroline BOXALL, my 2x great-grandparents, had 27 children. I only have details of 12 children and the 1911 census records that they had 13 "Children Born Alive", but four had died. I am going to have to do some careful analysis of some baptism and burial records and birth and death registration indexes, to see if I can identify any of the missing children.
I need to spend some time looking in local newspapers, possibly for birth announcements, but more likely for obituaries of James and Caroline and also for their wedding anniversaries. I also need to check the local newspapers for a mention of the six BOXALLs on the war memorial, and of course any mention of the dedication of the war memorial itself.
My hope is to visit Chichester next weekend and spend several hours on a microfilm reader and in the archives. So this week I need to create a list of dates and subjects to look up in preparation for my visit. I also want get the four wills scanned, although I don’t think I will have time to get them all transcribed during the week, whilst I am scanning them I need to scan the latest batch of postcards as well.
I had hoped to go down to Chichester today, to do some research at the West Sussex Record Office and the public library, but it became obvious early in the week that I wasn’t going to be prepared in time, so I decided to postpone to visit (probably until next weekend).
To be honest I wasn’t really too disappointed, it was a good excuse for me to stay in bed. Many weeks of getting up early nearly every morning have taken it’s toll and I really couldn’t face another early start. Besides there were plenty of other things that I wanted to do.
Top of those lists of things to do was a visit to Shoreham Postcard Fair, at Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex. So after a lazy start to the day I took the bus to Brighton and then Shoreham, and spent some more of my hard earned money on postcards.
Shoreham Postcard Fair is a fairly small postcard fair, probably twenty or so dealers, and not all postcards, some coins, stamps and cigarette cards. There was plenty to keep me occupied for several hours, and I came away with another eleven postcards for my growing collection, including some great bargains from one dealer’s 50p box.
The great thing about Shoreham Postcard Fair is that it is pretty convenient for me to get to, just two bus rides. Unfortunately it means passing through the crowded city of Brighton. Perhaps it is just me getting older, but I am starting to get very “crowd intolerant”. I am really starting to go off buses packed full of passengers and crowded pavements (and as we get nearer to Christmas it can only get worse), so I was very pleased to get back home, put my feet up and study my new postcards.
Continuing the West Dean theme to my blog posts this week, here is a delightful postcard of West Dean, Sussex. You will probably get fed up with hearing about West Dean over the next few weeks, but I make no apologies, as it is one of the key places in my family history.
Not only is the picture delightful, so crisp and clear, but the card itself has lots of helpful features for the collector who wants to find out more about who published it and when. With reference to my earlier post about two West Deans in Sussex, there is no confusion which one this is, because the publisher has included a place as well as his name.
The publisher and photographer was Albert Henry Morey of nearby Chichester. The postcard was sent from West Dean on the 5th August 1914 (to an address in Watford), but from reading the description on the Sussex Postcards website (where there are some fantastic examples of his other work) it sounds like they may have been available several years earlier.
The picture is taken on the road from Chichester to Midhurst, looking roughly in an easterly direction. The large building on the right-hand side of the road is a pub, The Selsey Arms. I really must pop in next time I am in West Dean, as I have never been inside even though the bus stop is right outside. When I do I am sure I will be following in the footsteps of many of my ancestors.
Last week got off to a slow start, or rather it got off to a very quick start and before I knew it I was half-way through the week and hadn’t really achieved much. This spurred me into action and although I didn’t really achieve a great deal I did come to a decision about yet another new project that I want to start.
My recent visit to West Dean, Sussex has brought the project into focus, but it was something that I had been meaning to start for a long time. I had been intending to write a series of blog posts about the BOXALLs of West Dean remembered on the parish war memorial, the plan was for this to be in time for Remembrance Day this year.
There are six BOXALLs mentioned on the war memorial and at least four of them are related to me. My plan is to fill in some details on my family tree and hopefully identify my relationship to all six of the men, and provide some details on them and their service. So I am going to kill two birds with one stone, fill in some details on my family tree and generate some material for a few blog posts.
I have no doubt that I will still find other things to distract me whilst carrying out the research on this particular project, hopefully this focus will encourage me to get on with some research and I am already planning to visit the West Sussex Records Office and Chichester Library in the next couple of weeks. There is much I can do online as well, and there is a lot that I need to do before I go the WSRO.
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.
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.