Tag Archives: community history

Death certificate of James GEERING

23 Mar

The earliest of the three death certificates I ordered this month was for James GEERING, who I believe to be my 5x great-grandfather.

James died on the 15th January 1850 in Hailsham, Sussex aged 73. His occupation was given as chemist, which agrees with the occupation given in the 1841 census. His cause of death was Chronic Bronchitis (3 years) and Influenza (3 days). His death was registered on the 19th January 1850 by James Martin of Hailsham who was present at the death.

I was hoping that the name of the informant would give me some evidence of a connection with the GEERING family in Lewes, Sussex. Unfortunately I have no James Martin in my family tree yet, but there are a couple of Martins living in Lewes with some of my relations in 1861, one of whom is identified as a grand-daughter.

The 1851 census shows 30 year old James Martin and his wife Martha living in Hailsham. He is shown as a master shoemaker and was born in Hailsham, and Martha was from Bermondsey, Surrey.

It is clear that I need to add this Martin family to my research as well now, another step towards building a community history rather than just my personal family history.

Francis HOWLETT and Francis Howlett GEERING, were they related?

22 Mar

Last week I wrote a post about another piece of the GEERING jigsaw slotting into place. This concerned Francis Howlett GEERING, a grandson of my 5x great-grandfather James GEERING of Hailsham, Sussex.

This evidence seemed to suggest that James’ wife was Ann HOWLETT, although I did suggest that this might just be a coincidence, but worth looking into further.

Last night I discovered another piece of evidence which caused me to question the link. Looking at Our Sussex Parish by Thomas Geering I discovered that there was a Francis HOWLETT living in Hailsham.

Francis Howlett, comedian, schoolmaster, postmaster, tax-collector, vestry clerk, printer, travelling librarian, musician, and general referee, became a trusted and honoured man in our parish, and living to be over eighty, departed leaving no enemy behind him.

This of course raises concerns about whether Ann’s maiden name was HOWLETT. It seems almost inconceivable that Francis Howlett GEERING wasn’t named after this well-known and respected local figure.

The obvious question is why?

I am hoping it is because there is a family connection (through James’ wife Ann) but that might not be the case. Ann and Francis HOWLETT are probably from the same generation, so if they are related they may be siblings.

Now I am not sure if I need to take that piece of the jigsaw out, or whether I can actually fit in another piece. One thing is certain, this research project is certainly expanding way beyond my direct ancestors and is starting to gather connections across a wider range of individuals. It is transitioning from family history to community history.

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