Tag Archives: family bible

Why I owe so much to Percy Trower

7 Jun

My family history wouldn’t be half as interesting if it wasn’t for my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower.

Without him I would have virtually no photos of my Trower ancestors and relatives, I would be short a dozen or so death certificates and copies of wills, a handful of letters and not to mention the wonderful diary (actually three volumes).

Even the family bible/prayer book owes it’s survival to Percy.

I never knew Percy, he died four years before I was born, but through his diary I think he is probably the one person in my family tree that I know most about (outside my close family).

I know all about his working life, where he went on holiday, his pets and what he did in his spare time even down to which films he went to watch and what time bus caught.

Perhaps most interestingly I know what he believed in, and his diary charts his transition from Christianity to atheism, although I am not sure if atheism is the right word.

The diary also records the visits and movements (and ultimately the deaths) of so many relatives and of course his friends, colleagues and his wife’s relations, like Ern and Doll Nye.

So thank you great great-uncle Percy for everything you left behind. I don’t know whether you did it intentionally or by accident, but your legacy is greatly appreciated.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Revisiting the outgoing passenger lists in search of Kate

11 Feb

Having failed to find a record of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan leaving England for Canada, I turned my attention to the other end of the journey and found a passenger list on Ancestry that showed Kate and four of her children arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 27th September 1919 aboard the White Star liner R.M.S. Baltic.

Armed with this information and the fact that they had sailed from Liverpool, I knew I ought to now be able to find a record of Kate and her family leaving England in the outgoing passenger lists on Findmypast.

Knowing the name of the ship made it pretty easy to narrow down the search, searching by ship name brought up a list of ships and selecting Baltic then brought up a list of years, clicking on 1919 brought up a list of sailings for that year. In the list was a departure on the 19th September 1919, the same date that had been recorded on the remaining fragment of the Driver family bible.

The bible had been correct all along, if only I had been able to search on that exact date I could have saved myself a lot of searching. I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet though, I still had to find Kate and her children in the passenger list, but at least now I only had 47 pages to go through.

I clicked through page after page, scanning the list of names for something that looked like the surname Vaughan. I hadn’t been able to find Kate in a person search, so I was looking for something that might have been mis-transcribed.

I wasn’t until I neared the end of the list that I realised I was getting closer and more pieces of the story began to fit together. The last few pages included the hand-written words across the top “Canadian military dependants forwarded by Can. Govt.” This made perfect sense and confirmed my suspicions, Kate’s husband Patrick Vaughan had been a Canadian soldier and the family were now travelling to Canada to join him.

Sure enough there was Kate, or at least it had to be Kate, the handwriting was not clear and the surname was spelt wrong, but it looked like Vaghan P Mrs. Disappointingly it didn’t list each child, but only gave the number of adults and children in the party, three adults (Kate and her two eldest children) and two children.

Although the passenger list didn’t give me any further information I had at last confirmed when Kate left England and that I needed to be looking in the Canadian archives for a record of Patrick Vaughan’s army service and to find out what became of Kate and her family after they settled in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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At last, proof that Kate did go to Canada

9 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible told me that my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan went to Canada on the 19th September 1919, but I couldn’t find any record of her leaving England in the passenger lists on Findmypast.

I had found no trace of Kate and her family (except Minnie) in England and furthermore the bible had proved correct in the past so I felt sure Kate had gone to Canada, it was just that I couldn’t find her.

I knew that my best bet would be to try to catch Kate as she got off the ship at the other end. Of course I didn’t know for certain that the other end was Canada, what date she would have arrived and on which ship or with whom she arrived, but using the information in the family bible would give me a starting place.

Fortunately Ancestry have a collection of Canadian Passenger Lists and so the search began again. What name would she be under? Did she travel with her husband? Did she have her children with her?

This time I was more successful. It was quite straightforward to find Kate because she was travelling with her four children. Having said that it wasn’t all plain sailing because a couple of the children were not under the names I would have expected. In fact none of the children had the surname I would have expected, they were all listed under the surname Vaughan, whilst strictly speaking they should have been under the surname Allison.

The family consisted of Kate Vaughan (Housewife, aged 42) and Kate Vaughan (aged 15), Cecil Vaughan (aged 13), Lawrence Vaughan (aged 8) and Nora Vaughan (aged 6), and they arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Baltic on the 27th September 1919.

At last I had confirmation that Kate and her family had gone to Canada, but there was also confirmation that Minnie hadn’t gone. This was the first time it really struck home, Minnie had been left behind. Perhaps I would never find out the reason why, but sitting there looking at that list of names on my screen I couldn’t help but think it must have been an incredibly traumatic thing to do for all concerned.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Kate went to Canada, so why can’t I find her?

6 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible gave me the clue that I needed as to what became of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan and her family. It claimed that she went to Canada on the 19th September 1919.

Whilst the words scribbled on the front page of a bible were a good clue, they need to be verified and also I needed to confirm who else went with Kate to Canada.

It seemed likely that her daughter Minnie Allison had not gone and thus ended up being adopted by my great-grandmother, but had Kate’s other children also emigrated with their mother? Hopefully finding the passenger list for that journey would provide some answers.

Findmypast.co.uk has outgoing passenger lists covering the period 1890 to 1960, so in theory it should have been relatively easy to find at least Kate among the lists, but of course it wasn’t.

Despite trying all the combinations I could think of I couldn’t find Kate. I knew I couldn’t rely on her giving the correct age, so keep that aspect of the search pretty open, but there were plenty of different names she could be travelling under. I assumed she was travelling under the name Vaughan, but when she didn’t turn up under that name I wondered whether she might have been using the name Allison or Driver.

Whichever name I used I couldn’t find Kate, or for that matter her husband Patrick or any of her five children. Unfortunately there was not an option to search by a departure date, only the year of departure otherwise that would have saved me some time.

I began to wonder if the information in the bible could be relied upon had the writer got the correct year and what if it wasn’t Canada she went to, but completely the opposite side of the world? Perhaps it was a different Kate? So far I had found the bible to accurate, so I felt I shouldn’t give up on it just yet.

I remembered the title of a podcast from The National Archives I had listened to a couple of years ago Every journey has two ends. If I couldn’t find Kate leaving England then perhaps I would have more  success finding her arriving in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The remains of a family bible

5 Mar

This is one of the documents that I had scanned by Ancestry.co.uk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live last weekend. To call it a document seems a bit grand for this scrap of paper. It is remarkable that so much has survived at all, admittedly it is the only part of the original bible that appears to have survived.

It is the back of this scrap of paper that is the interesting part and the reason why it has (only just) survived and why it has ended up in my hands.

There is not a lot of information, but the entry “Annie born September 22nd 1916” refers to my grandmother Annie HEMSLEY, so I thought that this might be from a HEMSLEY bible, but looking at some of the names it seems that it was actually a DRIVER bible. The last entry “Grandfather Died October 19th 1920” refers to Thomas DRIVER, the grandfather of Minnie DRIVER, who was my great-grandmother and who was presumably the writer of this information.

The most interesting entries are those for Asher and Kate (brother and sister of Minnie) and the dates that they went (separately) to Canada. Asher went first and Kate twelve years later, I don’t know if either were married by the time they went or whether Kate was going to live with her brother. It looks like there is going to be plenty of work to do with those two.

I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the original now, it really needs proper conservation, but that is probably going to cost too much. For now it is stored in an acid-free pocket awaiting a decision.

Whilst I am deciding what to do with it my next step is going to be to transcribe the data and see if I can tie-up all the names on the page with the names in my database, and see if I need to add any of the dates to my family tree.

Running out of time again, I blame the Bible

28 Sep

This seems to be a familiar story, tomorrow I am heading for Lewes to do some research, but I am not really prepared.

It really is the same old story. I should be looking up references, but I got distracted. Last night sorting through some paperwork I came across a couple of printouts of images taken from what I call “The Trower Family Bible”. It is probably not really a Bible, it is probably actually a Prayer Book or something like that.

So, last night I did a bit of research and began to make sense of some of the names written in the book and started to be able to piece together the story of how the book ended up with my father.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t really looked in any detail at this book for a long time, in fact right back when I was first starting out researching our family.

All through the day I have been thinking about this book and starting to appreciate its importance. So this evening I just had to go and visit my parents and examine it more closely and also get some digital photos of the important pages.

It was even more interesting than I had remembered, there was another page with a few lines of writing (sadly mostly unreadable) that I hadn’t noticed before and even the contents of the book were quite intriguing with details on the different types of religious services.

So I now have another project, to research and tell the history of this book. There aren’t many heirlooms in our family, but this is probably the most important one, and in the future I will explain why it is such a key piece of evidence in my family history.

For now I will leave you with an image of one of the pages about two-thirds of the way through, with an important piece of dating evidence at the bottom of the page, the date MDCCXXXIX or 1739, making this book 270 years old.

The New Testament

The 270 year old New Testament

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