Last Tuesday I spent a very productive few hours in the public library at Horley, Surrey. Horley Library is not the first place I would think of going to for family history research or for anything else for that matter.
I normally pass through Horley on the train from Horsham to London and barely give it a second thought, but hidden amongst the shops in the town centre is a wonderful library, which has a fantastic local history centre tucked inside it.
I think a large part of this is due to the presence of a very active local history society in the town, the Horley Local History Society, which covers not only Horley, but the surrounding area as well.
The local history centre contains many local and family history reference books, as well as transcriptions and indexes for a variety of local records such as parish registers and monumental inscriptions. Many of these are as a result of the hard work of the members of the local history society.
Most of my time was spent on the microfiche reader, looking at parish registers for Horley, Burstow and Charlwood. It was really a case of checking the accuracy of information and getting the full details for records gathered from other indexes such as the Surrey Baptism Index and the International Genealogical Index.
This short trip to Horley has saved me from having to make a trip to the Surrey History Centre at Woking, which has saved me a few pounds, probably the equivalent of another birth, marriage or death certificate.
As it is so close, and as I seem to have several branches of my tree in the area, I am certain I will be visiting again before too long and making new discoveries that will push those branches of my tree back even further.
I was looking at map today for Surrey place names that have come up in connection with Henry and Catherine GASSON: Horley, Burstow and Charlwood.
I knew where Horley was because I pass through it on the train to London (and I briefly visited their library several years ago). I was familiar with Charlwood too, having done some unconnected research in the parish register previously (and I knew that it had moved from Sussex to Surrey in 1974).
Burstow was a new location to me, slightly to the east of the other two, but from the map it looked quite pleasant (quite a few fields to the east of it). Perhaps it might just be far enough from the M23 to escape the roar of traffic, but I doubt it.
There is one other fly in the ointment, Gatwick Airport. Right between the three places is Gatwick Airport. I am sure that I will find my ancestor’s home has long since been bulldozed and the fields they once worked are now covered in tarmac. That would be just my luck!
Only time will tell if my gut instinct is correct, but at least if I am asked where my ancestors come from I will be able to tell them it was Gatwick Airport, which will probably mean more to most people than Burstow, Charlwood or Horley.
I started looking into my GASSON research this evening, the earliest ancestors I have on my family tree for this line are Henry and Catherine GASSON, my 4x great grandparents.
I do know who Henry’s parents are (from someone else’s research) and I have a copy of his father’s will, but it is such a complicated situation (three wives) that I haven’t got around to putting the details in my tree and checking all the facts, but I am sure you will hear more of them in the future.
What interests me about Henry and Catherine is that they are the generation that moved over the border from Surrey into Sussex. From the details of their children’s births it seems to have been around 1830. At least four of their children (possibly more) were born in Surrey and then another five were born in Nuthurst, Sussex. The youngest child, Edward, is just one day old on the 1841 census and hadn’t been named.
Of all the children the only one I really know anything about is my 3x great grandfather Thomas. He was one of the Sussex children. The others are a bit of a mystery to me, so this is my first task for this family, find out some more about them.
The Surrey Marriage Index CD from the West Surrey Family History Society has Henry GAYSON marrying Catherine HOLMAN in Burstow, Surrey on the 16th March 1814. The 1851 gives Henry’s birth place as Charlwood, Surrey and Catherine’s as Burstow, Surrey. From some quick census searches on ancestry.co.uk and on the IGI it looks like Horley, Surrey is going to be a good place to start looking, several individuals which look like good matches have turned up from there.
It all seems more than a little confusing at the moment. I think I need to get this generation sorted out and clear in my mind before I try and go back any further. So back to some basic genealogy I think. Starting with extracting everything I possibly can from the 1841 and 1851 census returns for Henry and Catherine.