Tag Archives: london family history centre

Heading up to London again

12 Jun

Tomorrow I venture up to London again, and I have a long list of things to find out, but I realise I am not going to fit it all in, so I am going to have to be selective about what I want to achieve.

I was hoping to get up to London early so I could visit Soho and get some photos of  the streets where Thomas KINGHORN lived, before it gets too busy. I don’t think I am going to have the time for that, because I want to take advantage of two archives that are not open every Saturday, but are this weekend.

Firstly I want to make brief a visit to the London Metropolitan Archives to look for a baptism for Edward GASSON (son of my 3x great grandparents) in the parish of Edmonton, Middlesex. Possibly also any rate books which might identify the exact location where they were living.

Secondly, I plan to head to the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA)  and start digging for information on Thomas KINGHORN. This could be tricky, as I have very little hard evidence to go on, so I may well spend several hours searching to no avail. I do have a few ideas for where to start so it may not be a total loss.

If I do have any time left over I will probably head for the London Family History Centre again, and try and get some more answers on Henry WRIGHT and his family.

It may also be worth me popping into the Society of Genealogist’s Library before heading to the BPMA, and having a look at the Carlisle monumental inscriptions as they may provide so more data on Thomas KINGHORN.

I am worn out just thinking about it (or is that because I walked home again tonight?), I shall probably be asleep on the train before it even leaves London for home!

Opening a can of worms at the London Family History Centre

25 May

Help! I really opened a can of worms when I started looking into the WRIGHT family in Alton, Hampshire at the London Family History Centre this weekend.

I had only been able to find GRO birth index references for a few of the younger children of Henry and Sarah WRIGHT in Alton Registration District. From the census I knew that the family had started in Kent, so I assumed the older children were registered there or somewhere in between Kent and Hampshire.

What I discovered when I started searching the Alton baptism register was surprising to say the least. Almost every child had a slightly different surname! I was sure they were the correct family because everything else tied up with what I already knew.

I had to go through the microfilm twice to make sure I had picked up all the baptisms. The first time I was just looking for the surname WRIGHT, the second time it was a case of carefully checking the other names and occupations. It didn’t help that the handwriting was rather smaller and indistinct, so some of the letters were not clear. The surnames I found were WRIGHT, SHORDEN, WRIGHT-SHALDEN, WRIGHT-SHAWADEN and WRIGHT otherwise SHORDEN.

My next step was to check the Ospringe baptisms, under a variety of different names and spellings, but the closest I could find was a Mary-Ann Hannah SHORNDEN in 1836. She could be their first child, but her fathers name is William not Henry.

Likewise the Ospringe marriages didn’t really come up with any likely marriages. There was a marriage of George WRAIGHT to Sarah COULTER in November 1836, where the witnesses were John and Lucy WREIGHT.

So where does that leave my search for my WRIGHT ancestors. Well, it explains why I have been unable to find them in the 1841 census yet. I don’t know what name to look for! Armed with another batch of names and spellings I hope I could find them, even if it means going through the census for Alton, Hampshire and Ospringe, Kent page by page.

I have however located a GRO birth index entry for Harriet WRAIGHT in Q4 1839 in Faversham District, which is a good match for my 2x great grandmother. I can now go ahead and order her birth certificate, that should make interesting reading to say the least.

For now I will wait until I have these two records before I start speculating on why they had such a variety of surnames!

Finding some details on Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN

24 May

Before my visit to the London Family History Centre (LFHC) on Saturday, I had very little hard information on Thomas KINGHORN, my 4x great grandfather. I knew he married Margaret SEWELL in Carlisle on the 5th May 1803 and they had six children between then and 1817. He worked as a guard on a mail coach, and was involved in an accident in 1808, when he narrowly escaped death. I also knew from his son’s marriage certificate that he had died before 1850.

What I really wanted to find out at the LFHC was when he died and how old he was when he died, so I could work out roughly when he was born. I had identified two possible short cuts to this information:

  1. A list of monumental inscriptions for the parish church of St Cuthbert, Carlisle, where he was married and his children subsequently baptised.
  2. An index to wills and administrations from 1800 to 1858 for the Diocese of Carlisle.

Unfortunately the only copy of the first one I knew of locally was at the Society of Genealogist’s library across the city, not at the LFHC, so that was a complete non-starter.

The second one was available on microfilm at the LFHC, but unfortunately there were no entries for Thomas or Margaret KINGHORN, in fact there were no KINGHORNs at all.

The only option left was to take the long route and search through the burial records in the bishops transcript’s for the parish of St Cuthbert’s, Carlisle, Cumberland. Starting in 1817 when their youngest child was baptised I went through year by year.

I finally found Thomas KINGHORN in 1833, except his name was spelt KINGHORNE (close enough for me), he was buried on the 4th May. His age was given as 52 years, which means he was born around 1781. His abode was given as Crosby Street. Compared to what I knew before that one record has probably doubled my knowledge of Thomas KINGHORN in one hit.

I continued to see if the were any other KINGHORN burials but there weren’t until the 15th May 1850 when, his wife Margaret was buried, she was aged 73 years and her address was South Street. So Margaret was around four years older than Thomas being born around 1777.

Although it seems likely that these two are my 4x great grandparents there is nothing that conclusively says they are. The lack of a will (or wills) doesn’t help, but perhaps a monumental inscription will at least show if they were buried together.

I already had the GRO death index entry for Margaret, so I need to order the death certificate and see if that holds any further information, like the fact that she was the widow of Thomas KINGHORN.

I can also now plan to visit the British Library Newspaper Library and check the Carlisle newspapers around those dates, and see if either of them got a mention. If Thomas died in the course of his duty as mail guard then that would be sure to be mentioned, but I doubt I will be that lucky.

Also I now have some more details to take with me to the British Postal Museum and Archive, to see if they have anything that might shed light on his service.

So lots more avenues to explore now, and a couple of streets to visit when I finally get up Carlisle.

I finally made my mind up!

23 May

I finally made a decision about what to do today (Saturday), it did take me until Friday morning to decide, but I got there in the end. I did have second thoughts when I saw how beautiful the weather was this morning (bright sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky), but I stuck to my plan.

That plan was not going to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester or walking in the countryside, no instead I decided to head up to London!

London Family History Centre

London Family History Centre

I decided I really wanted to get on with finding out more about Thomas KINGHORN (4x great grandfather) and short of going up to Carlisle, the London Family History Centre (left) was the next best thing.

As an added bonus I was able to start dig into the Ospringe, Kent parish registers and try and get a grip on what was going on with my WRIGHT ancestors. But at the same time I could look into the Alton, Hampshire parish registers as well and see what secrets (if any) they held. As you can see it was still a beautiful day by the time I got to South Kensington.

The Science Museum, London

The Science Museum, London

I also wanted to pop into the Science Museum which is just on the opposite side of the road from the London Family History Centre. In particular I wanted to see if they still had an original mail coach on display, like the one that Thomas KINGHORN would have guarded.

I couldn’t find a mention of it on their website, and their search box didn’t find it, but I thought it was worth having a look around inside, especially as entrance to (most of) the museum is free.

My first visit to the London Family History Centre

26 Mar

Although I have already mentioned my visit in two other posts, but I thought I would share my impressions of the London Family History Centre (LFHC) with you. It was the first time I had been to any LDS family history centre, but I had heard good things about them, and everything I had heard was true!

For me it was pretty easy to get to. I arrived by train at London Victoria and it was a short tube ride along to South Kensington, from there you just follow the subway right to the end (past groups of school children being herded back towards the Underground station after visiting the Natural History and Science Museum). Emerging from the subway the LFHC is almost directly opposite on the other side of the road.

Once inside I was directed downstairs to the basement, which may sound a little gloomy, but most of the rooms in the basement were bright and airy, with lots of natural light. Those that weren’t were the rooms with the microfilm readers, so the lack of natural light was quite helpful.

There were plenty of microfilm readers and computer terminals (I didn’t need use the computers), although I guess being a weekday afternoon it wasn’t at it’s busiest, so it may get a bit crowded at times.

The staff were very helpful and friendly, they showed my how their ordering system worked, and found me a reader. I knew they had the films I wanted in stock, so I didn’t actually have to get any films ordered from the US. Pretty soon I was sitting down winding through the first microfilm looking for my ancestors.

My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to spend there to explore their resources further, but I have no doubt that I will be visiting again in the future.

The LFHC website is a nice looking site, the main components of which are the film search facility and the film catalogue, so you can check on film orders and see if the film you want to view is in stock.

If any of the staff are reading this let me take this opportunity to say thank you for the help you gave me and for the help you give others like myself, the centre truly is a great resource.

Thomas KINGHORN, at last his parents are confirmed

25 Mar

My visit to the London Family History Centre today finally confirmed who were the parents of Thomas KINGHORN, my 3x great grandfather. It was a brief visit and my first time at an LDS Family History Centre, but the visit will probably go down as one of my most important research moments ever.

The answer was that Thomas’ parents were Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN, and he was baptised in St Cuthbert’s parish, Carlisle, Cumberland in 1808. I had suspected this for several months, but struggled to find proof, but I finally found it in the baptism registers (well, actually the Bishop’s Transcripts of the baptism registers).

Although Thomas was baptised in 1808, I started looking at the post-1813 baptisms for the same family (I had found the details in the International Genealogical Index but this didn’t give the father’s occupation). As I had the exact date from the IGI it was easy to wind through the microfilm to the correct place.

There it was, listed under occupation, the words I had been looking for: mail coach guard, this was a match for the father’s occupation shown on Thomas KINGHORN’s marriage certificate. My heart stopped (well perhaps not literally), my efforts had not been wasted, my hunch had paid off it was the correct family. As I stared at the entry many more questions rushed into my head, it was like one problem solved, and another dozen arrived to take it’s place.

I checked the rest of the film to see if there was a burial for Thomas, but there wasn’t, at least not between 1817 and 1828 in St Cuthbert’s. So I switched to another film, with the earlier registers on, I wanted to confirm the dates from the IGI were correct for the marriage and the baptisms of the other children.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pre-1813 baptism entries contained the same amount of information (if not more) than the later ones, something which seemed quite unusual to me, I am used to seeing just the date, child’s name and the parent’s name (sometimes just the father).

The entry for Abraham, baptised 10th June 1810, was packed with more information than I could ever have dreamed of, Abraham son of Thomas Kinghorn of Moffat of North Britain, late of the City of Carlisle, guard to the mail coach, and of Margaret his wife / late Sewell.

This gives me the green light to plan a trip to Carlisle to try and find out more (all I need now is a green light from my wife), and believe me there are so many more questions, such as why if they were living in Moffat, did they travel nearly forty miles to have their children baptised in Carlisle.

I also have visions of Thomas KINGHORN defending his mail coach from robbers and highwaymen, but perhaps that is just my imagination running wild again!

You know you are addicted to family history when….

25 Mar

You know you are addicted to family history when you take half a day holiday from work and spend £11.90 on a train ticket, to visit London so you can check two baptism records!

I’m sure there have been many posts like this on genealogy blogs the world over, but I think it is time to admit that I have a problem, I am addicted to genealogy.

The aim of my trip was to try and find out if my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN was baptised in Carlisle, Cumberland, England (yes, I still hadn’t found the answer to that one). I knew the records were at the London Family History Centre, and I had some other stuff to check if I had time or if my first search was negative, so it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.

So, it wouldn’t be a waste of time, but even to me in retrospect it seemed a little extreme or extravagant. This is why I think I am addicted, the need to be researching my family history is so strong now that I cannot last a week without visiting a record office!

I don’t think there is any way I can cure my addiction to family history, but I may be able to cut back on my consumption. So I am going to make a promise to myself and the blogosphere, that starting in April I will restrict myself to one record office/archive visit a month. There is plenty of research I can do without setting foot inside a record office, and it will give me an excuse to catch up with lots of sorting out I should be doing.

Besides, there are still five days  before the start of April!

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