Tag Archives: newspaper

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 44

31 Oct

Last week was quite a good week, with the high point being yesterday’s visit to Brighton History Centre and coming home with lots of photocopies of newspaper articles. Of course that means more work, as I need to get the copies scanned, transcribed and the details included in my database.

Two of the newspaper articles concern a very distant pair of relations, but it was such an interesting story that I needed to follow it up. This means even more work as I need to put all the details for these distant relations into my tree to make the connection with my ancestors and me. On top of that the story needs more work done on it, there are still lots of loose ends to tie up.

Last week I did more work on the 27 children of James and Caroline BOXALL. I spent some time having a detailed look at the baptisms, births, deaths and burials for West Dean, Sussex trying to discover whether I am ever likely to find all 27 children. The are probably three or four death certificates that I need to order, but even if they are all James and Caroline’s children I am still some way from finding all 27 children. This makes me wonder whether it is worth the effort (and money) when I am never going to find all of the children.

I did get last weeks newspaper articles scanned and transcribed, but I never got around to scanning and transcribing the wills. They have been sitting on my desk now for at least three weeks, and nothing is going to happen to them unless I start the process and get them scanned. At least once they are scanned I know they will be backed up and easily accessible whether at home or on the move, so that I can work on them wherever and whenever I have the time.

So this week is going to be mainly a scanning week, there are a couple of postcards that I need to do, but it is going to be mostly photocopies of newspaper articles. I might even try some “spot” scanning of my maps, they are rather large (3½ft x 2½ft) so I can only scan small parts of them and even that is going to be a bit of a juggling act.

Free Friday: TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN – truth or myth?

29 Oct

I have written about my surprise and partial disbelief at the story that my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL had 27 children. This sort of story demands proper investigation, a process which I began last Saturday at West Sussex Record Office.

I had previously checked parish register transcriptions for baptisms and burials at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and knew there weren’t baptisms for 27 children. Even taking into account a few unidentified burials and birth and death registrations I was struggling to come up with 27 children.

The 1911 census records that the couple had 13 children born living and that four had died. Obviously for there to have been a total of 27 children then there must have been another 14 that were either stillborn or died within a few hours, this seems a shockingly high number, more than were born living.

In the absence of official records I searched for some other evidence. The earliest record that I have found mentioning the 27 children is a report in the local newspaper, the Chichester Observer, on the 15th April 1936. Subsequent reports seem to draw on this first report and duplicate the error with the year of marriage.

TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN

WEST DEAN COUPLE CELEBRATE DIAMOND WEDDING

Wednesday will be a happy day in the lives of two of West Dean’s oldest residents, when they celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their wedding.

They are Mr. and Mrs. J BOXALL, of Scout Cottage, who were married at West Dean Church on April 15th, 1886 the Rev. HUTCHISON. Mr. BOXALL, who is 83 years of age, has been confined to his bed for a number of years, but Mrs. BOXALL, at 79, is still active, and as cheerful as ever. Only one person who attended their wedding is alive to-day, and she is Mrs. MERRITE of Tillington.

Of Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL’S twenty-seven children, only seven survive, the eldest of whom is 59. Mrs. BOXALL told an “Observer” representative who visited her on Monday that she had triplets once and twins three times. There are 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Two of Mrs. BOXALL’S sons were killed in the War.

The walls of the little old cottage in which Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL now live, are hung with portraits of members of the JAMES’ family, who held West Dean Park.

Mrs. BOXALL’S most treasured possessions include a case of gold spoons which the late Mrs. WILLIE JAMES gave her when Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL celebrated their golden wedding in 1926, and a necklace which Mrs. JAMES bequeathed her.

Five years ago, Mr. BOXALL was taken ill, and all hope of his recovery was given up, but he pulled round after a stiff fight. He finds it now a great hardship to be confined to his bed, after an active life on the land.

“There’s nobody to-day would work like he did,” said Mrs. BOXALL.

Both Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL can claim a life-long association with the locality, for Mr. BOXALL was born at West Dean, and Mrs. BOXALL at Singleton.

There is some interesting information included, but nothing that really helps prove the story. One thing that didn’t seem right was the mention of two sons killed during the First World War. Having spent some time looking at the West Dean war memorial I knew that only one son was listed on the memorial, furthermore the two other sons that I knew about survived the war. Did this mean one of the missing children was another son who died during WW1 and had some how escaped the census enumerator for several decades?

After searching all the BOXALLs on the CWGC and Soldiers Died in the Great War looking for a connection to West Dean, but I still drew a blank. Then it dawned on me who this missing son was, what is more I had already researched his life and even written about him on this blog. He had to be Walter Henry BOXALL, the illegitimate son of James and Caroline’s daughter Alice Ruth. He was killed during WW1 and although he wasn’t their son it appears that he may have been treated as such after his mother married. When he started school in 1901 his parent or guardian was recorded as Caroline, although the 1901 census did show him as their grandson.

To me it looks like the story of 27 children can’t true, although they were only short by one. 26 children is still quite impressive, and it is still going to take some work to see if I can prove some more (I need to order some death certificates now), but now I can’t help but wonder about Walter Henry BOXALL, and why James and Caroline felt the need to continue pretending he was their son all those years later? or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Coincidence and confusion in the pages of a newspaper

13 Oct

I was online last night looking for some information (for a future blog post) on West Dean church in the archives of The Times newspaper, when I stumbled across the following news item on page seven of the newspaper for Wednesday the 15th April 1936:

Mr. and Mrs. J. Boxall, of Scout Cottage, West Dean, near Chichester, who celebrate their golden wedding to-day, are 83 and 79, and have had 27 children, and have 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Mrs. Boxall had triplets once and twins thrice.

Without doubt "Mr. and Mrs. J. Boxall" are my 2x great-grandparents, James and Caroline BOXALL, but not everything in the story is true. Their ages are correct and the 15th April was the date of their wedding anniversary, but they were married in 1876, so it would have been their 60th wedding anniversary, not their 50th.

I believe the number of children is also wrong. I have only confirmed twelve so far, although the 1911 census says they had thirteen, and I don’t believe there were any more after 1911. It is possible that some were stillborn because the census does specify "Total Children Born Alive", and they were probably not registered or baptised. It is not the first time that I have heard this story, although I think the highest I had previously heard was 23 children, but even that seemed unlikely at the time.

I am not sure where this story originates, I can’t imagine that The Times had a correspondent in West Dean, so presumably this came from a local newspaper. I obviously need to check the local newspapers to see what they reported and if the wires have become crossed at some stage. I would really like to find out the truth behind this story.

As I scrolled up the page there was another story that caught my eye:

James Horace Dunford, 28, Malling Street, Lewes, a permanent way employee attached to Lewes Station, was killed when crossing the railway line yesterday by a train from Eastbourne, which he apparently failed to notice.

Could this be one of my relations as well? I have a Horace James DUNFORD, from Lewes, Sussex who would have been 28 years old in 1936. I don’t know much about the DUNFORDs, Horace James was the son of Horace DUNFORD and his wife Margaret GASSON (my 2x great-aunt).

The coincidence seems too great, the death is registered under the name James Horace DUNFORD, and I can’t find a death record for a Horace James DUNFORD. Of course there are lots of other scenarios that could lead to Horace James not being in the GRO Death Indexes, such as immigration or death whilst on military service. Again I probably need to look at some local newspapers, perhaps a coroners report and maybe employment records from the railway. I really need to find some mention of his parent’s names or those of his siblings.

Finding one of these stories was quite a surprise, but to find two in the same newspaper (and so close to each other on the same) was really unexpected, especially as neither story is really of national interest. I would never have dreamt of searching in The Times for either of these events, but I certainly will be in the future.

Which of my ancestors did I get my cynicism from?

20 May

You will no doubt already read about the partnership between the British Library and brightsolid to digitise their newspaper collection, so I am not going to bore you with the details again.

Obviously this is good news and a step in the right direction especially as the British Library seem to have had an aversion to sharing digital images with anyone other than academic libraries. However my cynical side needs to see some more details before I can get excited about it.

Are they going to digitise the newspapers I want? The mention that they “will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911” worries me. Perhaps it is very selfish of me but what if my ancestors didn’t come from those specific geographic areas.

What is it going to cost me to view these images? Will I be able to afford to browse a whole newspaper? Am I only going to be able to view a specific page brought up as search result?

Also consider the timescale. The headline figure of 40 million pages is due to be delivered over ten years, with a minimum of 4 million pages in the first two years. So please don’t hold your breath, it could be a long wait.

Please don’t get me wrong, it is good news, but I won’t be getting excited about it until I see what the results are like, how good the index is, how they are delivered and how much it costs. That’s enough for now, my glass is half empty,  I must go and fill it up!

The Funeral of Henry HEMSLEY: The Floral Tributes

29 Apr

As well as detailing the chief mourners at the funeral of Henry HEMSLEY, my 3x great-grandfather, the newspaper report also provided a list of some of the floral tributes at the funeral.

I can only imagine the newspaper reporter standing over the grave with his notebook scribbling down the names and messages on the bouquets and floral displays. I wish I knew who it was I had to thank for capturing all of this information, if only he had owned a camera as well.

To dear father, from Joy and Ada

In loving memory of dear father, Nellie and Ernest

Mr. and Mrs. G. Hemsley, in affectionate remembrance of our dear father

From Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery and son, in affectionate memory of our dear father

In affectionate memory to our dear father, from Emily and Will

In loving remembrance, from Ben and Esther

In affectionate remembrance of dear grandfather, from his loving great-grandchildren, Albert and Cecil

In loving memory of dear granddad, from Harry and family

In affectionate remembrance, from Mr. Lewis Wren and family

In kind remembrance of dear granddad, from Lily Stevens

In loving remembrance, from Tom, Annie, and family

A token of respect to the oldest license holder, from his friends in the Trade at Uckfield, George Benn, J. H. Elliott, A. E. Hill, M. Tourle, J. Webber, A. Waight, and F. White.

Once again there is some useful genealogical information contained amongst the messages and names, and an interesting mention of some of his fellow licensees.

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