Tag Archives: west grinstead

Following the female line for a challenge

29 Jun

I got a bit distracted yesterday while I was supposed to have been doing some work on John FAIRS. I strayed over to his wife’s family and attempted to head back on that line.

I guess I am not the only one that seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time on my male lines and neglecting my female lines. Every so often I have to have a purge to keep the right balance in my tree.

John FAIRS married Mary Ann WELLER at St. Peter’s Church, Henfield, Sussex on the 2nd March 1862. Mary Ann’s father was Thomas WELLER, a labourer.

Armed with her marriage entry and later census returns it was pretty easy to find Mary Ann in earlier census returns with her parents Thomas and Mary WELLER.

The family were living in Twineham, Sussex and it is here that Mary Ann was born, probably in the first couple of months of 1841. Her father gave his place of birth as Bersted (or North Bersted), Sussex and her mother was from West Grinstead, Sussex.

The problem is that I have been unable to find a marriage entry for Thomas and Mary. Their eldest child appears to have been John, born in 1817, so I would have expected to find a marriage entry some time just before that.

The Sussex Marriage Index from the Sussex Family History Group has one likely entry, Thomas WELLER and Mary NEWNHAM married in Bolney, Sussex on the 31st December 1816. Whilst this looks quite a reasonable match, Bolney is pretty close to Twineham, I am still not satisfied that this is the right marriage.

So I have inadvertently picked up another challenge, which is going to take a little bit more work for me to be 100% happy with the marriage. I think a birth certificate will probably prove matters once and for all, but finding Mary Ann’s certificate may not be quite so easy.

Gathering FAIRS information

26 Jun

I have spent a couple of my lunch breaks this week in Horsham Library, extracting FAIRS entries from the Cowfold parish registers. Although I could have accessed the originals on microfiche (and I probably will later on) I chose to use the transcription published by the Sussex Record Society, which has the benefit of an index.

I also discovered, or rather remembered, that I not only have the monumental inscriptions from the book deposited at the West Sussex Record Office, but I also have some MIs for West Grinstead from one of the Sussex Family History Group CDs.

It then occurred to me that I had already been to West Grinstead churchyard before and photographed several FAIRS gravestones. I loaded up Picasa and searched through until I discovered a set of photos from March 2008. They weren’t labelled or tagged, so obviously I was being “organisationally challenged” at the time. I am not actually sure which ones I have or if have them all, so I will probably need to go back and check for more at some stage.

So now I have a lot of information gathered ready, this weekend I will try and piece together a family tree, and see how far I can confidently go back before I need to go in search of more evidence.

Reacquainting myself with the FAIRS family

23 Jun

I spent a while last night going over my previous FAIRS research and having a quick look at a couple of other sources.

I finally found the transcriptions I had made from the book at the West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 95/7/9). It looks like there are details of eleven headstones (some of which are double), but there seems to be at least 20 different individuals mentioned. Plenty of work to be done there then!

I also started exploring the Parish Register Transcription Society baptism records for West Grinstead, and I think I have found John FAIRS grandparents (my 5x great grandparents), and it looks like they were married in Cowfold, Sussex. There are earlier FAIRS/FAIRES in West Grinstead so the chances of going back further still look quite promising.

So there is still lots of work to do. It feels a bit like I am starting on a jigsaw puzzle at the moment, I have all the pieces out in front of me, I now need to get them all turned the right way round and pick out the edge pieces and corners, only then can I start piecing the whole thing together.

I am however still missing one key element at the moment, that is something that is going to keep me interested, something about this family that is going to make them stand out from the rest of my ancestors in their own unique way. I am sure that this will come in time.

Getting excited about researching my FAIRS ancestors

22 Jun

Today I have been thinking about starting to do some work on my FAIRS ancestry, and I am quite looking forward to the prospect of getting started on this project. I think the main reason is because it is going to be quite easy for me to do, and has the potential to go quite a way back, quite quickly.

My 2x great grandmother was Annie FAIRS, she married Ebenezer TROWER in Henfield, Sussex in September 1889. However it is really her father that I am interested in, John FAIRS from West Grinstead, because I have already done quite a bit of research on Annie and most of her sisters. To my knowledge John and his wife Mary Ann had six children, all of whom were girls.

I have already done some work on John FAIRS, and I know his parents were also from West Grinstead, his father was also John FAIRS but he died relatively young. So I will be concentrating on working back from John’s parents and see where that leads me.

The reason that this is going to be quite easy is that I have parish register transcriptions for West Grinstead (from the Parish Register Transcription Society) and I can access microfilm copies of the originals at Horsham Library, along with copies of the local newspapers and old maps. I already have several pages of FAIRS monumental inscriptions from a book deposited at the West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 95/7/9), which I haven’t sorted through and included in my family tree yet.

Looking at the West Sussex Record Office catalogue online there is also quite a good selection of rate books in the parish records for West Grinstead, that should be helpful going back beyond the 1841 census, if I can get down to the record office to view them that is.

The other advantage of researching in West Grinstead is that it is quite convenient for walking, and I can visit the churchyard quite easily and hopefully find some FAIRS gravestones to photograph. It is close enough that it won’t take me all day to get there, but could be done in an afternoon or an evening.

All in all, this should be quite a nice project to take on, although thinking about it, it does all sound a little too easy. I am sure there will be some challenges along the way, well it wouldn’t be genealogy if there wasn’t!

Feeling sorry for myself

22 Jun

I was feeling very sorry for myself last night, I suppose you could call it a case of “Sunday night blues”, tomorrow would see me back at work again and I felt like I hadn’t really achieved anything this weekend.

Now don’t get me wrong, it had been quite a productive weekend, but you couldn’t really call cleaning the fridge and oven and mowing the grass achievements. Sunday was father’s day, so I had also spent some quality time round my parents house, enjoying dinner.

I suppose my problem was that I hadn’t actually found out anything new on my family tree, in fact I had done very little research during the previous week.

There were other factors, like the headache I had been unable to shake off, the aching shoulders (probably from cleaning the oven), the fact that Sunday was the longest day and although summer had just begun the days would soon be getting shorter and of course the feeling that in terms of walking I was probably not going to be able to beat my Sussex Day walk in terms of distance or enjoyment.

All this was conspiring to make me feel quite miserable!

The problem with my family tree is that my main projects all require a visit to the archives to make any more real progress, something which I don’t have the time and money to do. What I really needed was to focus on something I could do at home, between visits to the archives.

With access to ancestry.co.uk and various Sussex resources courtesy of the Sussex Family History Group, virtually any of my Sussex ancestors would be fair game.

Ideally I would like to find a family line with very local roots, preferably in the Horsham district, so I can use the resources of Horsham Library during my lunch break or after work. The added bonus of a local family is that it would be that much easier for me to visit their ancestral homes or search graveyards.

I can think of one or two families that might fit the bill and one in particular (the FAIRS family of West Grinstead) which I know I have quite a bit of research material on already.

I will keep my other projects active, and will fill in what details I can, but I won’t be able to make any major advances until I have visited Winchester, Carlisle or London again.

A Festival of Postcards – Wheels (two wheels and some orphans)

19 May

As an avid postcard collector I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take part in the Festival of Postcards. I have left it rather late, so I have pulled one of my favourite cards from my collection for my entry, rather than one with a specific family connection.

St Marys Orphanage (front)

St Marys Orphanage (back)

(Actual size:  138mm x 88mm)

This was probably published around 1905-10, and although no publisher is mentioned I believe it is the work of John Fenner of Partridge Green, Sussex who was active in this area and produced several cards of the orphanage and the Catholic Church next door (at which he was married).

I love this card because not only is it a wonderful early example of a charity advertising card it is also a great piece of social history, in fact the message on the back is probably more important than the picture on the front.

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