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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Moving Day

I've decided to move the geneageek blog over to wordpress.
Please come visit me there.


Friday, 4 December 2015

Wrestling with Death (places)

William WREFORD was my famous (in those times) wrestling ancestor hailing from Devon (previously mentioned here and here).  So, the fact that the only likely death entry for him was registered in London was a bit worrying for me.  Could I be confident this was really him?

Luckily, I had found a newspaper article mentioning he had died 'in the metropolis' to help put my mind at ease:
DEATH OF A RENOWNED DEVONSHIRE WRESTLER. - On Sunday last the veteran William Wreford died after a very short illness at the house of one of his children, in the metropolis. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (Friday, 07 December, 1866)
The Wreford Pedigree also notes that he died 26 November 1866 aged 74 which matches the death record, so I'm confident this is my William WREFORD.

The death record states William, a yeoman, died of 'Natural decay' on 26 November 1866 at 5 New Street, Bishopsgate [London].  However, the informant is listed as Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok (also living at 5 New Street), NOT one of his children.

Two of his children were living in London around this time.  William's son, also named William, had been living in London from at least 1840 - he had married at St Dunstan in the East, and was in the censuses until 1861 as living in the court behind St Clement's church, Eastcheap. (He was in the police force but by 1871, he was a 'coffee house keeper' a little further north in Paul Street.)

St Clement's Church, Clement's Lane

Also, his daughter, Elizabeth had married a mariner (Alexander SMALL) in London, 1853 and was a widowed lodging house keeper by the 1871 census (where she lived further north in Tower Hamlets - I'm yet to find her on the 1861 census).  Could Thomas Cusiok have been one of her lodgers?

Next Steps:

  • Who is Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok?
  • Find Elizabeth SMALL (nee WREFORD) in 1861 census

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Oh, Chrysler!

A couple of years ago, I posted the above picture of my grandmother's family enjoying a roadside picnic in front of a 'mystery mobile'. (The original post can be seen here).

When my 'car-brained' brother came to visit a little while ago, I recruited him to help me find out more about the car in the picture.  After much google searching, we believe the car to be a 1927/28 Chrysler Imperial 52 coupe.  For comparison, here are some other pics of this model:

source: 'Antique Automobile Club of America' forums

source: Hemmings Motor News (Reader's Rides)
I also found this vintage (American) advertisement on the 'Imperial Club' website:

source: Imperial Club

(zoom of the '52'):

I'm pretty sure this is the right one but I welcome any corrections or other information.

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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wrestling Legend

I had some credits to spare at 'Find My Past' so I trawled the newspapers and found some references to my 'celebrity' ancestor, William WREFORD (introduced here).

In the Western Times (Tuesday, February 27, 1866):

The eyes of all classes of politicians are now on the pretty town of Tiverton,
but we believe it is not generally known that there is now residing among us
the greatest of living wrestlers.  We allude to that respectable old yeoman,
Mr. William Wreford, who may be truly said to be the hero of a hundred contests
in the wrestling ring.  The admirers of this most manly and ancient sport will
be glad to hear that Mr. Wreford, though several years above seventy, still
carries his manly figure erect, and has the most retentive memory.  Mr. Wreford
suddenly shot up to the height of fame by throwing the terrible Jordan at a
great contest at Crediton, in 1812, when he was but nineteen years of age, and
his huge opponent was in the prime of life.  Mr. Wreford is a noble specimen,
both as regards personal strength and social qualities of the good old English

Later that year, the following was printed in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (Friday, 07 December, 1866):

DEATH OF A RENOWNED DEVONSHIRE WRESTLER. - On Sunday last the veteran William Wreford died after a very short illness at the house of one of his children, in the metropolis.  Mr. Wreford bore a name familiar to all the lovers of wrestling, both in the provinces and the metropolis.  Indeed, there is probably none who appeared before the public so frequently and for such a long period as he did, for though by profession he was, like his ancestors, a farmer, yet he passionately loved the most ancient of all pastimes, and for a period of nearly thirty years generally contrived to be present at all the great wrestling matches in Devonshire, and almost invariably maintained the high reputation which he gained before he was twenty years of age.  Mr. Wreford was born at Morchard Bishop, near Crediton, the inhabitants of which have been from time immemorial noted for their great stature and strength.  Indeed, the
father of Abraham Cann, the champion wrestler, was a native of Morchard Bishop, and according to the testimony of the ancients was in many respects a superior wrestler to his renowned son.  At 18 years of age, Mr. Wreford attended a great wrestling match at Crediton, and at its close stood high in the prize list; this was in 1811. The next year his name became a household word throughout the
whole county, for having again contended at Crediton, nearly at the close of the play he found himself pitted against the terrible Jordan, a man of gigantic stature and strength, and who according to one author was so feared in the Plymouth wrestling ring that the committee at last excluded him in their advertisements from contending for the prizes offered by them; but at Crediton Jordan was destined to play the part of Goliath, for after twenty minutes contention, Mr. Wreford succeeded in throwing his huge adversary such a tremendous back fall, that the crash occasioned thereby was almost similar to that produced by the felling of an oak tree, and young Wreford amid the deafening applause of an immense concourse of all classes was triumphantly carried on the shoulders of several stalwart men to the Ship Hotel, in Crediton, there to receive from the committee something more weighty, if not so verdant, than that which the Grecian heroes of old were crowned.  In 1813 Mr. Wreford visited the metropolis and contended with the champion Fouracres, whom he threw the best Cornish wrestlers at Plymouth, and, with one or two others of their party, bore off very heavy prizes. In 1825 the writer was personally witness to a great gathering of renowned wrestlers at Credition, when there was a vast assemblage of gentry and yeomen, who betted freely on their favourites. At this memorable match Mr. Wreford had to contend with the renowned James Stone (who on account of his prodigious strength and activity was nicknamed by one of the London daily papers "The Little Elephant") and a terrible encounter ensued, for the men grappled with each other in such a way as almost to realise Homer's description of the struggle beween Ajax and Ulysses.  In truth the
first shock resembled the meeting of two fierce bulls.  At first Mr. Wreford appeared to have the advantage, but before ten minutes had elapsed he was literally hurled into the air, and fell with terrific violence on his back; yet he was quickly on his legs again, declaring that he would seize the first opportunity of recovering his lost laurels. Not long after he and Mr. Stone again met at Southmolton, when for the first half hour they contended with varying success, after which it was apparent that the strength of the "Little Elephant" was the most unduring, and at the end of seventy minutes, Mr. Wreford having been much shaken by repeated fallso on his side, was reluctantly
compelled to give over the contest through his opponent with his usual magnanimty offered to forego claiming the prize until the next day, thinking that his friend's indomitable pluck and well-known elasticity of body might possibly then enable him to renew the struggle.  That this was no fanciful picture, the fact of Mr. Wreford throwing, six or seven years afterwards, the celebrated Cornish wrestler Francis Olver, though several of his ribs were broken before he took his opponent by the collar is, we think, conclusive evidence. Until the last few months Mr. Wreford has been residing at Tiverton;
and when we saw him in January last he was as erect as a bean-stick, and in every respect appeared twenty years younger than he really was.  He then gave us an extraordinary proof of the retentiveness of his memory, for testing his many statements by the records of the Crediton Old Wrestling Club, we invariably found them correct.  Mr. Wreford was a well informed, genial-hearted old man, full of anecdotes of celebrated wrestlers and of scenes of the old
coaching days and he and Mr. Robert Stone, brother of Mr. James Stone, and himself a renowned wrestler, quite laughed at the general idea of the "dangers of the wrestling ring," and well vindicated the practice of wrestling, which had been handed down in rural districts from father to son for many hundred years, and both, to the writer's great amazement, declared that their legs were without a blemish, though they must have received thousands of severe kicks.
-Morning News

What a find! *pleased face*

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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Commercial Inn

I had some credits to spare at 'Find My Past' so I trawled the newspapers and found a death notice for George WREFORD's daughter, Harriet in 1858.

April 29, at Witheridge, aged 7 years, Harriet, second daughter of Mr. George Wreford, Commercial Inn.

It seems my WREFORDs may not have run the Hare and Hounds after all (see previous post, Pub Crawl). Although it is possible they could have run both during their life in Witheridge - this has been the only time I've found where the inn was named.

The Commercial Inn in Witheridge,Devonshire closed sometime after 1894. The Witheridge Historical Archive website has a gap between the 1850 and 1878 directories for the inn's keepers and I'm still yet to find a directory for the area circa 1861.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Find A Brown

After contact from a distant relative, I've spent the weekend revising my BROWN information and basically doing a kind of stocktake on the records I have for the family.

James BROWN (abt 1801) had 3 successive wives, 8 children and one more potential child born out of wedlock (see Antenuptial Fornication).  These lives centred around the farm, Woodhead of Dardarroch in the Glencairn parish of Dumfriesshire.  After tidying up my records, I rewarded myself with a quick search for Dardarroch and lo and behold, the gravestone of James' parents was revealed to me (or at least the location and inscription):

screenshot from findagrave.com

Jun. 11, 1793
Dumfries, Scotland
Apr. 29, 1870
Dumfries, Scotland

In memory of Daniel BROWN who died at Moorhouse, Keir 29th April 1870 aged 77 years. Also William his son who died 1st May 1865 aged 34 years. Also Mary his daughter who died in 1848 aged 7 years. Margaret his daughter who died in Sept 1858 aged 28 years.
[West Side]
Here lyes Margret BROUN who died Mrch 14 1796 aged 2 months. Margt BROWN spouse to William CLERK, who died 27th Oct 1820 aged 25 years. Also Jean MAXWELL, spouse to John BROWN, who died upon the 19th Jan 1827 aged 66 years. Also the said John BROWN who died at Woodhead of Dardarroch the 15th of April 1840 aged 80 years. Erected by John BROUN, father in Crosford. 1796.
Penpont Parish Churchyard
Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

This gravestone inscription has given me another child (Margret); death dates for John BROWN & Jean MAXWELL, as well as approximate birth dates.

It has also given me some other leads to follow, including 2 other 'Brown' graves on the Find A Grave website. Thankyou transcriber!

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

To Let or Not To Let?

Hare and Hounds TO LET notice
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post
22 April 1858

This notice was found on a visit to the Exeter Library a few years ago. It relates to the letting of theHare and Hounds Inn of Witheridge in 1858 - only a few years before my WREFORDs inhabited it in 1861.  Perhaps the WREFORDs took over this letting in 1858? 

The text is very difficult to read but I have uploaded it here (with a transcription of what I could make out) in case anyone has any suggestions.
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post
Exeter, Thursday, April 22,1858 (p1)
TO LET by Tender, for a Term of ...... [years] from Midsummer next, all ......[establish]ment called the HARE AND [HOUNDS] [encompassing?] a dwelling-house, malt- ...... and also a garden and two fields? ... the occupation of Mr. William ... 
... [business is now?] being carried ...
... be sent on or before the 1?th .... to Mr I M?H C?mins?, Solictor, ...

Front page the above notice was 'clipped' from
UPDATE - I have found evidence that the family actually kept the Commercial Inn - see post here

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