Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Ancestor Found (almost)

For a long time, I'd been searching for one of my WREFORD ancestors on the 1861 census without luck.

On the night of the 1861 census, in the Devonshire village of Witheridge, 14 year old Drusilla was recorded as head of the household and her occupation as 'Innkeeper ?' (note the question mark). Also in the household were 4 siblings aged 7 and under (including my direct ancestor, Augusta Harriet), and a 17 year old servant, Emily Cheriton. Their parents, George and Harriet, were nowhere to be seen.
Wreford Family on 1861 Census - Witheridge

I knew they weren't dead, as George Wreford and his family emigrated to New Zealand in 1864. So where were they? For years this question has been unanswered until only a few days ago, when I happened to do a random search on The London Gazette website.
London Gazette, April 9, 1861
COURT FOR RELIEF OF INSOLVENT DEBTORS.
...
Before the Judge of the County Court of Devonshire, holden at Exeter, on
Tuesday the 23rd day of April, 1861.

George Wreford, late of Witheridge, in the county of Devon, Inkeeper, Butcher, and Farmer, also farming an estate at Tiverton, in the same county, previously of Withley Goodman Farm, in Tiverton aforesaid, Farmer and Butcher, formerly of Chulmleigh, Devon, Journey-man Butcher.
A deeper look at the search results yielded:

COURT FOR RELIEF OF INSOLVENT DEBTORS.
...
ORDERS have been made, vesting in the Provisional
Assignee the Estates and Effects of the following Persons:
On their own Petitions.
...

George Wreford, late of Witheridge, Devonshire, Innkeeper, Butcher, and Farmer.—In the Gaol
of Exeter.


(London Gazette, March 26, 1861)

So there he was - bankrupt and in jail.

The census was taken for the night of April 6th, 1861. This now explains where George was that night. I presume his wife, Harriet had travelled to Exeter with him for moral support.


I now know where to look for them. This is brilliant, except my searches of the census are still not bearing fruit. My next step is to find 'Exeter Gaol' on the census and browse from there
.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

My first post of this blog mentioned that there were gypsies in the family. The gypsies are part of my husband's maternal side and there's been a bit of a breakthrough.

Carnation LOVELL was the daughter of Maria ANSLOW and Matthew LOVELL. She can be found on the 1891 census as a baby in a gypsy tent under Porkus Bridge (probably Porkets or Portius Bridge), Darlaston. They appeared to be travelling with 3 other families, all with the surname, Smith.


By 1901, Maria had taken up with a new man, Eli FLETCHER (whom she eventually wed legally in 1908). It has been very difficult to find other records of Carnation's father, Matthew.

Matthew died in Bloxwich, 1896 and the earliest record I have with him, is his son's birth certificate in 1883. I have not been able to locate him on any other censuses. Part of the problem appears to be the interchangeability of gypsy names. However, a wall may about to be broken down. I received an email from a fellow researcher (my mother-in-law's cousin) saying that an author has contacted her about a book he has written concerning Matthew's great grandparents. I can't wait!


Peg made by Carnation

Dumfries - Sheep Worrying

I have been searching The Scotsman digital archive this morning (searches are free) and found a tantalising snippet relating to my family history - or does it?
The Scotsman - 6 Nov 1879 - "DUMFRIES - SHEEP WORRYING. - On Monday, at Woodhead, Dunscore, a dog chased a flock of 92 sheep out of a field and... One was killed"


Woodhead 2006

My farming ancestors lived at Woodhead, Dunscore since at least 1824 when my great grandfather, James Brown, was recorded in the Crown Office Precognitions as a farm labourer there in 1824 (He had been accused of assault but that's a different story). From the 1841 census onwards, James is recorded as Farmer at that property until 1871. Woodhead played a significant part in my family's life until James died at Woodhead in 1873. This newspaper snippet was from 1879.

James Brown's death - 1873 (shows Woodhead as place of death)

As fabulous a resource the Scotsman archives are, I can't really afford to jump in 'willy-nilly', so I need to check if any of my family is still tied to the property in 1879.
James' third wife, Sarah (nee Douglas) survived him and the 1871 census shows more Brown's living on the property (ie., Woodhead Cottage, Woodhead Farm). This means that the easiest first step is to check the 1881 census to see if these Brown's are still at Woodhead. If so, then the article will at least be referring to my extended ancestral family.

Browns at Woodhead in 1871
A search of the 1881 census shows that his widow, Sarah and son, Samuel are also still at Woodhead in 1881. Another search shows that the William Brown who was living at Woodhead in the 1871 census, is still there in 1881. I'm unsure of the exact family relationship between my James Brown and this William but chances are high at least that the newspaper article will be referring in some way to the property part of my family owned at the time. This does not mean they will refer to my ancestors by name however, and as I'm a thrifty genealogist, I'm going to see if there are any other articles to do with my family before I invest.
I'm in luck though, as the Scotsman Digital Archives are having a special offer to celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009 and prices currently start at £3.95 for a 24 hour pass (July only).