Sunday, 20 June 2010

Pub Crawl

Inside the Hare & Hounds, Witheridge c1940s

On the night of the 1861 census, in the Devonshire village of Witheridge, 14 year old Drusilla WREFORD 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. I knew they weren't dead, as George WREFORD and his family emigrated to New Zealand in 1864. So where were they?

12 Fore Street, Witheridge - 1861 census

This remained a mystery for some time until a chance search led me to discover that George WREFORD was in jail for bankruptcy at the time (you can read my post about that discovery here and here). I still haven't been able to locate the parents on the 1861 census but I'm still keen to find out more about the business.

George was recorded on bankruptcy notices as an innkeeper, butcher and farmer but I haven't been able to discover which inn George (and Drusilla) was keeping.

On my last visit to Witheridge (I've been twice), I picked up the 'Witheridge Village Trail & Local Walks' pamphlet which mapped some of the pubs (old and current) in the village.  Armed with this pamphlet, I used Google Maps to pinpoint the pub locations.

Witheridge Pub Locations

Assuming the family lived in/above the inn being kept, the map indicates the pub was the Hare and Hounds (in Fore Street).  According to the pamphlet, "it burnt out in 1995 and was rebuilt".  I was able to find this picture of the Hare & Hounds Inn circa 1955 from the excellent Historical Witheridge site:


Here is a picture of Fore Street today from a similar location and perspective via Google Street View:


I'm now in the process of trying to find a directory closer to 1861 which will hopefully attach George's name to the correct pub.

UPDATE
I have found evidence that they actually kept the Commercial Inn - see post here

Next Steps:

  • check for 1860 directories

  • obtain a copy of  'Researching Brewery and Publican Ancestors' by Simon Fowler for more information

Monday, 14 June 2010

More Chiropody at Trentham


My mother found more of my great grandfather's cartoons depicting Trentham military training camp (New Zealand) in World War I (see the original post here):

That First Trentham Feeling
on Trentham Pebbles in Bill Massey's boots
(Buck - Copyright)

Recruits Coming into Camp
(Buck.17. Copyright 1917 - Trentham)

S.M. Try one on his head Sergeant
[sign] Massey's Massage Institute - hours any old time - cupping done gratis
[sign] Notice - Don't hurry - Wait your turn
("Buck" Copyright 1917 - Trentham)

Innokulatin dun ere - Don't sass the dokter - By order
(copyright Buchan)

Bill Massey was New Zealand's prime minister at the time.

I received a reply from Archives New Zealand.  Unfortunately, they seemed to ignore my request to accredit the images to Charles BUCHAN and instead focussed on which records I could access for a fee.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Murder in the Family II


(See original post here.)

Another message from my husband's aunt seems to indicate the belief that Eliza Tharm is the ancestor in question:

"this Eliza Tharm isn't a direct ancestor but down the line from either a brother or sister of one of our direct ancestors."


I had come across Eliza in my initial research as she was famously the maid living at Dr. Palmer's house who became Palmer's mistress after his wife's death.
Staffspasttrack.org.uk says that Eliza gave birth to an illegitimate son in the Palmer House and this child was sent to be cared for by a 'nurse'. It was claimed that Palmer sent for the young child saying that he wished to see that the child was well.

Sounds very much like the story originally given to me (see here) but that seems far too easy.  If Palmer really was the rogue he was rumoured to be, there was sure to be other mistresses and possibly more illegitimate children.  Google Books have available a copy of Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer of Rugeley.  I have yet to read it but a skim through revealed this snippet on page 55:

Some time after his marriage, William Palmer had an illegitimate child by a Rugeley woman, of the name of Jane Mumford, and he had, in consequence, to pay for its keep. It is related that this child, a little girl, was brought to him that he might satisfy himself that it was still alive; he saw the child, and sent her home again. Shortly afterwards she died.

Sounds tragically familiar...

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Murder in the Family

I've just returned from an impromptu family history journey to the midlands (which I'll post about later) and found a message from my husband's aunt:

I was telling Dad about the mistress of Dr Palmer the poisoner being one of our rellies. The one that had a child by him and sent him to stay with Dr Palmer and the unfortunate child was killed by him. Do you have any information on that?

I certainly do not but I'm keen to know more!

Dr. William Palmer was born in Rugeley, Staffordshire in 1824.  He was hanged for the murder of John Parsons Cook, but is also believed to have poisoned his mother-in-law, wife and four of their five children as well as many others.  He became known as "The Rugeley Poisoner" and "The Prince of Poisoners" but there is still some doubt as to whether he was guilty of any of these crimes.

When I asked my husband if he knew anything about this, he said that his grandfather told him that his grandfather was taken by his father to see the hanging but he wasn't 100% certain.  I did some immediate checking of facts and if that story is true (about seeing the hanging), it would have been his great grandfather, Charles, who was taken by HIS father, Jonathan RICHARDS.  This Charles was born in Rugeley, February 1851 and would have been 5 years old when taken on this grisly day trip -  Dr Palmer was hanged at Stafford on the 14th June 1856.

If the 'mistress story' is true, then she may have been a sister of Jonathan or his wife Ann LEES but I don't have any other information at hand so at this stage it could refer to anybody.  The Staffordshire Past-Track website seems to acknowledge that Dr Palmer was "overly fond of the ladies" so this story has some merit.

I had come across Dr Palmer before - close followers of my blog will recognise my ties to the PALMER surname and I had previously come across 'the good doctor' in my search but found no connection.  It would be very interesting to find a family connection after all - even through the back door (so to speak).

If you would like to know more about Dr Palmer, please visit the Staffordshire Past-Track website (also the source of the above image) and WilliamPalmer.co.uk.

(image on the right of Dr Palmer's prison cell from the National Library of Medicine site).

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Using Convict Records to Go Back

The wonderful Tasmanian Archives site has a wealth of records available online - particularly for those researching their convict ancestors. 

My ancestor, Elizabeth ALLEN arrived in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the convict ship, Margaret in 1843.  The details given by her where recorded upon her arrival.

Coming from a large city like Birmingham, with a relatively common name, I had lost hope of finding who Elizabeth ALLEN's parents were. For some strange reason - perhaps I was having trouble reading the handwriting or deciphering the code used - I didn't realise how much family information was contained on my ancestor's arrival record when I first viewed it. After looking again at her arrival record, I could now see that the information I needed was there waiting for me.

(Male and Female Convicts image via National Archives of Australia)



Allen, Elizabeth
Height: 5/2 1/4
Age: 20
Calling: [Domestic Servant] & Needlewoman
Where Tried: Warwickshire, Birmingham Boro QS
When Tried: 21 October 1842
Sentence: 10
Native Place: Birmingham


Married or Single: S
Children: [blank]
Religion: CE
Read or Write: R
Relations - Apprenticeship - Where Last Residing: F Isaac at Churchill 2B Josiah & Wm 1S Mary Ann with my father; 9 [months?] on the Town
Ship Character: Fair
Offences: Stg a shawl [from? Gt?] Hampton St; once for same 3 mos

My interpretation:
F = father Isaac at Churchill
2B = 2 brothers Josiah and William
1S = 1 sister Mary Ann
These siblings (or at least Mary Ann) are living with her father in Churchill. 

('9 months on the town' seems to indicate that Elizabeth had also been prostituting herself).

Using Family Search, I searched the IGI for the birth of Elizabeth ALLEN around 1822, including her father's name Isaac.  I found an appropriate entry for 29 Sep 1822 in Harborne, Staffordshire. Harborne was so near to Birmingham that it became a suburb in 1890 (source).


To check this was the right record and accept her mother's name as Ann, I then searched for her siblings birth entries.  I was able to find Josiah and Mary Ann, also born in Harborne (no record of William as yet).  Ann was recorded as Ann PHILLIPS on Josiah's record, Anne Philis on Mary Ann's and simply Ann on Elizabeth's.

I was also able to find the likely marriage record for Isaac and Ann - 26 Aug 1821, Halesowen, Worcester - Ann was recorded as Ann Phillis GEALEY/GALEY.  So was Phillis another Christian name or a mistranscription of Phillips?

Next Steps:

  • Find ALLEN birth entries in Harborne parish registers

  • Locate family members on 1841 census (and beyond)

  • Find marriage record in Halesowen parish registers

  • Determine Isaac and Ann's birthplaces/dates