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)
WITHERIDGE - DEVON
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

Sunday, 13 January 2013

RIP Easy IGI Searches Online

I found this unfinished post just 'laying around' which reminded me just how much I miss the old IGI search on the Family Search website.  Not quite sure about their reasoning but in their attempt to improve, they basically made it worse.  I'm not going to moan about something that is provided for free but I just... miss it.  

Here is the old post (with a couple additions) which seemed to be a HOW TO FIND ANCESTORS BORN BEFORE 1837 or a recount of how I came to a conclusion but I'm not sure what I was trying to prove. It may be of some use to someone:

Thomas PALMER is listed on his son's marriage certificate 1848 as a 'Bookseller':


A search of the IGI online (after census searches of son George's approximate age) now identifies his wife as Ruth (and locale as Portsea):


The original baptism entry in the Saint John's Chapel, Portsea parish registers gives further confirmation these are the correct people, as Thomas' occupation is listed as 'Book Binder' (same field of work - books):


Back to the IGI to search for the marriage of Thomas and Ruth, which gives her maiden name as Ruth WRIGHT (married in Saint Mary's Portsea):


This makes it easier to search the census records which then give me approximate birth dates for Thomas and Ruth.  Parish records can now be searched for the marriage (possibly more information); their own births/baptisms and other children of the marriage.  

Next Steps:
Find copy of Thomas & Ruth's marriage entry in the Saint Mary's, Portsea parish registers
Find copy of Thomas & Ruth's baptism entries in Chichester, Sussex (church unknown)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that... There could be so many other explanations - too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source - 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID - 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 - born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 - living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)
Sometime after 1841 - moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 - became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 - adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.

Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches - 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)



Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bombay Love Story Continued...

Obituary Notice for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD)
(Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 140, 15 June 1934, p3)
This obituary for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD) featured in my previous post stated that:
Mrs. Wills is survived by two children. Mr James Wills and Mrs. D. Evans, and 15 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.
My searches of the NZ BDM showed me that Thomas & Drusilla had 3 children:

Richard Henry, Drusilla Howard and James Howard WILLS birth registrations

So you may presume (as I did) that: 
a) their son Richard Henry died prior to 1934; and 
b) the Mrs D Evans referred to is their daughter, Drusilla Howard.

However a search of Wills/Evans marriages from 1865 only came up with 2: 

WILLS/EVANS marriage registration

This means that one of the surviving children was actually ANOTHER daughter called Charlotte (and the D being her husband's initial).  However, there was no birth record of a Charlotte WILLS.  So, IS this Charlotte a daughter of Thomas & Drusilla?

I was able to find the marriage of Drusilla Howard WILLS (spelt Drucilla - one of the 3 births listed) to a William SHORT in 1899.  

I checked the WREFORD pedigree compiled in 1908 (more on that another time) which notes Drusilla and Thomas had SIX children.  With only 3 of those listed in the online BDMs - is it possible to find these other children OR was the compiler mistaken?



Next Steps:
  • Check birth notices in newspapers (Papers Past)
  • Check BDM for WILLS deaths prior to 1934
  • Scour newspapers for any other references to the family


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bombay Love Story

After receiving an email asking whether Drusilla WREFORD (the 14 year old innkeeper originally mentioned in my post Pub Crawl) met her husband, Thomas WILLS on the voyage to NZ, I delved further into this family.  It was a good question and one I hadn't really thought of since she was not my direct ancestor and I have so much to research on my genealogical plate.  However, my curiosity was piqued and I donned my detective cap to find out more.

After some apparent hard times, George & Harriet WREFORD, who had apparently ran the Hare & Hounds Inn in Witheridge, Devonshire (c1861), emigrated with their 8 surviving children to New Zealand aboard the Bombay on the 26 Nov 1864.  Sadly, their youngest daughter, Mary Ann died on the voyage, aged 2.

My first step was to consult the 1864-5 passenger list for the Bombay voyage these WREFORDS took and funnily enough there was a Thomas WILLS on board aged 23.  Drusilla was 17 at the time so quite possible they could meet and take a fancy to one another.  Or perhaps they were already betrothed before leaving England?  I diverted course to search for Thomas on the UK censuses but without having any more information about him abandoned that search and turned instead to the fabulous NZ Papers Past website.

Sisters Augusta, Drusilla and Sarah Grace
nee WREFORD
Although I was initially searching for marriage notices, most of my day has since been spent reading the articles and snippets which mention my ancestors and their neighbours, revisiting old avenues of research and getting to know the other members of this family.  My search also led me to the NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages online where I was able to locate the WREFORD sisters' marriages (or at least their registration numbers).

WREFORD sister marriages including Drusilla's to Thomas WILLS

So proof that 14 year old innkeep, Drusilla married somebody called Thomas WILLS.  The 1865 marriage made it seem likely but there was still no real evidence to suggest it was the same Tom on the Bombay with the family.

Drusilla's Death Notice
(also mentions sister Sarah Grace)

Until... serendipity stepped in.  Tweaking the newspaper search words to 'bombay' and 'wreford' led me to the obituary notice for Drusilla

Obituary Notice for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD)
transcribed below
(Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 140, 15 June 1934, p3)

The death occurred on June 13 at Onehunga of Mrs. Drucilla Wills, aged 89 years.  She was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. George Wreford, and came to New Zealand with them when a child in the ship Bombay.  Her late husband, Mr. Thos. Wills, was a passenger on the same vessel. They were married at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Onehunga, by the late Rev. Dr. Purchas, and settled at Awhitu, where Mr. Wills engaged in the gum trade for many years.  When he retired from business Mr. and Mrs. Wills went to reside at Onehunga.  Mrs. Wills is survived by two children. Mr James Wills and Mrs. D. Evans, and 15 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

Ta - dah!