Archive for the ‘Bedfordshire’ Category

Discoveries at the Society of Genealogists

April 23, 2014

I had a spare couple of hours the other weekend, so thought I’d put them to good use by visiting the Society of Genealogists for the first time.

Having searched the library catalogue in advance, I knew they had microfiche copies of parish records from Campton, Bedfordshire. I’d learnt that my great-great-great-grandmother Sophia Stevens came from Campton a couple of years ago.

Since that discovery, I’ve ordered Sophia’s birth certificate and found out that her unmarried mother’s name was Mary Stevens. I’ve also found Sophia living with her mother and widowed grandmother in the 1851 census on findmypast.

Sophia Stevens in the 1851 census

As you can see, Sophia’s grandmother was also called Mary and was recorded as being a pauper. Her mother, Mary Stevens, was a plaiter and had been born in Campton.

Stevens family in the 1851 census

Sophia Stevens and family in the 1851 census – please click to enlarge

 

What I found in the parish records

The Society of Genealogists’ Campton records were extremely useful and provided me with some new facts for my family tree. This is what I found:

  1. Mary Stevens’ baptism record 

    Sophia’s mother, my 4x great-grandmother, was baptised on 18 June 1820. Her parents were Joseph and Mary Stevens.

    Baptism record from Campton, Bedfordshire

    © Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service – please click to enlarge

  2.  

  3. Joseph and Mary Stevens’ marriage record 

    Sophia’s grandparents, my 5x great-grandparents, married on 20 April 1817. Mary’s maiden name was Grumet.

    Interestingly, one of her sons is listed as having the middle name Grummit in the 1851 census record posted above.

    Marriage record from Campton, Bedfordshire

    © Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service – please click to enlarge

 

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Newspaper article reveals Mercy Howard’s cause of death

April 3, 2013

I officially love the collection of local newspapers available at The British Newspaper Archive – I’ve just spotted another article in there about my great-great-great-grandfather Richard Howard!

I already know that Richard was a widower when he married my great-great-great-grandmother and that his first wife was called Mercy. She died in 1864, eleven years before Richard’s second marriage.

A report in the Cambridge Independent Press on 24 December 1864 reveals the cause of death, stating that when her husband got home Mercy ‘was ill with spasms, to which she was subject, and died almost immediately’.

It also tells me some anecdotal information about my great-great-great-grandfather and what life was like. The article reports that Richard had seen two men fighting near his house and that he went to help, but ‘was set upon for his interference’.

Newspapers are great for adding extra detail to what you already know about your family history, and this is a perfect example:

Newspaper article from the Cambridge Independent Press on 24 December 1864

Article from the Cambridge Independent Press on 24 December 1864 – please click to enlarge

Revelations in The British Newspaper Archive

March 19, 2012

I’ve just had another breakthrough in my quest to connect the two Howard lines in my family tree!

The last time I posted, I had just received my great-great-great-grandfather Richard Howard’s marriage certificate. While the name of the father listed on the certificate initially looked like Janus, I thought it was more likely to be James. I’d also spotted Richard living in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire at the time of the 1861 census – a bit unexpected as I’d always found him in his native Hertfordshire up until then.

The British Newspaper Archive launched a few months ago and I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon a newspaper article about my great-great-great-grandfather. The article in The Herts Guardian on Tuesday 9 July 1867 reveals that Richard had been charged with stealing a watch and chain from James Harpin, owner of the Crown Inn on 18 May of the same year. Richard was found Not Guilty but the article states that this “caused much surprise in court”!

What’s really useful about the article is that it confirms that Richard’s father’s name was James and explains why he was living in Biggleswade in 1861. James Howard was called as a witness to Richard’s character, stating that “the prisoner is my son: he has been at Biggleswade for ten years, and works for all the gentry: have heard nothing against him before”.

Here’s the full article:

Article from The British Newspaper Archive – part 1

Article from The British Newspaper Archive – part 2

Article from The British Newspaper Archive – part 3

You can see from my updated family tree below that I’ve now discovered that both of my great-great-grandparents, Ernest Howard and Mercy Howard, had a grandfather by the name of James Howard. Are the two James Howards the same man?

The two Howard branches of my family tree

A first wife, an unknown father and yet more questions!

December 30, 2011

Well, the marriage certificate I ordered at the end of my last post arrived and has created even more questions! Take a look…

Richard Howard and Sophia Stevens’ marriage certificate – please click to enlarge

Firstly, Sophia Stevens has no father listed. This is the first time I’ve come across an ancestor with an unknown father – I imagine it may be difficult to track her ancestral line further back, but I’m keen to have a go! Interestingly, it seems Sophia was literate as she has signed her name at the bottom of the certificate, while Richard has made a mark.

Initially, I thought Richard’s father was recorded as ‘Janus Howard’ on the far right of the certificate. However, I’ve been unable to find any Janus Howards in any census so I suspect that part of the writing may be missing, making the name look different. Take a look at the image I’ve doctored below – if a line is added between what I originally thought was an ‘n’ and a ‘u’, the name looks like it should be James Howard.

Richard Howard’s father’s name

Finally, the marriage certificate revealed that Richard was a widower when he married Sophia. This is very useful information and has helped me find Richard Howard in the 1861 census.

In 1871, Richard was living in Buntingford, Hertfordshire with his ‘wife’ Sophia (I now know they weren’t actually married at this point) and children, Jesse and Mercy. Before now, the 1861 census had stumped me as the only likely record I could find was this one:

Richard Howard in the 1861 census – please click to enlarge

Here, Richard is listed with a different wife (Mary Howard) and two children with a different surname (Salt) living in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Now that I know Richard was a widower when he married Sophia in 1875, I could presume that Mary was his first wife and that perhaps her surname had been Salt.

I searched the marriage records for Richard Howard marrying someone with the surname Salt and found this marriage record:

Richard Howard and Mercy Salt’s marriage record

It seems Richard’s first wife’s name was not Mary, but Mercy Salt. He married Mercy in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire in 1859. Sure enough, I found a listing in the death records for Mercy Howard in 1864:

Mercy Howard’s death record

I was quite touched when I discovered that Richard’s first wife was called Mercy. My great-great-grandmother (Richard’s daughter by his second wife) was also given this name, a lovely tribute to his first wife.