Archive for the ‘great-great-great-grandparents’ Category

Proof that Thomas Edward Taylor won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge

July 22, 2014

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been able to prove that my great-great-great-grandfather won the famous Doggett’s Coat and Badge rowing race.

It seems the rumour I started investigating in my last post is true!

Thames waterman records

My cousin Lorraine sent me this photo of twenty winners of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

While I’m not sure which man is which, the caption at the bottom states that a ‘T. E. Taylor’ is among the group and that he won the race in 1878.

 

Twenty winners of the Doggetts Coat and Badge

Doggett’s Coat and Badge race winners – please click to enlarge

 

There’s also a collection of Thames Watermen & Lightermen records available online at Findmypast.

These confirm that a Thomas Edward Taylor won the race in 1878. But a question remains: is this ‘my’ Thomas Edward Taylor?

 

Thomas Edward Taylor, winner of the Doggett's Coat and Badge race

Newspaper article reveals an address

There are millions of historical newspaper pages available to search at The British Newspaper Archive.

All of the words in the newspapers are searchable, so you can look for absolutely anything.

I searched the collection for “Thomas Taylor” “Doggett Coat and Badge” and found the following article, published in Reynolds’s Newspaper in 1886.

 

Cutting from Reynolds's Newspaper, 13 June 1886, found at The British Newspaper Archive.

 

It describes an inquest into the death of an apprentice lighterman, who had ‘drowned in the River Thames, opposite the House of Commons’.

Thomas Taylor witnessed the tragedy and gave evidence. The article stated that Taylor had ‘won the Doggett Coat and Badge in 1878’ and that his address was 13 Paradise Street.

Confirming the address

I already know that my great-great-great-grandfather had lived in Paradise Street, but not at that precise address. The 1891 census (included as part of my last post) placed him at 51 Paradise Street.

Thomas Taylor’s daughter Eliza was five years old at the time of the 1891 census. I calculated that this meant she would have been born in about 1886, when the newspaper article above was printed.

Using this information, I tracked down Eliza’s baptism record in the London parish records at Ancestry. You can see that her father was listed as being a Waterman and was residing at 13 Paradise Street. A perfect match!

 

Baptism of Eliza Taylor in Lambeth

 

It’s fantastic to have been able to prove so conclusively that my great-great-great-grandfather did win the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race in 1878.

The Doggett’s Coat and Badge race

May 20, 2014
Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor

Earlier this year, I mentioned that there’s a family rumour about the father of my paternal great-great-grandmother, Maria Taylor.

My nan believes that Maria’s father once won a rowing race called the Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

 

What was the Doggett’s Coat and Badge?

 

The Doggett’s Coat and Badge race is the oldest rowing race in the

Doggetts Coat and Badge race winner

Doggett’s Coat and Badge winner

world. It was set up and funded by the comedian Thomas Doggett and has been held on the River Thames since 1715. Unbelievably, it’s still going today!

Every year, six Thames Watermen who had recently completed their apprenticeships raced from The Old Swan pub at London Bridge to The New Swan pub at Chelsea. Watermen appear to have been similar to taxi drivers, rowing passengers along and across the river.

The prize was an orange coat, a silver badge and the winner also apparently became a Royal Waterman. This ties in nicely with another family rumour about Maria Taylor’s father – that he once took Queen Victoria across the River Thames.

Thomas Edward Taylor, Thames Waterman

 

I was introduced to Maria Taylor’s father for the first time on her marriage certificate. My nan has a copy of this in her possession, so I didn’t need to order it from the General Register Office.

Marriage certificate from 25 December 1899

George Jones and Maria Taylor’s marriage certificate – please click to enlarge

The marriage certificate shows that Maria married my great-great-grandfather George Jones at Putney Church on Christmas Day in 1899. My nan believes it wasn’t unusual for people to get married on Christmas Day, as it was often one of the only days they had off of work.

Thomas Edward Taylor is recorded as being Maria’s father – my great-great-great-grandfather. According to the certificate, he was employed as a Lighterman. Lightermen were similar to Watermen, transporting goods across the River Thames, so this occupation fits in with the family rumour.

I’ve traced the family through the census records at findmypast and have also found Thomas listed as a ‘Lighterman Waterman’ in many of the records. Here he is in the 1891 census, living at 51 Paradise Street, Lambeth with his wife and six children (including a 13-year-old Maria):

The Taylor family in the 1891 census

The Taylor family in the 1891 census – please click to enlarge

 

Next steps

 

My initial investigations seem to show that there could be some truth behind my family rumour. Thomas Edward Taylor had the right sort of occupation to have won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race.

My next challenge is to see whether any records about the race and the Watermen who took part in it survive.

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

 

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.

Beginning the Howard hunt

September 30, 2011

A little while ago I discovered that my maternal great-great-grandmother Mercy had the same maiden name as her married name: Howard. This made me wonder whether Mercy Howard may have been related to her husband (my great-great-grandfather) Ernest Howard. I’ve been doing a bit of digging and I’m becoming more and more convinced that they were.

Ernest’s Howard line

I’ve been researching Ernest and Mercy’s families using the 1841 – 1901 censuses and have managed to trace Ernest’s Howard line all the way back to the 1841 census. Here are a couple of highlights to show you what I’ve discovered:

Ernest Howard and family in the 1871 census - please click to enlarge

The 1871 census shows Ernest living with his parents, Elijah and Marion Howard (my great-great-great-grandparents). Elijah was a Labourer and Marion a Straw Plaiter. Both had been born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Elijah Howard and family in the 1851 census - please click to enlarge

The 1851 census records Elijah Howard living with his parents, James and Ann Howard (my great-great-great-great-grandparents – phew!). James was a Chimney Sweep and Ann was a Plaiter. Both had been born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Mercy’s Howard line

I haven’t done as well with Mercy’s line, unfortunately. I’ve only managed to trace the family back to the 1871 census and have got stuck here for the moment. I’ve discovered something that has made me more convinced that Mercy was related to her husband, though:

Mercy Howard and family in the 1871 census - please click to enlarge

The 1871 census records Mercy living with her parents Richard and Sophia Howard (my great-great-great-grandparents). Sophia was from Campton in Hertfordshire, but Richard had been born in Hitchin and was a Master Sweep.

This has shown me that both Mercy’s Howard family and Ernest’s Howard family came from Hitchin and that both were employed in the Chimney Sweeping trade.

Next steps

I’ve added all of my discoveries to my family tree, but will I ever be able to join up the two Howard lines? To help get Mercy’s side back a bit further, I’ve just ordered a copy of Richard and Sophia Howard’s marriage certificate – I’ll let you know what that tells me when it arrives!

The Howard branch of my family tree

My great-great-grandparents’ marriage

November 5, 2010

After my post last week, I immediately looked for the record of Ernest and Mercy Howard’s marriage in findmypast.co.uk’s BMD records and then ordered the certificate from the General Register Office. This has just arrived and I thought I’d put it straight up here as it would have been my great-great-grandparents’ wedding anniversary today!

 

Ernest and Mercy Howard's marriage certificate

 

The certificate tells me that 122 years ago today, Ernest Saunders Howard married Mercy Howard in the Parish Church of St Mary in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. At that point Ernest was a Labourer, but it seems pretty obvious how he later got into Chimney Sweeping as his new father-in-law, Richard Howard was recorded with that occupation. The certificate also reveals the name and occupation of Ernest’s father – Elijah Howard, a Hawker.

I wasn’t sure what a Hawker was so I looked this up in a book I bought at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show I attended in February. It’s a pretty good little book, I’d definitely recommend buying it as a handy reference tool. It’s called Old Occupations and Descriptions and is written by Eve McLaughlin. In it, a Hawker is described as an ‘itinerant seller of small goods carried in pack (licensed)’ – a travelling salesman, it seems!

I’ve added all of this extra information to my family tree, including the names of my great-great-great-grandfathers, Richard Howard and Elijah Howard. I’m surprised at how easy it’s been to get my family tree back to this generation!

The Howard branch of my family tree

 

One of the new pieces of information that the certificate has revealed is the rather odd middle name of my great-great-grandfather – Ernest Saunders Howard. I wonder whether this was his mother’s maiden name? Something to look into!

Trace your family tree in 10 steps

July 23, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a project to show family history newbies exactly how you can start researching your family tree with findmypast.co.uk. I’ve used an example from my own ancestry – my paternal Silk line – and have actually managed to trace my tree back to about 1794 using these 10 steps.

To take a look at my progress, simply click on the image below and a powerpoint presentation will start downloading.

If you then select ‘notes page’ in the ‘view’ section of the tool bar at the top of the screen, you’ll be able to see my notes along with the images on the presentation itself. Alternatively, if you wanted to print the presentation, simply select ‘notes pages’ in the drop down box under ‘print what’ and it will print both my notes and the images.

I hope you find it interesting – let me know what you think!