Monday, 14 August 2017

A Kentish Family

I have had break from writing for a while due to moving house.  As I have just moved to Kent, I thought I would write a short story about an ancestor from that county.  My earliest ancestors that I know of on my maternal line are from Kent.

Alice Wilson was possibly the daughter of Edward Wilson and Joanna Kent, baptised 10 Apr 1636 in Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone in Kent, however at the time of writing this is still under investigation.  Where ever she was born, Alice’s early years would have been a tumultuous time, with England being in the middle of the Civil War.

On 1 November 1669 or 1670 (the indexes can’t agree and I haven’t seen the original record yet), Alice Wilson married Thomas Millison* in Loose, Kent.  Thomas’ residence was given as Hawkhurst, so it is likely that Alice was living in the vicinity of Loose prior to her marriage.  Loose is next to Boughton Monchelsesa.  Hawkhurst is a parish about 15 miles south on Loose, most famous for a notorious gang of smugglers in the 1700s, perhaps I am related to some of them.  Thomas Millison was married at least once and probably twice before he married Alice.

Alice and Thomas went to live in Hawkhurst.  On 31 Mar 1684, Alice and Thomas had 5 children baptised: Martha born 1662, daughter of Thomas’ first wife, Joan Spice; Alice born 28 Dec 1671 (my ancestor); Mary born 18 Mar 1674 (also my ancestor, on my maternal line); Thomas born 8 Oct 1675 and Elizabeth 18 Mar 1676/7. 

At first glance, it seems strange for one adult and four older children to be baptised on the same day.  However, the winter of 1683-4 was very harsh with a frost that lasted from December to March.  I found various articles online saying that it was the coldest winter recorded in English history (instrumental weather records started in the 1660s), with the Thames frozen for two months and a frost fair held on the river.  Because the ground was frozen through the winter, in many areas crops couldn’t be planted and there must have been famine.  People who had fallen on hard times would have had no choice but to turn to their parish church for support.  The Church of England provided what social services there were at time.  For some reason, whether because they were non-conformists or had no religion, Thomas and Alice hadn’t had their children baptised as infants, so to get support from the parish, the family had to be baptised.

Alice and Thomas stayed in Hawkhurst.  Thomas died and was buried there in 1699 and Alice in 1708.

Notes on lineages:

My maternal line: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Fanny Sarah Perigo > Sarah Elizabeth Playford > Sarah Goodsell > Sarah Luck > Sarah Susans > Mary Minnage > Mary Millison > Alice Wilson

Alternative line: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Fanny Sarah Perigo > Sarah Elizabeth Playford > Sarah Goodsell > Henry Goodsall > Elizabeth Chester > John Chester > Alice Millison > Alice Wilson


*There are lots of variations of Millison and as it is not a common name, I don’t know which spelling is the “standard” version.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Twice an Ancestor

Nathaniel Partridge is my ancestor twice over.  I am descended from two of his children – yes, there is some inbreeding in the family.

Baptised 18 Apr 1773 in Miserden Parish Church, Gloucestershire, Nathaniel was the fourth child of Thomas Partridge (son of John Partridge) and Margaret Arkwell.  His siblings were Joseph, John, Elizabeth and Margaret.  The family were almost landed gentry, with Nathaniel’s grandfather John Partridge having inherited the family manor house not long before Nathaniel’s birth.

In 1789, aged about 16, Nathaniel Partridge was apprenticed to Thomas Price of Duntisbourne Abbots, Gloucestershire, as a wheelwright and carpenter.

Duntisbourne Abbots is next to Miserden, in a beautiful part of the Cotswolds.  An apprenticeship typically lasted seven years.  Shortly after he must have finished his apprenticeship, on 4 Jul 1796, Nathaniel Partridge, as master, took on an apprentice, Richard Merriett.

A year later, 1797, Nathaniel had an eventful year.  On 9 February, Nathaniel married Mary Abel by licence in Duntisbourne Abbots.  Mary must have been about seven months pregnant at the time, as their son, Thomas (my ancestor) was baptised on 18 April 1797.  Presumably he was born a short time before that, perhaps around the time that his grandfather, also Thomas Partridge, died.  Thomas Partridge senior was buried 3 Apr 1797.

Over the next twenty years, Nathaniel and Mary had another six children: Mary Ann, Charlotte, Maria, Harriet, William and Margaret (my ancestor).

There are family stories that the Partridge family were Plymouth Brethren.  The movement spread through England in the 1830’s, so Nathaniel and his family may have become Plymouth Brethren at that time.  The family may have been non-conformists before that as some of Nathaniel’s children married in the parish of Hempsted after saying they lived in the extra parochial parish of Littleworth to avoid having to get a marriage licence or banns in their own parish church.  Further supporting this, several members of the extended family born in the 1840’s do not appear to have been baptised.

According to the 1841 census, Nathaniel was still living in Duntisbourne Abbots, with his wife Mary, and working as a carpenter.

During the 1840’s, Nathaniel Partridge was on the electoral roll as he owned a freehold house and garden in the village of Duntisbourne Abbots.  This meant that he was one of the more privileged members of society at the time.

In the 1851 census, Nathaniel and Mary were living with their spinster daughter, Harriet.  I wonder whether she had moved home to look after her aging parents; perhaps not, because Nathaniel was apparently still working as a carpenter.

Nathaniel died about 80, a good age, and was buried 2 Apr 1853 in Duntisbourne Abbots.  By this time, he was grandfather to about 30 grandchildren and was also a great grandfather.  The signature on his will dated 11 February 1853 looks very shaky, so perhaps he was ailing for some weeks before his death.  Nathaniel left substantial property to his wife and sons in his will, including three cottages in Duntsibourne Abbots, in addition to the one he was living in with his wife, and a timber yard.  My double ancestor seems to have lived a good life.


Notes on Lineage 1: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Oscar John Kirby > Margaret Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge

Notes on Lineage 1: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Harriet Partridge > Thomas Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge


Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Lady of Letters

I know quite a bit about Elizabeth Harvie McDonald* and her family because she kept many letters sent to her and her family.  I am lucky enough to have copies of these letters.
Public domain photo of some old letters.
Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was born 21 May 1825 in Tradestown in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of William McDonald, a cloth lapper, and Margaret Bowie.  Cloth lapping was a stage in weaving, so William would have been a mill worker.  Elizabeth was named after her grandmother, Elizabeth Harvie, who would have been about 95 when Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was born and was said to have reached 100**.  Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was baptised at Gorbals church on 5 June 1825.

Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was the oldest of three siblings.  Her brother was Salis Schwabe McDonald, definitely a black sheep of the family with a criminal record.  As an adult, Elizabeth seems to have lost touch with her sister Margaret McDonald, with a letter from a relative saying that they didn’t know where she was either.  The three children lost their mother, Margaret Bowie, sometime between Margaret’s birth in 1833 and 1839, when their father married his second wife, Grace Davies.  Scottish burial records are patchy and I haven’t found one for Margaret.  Elizabeth’s Bowie correspondents didn’t seem to think much of Grace but maybe that was because she replaced their sister.

I haven’t yet identified Elizabeth Harvie McDonald in the 1841 Scottish Census.  She wasn’t living with her parents and there are several possible Elizabeth McDonald’s working in the Glasgow as servants and my ancestor may have been one of them.  Even though Elizabeth had a disrupted childhood and was probably working by the time she was 15, she had somehow managed to get enough of an education to be a letter writer.

On 31 Dec 1846, Elizabeth Harvie Macdonald married Malcolm Macdonald, a shipping clerk.  Both gave their residence as Anderston, an area of Glasgow.

By the time of the 1851 Scottish Census, on 30 March that year, Elizabeth and Malcolm had two children, Malcolm Kay Macdonald and William Bowie Macdonald, plus a third, James Gordon Macdonald (my ancestor) well on the way.  James was born in May 1851.  Sadly, Malcolm Kay Macdonald died sometime in the early 1850s, probably before 1854.  Elizabeth and Malcolm did not have any more children that I know of.

By July 1854, according to a letter from her Aunt, Elizabeth and her young family were settling in Liverpool, England, which was where Malcolm’s father’s family lived.  Elizabeth and Malcolm appear to have stayed in Liverpool until 1858, when they migrated to Victoria Australia.  

The family travelled on the ship “Monsoon”, which departed London on 11 March 1858 and arrived in Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne 9 Jun 1858***; three months on a ship with two lively young boys.  They went to live in Ballarat, in the heart of the gold fields of Victoria.  A letter sent to Elizabeth in 1859 from her Aunt Elizabeth Bowie, indicates that Malcolm may have been strongly encouraged to migrate to Victoria due to some (unspecified) bad behaviour on his part.  The Aunt suggests that Elizabeth and her boys should have stayed with her in Glasgow and left Malcolm to his own devices.  I wish the Aunt has been more specific about Malcolm’s wrong doing; all I know is that an old Scottish spinster thought he was an evil doer.  Perhaps Elizabeth and Malcolm did not have a very happy marriage.

Elizabeth and Malcolm stayed in Ballarat.  Members of Malcolm’s family followed him out to Australia, including his father, also Malcolm, and his only surviving brother, Charles.  His uncle, the brother of Malcom snr, a sailor named Angus, visited Australia on at least on occasion.  So in spite of the spinster Aunt’s fears, the boys (William and James) did not grow up not knowing their family.  In addition, plenty of correspondence seems to have been exchanged with both Elizabeth’s and Malcolm’s extended families, in spite of the distance and time it took letters to travel between Britain and Australia.

Elizabeth Harvie McDonald outlived her troublesome husband by over 10 years, dying 16 Jan 1892, in Ballarat.  By this time, she had several grandchildren and hopefully this made up for having been shipped away from her family under less than ideal circumstances.  I imagine that having had to move a 3 month voyage away from her family, their letter’s must have been precious, as Elizabeth’s only connection with her now distant family and friends, and that is why she kept them, for which I am grateful.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > John Macdonald Charley > Constance Mary Macdonald > James Gordon Macdonald > Elizabeth Harvie Mcdonald

*There are various spellings of both Harvie and McDonald.  Harvie and Mcdonald are the spellings used in Elizabeth’s baptism record.  Macdonald is the spelling used by the living descendants of Malcolm.

**According to the book:  The Bowies and their kindred: a genealogical and biographical history, available on Google books and other archive web sites.

***The Age, 15 Jun 1858


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Two Many Names

Jehu Briggs was born sometime between May and September in 1750, the oldest child of Timothy Briggs and Lettice Preston. Timothy and Lettice were apparently respectable landed gentry.  They married on 5 May 1750. Jehu Briggs was baptised 28 September 1750 in Elswick Independent or Congregational Chapel, Lancashire.  I will leave the reader to do the maths.

In the baptism register, his name was originally written as John Briggs, but the John is crossed out and Jehu written above.  This confusion between the two names continued for his entire life.  It is an additional challenge in family history research to be hunting for someone known by two names.  While Jehu Briggs is a good name to research, as every reference to the name I have found in the time period refers to my ancestor, there are many more John Briggs’s.  In addition, when hand written, the names look similar and Jehu is sometimes wrongly transcribed as John.

 Jehu had at least two brothers, one who died in infancy, and one sister. The Briggs family lived in Thurnham in the parish of Cockerham, Lancashire.  They were yeomen and non-conformists.  Timothy Briggs died in 1762, leaving a young family.  Lettice’s family had very little money and appear to have been supported by a distant noble relative, at least until her mother died in 1765.

According to the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1811 - in 1764, a John Briggs was apprenticed to Thomas Hall, a cooper and citizen of London.  I think this might be Jehu.  I wonder if he was apprenticed as soon as he was old enough due to his family’s circumstances rather than following in his father’s footsteps as yeoman.  Jehu Briggs later took on apprentices as a cooper or at least as a member of the Coopers Guild, Thomas Swanton in 1785 and Thomas Patrick in 1790.  Members of a guild did not always practice the trade in the guild’s name.

From 1781, there are land tax records showing that Jehu Briggs was living in St John Street, St Sepulchre (Farringdon area), in London, initially as a tenant and later as a property owner.  St John Street is still lined with Georgian terrace houses, so it is easy to picture the world he lived in.  In fact, here is me looking at some houses in the area that may be very like what the Briggs family lived in (photo taken by my mother), although I think where the Briggs family actually lived is now Smithfield’s Markets.  Their address is sometimes given as Smithfield Barrs.  Jehu lived in St John Street for the rest of his life.
Somehow, Jehu met a young lady from Suffolk, Susan (or Susanna) Mumford, daughter of Robert.  They married in Action, Suffolk by Licence, on 14 Oct 1784*.  Jehu and Susan had at least seven children, four girls and three boys: Elizabeth, Charles Jehu, Mary Ann, Sarah, Louisa, George Mumford and Henry Sparrow, all baptised in St Sepulchre parish church.  Curiously, in the parish registers, the father’s name is given as Jehu for the boys and John for the girls.

Sometime in the 1790’s Jehu changed trades from cooper to pawnbroker, with a shop in St John Street, possibly under the family residence.  In 1797, one Hannah Wright stole 5 yards of cotton material from his shop.  The trial took place in the Old Bailey and Jehu Briggs gave evidence in court, so I have a transcript of words he actually spoke.  Hannah was found guilty and sentence to 6 months confinement.

In addition to working, Jehu Briggs supported the Finsbury Dispensary benevolent charity, which provided medicines for those who couldn’t afford them.  A book about the dispensary says that in 1797, Mr Jehu Briggs was a steward of the charity.

Jehu Briggs died in August 1821, age 71, and was buried 29 August 1821, at St Sepulchre in London.  In the burial register, he was original named as John Briggs.  His son-in-law, James Clark, the husband of Louisa, signed an affidavit, which was inserted into the parish register, to say that John was also known as Jehu.  So the man who started life with two names also ended with them.

I have yet to find a will but assume he must have had one, given that he was a successful business man.


*Sudbury Marriage Licence Allegations gives the year of marriage as 1782 but given the entry is in the 1784-1785 section, this appears to be a typo.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Frederick Henderson Briggs > Henry Sparrow Briggs > Jehu Briggs


Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Partridge Inheritance

When John Partridge was about 56 years old, in 1769, he inherited a manor house from his cousin Joseph.  Earlier in his life, John wouldn’t have expected this inheritance as he had various uncles and male cousins who should have inherited the property, and passed it onto their heirs, had they had any that survived long enough.

John Partridge was born in Miserden, Gloucestershire, around 1713 and baptised in Miserden parish church on 18 November 1713.  Miserden is a small picturesque village in the Cotswolds. At the time in that parish, the Rector only recorded the bare minimum amount of information, a name and a date, so John’s parents were not named.  However, based on a process of elimination using various Partridge family wills and a 1714 electoral roll, John’s father must have been Nathaniel Partridge and, therefore, his mother was Nathaniel’s wife, Ann Burrows. 

Nathaniel Partridge was the sixth son of Henry Partridge of Wishanger, so seemingly unlikely to inherit the family estate.  However, three of the older brothers, Henry, Robert and John, died without having children of their own.  Thomas Partridge, the brother who inherited Wishanger from father Henry, had one son who seems not to have survived childhood, so the property was left to his brother Henry’s oldest son, Freeman.  And yes, there were two (half) brothers both named Henry.  The two Henry’s can be clearly distinguished in their father’s will.   Freeman Partridge died relatively young and without having a son, so Wishanger went to his younger brother Joseph.  Their two other brothers, Thomas and John, must have died young as they were not mentioned in Freeman’s will.  Joseph did not marry, so Wishanger ultimately passed onto his cousin John, my ancestor.  Joseph Partridge left his other property to his sister’s son, Partridge Smith who married Freeman’s daughter Susanna.  Fortunately the family wills explain the various relationships in some detail.   As Joseph Partridge was only five years older than John, even when John because Joseph’s heir, John may have expected his son’s to inherit, rather than himself.

John Partridge had at least one sister, Rebecca, born about 1700; both are mentioned in their Uncle Thomas’ will of 1752 as siblings.  John Partridge lost his father in 1717 when he was about 4 years old.  Nathaniel died intestate (without a will), so there is no will to conveniently list family members. John’s mother, Ann, seems to have re-married in 1719 to Andrew Soul.  There may have been some half siblings but without parent’s names in the Miserden parish register, I can’t be sure.  Andrew Soul died in 1726, so John lost his stepfather, as well as his father, while still a child.

On 19 February 1734/5*, John Partridge married Ann Moss (or Morse) in Pitchcombe, Gloucestershire.  John and Ann had five children, Harry, Thomas (my ancestor), Ann, Sarah and John, all baptised in Miserden parish church.  Ann died in 1768.  John married his second wife, Sarah Herberts, at Stonehouse on 25 May 1771.

In additional the manor of Wishanger, John owned other land in the area around Miserden that he left to his children in his will.  He died in February 1785, having enjoyed his inheritance for nearly twenty years.

Wishanger is now a B&B and some pictures can be found here (I couldn’t find any that I was sure were public domain to include in this post).  It belonged to the Partridge family from the 1560’s until the early 1800s.



Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Harriet Partridge > Thomas Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Thomas Partridge > John Partridge

*Prior to 1752 in England, New Year's day was 25 March so it is conventional to write dates from 1 Jan to 24 Mar like this.