Surname Saturday – The Flower family

Surname Saturday – This week it’s the turn of the FLOWER family of Cambridgeshire – an unusual surname, that took on a harrowing battle at home.

The Flower family appear in my maternal ancestry – with its most recent name bearer being my 7x Great Grandmother, Frances Flower.

Frances was born in 1731, and was the oldest of five daughters born to William Flower and his second wife Phillipa Thorpe, who had married the previous year at Wicken parish church, Cambridgeshire, England.

St Laurence's church, Wicken. Photo: Steve Day via Creative Commons.
St. Laurence’s church, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, would have been a familiar sight for the Flower family. Photo: Steve Day via CreativeCommons.

William’s first marriage to Jane Diss on 3rd November 1715 at Wicken, had produced six children – the last, Thomas, born not long before Jane’s death in 1728.

  • Jane Flower b.c.1716
  • Mary Flower b.c.1718
  • Elizabeth Flower b.c.1719
  • Frances Flower b.c.1722 d.1726
  • William Flower b.c.1724
  • Thomas Flower b.c.1727 d.1748

Jane’s death left William with five young children, all under the age of 12 years old. Having re-married to Phillipa in 1730, the couple settled down to raise five children.

  • Frances Flower b.1731
  • Rose Flower b.c.1732
  • Anne Flower b.c.1734 d.1735
  • Anne Flower b.c.1737 d.1742
  • Elizabeth Flower d.1737

Frances was baptised at Wicken on 13th June 1731.

Frances married at about the age of 21, on 30th March 1752, to widower Richard Bayley, who also lived in Wicken.

The couple settled down and had nine children.

A danger strikes a fatal blow

Frances’ parents, lived until their 50s/60s, but the Wicken burial register notes ‘coll’ as the cause of death. I’m pretty convinced that this note, which appears alongside several other entries, suggests that there was an outbreak of Cholera in the village.

There are eight recorded ‘coll’ victims in Wicken in 1785-1786, and five of these were in the Bayley family – suggesting a contagious disease, which my other initial thought of ‘Colick’ is not (obviously, I am no doctor).

Both Frances and her husband, their son and daughter-in-law, and another married daughter, all died as a result of ‘coll’ within the space of five weeks.

Millions of people still die from cholera each year, but unlike those in the 18th Century, we can now treat the disease to help reduce that figure.

Cholera in Wicken might suggest that there was poor water sanitation in the village, or that the Bayley family had low food hygiene standards.

It is sometimes linked to poverty.

Surname Saturday: The Dewsbury family

This week’s Surname Saturday theme is the surname of DEWSBURY from the villages of Soham, Barway, Wilburton, Stretham and Little Thetford in Cambridgeshire.

This week’s Surname Saturday blogging theme focuses on my ancestors with the Dewsbury surname.

The most recent ancestor in my tree to carry the Dewsbury name was my Great Great Grandmother – Elizabeth Dewsbury, who was born in Stretham in 1851 to William Dewsbury and his wife Rebecca (née Lythell).

Sadly, I have no photographs of a Dewsbury, or any of my direct Dewsbury ancestors, which has probably made this branch one that has seen me pick up the research, and put it down, time and time again.

Whilst Elizabeth married into the Barber family in 1871, ending the run of the name in my ancestry, her siblings and her father’s family continued to live and work in the surrounding villages – in particular those of Wilburton, the hamlet of Barway, Soham, and also with some staying in Stretham.

18th Century

Heading backwards four generations, to Elizabeth’s Great Great Grandparents (and my 7x Great Grandparents), you find John Dowsborough and his wife Edith (née Langford). They married on 3rd October 1749 in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

They had at least nine children. The last being born in about 1768, a year before what appears to be John’s burial at Ely Holy Trinity (where is he noted as ‘from Half Acre in Soham‘).

The earliest of their children that I have found, was my 6x Great Grandfather, William Dewsbury, who was born in about 1753. By 1769, at just 16yrs old, he walked down the aisle of Soham parish church with Elizabeth Cook, who was undoubtedly already pregnant with the couple’s first (of ten) children.

Sadly, this first child, a girl called Elizabeth, didn’t survive long – having been baptised on 9th and buried on 13th of November of that same year.

Their next child, born in about 1770, was my 5x Great Grandfather, Edward Dewsbury, who is noted as a ‘farmer‘ in 1814. He lived until June 1836, when he died in the village of Wilburton.

Edward married Sarah (her surname, and their marriage still remains aloof), and the couple appear ten times in baptism registers between 1795 and 1816. They had nine daughters and one son – the latter being my 4x Great Grandfather, another William Dewsbury, born in about 1811, and the father of Elizabeth, my final Dewsbury ancestor.

Families nearby

There are many Dewsbury name bearers in these villages around Ely, making it complicated to break them into small family groups, so I’ve been looking at other Dewsbury name-bearers in the villages to see if I can group those together and therefore help to eliminate or assign the many name duplicates to those other branches. It’s a great way to thin out the records.

This Will from 1756, gives a small clue to a family group of Edward, his wife Elizabeth, his married daughter Mary, and his son John.

Edward Dewsbury Will from 1756
This 1756 Will from an Edward Dewsbury, names his wife as Elizabeth, a daughter Mary, and a son named John.

I’ll now know that this group belongs together, but I am going to put them aside for the short-term because they aren’t the ancestral branch that I’m looking for.

Dewsbury Name Variants

The surname seems to take on no less than 14 different spellings – ranging from the most common spelling of Dewsbury to a wealth of variants, often interchanging in the same parish’s registers:

  • Dousberry
  • Dowsbury
  • Deusberry
  • Dewsberry
  • Dewesbury
  • Dowsborough
  • Disborow
  • Disbrow
  • Disborowe
  • Dousbury
  • Dawsberry
  • Desbery
  • Dewsborough

A second line

In addition, a Dewsbury family also marries into my Yarrow branch at Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire.

Whilst I’m yet to connect them, I am expecting them to appear somehow, given that the village in which they live, is a hamlet of Stretham, just a few miles apart.

The first appearance of Dewsbury (any spelling) in Little Thetford, is the baptism of John Dewsbery, son of Edward and Elizabeth, on 9th January 1725. Perhaps this is the family group mentioned in the Will?

Surname Saturday – Barker

This week’s Surname Saturday themed post covers my paternal Barker family, who I’ve traced back to a village in the county of Hertfordshire, England.

Today’s Surname Saturday themed post crosses the border into Hertfordshire, and visits a small village where my Barker ancestors lived.

My progress in researching the family history of my Barker family is somewhat incomplete. Of course, a family tree is never really complete, but what I mean to say is that it is not very well documented.

This will no doubt be down to the fact that researching Hertfordshire is not as convenient for me as Cambridgeshire, and also because I have stumbled across name duplication from different family groups.

It’s been more of a ‘i’ll come back to this puzzle later‘ approach. That’s probably why blogging about it here today is actually a good thing – as I do get messages from distant relatives who have read the blog and find myself getting back on the trail.

Meet the Hay-binders!

From what I do know, the most recent Barker in my ancestry was my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Ann Barker, who was born in 1854, in Barkway, Hertfordshire. She was the third of at least nine children of William Barker and Mary Head, who had married in October 1847. In all, it appears that she had 3 brothers, and 5 sisters.

  • Joseph Barker (b.c 1849)
  • Louisa Barker (b.c 1850)
  • Mary Ann (as mentioned, b. 1854)
  • Harriet Eliza Barker (b.c 1856)
  • Henry Barker (b.c 1859)
  • Elizabeth Barker (b.c 1861)
  • Esther Barker (b.c 1864)
  • Thomas Barker (b.c 1866 – d.1913)
  • Frances Barker (b.c 1869)

William Barker (born around 1823 in Barkway), is noted as a ‘Hay Binder’ at the time of the 1861 census, and his wife Mary is noted similarly as ‘Hay Binder’s Wife’. The rolling countryside around Barkway would no doubt have been great for hay, but by 1880 he had turned his hand to being a carpenter.

William is deceased by the time that Mary (his daughter) marries for the second time in 1896. Mary (née Head), his wife, appears to survive until at least 1911, when it looks like she is living alone as a widow at the Clock House in Barkway.

Barkway parish church, Hertfordshire
Barkway Parish Church would have been very familiar to the Barker family.

Thomas Barker

Note that the only death date I have of Mary’s siblings is for Thomas, her younger brother who died in 1913. He was my Great Great Great Uncle.

I only have this information due to a recent connection with distant relative (2nd cousin, twice removed, apparently!) Peter Barker, who is Thomas’ grandson. He kindly sent me the following photo of Thomas – it being the only photograph I have of a Barker relative.

Mary's little brother, Thomas Barker (1866-1913). Image: Peter Barker.
Mary’s little brother, Thomas Barker (1866-1913). Image: Peter Barker.

Sadly, Thomas died in July 1913 at London’s Royal Free Hospital when he was in his late 40s, from blood poisoning, which was as a result of his injuries of being run-over by a cart. He was a carman.

Finding Esther…

William was baptised at the parish church in Barkway on 16th March 1823. He was the second of at least seven children of Joseph Barker and his wife Esther. It’s worth noting now, that I am uncertain of the identity of Esther, as I have two possible candidates, but the dates are out.

Esther #1 may have been ‘Hester Hawks‘ who married Joseph Barker in 1809 – but then there was either a very long pause before marriage and first child (12 years), or there’s 12 year’s worth of children hiding somewhere.

Esther #2 may have been ‘Esther Elizabeth Nottage‘ (‘spinster’) who married Joseph Barker (noted as a ‘bachelor’) after the baptism of William (himself, the second child) in November 1823 at nearby Braughing. Were there two illegitimate sons, and a marriage in a different parish to hide the shame?

I’m stuck.

My only slight glimmer, is that on the same day that William went to church to be baptised in March 1823, he was joined on the day by John and Anne Nottage for their son’s baptism (also a William, albeit Nottage).

My Downton Abbey Moment

By the time of the 1871 census, Mary Ann becomes a kitchen maid for a wealthy land owner John H Phillips – a Justice of the Peace (JP) for Hertfordshire, and Deputy Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire. He is also noted as farming 400 acres, and employing 19 men and 7 boys.

Here, she is one of several staff members, including a Lady’s Maid, a Page, Butler, Nurse and a housemaid.

Research by the kind volunteers at Royston and District Museum, brought up several references to John Phillips and his family’s brewery, but none of Mary herself.  As a kitchen maid, it was unlikely that she’d be well documented, but it was worth a look in case a photograph might have been lurking.

However, what is likely, is that this is where Mary Ann learnt her skills in servitude, and hopefully earned herself a good reputation. The heads of the household may have written her a suitable reference that helped to take her down to London by 1880, where she appears as working in the now famous Abbey Road in St John’s Wood.

It was there in London, that she met my Great x 2 Grandfather George Burnell of Somerset, and their lives (and mine) grew into a new branch of the Burnell tree.

Check out some great ‘then-and-now’ photos of Barkway from Tom Doig over on the Barkway village website.

Surname Saturday – the Harrison family

Surname Saturday: Today’s Surname Saturday post takes a look at the HARRISON family, who lived in Cambridgeshire during the 18th Century.

This week’s Surname Saturday themed post looks at the Harrison family who have lived in the Cambridgeshire village of Little Downham since at least the 18th century.

Finding Frances Harrison

The most recent brush with the Harrison family is through my Great x 4 Grandmother, Fanny Harrison – often also named ‘Frances’.  She first appears in the village of Little Downham in Cambridgeshire in 1802, and was the fifth of eight children to Richard and Esther.

Fanny married Robert Tingey on 17th December 1820 at the Little Downham parish church. She was illiterate and signed the marriage register with an ‘x’. Robert was about four years older than her. The couple settled down to grow a family of at least 12 children over 28 years. My Great Great Great Grandmother, Mary, was their oldest child, born in 1820.

All seems well documented for Fanny and Robert, but when it comes to the 1861 census – right in the middle of a documented run – they’re missing. Both appear in the same street that they were in in 1851, and remain there in 1871, but where did they go for 1861? Searches on Ancestry and FindMyPast have proven unsuccessful, and in my attempt to avoid the simple transcription errors, I’ve also view the entire scanned set of folios for that area.

The 1861 census for Ely was destroyed in floods, and unless the couple are hiding under a different surname for a census (which happened for another part of my family), then maybe they were visiting someone and are recorded as so on the now lost Ely census. The mystery continues.

The 1970s Harrison Red Herring

Fast forward for a bit to about 1974, and my sister’s baby record book. In this keepsake is a family tree. This was probably the first family tree I ever saw (although not the one that got me into family history), and noted on it, is a mystery Harrison relative as my paternal great grandmother.

A family tree in a baby's keepsake book
A mystery and erroneous Harrison relative appears too recent in this tree from my sister’s baby keepsake book from 1974.

This Harrison appearance was two generations too late, and the role here belongs to Daisy Burnell.

Whilst the appearance of an error here is a red herring, it does at least suggest that the knowledge of a Harrison connection was there, handed down the family.

The 18th Century Harrisons

Let’s head back in time again, to Fanny’s parents – who appear to have been Richard Harrison (b.c.1770) and Esther (b.c.1772, d.c.1826).

Fanny was the fifth of their eight children – all christened at Little Downham, Cambridgeshire:

  • Elizabeth (b.c.1791)
  • Mary (b.c.1793)
  • Hannah (b.c.1796)
  • Richard (b.c.1798)
  • Fanny (1802-1881)
  • Sarah (1804-?)
  • Esther (1806-?)
  • Rebecca (1808-?)

Richard’s parents (Fanny’s grandparents, and my 6x Great Grandparents), appear to have been William Harrison (bc.1746, d.c Nov 1819) and Margaret Granger (d.c. March 1798).

I’ve yet to locate their marriage, but they themselves became parents in about 1764, when the first of their eventual nine children (William) was born.

  • William (b.c.1764, d.c March 1810)
  • Granger (b.c.1766)
  • Elizabeth (b.c.1767)
  • Francis (b.c.1768)
  • Richard (b.c.1770 – and the Richard mentioned above)
  • Mary (b.c.1773, d. July 1774)
  • Mary (b.c.1775)
  • Ellin (b.c.1777)
  • Margaret (b.c.1779)

Granger Harrison

Of this group of children, you’ll notice that the second child (a son) has fortunately been given the maiden name of his mother as his first name. With it being unusual, it makes him fairly easy to spot in records, and even turns up in google search results.

Come 2nd February 1816, Granger Harrison, who now appears to be living in the nearby hamlet of Pymoor, but ‘is about to quit his farm’, is having a live and dead stock auction. Everything from standing crops, to land, to animals through to a ‘large heap of manure’ is listed for sale in this notice published in an edition of the Cambridge Chronicle.

A Sale Notice for Dead and Live Stock belonging to Granger Harrison in 1816.
A Sale Notice for Dead and Live Stock belonging to Granger Harrison in 1816. Click image for original.

It seems that Granger probably remained in Little Downham, where his grandchildren were baptised. One of which, was also named Granger Harrison (b.c.1841, d.1910) – and who is equally blessed with turning up in census returns and search results.

This Granger Harrison is my own 2nd Cousin, 5 times removed… so pretty darn distant.. but with my own connection to the Harrison family being a little distant, and entirely photo-less, I’ll cast the net wide.

Here, Granger junior appears on the online family tree of Pete Bradshaw and Wendy Often. The site seems like it hasn’t been updated for a while, but I’ve sent them an email in a bid to expand my Harrison tree further.

If you have Harrison, Tingey, or Granger ancestors, drop me a line!

Andrew

Surname Saturday: Gillions

This week’s Surname Saturday themed posting looks at my family name of GILLIONS from Bedfordshire, England.

This week’s Surname Saturday post takes a look at my Gillions family living in 18th Century rural Bedfordshire, England.

The earliest ancestor that I’ve located was my Great Great Great Great Great Paternal Grandfather, William Gillings, born in about 1730 at Dunton, Bedfordshire. He appears to have been the son of John and Mary Gillings, and the oldest child of three – although his two younger siblings (Sarah – 1732, and John – 1734) were baptised in nearby Wrestlingworth.

Gillions in Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire

Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire
Wrestlingworth parish church in Bedfordshire, was no stranger to my Gillions family.

William appears to marry Elizabeth Miller on 25th January 1763 at Wrestlingworth, when he was about 33 years old, and she was 32. The couple had at least 4 children – my Great x4 Grandmother Susan (often ‘Susannah’) in 1771, Elizabeth in 1771, Mary in 1774, and William in 1777. Sadly, Elizabeth died in 1780 at the age of about 49.

Three years later William walked the aisle again at Wrestlingworth to marry Sara Fielding on 16th September 1783. William was again widowed in 1807, and he followed Sara to the grave in 1810 at the age of 80.

My most recent ancestor being my Great x 4 Grandmother Susan Gillons, was baptised on 24th November 1771.

Heading to Gamlingay

Gamlingay parish church, Cambridgeshire
Gamlingay parish church – what led Edward and Susan to marry here in 1795?

She married Edward Gilbert on 2nd March 1795 at Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire – a village on the border of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. There’s no indication as to why they married here, as I can’t see any other church records relating to this village. Neither were from this village (he was from Abbotsley, she being from Wrestlingworth), so perhaps they met here? Maybe their local church was undergoing repairs? Perhaps they didn’t get on with their local vicar? Perhaps they married here in secret and against their parents’ wishes? Further examination of the Gamlingay records will probably reveal more, or nothing else, leaving it purely to speculation of a BAFTA kind.

The couple had nine children –

  • Sarah bc.1795
  • George
  • Mary bc.1799
  • Elizabeth bc.1802
  • William bc.1803 (my Great x 3 Grandfather)
  • Ellen bc.1804
  • Eliza bc.1809
  • John bc.1813
  • Frances bc.1818

Living in poverty with a disability in 1851

With nine children, and Edward on a meagre labourer’s wage, the family fell on hard times. By 1851, and with their children grown up, Edward and Susan turn up with their second eldest married daughter Mary Cade in Abbotsley. Susan is noted as ‘blind’, as is her son-in-law Thomas Cade, whist Mary is noted as deaf.. leaving Edward aged about 77 and the only member of the household with his sight and hearing. Both he and Susan are unsurprisingly noted as ‘paupers’. Times must have been so hard for them.

Susan died in 1859, aged about 88. She’d outlived Edward, who had died in 1852.

Variants of Gillions surname

I’ve spotted that this surname has several spellings, and so it adds to the fun of locating my ancestors. These variants include:

  • Gillians
  • Gillions
  • Gillings
  • Jillings
  • Jullions

Surname Saturday: Boulter

The pop-up family of Boulter are the subject of this week’s Surname Saturday theme. Can you shed any light on this name in Cambridgeshire, England?

An unusual family name that stays in one village – simply popping up in records and then vanishing again.

My Boulter line came to an end when my maternal Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Boulter married John Freeman Dewey in 1878 at the tiny village of Wentworth in Cambridgeshire.

Elizabeth’s parents were Robert Boulter and Mary Ann Moden who also married at Wentworth. After marrying in 1852, the couple went on to have 10 children with Elizabeth being the oldest. Out of the ten children, seven of them were daughters (one of whom did not survive infancy).

The earliest Boulter ancestors i’ve found so far is William Boulter and his wife Ann Covell – Robert’s parents. They married in 1815 (again, in Wentworth), and had at least four children – 3 sons and a daughter. I don’t yet know where William came from before his marriage to Ann – although she was from the neighbouring village of Witchford, so perhaps William was living in Wentworth in 1815.

John and Edward Boulter
John Boulter (right), my Gt Gt Grandmother’s illegitimate first child, with his son Edward ‘Happy’ Boulter (left) – the only part of the Boulter family that I have photographs for.

The mysteriousness of the family continues, with only one part of the Boulter family (not ancestral) that I have photographs of in my collection (see above) – given to me by a fellow researcher (and distant relative). The photo shows John Boulter (right), the illegitimate first son of my Gt Gt Grandmother Elizabeth Boulter, who was born five years before she married my Gt Gt Grandfather John Freeman Dewey. John Boulter occasionally takes the surname of Dewey in census returns, but this may have been more an attempt to hide the stigma attached to illegitimacy than it might have been to suggest that John was actually his father. In fact, when John got married in 1896, he names his father as ‘John Boulter – deceased’ – did he ever know the truth, or was he using his step-father’s first name?

John Boulter moved to London when he was just 17 where he married Alice Watts and started a family of 11 children (the photo shows him with his third son Edward). Eventually, he joined the Corporation of London as a groom and often rode First Postilion on the Lord Mayor of London’s coach during the annual show.

Distribution of the surname

With Robert and Mary’s family consisting of a larger number of female children than male, it may go some way to explaining how/why the surname has struggled to survive in the area – with the name becoming redundant upon marriage.

Distribution of Boulter families in England, 1891
Ancestry.com’s mapping of the distribution of Boulter families in England, according to the 1891 census.

Ancestry.com have plotted the 1891 census data for the surname, allowing me to see the distribution of 1,661 Boulter families (note – not individuals). According to this data, Cambridgeshire had just 21 families with the surname. Norfolk is the 4th highest concentration of Boulter families with 102 – with it being a neighbouring county, this data might suggest that the family went there or even came from there. Unsurprisingly London led the way with 310 and Leicestershire came second with 240 families. Wiltshire was third with 121.

Origin of the surname

John Ayto offers a couple of different origins for the surname, probably due to it’s common misspellings. In his book ‘Encyclopedia of Surnames
he suggests that the origin is either from a ‘maker of bolts’ (as in for arrows or crossbow); a name given to someone short and stocky; or to the name of someone who sifts flour (from the Middle English term ‘bolten’ – to sift flour).

Where next for research?

I hope one day to find a photograph of my Gt Gt Grandmother Elizabeth Dewey (née Boulter), particularly as I have a photo of her husband, and I know where her grave is. She is my closest ancestor of whom I don’t have a photograph.

As for finding the surname’s next generation back – I’ll be resuming the search in neighbouring parishes for clues (Witcham and Sutton are top of my list) on William’s parents, and I’ll be checking Wills to see if there are any clues left there.

If you have stumbled across this unusual name in your research, please do drop me a line!

Surname Saturday: Poll

This week’s Surname Saturday theme looks at the POLL family of Norfolk, their silk weaving roots, and fascination with Hebrew names.

This week’s Surname Saturday theme posting takes a look at the Poll family – one of the few Norfolk families in my tree.

My most recent ancestor to bear the surname of Poll was Elizabeth Poll, my Great Great Great Great Grandmother, who was born on 12th April 1796 in the market town of Wymondham, less than 10 miles from Norwich, in Norfolk.

Elizabeth was the oldest of the ten children of silk weaver Ishmael Poll and his wife Mary Fiddamont. Ishmael and Mary had married just 13 days prior to Elizabeth’s birth.

The couple went on to have 9 other children – including an unbroken line of 6 daughters before having their first son – then two more daughters – and ending on their youngest child in 1816, also a son.

Elizabeth married my great x4 Grandfather John Howlett in Wymondham, Norfolk on 17th May 1824, and my ancestry then passes through them and their son Thomas’s brief life.

Silk Weaving in 19th Century Norfolk

On the 1841 census, Elizabeth’s father Ishmael, is noted as a silk weaver despite his advanced years (he was 70yrs old). He dies in April 1847, predeceasing his wife Mary, who then appears on the following 1851 census living alone as a pauper.

Ishmael is most likely to have apprenticed for many years in the skills of producing beautiful quality silk weaving, and he would have most likely have worked from home, using huge weaving machinery.

It’s understandable to see why Mary was living in poverty after Ishmael’s death, as his trade was so highly skilled, that it is unlikely that she could have simply continued it on after his death without having had training.

By Hogarth (The Industrious and the Lazy Apprentice) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A 1747 illustration of weaving from a series by Hogarth (The Industrious and the Lazy Apprentice) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrew names

The Poll family is not only unusual in my research because it comes from Norfolk, but it also provides me with some of my most usual names (in comparison to the rest of my family tree) in the 18th Century – Ishmael (male) and Keranhappuck (a female name) – both featuring in the Hebrew bible.

What inspired the use of these names, when the rest of the Poll children were fairly common names?

Earliest Ancestors

The earliest ancestors in my Poll tree are my Great x 7 grandparents – Simon Poll and his wife Ann. They would have been born around 1720, seeing that their son (my next ancestor – Great x6) was James Poll, born in 1741. James married a Mary Syers and they were the parents of Ishmael.

Surname Saturday: GILBERT

Surname Saturday: GILBERT – The Gilbert family of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire are the focus of this week’s meme day.

This week’s Surname Saturday post is that of my paternal Gilbert family. My connection is through my paternal Great Grandmother, who was born in 1884, in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

With the help of the research of distant relative Colin Tabeart, the tree has been found to stretch back through time as far as 1694 when the family turns up in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire (now part of Cambridgeshire). It is here that they are noted in the parish records and taxation records.

It appears that the earliest Gilbert I’ve found (with, as yet, an unproven connection) was in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire in 1605, when a John Gilbert takes his daughter Maria to be baptised in the parish church of St Margaret on 24th February.

Abbotsley Church
St Margaret’s church at Abbotsley, Cambridgeshire.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Gilbert families in Abbotsley were booming with each seemingly having at least 9 children, and up to as many as 13 children over a 24 year period – as was the case of James and Anne Gilbert between 1752 and 1776.

In 1767 at Abbotsley, Elizabeth Gilbert (née Hale) – the widow of James Gilbert – is noted as paying a Land Tax of £1, 19 shillings to a Mr Robert Edsope.

In 1828, the son of my Gilbert line – William – leaves Abbotsley and heads about 40 miles North East to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where he married Elizabeth Brightly. The couple settle down in Burnt Chimney Drove – an area of rich agricultural fenland just to the North West of Littleport, where William becomes a farmer. The couple bear 12 children, although sadly a few of these don’t survive their early years.

Whilst William’s relocation may well have been because of his love for Elizabeth, his parents – Edward and Susan Gilbert have fallen on hard times –  by 1851 they are both noted as ‘paupers’ and are living with their daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Cade. Susan has become blind, but goes on to live another 8 years. Edward only lived until 1852.

Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert
Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert

Despite this hardship, William and Elizabeth were making progress for themselves and managing to live outside of poverty thanks to farming. Their 9th child (also Edward and Susan’s grandson), James, was my Great Great Grandfather, and he survived his two older brothers. In doing so, and in an act not unusual or unlike primogeniture, he inherited his father’s farm in 1879, which by 1871 had grown to 40 acres and employed one family.

By this time, James had got married to Elizabeth Howlett – and they had already bore two of their eventual family of nine children.

The family still lives and farms in the area today.

Surname Saturday: TINGEY

Surname Saturday – TINGEY or TINGAY. A look at the Tingey surname in Cambridgeshire.

An unusual surname with seemingly disconnected family groups turns up in both my maternal and paternal families.

Mary Tingey (1821-187?)
Mary Tingey

The Tingey name turns up twice in my family tree. Once as ancestral in my paternal tree, and the other as a husband of a maternal great aunt.

My earliest record of a bona-fide Tingey ancestor is Ann Tingey, who appears at the parish church in Witcham, Cambridgeshire in 1769 where she went to baptise her illegitimate son Thomas.

By 1771 she had returned, to marry James Toll with whom she had at least two children.

Thomas remained in Witcham, where he married Mary Barber in 1794 and together they had three children – Robert, Elizabeth and Sarah. It appears that the family moved just a few miles away to Oxlode in 1841 – a tiny hamlet close to the village of Little Downham, Cambridgeshire – which is where they ended up by the time of the 1851 census.

Robert went on to marry Fanny Harrison and together they had a family of 12 children, with their oldest (Mary Tingey) being my ancestor, born in 1820.

Amongst family photographs is a photograph of Mary in later life. By the time that this photo was taken, she would have either have been Mary Martin, widow, or Mrs Mary Watling(ton). She was married a total of three times.

Another photograph is somewhat of a mystery – a carte de visite with the words ‘Aunt Tingey’ written on the back. It remains unclear as to whether this was an elderly maiden aunt, or a  wife of a Tingey uncle.

Aunt Tingey
The mystery ‘Aunt Tingey’

Other family groups

Whilst my own branch was busy living their lives and growing in the Little Downham area of Cambridgeshire, just four miles away in Ely appears to be another family group which I’ve never found a connection to.

Another group of Tingeys appear in Henlow, Bedfordshire. For many years I have been in correspondence with another researcher – but as yet there appears to be no link between the family groups. According to the researcher, there are many gravestones for Tingey name-bearers standing in the parish churchyard.

This unusual surname does have a few variants through the years – ranging from: Tingey, Tingay, Tingye, Tangye, Tyngy Tyngie.

Origins of the name

According to John Ayto’s ‘Encyclopedia of Surnames’, Tingey/Tingay are derivative of Tangye. He says that:

“Tangye from the Breton personal name Tanguy, a contracted form of Tanneguy, literally ‘fire-dog’.”

According to The House Of Names.com:

“First found in Cambridgeshire where the name first appeared in the early 13th century.”

Surname Saturday: Dunham

The DUNHAM family of Witchford, Cambridgeshire is the subject of today’s Geneabloggers SURNAME SATURDAY meme.

This week’s Surname Saturday post focuses on research I’ve been doing today. This morning I found my link to two new maternal family names, one of which is Dunham (the other is Foreman), so I’ve been typing this entry all day, covering the amount of information that I’ve uncovered in just a few hours.

Witcham church
Witcham parish church, Cambridgeshire, has seen a mixture of building extensions through the years, and more recently removal of headstones to ‘make the grass cutting easier’!

My connection to the Dunham tree happens in Witcham, Cambridgeshire in 1815 when John Hawkins married Jane Dunham. These two people were to become my Gt x 5 Grandparents, with my ancestry following down through their daughter Sarah Hawkins.

John Hawkins, who was illiterate at the time of their 1815 marriage, worked as a labourer. He was born about 1796 in Witcham.

Jane Dunham, who could at least sign her name in 1815, was born in about 1793. At the time of the marriage, the Banns and Marriage entries state that they were ‘otp’ (of this parish), however no trace of Jane could be found in the church records until the Banns.

The censuses

Having found the 1841 census entry for John and Jane, along with their growing brood of children (they had eight in all), the shortcomings of the 1841 census was unable to tell me which village Jane was actually from.

The 1851 census revealed the clue – it was Witchford – a village I have personally had connections to all my life, and in fact I was named after it (it’s St Andrew, although I wasn’t fortunate to be named the ‘Saint’ bit… yet). It’s one where several other of my ancestral families have lived and still do, and many of my ancestors and relatives have been buried.

Witchford, Cambridgeshire
St Andrew’s Church at Witchford, Cambridgeshire, home to yet another ancestral name.

With this piece of information I was able to rummage through the Witchford Parish Register and found Jane’s baptism in January 1794. Her parents were given as William and Alice Dunham.

The family grows

I then looked to see if this Jane had any siblings – with a rummage either side of her own baptism. I found four other siblings – 3 sisters and 1 brother. Having gauged the range of the births, I then crossed my fingers and looked for a William and Alice marriage.

There it was! William Dunham married Alice Foreman in Witchford in June 1789.

Next up was the burials. Another rummage revealed what seemed like an unfortunate picture:

  • William Dunham – he appears to have died in 1844, outliving all but his daughter Jane.
  • Alice Dunham (née Foreman) – died age 52 in 1821.
    • Elizabeth Dunham – the oldest, born in 1790. She died weeks later.
    • Alice Dunham – Born abt 1791, died in 1800.
    • Jane Dunham – my descendant, born 1793 – married John Hawkins.
    • William Dunham – Born abt 1797, appears to have died in 1799.
    • Rebecca Dunham – Born 1799, died 1800.

From this, it appears that after marrying Alice, they both have undergone insurmountable pain and heartache by outliving all of their children apart from my ancestor, Jane Dunham.

There’s no indication as to why the children died – disease? prematurity? harsh conditions? malnutrition? The possibilities could be anything at this period in history where life expectancy for adults wasn’t as it is today, and infant mortality rates were still high.