Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
Today – the 11th of November at 11am, large areas of the UK were silent to remember the bravest people and animals who had lost their lives during wars.
I wear my poppy with pride, and always try to observe the 2 minute silence at 11:00 11/11/XX each year, but to be honest, I think about those heroes almost every other day and think about the lives that have tragically been lost due to war.
The First World War was savage. Rarely did a family or parish remain unscathed and that was certainly the case with mine, and this affects me even though I never met these people, and now that there are no known surviving WWI veterans, I will never know for sure what it was like. Losing a sibling, a parent, a child, or other family member to war must be heartbreaking.
My 4x Great Grandmother Mary Clarke ends up in the workhouse in 1851, but her family is scattered across Suffolk.
It’s unlikely that anyone would have wanted to go to the workhouse unless they’d lost all hope of finding support elsewhere.. but after two illegitimate children (Caroline and Edward Clarke), and an 1838 marriage to widower Mr William Bailey, Mary Ann Clarke and her family ended up in the Hartismere Union – which had workhouses at Eye and Wortham, Suffolk.
Mary is notably missing from the family nest in the 1841 census (no idea where she went!), but the rest of the new family are present and living together at Back Hills, Botesdale.
The family must have hit on hard times, as they are broken up by the time the 1851 census arrived. It’s unclear at the moment as to when the family entered the workhouse, but the births of a series of children may provide the clue as to the date after viewing their birth certificates. I’m assuming that at least one – Alfred – was born at the workhouse.
The 1851 census shows that Mary (39) and her youngest children Ameila (5), Francis (4), and Alfred (1) are living amongst the inmates of the Eye Workhouse. On another census folio, her husband William (45) appears. It was common practice to keep the men and women separate, although young children were often kept with their mothers until they were old enough to enter the houses of industry, or the boys were old enough to move into the mens part of the compound.
Over in Botesdale, and at the Ling House of Industry, was Mary Ann’s oldest (and illegitimate) son, Edward (14), having adopted the Bailey surname. He’s listed with other boys, some as young as 6yrs old. His step-sister, a daughter from William Bailey’s first marriage to Sarah named Louisa (18), is also in there too. The whole family is caught in the workhouse system… except for one – Caroline.
Caroline, my ancestor, and Mary Ann’s first illegitimate child, has escaped the workhouse. She’s the breadwinner in a way at the age of 17, although she’s far away from the family in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. She appears on the 1851 census at Mildenhall Road, Littleport, as a ‘House Servant’ at the home of Henry Flowers – a farmer of 250 acres and employer of 10 labourers. She too has adopted the Bailey name, and it’s this job as a servant that saved her.
In 1861, things are on the up. William and Mary appear on the census at Botesdale Street, aged 56 and 46 respectively. William is noted as an ‘Agricultural Labourer’, as is his 18 year old son Philip. Included in the household are Fanny (13), Alfred (11) and Charles (9). Living next door is son Ellis Bailey (21).
By 1871, William Bailey has died, leaving Mary Bailey as the head of the household. She appears on the 1871 Botesdale census as a 60yr old widow with her sons Philip, Alfred and Charles.
But by 1881, Mary, noted as a 68 year old widow and working as a housekeeper… is back at the Union Workhouse in Eye, Suffolk.
The only slightly positive thing was that the family eventually left the workhouse and were able to support themselves for a few years before Mary returned there some 30 years after she had first arrived.
The workhouse had a purpose, and whilst conditions were undoubtedly grim for anyone that entered through their doors, they provide some basic conditions – food, clothes, a roof, and basic healthcare that would certainly have helped to keep the Bailey family alive.
The ‘White Plague’, ‘Consumption’, ‘T.B’, Tuberculosis.
If you’ve been researching your family tree, you’re bound to have stumbled across some of these phrases as causes of death (i’d only not seen the ‘white plague’ term before, but I’ve seen the others too many times).
Although it wasn’t notifiable until 1912, Tuberculosis was probably the cause of one-third of disease caused deaths in the nineteenth century. That’s quite a claim.
Environments with poor ventilation, overcrowding and people with poor nutrition (including the drinking of infected cows milk) were all susceptible to the disease. However, improvements in housing and nutrition halved the number of deaths by the end of the century.
Within my own family, I have found cases where it has claimed my ancestor’s lives: a 35yr old Henry Bowers of Wicken, leaving his young wife with a hungry family of eight young children; two children both under the age of 1 year of James and Mary Martin of Little Downham – (another daughter died aged 9yrs from Scarlet Fever, and James himself was killed by a train not far from his house).
There are loads of articles written about the popular micro-blogging tool Twitter, but I thought that I’d try to share a couple of interesting and handy hints that I have picked up over the last few weeks that has resulted in finding new connections and increasing followers.
The most important thing about Twitter is that it is a social tool. Therefore, you need to socialise to get anything out of it. The more you ‘Tweet’ (the term given to your 140 character or less statement) the more people can find you and the more people will interact with you.
You might use good words in your 140 character limit that include things like ‘familytree’ or ‘history’ or ‘Cambridge’ etc but by adding some hashtags to your comment will help you to turn up in searches. You should enter phrases such as #genealogy or #familytree or #census. Don’t put spaces in.
Follow people. Follow people that say things that you’re interested in. 9/10 they will follow you too… and so every time they tweet @you, other people can see it – and therefore find you.
A combination of Follow and hashtags is used each week with Friday’s being recognised as #followfriday – a hashtag to go in your tweet along with a list of your friends (typed like ‘@username’) to encourage your friends to follow some of your other friends – thus building up the social networking idea.
While you can do a general search, you can also do a specific search by doing the following:
Go to the search screen and type your search word – e.g. “cross”. Then type near:CambridgeEngland to tell the search engine to search for Cross from near Ely, England (in this case the Cambridgeshire one). Then, still without having clicked the search, you can even add a distance within:15mi (for miles) or within:15km . So, this gives you a line of text in the search box reading:
You may be able to tailor the word, location and distance to your needs. Have a play around with the location field. If I had put just ‘Cambridge’ and not ‘England’ alongside it, it would have defaulted to the USA. You can always check that you’ve got the right location in the search results because a map of the area that you’ve searched is shown on the right of the results screen.
Nestled in a copy of hardbacked leatherbound edition of ‘Modern Practical Cookery (undated)’ that belonged to my Great Grandmother, I’ve just found a Dig For Victory leaflet (no. 11) on “Bottling and Canning Fruit and Vegetables”.
This is the first D4V leaflets that I’ve ever seen, so I thought that I would share this with you…
and here’s the inside…
Click image for a much bigger version.
I thought i’d share these images as they were an important part of the United Kingdom’s wartime history.
I’ve just received the latest edition of The Littleport Society magazine, so thought i’d share the event info with you that covers the next few months. I’ve been a member of the society for years now and they are exceptionally helpful.
1st September: Alan Litshel – “Bottles 1870-1920”
6th October: Hilary Ritchie – “History of nursing at Addenbrookes Hospital”
3rd November: Malcolm Gaskill – “The Devil in Cambridgeshire – the witch hunting campaign 1645-1647”
1st December : Iain Harvey – Christmas organ concert (in St George’s Church)
5th January: Tessa West – ‘Companion to Owls – life of a Huguenot family in the fens in the 1600s’
2nd February: AGM and member’s short talks
2nd March: Gordon Easton – ‘Growing up in the fens – a humble tiller of the soil’
6th April: Bill Wittering – History of the Royal Mail
4th May: Peter Carter – The Last of the Eel Catchers
1st June: Gerald Siviour – East Anglia Railways – the last 50 years.
6th July: Mike Petty – ‘Fenland History on your computer – the library on your laptop’
All meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month (except for August when there are no meetings) at 7.30pm at the Village Hall, Victoria Street, Littleport, Cambridgeshire. Non-members are welcome.
Please note that events/talks are subject to change.
I like to think that I can pop back many generations on both sides of my tree and name all the surnames that I’ve been able to ‘collect’ – apart from those where there’s illegitimacy.
I’m going to type out my ancestral surnames now as far as i can remember them off the top of my head. The first line is always my own – Martin and the next line is whoever the bride was. On the second generation i list (a generation back), I start again with Martin and add that generation’s bride’s name. Then move on to the ancestors of the bride in generation 1. Still with me?
Oh… well, take a look at my list of the first few from the top of my head… hopefully that’ll make it clearer.
This gives me eight surnames (those of my Great Grandparents – 4 of whom i was lucky to know) before i hit the first illegitimacy blocker…
illegitimate line (with Barber)
Had there have been no illegitimacy, that would have given me a complete set of 16 Great Great Grandparent surnames.. but we’re down to 15 now, due to illegitimacy in the Barber camp.
The next generation of 32 Great Great Great Grandparents not only stretches my memory a bit, but also brings in a few more illegitimacy lines, taking it down to 28 surnames due to 2 new illegitimate children and the line from the previous generation.
illegitimate line (with Giddings)
illegitimate line (with Dewey)
illegitimate line (the paternal line from the Barber one from the previous generation)
illegitimate line (the maternal line from the Barber one from the previous generation)
I’m going to stop there, but can you name this far back? I do know further back, in fact, i’ve got about 13 generations of the Barber family up my sleeve and almost the same number of Cross too… but how do you fare?
Unravelling the puzzle of my 3x Great Grandmother’s parents.
My paternal 3x Great Grandmother Caroline Clarke, had presented me a problem for many years, but 2009 appears to have ended the mystery of who she was and where she came from.
After deciding to unravel the mystery of where ‘Watchfield’ might be, I posted a message to RootsChat.com and was soon replied to by ‘DebbieG’ who gave me information from the 1841 census of Botesdale.
Now, I had often searched the 1841 census, in which Caroline would have only been 5-6 years old (if her marriage certificates were reliable). The 1841 census gave me the following:
William Bailey 35
Emma Bailey 10
Ellen Bailey 7
Louisa Bailey 5
Ellis Bailey 2
Caroline Clarke 6
Edmund Clarke 4
At first glance, I noticed that the two Clarke children were motherless and therefore wondered how they could possibly be the right ones. Having said that, in 1859, at Caroline’s second marriage to Robert Coe, an ‘Edward Clarke’ is one of the witnesses. So, so far, there was one connection.
Next up, Botesdale (Suffolk) is close to Wattisfield – a place I’d been meaning to check out due to its similarity to ‘Watchfield’.
I decided that I needed to try and find some baptisms for the Bailey children and this soon threw up a marriage on 8th November for William Bailey and Mary Clarke.
I then found baptisms on Ancestry.co.uk for Caroline Clarke (1835) and Edward Jarman Clarke (1837) with the mother named as Mary Clarke (no father named). I then found that William had been married to a Sarah (and found several of their children in baptism records). This left Ellis Bailey as the child that Mary Clarke had with William Bailey.
The lack of Mary on the census suggests that she had died between 1839 and 1841 but her exact death date currently remains a mystery.
I’d often looked at the census search results for 1851, looking for Caroline Clarke, just 4 years before she married my Gt Gt Gt Grandfather Thomas Howlett at Mildenhall, Suffolk… yet found nothing. Again, RootsChat.com found a solution for me when a ‘Caroline Bailey’ born in ‘Watchfield, Suffolk’ appears on Mildenhall as a house servant to Mr Flowers.
Looking to Botesdale in 1851, seems to show that Mr Bailey may have died, and finds his daughter Louisa in the workhouse with Edward Clarke.
As for Caroline, well, in 1855 and 1859 she names her father as “Alfred Woods“. In 1855 he is ‘deceased’ but by 1859 he’s become a publican (how’s that for ‘serving spirits’??!). Question is, did Caroline know who her father was and was unashamedly naming him… or was the name just made up? Did her mother know?
I’ve been toying with it for years but I finally sent off the paperwork (and cheque!), so I begin my way up the Undergraduate ladder.
At the moment, my first module of study could lead me to a BA in History, a BA in Humanities or even an Open Degree (that would enable me to study both History and Psychology and would award a BA or BSc depending on how many points in which type of study modules I am awarded most).
My first module is in Family History and will see me looking at things like deciphering photography, primary sources and secondary sources.