Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farewell Ange, hello London

Sadly, I said goodbye to Ange and Paul at Totten, after spending a total of 12 days with them.  What a generous couple they are - I had a brilliant time, and it was nice to hear Ange say she enjoyed every minute of it.

Ange drove me everywhere, often with Paul, and they liked visiting the museums - most of us don't do it often enough in our home towns and they are no exception.

The train journey from Southampton to Clapham Junction took only an hour and 13 minutes.

Clapham Common tube station
So here I am in London, staying at the Clapham Guesthouse on the Wandsworth Road.  It is a clean and friendly place, but rather a scruffy district on the main road.  But walk towards Clapham Common (about 15 minutes walk away) and it is entirely different, a very pleasant district.  Not cheap to live there either.

I spent the evening planning my day, but changed it after going to the London Eye.  I was so lucky - I booked a flexi- ticket about six days ago - meaning I could take the tour any time of day as long as it was today, Tuesday.

The weather was perfect - 23 degrees and sunny, with no breeze.  No need for a jacket.

At the London Eye, we were first shown a 4D overview.  Not only could we almost touch the seagulls flying past, but we were hit by "spray" and by fireworks coming straight for us.  Very realistic.

I loved the Eye.  It was very slow so that photos could be easily taken.  A marvellous view.

I never tire of this view of Big Ben.
I then wandered across the bridge to Westminster to Parliament Square.  There is always a demonstration or two at the Square.

I'd never visited Westminster Abbey on my previous trips, so it was good to finally see the tomb of Elizabeth I and other monarchs, and to visit Poets' Corner.

My final place of interest today was the Docklands Museum (associated with the Museum of London) at Canary Wharf.  This entailed me travelling on the Jubilee Line Extension.  I found it interesting that the train line is behind a glass barrier, which is sensible.  If I have any phobia, it is about feeling unsafe on the Underground platforms, particularly in large crowds.  I felt much better on those platforms.  It just means that the platform doors and the train doors open simultaneously.  Aren't the drivers clever lining them up neatly!

Unfortunately my camera battery died at Westminster, so I was unable to obtain photos at Canary Wharf.  But you can check it out at

The whole place is really impressive.  There is a huge shopping centre leading from the underground station towards the river.  The museum is fantastic.  The first stage is about the river as a port, starting in Roman times to the present day.  There is a very thought-provoking exhibition about slavery and the sugar trade, and also a smelly wander through a sailors's ghetto.  Not pleasant at all, very creepy.

And so much more.  I was worn out by the time I finished looking at everything.

So I wandered outside to the West India Quay, beside a canal built in 1802 so that goods could be brought right up to specially built warehouses.  Only two of these very large warehouses survived the war.  The Museum is in one of them, and the remainder of the buildings are now mostly restaurants.  It reminded me of a very upmarket Darling Harbour.

It was about 6pm by the time I finished at the Museum, and since I wanted to miss the worst of the peak hour on the trains, I had a nice light bite to eat (crab cakes and salad) and a gin and tonic at the Quay.  Very pleasant and so was the weather.  I certainly didn't need a jacket today.

I then caught the light rail from West India Quay to Bank, and changed to the Northern line back to Clapham Common.

A VERY pleasant day - albeit on my own for the first time in a month.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Finding the Tucker ancestral villages in the New Forest

For my last full day in Southampton, Ange and Paul drove me to Minstead in the New Forest.  In the early and mid 1700s, my Tucker ancestors lived in Minstead.

Many Tucker marriages and baptisms took place here.

Here is the baptismal font in All Saints Church, Minstead which dates from 1292.  The core of the church is very much the same as it always was and the church pews date from the 1700s.  There are sections with fireplaces for the local squires.

However the church building is one of the ugliest I have seen, with part of it painted cream but obviously not finished. The square tower is Georgian.

Doubtless, there are Tuckers buried here, but the gravestones from that time are too weathered to read.

I imagine the local children have fun playing in this tree.

Was this the Tucker farm?

We then journeyed on to Fritham which is a scattered and very small settlement attached to Bramshaw.  One of my William Tuckers had a farm at Fritham which he bequeathed to his wife Mary upon his death in 1712.

So my Tucker ancestors lived in the depths of the New Forest - it is a beautiful place.  However, in winter I imagine they were snowbound for considerable periods.  I wonder how many of them were able to travel by horse and cart?  Not many I suppose.

As we travelled, we came across many horses and cows on the open land and on the roads.  Here are some:

We stopped at a little village called Burley, near Ringwood for an icecream.  The village has been taken over by tourist shops and cafes, rather spoiled really, but still very pleasant.

A pretty house at Burley

Close of day for the tourist shops in Burley

John Rose and his tithe offering at St Marys church

Many of you will know that my favourite ancestor is my 3 x great grandfather John Rose 1804-1884 of Southampton.  I recently researched and wrote a 19 page booklet about him.

My quest started when I made contact with Moira, my fourth cousin in Cornwall, who I met in Dorchester for the first time last Saturday.  Moira had sent me a news clipping from the 1930s, celebrating an event which took place in 1839 at St Marys Church, Southampton.

My ancestors would have walked through this door

In 1836 England introduced the Tithe Commutation Act which replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in kind (for example, produce) with monetary payments.  So the issue of the fairness or otherwise of tithes was a significant issue in 1839 when this incident took place.

By 1839, John Rose had sired ten sons by his wife Isabella, and no daughters.  Only one had died in early childhood.  He named his 10th son, baptised on 9th September 1838 at St Marys Church: Guilford North Rose, after the church rector, Francis North, 6th Earl of Guilford.

The rector, Francis North was the formal rector of a number of churches in Hampshire, and was in the habit of giving an annual sermon once a year, where he collected the tithes due to him.  For the rest of the year, the church was left in the hands of a curate who was paid a lowly salary.

On the appointed day, John Rose approached the rector with his tenth son in his arms, handed him to the Earl and suggested he take the child as John Rose's tithe.  The Earl had been fussing over the babe, but upon hearing John Rose's request, promptly handed him back.

John Rose later wrote a poem, which he sold very successfully as a pamphlet.  Here it is:

A letter to the Hon. And Rev. the Earl of Guil(d)ford (sic), Wiltshire Park, Dover

I’m certain your Lordship would hardly suppose
You’d receive an Epistle in verse from JOHN ROSE
Well-known in Southampton, whiled courting the muse,
As Father of Children and Vendor of News.

Ah, hinc illoe Lachrymoe! One thing is sure.
Though in young ones I’m rich, in the pocket I’m poor.

Sad drawback it is on connubial joys
Ten bantlings to rear – and the whole of them boys,
Everyone of them hearty, my Lord, and no question
With appetites keen and unfailing digestion;
And who, as to eating, though not over-nice,
Would make a sirloin disappear in a trice.
Your feelings, my Lord, I had no wish to shock
When I offered you lately a TITHE OF MY FLOCK –
A fine chubby lad which, as flower of the crew.
Guildford North I have christened him, in honour of you.

And I fervently hope, though the last of the race,
That – much honoured name he will never disgrace.
Now, My Lord, it would make my paternal heart glad
If you’d kindly consent to provide for the lad,
And to the rich bower, where your lordship reposes,
Would transplant this fair sample, the Flower of the ROSES.

But your Lordship may say: “Now my feelings you touch,
And truly John Rose, you are asking too much.
Were I to provide for each brat that is born,
Every ROSE in the lot would be turned to a thorn,
And the whole of the wealth of the County of Hants,
Would be quite insufficient to cover their wants.

This poem and a covering story was provided to the Southern Daily Echo by Mrs Frederick (Amy) Walbridge, a daughter of Guil(d)ford North Rose 1838-1900 in the 1930s.  She well remembers her grandfather John Rose and her father having a chuckle about this story, especially when discussion of tithes arose.

When Ange and I went to look at the church yesterday and try and find the graveyard and parish workhouse, we were yet again astonished that this church was not destroyed in the 1940 blitz of Southampton.  It is surrounded by buildings dated from the 1960s, a sure sign of the extensive bombing in that area.

John Rose's father Simon Rose was buried in the churchyard in 1820, but there is no sign of any graves.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A day in Dorchester with Moira and John

Today I met another fourth cousin Moira who is also descended from John Rose of Southampton.  She and her husband John travelled from north Cornwall and we met in Dorchester, a lovely old Roman town in Dorset.  I caught the train down from Southampton, taking 70 minutes.

John and Moira

I have known Moira for about four years through our family history research, but we have never before had the chance to meet.  Some years ago, she posted me a newspaper clipping about John Rose, which sparked my interest in researching him further, resulting in my 19 page biography which I distributed to various cousins.

They picked me up at the station, and we made a beeline to an olde worlde coffee shop.  Morning tea morphed into lunch, whilst we talked about their visit to Australia a few years ago, my trip and our mutual enthusiasm for our ancestor John Rose.

We then walked around the town.  There was a good market in the street adjacent to the High Street, and it was "heaving" as they say over here.  In other words, crowded and buzzing.

The Old Tea Rooms, built 1635

There are more photos on Facebook for those interested.

Ange (who really spoils me) picked me up at the station, and then cooked a chicken supreme casserole and apple and blackberry crumble with custard.  Both Paul and I were VERY appreciative.

She's a great cook!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A day in Winchester

I've never before been to Winchester, so I was looking forward to our visit there today.  Ange drove me of course and she and Paul enjoyed it too.  Mind you, Paul doesn't like wheeling around Winchester - too many cobble stones and rough footpaths.

First we visited the Hampshire Regiment Museum.  My grandfather was a volunteer (territorial) in the regiment from 1900-1908, and I think my great grandfather was too, although I can find no record of his service.  We also have a teaspoon at home inscribed Hampshire Regiment  South Africa 1900-02 which suggests my grandfather went to the Boer War, but there is nothing else to suggest he did.  And he was at home in 1901 for the census.

Military school in the 1800s

Here is a detail from the museum.  My father remembers his grandfather having a portrait of himself as a redcoat in his house.  He was a sergeant, and described as such when he entered rifle competitions for the Hampshire Regiment.  Maybe he never went abroad???

After this, we drove to the Hampshire Records Office where both Ange and I wanted to do some research.

I found heaps of Tucker baptisms in Minstead parish in the 1600s and 1700s - seemed as though there were four brothers: William, Thomas, George and John - so I have plenty of puzzles to sort out.

I also looked at the Bramshaw parish records, and that was very disappointing.  The records are on microfiche but the originals were really badly damaged by water, and as well as that, much of the handwriting was appalling.

The day flew by, and at 4.30 we drove around Winchester and stopped at the Cathedral for a photo opportunity.

Street view near the cathedral.
Winchester is a lovely place - I must return some day.  There are more photos on Facebook.

Paul is totally absorbed in the European Cup at the moment, and is VERY excited - England is playing Sweden right now, leading 1-0 - and I've been turfed out of "my bedroom", with my mattress upended so he can watch the match on the big screen.

Paul is a Southampton supporter (soccer of course) and goes to matches whenever they are playing at home.  He's always writing letters to the chairman about access issues, and lack of invitations for disabled members to attend lunch with the chairman!

Tomorrow I'm off to Dorchester by train to meet another distant cousin who helped me with research.

Friday, June 15, 2012

SeaCity at Southampton

Linda and Peter, Ange and Paul - dear friends and cousins
This morning, Linda and Peter drove me down to Totton near the New Forest, where I am once again staying with Ange and Paul.

After a welcome cup of coffee, it was time to say goodbye till who knows when to Linda and Peter.  They'd love to come out to see me and Australia, but it's a bit of a worry in Europe right now.  But we'll definitely see each other again.  I love them heaps.

The old court house converted
As soon as they left to drive back to Sussex, Ange, Paul and I drove into Southampton to visit the SeaCity Museum.  This is a brand new museum which has replaced two older museums - the Maritime Museum and the God's House Museum.  This year is the anniversary - as if we didn't know - of the Titanic Disaster, and this museum is dedicated to just that, but is much more as well.  It has a history of the different groups of people who moved through Southampton on their way to somewhere else - soldiers off to war, Basque children coming temporarily in 1937, Russian emigrants arriving overland to travel to far off places, ten pound Poms on their way to Australia....

Replica of a 2nd class cabin on the Titanic

We had a very happy three hours wandering through the museum and all agreed that it would take two or three visits to see it all and maybe more to absorb it.

The vast majority of the crew of the Titanic - employees of the White Star Line - were residents of Southampton, and less than a third survived.  The dots show where these crew members who lost their lives lived.

As we came away, it started sprinkling, and now the rain is once more setting in, and the forecast is for it to keep up until at least I leave England - less than a week now.

In eight days time I will be home.

In just a couple of hours, Parramatta Computer Pals for Seniors will be holding their June monthly meeting, the second that I have missed.  I will be thinking of you all!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Tucker girls

Margaret, Linda and Sarah - all Tuckers, all related
When I started tracing my father's ancestors in 2006, I put the family tree on Genes Reunited, and within 12 months I had found Linda (Tucker) in Sussex - my second cousin - and Sarah (Tucker) in Surrey.  Sarah is Linda and my fourth cousin once removed.

We all share an ancestor William Tucker, born in Hamptworth near Downton, Wiltshire in 1764.  Linda and I also share great grandparents, George William Tucker and Agnes Mary Hardy, born in Southampton.

I first met Linda and her husband Peter when John and I came to England in 2008.  However, although Sarah and I have been Facebook friends since about the same time, we have never managed to meet.

So tonight we did it!  I'm currently staying at Linda and Peter's in Angmering, Sussex, so we arranged to meet about half way between there and Sarah's place at Hindhead, Surrey.  Sarah suggested the Keeper's Arms at Trotten, three miles the other side of Midhurst, Sussex.  Sarah's neice Thais, who also works at the Keeper's Arms on Sundays joined us, and we had great service from her Romanian friend Ali who works there full time.

You can tell we had a hoot of a time.  You'd think we'd known each other for years.  We have at least one trait in common.  We all talk nineteen to the dozen.  Poor Peter.  But he bore it with fortitude, and even looked like he was enjoying himself.

Now we just need to persuade Linda to join us on Facebook.  I think this time we might succeed.

If you want to know more about our ancestors, check out my other blog:  Tuckers of Southampton, Bramshaw and Downton.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kent with Alex and Viv - more cousins!

Alex and Viv Palmer
Well, I left cold, windy and wet Barnsley on Saturday, and three trains later, arrived at Banbury  where my cousins Tracey and Trish (Pat) picked me up at the station, and we had a quiet night in with Ray who whilst recovering well from his heart operation, had had a bad couple of days.  He'd been out trimming his privet hedge, not an ideal task for an asthmatic.

They'd been expecting rain, but it didn't eventuate.  A  brief reprieve, since it's been raining ever since!  Our newly discovered mutual cousin Alex and his wife Viv arrived mid morning on Sunday, were introduced and Ray filled them in on much of our family history.  Ray was the only other cousin who'd grown up in England, since the rest of the aunts and cousins were spread around the world.

So now I was off on a new adventure, with yet another second cousin.  Alex is a descendant of the youngest Reed sister Jessie.  In 1910, she married a Hampshire and ultimate English test cricketer, Alexander Stuart Kennedy, and a daughter Mary (Mollie) Stuart Kennedy was born in our great grandfather's house in London Rd, Southampton.  She was my dad's first cousin.

My dad, being cricket mad, had always remembered that his aunt had married a professional cricketer.

Alex Kennedy 1891-1959
In the early 1920s, with Alex Kennedy coaching and playing test cricket for England in South Africa, the family moved to Cape Town.  My dad saw his Aunt Jessie and cousin Mollie and new cousin Jean, a baby in Cape Town on his way to Australia by ship in 1925.  At that stage, Jessie and Alex's marriage was breaking up, and Mollie was later taken back to England by her father, and had nothing to do with the family back in South Africa.

Mollie marries John Palmer
Mollie later married, and young Alex and his brother were born after the second world war.  In 1962, Mollie died suddenly, having told Alex nothing about her life.  Or the boys didn't remember!  There were very few photos.

Meanwhile, Jessie had remarried in Cape Town, had three more children besides young Jean (who had been given into the custody of her father Alex Kennedy, but remained with Jessie).  They moved to Zimbabwe at some point, and their descendants are now scattered over at least three continents - Australia, Africa and Britain. 

Before I left Australia, I had sent Alex some photos that my "South African" second cousins had sent me.  One was of his mother with young Jean, obviously taken not long before she came back to England.

He was very touched by this, and we agreed to meet.  He later suggested that I come and stay with them for a couple of nights in Kent, hence his drive up to Banbury, and our drive back to Kent, where I had a wonderful time.

The Chaser Inn at Shpbourne (pronounced Chivan)

Alex and Viv live in a very small village near Sevenoaks, just 2-3 miles from Ightham where my mother's birth mother was born.

The Golding Hop at Plaxtol, Kent
We stopped on the way home at the Chaser Inn near Ightham for a very pleasant dinner, and then called in at Alex's local pub, The Golding Hop, which has one of the few remaining licences to brew their own cider.

Eddie the publican was able to tell us where the Bewley Farm was - his pub was just around the corner from Bewley Lane.

The reason I was interested in this was that Bewley Farm Ightham was the very place my great grandmother Annie Ashby, the daughter of Cornelius Palmer and Elizabeth Ashby was born.

This is really strange because my ancestor Kate Elizabeth Palmer (my birth grandmother) and Alex shared the same surname!  But no relation, since Alex's Palmer family comes from Southampton.

The Bewley farm was obviously a big piece of land, because there is a Bewley Farmhouse, a Bewley Lane and a Bewley Lane house.  No doubt, my ancestor was born in a long lost hovel on the farm.  They were poor agricultural labourers.

The following day - Monday - we set off after an early lunch for sightseeing in the rain.  But that didn't matter much because the countryside is beautiful and we saw some magnificent buildings. 

St Peters church, Ightham Kent

First we went to St Peters Church, Ightham where my Palmer and Ashby ancestors were baptised, married (if they bothered) and buried.

Nut Tree House

We stopped at Nut Tree House at Ightham.

We then had a look at Soar Manor, a remarkably well preserved knight's house from 1290.

Ightham Mote

But the highlight of our local tour was a visit to Ightham Mote, which I had thought was just a moat with some green fields.  No such thing.  It is "gobsmackingly magnificent" as I told the first guide I saw.  It is managed by the National Trust.  Here it is.

The Mote itself.

Viv and Margaret at Ightham Mote.

Those Roses in the courtyard smelt just wonderful.

We were able to see right through the house.  It was built and restored over many centuries, and was owned by an American who loved all things English.  He had never married and left the house to the nation.  It has been extensively restored and is one of the few historic houses that pays its own way through entrance fees.

After this Alex and Viv had arranged for the whole family - their son Simon, daughter Sarah and her two young sons - sports crazy Thomas (11) and William (9) to meet me over tea at the St Julian's Club at Sevenoaks.  Another very pleasant evening indeed.

This morning I slept in till 10 am!  Alex and Viv had offered to drive me down to Angmering in Sussex where I was once again staying with Linda and Peter.  (Linda is my cousin on my dad's side, and we share our maiden names.)  So after a quiet morning and a good lunch, I said goodbye to beautiful Kent and we made our way south to Sussex.

I'm sure I'll see Alex and Viv again one day - I certainly hope so.  A lovely couple.  And between us, we identified quite a few photos of Alex's mother Mollie.  

Here is one that is very precious.  The message from her mother is very poignant:  
"Be good sweet Maid
And let who will be clever,
Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long
With heaps of love from Mum and baby.
After this, mother, baby (Jean) and sweet maid (Mollie) were separated - forever.

Ray Bayford told us the other day that Jessie, Mollie's mother visited his grandmother Alice in London sometime before her death in 1955 and he was introduced as a young boy.  Whether she saw Mollie again, we'll never know.

And now I'm able to catch up with my blog!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chasing John's ancestral villages and streets in Yorkshire

Margaret & Claire - Facebook friends
When I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to Barnsley in Yorkshire to take some photos for John and see what records I could find, my friend Claire who lives near Leeds offered to drive me around for the day.

Claire and I met on Genes Reunited about 2008 when I was tracking down an English test cricketer, Alexander Stuart Kennedy, who is connected to both our families.  We are not related, but found each other's information interesting and later became friends on Facebook.  Both of us are sociable beings, you might say.  Claire also likes investigating her family history.

I am staying at the Premier Inn, and it appears to be built on the top of a cliff in Barnsley - a considerable drop from the ground floor on one side.  Nice place, very friendly and feel quite comfortable on my own.  The rooms are very similar to our three or four star motel rooms in Australia.  VERY different from my hotel room in London, which was old and poky.

We started by driving to Dodworth (pronounced "Doddeth") just two miles out of Barnsley - a village which is now a commuter suburb.  However Dodworth Green, where John's gg grandfather was born to Joshua and Mary Moakson in 1790 is still very much a small community and very pretty.

The cottages opposite are from the 1700s.

The church was built in 1844, which is well after the Moakson family lived there.

We had a great yarn to a resident who was working in his garden, and he told us which houses and other buildings were there in the 1700s and which were built later.

The Enclosures Act affected the villages around Dodworth in the late 1700s - earlier than other counties.  The land was owned by the Osborne family, the Dukes of Leeds. Common folk were excluded from using the land, some became tenant farmers, others became agricultural labourers on farms or day labourers.  Of course coal mining became a big industry in the early 19th century, as did the linen weaving factories.  The land is now mainly agricultural.

We then drove on through Silkstone which is a big village where John and I visited in 2008.  It contains the church - All Saints Silkstone with Stainborough where Isaac Moxon of Dodworth Green was baptised.

Hoylandswaine is just another couple of miles further towards Penistone - we had lunch there.

We found a very nice pub with good fish and chips (for me) and icecream - of course.

Hunshelf, where Sarah Middleton, later Moxon (John's gg grandmother) said she was born.  This is a very bleak farming community - not even a village.

Poor Sarah - she didn't marry well, since Isaac Moxon was everything from a "publican" - probably inflated job title - to a gentleman's servant (on Sarah's death certificate) and she ended up a "pauper - laundress" on the 1851 and 1861 census.

She lived in Wortley Street, Barnsley as a widow.  The street is still there, and looks as ugly as it probably always was.

St George's church, Barnsley, demolished 1993
Isaac had died in 1850 and she was left to look after two small boys, Joshua and John. He was buried at St George's church, Barnsley.  It is very close to Wortley Street, but there is now a major road in between.

Joshua became a stone mason and came to Australia in 1867, the same year his mother died.  But he had already made a career for himself in London prior to migrating with his young family.

Claire and I had afternoon tea back at the Premier Inn, and then it was time to say goodbye.

I felt as though I'd known her for a long time, although this was the first time we'd met in person.  It was so nice of her to drive me around - something that would have been impossible on my own - or even in a motor home - John and I had driven through Barnsley on our last trip, and found nowhere to park.

Claire had never been to Barnsley before, so she was unfamiliar with this part of Yorkshire, but she had a trusty satnav which came in very handy.

First of three volumes I purchased today.
After she said goodbye, just before 4pm, I wandered down to the main shopping centre in search of a bookshop with local history books.  When I asked if there was a Waterstone's bookshop in town, even the locals were derisive!  In Barnsley!  Good grief!  I ended up finally at the Barnsley Chronicle, quite the other side of town.  And found the office locked!  And not open Saturdays!

I rapped the door, since it was not supposed to close until 5pm, and some very gracious cleaners opened up, and with the help of phone conversations with the office manager, I managed to pay cash for five books, and even got a 25% discount!  I said they should ask for double their salaries.

So to eat, and then to bed to download and edit the photos, and write this blog.

Tomorrow morning I will check out early and spend time in the library's Local History Archive which opens at 9.30 am.  My train to Banbury is not till sometime after mid-day.