Every life story is extraordinary.
The 1798 Buckinghamshire posse comitatus gave me a valuable window into my deep Bucks ancestry.
The Life & Career of George Read, a Victorian Thames River Policeman In December 1888, Detective-Inspector George Read of the Metropolitan Police Thames Division (CID) retired after 33 years of service. So considerable was the respect for him in the local business community that a committee – which included everyone from shipping merchants to bargeContinue reading “From Suffolk to Scotland Yard”
In Part 1 of this story, I shared a genealogy journey that began years ago with a letter from my husband’s late grandfather, which included some very juicy stories about an elusive ancestor called Harriet … and finally led this year to the discovery of her place within the family tree. Harriet turned out toContinue reading “Who Was Harriet Horlock? Part 2: The Skeleton in the Cupboard”
I have a tantalising family legend I’ve wanted to tell, which includes generations of independent women, rumours of royal affairs, emigration to America, a letter to the President, and even the birth of the movie industry. However, the relationships between members of this family are so confusing that I have been hesitant to share it.Continue reading “Who Was Harriet Horlock? Part 1: A Genealogical Puzzle”
201 years ago, when James Benwell died at the good old age of 84, he was a well-known character in Oxford. He’s since been almost entirely forgotten, but he deserves to be remembered. I’m going to start my story in 1817, when James was nearing the end of his life. That year, an extraordinary letterContinue reading “James Benwell – a Humble Son of Science”
In honour of Nurses Day yesterday and the 75th anniversary of VE Day last week I would like to pay my respects to my ancestor, Mabel Annie Maultby. Though not a close relation, Mabel’s story particularly touched me. Mabel’s father Sidney Skinner Maultby, an Inspector of Weights and Measures, was the first cousin of myContinue reading “Mabel Maultby – a WW2 Nurse and Civilian Casualty”
This week I’ve been investigating an event that took place in my village in 1876 – a crime ‘so unparalleled in that neighbourhood that it occasioned quite a thrilling sensation’! On 30 December, 1876, a ‘tragical occurrence’ took place in Drayton (now in Oxon but then in Berks), when a young man named Benjamin MarshallContinue reading “A Double Murder Attempt in Drayton”
An Ancestor Who Vanished Into Thin Air Two weeks ago, Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge started a four-week theme series of Water, Fire, Air, and Land. Purely coincidentally, I wrote about drownings in the Thames in water week, and in fire week I wrote about an ancestor whose job was theContinue reading “One Wedding, One Fake Marriage, and No Funeral”
On Thursday night at 8 pm my son and husband played ukelele and my daughter and I sang in a family rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow‘ on our front porch, as neighbours all around us clapped for our NHS, healthcare and other essential workers. Throughout our village, and around the world, the rainbow has becomeContinue reading “The Lightning Rod of Esculapius Wood”
Drownings & Burials in 18th Century Deptford I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately poring over the parish records for St Nicholas’ church in Deptford searching for the burial of an ancestor, shipwright William Saword (b. 1700). His wife Deborah was buried there in 1772 but I can’t find any burial for him.Continue reading “A Person Unknown Drowned In the Thames”
In 1928, my granny (my dad’s mother) broke several records at the tender age of 19 months. This is the story of how she came to be on the front pages of several Canadian newspapers, and what happened next. The story begins with my great grandmother, Annie Margaret Munday. Annie was born in Aylesbury, Bucks,Continue reading “Raised by an Aunt & Uncle Part 2: A Transatlantic Record”
When you find a child missing from a census, the first assumption is probably that the child has died. Sadly, this was far too often the case. Sometimes though, they were living with other family members. You might even find them with a grandparent living right next door, where there was more space! Of course,Continue reading “Raised by an Aunt & Uncle Part 1: The Mysterious Locket”
Geagle Badcock (c1724-1802) was the Cook of Pembroke College, Oxford for more than 50 years in the 1700s. I love his name, and imagine that even if he was an excellent chef, some cheeky scholar would have nicknamed him ‘Geagle Badcook‘. In 1776, when he was about 47, Geagle placed an extraordinary advertisement in Jackson’sContinue reading “Geagle Badcock Sniffs Out a Criminal”
Have you ever contributed to a crowdfunding campaign to support a startup, community project or someone in need? It might seem like a new idea, but in fact, people had similar ways of fundraising for causes and ideas 250 years ago! In the 1700s-1800s crowdfunding for a new product or project was commonly called ‘publicContinue reading “Crowdfunding – Georgian Style”
Last week I got my DNA results back from Ancestry.com. I’ve been doing document-based genealogy for 30+ years but I’m unfashionably late to the party with DNA testing. Unlike most of my American friends, whose DNA would be a colourful and exciting melting pot, I was fully expecting mine to be primarily English and quite boring. However,Continue reading “Wot No German DNA?”
Workhouses have a reputation for cruelty and despair. After watching the BBC’s edgy new production of a Christmas Carol yesterday, and the (not at all edgy) Muppet version today, I’ve been reminded of Scrooge’s famous commentary on the workhouses; his appalling lack of empathy for the poor still resonates in 2019: “At this festive seasonContinue reading “Christmas Cheer in the Workhouse”
Last year my daughter found an algae-covered claypipe bowl head in the Letcombe Brook in Wantage. We cleaned it up and I realised it was the lovely face of Queen Alexandra (Alexandra of Denmark), who had visited Wantage in 1877 when she was Princess of Wales (a title she held for 38 years until theContinue reading “Queen Alexandra, a Progressive Police Orphanage, and a Royal Affair”
This week I became a reader at the British Library, and I want to tell you the steps I went through (spoilers: it was easy!) A friend suggested meeting at the British Library to see the Buddhism exhibition. Great, said I (since I had heard really good things about it) but would you mind ifContinue reading “I’m a British Library reader! And you can be one too!”
Hi! I’m Clare and I love genealogy, social history, and writing. Born in England, I moved to California in 2001 and stayed there for 16 years. I loved life in California but I always missed old buildings and graveyards! Since I returned to the UK in 2017 I’ve been spending as much time as possibleContinue reading “Welcome to my blog!”
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