From Suffolk to Scotland Yard

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”

Who Was Harriet Horlock? Part 2: The Skeleton in the Cupboard

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”

James Benwell – a Humble Son of Science

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”

Mabel Maultby – a WW2 Nurse and Civilian Casualty

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”

A Double Murder Attempt in Drayton

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”

One Wedding, One Fake Marriage, and No Funeral

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”

Raised by an Aunt & Uncle Part 2: A Transatlantic Record

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”

Raised by an Aunt & Uncle Part 1: The Mysterious Locket

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 Sniffs Out a Criminal

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”

Queen Alexandra, a Progressive Police Orphanage, and a Royal Affair

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”