Thursday, November 19, 2015

Walsh family breakthrough


Searching a common name like Walsh in the wilds of rural Connemara Ireland can be a challenge to say the least.  Add in common names like Mary, Patrick, William and Bridget -- and you get a big headache and a lot of brickwalls. 

Thankfully DNA has come to the rescue and helped me discover a NEW sibling of my Great Grandfather, Patrick Walsh (born about 1844).

A few months ago I got a 2nd cousin hit on Ancestry DNA from a Craig Walsh.  I asked him to transfer his data to FamilyTreeDNA and GedMatch, and voila, he matched other known Walsh cousins at a further distance.  From his information his Grandfather was born in Letterfir, Co. Galway.  It is not too far from my Gt Grandfather's small village of Muckanaghkillew, so looked promising.  Now to try and find the link!

I forwarded the message to a cousin in Galway, who said "Letterfir is just up the road, and there is a Walsh family there".  He promised to go and visit and see what he could find out.  Heard back from him today, and what a bonanza!!!

 "I took a walk today up to Letterfir   I went  ill prepared because I thought of all the questions I should have asked on the walk back any way here is what I learned from John Walsh who is still living there . His grandfather Peadar was a brother of Paidin Liam Walsh  from Muckinagh coille , he moved to Letterfir  circa 1850 , he married when he was 21 to Norah Connelly from Cnoc na Greine near Furbo and they had 11 children . Dudley , Craigs Grandfather would be one of them". 

From this information I was able to find Peadar's marriage n 1865, and the baptism of the first 5 children, and filled in the rest of the children's names from the 1901 and 1911 census. They were the only family living in Letterfir for both years. Peadar was born about 1839, if his age in 1911 is accurate, so he would be an older brother of my Great Grandfather.

So now I have a new Great Grand Uncle and 11 new cousins!!  Now to try and track all their descendants! Amazing that my family lived through the famine in this rocky, remote part of Ireland

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Grandfather Toulson -- genealogy bonanza

It's been a week of genealogy bonanzas.....and today was the ultimate!!!  On a visit to see my 94 year old Uncle and his 90 year old wife, I gleaned some great nuggets about my Grandfather (who died long before I was born), and even a PHOTO!!!!

I'd always heard the story that my Grandfather was about to emigrate to Australia, but met my Grandmother, got her pregnant, married her and stayed put in California.  My Uncle said (completely unprovoked about this story), that as a young Farm Boy, he and a friend had flipped a coin to determine whether they'd emigrate to America or Australia from England.  America won the coin toss, but maybe Australia was never far from his mind (or after 20 years in America, he was ready for a new adventure).

This means I could've been an Aussie!!! Which may explain my obsession with Oz!!!  I've been there 6 times and absolutely love it!

When quizzed about what she remembered about my Grandfather, my Aunt said "I think he's in my wedding photos" --- what???!!!! OMG!!!!  We finally found her wedding album from 1945, and lo and behold there he is!!!  I'd never seen any of these photos, and I'd never seen a photo of my Grandfather without a hat on!!!

She said he was shorter than his boys, thin, wiry, quiet but very friendly. She also said that he was convinced his first Grandchild, my cousin was going to be a champion jockey, since he was small with bandy legs and lots of energy!  (That didn't turn out to be true, but I think he was projecting -- since he loved the horses, and died on his way to the track!)

This is the same Aunt that also produced an Autograph Book that my Grandmother had brought over from England in 1915!!!  What other treasures does she have???!!!!

Bottallack Mine Disaster -- Poldark popularity and my ancestors that died there

With the popularity of the BBC and PBS drama "Poldark" there has been much interest in the scenic Cornish coastline where it was filmed.  A central theme of the show is the mining industry and the hardships of the miners.  One of the mines used in the show is the Bottallack mine, near Pendeen, Cornwall.  This was the site of a mine disaster in April 1863, where 7 men and 1 boy were killed by the breaking of the drawing chain.

Those who lost their lives were:-
John Chapple aged 50 years of Naucherrow who left a widow and several children. He was a widower and his wife a widow when they re-married.
John Chapple aged 16 years, his eldest son.
Peter Eddy aged 17 years of Nancherrow, the son of a widow with six or seven other children. Michael Nicholas of Botallack who left a widow and seven children. (His widow, Elizabeth Ann Thomas - my 7th cousin 4x removed)
John Eddy of Botallack aged 18 years.
Thomas Wall aged 46 years of Carnyorth who left a widow and several children.
Richard Wall aged 19 years, his son.
Thomas Nankervis of Trewellard. He had worked in the Wheal Hazard part of the mine but this was his first day in this mine. (My 6th cousin 3x removed)
Richard Nankervis of Bojcwyan

I can only imagine how this affected the whole community.  There was a collection fund for the widows and orphans, but money can't replace a loved one.  Some of the Nicholas family, without benefit of a Father, did what many did -- emigrate to Australia.

Another mine disaster, at the Levant Mine in 1919 affected even closer family members.  My 1st cousin twice removed (Mt Great Grandmother's niece), Gracie White lost her husband John Kevern (he my 4th cousin twice removed).

Mell Family

Another random message via Ancestry --- someone inquiring about my Mell family.  Turns out she has PHOTOS!!!! Love when that happens.  She just sent over five photos -- including one of a 1st cousin 3x removed, Thomas Wesley Mell.  He was the son of my GG Grandmother's half brother.  Thomas was born about 1846 in Aunsby, Lincolnshire and died in 1926 in Iowa.  The family emigrated to Canada in the mid 1850's, and he lived in a variety of places, Canada, Kansas, Illinois and finally Iowa.

There are also several photos of his daughter, Emma Blanche Mell Ruple, who died in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Always so interesting to put photos to names!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mary Toulson to Australia.....a long journey with a sad ending

I love when a random inquiry comes in via Ancestry --- just the other day I had a message from a woman in Australia, asking if her ancestors marriage to a Mary Toulson was possibly one of my Mary's.

I had a quick look at the possibilities and did find a Mary Toulson that had "disappeared" after 1861.  I'm not sure if I'd assumed she married and didn't look very hard for a marriage or what. Because, lo and behold I immediately found a marriage for her in the Summer of 1862 in Grantham, to James Alexander Stow.  Makes perfect sense, as he lived in Caythorpe, and she lived in Hough on the Hill (neighboring villages).  It also makes sense, as her sister Alice Toulson married Samuel Stow, a brother of James Alexander Stow.  So, we have 2 Stow brothers marrying 2 Toulson sisters -- keeping it all in the family.

It looks like they married and immediately left for Australia.  Not sure if it was a "paid emigration" scheme by a Parish (to remove the poor from their rolls), or if it was by choice.  In any case, sure enough there is James and Mary Stow emigrating on the Ivanhoe from Southampton to Melbourne and arriving in Feb 1863.  And shortly thereafter, in April she gives birth and dies.  The child, John Henry Stow, lives a month and then dies in May 1863.  A long journey with a sad ending.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Eureka Moment!!!!

The newly released Catholic Parish registers from the National Library of Ireland have been an eye-test to be sure, but they are yielding some absolute gems!  One of those was the discovery of the marriage record from 1826 (yes, 1826!!!) of my GGG Aunt, Margaret "Peigen" Walsh to John Rainey in Gorumna Parish, Co. Galway.

We knew they were married, but didn't have a date or place.....and wouldn't have thought to look in Moyrus Parish -- and beyond that, Gorumna is not a Catholic Parish when most Catholic registers begin, as it is absorbed into Killanin or Killeen.

The witnesses are listed as Michael Walsh (probably her brother) and Peter Conneely.

This obviously set me off looking for other relatives in this old time Gorumna Parish (which unfortunately only has marriage records) -- and lo and behold, I found an Anne Walsh marrying Tom Folan in 1828 -- with the exact same witnesses, Michael Walsh and Peter Conneely.

This fits nicely as Folan's lived next to Walsh's in Lettercalla as early as 1850's in Griffiths Valuation. And there is a lot of  conflicts between the Walsh's and Folan's all through the 1800's in the Petty Session records.  Lots of throwing of stones, threatening each other with death by hatchett, etc.  So obviously there was some bad blood between them!!

Next up, can I find any of spring of Tom/Ann, to further prove the connection via naming patterns, etc.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Nee Family -- A Brick Wall Broken Through?????

A recent trip to Ireland proved to be a goldmine of genealogical discoveries.  Through I found a descendant from my Grandmothers village --- and met up with her in Galway.  The village only had 4 houses and 3 families -- all with the surname WALSH.  I've always been brick-walled at my GG Grandmother Mary Nee, who married into the Walsh family.  

Nee is a name in the general area, with a concentration in Rosmuc -- so I suspected she was from there, but that was just a guess.  She was born about 1820, so well before any Irish records.  She married before 1843, again before any records ....... I looked at some clues as to her children's baptismal sponsors, a Barbara Nee and a Mary Nee -- but still not much to go on.

I also knew that my Grandmother's brother had also married a Bridget Nee.  When I asked this new contact if she had any idea where the Nee's were from, she said Costello (or Casla in Irish).   This was somewhere I had NEVER looked!!!  It is just a bit south of my Grandmother's village, and she said that it wasn't that far a walk down the hill towards the sea. This all makes perfect sense, as it's closer than Rosmuc.   

So, when back in the States, I started trying to sort out any Nee's in the Casla area.  The parish is really called Derrynea or Doire Ne' (in Irish).  The Costello fisheries are in this area, and the Costello Lodge was a fishing lodge, that I found several Nee's working at.  Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any Tithe Applotment records for this area, and the Griffith's Valuation has residents of Costello Lodge, but no tennants..

 From, I checked the Petty Session Records and found records from 1857 - 1870 listing Pat Nee, Thomas Nee and Peter Nee, all of  Derrynea or Costello Lodge.   

I also found some marriages in the 1860's, which helped me get to birthdates in the late 1830's early 1840's and their Father's names. 

Thus I think I've found siblings to my Mary Nee born about 1820 -- which are:

Patrick Nee of Derrynea:
      son Thomas Nee b 1843 m. Sarah McDonagh in 1869
            had Peter b 1871 d 1959 m Anne Ridge of Lettermore na' Coille Feb 1915
                   Michael b 2 May 1875
                   Mary b 21 Nov 1880
                   John b 22 May 1887

Michael Nee of Derrynea:
      son Patrick Nee b 1839 m Mary Conroy of Rosmuck Nov 24 1865
      dau Anne Nee b 1843 (of Camus) m Michael Nee (Glencaugh)

Other Nee's --- 
       Patrick Nee of Carraroe m Mary Donnell on Nov 20 1865
           had Bridget b 11 July 1875 in Derrynea
           had Mary b 20 Oct 1872 in Derrynea

      Patrick Walsh and Margaret Walsh of Furmoyle
           had Bridget Walsh - bapt 21 Nov 1814, sponsors Rodger Walsh and Bridget Walsh
           had John  Walsh - bapt 14 July 1819, sponsors Martin Walsh and Honour Walsh
      Matthias Nee of Lettermuckoo b. abt 1810  (listed in Griffiths Valuation) m Ellen Conroy
           had Anthony b abt 1830 marries Bridge Nee in 1870
           had Anne b 16 Mar 1842 (witnesses Bridget Nee and Mark Canavan) marries Patrick McDonagh of Clynagh 3 Mar 1867
           had Barbara Nee b abt 1847 - marries Patrick Kean 1871 (witness Penelope Nee)
           had Penelope Nee b 6 Aug 1849

And from --- The Irish Dog License Registers - Derrynea Court:

Peter Nee 1911-1913 (Bealandangan)
Pat Nee 1907-1914  (Maumeen)
John Nee 1908-1913  (Bealandangan)
Anthony Nee 1902-1913  (Lettermuckoo)

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I know that I have a 4th Great Grandmother named Elizabeth Nixon.  She was born about 1734 in the vicinity of Grantham, Lincolnshire.  She and her parents have proven elusive. There are multiple Nixon families in the general area, all with similar common names, so that I cannot definitely sort out the family that Elizabeth belongs to.  I know she married in 1763 at St Wulfrum's Parish in Grantham, and is listed as "of the Parish".

But, recently I got a DNA hit -- at first there was only the names Hewson and King, which didn't mean anything to me, but when I did some checking the King line was from Fulbeck, Lincolnshire! Aha, I have direct Toulson ancestors in Fulbeck -- so there must be some connection.  I did some further research, and although this DNA match had a family tree -- it seemed to connect this Hewson/King family to another part of Lincolnshire, which I think can be disproved (two Elizabeth Kings born about same year - one from Pinchbeck and one from Fulbeck; and their family tree was going up the Pinchbeck trail).

When I followed the Elizabeth King of Fulbeck, I found her Mother was Sarah Nixon, the dau of Philip Nixon and Mary Musson (who married in Somerby, which is near Grantham).

The Somerby records start about 1730, and I don't see my Elizabeth Nixon in the records -- but it could be that I need to look at the surrounding parishes, such as Ropsley.

The DNA match is a distant cousin, so it's possible that Philip Nixon is a sibling to Elizabeth Nixon's father. Need to sort through the generations and make sure I'm lineing them up correctly.

I'm hoping I can solve this Nixon conundrum, because I've never been able to add anything to her line.  The other family I need to sort our is the MUSSON family, as Elizabeth Nixon's son Michael marries a Mary Musson.  I have her ancestors up two generations, but have had trouble tracing her siblings.

Now that there are some good Lincolnshire records on Findmypast. com --- this may become easier!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gt Gt Uncle Samuel Pearce --- Found at last, in New Zealand!!!

My Gt Grandfather's brother Samuel Pearse/Pearse has always eluded me.  He is last seen in the 1871 English Census, in Liskeard, Cornwall as a single, 23 year old Farm Laborer.  I always suspected that maybe he joined the Navy, since I have never been able to find him in subsequent censuses.  I wasn't able to find him in Navy records, sort of put him on the back burner, and moved on to other ancestors.

After a bit of a lapse in membership, I re-upped my Cornwall Family History Society membership, and had a quick look through their website.  Under the Monumental Inscriptions section, I put in Hurrell and Pearce in St. Ive.  I found some of my ancestors, that I already knew about, and then decided to look for Susanna Hurrell and her husband Henry Carew Pearse/Pearce, since I've never found their burials (despite having death registration dates).   No luck on Susanna, but lo and behold I found a Henry Pearce!!!

Henry PEARCE late of St Ive who died 26 Nov 1892 aged 78
erected by his son

Samuel PEARCE of New Zealand

What a gold mine!!!  This is clearly my Henry, as date and age and place make sense!  And to find out that son Samuel was in New Zealand approx 1892 has helped solve a long standing mystery. 

From there, I started searching for Samuel Pearce's in New Zealand -- found a few interesting possibilities. There is a assisted emigration for Samuel Pearce, age 25 of Cornwall, a Farm Laborer, and his wife Ann, age 29. They emigrated on "Salisbury" on 5 Oct 1873 from Plymouth.  This all makes some sense -- date and age wise. And to add to this, there is a marriage of a Samuel Pearse and Ann Hitchens in Liskeard Reg Dist in 4th Q 1873.  Ann Hitchens was a servant in Liskeard in 1871, born in St. Blazey --- so that makes sense also.  So, did they marry and then immediately set out for New Zealand, paid by the assisted emigration scheme???

I have sent off for the GRO Certificate for the marriage, to confirm Samuel's father is Henry.   UPDATE: Yes, his Father is listed as Henry Pearse, Farm Laborer on the GRO Marriage Certificate.

There is a possible burial in Sydenham for a Samuel and Ann, who appeared to have 2 daughters. Samuel's probate is online also.  

There are other possibilities in Electoral Rolls, and another possible burial in 1917 in Te Henui Cemetery in New Plymouth, NZ (North Island) in 1917 at age 69, which fits with his YOB.

More to follow....but so  excited to have finally found him!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Here's a colorful ancestor!!! John Mabbot, divorced by wife for taking up with her niece!

My Mabbot family from Lincolnshire isn't too remarkable -- most of them stayed in Lincolnshire, worked the land and had lots of kids. So, as I was going back through some of the family research that I had done long, checking for new records -- I stumbled across an Ancestry hint for John Mabbot, for a Divorce in London in 1874.

Divorce? In 1874? And in London?  This seemed like it couldn't possibly be my family......

Turned out it was a VERY interesting story! He was living in London in 1871, where he was a Horse Keeper, but his wife is listed as Jane.  The divorce document was filed by his wife, Mary in 1874, and details some pretty appalling behavior on his part --- drinking, physical abuse (including trying to strangle her in bed), desertion,in 1862, etc.

But the real shocker was that he had "habitually committed incestuous adultery" with Jane Gaby, Mary's niece.

Hard to say what the real story was -- but ultimately John and Jane had 5 children and married in 1875 after the divorce was final. Four of their children were born before the marriage, and one after. John lived on to the age of 76, and Jane to age maybe they ultimately had a happy life.

A Civil War Soldier in MY TREE????? But I'm Irish and English!

I'm a 2nd generation American, with all four of my Grandparents emigrating from England and Ireland just before World War One.   I have many Cornish ancestors who emigrated to Australia for the Gold Rush, and some Irish ancestors who emigrated after the Famine, but in general it seems my people tended to stay "home".   I've only found a few of my Lincolnshire ancestors that left the UK for Canada or the US.

So, imagine my surprise to run across an Ancestry tree for my ancestor Isaac Lindsey.  They had all sorts of exotic information (and photos) for this man.  Seemed hard to believe at first, but it all is well documented with sources to back it up.

He emigrated from England in 1854 or so,  from Liverpool to New York, listed as a Farmer.  He then shows up in Minnesota in 1870 Census.  Perhaps he was attracted by the advertisements for free land that appeared in England, to entice emigrants to the frontier.

His wife followed, and she must have perished, he joins the Union Army as a 40 year old Private in 1862, and is discharged for disability in 1863, and then returns to Minnesota and marries a widow with 3 children in 1869.   He and his new wife Louisa Jane Culver go on to have 9 children (the final child was born when Isaac was 69 years old).

And for some unknown reason, the entire family relocates sometime between 1885 and 1900 to Louisiana!

I think this just proves, you never know who in your family may have "up and left"!!  I have many an ancestor that just seem to disappear off the face of the earth, without leaving a death record, and maybe it's because I'm not looking broadly enough!

Isaac Lindsey left a huge number of descendents, and thankfully some of them have put his family tree online for me to discover my 2nd cousin 4 x removed!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Finding my 10th Great Grandparents ---- and OMG, a SMITH!!

In my rush to fill in my Devon ancestors, now that the Parish Registers are on Findmypast -- I've been busy finding grandparents right and left.   Today, I had a big breakthrough on the Luscombe line, and took it back 3 more generations ---and found, the genealogist's nightmare, a SMITH!

Oh, Lord......I've always had some pretty unusual surnames in my research, without too many common names --- until now.  The only saving grace is that her first name is Wilmoth.

So, my 10th Great Grandparents are:
WILMOTH SMITH and WILLIAM HINGESTON.  Married in 1571 in Charleton, Devon, England.

I added some other unusual names:  Winchelsey or Winchelsea  and Neele.

More research needed on these lines, but for now I'm pretty happy to have taken my Devon roots back into the mid 1500's!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Irish DNA Soup!!!

On to my Irish side of the family.........oh, what a tangled web!

Most people throw their hands up when faced with Irish ancestors, and say "all the records were burned", and give up!   This is so not true!!!  Yes, researching your Irish ancestors can be challenging, but it is possible, there are plenty of records, and you just need to hone your skills even further and dig in.

The advent of DNA testing, has been a huge help in my research and it has helped tie up some of my loose ends and prove some of my suppositions, that I couldn't prove through traditional records.

Irish research also requires the use of "oral history", since the records don't go back much further than 1800 or so.  I am lucky in that my Grandparents emigrated in the early 1900's, and several of their siblings stayed behind in Ireland, leaving many cousins still living in the area.

My roots are in Connemara, the rugged area west of the City of Galway.  Irish is the native tongue, and many people still speak it today.  Local nicknames are important, as it is often a mini-family tree in a name!  To identify people with common names (Mary Walsh, for example), people are often referred to by their first name, their father's first name, and even his father's name.  So someone might be called Mary Bill, or Mike Tony, or Martin Seamus Padraig.   This helps distinguish families in conversation and oral history, but not in the written records.  So the written records say Mary Walsh, father Patrick --- which isn't helpful, when trying to sort out your family tree!   Occasionally you may see a name written in parentheses on a record (i.e. Griffith's Valuation) to distinguish the Father of 2 landholders with the same name.  Another record source that I've used, is the cemetery inscription book --- in these, the nicknames are listed, as well as a bit of the the family line.

I've DNA tested with both and FamilyTree DNA.  Since I'm a female, I've only been able to do autosomnal testing, but I had a 2nd cousin test our male line (surname CONNOLLY/CONNEELY).  Since so many Irish emigrated, there are plenty of researchers here in the USA who've tested, to try and find their Irish roots.   Thus, leading to LOTS of matches. Sorting them all through is a challenge, which is compounded by the fact that there was a lot of inter-marriage between cousins (both close and distant), and the isolated nature of Connemara, means the gene pool was small and families tended to marry amongst their local area. 

Update: Not sure what the point of this blog post was originally, other than my utter confusion!!  I am still busy working, so only able to dip in and out of my genealogy research, and I feel like DNA requires my full concentration!!  Maybe by the time I retire, I will have lots of close matches and it will all be sorted out for me! Ha!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Parish Records at the National Library of Ireland

Ah, another quick trip to Dublin to consult the Roman Catholic Parish Registers......

Currently the only place these records can be viewed are at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. This is all due to change in the Summer of 2015, when Ireland will enter the digital age and put these up online for the public to consult at their leisure!  What a day that will be! I will hold my breath until that actually happens, knowing that things move SLOWLY in the genealogy world of Irish records.  And there won't be an index, so even online you will have to slog through the records (albeit at your leisure).

I have looked at these records on several trips to Dublin, but always in short bursts, since the Library's opening hours are limited, and one's vision can only take so much of peering at bad handwriting and faded, torn and stained pages.

The first few times I looked at the registers I was only looking for specific names in specific villages.  I took down those in a spreadsheet and have consulted that initial file countless times, but as my research has progressed I've found new names and new villages that are connected, so it's been back to Dublin, once again.

This trip I was concentrating on the surnames: Nee, Conroy, Cannavin/Cannavan, with the assorted Toole, Conneely, and Walsh's I missed the first time around.  I was looking exclusively at the Rosmuc Parish Register, which only has baptisms (no marriages or burials) from 1840-1880.

The early 1840's have plenty of births, and then there is a pronounced decrease as the Famine occurs. By late 1850's into early 1860's the baptisms pick up again as would be expected.  The shear number of names and villages can be overwhelming, but the most amazing thing is that the Mother's maiden name is listed, so that you can get a "defacto" marriage record from the baptisms. The sponsor names also give you other possible family members (brothers, sisters, parents, etc).

Most of the names are incredibly common:  Mary, Bridget, Patrick, Michael, etc.  There are the occasional wild cards, some Irish names like Thadg (Thady) and Saints names like Colman/Coleman occur.  Then there are the varieties of names:  Honor, Honoria, Nora;  Penelope, Penny, Nuala; John, Sean; Bridget, Bridie, Biddy, Delia, etc.

A mystery I've been trying to solve is where my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Nee comes from.  She marries Patrick Walsh of the small village of Muckanaghkillew, but I suspect she may be from the Rosmuc area, as there are Nee's there.  In looking at her children's baptismal sponsors I'm trying to establish that connection.   It's still to be determined whether this will help.....

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Elusive Aunt......the mystery of Aunt Mallard

For years I have struggled to find an Aunt ____ Mallard, listed in my Gt Gt Grandmother Mary Shepherd Hurrell's will dated 1812 in Stokenham, Devon.   There was no first name listed, just a line.  The name Mallard was also curious, it isn't common in the area and I couldn't find any Mallard marrying a Shepherd.

Turns out I was making some classic genealogical mistakes....I was assuming it was HER Aunt, so looking at the Shepherd line.  Turns out that in fact it was her late husband's Aunt.  The will states that her children should take up the legacy left by their Aunt (in fact Great Aunt), so I hadn't read carefully enough to look at both the children's father and mother to find the Aunt.

After some recent work on the Hurrell family, I had found some additional siblings for William Hurrell, and one was a Dorothy Hurrell.  I did some cursory searching and couldn't find a marriage for Dorothy, but possibly a death.  I put her to the side and didn't look further for a few days.  Then by chance in some other searches I found that by leaving out the final L in the surname Hurrell, (so spelling it Hurrel), I got some additional hits.  So, I tried Dorothy Hurrel in the search box of Findmypast, and lo and behold what came up?

Dorothy Hurrel married Edward Mallard 19 Oct 1745 in Totnes

And to further establish that I had the correct couple, it listed her as "of Sherford" and he "of East Allington" -- so definitely the right villages.  Not sure why they married in Totnes, but that's another mystery to solve.

Then the challenge of seeing if I could find anything further on the couple -- children, death dates, and MAYBE a will?!!

I found their death dates, and no children, and then tried finding a will. No luck in finding anything for Edward Mallard, but lo and behold there was a will for Dorothy Mallard in 1801.  BINGO!!!! Now to see if it was available online (fingers crossed).  I found an entry on Findmypast under Devon Wills, but it was just the name and date.  After some searching on The National Archives site I still couldn't find it, despite knowing the date and name.  I then tried some Google searching and it seemed to show it was on the National Archives site, but the last name was misspelled as Matland.  Eventually I found it and was able to purchase and download.

Wow!!!  What a bonanza of names!!  She names Richard Hardy (her nephew) as her sole executor.  She leaves 20 pounds to Dorothy, wife of Phillip Hinston. She is noted as no relation (which isn't exactly true, she is a great niece).  Then she goes on to leave 10 pounds each to her nieces and nephews:  Richard Hurrell, John Hardy, Elizabeth (Hardy) Cranch, Priscilla (Hardy) Lidstone, Sarah (Hardy) Webb, Elizabeth (Hurrell) Morris(h), and Mary (Hurrell) Goodman.

I didn't have Priscilla, Sarah or Elizabeth Hardy in my tree, as these were additional siblings to Dorothy's sister Elizabeth and husband Richard Hardy.  The Hurrell's have me confounded as Mary Richard, and Elizabeth could be from either of Dorothy's 3 brothers (Richard, William and John).  So, more research needed there.  I suspect they are from East Allington, and those records aren't online for the period needed.

I've found descendents for Priscilla Lidstone, and Elizabeth Cranch, and found marriages and children for Mary Hurrell (Philip Goodman) and Elizabeth Hurrell (William Morris or Morrish).

Just proves that patience is a virtue for a genealogist.....I've been searching for YEARS for this Aunt and trying to piece this family together, and now that patience has been rewarded with a plethora of new names and lines to follow!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hurrell family of Devon

Oh, the Hurrell family.......
a long source of frustration and confusion in my Family Tree!!!  Most confounding for years has been the fact that Devon records were so elusive. Most Parish Registers were not filmed and available online, necessitating trips to Exeter or the Society of Genealogists in London to actually view them!! Rather a long trip from the West Coast of the US!  This was the early dark days of genealogy, but I became a better researcher for having to do the hard work!

For years I collected as much information as possible about the Hurrell family of Stokenham, Devon. This is where I could trace my 3rd Gt Grandfather Thomas Hurrell's birth to.  Luckily his parents names (William ad Mary) were found on a headstone at the Parish Church, which gave me some dates and names to go on.

Headstone for William Hurrell d. 2 Feb 1800 and wife Mary Shepherd Hurrell d. 25 April 1816 - Stokenham, Devon (my 4th Gt Grandparents)

By chance, Mary Hurrell also left a will with lots of information on downstream ancestors, and a puzzling clue about an Aunt, who left a legacy (that's another story!)

There were multiple Hurrell families in the general area, scattered in neighboring Parish's, but in my limited time in Exeter  and London, I wasn't able to research EVERY surrounding Parish manually (no digital images or indexes to help!!).  Thus, I couldn't put the families together and try and work out their relationships or travel up the tree from my 4th Gt Grandparents William and Mary Hurrell.

So, for several years I've put the Hurrell's aside and worked on easier lines, where I could search Parish Registers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or online.

The long drought of Hurrell information  has finally come to an end, with the release of Devon Parish Registers on Findmypast earlier this year!!   This has led to MANY late nights researching and putting the puzzle together!  It was like going back to the early days of joy and discovery with each new ancestor I found.

I am now back to 6th and 7th Gt Grandparents in the mid 1600's on this line, and have added countless downstream ancestors.  Using Findmypast in conjunction with Ancestry I've discovered whole new branches of the family, Royal Naval ancestors, and emigration to Canada.and Australia.

Baptism of William Hurrell 1713 in the Parish of Sherford, Devon (my 5th Gt Grandfather), showing his parents William and Elizbaeth (my 6th Gt Grandparents)

I hope that other researchers will now start working on their Devon lines, so there will be more collaboration.  At present the few family trees with Hurrell's are often full of wrong information due to the limitations of records in the past.

And now I'm on to further Devon research on the PEARSE family of South Brent.......stay tuned!
Irish Court Records.......a fascinating look into the lives of our ancestors

I've spent a fair bit of time reading through the Petty Court session records for County Galway, Ireland of late.  While you might assume that your poor peasant farmer relations wouldn't have been involved in any court or legal actions -- but not true!  The English were so concerned about the Irish peasantry that they kept them under scrutiny with all sorts of laws, and the Irish themselves spent a fair bit of time accusing their neighbors of various offenses!

Reading through the records are not just an interesting social and cultural adventure -- there are also of great genealogical interest.  By studying the court records I've been able to establish the name of my Gt Gt Gt Grandmother, the approx death dates of several relatives, and found some interesting familial connections that the records seem to prove.  I've also been able to confirm some old family stories.

Beyond the Court records, there are also the Prison Registers -- so if your ancestor was unable to pay their fine or committed a serious offense, they may have ended up in the Galway County Gaol.  This can be especially valuable, as there is a physical description of each prisoner (so they could identify them if they escaped).  I found my Gt Grandfather - and confirmed his height, weight, hair & eye color, and complexion (including a red nose, which I seem to have inherited!!!).

These records put "flesh on the bone", and really show you the day to day life, and give you an insight into how they quarreled with their neighbors, celebrated a bit too much (public drunkeness!), ran afoul of the authorities (having an unlicensed dog), and tried to supplement their meager income (making poitin' - the local moonshine).

It's interesting to note that some of the neighbor disputes and in-fighting was referred to the Parish Priest to settle the dispute, instead of the Courts.  Hitting each other with sticks and stones, really did happen, and there were many occasions of stray cattle and sheep trampling a neighbors potatoes or turnips.

Many instances of cutting the landlords bog, taking someones seaweed, fishing during the closed season, etc.

The records start in the late 1850's and go up to approx 1916.