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.