Priscilla, a brick wall no more

Priscilla Bourne (or Bone) was my great-great-grandmother. She was difficult to find prior to her marriage for several reasons: the fact that Priscilla was illiterate means that her maiden name appears on official documents with various spellings, on her marriage certificate her given name is Druscilla rather than Priscilla, and calculating her precise year of birth was made difficult by inconsistencies in her age on census returns. The one fact she was sure about was that she was born in Bedworth, Warwickshire.

Continue reading

Walter Shuttleworth (1898-1917)

Walter’s Grave, 11 October 2017

Walter Shuttleworth was my great-uncle. He died on 11 October 1917 of wounds sustained during the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres). Walter was only 19 years old when he died, and was survived by his mother, two brothers (who also served during the war) and three sisters. On 11 October 2017 my father, my sister and I visited his grave at Nine Elms British Cemetery near Poperinge, to remember him and the many others who died during the Great War. Continue reading

The Bates to Jenkins name change

Elizabeth Jenkins was my great-great-great-grandmother. In 1847 she married Henry Milner in Fazeley, Staffordshire. On their marriage certificate, Elizabeth’s father was shown as Joseph Jenkins and one of the witnesses was Thomas Jenkins Jenkins. It took me a long time to locate Elizabeth on the 1841 census, because I was searching for her as Elizabeth Jenkins. When I couldn’t find her that way, I went back to the old-fashioned way of searching the census, and looked at every page of the census for Fazeley. I couldn’t find Elizabeth Jenkins, but I did find an Elizabeth Bates approximately the right age, in the household of Joseph Bates on Mill Lane, which is where Elizabeth was living in 1851. Could this be my Elizabeth? I have done some research into this, and present here my findings.
Continue reading

Divorce in the 19th century

From 1 January 1858 a divorce could be granted by the new Court for Divorce & Matrimonial Causes. In its first 10 months of existence there were 288 petitions, but only 37 divorces were granted. In the first ten years there were 1,279 dissolutions of marriage. Until 1937 men could obtain a divorce on the basis of adultery, but women had to additionally prove another offence, such as cruelty.
Continue reading

Newspaper reports of deaths

Local newspapers can often provide more information about our families than we get from official documents such as BMD certificates and census returns. The British Newspaper Archive website has made searching newspapers much easier. Most of the articles I have found about my relatives are reports of court cases and inquests. Here are some of the tales of unexpected or early deaths in my family. Continue reading

Brailes, Part 2

The death of Henry Clifton

Henry Clifton was my great-great-great-grandfather Daniel Holtom‘s cousin, i.e. my 1st-cousin-5-times-removed. He was shot dead by George Ditton, the gamekeeper of Mr H.J. Sheldon of Brailes, on 18 February 1864, aged 29. As reported in the local newspapers Clifton, a farm labourer, and fellow labourer John Holtom were walking home along a footpath leading across one of Mr Sheldon’s farms when Ditton accused them of trespassing. A struggle ensued and Clifton struck Ditton with a stick. Ditton then pointed his double-barrelled gun at Clifton and shot him dead. Ditton was charged with wilful murder, but committed for trial at the Warwick Assizes on the lesser charge of manslaughter. While in Warwick Gaol awaiting trial, Ditton suffered greatly from remorse and mental anxiety, and his health was in a precarious state. On 10 April he became suddenly worse and died that day. Continue reading

The Hipwells, a scattered family

Benjamin Hipwell, a bricklayer, and Ann Farn were my great-great-grandparents and lived in Rugby, Warwickshire. They had 9 children that I know about, 8 of whom survived past infancy. After Ann died, in Harrall’s Court in 1874, Benjamin moved to Birmingham, where he married the widowed Hannah Birch (nee Hunt) in 1876. Benjamin died in Birmingham Workhouse in 1884. Continue reading