Ellen Maki, Ph.D.

A Fractious Soldier

South Lancashire Regiment with borderWhen Britain entered World War I in August 1914, William Henton was a young man of 23, newly married and with an infant son, living in St. Helens, Lancashire, England. With newspapers publishing appeals to join the armed services, hundreds of thousands of men joined within just a few months, and William was one of them. On 4 September 1914, William joined the ranks of the South Lancashire Regiment, 7th Battalion.

As I read through William’s service record, I was surprised to read that within 5 months of his attestation, having never left the country, he was discharged as medically unfit.

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A Gardener in the Family

Cactus speciosissimus with caption

One of my favourite pastimes is gardening – reading horticultural journals, browsing through seed catalogues, and especially getting my hands dirty. So I was intrigued when I discovered an 1851 census record for my 3xgreat-grandfather, Thomas Gee, that gave his occupation as gardener.

I had a pretty good idea what my farmer, agricultural labourer, and market gardener ancestors did for a living. But Thomas’s occupation, gardener, was a bit vague.

He was born 23 January 1799 in Sutton, Lancashire, England, which is now part of the city of St. Helens. It was an industrial area, and Thomas’s father, John Gee, was a glass blower.

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John Nunn was one of my great-great-great-grandfathers. He was called to a settlement examination in Diss, Norfolk, England on 13 January 1798 before John Frere, Justice of the Peace. He was living in Diss at the time, and must have found himself in financial need, otherwise there would likely not have been an inquiry into his place of settlement.

Thanks to John Frere, the examination record is a small trove of genealogically useful information. He starts by telling us that John Nunn was a linen weaver. The settlement examination record also states that John was 21 years of age and up, and that he was born in Palgrave, Suffolk.

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A Victorian Police Constable

Bobby 1892 cropped Police constables in late Victorian London (England) patrolled beats that were on average 7.5 miles (12 km) in length. Patrolling was not limited to daytime, though; beat walking continued on through the night. The night beats were generally shorter – only about 2 miles long. With the appearance of motorised cars in 1890, the policeman’s duties expanded to include point duty: directing traffic. All of these duties had their challenges. Monotony seems to have been an issue, especially during nighttime patrols. There were dangers from motorised traffic getting too close, and injuries could be sustained in the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminals.

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I wrote in an earlier post about reading through the Guardians’ minutes for the Aylsham Poor Law Union in Norfolk, England. Details of intended marriages were read out at the guardians’ meetings, for marriages which were to take place at either non-conformist churches or registrars’ offices. I have previously posted the intended marriages for 1848, and have now extracted the marriage intentions for 1849-1851. The details are given in the table below.

The marriage intentsions could serve as a useful finding aid – a guide to where to look for a couple’s marriage record. Like marriage banns, though, the reading out of an intended marriage does not necessarily mean that the couple followed through with their marriage, or if they did, it may have taken place somewhere other than the location noted in the guardians’ minutes.

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Did they really marry?

After my great-grandfather, Walter William Rowe, died in 1879, my great-grandmother, Hannah, remarried. Although I’ve searched for years, I have found no record of her second marriage. I suspect that it was a marriage that was never blessed by either church or state.

Hannah was born Hannah Mitchell Howes on 22 December 1853 in West Lynn, Norfolk, England. Howes was her mother’s maiden name, Mitchell the name of her reputed father. When Hannah’s parents eventually married in 1861, Hannah began sometimes using the surname Mitchell; on other occasions she reverted to Howes.

Marriage to Walter William Rowe 1876

Hannah’s first marriage was to Walter William Rowe. The couple married on 31 July 1876 in Willington on Tyne, Northumberland, where they were both living at the time.

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Aunts, Uncles, Cousins

Several years ago, I was told by a Persian friend that they find the English language lacking when it comes to the words we use for family members. For example, we use the word “uncle” to mean mother’s brother, father’s brother, or husband of either father’s sister or mother’s sister. Some languages, Persian being one of them, have different words for each of these “uncles”. I wanted to know more. Has English always been deficient in this regard? Which languages are rich in kinship terms? I did a little digging, and here is what I found.

Aunt in Different Languages

Persian does indeed have a wider vocabulary of family relationship words.

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A Little Girl's Death from Measles

My mother’s middle name was Agnes, and for most of her life she disliked the name. She disliked it so much that she said she could not imagine why her parents had given her such a name. I think I know why she was given the name, and I think that the answer is measles.

In 1891, my great-grandparents, Daniel and Alice Owen, were living at 13 Halefield Street, St. Helens, in what was then Lancashire, in England. Daniel was working as a chemical labourer, possibly at the glass works nearby. The couple had a young family: 5 daughters ranging in age from 4 to 12 years, and one son, my grandfather George, who was just 1 year old.

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Benjamin Clarke: Military Funeral

There are many men in my family tree named Benjamin Clarke. The one I’m writing about now is my great-uncle Benjamin, born 25 July 1879 in Palgrave, Suffolk. He was the youngest brother of my paternal grandfather, Hugh James Clarke, who I have written about previously.

When I began researching my family history, I was told that Benjamin had lost a leg in the Boer War. As with many family stories, this one had some truth to it, but was not entirely accurate. Benjamin did serve in the Boer War, and he did lose a leg, but not in the Boer War.

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Three Thousand Families

Four Mile Creek, Cross Roads, Lawrenceville, Virgil. These were the names given to the small community on the Niagara peninsula, first settled about 1783, that my paternal grandparents came to call home in the mid-1920s. Today it’s part of the very chic little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Hugh James Clarke, Sr, and his wife, Mary Rowe, were 52 and 46 years of age, respectively, when they arrived in Niagara from Palgrave, Suffolk to begin farming. Hugh had been a market gardener in Palgrave, and intended to do the same in Virgil. Not much of their new property had been cleared prior to their arrival, though, and getting their farm up and running involved hard, physical labour.

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