I have thought a lot about my own ancestors and their own involvement in the war, every year around this time. Research into the available records have revealed that a number of my ancestors fought. For instance I found service papers that revealed that Albert John Terry, my great grandfather didn't enlist until 1917, and unfortunately he forfeited 7 days pay for leaving his kit hanging up in the kitchen!
It would appear that most of my ancestors who were involved returned from the war except for two great great uncles:
Henry James Baldwin born 30 September 1885 in Hoxton, Middlesex. He was my great grandfather, Reuben Baldwin's eldest brother. From service records found so far, Henry and his brothers were sent from London at an early age to train at the naval base of Portsmouth. Henry became a regular soldier and he appeared on the 1911 census in Hong Kong as a Gunner with the 87th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. From the little I have managed to learn so far they were called back to Europe at the beginning of WW1 and he died at the 4th siege battery at Ypres on 16 June 1915. His informal will leaves all his personal belongings to his mother.
Percy Harmer on the other hand was born on 28 January 1899 in Dallington, Sussex and he was only 15 years of age at the outbreak of war. The 1911 census had him living at home with his family and he was still attending school, no doubt at Dallington village school. It is likely that by 1914 he had followed his brother's example and was working as a farm labourer on one of the many local farms nearby. I haven't managed to find his service record but from information found on the web it appeared he was probably one of 'Lowther's lambs' and enlisted early 1916 at the age of 17. He was in the 11th batallion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, one of the Southdown Batallion. More information can be found at http://royalsussex-southdowns.co.uk/history
Unfortunately he died on 3 March 1918 in the Somme during the last great push by the Germans. He was 19 years of age and his name appears on the memorial in the Town Hall in Eastbourne.
With both these young men dying, any potential family lines ended and when their close family died they became forgotten. Through my family history research I have resurrected their existence and through telling their stories once again they can be honoured for fighting for their country.
For more information about the war dead from Dallington check out the Dallington village website. Roy Iremonger has researched the names of the young men from Dallington who fought and his book can be found here: https://dallingtonhistory.wordpress.com/external-resources/#comment-782
Hannah was baptised 17 September 1780 at Warbleton
Father – Joseph Oliver baptised 23 October 1737 at Warbleton, Sussex
Mother – Mary Moor (married 4 May 1768 at Wartling, Sussex)
Mary baptised 10 February 1771, Warbleton, Sussex
Sarah baptised 19 June 1774, Warbleton, Sussex
James baptised 6 October 1776, Warbleton, Sussex
Thomas baptised 20 July 1783, Warbleton, Sussex
Jesse baptised 16 October 1785, Warbleton, Sussex
Ann baptised 4 May 1788, Warbleton, Sussex
The story so far:
The search for Hannah began with the baptism record for her daughter Elizabeth Harriet Message. She was baptised at the Independent Chapel, Chapel Cross, Cade Street, Sussex on 1 April 1823 to __________ and Hannah Message. Elizabeth was my 3 x great grandmother.
From this I presumed that Elizabeth’s father had died somewhere during 1821 to 1823, however after extensive searches of local parish registers no death could be found. On Elizabeth’s marriage certificate to John Funnell, 27 October 1840 at Herstmonceux she gives her father as Richard Message. (Although it should be noted on her second marriage certificate dated 5 February 1868 at Warbleton to James White she leaves her father as blank).
I started searching for a Richard Message and eventually found a marriage to Hannah Oliver on 20 October 1803 at Dallington, Sussex on the Sussex Marriage Index. Then I found the baptism of a Richard Message on 9 February 1807 at Warbleton in the parish registers to Richard and Hannah Message. Then all went quiet.
To my surprise on a search on Ancestry for Richard Message I found records of a transportation to New South Wales as a convict in 1807 on the Admiral Gambier. I discovered that Richard Message from Sussex was convicted of Larceny in 1807 and transported, pardoned in 1816 and then married the same year to Mary Ann Mullins in Hobart. He died in 1821 in Hobart. The age fits with the Richard Message married to Hannah Oliver, supposing he is the Richard Message baptised in Shoreditch 1786 on Family Search to Richard Message and Mary. No baptism has been found for a Richard in Sussex and various family trees that I have seen have Richard Message senior as coming from Dallington, Sussex. This is yet to be proved by me.
Hannah also had two illegitimate children before she married Richard, Benjamin Carley Oliver baptised at Warbleton on 16 February 1800 and Stephen Carley Oliver born 1802, no baptism found at this stage.
Possible census returns for Hannah 1841 to 1861 are as follows:
1841 – Herstmonceux, Alehouse
John Catt 50 Ag Lab
Hannah Message 60
1851 – Herstmonceux, Bodle Street
John Catt, head, widower, 63, Ag Lab born Warbleton
Hannah Message, servant, widow, 70, born Warbleton
Emily Sands, servant, unmarried 15 born Arlington
1861 – Warbleton, on common (not far from the Three Cups Inn where her daughter and family were living)
John Catt, head, widower, 74, Ag Lab, born Warbleton
Hannah Message, servant, widow, 80 Housekeeper, born Warbleton
Caroline Funnell, granddaughter, 4 born Wartling (although Caroline, daughter of John Funnell and Elizabeth Harriot Message is also with her parents at the Inn the details are exactly the same so I am sure this is the same child with her grandmother).
The last bit of the jigsaw is the death certificate I obtained from GRO which could possibly be Hannah. She died on 12 November 1868 at 3 Cups, Warbleton, 88 years which does fit with the baptism I have. However the informant, Hannah Hedgcock who I believe was a neighbour, there were certainly Hedgcocks next door on the 1861 census, has entered that Hannah was the widow of Thomas Message, Farm Labourer. I have been unable to find a marriage for a Thomas Message with a Hannah. There was a Thomas Message who lived next door to Hannah and George Hedgcock in the 1861 census but he was half Hannah’s age. Therefore I am assuming this is a mistake, Hannah Hedgcock did not know who Hannah Message had been married to or more interestingly Hannah had spread that rumour around to stop gossip about Richard Message who was a convict!
So the hunt for Hannah continues. Who exactly was she, was her husband a transported convict? Sadly the records I have acquired about Richard all say he came from Sussex but nothing more than that, sadly none add Warbleton.
I’ve been relooking at an old brickwall on my family tree this week. My x 4 great grandfather Jeremiah Hall was baptised in Edenbridge in Kent in 1789. He had a sister Jenny, baptised in 1781 and a brother, William baptised in 1787, both in Edenbridge. Their parents on the baptism records were Michael and ______ Hall. Very useful!
A marriage for a Michael Hall in the right time frame has not been found and neither has a baptism of a Michael Hall. The closest we have come to is a Miles Hall who married Jane Holiday in 1769 in Crowhurst in Surrey and went on to have 4 children, all baptised in Crowhurst; Sarah – 1769, Martha – 1770, William – 1773 buried in 1774 and Benjamin – 1775.
I have spent 10 years picking away at this problem, and chatting with other people who are also trying to solve this riddle.
We know that Jenny baptised in 1781 married a Richard Holmden in Edenbridge in 1802, a marriage which has led to a further clue.
A will has been found for a Mary Ware who died in 1807 in Crowhurst. She mentioned several family members. She had previously been married to Benjamin Hall who had a brother, Michael. She mentions three of Michael’s children; Benjamin, Sarah who married _____ Fowle of Westerham and Jane who married ______ Holmden of Edenbridge.
So far that is looking good, Jane and Jenny, same person? There is a marriage for a Sarah and a John Fowle in 1792 and Benjamin could be the one baptised in 1775.
Mary Ware also mentioned a Nicholas, another brother of her late husband Benjamin who also had a son Benjamin. (What a popular name that was!) So plenty of clues to help pick away at this. But sometimes the obvious and most needed answer is just plain elusive.
Could Miles and Michael in Crowhurst and Edenbridge be the same person or am I clutching at straws? There is a family being baptised to a Nicholas and Ann in Crowhurst in the 1720/30s including a Benjamin, a Miles and a Nicholas but Miles was baptised in 1722 meaning he would have been in his late 40s when Sarah was born, never mind Jeremiah in 1789!
I will keep at this one and hopefully one day I will find an answer.
My dissertation written as part of the MSc I studied a few years ago, looked at the subject of Ironmasters in the Weald and discussed their origins and their wealth. One of the six families chosen as part of the study was the Thorp family, who happen to appear in my own ancestry and the reason I became interested in the subject in the first place. To see where they fit into the family tree please visit my family tree.
John Thorp lived during the Tudor times. His origin and date of birth are as yet unknown. He died in 1607 and was buried 25 March 1607 at Lingfield in Surrey. He married a daughter and heiress of _______ Bowett and they had 8 children. (Believed to be Alice Bowett).
Through the course of my study I found a whole host of different records that helped to build a picture of John and his business even though he lived some 500 years ago and by reading a number of documents such as wills, leases and mortgages I discovered the extent of the property he had leased, from the Gage family, rich landowners in Sussex and the property he was eventually able to buy. The map shows the three ironworking sites that were associated with John Thorp and his sons in the Crawley area.
I spent a number of days transcribing a variety of old documents at The Keep (the East Sussex Record Office) which proved very fruitful and interesting. I discovered that unlike the other ironworking families I studied, the Thorp family leased their furnaces and forges from the landowners along with the woods to supply the fuel for the furnaces. John was described as a yeoman and did not own any land or property of his own but by the time his will was proved in 1609 he left property and leases to his sons. The will clearly states how he left his lease of Hedgecourt (his home) and that would have included leases of his ironworks which went with the estate of Hedgecourt to his third son Thomas, overlooking his eldest son, John. (A story for another day perhaps!)
A later lease for 31 years dated 2 February 1629 between Sir John Gage of Firle and Richard Thorpe of Hedgecourt (a grandson) included ‘and all the iron forge or iron workes called or knowne as Woodcock Hammer or Woodcock works And all buildings upon any pte.’
I discovered documents that described agreements of sale and sale of timber giving exact instructions of which trees were to be cut down and how. I even discovered a draft bill that described how John and his son Thomas had been 'enjoying' since the death of John Gage the cutting down, stibbing and rooting up of most part of the woods to the value of £3000 they did not have permission to cut.
For more information about the Iron Industry of the Weald visit the Wealden Iron Research Group website which has a wealth of information about the archaeology carried out on the industry and the people and places involved.
Over the last few years whilst researching my family in Sussex I have begun to build a library of local history books about Sussex. I will include them here for interest as I see them as a useful tool in any research into family history in Sussex. Some are out of print but may be found through websites such as www.abebooks.co.uk/
Dallington “six miles from everywhere” The History of a Sussex village
Karen Bryant Mole published December 1999
Victorian Village, The diaries of the Reverend John Coker Egerton of Burwash 1857 - 1888 edited by Roger Wells, published in 1992 by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd
Judith Glover published 1997 by Countryside Books
Blacks 1861 Guide to Sussex
published by Country books
Around Heathfield in old photographs
collected by Alan Gillet and Barry K Russell, published in 1990 by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd
From Pyecombe to Cuckfield
Mark Dudeney and Eileen Hallett, published in 1999 by Mid Sussex Books
A Detective in Sussex
Donald Maxwell, published in 1932 by The Bodley Head
Burwash and the Sussex Weald “An English History in Miniature”
James Goodwin, The Courier Printing and Publishing Co Ltd
Made in Sussex, Sussex Crafts and Industries Past and Present
Elizabeth Wright, published in 2000 by S B Publications
People and Places of the High Weald, East Sussex
Brigid Chapman, published in 1999 by S B Publications
Sussex Folk and Sussex Ways, John Coker Egerton
Edited by Henry Wace, published in 2005 by Country Books
Around Hailsham in old Photographs
Barry K Russell and Alan Gillet, published in 1998 by Budding Books
A Historical Atlas of Sussex
Published in 1999 by Phillimore
The Kent & Sussex Weald
Peter Brandon, published in 2003 by Phillimore
The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765
Edited by David Vaisey, published in 1994 by CTR publishing
Our Sussex Parish
Thomas Geering, published in 1925 by Metheun & Co Ltd
A Chronicle of Cuckfield
Maisie Wright, published in 1991 by The Mid Sussex Local History Group and Cuckfield Museum Trust
For a useful source of social history books about London please visit www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php/topic,307777.0.html
© Kerry Baldwin 2015
On facebook a while ago genealogists had been sharing a 6 generation diagram showing in colour where their family come from. Well naturally I decided I had to have a go at mine and here it is.
I always knew that most of my family came from Sussex, but this really makes that fact stand out. And just to move away from Sussex, the next biggest area is Surrey. My family certainly didn't move far away. Have you tried this with your family? Have a go and let us know what it tells you.
I have a growing number of wills connected to my family tree, some for people directly related to me and some from uncles, aunts and other family members. All can sometimes be an absolute goldmine of information and helpful when trying to prove that an ancestor is who you think they are.
For instance recently I have been researching the Woolven family of West Grinstead, who I have discovered connected to my Lander/Launder line. I found online a copy of a will written by Richard Woolven and proved in 1710 where he named every one of his children (helpful), the names of his daughters' husbands and one of his witnesses had the surname which had been his mother's maiden name, (could be a relative). All this information went along way to proving I had the correct death for this Richard.
A will I was sent for Richard Pilbeam of Ticehurst, Weaver, proved in 1653 mentions "I doe give unto my father my weaving and tooles" helpful because we now know what his occupation was.
The will of Richard Ledger who died in Orpington in 1821, and uncle to Mary Ledger who married Job Roffey in 1760, Horne in Surrey was very explicit about how he should be buried,
"It is my wish and desire to be buried in the Church Yard at Orpington in the County of Kent and to lay as near the Grave of my Father as can conveniently be I desire that my funeral may be as plain as possible and I wish to have a deep Oak Coffin pitched inside but not to be covered quite plain I desire to have a mattrass not less than three inches thick laid under me and the pillow under my head to come up high on both sides my head And it is my particular desire not to be screwed down until the eighth day after my death I also desire my Grave may be Bankt up a foot high and a flat black Stone to be laid on my Grave and on no account whatsoever to be moved for the burial of any other Corpse I also desire that the Grave Stone be not put down till one year after my death but it must be put down before any legacies are paid I also request my Nephew Mr Henry Wallis may stop to see my Grave filled up and also to be present at the putting down the Grave Stone"
Allsorts of thoughts went through my head when I read that one! Wills like this may not give us any particularly useful information but are brilliant for helping us to build a picture of what Richard was like when he was alive and just make fantastic reading!
All going to prove that wills are a useful addition to the documents to be searched as part of family history and should be searched carefully for the clues they can give about our ancestors and their lives.
I misquote Shakespeare.
I started looking at the Billinness family from Wartling yesterday. Lydia Billinness born 1816 in Wartling married Henry Martin in Wartling in 1839. Their son, James married Harriet Pilbeam, sister of my great great grandfather William Pilbeam. Further details can be found on my TribalPages tree at https://baldwintree.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?userid=baldwintree&view=0&pid=525&ver=383. They farmed Ebenezer Farm in Punnetts Town and had one child, John Henry who died sadly at the age of 2 and half years old.
I started searching for Lydia’s family and discovered that her parent’s were Thomas and Deborah Harvey also of Wartling. This rang a bell and well it might. Lydia had a brother born three years before her, Benjamin who married Barbara Cornford. They had a daughter, Mary Ann who was born in 1837. Mary Ann was the second wife of my great x 3 grandfather Thomas Cruse. The funny thing is this links two sides of my tree, my maternal grandfather (Pilbeam) to my paternal grandfather’s mother (Cruse).
Fascinating I thought and just confirms what I know from my dna, 83.9% South East England, and make that Sussex.
Then as I carried the Billiness line further back I discovered that the aforesaid Thomas's mother was Lydia Badcock. Another family I know well. However, as yet I can't find a link between the Badcock family that Lydia came from and the family that my Badcocks came from who married into the Carey family who married into the Harmer family. Of course the Harmer family was the family of my paternal grandmother. So if I can link Thomas Badcoke at the top of my line, who married in Lewes and lived in Willingdon and Hooe, to the Badcocks from Wartling that is three grandparents all linked together. So what are the chances of finding a link with my fourth grandparent, although that line came from Surrey so perhaps not!
Wartling Church, Sussex
I have spent the last five months or so working my way through it and finding where the gaps are in my research for me to fill.
It has been a brilliant aid because as I fill in each person I spend some time looking at the gaps I have and quickly seeing if I can find details. My plan is to spend more time when the whole book is filled, doing extensive gaps. However it is amazing what a 5 minute quick search can bring up.
My great x 4 grandfather Corles Baldwin and his wife Esther are parents to Thomas born 1815 in Ireland who emigrated to Canada and William Henry born 1829 in St Giles in the Field, Middlesex, (my great x 3 grandfather). There clearly must be other children between these two. I decided to check the baptism records for St Giles in the Field which are now available as part of my Ancestry sub.
Eureka! I found another 3 children! William born and died 1823 at 2 months old, Sarah baptised in 1824 and Henry baptised in 1833 and died in 1834 at less than a year old. So my William was not the youngest child and it also gives me another clue as to when Corles and Esther came to England, before 1823.
More research to do later this year! A possible marriage for Sarah as I was unable to find a death for her as a child for starters. Other families are proving as exciting as I work my way through the book.
Last week I treated myself to The Family History book. I have a number of online and software based family trees and have never used a book like it before. But thought I would give it a go. I can’t recommend it enough. It doesn’t matter how long you have been researching your family history, you will find it useful.
I can now clearly see how many gaps I have in my research and where they are. I found I am missing just about all the burials dates from my grandparents and great grandparents. Now this is probably due to the fact that these 20th century records are not so easily found but now I am reminded to go search.
I also discovered a number of siblings with no death dates, time to go and kill them off! And for grandparents and generations up to 3 x great grandparents there is space for marriage witnesses and census return basic details. Again useful information that should be filled in when found.
It has reminded me that many of the subscription websites such as FindmyPast have been quietly and sometimes not so quietly, adding records that I might find useful to fill in some of the gaps and so it is time to go back and have another look.
Apart from the obvious usefulness of the book, it has just been really encouraging to see just how much research I have carried out – very satisfying.
I bought my book from Amazon.co.uk but it is available from all book retailers.