The theme for this week’s #52Ancestors is Sisters. I have struggled with this one but then I thought as we have just celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK, I would celebrate my mum and her twin sister and take the opportunity to share some of the many photos I have collected of the pair. A photo of the ‘Pilbeam Twins’ always had the same conversation, “Which one is which”?
The twins were born on 9 September 1943 at Worthing Hospital. Davina Mary came first and Hilary Margaret second. The lived at Punnetts Town, where their dad, Ron Pilbeam worked on the family farm at Three Cups and mum, Edith looked after the four children, Neville and Enid born before the twins and helped at the Dairy.
They attended the village school at Punnetts Town where their Auntie Eva Pilbeam was a teacher and where now, my mum’s grandsons attend. After that they moved to Heathfield Secondary School.
Mum tells many stories about helping Grandad on his milk round in the late 50s early 60s especially the hard winter of 62/63. She also tells stories of the fun they used to get up to pretending to be each other for boyfriends, teachers etc.
Mum married my dad in September 1964 at the Rest Gospel Hall at Cade Street and Davina or as she was known, Auntie Beana married Philip Greenacre in 1968 at Oulton Broad, Norfolk. They lived in Lowestoft. I have some faint memories of the wedding. My grandad took me out of the service, at the age of 2 1/2 I was probably restless and we went and woke the ducks up on the Broad.
Mum and Dad had 3 children, me and a younger sister and brother and Davina and Philip had two children, a boy and a girl. At some point in the early 70s Davina and Philip divorced and she came back with my cousins to live in Sussex and they attended the same school as us in Hailsham.
Sadly Auntie Beana died in May 1998 and she is missed for the fun we used to have with her as children. Mum had a stroke in 2016, survived and carries on to this day.
Looking at my family tree I am surprised at the number of sets of twins that appear on both sides of the family. I found one family in the 1600s that gave birth to two sets of twins but sadly I don’t think any survived to adulthood. I wonder how many of the twins on my tree were known for being identical like mum and her sister.
Week 12 of #52Ancestors and the theme is Joined Together. I thought I would take a look at the three marriages I have on my tree that all took place at Fleet Prison in London.
Edward Clarke married Margaret Roocks on 25 May 1725
Walter Comber married Jane Fillery on 17 September 1732
Edward Turner married Charity Clark on 2 October 1753
(Incidentally Charity was the daughter of Edward and Margaret)
A marriage at Fleet Prison or its environs was a common example of an irregular or a clandestine marriage taking place before the Marriage Act 1753 came into force on 25 March 1754. The reasons for these marriages taking place at Fleet are many and various; cost, speed, pregnant brides, parents not giving permission, underage to name a few. The clergymen in the Prison were less than scrupulous about who they married, they were just trying to make money and that was the reason why Parliament acted in 1754 and introduced the Marriage Act. This tightened up the rules on how marriages could be celebrated.
I can only guess at the reasons why my three couples married at the Fleet. This was Walter Comber’s second marriage, his first wife having died two years earlier. None of the brides appeared pregnant unless I have failed to find an earlier child in each case. I think it is interesting how Edward and Margaret’s daughter, Charity copied her parents. Perhaps I should check their other children’s marriages too!
Edward was described on the marriage entry as from Waldron and was a weaver. I’ve not managed to pin down a birth for him either in Waldron or East Grinstead or anywhere else in Sussex but then Clark is a fairly common surname. Margaret was of East Grinstead and that is where the family lived after the marriage. Despite her unusual name, I’ve not managed to find her birth either yet, Roocks could be Rocks or Rooks. Hmmm… They had 9 children, 3 were called Mary, the first two dying young. Charity was their 2nd child and married Edward Turner in 1753. Their marriage entry stated they were both of East Grinstead and Edward was a husbandman (farmer). They had 4 daughters and a son and their 3rd daughter, Sarah married William Faulkner my great x 5 grandfather.
Walter Comber was described as a Cordwainer from Slaugham, Sussex and Jane Fillery was also from Slaugham. Walter had been married to Sarah Wright, who died in 1730 leaving Walter to bring up their two young sons. Walter and Jane had 4 daughters. Unfortunately, Jane’s birth has not been found although it is thought she was younger than Walter. Walter married Sarah in 1707 so he would have been born about 1680-90 ish but again no birth found yet. It is known that he was the son of Lambert Comber, I have copies of deeds that mention Walter and his sister, Elizabeth who was my great x7 grandmother. Jane is thought to have been born about 1710 but there seems to be little evidence for that and once again I have not yet found a baptism for her.
It is a lesson learnt well though that if you are looking for a marriage during the early part of the 1700s that you cannot easily find, it is worth checking the Fleet marriages. Some are available on Findmypast or The National Archives is worth checking. I would love to find the reasons why they married in this way though!
Week 11 of #52Ancestors and the theme is Flowers. I thought I would introduce you to my paternal grandmother. Ivy Lorraine Harmer, one of my many female ancestors with a flower name.
Ivy was born on 2 January 1913 in Dallington, Sussex to Dorothy Harmer. We do not know who her father was, although I hope that maybe one day with the help of DNA we might at least be able to find the family. The earliest possible picture of her is this one of Dallington School in 1917, she would have been 5 years old and in attendance at Dallington. The photo has her labelled as the girl in the centre with the light coloured dress and the large collar.
Ivy’s mother met a Canadian Soldier, John Marini at the end of WW1, and they married in Dallington in 1918. In 1920 they emigrated to the USA leaving Ivy behind with Dorothy’s older sister, Emily and her husband David Smith. It is not clear at what stage Emily took over the care for Ivy and my dad always knew her as Granny Smith. Maybe Emily always cared for Ivy anyway. However Dorothy and John made a few trips back to England and dad knew Dorothy as Ivy’s mum and when they visited in 1975 and I was 9 years old, I was aware that she was my great grandmother.
David, Emily and Ivy appeared on the 1921 census at 19 Garfield Road, Hailsham in an area Ivy lived for the rest of her life and the road that my first property I owned was in. Ivy was now Ivy Smith, but I don’t believe there was a formal adoption. There appeared to be two small boys also living with the family, Leonard Fears and Jack Marchant, both noted as mother alive and father unknown and entered as Boarder, which might suggest David and Emily were fostering. They never had any children of their own. Leonard Fears appeared with Ivy and Alfred on the 1939 register.
David Smith died in 1930 after a short illness and Emily and Ivy remained at 19 Garfield Road. On 4 August 1934 Ivy married my grandad Alfred Sydney Baldwin of 6 Sackville Road, Hailsham, also I road my family lived in during my teenage years. He worked at Green Bros in Hailsham, a garden furniture manufacturers. They started out as one of the number of rope making factories in Hailsham. Grandad and David Smith who had worked there after WW1, had both made Trug baskets. The occupation now of my other half who is based at The Truggery, Herstmonceux.
The 1939 Register has them living at 24a Bellbanks Road, Hailsham. This is where I remember them living through my childhood with its outside toilet with paraffin lamp and tin bath hanging up behind the scullery door.
By this time their first born Richard, better known as Dick had arrived and later during the war, my dad Leslie known as Les arrived in early 1942.
Ivy died in 2002, she was 89 years old. Not a remarkable life particularly but interesting to me because she gives me the opportunity to research another family apart from her birth mother’s. David Smith’s family is the first family on my tree to actually have come from Hailsham, the town where I was born and have lived all my life. More research is always a good thing!
The theme for #52Ancestors this week is Worship. I thought I would take a look at my tree and find the clues to how many of my ancestors were non conformists. My family attended an Open Brethren Chapel in Hailsham whilst we were growing up. But where did our ‘dissenting’ come from?
My maternal grandparents were also Open Brethren, part of the Plymouth Brethren movement. My grandfather, Ronald Pilbeam was one of the leaders of a small chapel, The Rest Gospel Hall, in Punnetts Town, near Heathfield which is now a Christian Outreach Centre. It was planted out by the Assembly at Maynards Green, the other side of Heathfield. I know that a Great Aunt, Eva Pilbeam wrote an account of the history ‘Growing up under the shelter of the Maynards Green Assembly’, copy of which is held at the East Sussex Record Office and hopefully one day I will get over there to read it, now that Covid is over.
I presume that my great grandparents George Charles Pilbeam and his wife Naomi were members too. Before that I am not sure where the family worshipped although I know that they along with 3 other generations of my family are buried at the Independent Chapel at Cade Street, Heathfield. This is a famous white building of the mid 1700s, a bit grand for an independent chapel and is reputed to have been used as a navigation aid by mariners on the sea. Amongst the gravestones I can find many ancestors and forebears that I either knew or were from before my time but appear on my tree.
My maternal grandmother belonged to the Lingfield Mission Room with her parents and siblings, her and grandad were married there in 1937. Unfortunately I was unable to find anything on Google about it. Something to add to the list for searching.
My x4 great grandfather James Vincent and his wife Sarah on my maternal grandfather’s side chose to have a number of their children baptised at Providence Chapel in Staplefield near Cuckfield which was an Independent Chapel. Four of the children were all baptised together on 18 November 1821, the year the chapel was founded. The register starts
‘In an Independent Congregation, worshipping
in Providence Chapel, Staplefield. In the parish
of Cuckfield, in the County of Sussex. The
Church formed in the year of Our Lord
The Minister Edmund Greenfield’
Amongst the Deacons is mentioned James Vincent.
The couple had a further 4 children, all baptised at Providence Chapel. The last child, Jesse Vincent born 1831 later emigrated to Salt Lake City in Utah, USA.
That is the result of just some quick searching of my family tree and it would appear that nonconformity was strong certainly on the side of maternal grandparent’s lines. There are probably others waiting to be found.
Week 9 of #52Ancestors already! I struggled with this week’s prompt, Females. The obvious is to write about the strong women in your ancestry and I didn’t want to do that, I have some strong men on my tree too! I was looking through my family tree and realised I have a long list of women who are currently UNKNOWN surname. Marriages currently not found.
Those marriages that for one reason or another are not found and the woman remains unknown. It’s not so difficult when you can order a birth certificate for the children, (after 1837) and find her maiden name and then search for the marriage. But when you are relying on parish registers, pre 1837, the mother’s maiden name wasn’t entered on baptism records of the children in England and earlier on you are lucky to even find a first name sometimes.
Every so often I like to pick a few and search for them. I picked one this morning:
Samuel STANDEN married Ann UNKNOWN in about 1750. The evidence I have so far is that their daughter Ann married Hugh VINCENT, my x5 great grandfather in 1776 in Cuckfield, Sussex and Samuel was baptised in Cuckfield. His children were baptised to Samuel and Ann. I had searched high and low and couldn’t find a marriage for them anywhere. But today, looking at the family I had found for Samuel, I noted that some of Samuel’s siblings were entered on to the register as STANDING so I searched for a marriage for Samuel STANDING and found the following:
3 March 1749 in Cuckfield, Samuel STANDING and Ann RAPLEY. Looks most likely and looks like one ticked off the list once I have searched a bit further for her family to try and verify this marriage as the one I am looking for.
There are a number of reasons why a name has not been found on initial searching; they have married out of county, it may be information given to me by a contact that I have not had time to verify, it may simply be down to the lack of records online at the time the searching was carried out or like the one above, a change in spelling of names between records. If the vicar wrote the name down wrongly, the couple may not necessarily have known, if they were unable to read and write.
This serves as a timely reminder that nobody ever finishes their family tree, there is always something to go back years later, and research again. Especially with new records being added to the subscription sites all the time. Who knows, maybe in time I will eventually find who Michael HALL married in Edenbridge, Kent and was mother to Jeremiah Hall!