The theme for #52Ancestors this week is Light a Candle and I thought I would tell you about one of the surviving industries of East Sussex and my forebears who were involved in it.
For anyone who has been anywhere near the area of Mountfield in Sussex, may have seen some odd sights in the countryside, such as a covered conveyor belt cutting through Darwell woods, from Mountfield to Brightling. When I was a child, I have a memory of my Grandad standing with me and my sister on a bridge and watching the overhead cableway going into the ground and coming back out with its buckets full of gypsum. This system was used until it was replaced with the covered conveyor belt which must have been in the 70s or 80s.
Gypsum is a soft white or grey mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulphate. It occurs chiefly in sedimentary deposits and is used to make plaster of Paris and fertilizers, and in the building industry.
The Mountfield website The Gypsum Mine – Mountfield Parish Website tells me that Gypsum was first discovered at Mountfield in 1872, a chance find as they were actually boring for coal.
Various of my Harmer forebears have in their time worked at the Gypsum mines, my dad remembers visiting an Uncle who lived at Netherfield where he describes a footpath that wound its way down from the village to the mines lit by gas lights especially for the workers to see their way to work.
Two were sons of my Great x 3 Grandmother, Ellen Augusta Harmer. She married John Fuller in Brightling on 16 February 1866, after having had two children whose father was unknown. One of those two was James Frederick Samuel Harmer, my Great x2 Grandfather. But back to Ellen. She and John had 6 children; Philadelphia, George, Robert, Mary, Charles and Rachel and the two sons, the subject of this blog are Robert and Charles.
John died in 1886 and Ellen had her three youngest children living with her on the 1891 census; Robert, Charles and Annie (Rachel Ann). Robert and Charles were both described as Stone digger and I presume they were working for the Gypsum mines. They were living at Darwell Hill which is at Netherfield and close to the Mountfield end of the mines.
Both boys married during the next decade; Robert to Naomi Smith in 1893 and on the marriage certificate he is described as a labourer and Charles to Naomi Luck in 1899 and again Charles is also a labourer. They were all living in Netherfield.
On the 1901 census Robert and Naomi were living on Darwell Hill with his father in law, William Smith, a widower and his mother, Ellen, a widow along with two children. Robert was a General Labourer.
Charles was living in Mountfield at what looks like Mineshaft with his wife Naomi and he was a Gypsum Miner as were many of his neighbours around him.
By 1911 Robert was also living on Darwell Hill and was a Gypsum Miner Worker, he had 3 children now. Charles had by this time moved to Hoath Hill, Mountfield and was a Gypsum Miner, he was living with his wife and her father, mother and sister.
In 1921 Robert was working at a Stone Quarry and was an employer so presumably not at the Gypsum mines but maybe connected. He was living with his wife and nephew Charlie who was 15 and was his kettle boy. They were living at Ivylands Green near Netherfield.
Charles was described as a Gas Engine Driver above ground at the Gypsum Mines at Mountfield, described as plaster and cement makers. He and his wife had a 12 year old niece living with them and remained at 4 Hoath Hill, Mountfield.
I am sure that as I continue to research the Fullers and the Harmers I will uncover more workers at the Gypsum Mines, there is the uncle of my Dad, for instance who lived in Netherfield. The mines apparently have another 20 odd years of mining left so will continue to draw employees, no doubt from the local area. Oh and the theme Light a Candle, well I guess right back at the beginning of mining the men would have worked by candle light rather than the electric lights they probably now use.
This week’s theme for #52Ancestors is Membership and this is a very tenuous link but bear with me dear reader! I thought I would write about some research I have been updating recently on my tree which takes us right back to week 2 of #52Ancestors last year where I wrote about my favourite find, which was the birth certificate of Helena Lorraine, my Great x 2 Grandmother.
This time I have been looking closely at her mother, Emily Stanford. I was told years ago that her parents were Isaac and Mary Stanford of Roughey Corner near Horsham which fits as a birth place from the full census entries I have for her and I happily accepted that for her. She was born in 1834. However a couple of years ago when I was searching for the children, I found a census return for 1871 which was 6 years after Isaac had died where Emily Standford born 1834 was in the workhouse at Horsham.
I thought at the time this was odd, as we have two census records for Emily in 1871, in Punnetts Town along with John Smith and the children. At the time I left it but I went back to it last weekend. I then noticed that the box at the end of the census return, you know, the one we always ignore had writing in it, Emily was dumb from birth and was classed as an idiot. I went back and looked at the other census returns and found that the 1861 census where she was with Isaac also had deaf and dumb. None of the later census returns for my Emily have that on it. Therefore I concluded that Emily born to Isaac and Mary is not my Emily. I have detached them from the tree.
I went back to the beginning and looked at what I know of Emily, she was born about 1833 in Horsham, Sussex. Despite the fact that she lived with John around different parts of East Sussex the census returns from 1871 to 1921 are all adamant she was born in Horsham, apart from the 1881 which curiously has her born in Holborn, Middlesex. But I wonder whether the enumerator misheard a thick Sussex accent?
I searched again for Emily, born 1833 in Horsham and came up with two alternatives to the original one.
Emma Jane Stanford baptised 2 March 1834 to John and Jane at Horsham Independent. John was a Linen Draper. My instincts tell me this is not the correct one.
Amy Stanford baptised 7 July 1832 in Horsham to Ann Stanford. I found an 1841 census record which fits this one. Amy was 9 years old and living on her own in West Street, Horsham. I have not been able to trace anything more of Amy or indeed Ann. I have a feeling this one needs to be followed up. The 1911 census has her living with one of her children at Boreham Street, age 78 and she is recorded as Amy Stanford Lovekin. I still do not know where the Lovekins fit in.
I need to research further the Rawlins name that she uses on some of the birth certificates for her children. Following the births of the children I have found so far, I think her first child was William Rawlins born 1865 and registered in Wartling. Then she had Helena Lorraine Vineall in 1867 in Battle. Then I think she met John Smith and had their first child Flora in 1870 in Warbleton and she is recorded as Emily formerly Rawlins. This is what she is recorded as for the next child, Jessie born 1872 in Wartling and lastly Thomas is born 1877 in Mayfield and Emily was recorded as Emily Smith formerly Stanford.
The four older children, Emily 1853, George 1856, Mary Ann 1860 and Edith Bertha 1863 I am still looking for births for but again they use the Lovekin name for their fathers. I had thought previously these were John’s children with another woman, as Emily was apparently in Horsham with her family. Now that is not true they could well be Emily’s too.
This family continues to baffle me and I’m even further from finding the truth now apparently. I think I am firmly in the membership of the ‘Haha you are not going to find us’ Club.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Lucky and again I was really stumped with this one. I don’t feel I have gained much of my family tree through luck but through sheer hard work most of the time. But there was a lucky find I had a couple of months ago which is yet to come to fruition.
Back in January I told the story of James Traies my Great x5 Grandfather who apparently had five wives. I mentioned that he was born in Exeter in Devon and the family line traced back ends up in the 1600s in Crediton in Devon. I descend from John Traies baptised in Crediton in 1696 who married Sarah Pidlar in 1724 in Crediton, Devon. This John was the son of John Trease and Lidia Kerswill who married in 1681 in Crediton and that was where my research petered out. I pulled my notes out back in the winter and decided to revisit a website created by a contact I met on Rootschat, a genealogy forum online some 15 years ago or so. He has a very comprehensive website at http://www.trease.org.uk/ where he explains why he believes that my particular line of Traies were part of the Trease line.
It is the belief that this John was the son of Samuell Trease who married Rebeccah Prise in Crediton and it is believed that Samuell Trease and his brother, Richard left the Launceston area of Cornwall and settled in Crediton. So far, conclusive evidence that these TRAIES families are related to persons on the main TREASE family tree is lacking. However the circumstantial evidence from continuity of Christian names and similarity of the surnames plus the disappearance of some 'Treases' with those Christian names from North Petherwin (then in Devon, now in Cornwall) and the appearance of similarly named 'Trease/later Traies' in Crediton, Devon together with associations with the Wivell family from Launceston are thought to indicate that such a link is likely. To date, however, it remains unproven.
Genealogists know well that names can be changed and misspelt along the way. Where a vicar was writing down the details of a couple marrying and they could not write and had never seen their name written before it was easy for Traies to become Trays or even Trease.
Samuel was thought to be the youngest son of Michael Trease who lived in North Petherwin which was part of Devon but is now in Cornwall. It is thought Samuel went to Crediton, Devon with his brother Richard, married Rebecca Prise in 1654 and had children (ie John) who settled in that area and that he himself may have died in 1690.
I started to read what the website said about Michael Trease and look for some of the documents mentioned;
“Michael's parents and his date of birth are unknown. It is surmised that he may have been the son of William Trease of North Petherwin whose will was proved in 1597 and the brother of Dorothy Trease who married Degory Doubt in North Petherwin late in 1611. If he was William's son, he would probably have been a minor when his father died and others, possibly relatives from either his mother's or father's side, would have looked after him, Dorothy, and Pattacott farm.”
At this point, I stopped, why did Pattacott Farm ring a bell with me? I don’t have family from that area and so I went to look on a map and couldn’t quite believe it as I realised that two of my other half’s oldest friends moved to Cornwall a couple of years ago and they bought a property on Pattacott Farm. Of course I messaged my friend to tell her to which she replied “You are JOKING!!!!!????? and apparently the current owner is a descendant of the Trease family who farmed there. At some point this year we are going to make our first visit down there to see them and I can’t wait to not only stand on the ground my ancestors maybe once farmed but see what I can find out about them and maybe even meet a very very distant cousin. It would feel even luckier to find that elusive final bit of proof that slot into place and prove the theories.
The theme for #52 Ancestors this week is Translation so I thought I would tell you about a document I am attempting to translate from French to English at the moment and what is being revealed as I type into the translator. My school girl French is very rusty, I can pick out the odd word but not enough to translate a 4 page document, the remontrance of Reverend Louis Michel.
I mentioned Louis Michel back in September, I had been researching his son, also Louis who was my great x5 grandfather and I had finally found his baptism in 1782 in St Brelade in Jersey, despite several researchers thinking he was from Rouen in France. His father, Louis Michel was a Reverend and was appointed Perpetual Curate at St Brelade on 24 December 1781 and his signature as ‘Ministre Officiant’ appears on various Jersey, Church of England Registers for Baptisms, Marriages and Burials during the period 17 May 1782 to 16 December 1787.
So far I have not found Louis snr’s birth but I have his marriage to Elizabeth Tiquet in August 1780 in Holborn, London. She was twice widowed, her first marriage of Abraham Levesque, a Huguenot. I also have found Louis and Elizabeth’s deaths in Bethnal Green, Elizabeth’s in 1799 and Louis’s in 1801, meaning Louis jnr was not very old when he was orphaned.
The document I am translating was delivered to the Royal Court on 25 November 1793. That is the Royal Court of Jersey and I am presuming it reveals why he left Jersey and ended up in Bethnal Green not many years later.
Google is not very good at translation I find, it does not seem to be able to cope with late 18th century words and puts Remontrance as Remonstrance all the way through but I think a better word would be admonition. Correct me if I am wrong please!
He goes on to explain he had lived on Jersey for 15 years, having been invited by the founders of the chapel in St Aubin, to come from England (where he had already been for several years and preached the word of God as minister) to serve the said chapel; that as a result he served it for well eleven years, & part of this same he also served the parish church of St Brelade and had the enjoyment of the income of the benefit of this parish by the cession of the Rector.
It appears in the year 1790 he took on the parish of St Martin too and was given a dwelling that was not fit for habitation for a Minister of the Gospel and his family, (presumably Elizabeth and Louis were living there too).
In 1791 he wanted the dwelling repaired and it was the right of a Minister to make repairs using debris from repairs to the Church and he had taken some old pews removed and replaced from the Church by one of the parishioners to use the wood. It was a custom and he also had the permission of the parishioner. That is as far as I have got at the moment but I assume he had been accused of theft by someone, maybe the Rector who didn’t sound a particularly honest man.
I am looking forward to revealing more of the story as I continue the translation and maybe if I remember I will update you when it is finished and I know the full story. I was led to the document by a contact also descended from Louis and who found it in the catalogue of the Jersey Archives. It always amazes me just what nuggets you can find about your ancestors if you are prepared to look. This one certainly is a gem!