This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Broken Branch. Another subject I have struggled with, something with enough story to tell in a blog post. Of course the obvious answer is Thomas Sinden alias Winchester.
When I started researching my family tree back 20 years ago, I was sent research and family trees that had Thomas Winchester, the son of John Winchester of Ashburnham and his wife Mary. There were promises of the Winchester going right back to at least the 1500s in Sussex and I was really excited.
But then I was brought right back down to earth. Apparently John Winchester was not Thomas’s father or was he? There is disagreement between genealogists and this little bit of the family is extremely murky. Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in Ninfield in January 1785. In July 1785 in Catsfield, the couple had a son James. It looks likely that Thomas died in Ninfield in 1788 but is recorded as Sedden. No other burial has been found either in Ninfield or Catsfield. Mary then had two children, Fanny in 1790 and Thomas in 1791, both baptised to her alone as Mary Sinden. No idea who the father was! Then in 1793 she has another child, Elizabeth and the baptism entry reads Elizabeth Winchester, Daughter of Mary Sinden.
The two marriage records confuse matters even further! As already noted above Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in January 1785 in Ninfield. She was noted of Ninfield. They were married by Licence and she left her mark. She married John Winchester on 23 February 1794 in Catsfield. Again by licence and she is noted as Mary Lock, a single woman. So is it not the same woman? But then the children point to it being the same woman. She left her mark and one of the witnesses was Thomas Locke who could be her father.
Obviously more investigation is needed but my gut feeling is that it is the same Mary. The fact the first marriage was conducted in Ninfield where she grew up and the second in Catsfield away from the neighbours suggests her parents wanted to legitimise the three children by giving her a husband, but then if you know the geography of Sussex, Catsfield is only a couple of miles down the road and people talk! Finding the burial record for John Winchester’s first wife may put a different light on things as would an alternative for the likely burial of Thomas Sinden. This is another interesting story that rumbles on! So maybe Thomas really was a Winchester after all, or maybe he was something else entirely different.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Popular name and I thought I would reflect on a name that appears a number of times on my family tree as it does on many based in Sussex particularly during the second half of the 1700s. Philadelphia.
I have 19 Philadelphias on my tree, ranging from the mid 1700s to the early mid 1800s. I’m not sure why it was so suddenly popular in Sussex for naming daughters but it may have something to do with William Penn who founded Philadelphia in the US. William Penn spent a lot of his life in Sussex. The name was also apparently popular amongst early Quakers because it means ‘the loving people’. But whatever the reason there were a lot in Sussex and here I pick out just three of my small pile.
Philadelphia Fletcher born 1787
Philadelphia Fletcher was born 1787 in Battle to John Fletcher and Mary Bishop. She was the second child of five and was my great x5 grandmother. She married Samuel Jenner in 1807 in Battle, they both left their mark on the register and her sister Jane was one of the witnesses. The couple had 9 children. Their 3rd daughter, Mary married my great x4 grandfather Robert Carey Harmer. Picture of Mary below. Samuel Jenner died in August 1832 and Philadelphia married again to Thomas Sinden of Battle in 1838. Thomas was an Agricultural Labourer. They lived ‘below Watch Oak’ in Battle and Philadelphia died in 1863 and was buried at Battle Cemetery on 28 April 1863.
Philadelphia Pennifold born 1776
Philadelphia Pennifold was born November 1776 in Worth, Sussex to Thomas Pennifold and his wife Elizabeth Hall. They had 8 children that I have found in the records. There is a gap between 1778 and 1790 although some Ancestry trees have a couple of other children born in those years, but having looked at the parish records these baptisms cannot be confirmed so more research is needed. A quick look at a family tree on Ancestry gives the possibility of Quaker ancestry, that should be interesting and maybe explains her name. Philadelphia married Richard Vigar my great x5 grandfather on 3 November 1794 in Burstow, Surrey about 5 miles away from Worth. Richard signed the register and Philadelphia left her mark. They had 12 children, 4 of whom died as small children. Philadelphia and Richard both died in 1839, Philadelphia in January and Richard in October and they were both buried in Burstow Churchyard. It looks like her father, Thomas was also buried in Burstow in 1715.
Philadelphia Seaman born 1732
Philadelphia Seaman was born 1732 in Chailey, Sussex to Richard Seaman and Elizabeth Grover. I’ve not managed to find Richard Seaman yet although he may have been born 1702 in Newick to John and Alice. Richard and Elizabeth had 10 children, 9 girls and 1 boy. The oldest child, Elizabeth and the youngest child, Catherine both died in March 1744 within days of each other. Sadly the parish register is very illegible at that point and I can barely read the record let alone wonder if the Vicar added a reason for two deaths within days of each other. Philadelphia married Thomas Cruse on the 19 July 1757 at Chailey and both left their mark on the register. She was his second wife. His first wife Frances had died in 1756. Philadelphia and Thomas had 8 children, 7 survived to adulthood. Their eldest son John born 1756 but baptised in 1759 was my great x5 grandfather. That needs more research because the baptism record clearly says Philadelphia mother but if he was born 1756, surely Frances was his mother. Hmmm.
Three Philadelphias, with remarkably similar lives although they lived in different parts of Sussex and at different times. I imagine due to the geography of where they were living they were all from labouring families of some variety, probably agricultural labourers in Chailey and Burstow. It is hard to tell without Census records though, and that is where other records such as Apprentice record, land records or wills prove very useful. More research then….
This week’s theme for #52Ancestors is Mistake and I thought I would write about my latest research into the family of David Smith. He married Emily Smith Harmer, my paternal grandmother’s aunt and they brought my grandmother up when her mother and stepfather emigrated to America in 1920. I have been looking at David’s ancestors and his mother’s family were the Sturt family from East Hoathly.
Samuel Sturt was born around 1815 in East Hoathly, no baptism found as yet. His sister Sarah was baptised in 1811 and their parents were Samuel Sturt and Sophia Ford who married in Burwash in 1810.
The 1841 census had Samuel living on Teelings Common, which now appears on the map as a housing estate Teelings Drive and Old Common Road at Ridgewood, at the northern end of Uckfield. Samuel was a 25 year old shoemaker, the same profession as his father and he was living with Ann, and Henry aged 3 and Mary aged 1. A marriage was not found before 1841, however in 1841 banns were called for a Samuel Sturt and an Ann Terry in Lewes and then in 1842 a Samuel Sturt and Ann Terry were married in St Nicholas Church, Brighton. It appears that Henry was in fact Jacob Henry Sturt, mother’s maiden name Terry on his certificate and he was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1838 in Hailsham Union. A registration has not been found for Mary ‘s birth as yet. The family was split up by the 1851 census, Ann, Turnpike Gate Keeper at Hailsham with the children and Samuel was a Turnpike Toll Gatekeeper but was lodging at the Kings Head Inn in East Hoathly. This may be due to the circumstances reported in the local newspaper The Sussex Advertiser, Surrey Gazette on the 29 April 1851.
This leads to a number of unanswered questions such as why did Ann pay his fine after such an allegation. My feeling is that maybe she knew there was no truth in the allegation, but we shall never know or maybe he was threatening her to come up with the fine but the rest of the story of his life shows no repeat of such behaviour. There was one further newspaper report in 1854 of Samuel Sturt, Toll Gate Keeper bringing Thomas Sinnock, Farmer to court for evasion of the toll. The case was thrown out.
By the 1861 census, Ann was alone with the children, described as a widow. However no death for Samuel Sturt could be found. In fact a number of family trees on Ancestry all put Samuel Sturt in New York, USA married again with another family by the 1860 census. He was described as a Shoemaker from England and aged 39 which was not quite correct but plausible. I searched for a marriage certificate for Samuel and his second wife Sabra Ploss but none has been found so far. The first child, was born about 1857 so Samuel must have moved to US between 1854 and 1857. Again no birth certificate for Ruth or the second child Mary were found. Neither were census records for Sabra before 1860 but I continue to look. A naturalisation record dated 1869 stated he was formerly of Sussex, England. There was one record that helped to prove that this was the same Samuel Sturt and that was the death certificate for Samuel’s son Samuel who died in 1945. He had been born in 1867 in New York. He stated that his father Samuel Sturt was born in East Hohley, Sussex, England. No doubt other death records or even birth records for his children would add further proof.
Samuel died in 1880 and I found a copy of his will, it did not mention any family in England, as you would expect. He left his land and appurtenances to his wife Sabra to be divided between his 7 heirs on her death. A curious story and usually, and I blame this on the years I spent working for a Child Protection Team in Social Services back in the 1990s, I have no sympathy for paedophiles but somehow this story does not resonate with me as being of a paedophile. Of course we shall never know what went on that night in the privy but to me Samuel made a mistake and then he ‘came good’. An interesting family that I continue to research. I wonder what I shall uncover next?
Week 22 of #52Ancestors already, and this week’s theme is Conflict. Time to reflect on the research I have carried out so far on one of my two WW1 forebears and the records I have gathered that give a snap shot of his life. Henry James Baldwin, the eldest son of my great x2 grandparents William James Baldwin and Jane Elizabeth Turner.
Henry was born on 30 September 1885 in 4a Bristowe Street, Hoxton New Town. This was the home of his maternal grandparents James Turner and Emma Traies. James Turner had recently died on 12 September 1885. James and Emma had lived at 4a Bristowe Street since at least 1871.
Henry enlisted at Stratford in 1903 for the regular army. His attestation papers tells us that he was residing at 40 Dock Street, his father’s address and was single. He was 18 years and 9 months old and was Clerk for a Messrs Goldsmith Myers. He was to serve in the Royal Artillery Regiment as a gunner. He was 5ft 7 ¾ inches tall, had grey eyes and brown hair and a number of tattoos. His parents were both still alive and his brother Frederick Charles was at Devonport on HMS Lion. His two younger brothers, Bertie and Reuben were still at home with their parents. No mention of Sydney, Alfred or Victoria though. At the time of the 1911 census he was stationed at Honeybutton Island, Hong Kong with the 87th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. He was a 22 year old Gunner and still single.
On 17 September 1914 at the age of 29 he joined the 4th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery in France. The Siege Batteries were deployed behind the front line, tasked with destroying enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores. The Batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns firing large calibre 6, 8 or 9.2 inch shells in a high trajectory.
He was killed in action on 16 June 1915 nearly 30 years old, and is buried at Ypres Reservoir North British Cemetery, Ypres, France. From the CWCG website I have gathered a number of papers about Henry that tell me he was buried at Ypres Reservoir Graveyard, his body was exhumed and buried in a CWCG graveyard presumably meaning he was originally buried where he fell during battle.
I have a copy of his will found in pay book after death which states he left all his personal belongings to his mother Jane Baldwin who was living in Peckham. I also have a copy of his personal effects which states that 21s and 9d were sent to his mother, Jane as the sole legate plus another 5s again to Jane Baldwin. Sadly it is not stated where he died and that is where my research will take me next, I want to find out a bit more about the role he would have played and the role the 4th Siege Battery would have played in the war and presumably one of the battles in Ypres. It would be great to find a regimental diary which might give an idea of where they were during June 1915 and what they were involved in as a regiment.