Week 38 of #52 Ancestors and this week’s theme is New to You. I would like to introduce my first French ancestor – Louis Michel. I don’t know much about him at the moment, I’m still researching with the help of some new contacts but this is what has been found so far.
Way back in February this year, I wrote a blog about his sons and how they emigrated around the world but at the time I didn’t have any confirmed information about Louis. Since then I have been contacted by another descendant who had found information confirming that Louis was baptised on 5 November 1782 in the chapel of St Aubin’s Church in St Brelade, Jersey, Channel Islands. It had been suggested he was born in Rouen in France but there was no evidence to confirm this. 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.
The Reverend Louis Michel is believed to have been born in Rouen but again not confirmed yet. He died in July 1801 in Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green, London. I am currently searching for those records that have been mentioned by the contact and need to look at the Reverend more closely. I downloaded from TNA from the UK, Death Duty Registers Index 1796-1811 a copy of an Abstract of Administration for the Reverend Louis Michel, Clerk of Gibraltar Walk in the parish of St Matthew, Bethnal Green which stated he was formerly of the Island of Jersey but late of St Matthew Bethnal Green and now deceased. He mentioned the Administrator as being the Guardian of Louis Michel, son of the deceased and a minor. If born 1782, then Louis was still just a minor and he was born in Jersey.
I also, at last have found the marriage for Louis Michel to Elizabeth Watts in St Helier, Jersey which translated from French and reads:
‘Louis Michel & Elizabeth Watts both of the Parish of St Helier were married together on the twentyth of May in the year one thousand eight hundred and three’. However this needs more research, as a family document quoted by my contact said that Louis Michel snr disapproved of the marriage which is interesting as it is thought he died in 1801, confirmed by the above record! However Louis Jnr and Elizabeth Watts had their first son, Henry in 1802 so there may have been some disapproval of the marriage and possibility might explain why they went to Jersey to marry. Also I have not seen a copy of the so called family document and more inclined to believe an official record.
The burial record for Reverend Louis Michel was found on Ancestry and records that Reverend Louis Michel was buried at St Matthews, Bethnal Green, Middlesex on 5 July 1801. Gibraltar Walk where he was reported as living on the Abstract mentioned above is just round the corner and looking on Google maps it looks like some of the original houses remain although much of the area is now under 20th century blocks of flats.
There are some records to look up and confirm with regard to Louis’s mother Elizabeth Tiquet such as her marriage in 1780 to Reverend Louis Michel in St Giles in the Field, Holborn and her birth is reported as 1737 in Spitalfields and she died in 1799 in Bethnal Green. She was also apparently married previously to Abraham Levesque who was also born in Spitalfields and John Willis who she married in 1771 in Spitalfields.
I’d also like to follow up the Reverend and see if I can find CofE records for him, not an area I am familiar with at all, but I shall search. I also wonder if he was married before he married Elizabeth in 1780.
I have found a remontrance on the Jersey Heritage website which I am currently translating from French, with the help of Google Translate, on behalf of Louis dated 1793. It is making for interesting reading, something about stealing a pew!
The theme for this week’s #52Ancestors is High and Low and I thought I would look at some of the Highs and Lows of researching my family.
Starting with the lows, one part of my research that always makes me really sad is the death of young children, and I have a couple of really sad families on my family tree: firstly my great x3 grandfather Thomas Cruse and his wife Ann Lander who lived in Chailey in Sussex. They married on 12 November 1843 at the Zion Baptist Chapel in Chailey. They had 12 children:
Mary Ann CRUSE (1845-1859)
William CRUSE (1848-1917)
Elizabeth CRUSE (1849-1859)
Samuel CRUSE (1851-1911)
George CRUSE (1852-1852)
Henry CRUSE (1852-1852)
Richard CRUSE (1854- )
Alice CRUSE (1856-1856)
James CRUSE (1857-1908)
Charles CRUSE (1860-1860)
Emily CRUSE (1862- )
Anne CRUSE (1867- )
As you can see at least 6 of these children died young. I researched the deaths of these children and discovered the following:
Elizabeth died of diphtheria on 2 April 1859 followed exactly a month later on 2 May by Mary Ann. The other four children all died within the first year of life. George died 9 days after he was born and Henry who was his twin brother died 5 days after birth. Alice died aged 2 months old. Charles died about 8 months old.
Thomas was an Agricultural Labourer and the most likely reasons for the early deaths of these children are poverty and the poor standard of hygiene that was general to the poor then. Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection affecting the nose and throat and it is likely that it in the middle of the 19th century without the knowledge we have today of how infections are spread that some of the other children also died of it. Death certificates will confirm or otherwise that when I can afford to buy them all.
The second sad family is that of Sarah Baldwin and her husband Michael Madigan. Sarah and Michael married on 24 December 1843 in St Giles in the Field, Middlesex. They had 5 children in Middlesex. There is the possibility they moved to Ireland before 1861 when the census return for them in London is missing and had more children but that needs to be confirmed.
Frances MADIGAN (1845-1845)
Mary MADIGAN (1846- )
Edward MADIGAN (1848-1853)
Sarah MADIGAN (1851-1851)
Esther MADIGAN (1853-1853)
Frances died aged 1 week old of convulsions, Edward aged 5 of Scarlet Fever, Sarah at 4 months of 16 days of diarrhoea and Esther at 8 months of Pneumonia. This probably suggests a family again living in poverty and squalid conditions. Michael was a Carpenter. I have not found his birth yet but the 1851 census suggests he was born in Ireland. However it suggests Sarah was also born in Ireland but if this is the correct Sarah and I believe it is, she was born in Middlesex in 1824 as Sarah Baldwin which the children’s birth certificates and the marriage certificate seem to point to. I need to look further at this family and prove if they really did move to Ireland and if things got any better for them there.
So that is some of the lows, what about the highs of my research?
One recent high has to be getting an email out of the blue from Judie Ellis who had her DNA tested and asked if Reuben Baldwin appeared in my tree and when I told her that he had been my Great Grandfather she told me he had been her grandfather and she was an unknown cousin of my dad. There was me thinking I had researched everything and knew all I could about the tree. It turned out my dad’s Uncle Len had a long term relationship with Judie's mum and Judie had been born. Dad thinks he vaguely remembers it all being talked about but he was 15 at the time and not that interested in family gossip. Anyway we have a new cousin to get to know and another member of part of my family which I have not researched that much as there are so few members left to talk to. Mum and Dad and I met with Judie and her husband, Tony recently and are looking forward to getting to know them more.
The moral of that story is Never think you know it all and finished researching, you never know what’s round the corner! And I have even more research to do! Roll on winter!
Week 36 already of #52Ancestors and the theme this week is Exploration. I thought I would look at exploring a parish by visiting my ancestors who lived there. I decided to look at Warbleton parish which is large rural parish in East Sussex and includes a number of villages such as Warbleton, Punnetts Town, Rushlake Green and Bodle Street Green and hamlets like Three Cups Corner and Turners Green.
I can explore my genealogy in this parish, firstly by looking at census returns and for instance if I take 1871 I find that my great x 3 grandmother Elizabeth Harriet Message was married to her second husband James White and they were running The Three Cups Inn where her children were also living with them.
Little Rigford Farm as it was known then was where Sarah Pilbeam was living, she was a widow and her son William, my great x2 grandfather helped her run the farm along with his sister, Harriet and her husband James Martin, who later farmed at Ebenezer Farm in Punnetts Town.
Down the road towards Battle at Earls Down, Dadds Farm, which now appears to be Ades Farm was where James Winchester farmed with his sons Gaius and Ernest. Gaius was my great x2 grandfather. Gaius is recorded there in later census returns.
Jesse Oliver (younger brother of Hannah Oliver, my great x4 grandmother) and his second wife Eliza were at Bunces at Rushlake Green. He was a market gardener and his son John was a poulterer. In the village of Rushlake Green itself my great x2 grandmother, Naomi Vincent was living with her brother, Nathan who was the Police Constable.
All these families are on my Pilbeam family tree and as the families mixed and interacted the marriages occurred, such as that of Gaius Winchester and Naomi Vincent. I like to wonder about whether Gaius needed the services of the village policeman and met his sister while visiting the Police House, or more to the point did they all worship at the same chapel, I know that it is likely that William Pilbeam worshipped at the ‘White Chapel’ near Cade Street but did the Winchesters too?
I can follow the families progress by checking where they were every 10 years on the census returns. For instance William Pilbeam; in 1861 he was living with his parents James and Sarah at Tye House Cottages in Herstmonceux where James was a Bailiff and William and his siblings were Ag Labs. By 1871 Sarah was widowed and owned the farm at Little Rigford with William. William and then his sons and grandsons farmed at Little Rigford, later Rushford Farm until it was sold in 2006 to a saddlery business. This puts the Pilbeam family in the area for over 100 years and I can also trace where George, son of William went to when he retired in the 1930s. He moved into a bungalow, Beechcroft in Punnetts Town and his sons Sydney and Ron took over the running of the farm, Ron living in next door bungalow, Avondale where my mum lived when she was born during the war. Ron, my grandad eventually moved to Beechcroft after George died and my brother lives there now nearly 100 years later.
Of course other documents can add to this picture we can build of our ancestors and their presence in a place; obvious ones such as births, marriages and deaths and then others such as deeds and mortgage documents, newspaper articles which show them living in a place, marrying from a place, old photos if you are lucky enough to have them and any documents with reference to the properties they lived in.
I also have a number of families that I know were in Warbleton parish earlier than census returns give information for. I can tell this by baptisms and burials that were carried out at Warbleton parish church. Unfortunately though it is not so easy to tell whereabouts these people lived within the parish. Old documents where available might tell me, but most of mine were Ag labs and there is very little documentation for them. Tithe maps give an excellent picture of the early 1840s showing who owned or who resided in properties and documents relating to properties and showing tenancy are very useful as are wills where they are available. Happy Research!
This week’s theme for #52Ancestors is Free Space and I thought I would continue the story of John Thorp, my ancestor whose story I first blogged in March 2020. This blog is about their residency of Hedgecourt, and a number of documents that I transcribed on a visit to The Keep where East Sussex hold their historical archive which involved John and his son, Thomas.
Records from The Keep show that in 1562 there was no iron works in the manor of Hedgecourt at Felbridge where John was the farmer, and he repaired a building and the mill and bank at a cost of £64 which is a high cost so this must have been work on a large scale.
The manor of Hedgecourt was leased by Sir Edward Gage to John Thorpe, yeoman of Horne, for 21 years at £40. I read a number of documents that described this land and included the demesne lands of the manor of Hedgecourt in Sussex and Surrey and lands called the park of Hedgecourt; Coddinglighe Park, Sharnowrs, Gages Meades, Cowpers Hill, Tanners, Smythforde Courte, The Tylt, Honneys, Warnars Crofts and the Myllwood, with all barns, stables, stalls and other buildings in the park, mills and mill dams in Godstone, Horne, Tandridge, Grinstead and Worth. The lease specifically excluded the furnace or iron works, houses and buildings lately built upon lands called Myllwood and Coddingligh Park by John Fawkener & John Frenche which were granted in a separate lease.
John Thorpe was living at Hedgecourt Farm, just north of Hedgecourt Lake on the west side of Stubpond Lane. He was born in the 1530s or thereabouts and had been living in the parish of Newdigate. He married Alice Bowett about 1560 and had seven children, his third son Thomas baptised 1567 in East Grinstead, becoming his heir.
In 1568, Sir Edward Gage died and his heir was his son John Gage.
In 1578 John Thorpe extended his existing lease of Hedgecourt, which ended in 1589, by a further 40 years which was after John Thorpe’s death. Thomas took on the lease after his father’s death. The lease was the same as that of 1567 still excluding the Myllwood furnace, however it included a clause allowing John Thorpe to occupy the furnace should the iron works close during the term of the lease.
In 1594 John Gage sold timber to John Thorpe from trees on land occupied by Thomas Humfrey, living in one tenement in the park of Hedgecourt adjoining Newe Chappell; a parcel of trees adjoining the last sale made in Thorne Park and divided by an old bank of old trees lying northwards from the bank to the pale, through which piece of ground the mill way goes to Burstow; 1000 decaying stubs in various places in the manor of Hedgecourt, already marked out by John Gage’s servant Henry Collins, to be cut down, coaled and carried away within ten years.
John Gage died on 10th October 1598 and in Sussex was holding an Iron Mill (Furnace Mill) and windmill (on Crawley Down) and two parcels of wood and land called Millwood and Cuddingly in Worth. In Surrey he was holding the manors of Burstow and Hedgecourt. He had married twice but had no issue and so his estate passed to his nephew John Gage who was the son of Thomas Gage.
Following the death of the first John Gage, John Thorpe and his son Thomas entered into the lands of Millwood and Cuddinglye and cut down and uprooted most of the woods. They were fined £3000 and a further £1000 for the decayed stubs remaining from 2000 great and sound trees.
This was at a time of competing demands for wood, a growing population needed wood for houses, the Navy needed wood for shipbuilding and much of the Weald was being destroyed by the demands on timber. In 1573, a Royal commission reported of the Wealden area: ‘Besides these furnaces aforesaid, there are not so few as a hundred furnaces and Iron Mylles in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, which is greatly to the decaie, spoile and overthrowe of woods and principle tymber, with a great decaye also of tillage for that they are continuallie employed in carrying furniture for the said workes, and likewise a great decaie of the highways because they carrie all the wyntertyme’. As a result of this, regulations were passed prohibiting the making of charcoal from mature wood, allowing only coppice to be used, this superseded previous regulations that had been introduced earlier in the 1500’s that ensured a dozen standard trees were left to an acre of clear felling so that regeneration through seed might follow. In 1581 and 1585, Queen Elizabeth I passed two Acts of Parliament to control the activities of ironmasters in the Southeast area, the objective being to preserve the larger timber, whilst permitting the production of charcoal from coppice or underwood (small trees and shrubs). Fines were high, as John Thorpe and his son Thomas found out.
Charcoal production became problematic in the Wealden area and eventually the industry was moved to other parts of the country where a new fuel had been discovered – coke. This fuel did not depend on timber with all its other needs. Timber became more expensive and the production of charcoal was expensive and time consuming compared to using coke.
John Thorp died in 1607 and was followed swiftly by his heir, Thomas in 1608. Thomas left Hedgecourt to his eldest son Richard. The lease was renewed in 1629 by Richard Thorp, gent. The lease was eventually sold in 1651 by Richard’s son, Richard to pay off a debt and so ended the long association between the Thorp family and Hedgecourt.
I would like to acknowledge the Felbridge & District History Group for the map above and for a really useful website when it came to my research into Hedgecourt. Check out their website