My family

An intriguing will

A few weeks ago I had ordered a copy of my great great great grandfather, George Batterley’s will. Today I finally had time to sit and read it in detail. My previous research had confirmed that he had four children with his first wife, Maria. The children were Eliza Ann, Ada, my great great grandmother Maria and a son George.

His wife Maria passed away in 1907 and, probably because he was a farmer, he remarried very quickly, to Sarah Ann. By this time the children were all grown up and married. The youngest was 30 years old. Eliza Ann and Maria had married brothers, George and Robert Stewardson, both mole catchers originally from the Lake District but now settled nearby in Derbyshire.

At the time the will was written in 1921 all four children were living in Derbyshire, with families of their own.

The intrigue comes in the legacies. George left 5 shillings to his wife, less than £10 in today’s money. Did he regret his second marriage in his 60s?

He then divides the residue of his property, over £480, between his three children. Not four children. Just three. He lists his son George, his daughter Ada and his daughter Eliza Ann. Maria is very definitely left out.

Excerpt from the will of George Batterley, 1847-1922.

Maria was still alive in 1922, I have her death record in 1960. I have her birth certificate and her father is clearly given as George Batterley. I may never know how or why she was disinherited by her father, but once again a document has raised more questions that answers.

house history

Beginning my house history

One of the many projects I’ve been meaning to do is to research the history of my own house. As a 1970s built estate there can’t be that much to learn but it would still be nice to know.

I have just finished researching one house and have sent the report to my clients. I will be putting it on my website as soon as I have edited the report. While I can give my client the names of living people I don’t feel I should include them on my website. I also don’t want my clients’ full address included so need to remove all traces of that.

Anyway it seems like a good time to get on with my own home. My husband bought the house before we were together. He bought it from the estate of “Mrs G” who had kept a number of cats, more than our three. Beyond that we didn’t know very much, other than she liked pink, all the walls and carpets were pink when he moved in. She had some family, Tony’s offer had to be discussed with more than one person before it could be accepted.
A couple of days ago I had a chat with Ann who has lived on the estate since it was built. I had asked her if she knew if Mrs G had been here since the house was new. Ann thought there was someone before Mrs G, but was not quite sure. She said she was working back then and just did not see as much who was coming and going. She suggested that I speak to “S” who lives in one of the nearby council houses. “S” stands in her door with her walking frame and chats to anyone walking past so I knew I’d have an opportunity soon.
Yesterday I got home from a short geocaching trip and Ann had phoned to ask us to collect a parcel from “S” and to deliver her some apples. Ann said that “S” had some information about our house to pass on. Everyone else has to pick their own apples, but it seemed like a fair trade with Shani.

So, I took some apples round and learned that Mrs G was a divorcee, with two grown up boys. One of the boys worked at “the atomic place” in Ireland and one had a daughter who “wasn’t quite right.” Mrs G really didn’t like her ex-husbands new wife.
Previously there has been a couple here, she was from Penrhyn and he was from Trawsfynydd, and they moved away to Nebo. It is something to start with at least! I’ve ordered a copy of Mrs G’s will and next need to work out where I can view the local electoral roll.


A logo courtesy of my nephew

It is always lovely to get “real” post, not bills or bank statements or circulars. Even better than a parcel from Amazon is a letter from my nephew or one of my nieces.

Today, while the oven was being declared terminal, the postman dropped a card backed envelope through the letter box. The return address immediately brought a smile to my face as it belongs to my six year old nephew. He had been busy after school drawing a picture for me.

In his own words, “This is the family tree. Who is in it: Mummy, Daddy, Me.” I’ve been promised similar from my nieces so keep an eye on the website for further updates.

Now, I’m off to research a new oven. The trees are groaning with apples and I need to bake a pie!

My family

Family history gold dust

I had a lovely walk this afternoon with my nieces. We sat for ages at the local war memorial catching Pokémon, then they found 7 geocaches including the one I hid a week ago. There was a horse in the field by that one. I’d already found the other 6 caches but it was fun to help them find them. They were really keen and wanted fewer and fewer clues for each one. We carried on and the girls helped me find a good location to hide cache at St Beuno’s church.

My niece hunting a geocache.

I had a bit of time before getting dinner ready, so having spent the week working on my sister’s house history I decided to spend a few minutes checking off a “to do” item from my old list on Legacy. The top item on the list was to find a death date for my 1st cousin 3 times removed Annie Stewardson. I knew she was born in Cumberland around 1908, and that she emigrated to Canada when she was very young. I’d seen her on the 1921 census of Canada but nothing further.

I typed her details into Ancestry and just wow, I hit the jackpot! Not only a death date but an incredibly detailed obituary. There was no doubting that this was for the right person. So I now have her sisters married names, I know which siblings were still alive in 2003, I have both her husband’s names and so many more clues.

I wonder how long it will take to trace those 12 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren. A webinar i watched during the week confirmed how important making connections like those can be for DNA assisted genealogy.

What an exciting evening! Needless to say I was late putting the roast dinner in the oven tonight.

Other families

A Collection of Slides

I’ve still not managed to make the title underlined, but it is a clickable link!
About a month ago I was contacted by a friend, Andrew Lance, who is scanning the slide collection of John Powell, known to us both through the Ffestiniog Railway. The majority of the slides are of various railways, but in with them are a selection of family weddings, Andrew thought that these weddings, if they could be identified might help with more accurate dating of the some of the railway pictures.

Between us we knew little of John’s family, but there were some clues on some of the slide labels, such as “Carol Minors wedding”. Using these clues, FreeBMD, Ancestry, FindMyPast between us we identified the weddings and drew up a family tree for John Powell. We were able to identify cousins who could be interested in the slide collection.

It has been a fun project to work on, and we would be happy to scan photographs of any format and use them to create a family tree.

Beginnings My family

The Ring! The real beginning.

My first serious attempt at family history research came in the mid nineties, round about the time that I was graduating and beginning a career as a teacher. My grandmother inherited “the diamond ring” from her older sister who had recently passed away. 15 years later it is all a bit hazy, but I remember Grandma describing it as a widows ring, and that it had been passed from mother to oldest daughter to reach her. As she was the youngest of three sisters this story unravelled straightaway. However Great Auntie Kathleen didn’t have any daughters so the ring was kept on the female line.

I was determined to find out what I could about the origins to tell my Grandma. The inscription reads “Ann Dawson ob 24 feb 1755 aet 22” Which I understand means that Ann Dawson died on that date aged 22. A little research back then told me that this was a mourning ring rather than widows ring and that more than one may have been made. From what I read it was the custom to leave money and instructions in a will for the rings to be made and distributed. Ann Dawson was in good company, Shakespeare left around 26 shillings for his wife and daughter to have rings made, while Samuel Pepys bequeathed over a hundred. This ring seems to be entirely typical of its time, and the black inlay suggests that Ann Dawson was probably married.

The inscription on the mourning ring.

Finding out who Ann Dawson was, proved much harder than I’d realised. I was on a steep learning curve of census returns, parish records and GRO indexes, at a time when transcriptions on the internet were still in their infancy, and I had little money for buying birth, marriage and death certificates or for travelling to archive offices. As you can see on my Tribal Pages I have found a connection to a Dawson family. Let’s work backwards, my Mum was left the ring by her Mum, my Grandma, Bessie Tomlinson, nee Wadsworth.
Grandma received it from her older sister Kathleen. It was passed to Kathleen by her mother Florence Wadsworth, nee Roberts. Now, assuming that I have the right Dawson family, Florence probably received the ring from her mother-in-law, Ann Roberts who had just one son.
Ann probably received the ring from her mother Sarah Roberts, nee Dawson. Sarah’s christening shows her parents were John and Elizabeth Dawson, and going through the baptism book in Doncaster archives I found that she was probably the eldest of 6 children. And that was where my research came to and end. Over the years I’ve looked at other lines and developed a real love of family history, but I’ve become distracted from the purpose of finding out who Ann Dawson who died aged 22 on 24th February 1755 was, and how she is connected to me. Grandma passed away in 2013 and so I’ll never be able to tell her, but hopefully one day I’ll find out enough to tell my niece when she receives the ring.

Many thanks to Vera Hopkinson for taking the pictures for me.

My family

Bluebell won the fancy dress

I’m still working out WordPress – click the title above to read this blog post. I had a few minutes spare before tea and so I checked what the next thing to do on my family history to do list was. I’m trying to tick off an item or two on my 10 year old to do list each day while I’m furloughed from work. The next item was to find a baptism for my great great aunt Doris Stewardson. Her big sister, my great grandmother, had been christened at the Wesleyan Methodist church in Matlock at almost a month old so it seemed reasonable to look for a baptism for Doris. I keyed the basic details I had of her birth from the 1939 register, and the 1901 and 1911 Census into both Ancestry and Findmypast. Ancestry didn’t have anything I didn’t already know, but Findmypast showed a school admissions log book. No baptism, but never mind.

Digging around I found that Doris, and her siblings had attended Crich British School before moving to Crich Carr National school in 1909. A quick Google revealed that Crich Carr National school is now Crich Carr Church of England Primary school. I then stumbled across, a one place study, which has a page about the complicated school history of the town. Delightfully the page includes a picture of the Crich Carr National school pupils taken around 1913, of course I don’t know which are my ancestors, but it seems likely that Doris’ younger siblings Bluebell, Matthew and Harry are in the picture, possibly Doris herself too. The two older siblings, my great grandmother Adelaide May and Robert Stewardson would have left by then. It is wonderful to have a picture of them, even if I don’t know which children they are!

I carried on searching to see what else I could find out. I searched the site for “Stewardson” and found a transcript of the article in the Derbyshire Times describing the celebrations for George V coronation on 19th June 1911. I’m delighted that Bluebell Stewardson, my great great aunt won the girls fancy dress competition dressed appropriately as a bluebell, her Dad had served on the tent committee, and her Mum, after serving on the Ladies committee won a special prize in the fancy dress for her Mother Hubbard costume.


How it all began

Well this is scary…. I’ve never written a blog before, and writing text was never my strong point in school and university. Please bear with me while I figure out how all this works.

I thought I remembered that I had starting tracing my family history when my Grandmother inherited a widow’s ring, but while searching for something else I realised that it goes back further than that. I can tell you the exact date I began, 13th October 1984, thanks to a book I discovered buried in the bottom of my “family history box”. I’m surprised by how much of the book 10 year old me filled in. Another item added to my ever growing to-do list is to work through the book ensuring that all the information I gathered back then, when I could actually speak to my grandparents, is included in my family history.

Front page of Trace Your Family Tree by Margaret Crush completed by Ruth.

I had a copy of Trace Your Family Tree by Margaret Crush for my initial foray into family history research. It was all completed by interviewing family members, back then there was no Ancestry website, and I certainly didn’t visit any archive offices, I doubt I even knew what a census return was.

Here is 10 year old me, sitting on Hadrian’s Wall. Back then I wrote in the book that I lived in Macclesfield, had two sisters, brown hair and blue eyes, that I didn’t like spellings, but did like maths and trains. Well some of that has changed. I now have three siblings and have more or less mastered spelling. I did a degree in maths and education before moving to North Wales, where through the Ffestiniog Railway I met my husband, Tony. Trains are still very much part of our lives, he runs Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works a garden railway specialist and my full time job is as a tour consultant for Ffestiniog Travel, booking holidays for rail enthusiasts.
My other loves include Harry Potter, Jane Austen novels and fanfiction and our cats. During furlough I’ve been walking regularly, visiting the graveyards in Pentrefelin to transcribe the headstones, finding geocaches and Pokemon.

10 year old Ruth at Hadrians Wall
10 year old Ruth at Hadrian’s Wall