Monday, 30 July 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : L is for...

This week I present to you another alphabet blog challenge double whammy. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my 3xgreat-grandfather Josiah Jolly, and this week I am writing all about my ancestors, the Leman's of Loddon.

My ancestors - the Leman's (pronounced like the fruit, lemon) lived in the county Norfolk market town of Loddon in the 1700s through to the early 1900s. Situated about 12 miles from Norwich, Loddon is thought to mean muddy river (Celtic meaning). The Norfolk Broads is connected by the river Chet that runs through Loddon. In the past Loddon was largely agricultural but nowadays it is a commuter settlement for those who work in Norwich, Lowestoft and beyond.
My 4xgreat-grandfather William Leman was born about 1767 and lived in Loddon until his death in 1839. Writing this post has brought to my attention that I know nothing else about him, not even his occupation (I will order his death certificate, pronto). He may have had a brother, John Leman, who died in Loddon in 1843. John can be found in the 1841 census as 'Independent', living in The Grove. There is also William's son, John Leman, who was a Grocer & Draper on the High Street. William's youngest son, born in 1814 was my 3xgreat-grandfather.

Leman's Grocer & Draper Store (right)
Image courtesy of Before Your Time:

William Leman was a Saddler & Harness Maker by trade. He was listed in various Trade Directories such as Kelly's and Pigot's. In 1838 William married a local girl from Thelveton (more about her family will be written in my letter R post). They had at least seven known children, including twin daughters. One of those twin daughters was my 2xgreat-grandmother. It is not entirely clear who introduced the Methodist faith to the Leman family but sometime in the 1800s they were known for this religious practice both in Loddon and surrounding districts, such as Beccles.

William's brother John Leman, mentioned above, had a son John Spence Leman. He carried on the grocer & draper business in the High Street for many years, until his death in 1908, when his son Ernest Spence Leman carried on the trade. Of the two brothers, John Leman seemed to have faired better, business-wise. William Leman's humble, yet important for the time, trade of Saddler was not carried on by any of his sons. In fact, they followed in their uncle John's footsteps and became Tailors, Clothier Assistants and Drapers.

Leman's Universal Stores
Image courtesy of Before Your Time

The Leman family owned land right up both sides of the High Bungay Road as well as several other throughout the village. On the Tithe Map of 1838, John Leman owned some property in The Pits, while he owned and occupied The Grove - the cottage right on the point between High and Low Bungay Road. Today this Grove is called Leman Grove which intersects with Leman Close and High Bungay Road.

"Leman's Universal Stores sold everything from bacon to best hats. The first floor rooms were only 5' high and were used as a mini sweat shop with girls and ladies sewing the orders in the shop below. The rails outside supported a blind which pulled out to shade the articles in the window and shelter window shoppers if it rained. The Leman family were ardent Methodists and were extensively involved in the community."

My small claim-to-fame is that my auntie used to play tennis with the sister of Davy Jones (of Monkees fame) during the 1960s. Davy and his family lived in Loddon for a time. Also, my mother met an Irish pop group in Loddon, called The Bachelors. The photographs in her collection are so sweet, the boys are sat at a table with cups of tea whilst they meet and greet the fans!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : K is for...

This post may be more obscure than the norm but the biggest thing that stands out for me in my genealogy experience, that starts with the letter 'K' is keep.

Let me explain. When I was a teenager, running around footloose and fancy free without a care in the world, my grandmothers told me stories about our ancestry. How I wish I was better at remembering everything they said. I did keep an exercise book (which I still have today) in which I scribbled down things they told me, names and dates mostly. Birthplaces and occupations too. I'm still amazed at how much my paternal grandmother remembered. She was virtually spot on with birthdates and she knew who married who, where and when.

When I got more serious about genealogy, I pulled out that trusty exercise book and got busy. I went to every library, I scoured the internet, I poured over shelves of local history and social history books, I ordered reams of church records microfilms and I squinted for hours at a time at microfiche readers. Very soon, my exercise book filled to capacity and I had to go out and buy another, and another and...(you get the picture). They came in various sizes, colours, cover designs and brands. I bought pencils like they were going out of fashion. I wrote down everything I could think of, and more. I wrote down every source, page number, quotation....(Okay, no I didn't. I learned that lesson the hard way).

 The moral of this story is? I learned to keep everything. Even if I don't think it will be relevant later, it just might be, otherwise I end up kicking myself and turning myself (and my house) upside down and inside out trying to locate it. Through my love of genealogy I have learned to:
Keep track (of everything)
Keep all notebooks
Keep a pencil on hand at all times
Keep all sources
Keep lists
Keep searching (never give up, and leave no stone unturned)
Keep loose papers in a box (the key to this one is to remember that you do actually have that box of loose papers. Doh!)
Keep FHL microfilm numbers for future reference
Keep everything on file (or in a large - archival safe - storage box)
Keep duplicates where relevant
Keep backing up work on a regular basis (don't rely solely on technology)
Keep your bookmarked websites for at least 12 months and edit/delete as relevant

Before I end this post, I must make a special (afterthought) reference to Kelly's Trade Directories. Bless you! I tip my hat off to you. My ancestral journey would be stale without you.
More importantly,

Sorry, couldn't resist! ;-)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : J is for...

My cousin Angie has been waiting ever so patiently for this one...and at last, without further ado, here it is. My 'J' alphabet challenge is dedicated to our 3 x great-grandfather Josiah Jolly (Two J's covered in one post, talk about killing two birds with one stone!).

Josiah Jolly was born in Laxfield, county Suffolk around 1806. He was the fifth known son of Robert Jolly, an agricultural labourer. Before coming to Laxfield, the Jolly families were believed to originate from Wortham. Laxfield is from Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday book. Its church, All Saints, dates back to at least the fourteenth century. From the seventeenth century, Laxfield became a strong Puritanical village, not least because William Dowsing (1596-1668) who was born in Laxfield, visited many Suffolk churches and was responsible for defacing items such as altar rails, chancel steps, and crucifixes.

All Saints Church, Laxfield

Josiah Jolly married local girl, Susan Short, in 1829 and shortly after this, for reasons unknown, they left Laxfield to start a new life in Bungay with their first born child, Mary. This was a rocky time in their lives if workhouse records and quarter sessions accounts are anything to go by. By the time their second son, Josiah (jnr) was born in 1830, they had sought parish relief at Shipmeadow Workhouse four times.

On the off chance of finding any anecdotal criminal records as part of my local studies research, I ordered the Gaol Books Card Index for Beccles, Suffolk microfilm. I found some treasures, such as one woman who was gaoled for ten days for "Swearing one profane oath" in 1841. When I discovered Josiah Jolly among the records, my heart plummeted.  On 8 February 1831 Josiah Jolly was gaoled for twenty-one days for "Refusing to work at Shipmeadow". By this I assume this meant the Workhouse. In 1841 the master and matron of Shipmeadow Workhouse was Thomas and Anna Balls. See here for more information about the Wangford Union Workhouse:

Bleak House, I mean...Shipmeadow Workhouse
taken from the main drive from Beccles Road

I am not in the least dismayed by Josiah's apparent "bad behaviour". If you sift through the local newspapers of the time, Beccles and surrounding districts of Suffolk were experiencing unimaginable unrest. There were Tithe Riots, incendiarism, agricultural riots and repeated cases of damage to threshing machines. Agricultural practices were changing and some felt the very real threat of machinery taking away jobs from whole families whose income heavily relied on menial farm labouring tasks. Josiah would not have been alone in feeling this voracious unrest.

However torn his ties to agricultural change were, Josiah and Susan went on to have a total of thirteen known children. The last born, William, was my 2 x great-grandfather. Josiah and Susan lived in Plough Street, Bungay which later became known as Wingfield Street. It was formerly known as Plough Street due to its notable thatched roof publichouse, The Plough Inn. This street is better known today for its Board Schools (known today as Bungay Primary School) which was established in 1877, two years before Josiah died, aged 73.

Plough Street was renamed Wingfield Street after the first school master of the Bungay Grammar School, Thomas Wingfield (founded in 1565). Kelly's Directory 1883: Board Schools, erected in 1877, for boys, girls & infants, with class-rooms to hold about 600 scholars average attendance; boys 162, girls 139, infants 113.

Wingfield Street, Bungay c. 1900
Board Schools was further down, on the left hand-side

Monday, 9 July 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : I is for...

I still remember my very first day on Australian soil. Even though it was over thirty years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I arrived in December, having left my hometown in Suffolk, England where it was cold and had recently snowed heavily, to a dry heatwave the likes of which I had never before experienced. My first home was in Ida Street, Bassendean.

When I arrived in Australia with my mother we lived with my grandparents at Ida Street. I only have vague memories of the house as we only lived there for about a month before we moved to another suburb. I do remember the weather was hot and so was every corner of the house (no air-conditioning). I remember the local shop in Bassendean where my cousin introduced me to Paul's Billabong ice-cream (they're now called Peter's Billabong but I still remember the original jingle, "Wrap your laughing gear 'round a Pauls Billabong"). The first time I tasted a chocolate Billabong, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Up to then, the best ice-cream I had tasted was Wall's ice-cream at Lowestoft beach.

My first impressions of Australia have stayed with me all these years. I recently took my mother to the domestic airport and as I travelled back along the main airport road, I was immediately taken back through time to my first ever day on that road. I still look up at the sky and remember my first impressions of it all. I was frightened of the huge expanse of blue, that stretched from east to west, north to south. I truly thought it would engulf me from all sides. The sky was huge! Then, as we took the roads to Ida Street, I marvelled at the wide open spaces all around us. There was miles and miles of nothing, just flat land and the odd shrub dotted on the landscape.
My grandmother Lilian outside Ida Street

Ida Street was a large house, built on an equally large block of land. To the left of the house was a fenced-off garden with a Hills hoist towards the back fenceline. I had never seen a Hills hoist before I clapped eyes on this one. Clothes on a circular, rotating tree! The house itself was made from pale brown bricks. It was a dull and rather boring house to me, it just lacked colour and character. I was accustomed to cottages, pink houses and thatched roofs in Suffolk. There was a strange contraption in front of the door as well, which I had never seen before. My grandfather told me it was called a flyscreen door. "Why do we need one of those?" I asked him. He laughed and said, "You'll see". And he was right, I soon learned.

I have had a love-hate relationship with Bassendean over the years. I resented it in my earlier years because I sorely missed my home in England, and my family that were still back there. I missed my school, my teachers and my friends. I missed the snow. In my late twenties I grew to appreciate Bassendean for its history and its lovely old buildings. I have fond memories of waiting for trains at Bassendean Station (the old one, not its modern replacement) and I still love Bassendean for its famous street, Old Perth Road.

History of Bassendean

There is archeological evidence that Aborigines (Nyungar people) inhabited Bassendean 30,000 years before white settlement in 1829. After the colony's foundation, Bassendean was used primarily for agriculture and many farms were set up by settlers to the area. With the establishment of industries in the 1900s, Bassendean became popular for railway labourers, giving the town a distinct working class flavour. Post World War Two European emigration saw Bassendean change again, this time into a more cosmopolitan suburb. Bassendean has many Heritage listed buildings including: Earlsferry, Sucess Hill Lodge, Daylesford House, and the Pensioner Guard Cottage. One of my personal favourite buildings in Bassendean has always been the Bassendean Hotel.

Bassendean Train Station 1947
Complete with Signal Box
Bassendean Train Station 2012
Daylesford House, Bassendean
Originally built for Cyril Jackson c. 1920
Pensioner Guard Cottage, Bassendean
Bassendean Hotel
Photo by Roderick Smith (Flickr)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge : H is for...

H...H...H...I am spoilt for choice for topics for this week's challenge. There is Holt of course, the Norfolk market town where my ancestors lived for many years. There is also Horbury, which is in West Yorkshire. This is where the maternal side of my story began, as far back as 1664...

For those who are not familiar with Horbury, I shall introduce a short history. Situated near the river Calder, Horbury is a village north of the City of Wakefield. When my ancestors lived in Horbury in the 17th century, the largest industry was wool and cloth manufacture. My ancestors are recorded in parish registers as weavers, clothiers and dyers.

Notable people of Horbury include John Carr. Born in 1723, John Carr became an architect like his mason-architect father before him. Among his many designs are Fairfax House, The Crescent at Buxton, as well as churches, prisons, racecourse grandstands, hospitals and bridges in Yorkshire, Nottingham and Derbyshire.

John Carr

Music was a strong influence on two well known men of Horbury. From David Turton (1768 - 1847) to William Baines (1899 - 1922), these two musicians and composers made a name for themselves. Turton combined his love of music with the flannel weaving industry and quite possibly, he was the one who influenced my four times great-grandfather to leave the declining woollen industry behind and pursue music as a career.

Another of my genealogy passions (aside from photographs, postcards and graveyards) is House Histories. I absolutely love to pour over census returns and trade directories, delving in to the lives of people who lived in my ancestors houses and I would go so far as to admit, the whole street. Even my own childhood street, which is the subject of my work-in-progress house history project.

My Childhood Street
There is nothing more satisfying to me than finding out who lived in your house before you. Earlier this year I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julie Myerson's "Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in our House" and I also loved the Australian ABC production "Who's Been Sleeping in my House?" both of which have fuelled my, already keen, desire to write up my own house history.

Last week I visited the city library because it has an excellent genealogy reference section. There I ravished house histories books by Trevor Yorke, Nick Barratt, Bill Breckon et al, and Melanie Backe-Hansen's beautifully presented book was also there too. I made pages of notes and came away with my head swimming with ideas for my own book. Who knows if it will ever come to fruition. As it is, I am currently keeping myself busy writing two novels, a short story, and a family history book. I have the preliminary notes prepared at least.

Beyond this Door in Bloomsbury Square is Where my
Grandmother Was Born
What story lies in wait beyond your Front Door?