Week Seven of the 52 Ancestors Challenge – Valentine

This weeks’ challenge was a bit of a “challenge” for me. The prompt was: “Is there a love story in your family tree? Maybe a couple was married on Valentine’s Day, or you have a valentine that one ancestor gave to another. Maybe you have an ancestor named Valentine.”

Having looked through my family tree, as well as my husband’s, nothing immediate caught my eye. The majority of both our ancestors were married, and had stayed married throughout their lives. If a spouse had died early into their married lives, and there were children from the relationship, then the remaining spouse would have re-married reasonably quickly.

Over the past few years, I have carried out research for various people. Whenever I find a document or article that piques my interest, I make a note of it, just in case I want to come back to it one day. One particular document was a newspaper article that I found on Findmypast.co.uk. It was an article, from the Sussex Agricultural Express dated 10th July 1936, of a wedding that had taken place between a Roger Fenwick Martin and a Cicely Katherine Loat Tutton in Dallington, East Sussex.

Having read the article, it was clear that both families came from a wealthy background, as the wedding appeared to be a lavish affair. They were married in Dallington parish church, with the church being decorated with delphiniums, pink roses and hydrangeas. The reporter had gone into great detail with regards to what they were wearing:

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There were three bridesmaids, two of whom were sisters of the bride, with the third being the sister of the bridegroom. Their dresses were described as: “pink needle-run lace over pink slips, with sashes of pink velvet”. Their head-dresses were plaited velvet, and their bouquets were deep pink sweet peas.

Although there are no pictures submitted with the article, because it is so descriptive, I can almost imagine what they looked like. The article goes on to describe in detail what the bride’s mother and bridegroom’s mother was wearing:

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They were spending their honeymoon in Capri, and on their return, they were to be living at The Manor House, Thames Ditton, Surrey. The Manor House is now a Grade II listed building, and was built in the early 18th century. The couple was still living there three years later, when the 1939 Register was carried out:

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The article concludes with a long list of presents that the happy couple received, along with the people who donated them, with the majority of the people being present at the ceremony. Examples of presents that they received were: a cheque from the bride’s sister, and her husband, Commander C.E. Simms from the Royal Navy; Captain Gerty (R.N.) and Mrs Gerty, a table runner; the family Cox, a Wedgwood early morning tea set. From the long list of people and their presents, it looked like the happy couple had more than enough to fill their new home at The Manor House on their return from their honeymoon.


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Week Six of the 52 Ancestors Challenge – Favourite Name

When I think of this prompt, I immediately think of my paternal great, great, great-grandmother, Lucretia Susan Petherbridge Harding. I have always loved this name, and to me, it sounds like she was a person from the upper classes, but I think, in reality, she came from a hard-working, working class family. This is her story:

Lucretia was born on the 15th August 1847 in Horrabridge, Whitchurch, Devon, and she was the second of nine children born to William Harding, a mason (1823-1901) and Jane Ham (1824-1892). The Petherbridge part of Lucretia’s name originates from her paternal grandmother, Susanna Petherbridge (1789-1866).

Below is the 1851 census return, where you can see Lucretia living with her parents and older sister, Avice Ann in Horrabridge Village in Devon:

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On the night that the 1861 census was recorded, Lucretia was visiting her grandmother, Susanna’s house, in Buckland Monachorum, Devon. Her father’s younger brother, Samuel, was living there, and his occupation was a tailor:

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Ten years later, Lucretia can be seen still living in the village of Horrabridge with her family, and her occupation was a tailoress.

Lucretia’s family remained in the same area throughout their lives, whereas Lucretia moved to Hampshire. I have one possibility as to why she moved 180 miles away from her home, and that may be due to her husband’s work. James Francis Sparshott (1849-1924) was working for the removals firm, Pickfords in Portsea, Hampshire (his home town) in 1871. His work may have taken him down to Devon, which is where he may have met Lucretia. By February of 1872, he was back in Hampshire and had joined the army in Portsmouth, and on the 10th May 1874 they were married in Portsea, Hampshire.

Due to James being a private in the Army Hospital Corps, they were based at Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire:

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Photo courtesy of Wellcome Images

In 1881, Lucretia was living in Victoria Road, Netley with two of her children. James isn’t recorded on this census return, so I would presume that he had been posted abroad at this stage:

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Their eldest child, Edith had her mother’s name as her middle name.

In 1891, the family were back together again, and they were living at Netley Hospital:

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According to Wikipedia, from the hospital’s construction until 1902, Netley Hospital served as the home of the Army Medical School, training civilian doctors for service with the army.

Lucretia last appeared on the 1901 census return, where she was still living at Netley Hospital with her family:

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Lucretia passed away six years later at fifty-nine years of age.

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Week Five of the 52 Ancestors Challenge – “In the Census”

My husband’s great-grandmother, Lillie Lavinia Annie Pike changed her year of birth early on in her life, and initially, I wondered why there was a gap in the year of her birth from the original census return that she appeared on to the following ones. Here is Lillie’s story:

Lillie was born on the 5th August 1882 in Durrington, Wiltshire, and this was confirmed on her birth certificate. The first census return that she appeared on was in 1891, where her year of birth was recorded as 1883:

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You can see Lillie on the above census, she is the third person listed, and you can just about make out that she was eight years old when this census was recorded. This census return is reasonably accurate compared to some of the other entries that I have seen.

Ten years later, on the 1901 census return, Lillie had mysteriously aged by five years, and her given age was 24 years old, which would have meant that she would have been born in 1877:

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She was living with her husband, George Ball, who was also listed as being 24 years old.

I compared the 1901 census return to the 1911 census, and it still confirmed Lillie as being born in 1877. I knew it was the same person, as all of the other details were the same. I decided to carry out further investigations to find out what age Lillie had given on her marriage certificate:

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Lillie and George were married on the 1st April 1899, and Lillie had given her age as 22, the same as George, which would correspond with the year of birth on the 1901 and 1911 census returns. If she had used her correct date of birth, she would have been 16 years old when she got married, and still a minor. As far as I am aware, their first child was born in 1901, so that doesn’t seem to be the reason why she married at such a young age. The writing at the side of the marriage certificate states that “Lily” should read “Lillie”.

If you look at the following entry on the 1939 Register on Findmypast, Lillie has given her date of birth as 5th August 1877, which is the correct day, but the wrong year:

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Her year of birth still matches that of her husband.

Lillie passed away on the 14th March 1955 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. It was at that stage that her age had finally been registered correctly again. She may have continued, throughout her married life, advising the authorities of the incorrect year of birth, as she felt that she may have gotten into trouble for giving false information when she got married.

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Week Four of the 52 Ancestors Challenge – Invite to Dinner

Since receiving the prompt at the beginning of last week, I have thought very carefully about which of my many ancestors I would like to meet. The ancestor that I decided on is not too distant, and was my great-grandfather Cecil Joseph Harnett. With all of the information that I have found out about him, it appeared that he lived a most fulfilling life, working onboard various ships. I’d like to know why he chose his career; what was most interesting about it; did he have a chance to leave the ships that he sailed on and explore the various countries that he visited; all about the people that he met; the circumstances of him returning to this country;  and how he met my great-grandmother, Grace Mary Ann Pope (1890-1953). The following is the story of his life from the documents I have found about him:

Cecil was born on the 2 February 1891 in Southampton, Hampshire, and was the middle of three children born to Joseph Henry Harnett (1865-1942) and Amelia Lavinia Knight (1861-1914).

By the time of the 1911 census, it was already clear what path Cecil was going to take, as by then, he was an engineer apprentice/engine fitter, he was 20 years of age.

A year and a half later, Cecil was on his way to America on board the Philadelphia, and arrived at the port of New York on the 16 November 1912. For the next two years, he resided at Pier 64 N.R.S.S. Philadelphia, in New York City whilst waiting to become a citizen of the United States. This is his Declaration of Intention:

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It provides a detailed description of his appearance: he was five feet nine inches, 160 pounds, fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. I’ve never seen a photo of him, so it’s great to have a description of his personal appearance. It gives me some idea as to what he looked like. I wonder what he did during his time in America? Did he work as a marine engineer, or did he find work elsewhere so that he had money coming in?

With the start of World War I in 1914, it seems that Cecil returned to the UK to serve in the Merchant Navy. He never returned to America to live, only arriving there when he served on the various ships throughout his career.

On his return to the UK, he met my great-grandmother, and they married on the 29 May 1916 at the Wesley Church Hall in Southampton.

During World War I, he served on various ships as second engineer. The following is from the National Roll of the Great War, and provides an insight as to what he did during the War:

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A year after the end of World War I, at the age of 27, Cecil received his Certificate of Competency as a First Class Engineer:

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From achieving this rank, he became first engineer on the Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic, and it was on this ship that he returned to the port of New York City a number of times:

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The Olympic

It was this ship that he served on throughout the 1920s. He appeared a number of times on the list or manifests of aliens employed on the vessel as members of the crew. Another ship that he served on, but this time in the 1930s, was the Deutschland:

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The Deutschland

Cecil remained in the marine industry for all of his working life, and it would seem that he had an interest in it in his personal life as well. After his death on the 13th May 1971, there was correspondence between his second wife, Lilian Harnett, and the Wool House museum in Southampton. Cecil had bequeathed the model of a Spanish ship circa 1680 to  the museum, but at the time, there was no space for them to display it. This is a copy of the letter as well as a photo of the ship:

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Spanish ship circa 1680

I wonder whether they eventually found space in the museum to display the model ship along with the pictures? Although the building is still standing, the Wool House is now the Dancing Man brewery. All of the maritime history is now at the Sea City museum at the Civic Centre, with a large maritime archive held at the Southampton Record Office, which I will visit to see if they have any information about this.

It’s a shame he passed before I was born, but when I researched the Harnett line further back into the 1800s, I found that Cecil came from a long line of mariners. I wonder if he was aware of that?


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Week Three of 52 Ancestors – Longevity

Week three of the 52 ancestors challenge is all about longevity, and this week I thought that I would share with you my great-grandmother, Fanny Elizabeth Ellen Marchant. Although she was 76 years of age when she died, the longevity part of it was the length of time it took me to find out what happened to her. This is her story:

Fanny Elizabeth Ellen Marchant was born on the 26th March 1878 in Fulham, Middlesex, England. She was the eldest of nine children born to James William Marchant (1858-1930) and Fanny Rosa Marchant, née Groves (1859-1923).

Her life is well documented from the time that she was born until it came to finding out where and how she died. Up until 1911, she was living in the Fulham, Hammersmith and Chiswick areas of London, and she even married her husband William James Clark on the 3rd April 1904 in Fulham.

Between 1906 and 1909, Fanny and William and their eldest daughter, Sylvia, moved to Southampton in Hampshire. This is the family on the 1911 census return from Ancestry.co.uk:

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They were living at 28 Grove Road, Woolston, Southampton. By this time, they had two  children, Sylvia and Doris.

I was able to trace her life on various records up to and including the 1939 Register on Findmypast. At this stage, she was living at 67 Acacia Road in Southampton, and this is what it looked like in 2015:


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It was after this record that the trail ran cold, and I was unable to find her again. I carried out various searches for death records for her, without including place names, and this was the record that first appeared:

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Whilst the year of birth matched up with my great-grandmother’s, the place of death didn’t feel right. It could have been possible for her to have been living here at this time, but I wasn’t happy with the results. I tried again using the county of death as Hampshire, and this was the result that came up:

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Again, the year of birth matched up, and the initials were correct. There was a slight variation to the spelling of the surname, but this is a regular occurrence with this name. What I thought was odd was the registration district of Droxford. Droxford is just over 23 miles away from where Fanny was last known to be living. As this was quite early on in my research, and I was relatively inexperienced, I didn’t think to request the death certificate to see whether the information was correct. I left it for quite a while thinking that I just probably wouldn’t be able to find out what happened to her. Little did I know that by requesting the certificate, it would solve the mystery.

Four years passed, and I was a lot more experienced in family history research. I decided to have another look at all of my ancestors that I had previously researched to see if there was any information that I had overlooked. I looked at Fanny Elizabeth Ellen Marchant again to see whether I could solve the mystery of what had happened to her. I looked at the death record again, and requested the certificate from the General Register Office. A week later, it finally arrived:

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The certificate confirmed her date of death and that her husband was William Clark(e), an electrician’s mate. This was correct as it matched the information that I had. She had died from hypostatic pneumonia and myocardial degeneration. The description and residence of the informant was what solved the mystery for me. P.S.Moore was the informant, and he was from Knowle in Fareham, Hampshire. Another ancestor of mine had been admitted to Knowle in 1902, so I knew that this place was the mental hospital. I’m told, by family members, that the reason why she was admitted there was that she had dementia. This obviously wasn’t the cause of her death, but I won’t be able to find out for sure why she was admitted until I can look at the Knowle admission books. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to look at this admission for at least another thirty years due to the 100 year rule. For now, though I, at least, have some kind of closure as to what happened to her.


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Week Two of 52 Ancestors – Favourite Photo

This week’s prompt in the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks is our favourite photo. Looking through all of the scanned photos that I have attached to my family tree, it is difficult to decide which one is my favourite as I like them all.

Since I was a young child, I’ve always enjoyed looking at my nan’s photos and hearing about all of the different people in the pictures. A couple of years ago, when I was visiting my Nan, we had another look through all her old photos, and she gave me a few to scan. Here are a selection of them:

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This is a group photo of a family day out taken circa 1936/7, with my Nan and her sisters on the right-hand side of the picture.

The following photo is of my great-grandparents, Percival Edwin Cole and Edna Violet Higginson:

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They were married on the 30 August 1924 in Southampton, Hampshire, and this photo was taken in their back garden. I wonder what colour her bouquet was? I remember visiting their house a lot when I was younger, and remember my great-grandfather always sitting on the same chair in the living room. He never really spoke a lot, and I remember spending more time with my great-nan. I was eight when my great granddad passed away and eleven when my great-nan passed.

The next photo is Anne Jane Moffat, my great, great-grandmother, born 1873 in Chiswick, London, with her children:

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I’m not sure of the date this was taken, but here are a few more of her children:

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Alice Maude Cole on her wedding day. She married Walter Wallace Long in the third quarter of 1919 in Southampton, Hampshire

This is Ann and Hilda Cole:

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Ann and Hilda

Ann is on the left-hand side, and was born in 1895, and Hilda Eleanor was born in 1903, both in Southampton. Unfortunately I don’t have a date when this photo was taken, so it’s difficult to say how old they were in this photo.

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Hilda Eleanor

This is another photo of Hilda Eleanor, and unfortunately, again, this photo isn’t dated. I really like this photo and it would be interesting to see what colour she was wearing, and also the colour of the background.

This is Elsie May, and she was born in 1896:

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Elsie May

Looking at  this photo, I can definitely see a likeness to her with other members of my immediate family.

Norah was born in 1905, and died in 1972 when she was 67 years old:

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This looks like it may have been taken in the same studio as Hilda’s photo, possibly around the same time.

The final photo from the siblings is of Francis Joseph Cole:

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Francis Joseph

This looks like this is from his marriage to Ethel A Carter in 1953. He would have been 39 years old.

The final photo that I am sharing with you is of my great, great-grandfather William David Higginson, and his family:

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The photograph was taken on the Aquitania, and William is stood at the back next to his son, Richard. My great-nan is stood in front of William, and my Nan is stood on the bottom step. Again, this photo hasn’t been dated, but I would think that it was taken in the early 1930s. David was a Preventive Man working for Customs and Excise. He was originally working for them in Newhaven, Sussex, and continued in this line of work when he moved up to Hampshire.

So as you can see, it was difficult to publish just one photo, when I have been lucky enough to have access to all of these wonderful photos.



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Albert Edward Hiscock

Albert Edward Hiscock and Edith May Sparshott were my great-grandparents. Albert was born on the 10th May 1902 at The Infirmary, Romsey Road, in Winchester. This is his birth certificate:

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Albert’s birth certificate confirms that his parents were William Hiscock and Ada Hiscock née Copperthwaite. Ada wasn’t able to write, and so she signed the certificate with an “X”.

Edith was born three days after Albert, on the 13th May 1902 at 51 Melbourne Street, Southampton. Melbourne Street is no longer a residential area, and currently consists of various businesses. It’s very near to St Mary’s Stadium, home of Southampton football club. I always wondered, whenever I was on my way to a football match, and I was walking along Melbourne Street, where Edith’s home was, and what it looked like back then.

So far, I haven’t been able to locate Albert and his family on the 1911 census return, but I was able to find Edith with hers:

The head of the household was Edith’s grandmother, Emma Mary Ann Reed née Woolcock, who was a widow. Her mother was also living with them, along with three of Edith’s siblings. Despite the census showing that her mother was still married, her father wasn’t in the household on the night of 2nd April 1911. I will tell you more about him in a future blog. The family was still at 51 Melbourne Street in Southampton.

Albert and Edith were married on the 26th December 1921 in Southampton:

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Albert’s occupation was a fireman; he was working on the merchant ships out of Southampton. The marriage certificate confirms that Albert’s father was William, who was deceased, and Edith’s father was Albert, who was also deceased. Albert and Edith were both residents of 51 Melbourne Street. From this marriage, there were five children, and they were: Albert Edward (1922-1942), Raymond William, my grandfather (1924-1998), Olive May (1926-2002), Denis John (1928-2002), and another son, whose details I won’t publish at this time, as at the time of writing, he is still alive.

On the 29th September 1939, Edith was living with four of her children at 61 Conifer Road, Southampton:

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Albert senior and Albert junior weren’t at the household the night the 1939 Register was recorded as they may have already enlisted in the military due to the onset of war.

Albert passed away on the 11th October 1954 at 33 Salerno Road, Southampton:

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The cause of his death was: acute left heart failure due to myocardial infarct (heart attack), coronary thrombus and atheroma. This was certified by D.H.B. Harfield, coroner for Southampton after a post-mortem was carried out without an inquest. My grandfather was the informant.

Albert left the following will:

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The sum of money would have been worth £25,858.15 in today’s money.

This is a photograph of Edith with my older sister (left), and myself taken around 1976/77 at my nan and grandad’s house:

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Edith passed away on the 18th March 1982 in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. The cause of her death was bronchopneumonia and carcinomatosis. This was certified by J.F. Macintosh M.B.

I felt very lucky to have been able to meet both my paternal great-grandmothers, as not a lot of people are lucky enough to have been able to meet theirs.

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