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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 18.23.09

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 18.27.53

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 18.28.13

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 19.21.24

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 19.29.37

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 19.51.11

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 20.13.34

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

Posted in 52 Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 19.28.12

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 19.33.33


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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 19.45.53

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:

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 20.01.01

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.

Posted in 52 Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 21.31.07

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 21.58.19

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 22.01.25

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 22.04.33

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 22.16.11

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 22.24.00

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 22.24.20

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?


Posted in 52 Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 16.44.26

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:


Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 17.26.10

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 17.58.32

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 18.02.00

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 18.14.24

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.


Posted in 52 Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 17.37.17

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 17.48.49

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.03.46

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

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.08.14

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.10.40

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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.15.08

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.13.22

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.23.21


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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.26.35

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 18.31.06

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.



Posted in 52 Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 23.17.05

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 23.40.51

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 23.48.52

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 23.54.07

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 23.57.31

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:

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 00.01.19

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.

Posted in family history | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

William Hiscock (1865-1903)

William Hiscock and Ada Susanna Copperthwaite were my great, great-grandparents. This is where they are situated in my family tree:

Hiscock 1

William was born on the 5th May 1865 in Midanbury, South Stoneham, and was baptised on the 4th June that year:

Ada was born on the 31st December 1868 in Southampton. I haven’t found a baptism record for her, but this is a copy of her birth record:

Ada was the second of seven children born to Alfred Flint Copperthwaite and Clara Copperthwaite (née Carter).

You’ve seen William on the census returns living with his mother, Emma, so I will tell you about Ada, and where she was living prior to her marriage to William.

This is Ada and her family on the 1871 census return:

They were living in Duke Street, in the St Mary’s area of Southampton, where, at that time, Ada was the youngest in her family.

Ten years later, the family had increased in size, and they had moved to 3 Spa Court Road in the parish of Southampton All Saints:

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 21.18.57

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 21.19.47

Ada’s father was a dock labourer, and her elder brother was a butcher’s assistant. Ada and her other siblings were all of school age.

William and Ada were married on the 6th April 1889 in Southampton, Hampshire:

William was a labourer and living at 16 Northam Road, Southampton, and Ada was living at 3 Spa Road, Southampton. From this marriage, there were six children, and they were: Fanny (1890-1969), Albert Edward (1892-1893), Edith Flora (1893-1959), Emma Louise (1895-1918), William Charles (1900-1903), and Albert Edward, my great-grandfather (1902-1954).

The first record that the family appeared on was the 1891 census return:

They were living at Jubilee Cottage, Commercial Street, South Stoneham, Hampshire, where William was a general labourer.

The next and final census return that William appeared on was the 1901 census:

This time, the family were living in Chapel Street, Bitterne, Southampton, where William was an oil mill machine minder.

A year later, things had taken a turn for the worse for William. On the 21st March 1902, William was sentenced to three months imprisonment, with hard labour, to Winchester Prison at Southampton County Petty Sessions for neglecting his children and assault. On the 2nd April 1902, he was admitted to the Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum at Knowle, Fareham. He had been certified insane, with Dr I. Richards providing the following comments about him: (1). The prisoner is either quiet, stupid, answering questions with a marked slur in his enunciation, or very violent; (2). Hospital Warden, Leonard, Winchester informs me that suddenly and without apparent cause, smashed all the furniture and fittings of his cell.

On admission, it was stated that “he is very childish, weak-minded and full of self-satisfaction. He tells me most unimportant trifles and boasts how strong he is and how fat he is growing. Speech slurring and rather drawling and monotonous. He was a resident of Knowle Asylum until his death on the 18th August 1903. The cause of his death was colitis – 16 days. As you can see, he spent considerably longer in the asylum than the original sentence of three months. This information was found in the Knowle Asylum admission book from 1902, held at the Hampshire Archives, Winchester.

Ada would have been left to bring up a young family by herself. I wonder how she felt about what had happened to her husband, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and subsequent admission to the asylum.

Ada re-married in the first quarter (Jan-Mar) of 1908 in Southampton to John O’Grady:

From this marriage, there was one child, and she was Ada Susanna O’Grady (1908-1986).

I couldn’t find Ada and her family on the 1911 census return, but I did manage to find her on the 1939 Register:

This 1939 Register shows that Ada was in a Public Assistance Institution in St Mary’s Street, Southampton. This particular building used to be a workhouse in the 1800s, nowadays, it is a sixth form college called City College. The date of birth on this record is incorrect by a day, as I have the correct date of birth confirmed on her birth certificate.

Ada passed away on the 25th March 1946 at Moorgreen Hospital, West End, Southampton aged 77. The cause of her death was: chronic bronchitis, myocardial degeneration, and chronic cholecystitis. Her death was certified by A.H. Burnett MRCS.

Posted in family history | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment