My brick wall: Simon Hayes of Winscombe

Genealogists often speak of a “brick wall” when they get stuck in their research and can get back no further than a certain ancestor. I’ve seen some complaining that they have been doing genealogy for a month, and have hit a brick wall. If that is a brick wall, then ours must be a concrete wall with razor wire on top, comparable with the Berlin Wall or the Israel Palestine one, because ours has been there for 35 years.
When we started investigating our family history in 1974 we got back fairly quickly on the Hayes side to my great great great grandfather Simon Hayes. He appeared as the father on his children’s marriage certificates, and census records showed that he was born in North Curry, Somerset some time between 1782 and 1786. And there we got stuck.
He doesn’t appear in the parish registers for North Curry, nor for those of nearby parishes like Stoke St Gregory or Durston. At some point he moved to Winscombe, where he married Rachel Allen in 1814. Her sister Hannah married Giles Williams in Meare, Somerset, in 1817, and Simon Hayes was staying with Giles Williams in the 1851 census. Occasionally we have found references to cousins or nephews and nieces, and thought they might give a clue, but they always turn out to be related on the Allen side, and not the Hayes side. In North Curry parish there is a record of a William Hayes who married a Charlotte Nott in 1796. He might possibly have been a brother or cousin of Simon Hayes, but until we can find some record of their parents it will be impossible to know. Any useful suggestions on how to break down this concrete wall will be welcome.

HayesSi1.pdf Download this file

The changing scenes of life

Yesterday I went to Johannesburg to do some research in the Family History Centre, and after it closed I had a couple of hours to kill before fetching my son from work in Fontainebleau, and so revisited some of the scenes of my childhood and youth.

Glenhazel Court, 1959

We lived at Glenhazel Court at 2 Long Avenue, Glenhazel from August 1958 to August 1959. It was then the only building on the top of the hill. The place where I was standing when I took the photo was a vacant piece of land. It used to be a riding school, run by Mr and Mrs Groos, and they also ran a nursery school there, but they left in about 1951 because there was no water. It was then outside the Johannesburg municipal area, and the relied on a borehole, which dried up, so they sold their horses and moved to Bramley. For a long time the house and stables stood derelict, and at the time of the photo was taken someone had just bought it for sevelopment, and graded a road down the middle of the property, now called Tancred Road, where I stopped the car to take the second photo on my cell phone.

Glenhazel Court, 2010

Now it is surrounded by other buildings and it is hard to imagine what it looked like before. There were some houses behind it, to the wewst, when we lived there, but there were lots of empty plots in between, and none of the roads were tarred. The photo below was taken from the balcony behind the building when we lived there.

Sunset from Glenhazel Court, 1959, looking towards Fairmount

When we first went to live there in 1948 the whole area was called Sunningdale, and the part now called Glenhazel did not exist. We lived around the corner, in what is now Ridge Road, from 1948-1954, and the house is now unrecognisable. Perhaps it was demolished and rebuilt. The only thing I recognised was the deodar trees.

The Fifties

In 1956 I got my first colour film for my camera.

Back then colour film was rare and expensive. I was 15, and my mother let me use her camera, a 1936 model Exakta VP single-lens reflex. It was made in Nazi Germany. It took 8 pictures 6,5 x 4 cm on 127 film, and had an f4.5 lens.

My aunt gave me a Ferraniacolor reversal film for my 15th birthday. I took a photo of my mother with our new car, which she had got about the same time.

Ella Hayes with 1956 Wolseley 4/44

The car was quite pleasant , and had all kinds of fashionable features that were abandoned a year or two later, but in 1956 they seemed like an advance on our previous car, a 1948 Wolseley 8. My mother was then working for an estate agent, Arthur Meikle, and was taking a client to see a house when the car suddenly swerved off the road and hit a culvert in Athol Oaklands Road. The external damage was not much, but the chassis was bent (yes, it had a separate chassis) and it was uneconomical to repair. So when she got the insurance money she went to John B. Clarke Motors in Eloff Street and bought its successor, the Wolseley 4/44.

She brought it to school to show it to me, slightly giddy from standing on the revolving platform in the showroom while the salesman explained all the advanced features of the car. There were things like a split-bench front seat and steering column gear change, which meant that you could have three people in the front seat if necessary. A year or two later I and my friends would covet cars with bucket seats and floor gear levers — just like the old Wolseley 8. It made sense, too. The workshop manual for the 4/44 showed an exploded diagram of the gear-change mechanism, with its rods and levers, with 74 separate parts, from the knob at the end of the gear lever to where it entered the gearbox. The left-hand drive model was worse, because this all had to cross over to the other side of the gearbox.

The Wolseley 4/44 was also rather under-engined. It had a 1250 cc engine, a detuned version of one that had been designed for MG TD two-seater sports cars. The MG version had twin SU carburettors, whereas the Wolseley had only one, and far more weight to lug around, especially when fully loaded. To compensate for these disadvantages, it had an elegant interior, with real walnut dashboard and real leather seats. Unlike the Wolseley 8, it had a heater though it lacked the sun roof of the Wolseley 8.

So the picture was taken when it was new and before it acquired many scratches and dents.

Then I got my mother to take some pictures of me with my horse Brassie. He was called Brassie because of his chestnut coat, and the way it shone like polished brass when the sun caught it. I hoped that the colour film might capture that.

Stephen Hayes and Brassie

I had been told, or read in a book somewhere, that a colour photo should always have some red in it somewhere, hence the blanket on his back. Unless I was going a long way, I usually rode Brassie bareback, as soon as I was tall enough to be able to mount him without the aid of stirrups.

The pictures were taken in winter, which is why the grass was dead and brown.

They were taken in Sunningdale. The road is now called Ridge Road, and a little way to the right it crosses what is now called Long Avenue, along which I used to walk a mile along a rutted track to Fairmount School. The track had no name back then but there was a broken down barbed-wire fence somewhere along it with a bit of flattened corrugated iron on which was painted “Pad Gesluit” (Road Closed), so that was what i called it. On the corner corner of Ridge Road and Long Avenue now stands the Yeshiva College. Back then it was vacant. The Van der Merwe’s lived there in a thatched house, which bornt down one day when the paraffin stove caught fire, and they came and stayed with us for a few days.

The land behind in the picture, which was lined by pine trees on the frontage on Long Avenue and Ridge Road, used to belong to Mr & Mrs Groos, who ran a riding school and nursery school, but when the photo was taken the land was vacant and the house had been demolished. The Grooses had moved away to Bramley because their boreholes ran dry. Later their land was subdivided and houses were built there, and I think it is now called Glenhazel Extension something-or-other.

Stephen Hayes and Brassie

We used to live around the corner in what was later called Ridge Road, and the house is still there, though it now has a thatched roof, and when we lived in it it had a corrugated iron roof. It was a 5-acre smallholding, and we had cows and chickens and in school holidays I used to accompany my mother on delivery rounds in the old Wolseley 8. She used to deliver eggs, butter and cream to housewives in the nearby Johannesburg suburbs of Fairmount, Sydenham and Sandringham. Sunningdale was outside the Johannesburg municipal area then, and so did not have municipal light and water. At the time the photos were taken, however, we had moved to a flat in Sandringham, and the hourses were boarding with out former next door neighbours. In 1956 the place was rented by Howard Leslie, an amiable con man, who lived it up, threw wild parties to entertain the neighbours, and scarpered one night when the creditors got too hot.

Tombstone Tuesday: Hayes in North Curry

For over thirty years now I’ve been up against the proverbial brick wall in my Hayes family from Somerset.

My great great great grandfather Simon Hayes (or Hays) was born in North Curry, Somerset, England, about 1785, according to the 1851 and 1861 censuses. But I’ve not been able to find any record of who his parents or siblings (if any) were.

There are people with the Hayes surname buried in North Curry, like the following couple, may may be related to me, but there is no way of telling until we can get more information about the earlier generations. Until then, they are “maybe cousins”.

Hayes grave in North Curry churchyard

Hayes grave in North Curry churchyard

We visited the church about four years ago, and took the photo then. Our Simon Hayes moved to Winscombe, where he was an agricultural labourer,  and there he married Rachel Allen and had four sons: William Allen, John, Sander, and James Andrews. William Allen died young, and the others moved to Bristol where they married and had families. Sander was a vendor of milk and coal, while the other two were carpenters and builders.

I wonder if any of them knew James and Ellen, and if they regarded them as family or not.

Keeping in touch with emigrants

I’ve been reading The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History and one of the articles raised the question of how long families that have emigrated keep in touch with those back in the country they came from.

Most of  of our ancestral lines have immigrants from somewhere else, and it is quite interesting to look at how they maintained contact, and how and to what extent we have re-established contact, mainly because of an interest in family history. A recent post about a Canadian Growden family is a case in point — they seem to have little or no contact with any other branches of the family, and little or no memory of where they came from.

Pearson-Ellwood

One of the clearest cases is Val’s maternal grandmother’s family. She was Martha Pearson, nee Ellwood, and both she and her husband William Walker Pearson. They came to South Africa from Whitehaven, Cumberland, England about a century ago, and were married in Pinetown, Natal, in 1913. They lived just down the road from Val when she was young, within walking distance, and when her grandfather died her grandmother came to live in a granny flat that they built on to their house in Escombe, where she lived with them for 12 years until she died in 1968.

So Val grew up with her grandmother’s stories of Whitehaven, and Martha (Mattie) Pearson kept in touch with her brothers and sisters who lived there, and some of them had also married into the Pearson family. During the Second World War some of Val’s mother’s cousins were soldiers, and visited when troopships called at Durban on the way to south-east Asia. Martha Pearson occasionally returned to Whitehaven to visit family, and we have some of her old passports. Val’s mother and aunt went with her as teenagers, and remembered some of their English cousins, though they did not stay in touch with them. Val and her sister visited England in 1971, and passed through Whitehaven, and had thought of visiting relatives there, but it was late and they thought they were old and would already be in bed, so they drove through.

When we got married in 1974, six years after Val’s grandmother had died, and became interested in family history, one of the starting points was some of Val’s relics from her grandmother — her birthday book, cuttings of newspaper marriage and death notices, and obituaries of her father Thomas Ellwood (1845-1914)  and grandfather John Ellwood (1819-1892). We wrote to the Whitehaven News, asking if any members of the family still living in Whitehaven would get in touch. From that we discovered that Val’s great-uncle Ernie Pearson had died the previous week. But his daughter-in-law Nora Pearson wrote to us regularly for the next thirty years, keeping us in touch with news of the family, so the contact was maintained for another generation, and thirty years later, in 2005 we visited Nora, and her daughters who live in Edinburgh. Whether our children will keep in touch with their children after we die remains to be seen. We also visited another second cousin who lives in Wales.

But our letter to the Whitehaven News also brought contact with a forgotten generation of emigrants, about whom Val had heard no stories as a child. A Mrs Mary Ann Tumilty, nee Ellwood,  had been visiting Whitehaven from the USA in the week that our letter was published, and when she got home she wrote to us, and sent extracts from the Ellwood family Bible, which she had, and it gave all the children of John Ellwood, Val’s great great grandfather, who was born in 1819. Mary Ann Tumilty’s parents had lived in Northumberland, and emigrated to the USA in 1923.

Hayes-Stooke

On this side of the family I’ve told in another post how my father visited England for a Scout jamboree, and met a cousin with the unusual name of Herrick Hayes, and that helped us to make contact with second cousins that we had not previously known about, though attempts to make contact with Herrick Hayes’s descendants have so far been unsuccessful.

In general it seems that, unless there is a conscious interest in family history, contact seems to be lost in the generation of the great grandchildren of immigrants, and family history research can lead to the re-establishing of contact.

Mysterious family and place names

When you start doing family history, sooner or later you come across mysterious names that crop up among family members, and you wonder where they came from and what their significance is.

Barlow-Jones

I was reminded of this when someone asked on the South African genealogy mailing list about the name Barlow-Jones.

I’m researching a family JONES who lived in Ladysmith, Natal.

They lived in a very big, beautiful house named Barlow House/Lodge.

Can anyone help me with history of this house/lodge. ‘Barlow’ played an important part in the family as 4 of their 13 children had Barlow as a second name.

Well we have a Barlow-Jones in our family tree, a Kerry Barlow-Jones who married a third cousin once removed named Beattie, who is related on the Crighton side. The person who asked about Barlow also had a Kerry Barlow-Jones, born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) but on a different date. No known connection between them, but one can’t help thinking that we may discover one one day. But if anyone knows about this name and its connection with the house in Ladysmith, please let us know, and we’ll put you in touch with the enquirer.

Wynn

That reminded me of a couple of other mysterious names in our family.

My grandfather was Percy Hayes, and at some point he began calling himself Percy Wynn Hayes, and he gave all his children Wynn as a middle name, and I got it too, though none of my first cousins on my father’s side did. My father’s death certificate shows his surname as Wynn-Hayes. The mystery is where the Wynn came from.

I’ve found no relatives with that name. When I was 7 we stayed at the Valley Inn, Ingogo, for a month, and it was run by some distant cousins of my father the Bradburys. There were two children there, Gillian who was about my age, and her brother Michael who was a few years older. We knew we were cousins of some sort, but did not know how. The name of the father was Wynn Bradbury, so I thought, when I became interested in family history, that if I found more about him I’d solve the mystery of where the Wynn came from. I looked up his death notice but discovered that he was actually Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury, Win for short, and that it was his wife Sheila (born Cottam) who was the relation. So the mystery of the Wynn remained unsolved, as it does to this day.

An interesting sidelight on this is where Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury got his moniker. There was, of course, a famous British Prime Minister named Winston Spencer Churchhill, though he wasn’t famous when Win Bradbury was born, back in October 1899. But October 1899 was the month the Anglo-Boer War started, and Win Bradbury was born in Ladysmith, which was almost immediately besieged by Boer forces, and Winston S. Churchill was there as a war correspondent, so perhaps he was known to Win Bradbury’s parents. And that brings us back to Ladysmith, where Barlow House was situated.

Esdaile

When thinking of names associated with houses, another name comes to mind: Esdaile.

My wife Val’s maiden surname was Greene, and a couple of generations earlier it was Green. You will find her great great grandfather Fred Green in Pioneers of Rhodesia by Edward C. Tabler, though erroneously recorded as Frederick Joseph Green. He was actually Frederick Thomas Green, but one of his daughters, I think, told Lawrence G Green (no relation) that his name was Joseph. Lawrence G. Green wrote books about African travel, several of which mentioned the Green family, and Fred Green in particular, among them Thunder on the Blaauwberg and Lords of the last frontier.

The Green family came from Canada, and spread all over the world, and
carried with them the legend that Fred Green’s father, William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, was a son of Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father. Not true, of course, but his mother, Eliza Green (Fred Green’s grandmother), had two illegitimate children, one by William Goodall, a London businessdman, and the other by Marc Pictet, a Swiss army officer.

Eliza Green later married another London businessman, Thomas Esdaile, by whom she had no children, but he became the stepfather to her children by her earlier liaisons. And ever since then, throughout the world, Green descendants have named their houses, farms, and sometimes their children, Esdaile. So in our family history research the name Esdaile is an indicator of a possible relationship, even though there is no blood relationship with Thomas Esdaile.

So sometimes one discovers the story behind mysterious names, and sometimes one doesn’t.

Family visit – Pretoria June 2008

Val’s sister Elaine Machin and her son Alan came up from Pinetown for the Youth Day long weekend, and this afternoon we gathered with Lesley Machin and her boyfriend Johnny O’Neill on their farm east of Pretoria. We were joined by Elaine’s other son Greg Machin and his daughter Abby.

Family 15 Jun 2008

In the picture: Johnny O Neill, Alan Machin, Lesley Machin, Jethro Hayes, Greg Machin, Val Hayes with Abby Machin, Elaine Machin – 15 June 2008

Picture above: Greg Machin, Abby Machin, Jethro Hayes

And below are some of the eland on the farm:

eland

James Andrew Allen Hayes and Emily Healls

I haven’t had much new family history information for quite a while, partly because it’s the summer holidays and all the archives are closed or closing for Christmas, and partly because I’ve been busy with other things, which those interested can read about on my other blogs.

But on the Bristol and Somerset mailing list someone called Liz posted something about the HEALLS family of Bristol, and this family included the Emily HEALLS who married James Andrew Allen HAYES.

No startling new discoveries, but we were able to compare notes and get some of the details of the children more accurate. James Andrew Allen HAYES was the brother of my great-grandfather William Allen HAYES, and like him was a builder and carpenter in Bristol. I hope to make contact with his living descendants, if there are any.

Killed in air raid on Bristol

17/18 SEPTEMBER 1940.

BRISTOL C.B.

Central Division

At 83 Mina Road, St.Werburgh’s

COOK, Isabelle Niven (67) Widow of Alfred Rowland Cook.

COOK, Ivy Gladys (27) of 23 Stroud Road, Patchway. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pike of Teddington, Middx. Wife of William John Tod Cook.

COOK, Rowland John (6m) of 23 Stroud Road, Patchway. Son of William John Tod and Ivy Gladys Cook. Died 1/12/40 at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

COOK, William John Tod (32) of 23 Stroud Road, Patchway. Son of Alfred Rowland and Isabelle Niven Cook. Husband of Ivy Gladys Cook. Died 17/9/40 at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

—–
Isabella Niven Cook was the mother of Margaret Annie Tod Cook (1905-1970) who married Donald Alfred Hayes (1906-1971)m who were in turn the parents of Roger John Hayes (1935-1999).

Family get-together

Val’s sister Elaine Machin came to visit, with her son Greg, daughter Lesley, and granddaughter Abby (Greg’s daughter, aged 2)


Val Hayes, Greg, Lesley, Abby & Elaine Machin, Jethro & Simon Hayes Posted by Picasa

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