Another cousin makes contact

I’ve just been contacted by another cousin, Philippa Davis, formerly MacGregor. She’s my third cousin once removed on the Vause-Raw-Hart-Davis side of the family.

She wasn’t entirely unknown to me before, but she was just a name at the end of one branch of the family tree, and it’s exciting to exchange e-mails and especially to discover that she is also interested in the family history, and has a family history web page.

I only wish we had known about her six months ago, because she lives in Ramsgate, and we were on holiday in Margate for a week last August, and we could have met!

Anyway, now we must compare information and see which of the gaps we can fill.

FreeCen and researching Cornwall families

Thanks to the hard work of volunteer transcribers, the FreeCEN and FreeBMD web resources are a boon to people researching British genealogy.

Having another look at my Greenaway family from Cornwall, I decided to follow up some of the descendants of brothers and sisters of my ancestors, and FreeCEN made it easy.

FreeCEN means free census lookups and the volunteer transcribers are busy transcribing all the 19th century British censuses from 1841 to 1891.

In the case of Cornwall, the transcription is complete, and if you go to the FreeCEN site you can find charts that show what progress has been made on transcription for the various counties. You might even like to volunteer to transcribe some entries, and so help fellow genealogists.

Anyway, here’s what I did with the Greenaways yesterday. You might find this method useful in your own research.

My great great great grandparents were Richard Greenaway and Mary Michell. From the marriage register of St Breward, Cornwall, I knew that their daughter Mary Ann Greenaway married John Joel Wiliams on 27 December 1852.

So I went to the FreeCEN Search Page and entered just a few items:

Year: 1861
Surname: Williams
First names: Mary
Age or Birth Year: 1832 (with +/- 2 years)
Birth County: Cornwall
Census County: All Counties
Census Place: All places

After getting a list of possible hits, I chose the one born at St Breward, and clicked on “Household” to see who was there, and having noted the information, clicked on “Revise Query”, and changed the census year to 1871, 1881 and 1891.

In the space of about 40 minutes I had a picture of the family at ten-year intervals over a period of 40 years. I discovered the names and other information about their children – John George born on the Scilly Isles about 1857 (I’d never have thought to look there!), and Augusta, born at St Beward in 1861.

Before FreeCen I would have had to order a census microfilm from the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and travelled 70 km to Johannesburg to read it in the local library, and trawl through the whole film in the hope of finding the whole family. I might have managed to do that once a month or so, so it would have taken me 6 months or more to trawl through all the films for each census.

And if I had belonged to an earlier generation of family history researchers, I’d have had to travel to London to look at the original census records, and 30 years ago only the 1861 and 1871 ones woudl have been open for public viewing. Truly, this generation of researchers has never had it so good!

I did the same thing with the next generation. Mary Ann Williams’s brother was my great great grandfather Richard Greenaway who married Mary Ann Tilly (or Tilley).

Among their children was a Mary Jane who married Richard Pascoe, also at St Breward, in 1869. So there were only three censuses to look at, but following the same procedure, I’d found them all within about 20 minutes, and, again, new information: the names of their children.

  1. Edith, born at St Breward in 1871
  2. Martin, born at Barrow, Lancashire, in 1877
  3. George, born at Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, in 1882
  4. Richard, born at Budock, Cornwall, in 1885

Who says ancestors didn’t move around?

So my grateful thanks to all the volunteers who trasncribed the census records for FreeCEN. Even if I want to check the originals or the microfilms, just to make sure there are no transcription errors, I now know where to look.

Greenaway and Michell additions

I was looking in search engines for the Greenaway family and came across a new cousin, I think.

My 3 great grandparents were Richard Greenaway and Mary Michell, who lived on Bodmin Moor (mostly in the adjacent villages of Blisland and St Breward). So when I came across a web site that had both names, I looked more closely, and found that Muriel Trendell was indeed researching the same families as me, and had taken my family tree back a could of generations back on the Michell side, adding Lego and Gelly branches to my family tree, which I had not known about before.

That was quite exciting, and finding new cousins is always interesting. But some family mysteries remain.

Muriel’s web side shows a Caroline Greenaway, born 1814, as a daughter of Richard Greenaway and Mary Michell. There is a Caroline, aged 26, staying with the Greenaway family in St Breward in the 1841 census. That census unfortunately does not show relationships in the household, but it looks as though she was more likely to have been a niece or some other relation. There was also a baby, apparently hers, named Reynold Greenaway. The only likely candidate on Free BMD seems to be a William Reginald Renney Greenaway, born at about the right time.

In the same census and in the same household there are a Thomas, aged 12, and a George, aged 6. Trying to find their families in subsequent censuses and other records is not easy, however. It appears that there were two Thomases born in St Breward about the right time, neither of whom was baptised there.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in these families, and trying to solve some of these mysteries, please get in touch.

Death of Canadian author Mollie Gillen

Mollie Gillen, who died recently at the age of 100, was not a relative, as far as we know, but she made an enormous contribution to our family history research into the Green family.

As her obituary in the Toronto Globe & Mail puts it

Born and educated in Australia, married to a Canadian sergeant in wartime England, Mrs. Gillen lived and worked here for most of her very long life. No more than 5-foot-2, with bespectacled hazel eyes and curly brown hair – which eventually turned into a snowy crown – she was the author of several acclaimed biographies, including an early study of Lucy Maud Montgomery…

She published The Masseys: Founding Family in 1965; The Prince and His Lady, an intrepidly researched study of Queen Victoria’s father, Edward Duke of Kent, and his mistress, Madame de St. Laurent, in 1970; and in 1972, The Assassination of the Prime Minister, a biography of Spencer Perceval, who was shot through the heart in the lobby of the British House of Commons during the Luddite riots of 1812.

Ir was The prince and his lady that put us on the track of the history of the Green family.

Val went to see her great-aunt Gladys Clark, who lived in Ixopo, to ask about the Green family, and she said that her grandfather was “General Green”, who had lived in South West Africa (now Namibia). Reference to history books, such as Vedder’s South West Africa in early times showed that he was Fred Green, an elephant hunter.

A few years later, when we lived in Zululand, we visited Gladys Clark’s daughter, Dion Stewart, who lived in Empangeni, and she told us that Fred Green’s father or grandfather was the Duke of Kent. That sent us back to the library, looking for books on the Duke of Kent, one of which was Mollie Gillen’s The prince and his lady, which refuted the family legend of royal descent, but in the course of doing it showed the actual ancestry of Fred Green’s father, William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, who was the illegitimate son of William Goodall, a London merchant, and Eliza Green, the daughter of a Quebec butcher.

We wrote to Mollie Gillen, and she very kindly sent us copies of her research materials, including the baptism records of William Goodall Green and other members of the Green and related families, and his will, and that of Thomas Esdaile, his stepfather, who later married Eliza Green.

So thanks to Mollie Gillen’s research we were able to trace more of the early history of the Green family. She was a careful researcher who documented every one of the claims she made in her book, as the material she sent us showed.

See here for more on the early history of the Green family.

So we salute Mollie Gillen. She may not have had formal qualifications, but she was a careful and diligent historian, and we owe her a great deal.

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