UK Trip 13 May 2005: Stockton to Cambridge

UK trip 12 May 2005: Edinburgh to Stockton-on-Tees | Khanya

After spending the night in Stockton-on-Tees with Chris and Nina Gwilliam, old friends from Durham University, I woke up about 3:30 am, and went downstairs to write up my diary. Nina came down just after 6:00, and we chatted until Val and Chris got up. It seemed an appropriate place for them to be living, as Chris was a railway enthusiast, and Stockton was the terminus of the first commercial railway line. He made his living painting model railway rolling stock in the authentic livery of various periods. We left just after 9:00.

Chris & Nina Grilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

Chris & Nina Gwilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

We drove to Leeds to see Pat and Rita Hayes. It was an uneventful drive along main roads and motorways, and the countryside looked much as it did down south, with fields of bright yellow rape seed alternating with pasture. The only difference was that here the roads tended not to be sunken, so one had less of a trapped-in feeling, of driving at the bottom of a furrow.

Patrick Hayes was my second cousin, and had retired after working as a microbiologist and food chemist for Birds Eye foods. He and Rita looked much the same, though 14 years older than when we had last seen them, when they stayed with us in Pretoria in 1991. Pat had had a pacemaker fitted to his heart, and was beginning to suffer from Parkinsons’s disease. Their son Stephen and his wife Cordelia were adopting another child, a girl aged 3, and were hoping to adopt a third. They were enjoying being grandparents as much as if it had been their own biological grandchildren.

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

We had lunch with them, of soup and salad, and left just before 2:00, and drove around a bit looking for the road to Hull, and eventually after getting caught up in quite a bit of traffic found the M62 motorway, and drove east, then turned down the M18 and went as far as Thorne, where the Vause family had lived.

My grandmother Lily Vause had married Percy Hayes in Johannesburg in 1904, and both she and her father Richard Wyatt Vause, had been born in Natal, so we knew of no living relatives on the Vause side of the family in England that we could visit. We did know that my great great grandfather, Richard Vause, had been born in Hull, but his ancestors had come from the Isle of Axholme in north-western Lincolnshire, and that was where we were headed. If there were no living relatives, we hoped to see some traces of dead ones. Actually the family moved around a lot, and so we said that they came from Humberside, though using that term seemed to get some English people riled up, and they insisted that there was no such place. People came from Yorkshire, or Lincolnshire, but never from a horrible artificial entity called Humberside. Nevertheless, the Vause family had lived, at various times, in Fishlake and Thorne in Yorkshire, and Crowle and Epworth in Lincolnshire, and “Humberside” seemed to cover them all. A useful resource for Isle of Axholme ancestry is the Red1st site.

We could not find the church at Thorne, and the traffic was quite heavy, so we drove on to Crowle, and looked at St Oswald’s churchyard. All the tombstones had been laid flat on the ground in a corner of the churchyard, and were hard to read, partly because one had to stand on them to read them, and partly because they seemed to get more worn and more mossy. We found a couple of Brunyee stones, but no Vause. The church itself was locked with a big padlock.

St Oswald's Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

St Oswald’s Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

We drove through Belton without seeing the church, but found the church at Epworth, St Andrew’s, and took some photos of Hill graves, though they were probably not related (an earlier Richard Vause had married an Elizabeth Hill). There seemed to be a lot of Maw families, but no Vause.

St Andrew's Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

St Andrew’s Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

The church is also of some interest in the history of Methodism. Samuel Wesley was the rector here, and his sons, John and Charles Wesley, were the founders of Methodism. John Wesley, like his contemporary St Cosmas the Aetolian, became an itinerant preacher.

We went to the town square and took some photos, and bought a copy of the local newspaper, but the woman who worked in the office was a Geordie from Newcastle.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

From there we drove back to the A1 going south, and went as fast as we could to Harston, near Cambridge, where we stayed with Fr Michael and Jeanne Harper, the Dean of the Antiochian Deaner in the UK. We showed them photos of our work in South Africa, and Fr Michael showed us photos of the work of the Church in Britain, which seems, like America, to have problems of jusisdictionalism, and that seems to be preventing more English people from becoming Orthodox. The Russian jusrisdiction had been largely English-speaking until the end of the Soviet Union, since when thousands of Russian immigrants had flooded the church, and it was becoming more Slavonic. Fr Michael was involved in producing a course called The Way, which was similar to the Anglican “Alpha Course”, and was keen that we should launch it in South Africa. It seemed similar to the “Life in the Spirit” seminars we had had 30 years ago, though a bit more structured. Just before we went to bed Fr Michael showed us a chapel in a shed in his garden, and it showed what could be done with a small temporary space.

Continued at UK trip 14 May 2005: cathedral & monastery | Khanya.

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005

Brooks of the Isle of Axholme

Not long ago I wrote about the Axholme Ancestry web site, which seems to have some very useful information for people whose ancestors came from that part of the world. The Isle of Axholme is in north-west Lincolnshire, bordering Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

One of my ancestors from there, John Vause (1747-1823), married an Elizabeth Brooks in Epworth on 4 January 1780. They had four children: Richard, John, Samuel and Sarah. Elizabeth died when Sarah was a couple of months old, and Sarah herself died a few months later.

Since I first visited the site a month ago someone else has added some more information, including the probable parents of Elizabeth Brooks, Samuel and Sarah Brooks. They had a daughter Elizabeth baptised on 6 September 1745, which makes her about the right age, and since the third son and first daughter were named Samuel and Sarah respectively, it seems that Samuel and Sarah (senior) were probably her parents. So that takes another family line another generation back.

Axholme Ancestry

A few days ago I found the web site of a hitherto unknown cousin, Penny Howell, who is also descended from the Vause family, and in following up some loose ends on that family discovered another web site that deals with Isle of Axholme family history, Axholme Ancestry. It seems to be a remarkably useful site for anyone whose ancestors come from the Isle of Axholme.

Epworth, Lincolnshire, England (May 2005)

Our Vause ancestors seem to originate in Epworth in the Isle of Axholme, which is north-west Lincolnshire in England. There seem to be several Vause families in Epworth and in the neighbouring town of Belton, and the Axholme Ancestry site lets everyone put their families into a single database, which should make it easier to find out if there are any links between them.

St Andrew's Church, Epworth

Though they started in Epworth our Vause family moved around a bit, because they also lived in Fishlake and Thorne in Yorkshire, and my great-great grandfather, Richard Vause (1822-1886), was born in Hull, across the river Humber, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The whole area is sometimes called Humberside, which is a good geographical name, though some people objected to it because it was a short-lived administrative county that took people out of their traditional counties. But the Axholme Ancestry web site covers a lot of the neighbouring towns and cities as well, because ours wasn’t the only family that moved around.

St Oswald's Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire

Richard Vause’s father, John Vause (1784-1863), was born in Epworth. He was a maltster of Myton in Hull at the time his eldest son Richard was born. He lived at Thorninghurst, near Thorne, Yorkshire from about 1825-1835, then moved to Crowle, where he was an innkeeper of the Cross Keys commercial hotel.

There were other Vause families that lived at Crowle too, the database at Axholme Ancestry may make it a bit easier to find links between them.

Early history of the Vause family

I recently came across another Vause cousin on the web, Penny Howell in Canada and have been looking again at the earliest Vause ancestors we have recorded.

The earliest member of the Vause family that we know of is Robert Vause, of Kelsey in South Lincolnshire, who voted in Epworth in the election of the Knights of the Shire, and died in 1748.

But that is open to question.

The information came from Arthur Wyatt Ellis who compiled (or had compiled) a family tree which made its way to several members of the family in South Africa. Don Stayt had a photocopy, as did Mollie Vause-Doyle. The information may have come from the will of this Robert Vause of South Kelsey, who apparently left his lands in Epworth to his son Robert. The tree shows two other sons, Richard and Thomas. Richard is our ancestor.

Arthur Wyatt Ellis was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales (according to the 1880 census), the son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was himself the son of Phineas Samuel Ellis and Fanny Vause. He obviously maintained some contact with the family in South Africa, since his family tree made its way here.

But it seems more likely that Richard and Thomas were the sons of John Vause and Anne Gilliott of Epworth, who were married in Epwoth in 1702. If  so, then there were two other brothers, John and Alexander, but no Robert. Perhaps this will be answered if we can find the will of Robert Vause of South Kelsey.

For more on this see the Vause family page on our family Wiki.

Vause marriage discovered

For more than 30 years I’d been looking for a Vause marriage, and I think I’ve found it. It’s been staring me in the face for the last couple of years, when someone sent me an index of Vause births, marriages and deaths from Lincolnshire in England.

My great great grandfather Richard Vause (1822-1886), who came to South Africa in 1852, was the son of John Vause (1784-1863) and Eleanor Wyatt. John Vause was himself the son of John Vause (1747-1823) and Elizabeth, whose maiden name we did not know. The elder John Vause was the son of Richard Vause (1720-1751) and Elizabeth Hill, who remarried Francis Whitehead in 1756.

I was checking the index again, to see if there were any matches to things I had found in the Crowle church registers and censuses, and there it was, staring me in the face: John Vause married Elizabeth Brooks in Epworth on 7 January 1780

I’m pretty sure this is the right one, because they had four children born to them in the 1780s, Richard, John, Samuel and Sarah. Samuel and Sarah died young (and Elizabeth died shortly before Sarah, possibly as a result of complications following childbirth).

Richard married a Fanny, and apparently lived in Hull, and it seems that his nephew and namesake lived with his aunt in Hull before marrying Matilda Park in Bath and emigrating to Natal.

Anywway, the next step is to discover Elizabeth Brooks’s parents. Another one whose parents are still unknown is Elizabeth Hill, but she is said to have been the sister of a John Hill, Gent., of Hull. A Mary Vause married a John Hill in 1770, and this Mary was probably a niece of the Richard Vause who married Elizabeth Hill, so the Vause-Hill connection needs to be followed up.

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