UK Trip 3 May 2005: Hayes family in Somerset

Continued from UK trip 2 May 2005: Heathrow to Bath | Khanya

We woke up at at Pickford House, Beckington, at 5:00 am, to the sound of birds singing, and the sun rising over the Somerset fields. Went down to breakfast at 7:30, and then set off for Bristol to fetch my second cousin Mary Jane Conway. We drove through Norton St Philip, to miss the Bath traffic, but the road was still pretty busy, and signposting got less adequate the closer we got to the centre of Bristol, so we ended up going around under the Clifton suspension bridge, which was a nice thing to see anyway, but had difficulty finding the area where Jane Conway’s house was. We stopped to ask at an estate agent’s, and when we eventually found it there was nowhere to park, so Val went in and brought Jane out, and then we went off to Kelston, travelling through Bitton, where our great great grandparents James Andrew Hayes and Catherine Chaffey were married in 1846, but didn’t see the church, which was off the road. But at least we got a picture of what the village looked like.

We found Upper Lodge, Kelston, without difficulty, and Josephine Tsegaye, our 5th cousin, was there with her sister Catharine Stokes, and we chatted to them about the family history, and I got Catharine’s information up to date, as well as the details of her children.

Hayes cousins: Josdephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

Hayes cousins: Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

They had a Liberal Democrat poster outside their gate. There was to be a general election, but the political campaigning seemed more subdued than in South Africa, with most of the posters being smaller. We had seen mostly Liberal Democrat ones, and a few Conservative ones, but very few Labour. In South African cities election posters were tied to every lamp post, but here they were tied to people’s fences, so one could guess the political affiliation of the residents.

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

After lunch we took Jane Conway to Winscombe, Somerset, where our great great great grandparents Simon Hayes and Rachel Allen were married in 1814, and took photos of the church, and got copies of the parish magazine.

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The church of St James was quite a way from the centre of the village.Simon and Rachel Hayes had four sons, one of whom died young. The other three moved to Bristol where they were builders and carpenters.

St James's Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 5 May 2005

St James’s Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We then went to Axbridge, to see where our great grandfather William Allen Hayes had spent the latter part of his life as landlord of the Red Lion pub, and my grandfather Percy Hayes had grown up. William Allen Hayes had married Mary Barber Stooke, and was first a builder in Bristol before moving to Axbridge to run the pub.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The Red Lion is no longer a pub, but a private house. Nevertheless, Jane, bold as brass, knocked on the
door and asked if we could have a look inside. It was now owned by an American couple, David and Juliet Maclay. David’s family were from Boston, and he does historical restorations, and offered us a cup of tea and showed us the library he had built upstairs, which was very kind of him to do for complete strangers. He also had an interesting icon of Ronald Reagan making a speech, with Henry Kissinger and others floating round his head like demons to tempt him, and side panels showing American atrocities in various parts of the world.

Icon of former  US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

Icon of former US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

We went to the square, and took some photos of the church, and a woman was coming to lock it just as we got there, but let us look at it. She said she locked it because she was the one who lived closest.

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We drove up the Cheddar Gorge, and took some photos there as well, and then took Jane home. It was interesting to see the Cheddar Gorge, as that was where my grandfather had grown up, and we have some photos in an old family album that show it.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

It was after 7:00 pm, so the traffic was not too bad, and we drove in through Bedminster where the Hayes family had lived in the second half of the 19th century. On the way Jane Conway commented about the election, and said how horrified Mummy would have been that there was a Labour
government, and at the thought of the Tories not being elected. We found that rather strange and wondered how many other people of her age (77) would take their political opinions from their parents so unquestioningly. There was still no parking outside Jane’s house, however, so we said goodbye
to her at the gate, and drove back to Josephine’s house via Bitton and Kelston again.

Josephine’s father, Crofton Hayes, had also been in the building trade, and had had a firm of shopfitters. He had a large house near Kelston, and two of his daughters lived in the attached lodges, though the main house had been sold after he died.

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

We were hoping to meet Josephine’s sister Lydia Curtis, whom she said had most of the historical information on the family, but by the time we got there it was too late to go to see them, so we chatted to Josephine instead, and she told stories about some members of the family. We were also sorry not to meet Josephine’s husband Ezra, who had been ill. He was originally from Ethiopia.

We drove back to Beckington quite late that night, and were beginning to be quite familiar with that road.

Continued at UK Trip 4 May 2005: Somerset, Devon & Cornwall.

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

Purnell and Allen families of Somerset

Several years ago, when looking at HAYES family records I found the 1851 census entry for John Hayes, at 11 North Street, Bedminster, Bristol. He was my great great grandfather’s brother, and he and his wife Margaret had been born at Winscombe, as had their son William. There was a daughter, Mary, and his mother Rachel, aged 64. Then an Elena PURNELL, listed as a cousin, a dressmaker aged 17, who was born in Bedminster.

For a long time I puzzled about this Elena Purnell, until a transcription of the Winscombe parish registers became available, and revealed that an Ann PURNELL, daughter of James and Ann had been baptised in Winscombe in 1827.

Rachel HAYES’s maiden name was ALLEN, and she had a younger sister Ann, who thus could have been the wife of James PURNELL, though there was no record of their marriage, and no sign of Elena.

This was confirmed by the 1841 census of Bedminster, where Ann PURNELL was listed as the head of the house, with a daughter Ann aged 13 (thus the right age to be born in 1827) and with them were Simon and Rachel Hayes. But no Elena. Nevertheless, it did show that John HAYES (son of Simon and Rachel) did have PURNELL cousins.

I then saw a transcription of the 1851 census entry, where the transcriber had listed Elena PURNELL as Clara TURNEL. I checked the original again, and yes, what I took to be Elena could be Clara. So I checked the IGI, and found a Clara Purnell baptised at St Philip and St Jacob in Bristol on 21 July 1833, with parents James and Ann. It was a patron-submitted record, with no source provided, but seems plausible enough.

That solved my original mystery — where did John HAYES and his brothers get a cousin “Elena” from. The answer was from their mother’s sister, and she wasn’t “Elena” but Clara.

But it still leaves, or rather raises, some more questions — like

  • When and where did James PURNELL and Ann ALLEN marry?
  • Where was Clara at the 1841 census (when she would have been 7)?
  • Where did the mysterious James PURNELL hang out, or did he just pop into existence to beget kids, and then disappear again?
  • Where were the elder and younger Ann Purnell in the 1851 and later censuses?

If anyone spots them in the wild, please let me know.

More here, with a family group sheet.

In-laws

There was recently a discussion on the term “in-law” as in “father-in-law”, “mother-in-law”, “brother-in-law”, “son-in-law” etc.

In looking up something else I came across this entry in Fowler’s Modern English usage, which provides a good summary.

-in-law, describing relationship, was formerly also used in the sense of step- . To Sam Weller [whoever he may be] his father”s second wife was always his mother-in-law; we are not told what he called his own wife’s mother after he married. Today -in-law is never so used; my mother-in-law becomes so by my marriage, my stepmother by hers. The expression in-law derives from the Canon Law prescribing the degrees of affinity within which marriage is prohibited.

The lesson to genealogists is obvious. When you see -in-law, don’t assume what kind of relationship it refers to — always check to make sure.

This happened in our family.

In the 1861 census my ggg grandfather, Simon Hayes, was shown staying in Winscombe, Somerset, with the family of Giles Williams, whose wife was Sidonia.

Simon’s relationship to the head of the household was described as
“brother-in-law”

My first thought (and that of several other researchers into this family) was that Sidonia was Simon’s sister, and that her maiden name was Hayes.

And that was wrong.

After more research I discovered that Sidonia’s maiden name was Sweet.

Simon’s wife was Rachel Allen, and her sister Hester Allen had been Giles
Williams’s first wife, but she died before the 1861 census.

This is not a “step-” relationship, but it is a caution against jumping to
conclusions about the meaning of -in-law.

Don’t assume, always check.

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