Thursday 16 December 2010

Christmas 2010 Newsletter

Here's the newsletter (mostly) that's gone in the Christmas Cards:


Horswill, Hills, Laverick, Wake, Mangan, Tidder, Clack and many more!

Christmas 2010 News

[See last page for list of our websites]

How it started

Dad and I started looking at the family tree back in the 1980s. We even had our honeymoon (all six of us, it was one of the competition wins) a few miles from Bigbury in South Devon where the Horswills come from. We had a lot of information and, of course, Dad remembered some of his great aunts and uncles and stories passed down but we soon came up against the Genealogy Police, “That woman from Shropshire” as Dad and Auntie Mildred referred to her. I still have their letters! She kept telling us we had it all wrong so we gave up.

I was pleased when I found out we didn’t have it all wrong but sad too because Dad would have enjoyed the progress we’ve made now.

Much of that is down to the internet and millions of public records transcribed onto computers which we didn’t have back then. Now we have Ancestry and other sites and can create the tree online. It’s also easy to meet other people working on a connected tree and join them up. It’s a good way to meet new cousins. We’ve gone back to the 1600s with most branches of the family. Uncle Chick’s (Charles Docwra) tree does back to about 1200!

Horswill Family

We’ve traced the families of Dad’s great aunts Lizzie Jane and Edith and his great uncles Harry and Fred. The cousins are on Facebook if you’d like to meet them.

[omitted for privacy]

Ash/ Hannaford

George Horswill (b1851 in Bigbury) married Elizabeth Ann Ash from Cornwall. I’ve found hundreds of Ash relatives and we have two photos of her. The family moved to Durham in about 1870 and I always felt sorry for her being taken away from her family but in fact it was her family who moved. All twelve of them. Several connected families moved for the coal mining. The Geatches family, with whom we have a few marriages, moved to the US.

I’ve recently hooked up with some Ash cousins researching the tree and the Hannafords have dozens of people working on it.

Horswill II and Elsdon Family

My great great grandfather, Roger Horswill b.1829 married twice. I’m from his first marriage and there’s another branch of Horswills from his second. I met Wilson Horswill in London many years ago, It turns out he was at school with Grandad! Thanks to Lynne Horswill for unearthing old school records. So Dad did remember correctly that there was another branch of the family.

Here’s what it says in the school records:

Thomas Horswill [Grandad] born 31/3/1893 parent George,lived at 13 Neal Street Annfield Plain, left school on 1906

Henry [Harry] Horswill born 9/6/1895 parent George,lived at 13 Neal Street Annfield Plain left school 1908 to work in pit

Frederick Horswill born 4/3/1897 parent George, lived at 10 St Aidens Crescent, Annfield Plain left school 1911 to work in pit

Moses Wilson Horswill born 21/8/1923 parent William, lived at 21 Headly terr Annfield Plain left school 1912 (returned to Southmoor)

William Horswill born 13/11/1904 parent William,lived at 21 Headly Terr Annfield Plain left school 1912 (returned to Southmoor)

Robert Horswill born 12/5/1921 parent Robert, lived at 15 Lanley Terr Annfield Plain left school 1921 (moved to Doncaster)

John Horswill born .......... parent Thomas,lived at 37 Durham Road Annfield Plain left school 1936

That side of the family has a foundling in it. Cuthbert Elsdon was left at St Cuthbert’s Church in Elsdon, hence his name. And his tree stops there since we can’t go any further back. You can search for him in the online trees. He was born in 1650.

Hills/Williams Family

Due to Mum’s memory for names, as in “I remember an Aunt Louisa and an Ada”, we managed to find Grandad’s (Joe Hills) family and another second cousin also researching the tree. This branch is where you can find a Hezekiah!

Progress was slow on the Hills side. We had a photo of Nanny and Grandad Hills on their wedding day. Mum said Nan was 19 when she got married and they got married in 1914, as many people did. So we based Nan’s date of birth accordingly. And we couldn’t find her. We couldn’t find her because she got married aged 19 in 1916, not 1914.

We also couldn’t find her mother Bessie and grandmother Bess. It turns out they were both called Mary Ann. Officially that is, they could well have been called Bess by people who knew them. The 1911 census helps because you see children living in the house who were alive in living memory. This is how we found Mary Ann, living in the same house as Aunt Kate, Uncle Bob, Nan etc

We also went wrong with Nan’s father because we thought he was a Francis (and Uncle Frank was named after him). He was actually Henry James Williams, although he might have been called Frank. People were often called something quite different from their original name which can really throw you. He was from Southampton so I’ve gone back to my roots. I’ve even walked down the street where they lived in 1860. I’ve gone back to the 1800s with that branch. I’m going to find a few graves when I have time and the weather is better.

I spent a long time looking for Nan’s sister, the missing Letty. Some months into the search Mum remembered that she married a Saxby. I put this into the Ancestry records and there was Charles Saxby married to Mary Victoria, daughter of Henry James Williams. The corroboration was their daughter Maud. All in Mum’s memory. Fortunately the Saxby family are very keen on genealogy so we have more people to put in there later. I’ve only just joined up with their tree.

The story was that Letty went off with a married man and later married him. There is no earlier marriage for Charles Saxby. I checked with his family. She was estranged from the family and yet her father was at the reading of the banns and probably therefore at the wedding. Very strange!

It’s fascinating stuff. There are some loud “Yes!” moments at 3am when the dots join up.

John’s Family: Mangan, Tidder, Hipson, Clack

I used Bill Blamire’s tree to start us off and soon joined up with some keen researchers in the Mangan and Clack families so it’s a big tree with nearly 600 people. There’s the same confusion with names and “she was Jewish, you know” (No, she wasn’t, I have the baptism records …. where do people get these ideas?) but Maureen’s memory is invaluable.

The more facts you find, the more people remember. It really is essential to talk to the older members of your family while they’re still here and not make any assumptions. I found one of Maureen’s relatives in prison on a census and dismissed it as the wrong one then the next day she asked me if I’d found the one in prison!

Photo Archive Project

This is making slow progress as no-one gives me any photos! Photos put onto Facebook are amusing but useless as far as the archive project goes because the resolution is too low. You can read long essays about this on the Horswill Family Photos site. That site needs tidying up but please take a look as it gives full instructions about what to do with photos.

I think I’ll go mad if anyone else tells me they have a box of old photos. The box needs to be in my house or my computer!

Our Websites:

Main site: This is where we attempt to pull the project together and the links page takes you to the other sites, including the blog.

Private photo upload site: You will need to ask for membership of this site (which I’ll appove of course). If you are a member of Ancestry use your Ancestry log in. You can also see the Ancestry trees from this site without paying Ancestry membership fees.

You can load high resolution photos onto this site and it’s private. Only people I know to be family are allowed in. Please see the instructions on the main site. It’s essential that you put photos into an album when you upload them otherwise it takes me hours to move them. You can also download any photos you want to keep.

My Heritage: Anyone can join in on this site. You can add people, information, photos etc. and create charts and celebrity lookalikes and send messages to each other. Please join in!

Ancestry Trees: If you’re a member of Ancestry you can see our trees. Username is horswillfamily and the trees are:

Horswill and Hills Families
Mangan Family Tree

We have a blog and two Facebook groups all linked from Come along and meet some cousins!

You can help this project along by:

1) Writing down any family stories you remember. Who married who, where did they live etc

2) Sending photos!

There is lots to do in 2011!