I started out focussing on the family element of family history, but have now progressed to considering the history aspect too. With the exception of Romans and Vikings I was never particularly interested in history as a subject at school, so my knowledge of the history of the past two or three centuries is seriously lacking. As I have added new people to my tree I have tried to find out more about the historical context in which they lived their lives. This has given me much more insight into the transition from an agricultural society to the industrial age and also the timeline of events in the first World War. One of the most interesting pieces of historical research has been looking into where the Northumberland Fusiliers served in 1915 and 1916 to track the path of my great uncle Edmund Webb from enlistment at Amble to his death in battle at Flers-Courcelette.
Moving on from history to genealogy I can claim four H-names in my pedigree. All four come from my mother’s half of the tree.
H is for Hall
First in the alphabet comes Hall. My Hall ancestors lived at Elsdon in Northumberland and I have been lucky enough to find good sources of information about them.
H is for Hedley
Another of my pedigree H lines is Hedley. I have not found quite so many of them. They too have lived in the Elsdon area and I found them by following up the Hall line.
H is for Henderson
The closest of my H pedigree lines is Henderson, to be found in Amble and Cullercoats. My maternal grandmother was a Henderson.
H is for Hunter
My final pedigree H is Hunter. Yet another Elsdon connection found by tracking back up the Hall line.
My great great grandfather Randle Thornton died on 17 June 1907 at Amble in Northumberland. Randle was a 64-year-old coal miner when he died of Bright’s disease, which I understand to be chronic nephritis (kidney problems) and cardiac hypertrophy.
Randle married Mary Oliver in 1842 and they had 11 children: 5 girls and 6 boys. So far I have only focussed on the fates of two of their girls. Two Thornton sisters married two Henderson brothers. One of these couples was my great grandparents Archibald Henderson and Margaret Jane Thornton. The other couple was Newton Henderson and Mary Phyllis Thornton who are give rise to my California Henderson connection.
My tree has many branches because large numbers of offspring appear to have been the norm among the mining, fishing and farming families of North-East England and Scotland. Three of my grandparents are from large families. Grandmother Ellenor Turner was the seventh child of ten. Grandmother Margaret Jane Henderson was the third child of seven. Grandfather George Crackett was the eighth child of ten. (Shown in the banner of my blog).
Taking it back one generation further the big families include: Cracket 8, Parkinson 5, Carr 5, Henderson 7, Thornton 11. Similar trends can be seen in the earlier generations too with most of the couples having somewhere between 5 and 10 children.
F is for findmypast
F is also for findmypast which is one of the resources I find most useful for my genealogy research. I find their transcriptions among the most reliable, although Cracket has on occasion been twisted to Crackel. So far I have just used the UK site, but expect I am soon going to have to take a look at both Ireland and Australia. I have not managed to figure out yet whether having a subscription for one country gives any discount opportunities for the other countries.
I was planning to figure out where my Cullercoats ancestors might be buried before my next trip to Northumberland so I could plan a photo shoot. However, a chance conversation with a friend who mentioned that there was a cemetery near Billy Mill roundabout that he passes on his way to his allotment triggered my curiosity and answered my question. It turns out, after he has investigated further, that a section of Preston Cemetery has been set aside for headstones moved from Cullercoats. Does not sound very promising with respect to legibility, but there could be some little research gems hidden under the ivy. Among the names I will be looking for there are Henderson, Newton and Miller.
A late addition to this post: Forgot to mention before I hit the publish button that the post title not only reflects the topic, but was chosen because the friend who checked this out for me likes Joe Cocker.
On 29 April 1898 John Henderson, age 38, fell into Amble Harbour while trying to fix the tiller on a boat. An extensive search was carried out, but John was not found until several days later when the tide washed his body back into the harbour. The photo shows his grave in Amble East Cemetery.
John left behind his pregnant wife Mary and two children: David, age 4, who was later killed in WWI and baby Isabella. Their posthumous child, named John after his Dad, died in September 1899 age 10 months.
I have several John Hendersons in my tree. This John, who met the tragic harbour death, was my granny’s uncle, the eldest son of my 2x great grandparents John Henderson and Margaret Stavers.
I found a plot list for Amble East Cemetery during my visit to the Northumberland Archives this week. So far I have tied in 13 of the names on the list to my tree and expect to tie in a lot more. Surnames are Crackett, Henderson, Smith, Stavers,Turner and Webb, but Murray and Robinson are also represented in the middle names. I already knew about 9 of the 13 from my trip there a couple of years ago to photograph headstones. The other 4 have given me new information. I have published a list of family members on my Amble East Cemetery page.
(This is my catch-up post for Wednesday 4th April when I missed my postaday)
How I wish that my ancestors had been more diligent about identifying people and dates on photographs. Looking at my four grandparents and how they tackled naming of the photos they left behind of their parents and siblings I have the following results:
Crackett – my granda never gave a thought to this sort of thing so what information I do have is gleaned from others, mainly from my father’s cousin who helped to identify a huge heap of photos and gave me some amazing insights.
Turner – my granny had no time for naming photos either, but fortunately there were a few in her pile that were received from other family members and had been annotated. We have about 50 Turner photos that are now the subject of guesswork.
Webb – no photos of my granda’s family exist to name. I strongly suspect that my granny consigned what he did have (if any) to the bin at some stage. I wonder if anyone anywhere will ever be able to fill the gap.
Henderson – even here there are big gaps in putting names to ancestral pictures, but my granny did send photos of her children and grandchildren to relatives around the world with captions on them so subsequent generations are well documented.
A good example of the challenges that all this causes is the photo at the top of my blog. I have all 12 names, but not all of them can be tied in to the right individual. More about that another day.