Month: October 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge #44 – Giving Back

I got my Facebook invitation from Geneablogger to take part in this week’s challenge. Being new to this genealogy blogging thing I wasn’t sure what it was all about apart from I guessed giving something back to the genealogy community.

So I clicked on the links in the Facebook message.

Like most other researchers I have used Family Search for many years – especially for IGI information. I must admit that I hadn’t given much thought to all the work that goes in to the indexing of the various records. Just grateful that someone has done it.

However today I signed up to be an indexer for Family Search and completed my first five batches. I intend to make this a regular task. It didn’t take long – only perhaps and hour or so. That’s not much time to give to such vital work for genealogists now and in the future.

If you haven’t signed up then go to the Family Search website and have a look.

I also clicked on another link to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.

RAOGK is a global volunteer organisation with over 4000 volunteers in every US state and many international locations. Volunteers take time to do everything from looking up local records to taking pictures of tombstones for other researchers who are unable to get to a particular place – perhaps because it’s in another country.

So I’ve volunteered to take photographs of tombstones in cemeteries in West Yorkshire (England).

I feel as though I have done something really worthwhile today – must reward myself with a glass or two of something alcoholic tonight. Maybe best not to do any indexing afterwards.


One Name Dilema

I need some help, advice or perhaps medication!

I’m seriously thinking about embarking on a One Name Study. I’ve been mulling this over for the last two or three weeks. I’ve looked at the Guild of One-Name Studies website, I’ve Googled “one name studies” loads of times and I’ve checked for one name study blogs and websites.

I know it will be an arduous task and I will need to be really well organised and committed. I am prepared for that – to be in for the long haul.

My wife’s family name is Espley and that’s the one I want to research. There are 108 Espley’s on the England 1841 census and 408 on the 1911 census. There are some other derivations of the name as you would expect – Epsley, Esply, Epsly, Aspley, Apsly and Asply – all appear on the 1911 census. Not sure how many of these are transcription errors – they will all need to be checked and recorded though.

I know some of the people we have in our family tree emigrated to Canada and New Zealand and most likely to other places as well.

To start with I am going to concentrate on the UK and see how I get on.

I could do with some advice about the best way to manage the information. I found one website offering a database called Custodian 3 and on various forums people have said that they have just used a spreadsheet, like Excel.

So should I just go for the commercial product and save time – it isn’t expensive but perhaps it’s not essential either. I’m not particulalrly good at setting up a database from scratch – I could probably manage a simple spreadsheet though. So any help or advice about your experiences if you have gone down this road would be welcome – thanks.

I’ve already handwritten the England 1841 census information and the IGI marriages into my trusty notebook. Just really to get a feel for how much work is going to be involved. I’m now itching to get this information into a database or spreadsheet.

I’m going to set myself a research plan – GRO indexes, rest of the census records and IGI births and deaths to start.

I’ve more or less decided to focus on Espley in the UK first and look overseas later. Other questions are – should I register with the Guild of One Name Studies right away and maybe register a website domain for when I’m ready to publish the results.

I’m getting really giddy about the prospect of starting this new project.

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas’s Tale

I guess there is nothing remarkable about this tombstone.  It’s not especially grand or pretentious in any way.  The tombstone is at the grave of Thomas Dawson and his wife Sarah (Cowgill).

There isn’t any glowing eulogy – just a simple message In Memory of.  Is anything else really necessary?

As you will see from the photograph (apologies for the poor quality) Thomas was born in 1863 in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire.  He is my 2nd cousin 3x removed.  He had a sister, Sarah born c1857.  Their mother was Priscilla Dawson.  I haven’t been able to find any evidence of who the father was.

Thomas worked in the local mill as a cotton warp dresser and his sister Sarah worked as a cotton weaver.

In 1888 at the age of about 25 Thomas married Sarah Cowgill, a local girl from the same village.  They had two sons, Watson (named after his great grandfather) born c1892 and Ernest born c1896.

I get a real sense that this little family unit stuck together and relied on each other.  The census returns show that right up to 1901 Thomas, his wife and two sons, and sister Sarah were living with Priscilla.

Within seven years three of them would die.

Priscilla died in 1903 about a year after her daughter Sarah.  Thomas passed away in 1908 at the age of 45 and after only 20 years of marriage.

The remarkable thing about this story for me is that Sarah lived a further 42 years until 1950 and died at the age of about 86.

I hadn’t bothered to get a copy of Thomas’s death certificate but writing this post has persuaded me to send off for it.  I am interested to see what caused his death at such a young age.  I know times were hard in those days yet Sarah lived a long life and, I assume, raised two sons on her own.

Amanuensis Monday – Preacher John Gawthrop

Religion in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire is likely to be the subject of a future post.   However it provides me with something to write about for Amanuensis Monday this week.   My Dawson ancestry is firmly rooted in Cowling.   My 2xgreat grandfather, John Dawson married Ellen Gawthrop on 8th April 1844 in the Parish Church of Kildwick.

So I am connected to John Gawthrop by marriage. He is my 1st cousin 3x removed.

John was born c1853 and he married Elizabeth Thornton in 1890.   As far as I have been able to determine they had at least two children – Elsie and John.

On the 1871 census John was living with his parents and working as a weaver.   In 1881 he was still with his parents but his occupation had changed to a local mission preacher.   By 1891 John was away doing mission work and he and Elizabeth are shown as visitors at an address in Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire.   His occupation is shown as Wesleyan Minister. In 1901 John, Elizabeth and their two children were living in Kirkby Stephen, Cumberland.

I guess it’s a sign of how much they moved about the country that Elsie was born c1892 in Northampton and John was born c1896 in Foleshill, Warwickshire.

OK, that just about sets the scene!

John became active as a preacher during the period known as Revivalism. These revivial services were well attended and John was a regular and popular preacher at the Ickornshaw Chapel.   This article refers to John as:-

a typical product of the revivalist era and whose unorthodox methods and powerful personality made him one of the most successful mission workers of his day.   He gained a high place in the Wesleyan ministry, conducting several large missions in various cities and serving as pastor of important churches throughout the country”.

This article from the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald of November 2000 includes a look back to 100 years ago and tells the story of John speaking in Kirkby Stephen and complaining that “there were no young men in the Wesleyan societies.   At Dent Head, Blencarn and Milburn, where he had just held missions, there was not a single young man and scarcely a young woman to be seen.   It was a shame that the devil should have the cream of the young people”.

I get the impression that John was a bit of firebrand and I would love to be able to get copies of some of his sermons if they still exist.   Writing this post has motivated me to see if the Methodist Church have any records remaining of John Gawthrop and his work.   So I may be talking about him again if I am successful.

Surname Saturday – Musgrove

Today I want to tell you about the Musgrove family name.  Both my maternal grandparents were called Musgrove – Fred Musgrove and Florrie Musgrove.   

According to the website surnamedb ( Musgrove is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational name deriving from a pair of villages near Kirkby Stephen in Westmorland, called Great and Little Musgrave.  The early settlement is recorded as “Musegrave” around 1215, and as “Magna” and “Parva Musegrave” (Great and Little) in the “Records of Pleas” of 1292.

The placename is said to derive from the old English pre 7th century elements “mus”, mouse, or the old Norse byname “Musi”, with “graf”, grove – so “grove frequented by mice”, or “Musi’s grove”.

A number of English placenames have “Mus” as a first part, including Musbury (Lancashire), “mouse burrow”, and Muscoates (Yorkshire), “mouse infested huts”.

Some early examples of the surname include Roger de Mussegrave (1277, London); Thomas de Musgraue (1362, Yorkshire) and John Mosgrove, listed in the University of Oxford’s Register for 1581.  The first recorded spelling of the name is believed to be that of Alan de Musegrave, which was dated 1228, in the “Curia Rolls of Northumberland”, during the reign of King Henry III, known as “The Frenchman”, 1216-1272.

My post last week (St Catherine’s House) explained about my early difficulty finding the birth certificate for Florrie Musgrove which was in fact recorded as Mosgrove.

I have traced my two Musgrove lines back to Kendal in Westmorland.  On my granfather’s side I can go back to my 3xgreat grandfather, Joseph Musgrove who was born c1791 in Kendal. He was a blacksmith and at some point moved south to the Clitheroe / Whalley area of Lancashire where he met and married Jane Dewhurst.

On my grandmother’s side I go back to my 3xgreat grandfather, William Musgrove who was born about 1795 and married Harriot Francis on 30 October 1815 in Kendal.  My 2xgreat grandfather, Harrison Musgrove (1834-1868) and my great grandfather, Joseph Musgrove (1866-1933) were also born in the Kendal / Kirkland area of Westmorland.  This Joseph moved south to Clitheroe via Settle and Horton in Ribblesdale.

Other people researching my grandmother’s line have gone back three further generations to my 6xgreat grandfather, Joseph Musgreave born about 1703 in Hawkshead (Lancashire).  I haven’t yet checked this information – it’s on my list of things to do (which is growing longer every week!!)

St Catherine’s House

As well as using the Central Library in Leeds for all our early research we got a few chances to visit St Catherine’s House in London.

Civil Registration began in the UK on 1st July 1837 and the records and registers were kept at Somerset House in London until 1970 when they were moved to St Catherine’s House. Because of it’s location the Civil Registration index became known as the St Catherine’s House Index. The records were moved again 1997 to the Family Records Centre at Myddleton Street, North London.

Looking though the registers in St Catherine’s House really felt like you were in touch with history. These are huge books – separate records for births, marriages and deaths. Each volume has the records for a calendar quarter for a particular year.

I knew my maternal grandmother’s birthday was 6th January 1897 so the record should have been in the March 1897 quarter. Her name was Florrie Musgrove. I had checked the records in the library at Leeds but hadn’t been able to find a record of her birth. On one of our visits to St Catherine’s House I was determined to have a thorough and systematic search.

It wasn’t where it should have been – not under Musgrove, or Musgrave, or Musgreave. It wasn’t in the June 1897 quarter or the September 1897 quarter. OK think laterally. After what seemed an age and just before we were ready to give up, there it was – in the March 1897 register after all – but under Florrie Mosgrove.

We were still early on in our research and it was a great lesson. Don’t accept things at face value and learn to question everything.

The marriage certificate for Fred and Florrie Musgrove also threw up another anomaly – but that’s for another week.

Happy 210th birthday grandma

Today in 1800 my 3xgreat grandma was born.  So join with me and a raise a glass or two to clebrate the 210th birthday of Margaret Snowden.

Margaret was born in the West Yorkshire village of Cowling – situated on the road between Keighley and Colne.  The road crosses the Yorkshire – Lancashire border.  Back in 1800 the main road through the village was still a dozen years away.  The building of it was said to be under the supervision of Blind Jack of Knaresborough, who constructed roads throughout Yorkshire.

Here’s a couple of links to websites about Cowling village.

Cowling is an important part of my family history and will get regular mentions in future posts.

Anyway back to Margaret.  She married Thomas Dawson on 2nd September 1819.  They had nine children between 1819 and 1840.  On the census returns Margaret is always shown simply as “wife”.  That really doesn’t do her justice does it.  Thomas was mainly employed as a cotton warp dresser (see explanation below) all his working life.  So Margaret would have been responsible for the house – I really can’t imagine what it must have been like to raise nine children in rural England in the mid 19th century.

I suspect that their homes were really quite small cottages built near the local mills – which is where Thomas probably worked.

A warp dresser is someone who prepared the long worsted threads for weaving. This consisted of sizing the warp threads with "paps" - a flour and water mix – which strengthened the warp threads and lessened the possibility of them breaking during weaving.

In 1800 King George III was still on the throne, John Adams was well into his presidential term in the USA and in Europe, Napoleon was about to start throwing his weight about.

I can't let a post about the Snowden family go without mentioning Viscount Philip Snowden who was born in Cowling in 1864. He was a British politician and the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. I know I may be clutching at straws but I am hoping that I can eventually find a family connection to this famous son of Cowling – even if it is only by distant marriage. Watch this space!!

Here's a link to more information

Happy Birthday Margaret.