Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Jemima Strelley 1822- 1899 Don't disregard the maiden Aunts.

I had a note to follow up Thomas Strelley Rennie, Brigadier (1899-1949). Surely he was related to the Strelleys.

I knew that his father, Thomas Rennie had played a part in the life of the unmarried Jemima Strelley 1822-1898. He appeared with her in the 1881 and 1891 census and was noted in 1891 as his guardian. Further research shows his parents had died  and she was the Housekeeper to his siblings in 1881. I can find no relationship but Thomas must have been fairly important to Jemima as he acted as her informant at death and executer of her will.  Why did Rennie name his son after her family name one year after her death? 

So I worked backwards:

Thomas Rennie  from Glasgow married Mary Lilly Rennie 1 Sep 1897 in  Liverpool, Lancashire. What was he doing there? I knew that his son was born in Edinburgh and that he appeared in a subsequent census back in Edinburgh. It turns out Mary Lilly’s father, Charles Tait Stewart and Grandfather Robert Barclay Stewart were Edinburgh born.
Then up popped an ancestry record which blew my mind. Robert Barclay Stewart’s mother was Matilda Johnston who just happened to be Jemima’s mother!  Was this a very small world or a bit of matchmaking orchestrated by Jemima?  Mary Lilly Stewart was Jemima’s half grand niece, her father being her half nephew.

Up until this point I hadn’t realized that my great great great Grandmother Matilda had a marriage to Charles Stewart, a Teacher of music in Edinburgh or that there were at least 4 children from this 1803 union. To my mind she was married to William Strelley around 1820 and had three Strelley children- one of whom was Jemima.

Over the various census from 1841, the unmarried Jemima had lived with a variety of people some ascribed as nephew, niece, sister. These people didn’t seem to fit with her known brother and sister – they too were in my “follow up” notes. Elizabeth Lindley was as it turns out, her half sister (Matilda and Charles were her parents), Annabella Lindley was Jemima’s niece and Frederick Elliott (Lindley) and Robert Anderson were Annabella’s illegitimate children and as such were related to Jemima as grand nephews.  

All up I was able to flesh out the families of the four new children to Matilda, link up Jemima to people in her Census. This was a couple of big ticks on my followup lists – but how did she happen to be looking after the Rennie children in the first place? (Note to self –Follow up)

Tip of the Day:
Organize and record your research. Besides storing files and recording information into your data base, keep your research notes and follow-ups in a large note book (Beware- they breed). Number the pages and index them for easy retrieval of information. Revisit your “follow ups” from time to time. You will be surprised how pieces fall together a few months down the track.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Three brothers- three fathers- three very different lives.

The life of George Ford Wilks1851- 1897 has already been written about. He had two brothers each with different fathers and each lived their life differently. George as we know went into the Navy. 

Charles Ford  1836-1913 remained on the land.  He is first found on the 1841 census with his mother and grandmother . When the census is taken in 1841, Harriet Foard aged 25 lives with her mother Mary (50) and her four-year-old son Charles Foard at Frogmore part of the East Meon/Petersfield registration district. Frogmore’s a local farm and Mill.  A notation on the baptismal record shows little Charles as being the illegitimate son of Charles Kill.
In 1851 he is living with his mother,  step father William Wilks and brother William. A third brother George will be born within days.

Charles and William with their mother and stepfather 1851 census

Charles at 22 is lodging as an agricultural labourer at Soberton Village. Shortly after 1861 Charles moves on to Widley Farm where he remains for the rest of his life.
Charles earns his living as a long-term agricultural labourer in Hampshire. He outlives both his brothers dying at the age of 77 years. He lived and worked at Widley Farm until his death in 1913.  His wife Deborah Mason whom he marries in 1874 in Portsea died in 1895 producing two daughters, Alice Emily and Elizabeth Fanny Ford. Both married and settled locally in the Widley Coreham area. Technically the Ford name should die out with him.

William Ford 1846-1882 is quite a character. William is found recorded in the Parish records as the illegitimate son of Henry Holmes having christened while Harriet was living in Poor Union House at Petersfield.
After his early days as an agricultural labourer William enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Fareham in 1866 aged 18 years 9 months.  Chris Ford his great,great-nephew, after reading William’s military records described him as "quite a lad" and was probably correct in his assessment of him being “quite mad". His military records contain words like "bad", "awaiting trial", "placed under restraint as a lunatic". Sadly, in July 1875 he is discharged after being described as "melancholic" (Suicidal). 

So after his 10 years as a gunner in the Royal Artillery including five years service in India, he is considered unfit for further service. Returning to Petersfield aged 28 years where he works as a labourer.  In November 1880 he pleaded guilty to setting fire to a barn at nearby Froxfield causing over £1000 damage.

The Hampshire Advertiser (Southampton, England), Wednesday, November 17, 1880; pg. 4; Issue 3592. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

There is evidence from this case and another case in 1878 that William was a heavy drinker. The judge sentenced him to 10 years hard labour and the 1881 Census records him as a convicted felon at Pentonville Prison, Islington. As there is no further record of him it appears he is the William Ford whose death is recorded in 1882 at Islington.
Decisions and actions taken  after Harriet's death caused George's life to be vastly different to that of his mother and father, forefathers and surely his older brothers. William escaped for a while. Probably today his malaise would be called "post-traumatic stress disorder" and he would be pensioned out of the Army and receive treatment for his problems.
Family history Tip:
Always consider the possibility of service in the local militia, Napoleonic and Crimean wars. Find My Past is an excellent resource for checking these details. 
For Further information on the Ford family contact me