Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I was honored to be asked by Emma Jolly to participate in a Writers’ Blog Tour, which aims to showcase writers in a variety of non-fiction and fiction genres and help more people know about their blogs. Emma’s Tour post is over here and includes information on the Tour and on a number of the other participants. Emma invited myself and Debra Watkins to join the Tour. For my turn on the Tour, I am to answer four questions on my writing and then introduce you to the writers that are joining the Tour at my invitation. I apologize that my post is appearing later than it had been scheduled to debut; there was a death in my family (see my most recent post if you want details).

What am I working on?

I am in the process of writing or editing multiple articles on family history and social history for print publications, including an article on utilizing DNA testing in research and an article on a local women’s organization’s programs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I am also working on a non-fiction book about some facets of 19th century America and always have a number of drafts for my blog which are in various stages of writing/editing prior to posting. I enjoy researching and writing about a variety of subjects rather than focusing on a single subject.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One of the main things I like to do regarding family history, in both articles and blog posts, is to try to give people a good idea of the tools to approach a specific type of research; I like to use both specific examples and social history for background so that people can hopefully better understand both specific situations and the general tenor of an area of research, and hopefully carry it forward to their own successful research. While there were general patterns in the past, just like today each situation was unique, and some people were closer to the median than others. With my pieces that focus primarily on social history, I like to try to share stories that seem to have been forgotten with the passage of time, and that hopefully will help the reader understand more about the wider time and place in which that part of history happened. My most recent print article was “The Long Trek Westward: Migration from New England to New York and the Midwest,” published in December 2013.

Why do I write what I do?

I love history – social history, family history, almost all history really. I enjoy sharing my passion for history with others and hopefully helping people to better understand the past and, if they are a fellow researcher, to do more successful research.

How does my writing process work?

It differs somewhat depending on what I am writing. If I am writing an article for publication and know in advance exactly what the topic will be and a required approximate length, I usually write an outline in advance, flesh out the article, and then edit it down to the required size. Occasionally I still do the outline longhand, but more often I start typing from the first word. If I am writing a blog post or writing an article that I intend to submit to prospective publications after finishing, I may start with an outline or I may simply start writing and see where my writing goes. I generally write at home, but I sometimes write in situ, most often in a café or an archive.

Introducing Two More Family History Writers

I now have the pleasure of introducing the next two people on the Tour, two fellow genealogical writers who are also editors. Both live here in the States.

Carol Swaine-Kuzel is a genealogist and a historical researcher. She has written research articles for the New Hampshire Genealogical Record and is co-editor of the New Hampshire Families in 1790 project for the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists.  She blogs about her explorations in genealogical research at Journeys of a Constant Genealogist and about her ancestors’ Civil War experiences in three sesquicentennial tribute blogs: http://20thmassregt150.blogspot.com/, http://13thnhregt150.blogspot.com/, and http://27thctregt150.blogspot.com.

Judi Scott is a genealogical writer, editor, and researcher. For five years she was an editor of The Bulletin, the quarterly publication of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. She has written articles and stories on a variety of genealogical topics but her main interest is discovering and writing family stories.  She specializes in colonial research in Virginia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas but has recently developed a passion researching orphan train children. She blogs at http://puzzlesofthepast.blogspot.com/.

My father died last week. American Independence Day was his favorite holiday, so today seems like the best day to share a little about him here. He loved fireworks, and would spend the rest of the year planning out his personal fireworks display for July 4th. We would sit on our back porch, and our neighbors would sit on their back porches, and sometimes guests would be invited too. It was only when I grew up that I fully understood how much planning went into it, and how much pride he took in providing one night of delight a year to the rest of us. Where I live now, fireflies are a recent phenomenon, only coming in the past five years or so and still not seen very often. But where I grew up, fireflies are common in summertime, and the 4th of July was the height of their show. I remember, as twilight came to our neighborhood, running in the front yard with friends, holding sparklers as hundreds of fireflies flew around us while we waited for it to be dark enough for my father’s fireworks show to begin.

Below is my father with his mother and his great-aunts (both are his mother’s aunts).

my father on his mother's lap, with her aunts

Below is my father with his father.

my father as an infant, being held by his father

Below is my father with his aunts (both are his father’s sisters).

my father with his aunts

Below is my father with his little brother, Burrie.

my father with his little brother

Below is my father with his older cousin Janie. They are standing at the edge of the lake where his mother’s ashes were scattered and where his ashes will be scattered as well.

my father as a child, with a smiling Janie.

The thing that’s always gotten me the most about death is that life goes on. One life is snuffed out by natural causes or otherwise, a thousand lives in a tsunami or a battle, millions in a global epidemic or a genocide – no matter how it happens or how many die in one day or one event, the world spins on. Rain is lashing my windows as I finish this post, part of the huge Hurricane Arthur that is moving up the Atlantic Seaboard, and there are still bills to pay and a meal to cook. This is why I started my 52 Ancestors posts with my father’s little brother, Burrie, who died as a child, and why I photograph the gravestones of as many colonial children as I can. No one should be forgotten, no matter where or when they lived, no matter how recent or how long ago, no matter whether they lived for one minute or more than a century. After everyone who knew a person has died, it’s up to genealogists, historians, and archivists to carry on the mantle, to keep their existence known and preserve as much of the past as possible. I hope that after I am gone, this post will remain as a signpost to show that my father existed in this world.

Rest in peace, Dad.

my father as a child, looking out a car window.

Sometimes being contacted about one of my lines by another researcher spurs me to do additional research on that line. So it has been recently with the Plumb family of Essex County, England, and early colonial New England. I say “Plumb” but it’s got a ridiculous number of spellings – Plumbe and Plumme being two of the most common variants, probably actually more common than Plumb back in Early Modern England. Then there is an additional layer of mistranscription. The National Archives [UK] has, rather to my surprise, indexed the Plumme materials that have the line over the first “m” to represent the second “m” as “Plume” rather than “Plumme,” and the other sites I’ve checked so far have followed suit. Most online trees seem to have copied this spelling as well.

This may sound like a digression, but an online tree is how I came to write this post. I was going along doing more research on the family in original records after receiving a note from the researcher, and I thought I would check and see what other people have posted online about the family. In some of the Plume trees on Ancestry there is a small photo (seemingly snatched from a website) of a Spaines Hall, County Essex, with a lengthy caption about how the first person to add the photo to Ancestry had been curious about Spaines Hall and done a web search, wherein they discovered that it was still in existence and was now a popular wedding venue. They also copied information about how this Spaines Hall had only ever been owned by three families – and oddly, none of those surnames were any variants of Plumme. Did none of the people who had added this information wonder why a manor would only be associated with surnames that don’t match the one they are researching? Curious, I double-checked back in the original records for their references to a Spaines Hall associated with Plummes, and verified that rights to a Spaines Hall in Great Yeldham had been willed by Plumme family members. Then I set about trying to sort all of this out.

A web search for Spaines Hall Essex quickly turned up references to an old manor that is indeed a popular wedding site today, including hosting a bridal expo. However, while this Spains Hall is in Essex, it is not in Great Yeldham. I clicked through to the Wikipedia article and discovered that: 1) Much of the information in the Ancestry caption had been copied and pasted without attribution from the Wikipedia page; 2) There are at least two other Spaines Halls (varying spellings) in Essex, including one in Great Yeldham that today is usually spelled Spayne’s Hall. A more precise web search for Spaynes Hall Great Yeldham Essex turned up the Spayne’s Hall that was actually associated with the Plumme family. It doesn’t have nearly as much historical information online and it doesn’t have nearly as flamboyant a modern usage, but it’s the correct manor.

As always with genealogical research, one question for researchers is: Are you looking for information on a family with the same names and places that have matching names? Or are you looking for your family members and the locations associated with them?

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Plummes/The Plumbs

I am in the process of documenting the Plumme/Plumb family to my satisfaction. This is the family tree according to the published version of the 1634 Visitation of Essex (note that due to their purpose, the Visitations only documented some lines of descent); names spelled here as in the Visitation, including variants within the pedigree:

John Plumme of Yeldham Magna [Great Yeldham] m. [unknown]. Children:

  • Robert Plumme of Yeldham Magna [Great Yeldham] m. __ daughter of ___ Purcas of __ in Essex.

Children of Robert and __ (Purcas) Plumme:

  • Robert Plumme of Yeldham m. Grace, daughter of Robert Crackbone.
  • Margeret Plumme.
  • Elizabeth, wife of Richard Symonds.
  • Thomas Plumme of Yeldham Magna [Great Yeldham] m. Mary, daughter of Richard Hamond of Ellingham.
  • Mary Plumme.
  • Anne Plumme.
  • Edmund Plumme.

Children of Robert and Grace (Crackbone) Plumme:

  • Robert Plumme of Yeldham Magna [Great Yeldham] and Lincolns Inn, 1634, m. 1st Frances, daughter of __ Gaswell of Watlington, Norfolk; m. 2nd Honora, daughter of Thomas Woolrich of Cowling, Suffolk.
  • John Plumme of Ridgwell, Essex.
  • Ethelred, wife of Phillip Sparrow of Wickham Brooke, Suffolk.
  • Frances, wife of John Upcher of Colchester.
  • Hannah, wife of William Sadleir of Horksley, Essex.

Children of Robert & Grace’s brother/brother-in-law Thomas Plumme and his wife Mary (Hamond) Plumme:

  • Samuell Plumme of Yeldham Magna [Great Yeldham], 1634, m. Dorathey, sister of Sir Richard Higham of Eastham, Essex, and daughter of William Higham.
  • Thomas Plumme.
  • Robert Plumme.
  • Mary, wife of Henry Milsop of the Ile of Ely.
  • Jane, wife of Robert Brooke, rector of the church of Woodham Walker.
  • Martha, wife of Samuell Pratt.
  • Elizabeth, wife of William Sandford, rector of the church of Eastwell, Kent.

Children of Robert and Grace’s son Robert Plumme and his first wife, Frances (Gaswell) Plumme:

  • Robert Plumme, aged about 16 in 1634.
  • Edmund Plumme.
  • Anne Plumme.
  • Sarah Plumme.
  • Frances Plumme.
  • Jane Plumme.

Children of Robert and Grace’s son Robert Plumme and his second wife, Honora (Woolrich) Plumme:

  • Honora Plumme.

Children of Thomas and Mary (Hamond) Plumme’s son Samuell Plumme and his wife, Dorathey (Higham) Plumme:

  • Samwell Plumme.
  • Thomas Plumme.
  • Robert Plumme.
  • Dorathey Plumme.
  • Mary Plumme.

Children of Thomas and Mary (Hamond) Plumme’s daughter Elizabeth (Plumme) Sandford and her husband William Sandford (listed on the Sandford Visitation pedigree):

  • Thomas Sandford.
  • William Sandford.

Children of Margaret (Plumme) Strutt Woodcock, daughter of an unspecified Plumme, and her second husband John Woodcock of Alphamstone, Essex (Woodcock Visitation pedigree):

  • John Woodcock, 7 years old in 1634.
  • William Woodcock.

It is interesting that the Visitation documented two lines of descent. It is also interesting to note that the Plummes seem to have been an up-and-coming family in Essex at the time, as they were not mentioned in Essex’s earlier Visitations. In my research I have found a Prerogative Court of Canterbury will for a Plumme who was described as of Ely, Cambridgeshire, which is particularly interesting since the Visitation described Thomas and Mary’s daughter Mary’s husband Henry Milsop as “of the Ile of Ely,” which was a separate administrative area near the town of Ely. Also intriguing, the family used the name Ethelred repeatedly for daughters, and Anglo-Saxon Saint Æthelthryth, whose name was/is often transliterated to Ethelreda, had been Abbess of Ely, though this certainly could be coincidence, as there were a number of well-known historical Ethelreds (though usually men). I have yet to fully sort out what the family’s connection to Cambridgeshire and Ile of Ely might be.

As I have attempted to stress, this is the family pedigree according to the 1634 Visitation of Essex. It may be completely accurate (as far as it goes) or it may have one or more errors. Having some family members listed in the wrong generation seems to be an especially common error, and as the pedigree probably already made clear, not knowing the origins or possibly even the names of some of the male family members’ wives was also common. Robert and Grace had died by the time of the 1634 Visitation and their son (and my ancestor), John Plumme/John Plumb, seems to have been willed the rights to Ridgewell Hall in Essex, and he was apparently living in “Ridgwell” at the time the pedigree was compiled. (Compiled genealogies state his land rights, but so far I haven’t located a will that explicitly states them and I have yet to view the family’s inquisitions post mortem, which are in hard copies at the National Archives [UK].) Within two years he would seek his fortunes anew, being in Connecticut Colony in New England by late 1636.

This is something I have seen time and again as I research my early New England colonists’ English ancestry – so many of them are the younger sons of gentlemen, or the younger sons of younger sons of gentlemen/knights. While I know enough about conditions for “average” people in England at this time that it is sometimes difficult for me to feel sympathy for them, from their perspective, their prospects were limited in England – they had gotten less (or no) rights to land than their elder brother(s) or knew that their father’s elder brother(s) had gotten more than their father and that they were likely to also be willed less money or land rights than their own elder brother(s). If you wanted to try to make your own fortune, own land outright (rather than, even if you were at the top of society’s echelons, at best being a large landholder holding your land direct from the Crown), and perhaps were seeking adventure and/or a society with others who shared your Puritan beliefs, moving to the Colonies won out in the “risk-reward” columns.

John Plumb had already married Dorcas Chaplin before they left England and they had at least nine children, most born in England. John became a trader in the “New World,” spending a lot of his efforts on trade with the Native American tribes, like his Massachusetts Bay Colony counterpart William Pynchon, whose relatives have made appearances in some of my posts from earlier in 2014. John also held various offices and amassed a good amount of land, which he owned outright and sold when his family moved, unlike in the country of his birth. How would he and Dorcas have done if they had stayed in England? I can’t say. But it seems to me like they did well for themselves and their children in their choice to start over.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

NOTES

Spayne’s Hall in Great Yeldham was listed by the British government in 1952. Their listing implies that the building dates from the time the Plumme family ran it, but the listing (not updated since it was first listed in 1952) notes that the property had had a large amount of 18th century and late 19th/early 20th century work done.

British History Online has digitized a 1916 inventory of Great Yeldham that includes Spayne’s Hall. It is interesting to note that the inventory-taker(s) dated the building as having been built later than the official listing’s estimate.

A location named Ridgewell Hall in Ridgewell, Essex, was also listed by the British government, but the listing says it dates from the late 1600’s, so I’m not sure it’s the same hall that John (seemingly) had been willed rights to occupy. There is no Ridgewell Hall listed at British History Online’s digitized 1916 inventory of Ridgewell, just a “Ridgewell Hall Farm,” though the latter is estimated in the inventory to date from early enough to possibly be the property related to the Plummes/Plumbs.

The Plumb, Crackbone, and Purcas families are featured in Clifford L. Stott’s “John Plumb of Connecticut and His Cousin, Deputy Governor Samuel Symonds of Massachusetts: Additions to Their English Ancestry” [part 1], The American Genealogist 70:2 (April 1995); Stott’s footnotes also contain additional sources that will likely be of interest to researchers of these families. NEHGS members can view a scan of this article on NEHGS’s website. Regular readers of this blog likely remember that I have found errors regarding other families in Morant’s History of Essex, which is used extensively in Stott’s article. (I have not yet tested Morant’s assertions about the families in this blog post against original records.)

Reminder: Essex Record Office has digitized their old parish registers and some of their other old records, all available on their pay-to-view site Essex Ancestors.

By all known accounts, Eliza Smith was born around 1867 somewhere in England. Her marriage record says her parents were named Peter and Emily Smith. As far as I have ever been able to determine for sure, Eliza Smith was dropped off by an alien spacecraft in Ontario, Canada, just in time to meet her would-be husband.

In actuality there’s a good chance that Eliza Smith was the 14-year-old English-born servant of the same name in the household of farmers Andrew and Ruth Gillespie in East Zorra Township, Oxford County, Ontario, enumerated on the 1881 census. It would put her in Oxford County – since you can’t wed someone who’s not proximate – and the Gillespies’ next-door neighbors were my Eliza’s future husband’s first cousin and his wife, Abraham and Elizabeth (McKee) Brown, and perhaps a visit to his cousin’s farm was how they met. But the trouble with tracking someone who’s moving around alone is that it’s hard to prove definitively that it’s the same person, even without adding the problem of a common surname.

Regardless of whether she was a servant girl in 1881, Eliza married George Alfred Brown in Woodstock, Oxford County, Ontario, on 29 May 1889. George’s brother Donald Manson Brown, who went by Manson, was one of the witnesses, and the other was named Mary Sim. When they married, George said he was 28 and Eliza said she was 22. Born in what had been known as Canada West at the time, and was by then known as the province of Ontario, George had established himself as a young farmer before the wedding. The family should appear on the 1891 census, but as yet I still haven’t found them.

The young family shortly decided to seek their fortunes elsewhere, and in 1893 they emigrated from Ontario to Dakota Territory, where they filed a homestead application and George applied for American citizenship, which would automatically naturalize Eliza and their children as well if his application was successful. The wedding had begun a pattern that would continue the rest of their lives: Known relatives serving as witnesses on documents were always from George’s side of the family, and so it was with their homestead application, when George’s brother-in-law William Adams was a witness for their application. George’s brothers Manson and David also moved down to the Upper Plains. William and his wife Mary Louisa (Brown) Adams had moved to Clark County, Dakota Territory, in 1887 and Manson had moved to Clark County in 1890, and it’s likely that George and Eliza followed them there. David moved a bit later, settling in North Dakota after Dakota Territory was split into two states and admitted to the United States.

In 1900 Eliza and George’s family was living in tiny-population Thorpe Township, Clark County, South Dakota, where they were farming, as were Manson’s and Mary Louisa’s families. In 1904 Eliza and George buried their daughter Emma Grace Brown. In 1905, Eliza and George reported on the individual cards of the South Dakota state census that they were living in Mt. Pleasant Township, Clark County, and that George was still a Farmer. Had they chosen bad land for their homestead or given it up for some other reason? I have yet to find Mary Louisa and William on the 1905 state census. In 1910, Eliza and George’s family had apparently slightly moved again to the small farming community of Elrod, Clark County, South Dakota, where Mary Louisa and William were also now living. Meanwhile, Manson’s family was “steady on,” still farming in Thorpe Township. Manson was listed as running a Stock Farm in 1910 while George and William were just listed as Farmers. In 1915 Eliza (whom appears to have been enumerated as Lisa) and George were still in Elrod and George remained a Farmer, but George reported on the individual-index-cards South Dakota state census that he did not own his own home/farm.

Between 1915 and 1920, George and Eliza decided to seek their fortunes anew, and moved again to Aitken County, Minnesota, fairly north in the state next door to where they had been. They left their older children behind in South Dakota when they moved. George’s sister and brother-in-law, Mary Louisa and William Adams, had moved from South Dakota to Aitken County by 1914, when their elderly mother died in Aitken County, having moved down from Ontario to have Mary Louisa take care of her after she developed paralysis.

George and Eliza began operating a dairy farm in Minnesota, and their oldest remaining child, Andrew McKinley Brown (who went by “Mac”), helped out on the farm while the youngest two, Ada Henrietta Brown and George Milton Brown, attended school. The lightly populated township of McGregor, fully enumerated in 8 pages in 1920, appears to have been a heavy dairying area, and with industry column comments like “New Settler” (repeated several times in the 8 pages) and “Hay Farm,” the 1920 enumerator Niels P. Hansen makes me feel like I have been dropped back in time and am walking along with him from farm to farm, standing beside him while he talks to his neighbors. I love record-keepers that are more specific than the record requires them to be; in a village and township with a mix of American-born folks and immigrants, he noted that the Italians were from Sicilia, my Canadians were from Ontario, and the Germans were from various German states and cities. Unfortunately Eliza’s birthplace entry is one of the few that has the lack of specificity of only stating a country, and Niels (as I think of him) also wrote her given name as “Lisa.” Given that this appears to be the second known American record where Eliza was written as Lisa, it raises the question of whether perhaps people in the Upper Plains of the States were unfamiliar with the given name Eliza or perhaps the way Eliza was pronounced made it sound like “Lisa” to those more familiar with the latter name. Alternately, may Eliza have possibly gone by the nickname Lisa in her everyday life?

By 1930 Eliza and George had moved once again, to nearby Jevne Township, Aitken County, and they finally owned their own farm again. There were no children left in the household, but plenty of relatives next door – their son Milton was renting the farm next to theirs, and their daughter Ada and her children were living with Milton while her husband worked as a trucker for a logging camp. The family had been lucky to have left South Dakota, where the northern Dust Bowl had hit particularly hard starting around this time. My relatives who lived through the Dust Bowl in South Dakota told me that, for example, you had the choice of opening your windows and risking choking on dust, or keeping them closed in a house with no air conditioning and scorching heat outdoors. I know from what I have read that some babies really did choke to death on dust. The 1940 census suggests that Jevne had not been hit nearly as badly by the Dust Bowl and the Depression as the area of South Dakota that Eliza and George had left behind.

In 1940 Eliza and George were still in Jevne, and George was the respondent for their household. He reported that he and Eliza had both completed 6th grade and that they were living in the same house as in 1935. At 79 and 74, neither had an occupation listed. George’s brother David was now living next door with his second wife Mary, listed as running a farm though they were age 78 and 75. Eliza and George’s children Ada and Milton were still living on the other side of Eliza and George, now split into two separate households, with both families also running farms. By far the youngest child, Milton had achieved the best education of Eliza and George’s children, reporting that he had completed three years of high school.

George died in January 1949 at age 88. Eliza lived 2 1/2 more years, dying on 28 September 1951. Her death certificate lists her birth date as 8 March 1865, her father as Peter Smith, and her mother as unknown. Neither of them seem to have left a probate. Some people, like George, stay closely connected to some or all of their relatives through much or all of their life. Others, like Eliza, seem to leave and not look back. None of my relatives even knew possible names for Eliza’s parents until I found her marriage record in my research.

Many fellow researchers have offered me suggestions for trying to track Eliza’s origins and a few have even followed some leads on their own on my behalf. Nothing to date has panned out. Record after record connects Eliza and George to George’s family, not to any relatives of Eliza. Researching the household she appears to have been working for in 1881 has gone nowhere, as has researching the witness to their marriage who wasn’t a known relative of George’s. The only Eliza/Elizabeth Smith on the 1871 Ontario census who might match turned out in subsequent research to go by her other given name on the rest of the records in her life, so it seems that my Eliza may have come to Ontario on her own. No passenger list has been located to date, and despite the common name, there don’t appear to be any good candidates in home child databases. No good match for an Eliza Smith in the household of a Peter & Emily Smith has been found anywhere on the 1871 England census (and I am not even sure whether she was still in England at the time). Perhaps one or both of her parents had died and she was taken in by a relative or a neighbor, but if so, I don’t know how I would figure that out since I don’t even know the area where she was born. People have suggested that perhaps she left England on her own when she was fairly young to run away from something or someone, maybe even changing her surname to the generic Smith, and while all of that is possible, I have no idea how I would ever prove it. If she appeared in Ontario as a young teen because she was running, she appears to have taken the secret to the grave with her.

In recent months I have been making more extensive use of manorial records in England, and I thought I would share some basics here. The system and procedure appear to be mostly equivalent in Wales, though I haven’t personally done any research in Welsh manorial records (or more than a tiny amount of Welsh research at all to date).

There is a common perception that English & Welsh manorial records are only from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, and that they are all in Latin. None of this is true. While there were manors in the Middle Ages, the largest percentage of surviving manorial records date from the 19th and early 20th centuries, until the manorial system was effectively abolished through the Law of Property Acts of 1922 and 1924. Second to that in survival terms are manorial records from the 17th and 18th centuries, although those are more likely to have gaps. The earlier than that you go, the fewer extant records there are, and the more gaps they tend to have.

For many earlier manors, the only thing known to survive is the name – historians know the manor existed and that’s all. However, even for manors where their own records didn’t survive, you may be able to glean a fair amount of information by locating extant records from an adjacent manor, as a number of people held/rented land in more than one manor so manors that were near each other tended to reference each other in their records. It is also important to keep in mind that while some manors were the exact equivalent to a parish, many were not – sometimes there were multiple manors in one parish, sometimes one manor occupied parts or all of two or more parishes, etc. As to the question of Latin – technically all legal documents were supposed to be written in Latin prior to the change to English that took effect in 1733, but in actuality a fair number of manors started using English for most of their records prior to this date or had a record-keeper who didn’t know too much Latin and mixed the Latin they knew with English words in place of the Latin words they didn’t know. This having been said – there were certainly manors that kept records completely in Latin until the official change to English, and the likelihood tends to vary regionally.

Because manorial records can be in any number of locations, including still in private hands, and many manors had their records scattered between two or more record-keepers, the first stop in working with manorial records will generally be the Manorial Documents Register. The Manorial Documents Register is, in the words of the National Archives [UK], “partially computerised.” You can search all of Wales and some counties of England through the National Archives’ Manorial Documents Register database. As of the time of this writing, these English counties were complete in the online version: the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, the three Ridings of Yorkshire, Shropshire, Surrey, Middlesex, Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire. According to the site, they are in the process of adding Cambridgeshire, Essex, Huntingdonshire, Suffolk, and Sussex.

This database is very helpful not just in locating who holds which records for a manor, but also in determining what manors with surviving records existed in the parish you are researching and in neighboring parishes, because for England you can search the database by parish, not just by the name of the manor. If you are researching in a county that isn’t in the online database yet, you have to go in person to check, get someone to visit on your behalf, or write and ask the staff to check for you. Before I start using specific examples, let me note here that the main difference for researchers using the database for Welsh research will be that since Wales is not divided by parish, you will have to search by county if you don’t know the manor name or are trying to locate nearby manors.

Let’s use Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, as an example. Wraysbury is where two of my colonial North American ancestors who chose to return to England died. If you haven’t used the site much or at all, I encourage you to bring up the site in another tab/window and practice searching along with my post. If you go to “Advanced Search” at the online Manorial Documents Register (an option from the front page) and enter “Wraysbury” in the “Parish” search field, leaving all other fields blank, two results will appear after you hit “Search”:

RECTORY, Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire (15)

also known as – Wraysbury Rectory

WRAYSBURY, Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire (27)

also known as – Wyrardisbury

The number after each manor is the number of different entries for manorial records there are in the database. Clicking through to view the results for each manor (termed “sub-records” by the Manorial Documents Register database), you will see at the top of the results pages that both of these manors were indeed in the parish of Wraysbury, so if you were researching someone who lived in Wraysbury and didn’t know precisely where they lived, you could potentially find them at either manor. Even if you did know their primary residence was at one of the manors, you might still find them holding/renting land at the other manor. Let’s click through to the Wraysbury Rectory results to start. You may note immediately that the results for each manor are arranged by the listed start date of each record set, so that if you are researching late in a manor’s existence, you can immediately scroll towards the bottom of the results to see what (if any) manorial records survive from that period.

Viewing the Wraysbury Rectory results, you will see that 14 of the 15 known extant manorial record sets are held by St. George’s Chapel Archives and Chapter Library at Windsor Castle, with a lone set of court rolls held by Westminster Abbey Library and Muniment Room at The Cloisters in Westminster Abbey. You can see at the results page that each listed repository is a live link; clicking on the link will give you details about where the repository is located, its contact information, what its hours are, and the barest basics of how you can access the repository’s documents. As an example, if you want to view the Wraysbury Rectory court rolls in person at Westminster Abbey, the database’s repository page says that you will need a letter of introduction to be allowed to do so. With extant records from 1353 to 1902, with huge gaps in availability of any records and in which types of records are available, Wraysbury Rectory is also a good example of the scattershot survival of manorial records. An additional note before moving on to the other manor in Wraysbury parish: Manors run by the Church were much more likely to keep all their records in Latin until the official change to English than other manors were.

Viewing the sub-results for Wraysbury Manor (AKA Wyrardisbury Manor), you will see that the location of the 27 surviving record sets is quite literally all over the place. There are listed record sets for Wraysbury Manor at the National Archives, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Essex Record Office, Berkshire Record Office, and Westminster Abbey Library and Muniment Room. Again, the availability of any extant records at all and of which types exist today is really variable, with extant records from 1272 to 1890 with huge gaps.

Since we are looking for manorial records in the Wraysbury area, let’s do a further exercise. I like using the GenUKI site’s “Nearby Places” feature to show what was in and close to a parish. If you go to GenUKI’s Wraysbury main page, you can click on the link at the top of the page that’s titled “Nearby Places” to see what they are for Wraysbury. The GenUKI site defaults to a 5-mile radius, which is a good starting point. Reviewing the results, you can see that while the very closest next parish is “Horton (near Slough), Buckinghamshire,” the two following parishes are in other counties – Old Windsor in Berkshire and Egham in Surrey. Following are another parish in Berkshire (New Windsor) and then a parish in Middlesex (Staines). All of these parishes included locations that were 3 miles or less from Wraysbury parish. This is overall good information to know for researching someone, as people who lived near the border with one or more other counties often left some records in at least one of the other counties or perhaps even moved around between the counties.

Luckily for our purposes, all of these counties are already on the Manorial Documents Register database. So let’s go back to the Manorial Documents Register. Because there are multiple counties with places named Horton, if you don’t specify Buckinghamshire when you do an Advanced Search, some irrelevant results will be returned. If you search for Horton, Buckinghamshire, you get results for two more manors:

BERKIN, Horton, Buckinghamshire (0)

HORTON, Horton, Buckinghamshire (3)

also known as – Horton with Colnbrook; Horton with Colnbrook, Eaton Guildables and Chalvey; Eaton Guildables; Chalvey

As you can see, Berkin Manor is listed though it has a “0” after its name. Clicking to view Berkin Manor’s entry, you see: “NO RECORDS KNOWN TO SURVIVE.” Horton Manor also has many fewer surviving records than either of the manors in Wraysbury parish, and when you click through to view the sub-results, you will see that the surviving record sets cover 1619 to 1737 (with big gaps). Whether there are no later records because the manor no longer existed or simply because no later records survive, I do not know at this point. According to the database, all three of Horton Manor’s surviving record sets are at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.

Next, let’s look up the next closest parish, Old Windsor in Berkshire. Because there was only one parish named Old Windsor, you don’t have to specify a county when you search the database. Like Wraysbury, Old Windsor’s results are divided into two manors with one a rectory:

WINDSOR RECTORY, OLD, Old Windsor, Berkshire (21)

also known as – Old Windsor Rectory; Rectory manor of Old and New Windsor

WINDSOR, OLD, Old Windsor, Berkshire (11)

also known as – Old Windsor

Old Windsor’s manors’ record set survival is also more similar to Wraysbury’s than to Horton’s. For Old Windsor Manor, the largest number of record sets are held at the National Archives, with record sets also at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, Berkshire Record Office, and Cambridge University’s Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. Record sets cover 1431 to 1900 with huge gaps. The most recent record set (covering 1840-1900 with gaps) is a file of evidence related to enfranchisement of copyhold land. If you are researching Old Windsor Manor, this tells you something without even having viewed the records themselves – copyhold land could be converted to freehold land by the Lord of the Manor, meaning that the copyhold tenant became freehold, and this record set implies that this was done over the course of the 19th century for some to all copyhold tenants at Old Windsor Manor. The Copyhold Act of 1852 had allowed copyhold tenants to demand that their copyhold become freehold, so this type of record became much more common as the 19th century progressed. For a basic overview of enfranchisement, see this page from the University of Nottingham.

The Old Windsor Rectory’s record sets are mostly held by Berkshire Record Office, with a small number held by the National Archives. Their record sets cover a tremendous period of time (with large gaps), from 1269 to after the manorial system was abolished, the final record set being papers related to “the extinguishment of manorial incidents” (1925-1933).

Let’s do one more parish in the Manorial Documents Register, the next nearest parish per the GenUKI site, Egham in Surrey. Searching for Egham via the Advanced Search, you get the highest number of results of any of the parishes we have searched:

ANKERWICK PURNISH, Egham, Surrey (2)

BROOMHALL, Egham, Surrey (41)

EGHAM, Egham, Surrey (43)

FOSTERS, Egham, Surrey (0)

also known as – Great Fosters

IMWORTH, Egham, Surrey (0)

also known as – Fosters

MILTON, Egham, Surrey (75)

also known as – Middleton

RUSHAM, Egham, Surrey (0)

also known as – Ruysshames

TROTTESWORTH, Egham, Surrey (1)

also known as – Trotsworth

As you can see, Egham had three manors where no records are known to exist, two with a very small number of surviving record sets (1 for Trottesworth Manor and 2 for Ankerwick Purnish Manor), and three that have a lot of extant record sets. Like Old Windsor Rectory, Broomhall Manor’s final extant record set is about the enfranchisement of copyhold land. And like Old Windsor Rectory’s final record set, Milton Manor’s final record set dates from after the abolishment of the manorial system – a “book of steward’s fees, with Ashford (Middlesex) 1926-1932″ that is held by London Metropolitan Archives. It is also interesting and important to note that there appear to have been two different manors in Egham that were known by the name Fosters Manor; for one of them it appears to have been the primary name, whereas for the other it is listed in the alternate names field.

It is possible that someone who lived in Wraysbury held a tenancy at any of these nearby parishes’ manors. It is also possible that someone who lived at one of these nearby manors that has no known surviving records also had a tenancy at one or more of the manors where there are some, or even a good number of, surviving record sets.

Hopefully this post has given you an idea of a starting point for how to find English and Welsh manorial records and the wide variance in availability and current locations of extant records. Stay tuned for Part 2, wherein I will discuss how you can use manorial records in your research.

I am arguably fortunate in having had many of my colonial New England families studied by scholars, sometimes genealogical scholars, sometimes scholars in other fields, sometimes both. Probably the biggest possible down side of this is that well-respected scholars tend to be taken at face value by many genealogists, probably on the belief that since they are well-respected scholars, they are thorough in every aspect of their research. Donald Lines Jacobus, one of the early to mid-20th century leaders in turning American genealogical research from generally consisting of hearsay, family traditions, and fabricated noble/royal lines into a scholarly discipline, researched and published on a number of my colonial New England lines and we are related through at least one ancestral line, the Lymans. Hale, House, and Related Families, Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley by Jacobus and Edgar Francis Waterman (originally published in 1952, a 1978 reprint is available online at HathiTrust) includes a number of my families, and I use it as a reference for sources.

When I was working back on tracing the Pynchons and allied families, I used Jacobus and Waterman’s sources as a starting point. I was able to confirm much of their information via their referenced sources. And then I came to a supposed ancestor named Jane Empson, whom they list as the daughter of Richard Empson, and state that this father named Richard Empson served in the government of English King Henry VII and was one of the two people executed by King Henry VIII right after he ascended to the throne. I was able to confirm their sources on Jane’s adult life. They had stated that widowed Jane Pynchon had married Thomas Wilson and that again-widowed Jane Wilson had left a will that had been proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). I located her 1576 marriage to Thomas in Terling, Essex, in which she was listed as a widow, and her 1587 PCC will, which listed both her late husband Thomas Wilson and her Pynchon children by her first (known) husband John Pynchon, neatly tying together her adult life. So far this is the earliest extant will I have found that was written by a woman in my own tree. The Pynchon sons listed in her will that she made as Jane Wilson match the sons listed in her previous husband John Pynchon’s 1573 PCC will. Curiously, according to the Terling register, Jane and Thomas married after dispensation by the Bishop of London; so far, I haven’t sorted out what was going on there. (Also curiously, though Jacobus and Waterman reference the dispensation, they seem blasé about it.)

The 1582 PCC will that Jacobus and Waterman ascribe to Jane’s final husband Thomas Wilson, which does indeed seem to me to be the correct will, doesn’t mention Jane at all, and to me seems like it was partially intended to continue his good connections after his death, as his first bequest was to “my goode and loving friende Sir Ffranncis Walsingham, knighte,” who was one of Queen Elizabeth’s major advisors, and his second and third bequest recipients were his brother-in-law (who was another knight) and an esquire. After that, Thomas made bequests to his children. Once I got to the part in his will that specified that he had living biological children (a fact not mentioned in the book) I understood why his will seemed aimed to continue his good connections after he died. Connections like Francis Walsingham were extremely good ones for his children to have.

Jacobus and Waterman say that Jane’s absence from the will was “presumably because she had been provided for in a prenuptual contract,” but as the “presumably” indicates, they provide no source to back this up. Jane’s previous husband John Pynchon had willed her all of his property in County Essex for “her natural life,” and none of the conditions placed on the bequest included that she remain a widow. Whether her next husband would consider this enough for his widow, I cannot say for sure, but I think it is also a plausible scenario. Thomas did not mention any properties in Essex in his will, so it seems that even if the property Jane inherited should have technically legally been his after marriage, rights to it may have been retained by Jane, whether by a marriage settlement (to oversimplify, a 1500’s version of a prenuptual contract) or some other way. In Jane’s own will, she bequeathed the aforementioned Essex properties to her eldest son William, and rights to a dwelling-house in Thomas’s beloved London to her youngest son Edward. (Her middle son, John, was bequeathed money.) All of this was after their father had already bequeathed directly to them as well as to Jane.

But after researching Jane’s adult life, there was still the problem of Jane’s origins. Jacobus and Waterman referred to Jane as one of her alleged father Richard Empson’s heirs (more precisely, as a “coheir”), so I figured they had estate papers to back up their claim of parentage. But then I started researching the life of Richard Empson – not particularly difficult to do since he was a major figure in England’s government – and realized that the math didn’t add up. Richard’s execution was before it was particularly plausible that Jane was born given the documentation I did have, and Jane was not listed as one of his heirs in anything I reviewed. While it had been possible that she could have been an heir as, say, a grandchild or cousin, if she wasn’t listed as an heir at all and that was listed as the proof that she was his daughter, then what to do next? I have had this issue before, including with some much more recent scholarly genealogical publications, so my next strategy was two-fold – try to see if Jane even was an Empson by birth (whomever her parents were), and try to find the real source of this statement.

Unfortunately trying to find Jane’s origins is not an easy slog in surviving records of 16th century England. She could have married or been baptized in any of a number of parishes in a variety of counties, and could have even been married by license, which would have been separate from parish records. Additionally, only some parishes have extant registers from this period, so even a thorough search would not necessarily be able to conclusively prove that Jane was not an Empson unless a record were found that definitively showed her maiden name as something else, as there would be a good possibility that the relevant records don’t exist any more. So far I haven’t found a record of her marriage to John Pynchon. Without knowing her maiden name for sure, I don’t really see a point in trying to find her baptism record at this point, since even if I found a Jane Empson baptized in a time period that fit, that wouldn’t necessarily mean she was the person who married “my” John Pynchon.

Finding the origin of a questionable statement is almost always an interesting challenge to me. I located a number of 19th century authors that claimed Jane was the daughter and heir of the Richard Empson who was beheaded by King Henry VIII, which may be where Jacobus and Waterman found it and accepted it as fact (since they don’t share a source, I don’t know for sure). I eventually found an author who attributed the claim, listing Morant’s book on Essex as their source. It didn’t take much searching to find Morant’s wonderfully-lengthily-titled The history and topography of the county of Essex, comprising its ancient and modern history. A general view of its physical character, productions, agricultural condition, statistics &c. &c (1831) nor to discover that it is now online. For some reason searching the text for “Pinchon” does not turn up any hits even though there are multiple mentions of the surname, so I went through the “Writtle” mentions until I found the statement in question. Morant seems to have been a very enthusiastic local historian, but once I saw the Empson comment in context I realized that his genealogical work is, shall we say, not up to the par of the 1800’s, much less today. Quoted in part below, it is riddled with errors:

Nicholas Pinchon, of Wales, was one of the Sheriffs of London in 1532; he left John Pinchon, Esq., of Writtle, who married Jane, daughter of Richard Empson, (beheaded in 1509,) one of the hated ministers of King Henry the Seventh. This Nicholas died in 1573, and, with his wife, was buried in the north aisle of the church; his sons, were William, John of Springfield, and Edward, who was knighted. He had also two daughters; Elizabeth, wife of Geofrey Gates, of St. Edmunds; and Jane, the wife of Andrew Paschal, of Springfield. William Pinchon, Esq., of Writtle, married Rose, daughter of Thomas Redding, Esq., of Pinner, in Middlesex, by whom he had six sons and three daughters; of these, Joan was married to Sir Richard Weston, of Skreens, in Roxwell, chancellor of the exchequer, made baron of Stoke-Neyland, and earl of Portland. . . . (p. 171)

It is difficult to say where Morant got any of his information, since the only thing that seems to clearly be from a specific source is the information on where certain family members are buried in the church in Writtle (most likely from a church visit, but who can say definitively?). What I can say for sure is that the Nicholas Pynchon who was a sheriff in London in 1532 appears to have been from Writtle, and his PCC will names four sons, not three – Edward, William, Robert, and John – as well as his wife Agnes and a cousin John Pinchon of Writtle. Note that Morant has either latched onto the wrong Nicholas or made a serious typo with the death date, as the Nicholas who was sheriff left a will proved in 1533, a far cry from Morant’s claim of a 1573 death. As to saying Nicholas Pinchon was “of Wales,” I honestly have no idea so far as to where he got that, and I was able to find some later writers who had been equally baffled by Morant’s “of Wales” reference. (My only idea so far is that perhaps he badly misread a handwritten mention of “Writtle.”) The William Pinchon that Morant lists as Nicholas Pinchon’s son was really Jane and John’s son.

More digging on my part resulted in my locating what I believe was the likely origin of Morant’s information on the Pinchons, the 1612 Visitation of Essex, which was published by the Harleian Society and is now available online. The Pinchon pedigree in the Visitation states that John Pinchon’s wife was “Jayne daugh. and heire to Sr Richard Empsone Kt. She after mar. to Secretary Wilsone.” (there should be a few superscript letters in that quote). Note that the Visitation was in 1612, over a century after the Richard Empson who served Henry VII was beheaded. Note also that the pedigree does not state that her father was the same Richard Empson who was beheaded; if the pedigree is correct (and there’s no guarantee that it is), could she be the daughter of another Richard Empson? There are some errors in Morant that aren’t in the Visitation, so my educated guess is that the information had probably made at least a couple of hops on its way to Morant, like the game we called “Telephone” when I was a child, where you would whisper something to the person next to you, who would whisper it to the person on their other side, and so on, until what eventually came back to you was a garbled – or sometimes completely different – version of what you said.

In addition to my trawling through records long-distance, folks have gone to various archives in England to look through specific records for me, and it has proved fruitful. So far the clearest evidence that there was a connection between the Pynchon and Empson families is through heraldry. A manuscript identifies Jane’s son and daughter-in-law William and Rose (Redding) Pynchon as having had a shield design that was half Pynchon, one-quarter Empson or Epsom, and one-quarter Orchard. While this certainly doesn’t definitively show Jane as an Empson/Epsom by birth, it indicates there was some connection between the families. The manuscript is similar to the description of the shield design in the 1612 Visitation of Essex, though it appears that by the time of the 1612 Visitation whomever held the rights to it had added a symbol of an additional surname to the shield, that of a Weston family.

Whomever Jane was by birth, she seems to have been a shrewd and savvy 16th century Englishwoman. She married a man who was either wealthy to start or became wealthy over the course of his life, and in his will she was given the rights to property with no condition that she remain a widow. After at least three years operating her late husband’s property as a widow, she chose her next husband extremely well; the year after Jane and Thomas married, he was appointed joint Secretary of State, serving alongside his friend Francis Walsingham after another of his friends (and Walsingham’s prior co-secretary), Thomas Smith, died. Then, again a widow, Jane made a will that gave her sons additional benefits beyond those they had already gotten through their late father. For a woman of her time and place, marrying well and leaving children that were living, and living comfortably at that, when she died was about the best that she could hope to do with her life.

I was going to make this another two-person 52 Ancestors post, but this post is already pretty long and involved, and Thomas Wilson’s story is also long and intricate, so I’ll devote a future post to him.

For me, history is not something static – it is a constant flow in which those of us alive are participating now. Two hyacinths and a tulip that were introduced while Elizabeth I was queen of England are blooming in my garden now. While Thomas and Jane had died before the tulip’s 1595 introduction in the Netherlands, many of their children and grandchildren were still alive and may have walked past it, seen a painting that included it, or even grown it in their gardens. Additionally, it was one of the parent tulips for many of the tulips that came shortly after it. Every time I walk past that little tulip blooming in my urban garden, I think of how much history is stored in that bulb, how much has changed in the world since then, and how few cities there even were in the world in 1595. Could Jane have even imagined that one of her grandchildren would be one of the major early colonizers of what would become known as New England, or envisioned that the actions of her grandson and his fellow Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders would reverberate down the centuries and drastically change the world? Just before she died in 1587, did she think England’s efforts in colonizing distant locales would go anywhere at all?

Tulip Duc van Tol Red and Yellow

1595’s tulip ‘Duc van Tol Red and Yellow’ blooming in the author’s urban American garden this week. (Photo by the author.)

Pink Roman hyacinth

The pink-colored Roman hyacinth is known to have been in gardens starting in 1573, the year Jane’s late husband John Pynchon’s will was proved; it is blooming in the author’s urban US garden this week. (Photo by the author.)

Luella Laughton Goold was born on 1 September 1879 in Lebanon, Grafton County, New Hampshire, the second known child born to Pierce William Goold and Alice E. (Hill) Goold. In a family of eight known children, seven of them were daughters. Luella’s father’s family had emigrated from Ireland by way of Liverpool in 1861, very shortly after the American Civil War broke out; I have trouble believing that anyone would willingly emigrate to a country being ravaged by war unless they were desperate to escape their current situation, but perhaps they – like many Americans in the Northern U. S. at the time – believed the war would be over quickly.

Luella was born in the aftermath of the American Civil War, a period in American history when families and individuals were very easily uprooted. In 1880 the family was still living in Lebanon, New Hampshire, but by 1892 the family had made a drastic move, to Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, where she was enumerated on the state census as Lulie, perhaps a childhood nickname. The Goolds shortly returned to New Hampshire, where Luella’s parents buried two of her sisters.

By 1900 the Goolds had moved again, to Hartford, Windsor County, Connecticut, and 20-year-old Luella had started working as a nurse. By 1910 Luella had moved out on her own, lodging in Manhattan and still working as a nurse. By 1920 Luella had moved to Arlington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where she was working as a nurse – with the intriguing specification of “experimental work” – and her widowed Irish-born father Pierce William Goold was living with her, occupation listed as “Retired,” with extra income coming from boarding a Swedish emigre who was working as a carpenter. The family was living at 70 Paul Revere Road, a road likely named after the historic ride through their town, a town which had been known as Menotomy in 1775. Luella had apparently done well for herself financially as a single nurse, as she owned the home in which she, her father, and her boarder were living.

Luella’s life was shortly to take a dramatic turn. On 18 February 1924, while she was still living at 70 Paul Revere Road in Arlington, Massachusetts, Luella was issued an American passport. Her application reported that in the intervening time, her father had moved back to Tacoma, Washington. Quite contrary to her census enumerations, her passport application reported her occupation as “housewife.” She said she was intending to leave on the Pittsburgh from the port of New York on April 1st and visit France, Great Britain, and Switzerland for “Study & Travel.” The application includes a photo; while the copy I have viewed is from microfilm and thus not the greatest rendering, it is the only photo I have seen of Luella.

Luella Laughton Goold passport photo

Luella Laughton Goold in her 1924 passport photo, U.S. passport application #372144. (Scan courtesy of Ancestry, whose source was a National Archives and Records Administration [NARA] microfilm.)

At the time, passport applicants typically had a witness provide testimony supporting that they were who they said they were. Luella’s witness was James T. Greeley, a physician living in Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, who said he had known Luella for 15 years. While Nashua is not as far away as Tacoma, it is not adjacent to Arlington.

This witness James T. Greeley was James Thornton Greeley, born during the American Civil War in Nashua, New Hampshire, on 18 July 1862 to James Bonaparte Greeley and Arabella (Wood) Greeley. James Thornton Greeley’s grandparents apparently had high aspirations for their children: Bonaparte was likely an allusion to Napoleon, and Arabella (also spelled Arbella) was the name of the flagship in the Winthrop Fleet that had settled New Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the ship having been named after their noble passenger Lady Arabella Johnson (also spelled Lady Arbella). The elder James was also a physician, and on 3 November 1861 he had enlisted in the Calvary branch of the Union Army, starting out with the rank of Assistant Surgeon. Intriguingly, though he enlisted in Nashua, he served for the state of Rhode Island. When he enlisted, he left behind his wife and their toddler, and Arabella was pregnant with the younger James. The elder James was promoted to Full Surgeon on 4 June 1862, but it appears tragedy shortly befell him, as he was mustered out soon thereafter on 31 August 1862 and awarded an invalid pension while the Civil War continued to rage. (I have not yet viewed his compiled military service file nor his and Arabella’s pension records.)

By the 1870 census, the Greeley family was living in Merrimack, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, and there were now three sons in the family. By 1880 they had moved back to nearby Nashua, where they were living on Main Street, with another Greeley family enumerated next door. As the sons of a physician, all three Greeley sons were still in school, even the eldest at age 20.

According to the Directory of Deceased Physicians, the younger James attended Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and then attended Baltimore Medical College in Baltimore, Maryland, graduating from the latter in 1891. In 1893 James and his brother Guy Greeley both became Fellows of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

On 9 October 1895, James Thornton Greeley married Florence Haile Richardson in Nashua and they settled in Nashua. In 1897, New Hampshire granted a medical license to James. The date he was licensed had more to do with the increasing regulation of American doctors than with James’s personal career. As an endnote in “The Early Development of Medical Licensing Laws in the United States, 1875-1900″ by Ronald Hamoway notes (p. 117) [link goes to PDF], “In 1897, a new statute was enacted [in New Hampshire] creating three boards of examiners, regular, homeopathic, and eclectic, with both a diploma and examination mandatory. In 1915, the three boards were abolished and one board substituted for them.” There appears to be more detail on the history of licensing in “The History of Medical Licensure” in a 1935 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), but as a non-subscriber, I can only view the first page.

James and Florence went on to have at least four children, three of whom survived to adulthood: Margaret, James, and Cyrus. As a successful physician and his family members, James, Florence, and their children got to experience things not open to the “average” American of the time, including traveling abroad. Their first known child, Margaret, was born in 1900, and in 1901 James applied for a passport for himself, Florence, and infant Margaret. Why were they traveling abroad when she was so young? The passport application does not say, and so far I have not figured out where they travelled. In the summer of 1910 Florence applied for a passport for herself and her older children, Margaret (then 10) and James (then 8). At the time passports did not ask for specifics on where the person(s) intended to travel, just how long, and Florence said they intended to return within two years, as James had before them. I also have yet to figure out where the three of them travelled.

The United States entered World War I in 1917, and in 1918 James applied for another passport, this time to go into medical service with the American Red Cross. He was 56 years old when his application was approved. His passport specified that he was planning to go to “England Great Britain” and “France.” The American Red Cross did a tremendous amount of volunteer medical work in France and also some in the UK, the latter mostly with wounded American troops. The linked publication on the American Red Cross’s World War I activities (published in 1919) notes of their work in France, “As an indication of the ability to meet emergencies, a complete 1,000 bed hospital was made ready in forty[-]eight hours.” James sailed from Montréal on the Llanstephan Castle, arriving in Bristol, England, on 3 November 1918 as part of a large group of American Red Cross volunteers.

In December 1922 their daughter Margaret applied for a passport of her own, stating that she was a never-married art student who intended to go to Tunis, Italy, and France via “an early boat” leaving “on or about January 30, 1923.” Margaret’s supporting witness was her mother Florence. Margaret said on her application that she was planning to leave from New York or Boston; I have yet to find her on a ship list, though I don’t know where she was planning to visit first. Florence died on 8 February 1923. Florence’s death record says she died of “Lobar Pneumonia,” which she’d reportedly had for 8 days; had Margaret sailed on a ship just before her mother’s acute illness began as Margaret had planned to do?

Margaret Thornton Greeley passport application photo

Margaret Thornton Greeley in her passport application photo; while this photo’s scan from microfilm is worse than Luella’s, it is definitely not the worst I have seen. From U.S. passport application #238615. (Scan courtesy of Ancestry, whose source was a NARA microfilm.)

In 1924 James Thornton Greeley applied for yet another passport. He reported that he was planning to leave on the “Pittsburg” [sic] from the port of New York on April 1st and visit France, England, and Switzerland to “Visiting relatives and study.” Does the previous sentence sound familiar? That’s because it was almost identical to Luella’s plan, although she apparently didn’t have any relatives in Europe to visit, as she had said her purpose was “Study & Travel.” James submitted a previous passport in lieu of a witness, and his new passport was issued 11 days after Luella’s, on Leap Day, February 29th.

On April 8th, the Orca reached Southampton, England, with both Luella and James on board. While they sailed on a different ship than the planned Pittsburgh, it appears they sailed on approximately April 1st. Both of them listed London addresses for their contact information in England. On April 26th, Luella and James married at 15 Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, London. They had resided in London long enough to satisfy the Registrar who married them in front of the American Vice-Counsul of London, as they were both listed as “of London” on their marriage record. Had they headed to Europe with the plan to marry in London, or had they headed to Europe as friends and decided to marry en route? The Vice-Council reported their marriage to the U.S. State Department on May 14th, and in an accompanying letter from May 15th, the American Consul General reported that he had amended Luella’s passport to the surname Greeley.

Also on May 15th, James and Luella passed through Liverpool on the Carmania. Luella was recorded as Lucille Greeley. The ship list contact information column showed them both as “In transit from PARIS.” They were heading for Quebec, and on May 22nd the Carmania arrived there, “Lucille”‘s residence in the United States now listed as Nashua.

On August 29th, Margaret sailed into the port of New York on the Berengaria, having sailed from Cherbourg, France, on the 23rd. Lucy Kate Bowers, also from Nashua and also born in 1900, was with her. While Margaret and Lucy were travelling in Europe, had they gone to London to celebrate James and Luella’s wedding? So far, I don’t know.

On 29 August 1929, James died of a coronary embolism in Nashua. James and Luella had celebrated their five-year anniversary that April. The Greeley children were now technically orphans. James’s youngest child, Cyrus, was enumerated on the 1930 U.S. federal census with Luella. By this point Cyrus had begun slightly shaving his age, which would continue the rest of his life; he was enumerated on the 1910 census, yet as a young adult listed his age as slightly younger than someone who would have appeared on it. Cyrus attended the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, where he was a baritone in the University Men’s Glee Club and part of the cast for the university’s February 1932 staging of Euripedes’s Electra. In the 1930’s he was listed in Seattle city directories as well as at Luella’s address in Nashua city directories, so he apparently still lived with her when school was out of session. On 25 April 1938, Cyrus died in Seattle.

Luella outlived her husband James by nearly 44 years, dying in Lacey, Thurston County, Washington, on 6 May 1973, at age 93. One of Luella’s sisters died in Thurston County a few years later, so perhaps they lived together when they were elderly.

Luella’s other stepson, James, worked as a teacher and married a woman named Helen. James died in Florida in 1988. So far, Margaret’s return to New York with Lucy, both Nashua-bound, is the last record I have found for her. It seems most likely that she disappears from records because she married after she returned, but if so, I have yet to find a record of the wedding.

The way we later write things in genealogical and historical research is often different than the order in which we discover them. The first record I found connecting Luella and James was the record of their marriage. Unspooling their story was great fun. I hope you enjoyed reading it even half as much as I enjoyed researching it and sharing it here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers