Friday, 31 August 2012


St Mary the Virgin, Apuldram

Apuldram or Appledram is a small parish with no village.

During the Roman period it was an important harbour providing easy access to Chichester and a bustling village.  However the harbour silted up so a new harbour, Dell Quay, was built but eventually this too silted up and Apuldram lost its main business.  There is little evidence of the medieval village which had grown up around the church and two of the roads which once carried goods and people to Chichester now survive only as footpaths.  Dell Quay is still a harbour but to small pleasure boats and yachts.

The church was built as a chapel of ease for the villagers who were too far from the parent church at Bosham.  The current church dates from the 12th century and until it was built the bodies of those who died in Apuldram would be taken by boat across the harbour to Holy Trinity in Bosham.

The spelling of the village name varies and use of the modern spelling Appledram has been known to upset locals, the Appledram Cider, based at Pump Bottom Farm had vandals repaint the name as Apuldram in 2007.  To be on the safe side the civic records refer the the parish as both Appledram and Apuldram.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The value of the vestry

Parish records are much more than baptism, marriage and burial registers.  Up until the mid 19th century the parish was responsible for the organisation, administration and care of the parish and its parishioners - the result of this was a lot of paperwork, some of which (where it has survived) is very valuable to the genealogist.
One example of documents which can provide all sorts of useful information are the vestry minutes.  Those involved in running the parish were known as the vestry because traditionally they met in the vestry room of the church.  Here they would appoint the officials needed to run the parish such as the overseers, the surveyor and the constable.  Many of these roles were undertaken on a rotational basis for a year.
For vestry minutes to be useful they have to have survived, a search of a selection of Sussex parishes finds that the parishes of Polegate, Etchingham and Southease have no surviving vestry records whilst those for Heathfield only survive from 1820, those for St Mary in the Castle, Hastings (known as Castle parish) survive for the period 1753 through to 1908 whilst those for St Nicholas Brighton survive as early as 1683 through to 1856.
In addition to surviving they also have to contain useful information for genealogists.  The vestry records for the Castle parish in Hastings between 1774 and 1794 only record the accounts submitted by the overseers but later records for the period 1823 to 1851 provide far more detailed information.  The records for Brighton between 1789-1799 include the decisions made at each meeting but don't list all the applications which were turned down.  The vestry book for West Grinstead 1833 to 1842 is a record of the myriad of applications for relief.

In a time before  pensions and the NHS each parish took care of its elderly population:
Mrs Gallop the wife of William applies for some more relief, her husband being incapable of doing anything being imbecile.  Ordered that she be allowed 7s 6d per week.  [1st December 1825 - Hastings]
old George Laker wants Relief Ill Lost 11 Days [work - given]  6 shillings  [15th October 1833 - West Grinstead] 

The vestry also provided healthcare (such as it was):
Ordered that Application be immediately made to get Lucy Ovett into St Lukes or Bedlam   [27th Mar 1793 - Brighton]
Ordered that Mrs Brand be paid fourteen Shillings for nursing the man that dyed at Mr Hobdens   [16th May 1796 - Brighton]
Reuben Eason applied for a nurse for his wife.  Allowed   [14th April 1825 - Hastings]
Edward Dinage wants Relief has had the Misfortune to be run over with A very heavy Load of Coals, near Billingshurst Street, has not been Able to do any Work since, Doctor Evershed attends him   [20th August 1833 - West Grinstead]
The wife of George Ransom Tailor applies for a nurse to be allowed her in her approaching confinement and also a pair of Blankets.  Allowed  [2nd Oct 1833 - Hastings]

The vestry might help to find work for those in need of employment, this benefited the parish as people were less likely to need help from the vestry if they were working:
At this Parish Mr Benjamin Lingham agrees to take James Hook and Charles Chapman two poor Boys for the year ensuring upon the parish finding them in Clothes   [29th March 1824 - Hastings]
Ordered that Thomas Wellsted a poor Boy of this Parish be put apprentice to Mr John Russell of the Parish of Saint Clement in this Town, Baker  [14th April 1825 - Hastings]
John Gates has got A place [job] for his Girl at Brighton wants the Parish to give her som Clothes, Sarah Gates Age 14    [1st October 1833 - West Grinstead]

Much of the work of the parish would be taken up with care of the poor, often supplementing their income in times of need  or finding ways to move them elsewhere:
Ordered that Jane Brand (wife of Richard Brand now serving in the Sussex Militia for the Parish of Saint Michaels Lewes) be allowed one Pair of Sheets one Blanket and one Rug   [23rd Oct 1797 - Brighton]
Ordered that Mr James Pounse be requested to enquire what will be the expense of repairing James Shrivells Boat    [12th Feb 1798  - Brighton, presumably if his boat is repaired James Shrivell will be able to support himself again]
John King of Rye applies for relief [–] ordered to be allowed two Shillings a week for himself and his wife   [16th June 1831 - Hastings]
Ordered that provided James Holt is willing to go to America with his wife and child he shall be allowed the sum of £7 and that their passage and victualling on board shall be paid by the parish and a decent suit of clothes shall be provided for himself and wife.  [28th March 1833 - Hastings]

The administration of the poor law was considerable, especially when the person living in the parish belonged to another parish and vice versa:
Ordered that the Parish Officers of Godstone be wrote to concerning Pullens Daughter now with child  [30th Jan 1793 - Brighton]
Ordered that the Parish Officers of Clapham near Arundell Sussex be written to and acquainted that Mrs Wiseman has become chargeable and desire their Answer what Steps the Officers should persue as they are under Certificate    [13th June 1796 -  Brighton]
Edward Gallop now living at Newhaven applies for assistance to bring his family home to Hastings.  Ordered that it be left to the Overseers to manage as they can with him   [28th March 1827 - Hastings]
Eliza Smith [living in] Brighton wants Som Clothes Age 16   [1st April 1834 - West Grinstead]

Bastardy was a big issue, illegitimate children and their mothers often became the responsibility of the parish so the vestry were keen to offset the costs by identifying the father.  Parents who ran off and left their children were not popular either:
Ordered that William Warburton Newman be advertized for running away and leaving his wife and Children chargeable  [20th Mar 1797 bri]
Ordered that the overseers shall take such course as they may consider most adviseable to apprehend James Stilwell for bastardy with Ann Kemp  [23rd May 1832 - Hastings]

But of course the vestry was not always helpful to its residents:
Sarah Shoesmith a little Girl 12 years old applied for some Clothes.  Not allowed    [4th August 1825 - Hastings]
John Gates wants Work [to which the response was] Go in the [work]House    [13th October 1833 - West Grinstead]

East Sussex Record Office: Brighton St Nicholas HOW 34/17 Minutes of Vestries 1789-1799
East Sussex Record Office: Hastings St Mary in the Castle PAR369 12/2 Vestry notes 1774-1794
East Sussex Record Office: Hastings St Mary in the Castle PAR369 12/3 Vestry notes 1823-1851
West Sussex Record Office: West Grinstead PAR95 12/1 Vestry minute book 1833-1842

Friday, 17 August 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? started this week with Samantha Womack nee Janus, who is well known for her recent role in Eastenders.

Samantha Zoe Janus was born in Brighton in 1972, the only child of Noel Robert Janus and Diane O'Hanlon.  Her parents relationship broke down when she was about six years old and her parents separated, Samantha moving away with her mother.

Samantha's father remained in Sussex and according to newspaper reports had a difficult relationship with his daughter.  Noel Janus was born in 1949 in Kensington, the son of  Robert William Bough Janes and Doris Cunningham Ryan and he was half brother of Angie Best (wife of George Best).  He continued to live in Brighton but suffering from depression, he committed suicide in 2009.

Noel's mother and Samantha's grandmother Doris still lives in Brighton but this line of the family were newcomers to Sussex and tracing her father's ancestry back you soon find yourself in Scotland, France and Dublin.

The episode was the usual well put together programme but as always it skipped over anything that was inconclusive, too complicated or unknown.

One thing that this episode did show was how names can vary, causing so many problems for researchers.  You don't have to go far back in Samantha's family history to find name complications - her birth was registered as Samantha Zoe Janus, daughter of Noel Janus but Noel's birth was registered as Noel Robert Janes.  Presumably Noel amended his surname to make it more distinctive
Noel Robert Janes aka Janus
(he was a singer songwriter).  Then there is Samantha's great grandmother who was known to the family as Beatrice Ryan nee Garraud - Gerraud is an unusual surname which has advantages but being unusual it is more likely to be misspelt.  No birth record can be found for Beatrice Gerraud, not because the surname was misspelt,  but because, as the programme shows, she was originally named Berthe Marie Garraud.  Her father was French which explains the choice of name, possibly it was Anglicized (as was her father's name from Pierre to Peter) or the orphanage may have felt Beatrice was a more 'suitable' name.  Later when Beatrice went to America with her mother she was recorded as Beatrice Finkle; her mother's new surname, so any searches for Beatrice have to take into account her different forenames and changing surnames.

As mentioned above the programme does gloss over some details which would stop the story flowing so smoothly.  We are told how Anthony and Beatrice were found in the 1901 census to be living in orphanages, an assumption was made that their mother Jessie had abandoned the children to go to America after her husband's death but of course she could have gone to America leaving them in the care of her husband who may have then died after she left.  That is, if he died at all.  I can't trace a record of his death even taking in to account the various versions of his name.  As there was no mention of when he died in the programme I doubt WDYTYA? found it either.

A bigger niggle is the relationship of Beatrice Garraud to Alexander Cunningham Ryan - WDYTYA? referred to Beatrice as the partner of Alexander and it is quite likely that they never married although this was never mentioned.  Alexander Ryan's attestation papers in 1914 shows his wife was Beatrice Winifred Pickford, they had married in 1908 in Plymouth.  This Beatrice was ignored by the programme

Alexander Ryan's unexplained wife
so we have no idea what happened to her.  There is an interesting family trend here - Samantha's parents were not married, her paternal grandparents were not married and it seems that her maternal great grandparents were not married either.  Unlike many modern families which break with tradition by not getting married, Samantha Janus broke family tradition when she did get married.

BBC Who Do You Think You Are? broadcast 16th August 2012 
GRO Birth Index -
Daily Mail - 25th August 2009
Argus - 7th September 2009

Friday, 3 August 2012

The importance of sources

When I started this blog I chose not to include my sources of information as I felt it would spoil the appearance of each entry and was unnecessary as I would be happy to pass on the sources to any interested parties.  Several things have happened recently which have reminded me how important it is to always provide sources for data.

I wrote earlier this month about the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar; I got interested in the subject having overheard a conversation where someone recounted the tale of people rioting because of their lost 11 days.  So far as I am aware this is an myth and I have searched the internet for any reference to somewhere where there was actual rioting without success but I did find many sites which recounted this event as fact without providing sources (if anyone knows of somewhere please let me know).

Since writing about Hannah Russell I have found a lot of references to her and the events of 1826 but again most of what I have found fails to give sources.

Of course, like me, the authors of these websites might have the sources and would be happy to provide them but a website or a blog survives for a long time.  The authors move on to new projects, paperwork is lost along with the references.   Websites can outlive the authors leaving no way to verify the work they have done without redoing it from the beginning.

Even if you have no intention of ever publishing your work it is still important to keep full and complete records of your searches - even those with negative results - as you may need to defend your connections later on and don't want to have to repeat searches.  I started my family history research when I was 12 years old and rushed in recording births, deaths and marriages without keeping much record by way of sources.  Now when I go back to those early records I have to re-do the research to confirm where I got the data from in the first place.

So I have learnt my lesson and will always quote my sources in the future!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

An alternative use for the census

Apparently censuses are used for other things than researching ancestry.  The 2011 England and Wales census has shown that the population has now reached the staggering figure of 56 million! There is a neat little animation on the BBC website which shows how our population has changed census to census.