All eight hundred and eighty eight thousand two hundred and forty six of them who never saw England’s “green and pleasant land” again.
11 Tuesday Nov 2014
All eight hundred and eighty eight thousand two hundred and forty six of them who never saw England’s “green and pleasant land” again.
11 Monday Nov 2013
Today, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Armistice was signed between the Allies of World War One and Germany that halted The Great War on the Western Front. It was the day the guns of war finally fell silent for most of Europe, although hostilities continued for a little longer in the former Russian Republic and the old Ottoman Empire.
I’ve recounted mine and Andrew’s personal stories for Remembrance Day on this blog before now so I won’t go over that again, it’s here if you’d like to find it. What I do want to share with you though is a song, written about the Battle of Anzio which took place in Italy early in 1944.
The Royal Fusiliers Company Z were ordered to hold a bridge against the approaching German Tiger tanks, but when you pit men against machines the outcome is never good for the men. Company Z lost every man standing that day, among the dead was Eric Fletcher Waters, father of Pink Floyd bassist and lyricist, Roger Waters. Roger later wrote When The Tigers Broke Free as a tribute to his father and an incredibly passionate and angry tirade on the futility of war. To this day, he performs this piece at his fathers grave site on the day he died. It was originally written for Pink Floyd’s 1978 album The Wall, but it never made the final cut as the other band members thought it was just too personal. It eventually turned up on a compilation album called Echoes: The Best of Pink FLoyd, released in 2001.
I have never in all my life listened to a song so imbued with so much hatred and pain. Waters kept the music very sombre, most of the background is provided by the mournful, deep tone of a Welsh male voice choir, which is completely at odds with Waters own personal turmoil and almost screamed lyrics. It makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear it.
It was just before dawn
One miserable morning in black forty-four.
When the forward commander
Was told to sit tight
When he asked that his men be withdrawn.
And the Generals gave thanks
As the other ranks held back
The enemy tanks for a while.
And the Anzio bridgehead
Was held for the price
Of a few hundred ordinary lives.
And kind old King George
Sent Mother a note
When he heard that father was gone.
It was, I recall,
In the form of a scroll,
With gold leaf adorned.
And I found it one day
In a drawer of old photographs, hidden away.
And my eyes still grow damp to remember
His Majesty signed
With his own rubber stamp.
It was dark all around.
There was frost in the ground
When the tigers broke free.
And no one survived
From the Royal Fusiliers Company Z.
They were all left behind,
Most of them dead,
The rest of them dying.
And that’s how the High Command
Took my daddy from me.
I really encourage you to listen to this track. If the You Tube link below is broken, just search for it on You Tube instead.
13 Tuesday Aug 2013
Hello desk hoppers. Wednesday again. My the weeks are flying by aren’t they? Thanks for all the car love last week, we hope to get the old girl roadworthy again by the end of September, that way we should be able to go on some “colour runs” when the trees start changing.
A lot has happened since you were here last… we went to Thunder Over Michigan last weekend, the historic air display we go to every year that’s local to me. We also went kayaking on the Sunday. I got a Guest Design Spot at Christmas Cards All Year Round, and posted a card yesterday, with another one going up on Thursday. We’re also heading out to another Vintage racing event in Michigan this coming weekend and are trying to sort things out for that. Plus, on the family history front, I finally made contact with some Canadian “cousins” after five years of trying. They are the descendents of Andrews Gt, Gt Aunt and they have some amazing photos of the family, including one of his Gt, Gt Aunt, her husband and family. This was the first time I’d seen these people, although I have a lot of info about them gathered through the years. So a very busy but very happy week for me.
My desk today, showing the detritus of the card making for CCAYR plus the Sparkles DT that I’m a member of, our new challenge goes live on Thursday. You can’t see that card but some of the stuff on the desk was from that.
Usual suspects, nothing worth naming I don’t think! Empty cup of tea there too, must check it hasn’t been left there! The blue container the card is resting on contains glitter. The little drawer behind it holds pearls and is out of the stack of drawers in the cubby hole at the back.
And as I know some of you scrap your family history photos I’d thought I’d show you what came my way this week from those Canadian cousins, as it’s really rather good!
The two gentlemen standing either end in military uniform are listed as being friends of the two young ladies they’re standing behind and are not part of the family. The others are all children of James Roach and Grace Caroline Palmer Roach (Carry for short) seated in the middle. One son is missing in the picture, he’d be a year older than Walter Douglas Roach standing behind his mother. The two girls seated in white blouses are Florence and Mildred and are two years apart, despite them looking like twins. Those two, along with Mary Grace at the back, were bridesmaids when my husbands Gt Grandfather was married in 1894. The three sons along with the son missing from the pic, all emigrated to Canada before the first world war. The young girl in the front, Kathleen, died in 1914 from Spanish Flu aged 22.
And the thread on a family history website that brought the Canadian cousins to me is five years old. So if you’re researching your family and haven’t had much luck, don’t give up and keep your old email addresses active cause you have no idea what’s out there and when people might finally make contact with you.
11 Friday Nov 2011
This is for my husbands Grandfather Roland Kenneth Palmer, Abergavenny Regiment and later The Machine Gun Corps WWI. This is for the same man in WWII, a Ship’s Captain for Elder Dempster and running the gauntlet of German submarines to get parts and raw materials in and out of the beleaguered UK ports. Torpedoed and ship wrecked off the coast of West Africa in 1942.
[Roland Kenneth Palmer 1899 – 1977]
This is for my husbands Gt Uncle, Ernest William Palmer, Signalman RN, WWI, who’s three WWI medals and his Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal awarded in 1928, are my most treasured family history posessions.
[Ernest William Royal Naval cadet standing top left, Roland Kenneth standing top right]
This is for my husbands Gt, Gt Grandfather James Clark RN for his efforts on board HMS Edinburgh during the Crimean War. And for four generations of the Clark family and three generations of the Grant family for their Royal Naval/Coastguard duties in protecting the shores of the UK from 1810 – 1891
This is for my Grandmother’s first husband, William Dobson Donaldson, fallen at Ypres in 1917.
For my own two brothers for their time spent in The Royal Airforce in the 1980’s.
And for countless generations of my family before me for their for their sacrifices in the coal mines of Durham, Northumberland and Lancashire helping to build the Empire and fueling the nation during times of strife.
“Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth; Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust; Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace; Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe” – Satish Kumar
12 Monday Apr 2010
Posted Blogging, Crafts, Gardening, Genealogy, The Weekendin
Ooh bad blogger! A whole three days without a post, slapped wrists all round, no excuse really, got a bit sidetracked by the whole genealogy lark again. After over three years of researching my husbands Clements line from Blockley in Worcestershire all on my ownsome, I made three contacts in three days with other researchers. Two of them are more interested in a line that married into the Clements, but were still able to give some marriage details for some of my unmarried Clements, but the third turned out to be a direct relation. So I’ve been hopping about on line trying to figure a few more things out on this line as it really spurred me on.
[A rather shy little daff who only wants to open one petal at a time!]
I also got another day in working in the garden on Saturday, taking it a lot easier and slower than I did a few weeks ago when I strained my muscles! As usual I’m quite astonished at the rate of growth all around us, my Peonies in the front South facing border have grown a whole 2″ since Friday, and that’s no exaggeration, I measured them!! We may start the Spring off later here than in the UK, but the phenominal growth spurts witnessed over the last three weeks has put us pretty much on the same schedule as the UK now. I even have a late Spring/early Summer flowering Clematis that has grown over three feet in the last four weeks and now has flower buds on it. Sadly, the weeds also experience this amazing surge of growth, so now is the best time to get on top of the situation before it gets out of hand, and that’s pretty much what I was doing for most of Saturday.
[Buds on my Cleveland Pear in the back garden, now in full flower as I took this one last week]
Early Sunday morning we walked down into Northville, through the beautifully quaint, and rather expensive, residential area, with it’s stunning Victorian and Edwardian era houses. It’s a protected area and any new builds or home updates have to be done in keeping with the neighbourhood. I love walking through here with it’s pretty houses and beautifully manicured front gardens, might take some photos one day and post for you to dream over. Yesterday morning was grey and overcast with a few little showers lurking about. We walked to build up an appetite for our delicious Sunday morning breakfast at Rebecca’s in Northville. We’ve had this little restaurant recommended to us a few times and had always said we’ll walk down for breakfast one day, well, we’ve lived here ten years and that “one day” was finally yesterday!!! And it was good, very good in fact, and we finished off our meal with a shared house specialty of Sweet Potato Pancakes, which were very yummy. And then we walked back home, albeit at a much slower pace than when we walked down!!
[Japanese Weeping Cherry lighting up the front garden]
[Blue pansies by the front door showing off their cheery little faces to our visitors]
After that I popped up to Michaels who were having their stock up sale, with some of the cheapest prices you’ll see in a long time on essentials like adhesives, ribbons (well, they’re essential for me!!), and blank cards and envelopes. To give you an idea, I normally get a pack of 50 6 1/4″ by 5 1/2″ blank cards with envelopes from here for $9.99, or $6.99 with a 40% off an item coupon… well yesterday, they were selling these 50 packs at three for $10 or $3.33 for a single pack! And the smaller size, which I also use a lot were 3 for $5 or $1.66 for an individual pack instead of $3.99 each, so I got two of those also. So, not really pretty or exciting stuff but very important none the less. When I got back it was in the crafty room for me to work on, and finish as it turns out, my card for my very first Guest Designer spot over at Christmas Stampin All Yer Long, my cards, and the rest of the team’s go live on Friday (16th April), so pop back then to see what I made. My remit was to make “a card”, but I loved the technique for the upcoming challenge so much that I made three! It’s very easy and can be replicated very quickly if you have a lot of cards to make too, so that’s always a bonus, please pop back on Friday and let me know what you think of my cards!
[One of three clumps of creamy, yellow Hellebores currently in flower, must get some of those beautiful red ones too]
[Tiny little Scilla, a relative of the Bluebell, quite hardy judging by their common name of Siberian Squill]
[Magnolia Stellata, the Queen of the Spring garden, just watch out for those late season frosts!]
Well, after all that talk of Christmas I hope you have enjoyed the Spring flowers from my garden that have been accompanying this post. I’ll leave you with this one, of my beautiful Magnolia Stellata and my Japanese Weeping Cherry in my front garden, caught in the late afternoon sunshine yesterday afternoon.
[Can’t believe how much the grass has greened up, looks like it’ll be ready for a cut soon!]
04 Monday Jan 2010
Posted Family, Foody Stuff, Genealogy, Home, Life, Seasons, Winterin
Well, another year is over, actually this time, another decade is over too. Working in IT as I do, I can clearly remember all the pallaver leading up to the new millenium, what a huge con that turned out to be! Nothing more than a major money spinner for “consultants” the world over! And so here we are, 10 years on from there and we’re all still here, the banks didn’t fail, the planes didn’t fall out of the sky and life continued as normal. It’s been an eventful ten years in other respects though, with the rise of terrorism the hunter became the hunted; wars continue to rage, mother nature showed us her incredible force on more than one occasion, and we ended the decade with a huge worldwide recession. But a new year is always a new chance, a clean slate the world over, a chance to make a difference in the world, hopefully in a good way, however, one of my favourite sayings comes to mind at the moment, and that is “The reason history has to repeast itself is because we pay so little attention to it first time around!” So perhaps not then!!
[Stockings hung by the fire on Christmas Eve]
But on to happier thoughts, we had a great Christmas once I had given myself a stern talking to about not being able to go home this year, which in hindsight, was just as well really as snow (quite a lot of it actually) brought much of the UK to a standstill with closed airports, impassible roads and people trapped in their cars. It would have been really difficult for us to travel around and see people. Crazy people trying to blow up planes landing at my local airport would also not have helped had we been travelling, so perhaps it was all for the best that we stayed in America.
[Jammies and Christmas hats on Christmas Day. Is there anything better?]
We spent ALL of Christmas Day in our jammies, shameful I know, but so wonderfully relaxing too! We had a wonderful Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and later, homemade Christmas Pud with homemade custard and cream! If you’ve never tried custard and cream together then you’re truly missing out on a little known culinary delicacy! Devilishly sinful, but it is only once a year!
After scarfing down those huge bowls of pud we were far too stuffed to attempt any Christmas cake, so it sat until boxing day, when we finally cut in to it to discover a wonderful moist and flavourful cake lurking beneath the marzipan, which Andrew made and then covered the cake with on Christmas Eve. We kept our decorations simple, firstly by deciding to do away with the too sweet icing layer, and then decorating with some marzipan offcuts and some sifted icing sugar.
Most of my pressents were of the crafting variety, having left a small wishlist carelessly lying around for Andrew to find! I also spent money from my parents and my in-laws on more crafting goodies too, so I spent a very happy few hours in my craft room after the big day having a mega clear up of all the Christmas stamps and papers, and finding spaces for my new stash. I’ll do another post in a day or two showing you all my new crafty stash. One of my loveliest pressies though was a hand made necklace from Andrew, it’s very simple, with a large Goldstone stone wrapped in copper wire and hanging from a leather thong. I also received a wonderful book by Beverley Nicols, the first in the Merry Hall trilogy about his exploits refurbishing an old Georgian house and garden in the early 1950’s. I’ve previously read an earlier trilogy of his about a house and garden he owned in a little village in Huntingdonshire in the late 1920’s. They really are gems and come highly recommended.
My main present to Andrew was an 8gb Sandisc music player, a lot like an Ipod but without the extortionate price. It was actually brilliant value for money and he absolutely loves it….. however, had I known that he would present me with just about every cd we own to “rip” onto the laptop so he can make playlists and upload to the player, then I might have thought twice about purchasing it!! Still, it gave me a good opportunity to sit on my backside and do some more genealogy which I had been hankering after doing for quite a while. Christmas is for spending with family right?? Nobody said they have to be alive!!!
Weather wise we had an interesting Christmas Day with sleet, rain, freezing rain and finally snow. It was impossible to walk on in the local woods so we had a couple of really nice treks around our closest town, which has a wonderful Victorian residential area that we’d never really explored before, so it was a bit of a serendipitous discovery actually.
[Very little snow left after Christmas, although it has been snowing a bit today again, maybe another inch or so]
It’s stayed really cold too with a low of -16C on Sunday morning, although it generally hasn’t been as cold as that. We also visited with some friends a couple of times too, and enjoyed some good food and even better company. One of my friends knows me too well, this was my gift from her this year, a beautiful and very stunning Phalaenopsis Orchid, I only hope my green fingers can work their magic on this beauty.
My Amarylis will be flowering soon too, I’ve never managed to time it correctly and get it to re-bloom in time for Christmas. Last year it finally flowered in May, this year at least it will be in January.
So, on that pretty note, I’ll get on eating my lunch….. that alarm going off at 6am this morning was NOT a welcome sound I can assure you!!
17 Friday Jul 2009
I really can’t believe how few posts I’ve been able to make pretty much all of summer so far. It’s not a bad thing, it actually means we’re getting out and about a lot more but it’s leaving me little time to anything else, and sorting through the days photos and compiling a blog post are taking a serious back seat this year. I also just don’t have much time to blog hop either, so I’m sorry if I haven’t called around much lately! I’ve also had a very lucky break with two of my husbands lines on the genealogy front, the Palmers and the Peachey’s, both of Burwell in Cambridgeshire and have added close to 200 names to our family tree in the last month, but I’ve also found great things like wills too and have been having a ball reading through everything and finding yet more little twigs to attach to the tree. Wonderful stuff.
And talking of family, here is a little card I knocked up quite quickly (for me anyway) for my FIL for his birthday last Sunday, always struggle making men cards but I’d just bought a new clear stamp set with a travel theme and I knew I had some vintagey travel paper in my stash and the right coloured card to pull it all together; the sentiment was printed on the computer. The two little Eiffel Towers were heat embossed in black.
Our plans for this weekend include kayaking on Saturday morning, baking/making something for a friends combined birthday and house warming party, and then attending said party! Sunday will see us making our annual trip to the fabulous Thunder Over Michigan air display, so once again, a very busy weekend! Whatever you’re all doing I hope you enjoy it and the weather stays fine…. and I hope I can catch up with you all soon!!
13 Friday Mar 2009
And I have been very, very patient. Immensely so in fact. Due to reasons I won’t go into here I have no photo of my Father who died when I was five years old. I also have no photos of his parents, who both died before I was born, or any of his siblings or other realtives. Nothing, I have nothing at all, and my greatest fear in life is that one day I will wake up and I won’t be able to remember his face. It’s because of him and my desire to once again connect with my family, the ones who have gone before that is, to understand where my Father came from and where his parents and grandparents came from, who they were, what their life was like, that I started on this genealogical quest eight years ago. I’ve learned a lot, talked with and had help from some wonderful people, found out more facts and figures, dates of birth, marriage and death, names, occupations and locations than I ever thought possible. But still, that photo of ANY member of my Father’s family eluded me. Until two days ago. Two days ago, waiting for me in my email in-box was a photo I have waited years and years to see, eight years to be precise. It’s a photo of my Great Grandmother. My own father’s grandmother. My first and only visible link to a member of his immediate family. The picture came to me because of the modern marvel of the internet. It came from Wisconsin, although it was taken in Durham, England in 1888.
My Gt Grandmother Madeline Ormston was born in 1862 at Trimdon Colliery in Durham, her father Robert was a coal miner. In 1882 she married, for the first time, to Isaac Laws and in 1883 they were blessed with a healthy son, Robert. In May of 1886 my Grandmother, Mary Lizzie was born, but in August that same year Isaac was killed after taking a shortcut across Hebburn Colliery to get home after a night out at the pub. The inquest decided that his judgment had been impaired by alcohol and he did not acknowledge the oncoming colliery train that was taking the empty tubs to the mine shaft ready for the start of the midnight shift. It knocked him down and killed him instantly. I have the full inquest report.
Just over two years later Madeline remarried, this time to William Hawkins a Papermaker born in Exeter in Devon, who was working at a paper factory in South Hylton near Sunderland in Durham. He had been widowed in June of 1888 when his wife Sarah died and left him with five children, when he married Madeline in December of that same year, and it is thought that this photograph was taken to celebrate their wedding. William and Madeline went on to have another six children of their own. The photo is a copy of the original and someone has written on the people to identify them. They are all Williams children from his first marriage, with the exception of my Gt Uncle Robert who is the little boy standing up between the two adults. For some reason my Grandmother Mary Lizzie is not in the shot, she would have been two and a half. Just cut off, to the very right, is Mary Ann Hawkins, one of Williams daughters, who immigrated to America in 1903 with her husband and some of his family. She is the one who brought the photo with her to the States, which eventually found it’s way to her Gt Granddaughter, a really nice lady called Lara who now lives in Wisconsin. The only oddity on this little family portrait, is the baby on Madeline’s lap, he’s labeled as George and he is obviously very young. The oddity is that this photo is the only reference to him, Lara and I both wonder if Williams first wife died because of complications giving birth to him, and he then subsequently did not live very long because he is not in the 1891 census. This is a feasible explanation, apart from the fact that neither of us can come up with a birth or death reference for him! But, that’s what I love about family history…. there’s always something to discover!
The family members are (left to right): James Hawkins (1877), Margaret Hawkins (1879), William Hawkins (1850), Louisa between his legs (1885), Robert Laws (1883), Madeline Ormston Laws Hawkins (1862) with baby George on her lap. At her feet is Maria Hawkins (1883) and mostly cut off the photo on the right is Mary Ann Hawkins (1881).
15 Thursday Jan 2009
Some of you are aware that I’m very keen on genealogy and family history. Genealogy is the simple collection of names, dates and places and building a family tree; family history takes a deeper look at the people, the times, social events, working conditions and other more personal aspects of what life might have been like for our families throughout history. Typically you end up “reading around” these subjects… for example, you have a female ancestor who was born in Lancashire and worked in the cotton industry. Online sources will explain what her job involved, the hours, the conditions and the pay. If you’re lucky you might find a site with photos of the mill and photos of the type of machinery she would have used, you can also probably find social information on the area in which she lived, what the conditions were like, if the buildings are still standing today. Other searches will likely show the dress code and fashions of the day, newspaper reports of strikes, natural disasters, medical epidemics, wars etc, etc. All of this will help you build up a picture of what life was really like for your ancestors, whether they were wealthy or as poor as church mice. It matters not that in all of this searching you will rarely find any direct reference to your ancestors, the point of this exercise is to understand how they lived, what life was really like for them. Occasionally you’ll find records for them, perhaps an inquest after they died in unusual circumstances, or maybe they were some of the striking or rioting workers demanding fairer pay or better working conditions, you may also find them in criminal or transportation records, military records and possibly even little snippets in the newspapers of the day. You will rarely find lots of information and a complete biography, just small pieces here and there to help fill in the gaps.
It was this family history that kept me away from blogging during the Christmas break, and it’s still consuming most of my thoughts during the day. I’ve been tracing my husbands family recently, mainly the Clarks from Rye in Sussex. They interested me simply because of the occupation they had chosen, the vast majority of my lot were coal or tin miners, with the odd cotton worker here and there and one carpenter! So when I found that the Clarks were employed in The Coastguard Service I was fascinated to find out the details of their lives and the role that they played in defending the shores of England. The only downside was that there’s an awful lot of coastline in the UK and the families were moved around frequently, so even doing a simple census search was often painful as they were never in the same place twice, the same applies to searching for birth, marriage and death certificates too. Coalminers don’t tend to move around too much, and when they do, it tended to be major moves, such as assisted passage to Canada or Australia or the US. The Clarks were becoming a challenge, and I do like a good challenge!
I’ve known about the Clark family from Sussex for about three years, I’ve known they were a Coastguard family for the same length of time, I’ve also had a few little snippets of their lives for a couple of years too, mainly from census records and one family wedding write up in a local newspaper. Suddenly during the Christmas break, due to a visit to the local library where I can get free access to one of the major online holders of records, and the fact that The National Archives have freely made available their Coastguard records for download, all of the pieces started falling into place and a three year brickwall was finally broken down. It continued this week too when even more details were made available to me after I posted a query on a forum.
So, for anyone still interested enough to continue reading, here is a potted history of my husbands Gt Gt Grandfather James Clark 1832 – 1913.
The Coastguard Service has undergone many transformations and has had many masters over the years, its beginnings were a far cry from how we perceive the service in the modern world. Initially it was a sub department or division of The Royal Navy and its main task was to curtail the rampant smuggling that occurred all around the UK at the time. All goods and services entering the UK were subject to a Revenue Tax by the government and the amount of tax lost on smuggled in loads was so great that an entire new division of the RN was created just to deal with it, it was estimated around 1780 that between 55% – 65% of all alcohol consumed in the UK came from black market sources. It was a dangerous job and a number of CG/RN personnel were murdered by the smugglers when they tried to halt or board vessels they suspected of illicit activities. In these early years, the entire personnel list of the CG were recruited directly from the RN. Over the years, the RN has been able to recruit from the CG during times of conflict and as smuggling was dying out in the 1850s and 1860’s the emphasis had shifted to shore and boat protection, and the seed of the modern CG Service had been planted. A very good, and quite short, write up is available here, as well as a much more comprehensive history available here.
But back to James. He was born on 22 March 1832 in Eastbourne, Sussex, the youngest son of George Clark from Rye and his wife Maria and was baptized at St Marys in Eastbourne on 29 April 1832. George Clark was also in the Coastguard Service and I’m actively looking for his early records too. After James, one more child was born to George and Maria in Eastbourne, Eliza in 1835, although due to her fathers posting to Cornwall in July of 1835 she was actually christened at St Just in Penwith on 11 October 1835. The 1841 census found the family still in St Just with additional siblings Edward c1824, William, c1827, Henry c1829 and Louisa c1830, birthplaces were not noted in 1841 just a yes/no for birth inside the county, so tracking the births of the earlier siblings is going to be interesting!
James appears to have followed in his fathers seafaring footsteps and joined the RN, although I know not where or on which date! He is completely missing from the 1851 census though, I’ve searched and searched to no avail and think he was offshore somewhere. August of 1853 saw the outbreak of the Crimean War and here is where I found James again, serving on board HMS Edinburgh as an officer. Along with HMS Bulldog the Edinburgh was one of the ships active in the blockade of the Baltic Sea, stopping supplies reaching Russia from Finland and other Scandinavian countries. The Edinburgh was also involved in the shelling, from deck canons, of the Finnish forts along the Baltic Coast, most notably, Bomarsund on the Alend Islands, for which James was entitled to The Baltic Medal. This painting depicts HMS Bulldog shelling Bomarsund Fort, this must have been the exact location and outlook James had at the time from HMS Edinburgh.
And this is The Baltic Medal and Ribbon he would have been entitled to, I have no idea if he actually claimed it or not.
On returning to the UK James continued with his RN service, being assigned to Revenue Cruisers patrolling the coasts, but the emphasis for the RN had moved away from smugglers and illicit goods so I’m not sure what role they played during this period. The muster rolls for the ships he worked on are at The National Archives and are not available on line, it’s maddening knowing I could extend my knowledge of his Naval career if I could spend a day or two at Kew!!
Early in March of 1858 in Dover, James married Eliza Grant, herself the daughter of a CG serviceman. Although born in Dorset, Eliza grew up in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, East Sussex and finally Kent where she met and married James! I can’t imagine a life like that, they moved the personnel around as frequently as every 8 months. From their marriage certificate, which arrived just before Christmas, I finally found out James fathers name and occupation, prior to that, James lineage was a complete brickwall. I was astonished and delighted to find he was also in the CG service and hit the local library with this knowledge over the break, finding siblings for James, a Mother for him and some other snippets from census information. The 1851 census found George Clark, wife Maria and youngest daughter Eliza at home in Dover, St Marys Parish. George was now retired from the Service and I now wonder if James and Eliza met because of the shared occupations of their fathers? Perhaps they were stationed together at one point, but I’ve yet to track the Grant CG records.
Newly married, James transferred to the Coastguard Service from the RN Revenue Cruiser “Lion” on June 18th, 1858 and was immediately transferred to Hartlepool on the NE coast of England. Here his first child, a daughter named Selina, was born in December of 1858 and christened on January 9th, 1859 at St Hildas, Hartlepool. James was then removed (transferred) to Bridlington on June 31st, 1860 where his second daughter, Louisa Alice was born in late 1860. His next move was south to Dungeness in Kent on March 28th, 1862, and it was here in early 1863 that his third daughter, and my husbands Gt Grandmother, Henrietta was born. The family was soon on the move again, this time to Dover and to what looks like a huge old barracks building called Casemates on May 20th, 1863. The history of this building looks interesting and is another avenue to persue at a later date! For all of this service so far he was listed as a Boatman, the lowest of the four grades assigned to each CG station. On June 1st, 1865 James was awarded a third Good Conduct Badge (although I can find no reference to the first two!) and another daughter was born to James and Eliza, Kate Matilda in 1865. Then on June 11 1867 James was promoted to the rank of Commissioned Boatman, one step up the ladder from Boatman. This promotion though prompted yet another move along the coast to Folkestone on 20 June 1867 where he enjoyed a relatively long stay of eight years. He was promoted again during his stay in Folkestone and he was now a Chief Boatman. His last two children were also born here, his only son William Henry in 1867 and another daughter Ada around 1873, although her birth has so far completely eluded me. The family once again suffered the upheaval of the CG life when James was transferred further West along the coast to Hastings in Sussex on June 8th, 1875, and it was here where he achieved the highest rank possible for him on May 29th 1876, that of Chief Officer, James was 44 years old and would now be in charge of whatever CG station he was assigned to, his pay as Chief Officer was 6/. a day (30p). Another transfer swiftly followed the promotion and the family found themselves at Atherfield, on The Isle of Wight, on July 12th 1876. James and his family made their final transfer on January 16th, 1878 when they all moved to Ventnor on the Isle of Wight which is where he was to end his Naval/CG career when he retired on March 31st, 1892, aged 60.
[The Coastguard Station at Hastings.]
[Coastguard Cottages at Ventnor, IOW]
While living on the IOW the family lived in private accommodation, Orient House in Ventnor. This house was part of a small terrace of largish villas, high above the little town with a commanding view out to sea, and has since been torn down, but the Archives Office on the IOW provided these pictures of the property and its location, the photos were taken about 1900, not long after the Clark family vacated it. The location is marked by the white circle on the second photo.
[Orient House, Ventnor]
From the records available from The National Archives I was able to download his personal service record for a small sum. This record confirmed the information in the free records which just listed what CG stations he’d been assigned to, and gave the extra information contained here, such as dates of promotion, rates of pay and the date of his retirement. It also listed details of his physical appearance, so although I have no photo of this man I do now know that he was 5ft 8″ tall with auburn hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion. He also had no visible marks or scars.
I only have three more references on the Isle of Wight for James, the first was the marriage of his daughter Henrietta (known as Nettie) on August 7th, 1894 to Ernest Palmer; the second was the write up in the local newspaper for Netties wedding where James was listed as Retired RN; the third and final reference was when he attended the funeral of a John Kirk Howe in Ventnor and was listed as a Retired Chief Officer, Coastguard in May of 1896. James and his wife Eliza moved to Southsea, Portsmouth between 1896 and the 1901 census and he lived there until he died in 1913 aged 81.
And what of his children? Selina married George Lane from Buckinghamshire on the IOW in 1888, they raised two boys and two girls and eventually settled in Warickshire after previously living in Devon and Staffordshire. Louisa married Edward Robinson from Bath, in 1894 in Cardiff where they raised their family. I’m in contact with Loiusa’s grand daughter Mary, she is the only other person I’ve come across who is researching this particular line. The photos of Orient House were provided by her after she visited the area. Mary now lives in Cornwall. Nettie, as we know, married my husbands Gt Grandfather Ernest Palmer and they had three sons together. Their story however did not have a happy ending as they put all of their money into an Ironmongers shop in Stamford, Lincolnshire, but Ernest had not been an astute businessman! The books had all been cooked, the shop folded and they lost everything, penniless they moved to a two up two down miners terraced house in Abergavenny, South Wales. Poor Nettie, the daughter of a CG Chief Officer, who had employed a maid and a cleaner and had been used to hardly lifting a finger to do anything in her life was suddenly living in a tiny house in South Wales with an outside toilet! Apparently she never got over this sudden change in circumstances. Kate, William and Ada so far remain un-researched.
My current line of enquiry revolves around George Clark, James father. As he was also a member of the CG Service I have been able to download his records and I’m currently working backwards through them to find all of his postings. I’m sure that will keep me out of mischief for quite a while to come! And if I ever get bored, there are also the three other children of James and Eliza to research, not to mention Georges siblings and parents, plus Eliza’s fathers CG records will also be on line too!
22 Friday Aug 2008
A few months ago, having experienced a lot of browser and loading issues with Genes Reunited, I put my family tree on Ancestry. I wasn’t happy about it, it meant that my tree was now in two places and that I’d have to update it twice, assuming I’d ever get the problems with loading my information on GR sorted out that is. But it did open up my research to a different, wider audience and I’ve had a few inquiries from folk, most aren’t connected sadly, but I have had two outstanding connections on my husbands side of the tree, and on two surnames I was beginning to think no one else had any interest in…. the Goldings from Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire and the Palmers, mainly from Surrey.
On his mothers side, hubby is descended from Francis Palmer, c1785, and Maria Cruttwell, 1782, who to the best of my knowledge both came from Wokingham in Berkshire. Francis was a Draper and he settled just over the Berkshire border in Chertsey which is in Surrey. Francis and Maria had 6 children, 4 of whom survived. Hubby’s 2x Gt Grandfather was George (1816), the oldest surviving child of Francis and Maria. I also knew some of the family info for his younger brother Alfred (1823), but had drawn a complete blank on Maria (1825) whom I assumed had married, and Henry Cruttwell Palmer (1832). I’d come to the conclusion that Henry had either died young or had left England for pastures new as he was not to be found on any census after 1841.
Enter Ancestry and a request from an older gentleman named Bernie who lives in Wisconsin for some more info on my Palmers. Turns out Henry Cruttwell Palmer DID leave England for America, at the tender age of 17 in 1849, and Bernie is his Gt Grandson. Further more, he sent me a lovely little letter with a narrative and some printed photos of my husbands relatives. The photos were of Henry, who by the way told everyone his middle name was Charles!, his wife Sarah Sandborn, both looking about 45 – 50, and a stunning photo of Henry’s mother Maria, Hubby’s 3x Gt Grandmother. Maria looks very old in the photo and I know she died between 1858 and 1860, so photography wise, this is a very early print. In return I sent him some things I had, announcements and write ups of weddings from newspapers etc.
Just last night he sent me another email, this one contained two letters that he’d typed up from the originals (that are in his possession!), both letters were written in 1885 by Grace Caroline Palmer and George James Palmer, children of George (1816), and sent to their Uncle Henry in Wisconsin. Copied below is the letter written to Uncle Henry from George, and what an incredibly fascinating little piece of history it is. It’s made all the more stunning to me because it really brings alive the people I’m researching. The letter mentions the passing of George (1816) and with sadness recounts the very personal details of his death, as well as giving me more to go on to find the death of Georges wife Grace. I knew that the brother mentioned in the letter, Harry and his wife, ran a drapers/dressmaking business in Maidenhead, but the letter tells me that they weren’t doing very well. I also knew that George, the letter writer, was married, lived in Colchester and was in the Wine/Provisions trade, but the way he writes about his little family is so heart warming and filled with affection. The Ernest he mentions is my husbands Gt Grandfather and that Grace Caroline was known as Carry. Nothing of consequence really, but just small, personal details that lift them out of the past and into my imagination.
It’s very easy when you’re researching your family history to forget that these people were real, they laughed they cried, they worked hard, they married and had families of their own, they suffered through terrible personal loss and tragedy, often at a very young age. It’s finding things like these letters that really put things back into perspective for me, they’re not faceless names staring back at me from a computer screen, they are our own flesh and blood, and they were once as alive as I am. I’m very grateful to Bernie for not only sending them to me, but also having the fortitude to cherish them and look after them all of these years. He also says he has more items, including his Gt Grandfathers journal, memoirs of his life and more photos too. I think I’m going to like Bernie!
2 Queen Street
June 9th 1885
My dear Uncle,
I am writing to tell you how very much we all appreciated your kind letter of sympathy on the death of poor Father. After a very painful and distressing illness beyond anything I can possibly describe. He was taken ill last November with softening of the spinal cord, paralysis set in within a few days attacking him in the lower bowels, increasing so rapidly that the doctors informed us he could not live more than four or five days. He, however, lingered , suffering very much till March 19th when he was happily relieved from all pain, just a week after the anniversary of our poor Mothers death, He was quite conscious to the last and remembered that day, longing to be taken on the same date.
Uncle Alfred called a few days before his death, but speech had gone, and all he could do was to hold him by the hand for a long time, thus wishing him the last goodby.
He expressed a wish to be buried at Stravis (where also my Mother was buried) which we thought only right, especially as he had his own piece of ground in Stavis Church Yard.
Through all his suffering and sad illness we heard no word of complaint, all who attended him expressing it was a pleasure to nurse him, being grateful for all that was done for him, bearing all with Christian fortitude fully prepared to meet his Lord.
I should have answered your kind letter before but being my Father’s executor (with my brother-in-law Wm Roach). I have found my time much occupied as the work of carrying out the will has fallen on myself.
I will now tell you a little of my own affairs. I have been here about 13 years and am Manager to a firm of wine Merchant – with an interest in the business. About 7 years ago I married the daughter of W. D. Blyth, draper of this town, have three children, George Helmore, Henry Blyth, and the last a little girl, Eleanor May, 13 months old, all very strong and healthy. The boys are now getting quite companions aged respectively 5 and 4, and being great boys make a great deal of fun.
My eldest Brother, Harry, is at Maidenhead in a small business as a draper. His wife attends the dressmaking, but fear they are not doing well. My sister, Grace, Carry, as we always call her is a few years younger than myself and married Wm Jas Roach of Medina, Newport, Isle of Wight. She has three girls & one boy. James is in large way of business running three large flour mills. Ernest, my youngest brother, just over twenty-one is in an ironmongers shop at Ventenor I. W. and I think will turn out a good man of business
You will be, no doubt, receiving letters from other members of our family giving you more minute particulars of themselves. I am sending for your kind acceptance, a photo of our poor Father, taken from a small one and almost the only one taken and trust you will like it. I think it very good of him but the photography is not as good as that I have seen from your country.
My wife Lois (?) sends (?) love to yourself, wife and family, hoping to hear something occasionally from my Father’s Brother, who I have only heard of by name until your kind letter brought us into near relationship.
I remain, yours affectionately,
G. J. Palmer
This is a letter written by George James Palmer (born abt. 1852) to his Uncle Henry Palmer in LaValle, Wisconsin, USA on June 9, 1885. Typed from the original by Bernie xxxx. The ? are where the original is hard to decipher.