I started this website so that I could keep my three sons informed about my family history research while two of them were working abroad. Now that Google appears to have found the site and an unsuspecting visitor from beyond the usual handful of relatives may stumble across a page, perhaps I ought to explain my intentions. From the beginning I wanted to concentrate on the stories behind the names and dates; I included a family tree more to provide a structure for the narrative than as an end in itself.
Recently I have begun to worry about the lack of references to sources, as seen on the best "proper" family history sites. Although I have them filed away at home, they are not evident on the website where I feel they would distract from my purpose, and take too long to add now. Generally speaking, if dates and relationships are listed without a source then the information comes from parish records, BMD certificates and census printouts. The few that still depend on transcripts are slowly being confirmed as time and opportunity arise. Any other sources are usually specified within the text of the page: wills, newspapers, books, Poor Law records, letters, and so on. For me, the very existence of a source is surprising enough to make it worth recording as part of the family story. I still find it amazing that the master of a Leith smack in 1822 should be identified in a letter to Sir Walter Scott from his publisher in London (see John Johnston page); or that a servant to a headmaster in 1841 should be recalled, with illustrations, in books written by Old Etonians (see Henry Finmore page).
So, please use the contact email address if you want to question a source and I will provide the information, or own up to a transcript. Similarly, please contact me if you notice any errors, whether genealogical or historical; I try to check everything, but I'm not a historian.
There is a new page with additional information on the Kramburg piano manufacturing business owned by Mark Burgess, including a blueprint of the design for his Separo piano ready for the Patent Office.
The page concerning Mark's correspondence with Downing Street during WW II has some further details including two of the replies.
The records for the Overseers of the Poor in Wareham show how one family gained from and contributed to parish rates. The Payne family were often in credit but, as soon as illness occurred and they needed support, the parish officials would be seeking to offload responsibility onto another parish.
I have added a page to the Photo Album section wth photographs of family weddings from the first half of the twentieth century.
There are alterations to a number of other pages where new information has been added and errors corrected. The main changes are as follows:
The Cambridgeshire Burgesses has a little more about Mark the ostler.
Part of the page concerning William Payne's settlement examination has been rewritten.
The Burgess transport page has an extra photo and a correction.
Updated 9 April 2013
In the Photo Album section there are a number of new pages showing extracts from short books for children dating from the end of the Victorian period. Known as Toy Books, they each contain beautifully printed illustrations and a simple nursery rhyme story. Start on the Toy Books page and click on a cover to look inside the book.
On the page for Rose Burgess I have described how she started work aged fourteen helping a nanny to look after a family of young children. There is also a postcard showing the Cornish holiday home at Daymer Bay where she stayed with a second and quite illustrious family in 1931.
Updated 14 March 2012
I have added a new page for members of the Hilditch family in Audley during the nineteenth century which includes some official reports of their less than perfect behaviour. There is also an accouint of the distress the family suffered between 1865 and 1872. Victorian life was harsh.
Also several pages have been updated after an editing session; it is surprising what repeatedly slips through the net however carefully one checks.
Updated 22 February 2012
Using the new British Newspaper Archive website I have been able to piece together more of the story behind the death of Mary Fish in 1841. At that time, her plight would not have been uncommon amongst elderly widows and, sadly, neither was her reaction to it.
From the same source, I have found another anecdote about Henry Finmore's role at Eton College as butler to the headmaster. His duties were certainly extensive.
Updated 19th January 2012
I have added another page of extracts from the letters written by Jim Taylor during WWII. They cover life in the desert at the end of 1941 and hint at enemy action. There is also a Christmas message on an Airgraph that he sent back to Liverpool.
Another new page has been included for William Payne, a thatcher from Wareham, who was the subject of an investigation by two Justices of the Peace to determine whether he was entitled to receive parish relief: a settlement examination. The transcript of the account confirms family relationships and gives an insight into William's life over several years.
Finally most of the family trees have now been updated with more information and some new names.
Updated 5th December 2011