There are always lines or families in your family tree that take precedence over others – they’re either more interesting, more relevant or perhaps just ‘easier’ to find. On the flip side, this means that there are some families which just don’t get the same attention.
For me, one of those families has lurked in the not-too-distant past in my father’s English tree, specifically that of my 4 x great-grandmother, Charlotte Brine nee Kew. But after many years of neglect, I turned to her recently and made a breakthrough and found a few surprises along the way!
My father’s English family (his father was American) have always been relatively easy to deal with – at least on his grandmother’s side. I’ve already introduced the world to Emily Alice Palmer, and the Palmers and Fishers of from around the Collingbournes in Wiltshire were an absolute dream to research. They were hatched, matched and dispatched exactly where and when they should have been, never straying far (although some did make it to London thanks to the coming of the railways, and some making the voyage to Australia – with some questionable results).
Emily’s mother was Mary Jane Fisher, and her mother was Priscilla Brine. As far as I can tell, Priscilla was the only child born to John Brine and Charlotte Kew. She was also the first line reaching out of Collingbourne Kingston – her baptism is recorded on Christmas Day 1816 in the nearby village of Pewsey (also the village in which I spent my formative years, as it happens) with John noted as a shoemaker.
The Brine family – that of Charlotte’s husband – was also one of the easy ones to pull out of the records, with the line stretching back to the late 16th century in both Pewsey and Collingbourne Kingston. It was Charlotte and the Kew family that eluded me. No matter how hard I looked, I simply could not find any reference to her in the Pewsey parish registers. I did, however, uncover a few unpleasantries …
Firstly was the baptism of a William Cugh in Pewsey in late December 1800, the “bastard child” of “Charlot Cugh”.
Five years later, William was joined by a brother, Thomas.
However, the family unit wasn’t to spend long together. The spring of 1807 bought a pair of burials:
As can be seen, not only had the spelling changed from Cugh to Kew (along with a change in curate), but the legitimacy of the children wouldn’t escape the boys even in death.
Charlotte continued unabated, however. May 1808 brought another baptism, this time of a daughter.
What’s more, there was no immediate death anywhere of a Clarissa Kew/Cugh. Nor was there a marriage, but for now this was a plus for Charlotte. Then came Charlotte’s own marriage to John Brine in August 1815 in Pewsey (more than likely in the Anglican parish Church of St John the Baptist – where almost 200 years later I would become a choirboy), and then the birth of Priscilla in 1816.
Knowing that the Brine family ended up in Collingbourne – and Priscilla married there – it was only after reviewing the Brine and Kew entries in the transcribed parish registers (thank you, Wiltshire OPC network!) that I came across an odd entry: the burial of a Clara Kew in 1824. Could this be the missing Clarissa? Aged fifteen, it would seem very likely. Poor Charlotte.
But what of Charlotte herself? Where was her baptism? Who were her parents, her siblings, her nieces and nephews? The Pewsey Parish Registers seemed sadly blank on this issue. According to her age at burial in April 1841, I was looking for a baptism around the year 1775. There were baptisms of Kew/Cugh/Cue in Pewsey and the nearby parish of Easton Royal, but no Charlotte … Why could this be? Was it a transcription error, perhaps caused by the aging records? Thanks to Ancestry, I didn’t have to travel to the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (WSHC) in Chippenham in order to view the registers.
However, I soon noticed that the baptisms are complete up to 1769 and then sporadic until 1775, after which point they are considered complete once again. Could it be that Charlotte was baptised in one of these ‘missing years’? And if so, what would that mean?
I had sketched out some obvious family groups and was certain that Charlotte belonged to one of these, and had prospective grandparents in my sights, but with no definitive baptism it would be difficult to make anything stick.
Then I realised … Every parish not only kept its own registers, but also supplied copies to their local Bishop – known as Bishop’s Transcripts – following an Act of Parliament in 1598. In theory, this gives the record of any baptism, marriage or burial a two-fold chance of surviving. Ancestry doesn’t seem to have many BTs (at least, not in the Wiltshire collections), but luckily Findmypast does (although only via transcription and not the images themselves). It was here that I found what I was looking for: Charlotte Cue baptised in Pewsey on 14 September 1775, the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Cue. I could place her amongst the other Kew/Cue families that I’d drawn up.
FMP also showed me a couple of other entries for a Charlotte Cue … this time in connection with the local assize courts. It looked like I’d get my trip to the WSHC after all – and place Charlotte in a whole new light …