One of my favourite things about researching family history is getting to the bottom of a mystery – even if the mystery comes from a find in a record that initially just makes you sit up and go “Mmm?”.
Such as it was when I came across a census entry for a family enumerated as Holbrow-Burgess. A double-barrelled Holborow?! What?! I had never come across this before. Of course, several female-line Holborow families have used it as a middle name, but was this what was happening here?
I assembled my detectoring kit in a bid to find out – and discovered more than I had bargained for …
I mentioned a couple of months ago, as part of my Ethelbert Collection, that Ethelbert Holborow, cheesemonger of Clare Street, London, suffered the egregious loss of 2 shillings worth of bacon from his shop in September 1827. The culprits were 12 year-old Samuel Griffiths and 14-year old William Cropley.
But I wanted to know what happened to them after this incident … I was surprised at what I found but not entirely disappointed.
When you’re researching Australian family, there’s always the spectre of transportation, much like Massachusetts in the late 17th century. Back in 2007 it was reported that up to 22% of living Australians were descended from convicts (over 4 million people). There is also a one in 30 chance for us Brits.
I remember studying the topic of transportation when I was at primary school (er, about 30 years ago), but I thought that I could do with a bit of a refresher course – and its amazing to find what records are out there for individuals, alongside the social and political history that goes along with it.
And spoiler alert: I feel some degree of sympathy for our William …