This entire post started as an addendum to the end of my previous post (Miss Holborow) as I wanted to add some additional information. However, I thought that it needed its own full post. And so I started to write a bit of a potted history of Nether Street Farm to track ownership and residency over the years. Only it grew legs and … expanded somewhat.(more…)
Dad’s DNA: The Mother Lode
When I was a child I used to have this odd … not fantasy … belief? … that I was adopted. (Or maybe actually an android. Or maybe a dragon. You get the point.) 8 year old me can rest easy knowing that my dad is definitely my dad and my mother is definitely my mother. (And I am definitely human.)
As I thought, my dad’s DNA results from Ancestry were delivered about a week after my mum’s.
And holy moly …
Mr. DNA Brings New Surprises; or My Mother’s DNA Results!
A little over a year ago I shared the results of my Ancestry DNA test and how it laid to rest one of the family legends my mother had grown up with. As time has marched on and Ancestry gathered more and more participants (recently surpassing the 2 million mark), the amount of matches I was able to access grew and grew. The vast majority of these were in America – but without a full view of the American ancestry of each of my parents it wasn’t always possible to gain a sense of which side the matches were. Consequently, when an offer reducing the price of the costs to only £60 each (instead of the standard £80) came online a week or so before my parents were due to spend time back in the UK, I decided to take advantage of the coincidence and hopefully find some clarity on these results.
Despite being posted at the same time, my mother’s saliva sample arrived at the lab and was processed about a week ahead of my father’s … and today I received her results …
The Fascinations of Halliday, or The Perils Of Ignoring Old Research
Way back in the mysterious depths of time (aka 2002) when I was still something of a newbie and early on in my family history journey (following a move from the UK to France where I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands…), I was in correspondence with a distant relative based in Queensland, Australia. Brian had spent many years compiling what he called The Halliday Heritage, a story of our combined family, which he very kindly shared with me. Sadly, I took what I immediately needed (yep, I admit to being a harvester of names back then …) and ignored the rest. Going over it again and giving this rich seam of information the attention it deserves has thrown up some interesting titbits …
Everett & Nellie Payne: or, The Folly Of Believing Everything You Read On The Internet
I mentioned my paternal great-grandparents Everett & Nellie Payne way back in September 2013 in this post, but have never come back to talk about this family in more detail. But this post is less an exploration of them, and more a warning about the ever-present danger of trusting other people’s data – even when sourced – and not eyeballing that evidence for yourself …(more…)
Do you ever find a family line that has a mix of occupations – and you wonder how much the behaviour of one generation has affected the subsequent ones? I came across one such line recently.
A cousin of mine (7th cousin once removed but, hey, who’s counting?) recently shared a link to an online digital archive of American newspapers, as part of the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection. As I always do when faced with a ‘new’ searchable database, the first name I type in is ‘Holborow’. As its such a unique surname I’m always pretty sure that any results have a link back to my family – and I came across some fantastic articles in this archive.(more…)
More Australian Shenanigans!
In my previous post about Australian migration, I mentioned a lady who had (possibly/probably) married her (possibly/probably) deceased first husband’s (half) uncle. I don’t want to leave you thinking that this kind of thing was present in only one side of my family. Oh no. My father’s side has an interesting tale to tell too …(more…)
Hallidays In Australia
My previous post introduced the Halliday family via my 4 x great-grandmother, Ann Halliday. She was the oldest child – and only daughter – of John Halliday and his wife Elizabeth Angell. After marrying in Sherston Magna, Wiltshire on 12 October 1815, John and Elizabeth would have a total of four children.
Whilst many families ‘lost’ children to emigration, all 3 of John’s sons left their lives as agricultural labourers in Gloucestershire to make their way in Australia.
The first to make the journey were the younger two brothers – John and Thomas – on the Duke of Wellington, which departed from Deptford on 4 July 1849 and arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 November.
John married Martha Williams – who he knew back in “the home country” – in October 1850. After an eventful life that included striking gold in Bendigo and Eaglehawk, and starting the first market garden in South Australia, John passed away in August 1919, aged 91. Martha would follow in November 1923.
Thomas had a somewhat shorter life in Australia. He was married on 25 July 1863 to Ann Halliday nee Sherwood, and the two of them went on to have two daughters – Emily and Ann – with Ann dying in infancy. (Emily would go on to marry her cousin William Francis Halliday, son of James and Hester.) The family moved from Woodville to the Adelaide Hills where Thomas was a gardener at Biggs Flat, as well as a woodcarter. According to a report in the The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser on Friday 6 May 1881, Thomas was found dead in the road to Echunga on the morning of 1 May 1881 by a drover. The inquest, held at the Aldgate Pump Hotel on the same day, heard from various people regarding the incident. The landlord of the hotel stated that Thomas had been intoxicated the previous evening and that he was often seen “under the influence of drink”. A fellow gardener at Biggs Flat similarly attested to Thomas liking a drink. John, Thomas’ brother, also said the same.
The final verdict of the jury was: “That deceased met his death by concussion of the brain, caused by a fall from his dray while under the influence of drink”.
Ann herself is a bit of a conundrum. She was probably born in Owlpen, Gloucestershire in 1838. A woman by the name of Ann Sherwood marries a George Halliday in the Tetbury district of Gloucestershire in the first half of 1856. It is my assumption (and I have no proof as yet, but some strong supposition!) that this George Halliday is, in fact, George Marsh Halliday, illegitimate son of Ann Halliday and George Marsh – and half-brother to my 3 x great-grandfather Thomas Halliday Hurcombe. Two children are registered in Adelaide in 1859 and 1862 (Loveday Henry Halliday and Albert Halliday) with the parents of George Halliday and Ann Shorwood. I can’t find a passenger listing for George and Ann between 1856 and 1859. Some sources believe that she is the same Ann Sherwood that is listed in 1854 onboard the Time and Truth – but this seems unlikely given that this Ann gives her place of residence as Ireland and her age is out by approximately 3 years, and marries Thomas as Ann Halliday, not Ann Sherwood.
George disappears from the records at this time, and Ann reappears when she marries Thomas in 1863. She is listed as deceased in a newspaper article from the time of Thomas’ death, but no mention of their surviving daughter. Then an Annie Halliday marries William Allen Waples on 21 February 1880 in Adelaide. She died 26 August 1880 from peritonitis rupture – presumably following the accident alluded to in the 1881 article.
In 1856 the eldest brother, James, his wife Hester (aka Esther), their 6 children and an 11 year old Elizabeth Cottle (possibly a niece of either James or Hester) left for Australia from Plymouth aboard the Hooghly, and reached Port Adelaide on 25 July. During the crossing Hester had given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Oddly, the ships list of the time lists the baby as male. James and Hester would have 11 children in total, including the William Francis who married his cousin Emily. Two of William’s children – Charles Edward and Maurice Roy – would go on to marry two of their cousins – Annie Myrtle Halliday and Elva Joyce Halliday – who were both children of Albert Halliday, the son of Ann Sherwood and George Halliday.
Somewhat of a tangled web woven by the members of the immediate Halliday clan in Australia!
Who’s The (4 x Great-Grand) Daddy?
On 14 January 1852 my 3 x great-grandfather, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe, was born.
When I was first researching my family history – apart from putting out feelers regarding my American grandfathers – the Holborow/Hurcombe lines of my mother’s ancestry marked my initial steps into this world. My mother was very close to her maternal grandmother, Edith May Holborow nee Hurcombe, and also to Edith’s parents, Alfred William Hurcombe and Harriet nee Robins, so it seemed fitting that I started here.
I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers (especially about 2am when the lights come on, but that’s a different story), and starting the genealogy journey I was somewhat suckered in to the use of other people’s information over finding things out on my own with the actual records. Consequently, I was happy enough when I found information regarding Alfred’s father, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe.
Thomas’ mother was quickly identified as Ann Hurcombe, formerly Halliday, and his father as Stephen Hurcombe. Stephen was somewhat older than Ann, being born on 13 January 1799 in Leighterton, Gloucestershire. In fact, records show that he had been married before. On 13 December 1823 he first married spinster Jane Davies and they had two children: David (27 February 1825 – 8 May 1857) and Mary (10 December 1826 – 12 May 1846). Four months later, in April 1827 Jane died.
After several years, the 36-year-old Stephen married 19-year-old Ann Halliday on 12 October 1835 in Leighterton. Ann brought another child into the family – a one year old son, George Marsh Halliday. Ann hadn’t been married before Stephen, but there was a prominent farmer in the village called George Marsh. Whilst I can’t prove anything, it may be a case that George senior fathered a son on the young Ann who then named the son after the purported father.
Stephen and Ann went on to have a number of children:
- Elizabeth: 21 Aug 1836 – 1918
- Emanuel: 03 Feb 1839 – 1922
- Emily: 11 Apr 1841 – 08 Jun 1851
- David Henry: 24 May 1845 – 10 Jan 1919
…and it was during this research, after tracing the Hurcombe line back a further couple of generations, that I came upon the death entry for Stephen: 28 March 1850.
As Thomas wasn’t born for another almost two years, it would be extremely unlikely for Stephen to be his father – as so many people had presumed and slavishly copied down (and, in fact, Stephen can still be found listed as Thomas’ father in online trees despite this glaring error in mathematics – and I doubt that Ann concentrated on the wallpaper that hard for two years …).
Other than using both her maiden and married names in her son’s name, there is no additional clue as to the identity of his father. Ann would go on to have another illegitimate son, Alfred Thomas Halliday, in 1859. Despite having been registered as a Halliday at his birth, in 1889 when Alfred married, he did so under the name Alfred Hurcombe, and appears in all of the relevant census as such. His children were all baptised with the surname of Hurcombe.
Aged almost 60, in January 1876, Ann married a Chelsea pensioner named Peter Adams – who was 13 years her junior, reversing the earlier age difference with her first husband!
So who was the father of Thomas (and Alfred)? His birth certificate simply has a line in place of father’s name. Contact with other Hurcombe/Halliday researchers mooted that at least one of the fathers may have been a younger brother of Stephen’s called David – but that is sheer speculation, and without anything such as bastardy papers we will perhaps never know how much of a Hurcombe Thomas and his (half) brother Alfred were.
Thomas went on to marry Emily Raines in the Tetbury Register Office on 17 February 1974, and the pair had 7 children – their third child (and third son) was Alfred William, my 2 x great-grandfather. He passed away on 13 March 1927 in Leighterton, with Emily following on 26 January 1938.
I was having a wander through my family tree, trying to find an ancestor or family to share with you. I was reminded, on my father’s mother’s side of the Norris family of Collingbourne Kingston, Wiltshire, and after reacquainting myself with the line found a rather surprising association.
Emily Alice Palmer has been mentioned before – and her less than ‘traditional’ life that she lived. Her maternal grandmother was named Priscilla Brine. Her great-grandmother was Mary Norris. Her great-great-grandfather was John Norris. (Are you still with me, generation fans? We’re back to my 10 x great-grandfather now!) He had been made vicar of Collingbourne Kingston in 1647 and in August 1660 moved to Aldbourne in Wiltshire. It was here that he died on 18 March 1682, and was survived by his wife, Elizabeth.
Searching the Clergy of the Church of England Database (CCEd), John obtained his BA from Pembroke College, Cambridge on 17 June 1636 and his MA on 2 May 1639. What little evidence there is seems to show that he was a Calvinist (that is, a form of Protestantism based on the Reformation-era teachings of John Calvin). He and his wife Elizabeth had 5 children, 3 of whom survived into adulthood.
I am descended from his son Henry, who seems to have remained in Collingbourne Ducis, marrying Catherine Hellyard on 16 October 1674 and having at least five children.
Henry’s brother John – born on 2 January 1657 in Collingbourne Kingston – seems to have taken a quite different turn with his life. Educated first at Winchester College, he entered Exeter College, Oxford in 1676. He read classical literature widely, but was drawn to the writings of Plato, Xenophon and Aristotle and was drawn to various metaphysical and mystical teachings. He obtained his BA in 1680 and became an elected fellow of All Souls. He also discovered the works of the rationalist philosopher Nicolas Malebranche and his work Search after Truth (aka ‘Concerning the Search after Truth. In which is treated the nature of the human mind and the use that must be made of it to avoid error in the sciences’ – which I think we can agree is a most snappy title …). In 1684 he took his MA and was ordained.
In 1689 he left Oxford and married his wife, Elizabeth. They moved to Newton St Loe near Bath in Somerset where he was the vicar. It was here that he wrote a critique to John Locke’s An Essay on Human Understanding. In 1692 the Norris family moved to Bemerton, Wiltshire (just outside Salisbury) – a position that Locke had recommended him for. The two Johns (as it were) had a mutual friend in Lady Damaris Cudworth Masham, a philosopher and feminist in her own right. She argued that mothers were essential to the well-being of political society and also advocated women’s participation in disciplines long dominated by men: sciences and philosophy.
Although the friendship between John Norris and John Locke and Lady Masham didn’t last (and Locke dismissed him from serious consideration, describing him as “an obscure, enthusiastic man”), he was a close friend and supporter of other learned ladies, such as Elizabeth Thomas and Lady Mary Chudleigh. His closest friendship here was, however, with Mary Astell.
Mary had received an informal education from her uncle, who had left the clergy due to bouts of alcoholism, but introduced her to the works of Plato and Aristotle. Following the death of her father, mother and aunt, she moved to London and came under the patronage of various women, including Lady Elizabeth Hastings, the daughter of the 7th Earl of Huntingdon (Elizabeth and Mary would both die after having a mastectomy following breast cancer). It was under their aegis that she was able to develop and publish her works on the importance of marriage equality and education for women – so much so that she presented an idea of women having the same religious and secular education as men, ideally in a protected environment. Jonathan Swift (he of Gulliver’s Travels fame) mocked her, and Daniel Defoe (yes, Robinson Crusoe) called them “impracticable” – but this didn’t stop him from using almost the exact same idea in a later essay of his.
The more I read about Mary Astell, what she overcame and how she managed to debate freely with some of the most learned men and women of her age, the more I wonder why more isn’t known about her, and other like her. (The answer is, I feel, somewhat obvious.)
One of her key quotes is the following, from her book Some Reflections Upon Marriage:
If all Men are born Free, why are all Women born Slaves?
She had a great many good things to say about John Norris, including the following:
…though some morose Gentleman wou’d perhaps remit me to the Distaff or the Kitchin … yet expecting better things from the more Equitable and ingenious Mr. Norris, who is not so narrow-Soul’d as to confine Learning to his own Sex, or to envy it in ours, I presume to beg his Attention a little to the Impertinencies of a Woman’s Pen.
She wrote in 1694: “Women are from their very Infancy debar’d those Advantages, with the want of which they are afterwards reproached …They are] nursed up in those Vices which will hereafter be upbraided to them. So partial are Men as to expect Brick where they afford no Straw. … How can you be content to be in the World like Tulips in a Garden, to make a fine shew and be good for nothing?”
She urged women to be scholars and poets and to strive for excellence, arguing that the life of the mind was “a Matter infinitely more worthy your Debates, than what Colours are most agreeable, or what’s the Dress becomes you best”. She encouraged women to aspire to higher things than “to attract the Eyes of Men. We value them too much, and ourselves too little, if we place any part of our desert in their Opinion; and don’t think our selves capable of Nobler Things than the pitiful Conquest of some worthless heart.”
For my own part, and as non-religious as I am, I have to say that I am proud of John and his cultivation of not only his own education but also the support of the notion that women are – shock, horror – just as capable of rational thought as men. In their correspondence, he and Mary agree that as bodies have motion, so minds have love.
I’m not sure I can add anything to that.
“How fading are the joys we dote upon!
Like apparitions seen and gone.
But those which soonest take their flight
Are the most exquisite and strong—
Like angels’ visits, short and bright;
Mortality’s too weak to bear them long.”
John Norris, The Parting (1678)
For more on John Norris:
Encyclopaedia Londinensis entry
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry
For more on Mary Astell:
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry