The Sleeve Tattoo Project - Progress.

Black and grey realism work by Ross Lee of Ink Addiction tattoo studio in Norwich.  This is a partial phase of a full sleeve project on my right arm and shoulder.  Hopefully complete by Autumn 2019. If you can't see it - then you're not a NW European prehistorian.  It's a British landscape scene, with boulder rocks in the foreground.  On those rocks are a series of carvings pecked into rock, during the Later Neolithic and Earlier Bronze Age.  They consist of a class of Rock Art markings known as cups and rings, or cup and ring markings.

No-one really knows what they symbolised.  I can't think of a more worthy tattoo for a time traveller.

My right arm will eventually be covered with a series of panels displaying cup and ring marks in British landscapes.

Ancestors at Postwick, Norfolk. Illegitimacy and suicide.

Postwick All Saints.

I had to recently confess to another researcher, that I had made an association, between two generations, based only on circumstancial evidence.  I had the below image, a marriage between two of my 4th great grandparents at Postwick All Saints in 1825:

William Rose, singleman, groom, of Bradeston, with Elizabeth Wilkinson singlewoman, of Postwick.  Bradeston was a parish nearby, between Brundall, Blofield, and Lingwood.  Today, it only consists as a hall farm, and as a church, the church of St Michael's and All Angels:

But as for Elizabeth Wilkinson's origins, I couldn't find her baptism online.  However, between Ancestry.co.uk, Findmypast.co.uk and FreeReg.org.uk, I did discover that there was a Sarah Wilkinson living in Postwick, that had four daughters baptised there (illegitimate) between 1806 and 1816.  Census records suggested that Elizabeth would have been born at Postwick, around 1803.  I hadn't seen a lot of Wilkinsons in the area, so I dared to make the assumption, that she was an earlier daughter of Sarah Wilkinson.  Naughty I know, but I just felt it so likely.

But then when challenged for the source, I felt that embarrasment of taking a short cut.  The problem with Online Genealogy is that it's easy to assume that all records are there.  They are not, not even for Norfolk, that has a good online presence in parish records and transcripts.  So it was time to get off the computer, and take a look.  I did this yesterday.

First two stops were at Postwick and Bradeston churches, to take the photographs for this post, and to get the feeling for them.  I was pleased that the marriage recorded that William Rose was of Bradeston, because my William Rose was of Brundall.  It's only a half of a mile from Bradeston, indeed, it has been absorbed as a deserted parish, into Brundall.  It supported that I had the correct William & Elizabeth Rose, the recorded parents of my 3rd great grandfather Robert Rose, who was baptised at Lingwood in 1829.

Then I drove a few miles to the Norfolk County Archive at County Hall.  I soon located the correct microfilm.  It covered baptisms leading up to 1813.  Perfect.  Within five minutes, I located the baptism of my 4th great grandmother at Postwick: " Elizabeth, daughter of Sarah Wilkinson, was born & bapt' February 19th 1803 ":

There she was, and I was correct, she was an earlier daughter of Sarah Wilkinson.  Not only that, but further along the roll revealed another two daughters of Sarah.  In all, she had six daughters born at Postwick, between 1803 and 1816, all illegitimately.  I've seen a single parent family like this before, but on my father's side in Swanton Morley, Mid Norfolk.  The full story we will probably never know, and it would be wrong to judge.  Very often poor young women suffered from terrible brutality.  Sometimes, this may have matured into a level of independence.  She may have even had partners, or a long term lover.  We don't know.  Illegitimacy was far from rare in 19th Century Norfolk amongst the rural poor.  But when you see a family like this, you do wonder, at the hardship that the family most likely went through.

On my Ancestry tree, the family now look like this:

Yes, it appears that the mother, Sarah Wilkinson herself was born nearby at Great Plumstead, illegitimate.

While I was looking through the roll of microfilm for Postwick Parish Registers, I spotted more names from my tree.  Children being baptised of a William Key and his wife Sarah (née Wymer).  William and Sarah Key were again, 4th great grandparents of mine.  Actually, I descend from both the earlier mentioned Rose's, and the Wymers twice over - but further back on their lines.  A lot of people in early 19th Century Norfolk were distant or even close cousins.  I'm afraid that it was true, at least for the rural poor.  I'm descended on my mother's side from a Henry & Mary Rose (née Gorll), and a Jacob & Elizabeth Wymer (née Moll), both couples at least twice over.  Pedigree folding appears on that side of my tree, in the record.

Looking through the microfilm in the Archive Centre, I recorded three previously unknown children of William and Sarah Key (née Wymer) baptised at Postwick All Saints.  I hadn't encountered them online.  They were all later births than those that I had previously found online.  This lead me to a sad thought.  You see, William Key, my 4th great grandfather, took his own life when some of those children were still quite young:

I mentioned his story in an earlier post.  His body was fished out of the River Wensum in 1803.  The inquest gave a verdict of insanity and suicide.  On the way home, I wondered about what happened to those younger children.  My 3rd great grandfather, William Key (II) was in his mid twenties, and on his second marriage, after his first wife passed away.  But what about his younger siblings, such as Abraham Key - born in 1779, he would have been only six years old when his father drowned.

When I got home, I took a look.  This is where Online Genealogy does work - because not only had Abraham survived, but he had moved away from Norfolk, as so many of the rural poor did during the 19th century.  He married Ann Goldsmith from Hassingham, and they moved south, to 19th century Southwark, London:

He survived and went on to have sons in London.

But briefly back to Postwick (pronounced locally as Pozzick) for a moment:

I love baptism fonts.  You can touch them, and now that your ancestors passed by them, centuries ago.  Perfect touchstones for time travellers.    My 4th great grandfather, William Key, was baptised here on 27th Aug 1778.  My 4th great grandmother, Elizabeth Wilkinson, was baptised here on 19th February 1803.  I photographed it, and touched the stone in thought of them, on 15th February 2019.

An ancestor with a drink problem

Newspaper archives are one of my favourite genealogical resources.  Asides from scrolling through microfilm at local studies libraries, I also subscribe the the British Newspaper Archive at Findmypast.co.uk and I've used it to add a lot of meat to the bones.  However ... these reports, especially when pertaining to my poor ancestors, were as often as not, generated when they had gotten themselves into a little mischief or trouble.  Sometimes as victims, sometimes as guilty parties.

This one, on my mother's side.

15th September 1803.  Postwick, Norfolk.




I believe that poor guy, William Key, who's body was found in the river, was my 5th great grandfather, William Key.  It says "drowned himself".  He had married Sarah Wymer in 1778 (a very Norfolk surname, that appears a few times in my tree), and they had four children, one born in 1799.  I wonder what happened?  Non compos mentis.  Insane.  At least that was how they saw it in 1803.

Their descendants never moved far from the River Yare or that tributary, the Wensum.  That river flows through the family history.  Their grown son, William Key (II), had moved down the Yare a few miles, and lived in the village of Freethorpe.  He had married Susanna Flint in 1801.  However, Susanna (née Flint) died shortly after, and a few years later, William, a widower at age 24, stood in nearby Strumpshaw church, where he married would you believe, another Susanna, Susannah Briggs.  These sort of events can so confuse genealogists.  In a short time, he had married two Susannahs.  Easily missed.

By Susannah (née Briggs), he had five children.  Their mother's family must have held some sort of importance to them, as three of them had Briggs as a second forename. Both William, and Susannah's fathers - as most men were in Norfolk, worked as agricultural labourers, farm hands if you like.  As was also indeed, their first son, my 3rd great grandfather, William Key (III).  William the Third, married my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Waters at Freethorpe Church here in Norfolk, in 1823.



They had several children in Freethorpe, including in 1848, my 2nd great grandfather, George Key - and this is where my story is heading.

George married Sarah Ann Goffen at Freethorpe Church in 1870.  Sarah's family were involved in the Wherry trade along the River Yare.  Wherries were a particular Norfolk style of sailing boat, used for tranporting goods and people, along the waterways known as the Norfolk Broads:



Her father and his brothers were either wherrymen / watermen, boat carpenters, riverside innkeepers, or ran lime yards next to the river a couple of miles away at Reedham.  Her father was pretty much all of them, especially an inn keeper, and a carpenter.  Perhaps he introduced his daughter Sarah to George in the boatyard - as young George was a journeyman carpenter.

Here's a photo that includes Sarah - the little old lady right in the centre of my grandparent's wedding in 1932, behind bride and groom:




George and Sarah went on to have five children born at Freethorpe, including my great grandmother Florence Key.  In family lore, I knew nothing about her husband, my 2nd great grandfather George Key.  Then the British Newspaper Archives opened up an insight.  But perhaps it wasn't the best insight into George's character.

It appears that he had a drink problem.  So bad, that he kept being arrested by the local policeman:



Oh dear.  He's only been married to Sarah for eight years.  They have two daughters and a third on the way.  Charged with drunkeness on the highway, and fined 5 shillings with 11 shillings costs.  That must have hurt the family.  Was it a one off?

The following January:



Oh no!  I feel so sorry for my 2nd great grandmother.  Not only was her husband a drunk, but also a wife abuser.  But I'm proud that she had him charged for the "threatening language" that he used against her.  The little woman had guts.  She had three young kids to care for.  George was bound over for six months.  He had to stay good.

Maybe he did stay good for a while.  But not for ever.

1897:



Now he's nicked table cloths from a pub!  He gets a massive three quid fine, and a month's hard labour in prison.  He was on remand.  He hasn't been a good boy.  Poor Sarah.

Finally, 1899:



Twelve previous convictions for being out on the lash!  He never reformed.  He had a drink problem throughout his adult life.  He's now up to recieving punishments of a fine and 14 days of hard labour in the nick.

George passed away in 1912.  In this case, no family lore reached me.  Nothing indicated on the usual birth, death, marriages, certificates, etc.

The Buzzard

Photo above by Tom Lee at Flickr

The first wild buzzard that I ever saw was on Dartmoor.  That must have been during the 1980s.  A little later, I saw them in Scotland.  There were no buzzards in East Anglia when I was a kid.  The Victorian gamekeeper had shot and gin trapped them to extinction in SE England.

Move on to the 21st century, and you can see buzzards all over East Anglia.  Over fields, woodlands, even marshes.  They came back, and they came back in force.


My last post about biophillia wouldn't be complete without mentioning the buzzard.  I've seen and heard several individuals on a single day's hike across Norfolk.  You hear or see them, often in pairs, gliding along the headlands of fields, before settling in a copse of trees.  You witness a pair, and just as their calls start to fade, you hear more ahead.  I've found their feathers.  I've had several close encounters.  Magical moments, where I've spotted their silent flight from a spot only metres away.  Every time is magic 


The above woodlands provide one example, during a hike, along the Wherryman's Way, on a hot summers day earlier this year.  As I approached in the day's heat, I could hear buzzards in those trees, either side of the narrow path.


As I pass through, I see large brown wings launching from branches.  I can't describe the feeling that these sightings give me, except that it's as close to anything that this atheist experiences to spiritual.

A buzzard above the Wherryman's Way in Norfolk, being mobbed by a hobby.

I've seen them launch from nearby foliage, as I cross the footbridge over a stream.  I've seen one sitting on a dead rabbit in a field.  I've seen one land on the road in front of our car, before launching up again, providing a magical spectacle.  I've seen them among the back headed gulls following a plough for worms and bugs.  I've seen many of them being mobbed on the wing by rooks and carrion crows, that clearly regard them as a threat to the rookery.  I've seen them soaring over medieval churches, on fence posts by busy roads, over marshes, flying over the suburbs of Norwich, on the ground in horse paddocks.

Now red kites, another raptor that has returned to East Anglia, are a wonderful sight.  But for myself, it's the common buzzard.


Buzzard over the Boadica Way, Norfolk.