Recent breakthroughs in Ancestry

I was stuck for months with 279 direct ancestors on record, when suddenly over the past few weeks, it's grown to 296, with a total of 2,806 family members in the whole tree.


One recent breakthrough was on my father's line back to Oxfordshire.  I knew that my 4th great grandmother Brooker (nee Seymore) was born circa 1795 at Drayton, Oxfordshire.  Scanning through the digitally photographed parish registers of both Drayton St Peters, and then Drayton St Leonards, between 1780 and 1805, I had that eureka moment when I found this:

Actually, I found three baptisms of an Elizabeth to this couple, John and Phoebe (Faby) Seymour, as well as other children, and then their marriage in 1790:

So Phoebe (Faby), was a Godfrey before marriage, and a spinster.  I've traced some of the lines back a bit further:

It looks as though around 1720, the Seymore family moved from the area of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, to the villages of Lewknor and Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire.  Not a dreadful distance, only around nine miles.  I'll have to investigate these new ancestral villages in Oxfordshire sometime.


I've also made a little progress on another close by line, also on my father's Oxfordshire lines.  My 3rd great grandmother Brooker was born Mary Ann Edney in 1845 in Shiplake, Oxfordshire.  I've managed to extend that branch a little further back:

The Edney family has recently provided me with the furthest back DNA match on my paternal line.  DNA matching suggests with a moderate confidence level, that I and another British tester share identical by descent segments of DNA with a predicted relationship of 5th to 8th cousins.  Ancestry sees a relationship on our trees that it thinks is behind those segments:

I'm very keen to find these DNA matches, to biologically verify my research, where it can (over the most recent 8 - 10 generations).  However, I'm particularly concerned about proving or disproving my paternal line beyond Generation 3, as I had a slightly colourful great grandmother on that line.  The Edney match does indeed support, that my documented great grandfather, was indeed my biological great grandfather, but really I need more verification.  I'm looking for matches with common ancestry in Oxfordshire or Switzerland, in order to do just that - alternatively a Y-DNA match from another tester descended on the Y line from an Oxfordshire / Berkshire Brooker family.


I've been trying very hard to breakthrough on a Suffolk based branch on my father's side.  I have a brick wall above my 3rd great grandfather Robert Barber, born somewhere in Suffolk, around 1796.  I do have some good candidates, 

As you can see, a baptism of a Robert Barber of Halesworth, at a non-conformist chapel in Beccles during 1797.  Tempting to claim them as ancestors, if I could, then I could actually go back a few more generations on that line.  But I'm not convinced this is the right one.  There were a lot of Barbers in Suffolk at that time.  This is the thing about genealogy - you have to make that call, that decision to add, or not to add.  The further that we go back, the less the resources, and the more missing.  Then perhaps, we are forced to sometimes make slightly more generous decisions.  I do struggle with that though.

As a side note, I have ordered Robert's death certificate from the GRO.  He died quite young in 1846, and it smashed his young family apart, some ending up in the workhouse.  I'd like to know what happened.

His son George got out of Shipmeadow Workhouse and got work at a farm labourer in the Hedenham / Woodton area of Norfolk.  He married and settled there.  They had a number of children, including a daughter named Emily Barber.  When she was 11 years old, during the 1871 census, she was recorded as working as a "crow keeper" (children employed to scare birds from fields):

Emily later moved to Norwich, to work as a servant in a Solicitor's household.  There she met a young wheelwright from Attleborough, called Fred Smith.  They married at the bottom of Grapes Hill.  They were very congregationalist new chapel.  They raised their children in a terrace house in Suffolk Street, Norwich, including my father's mother, Doris Smith.

Here's Emily, with her son Sid Smith, who was a First World War veteran from the Western Front:

Visit to Lowestoft Record Office

Image above taken yesterday of St Michael's Church, South Elmham Saints villages, Suffolk.

The Barber Family of St Michael, South Elmham, Suffolk

I recently found evidence that my ancestor, 3xgreat grandfather Robert Barber of St Michael, may have been the Robert Barber of Suffolk that was transported in 1844.

I also made contact via GEDmatch, with the owner of a sample that shares 56 centiMorgans of DNA with my sample, including a 27 centiMorgan segment.  It is all on my late father's side.  This is by far the most significant DNA match that I have yet encountered on GEDmatch.  Email correspondence with the owner (Margaret), revealed that we share a paper trail, with the Barber Family of St Michael.

The trail follows my father's maternal side.  His mother's mother, was born Emily Barber, at Hedenham, Norfolk in 1859.  Her father was George Barber, born at St Michael in 1830.  George was a son of Robert and Mary Ann Barber.  I thought that Robert was baptised nearby at Alburgh, Norfolk, the son of George and Hannah Barber (nee Blaxhall).  I thought that Mary Ann was baptised Maria Page, daughter of John and Mary Page (nee Brooks), and that she married Robert at All Saints, South Elmham, in 1828.

However, making contact with a DNA relative challenges an insecure tree.  Margaret pointed out a nearby Robert and Maria Barber family.  I started seeing more Robert Barbers, more Marys, More Marias.  Online digital records for Suffolk are not as good as they are for Norfolk. Confusion!  This is an example where Online Genealogy falls down.

So I checked with the Archive branch of the Suffolk Record Office had the original St Michael records - should no microfilms or fische be available.  They were over at Lowestoft.  Yesterday I drove over, to strike the iron while it was still hot.  I was quite pleased with the resources in the office.  I did not have an excuse to request the original registers - although digital is lacking, they have good copies on fische and film.  In addition, the Saints Villages of South Elmham had all been indexed and typed up by volunteers.  So what did I find?

The baptism font in St Michael's, South Elmham, Suffolk, yesterday.  This would have been used in the below baptisms of ancestors.

There were a LOT of Barber families in the area, since the parish registers start in 1559.  The very earliest reference is to a baptism at St Michael's, of a Robert, son of Robert and Brigett Barber xxxi Auguste 1589.  A lot of sons born in St Michael alone during the following century - this was going to be difficult.  Indeed, in the St Michael registers, Barber entries continue on a regular basis until 1713.  Then a break!  No doubt there were a lot of Barber families living in the surrounding parishes and district, but the next St Michael Barber entries start with our family in 1818:

Baptisms St Michael's, South Elmham

  • Lydia, daughter of Robert & Mary Barber (born Dec 11) Husbandman. Bap. 19 Dec 1818.
  • Emma, daughter of Robert & Mary Barber, husbandman. Bap. 28 Apr 1821.
  • Isaac, son of Robert & Mary Barber, husbandman.  Bap. 14 Jan 1823.
  • Maria, daughter of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 3 Jun 1827.
  • Charlotte, daughter of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 25 Nov 1827.
  • George, son of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 11 Apr 1830.
  • Eliza, daughter of Robert & Marianne Barber, labourer.  Bap. 7 Apr 1833
  • Jacob, son of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 6 Nov 1836
  • Jacob, son of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 18 Sep 1843
  • Emily, daughter of Robert & Mary Barber, labourer.  Bap. 18 Sep 1843

Maria is Margaret's ancestor, George is my ancestor.  I am a little confused as to why there might be two Jacob's, perhaps the first died, but I'm not sure.  I did find a later burial of a Jacob Barber age 23, who died after falling from a moving horse pulled wagon.  However, the clumsy genealogist in me didn't record the date!  Note also that the last two baptisms were joint.

I could not locate the marriage of Robert Barber to Mary (Ann).  This was a disappointment.  I did look through the other Saints Villages of South Elmham.  Neither did I find or confirm Robert's birth.  I had previously online found a baptism at Alburgh, Norfolk - a close by parish, just over the river.  however, as Robert claimed that he was born in Suffolk on the 1841 census, I have deleted that link from my tree.  Another case, where I lost more ancestors from the tree, than I gained from this research.  however, the point of genealogy is to improve and refine, based on evidence.

I do believe however, that I have located Robert's death.  I have also eliminated him as the transported Robert Barber of Suffolk.  I found the below burials:

Burials St Michael's, South Elmham

  • Robert Barber, aged 8 days.  Bur. 19 Aug 1840
  • Robert Barber, aged 50 years.  Bur. 22 Feb 1846
  • George Barber, aged 20 weeks of St Peter's.  bur. 30 Dec 1860
  • Eliza Barber, aged 6 days.  Bur. 22 Jun 1862.

The baby Robert, could have been Robert and Mary's.  The fifty year old Robert Barber, does look like my 3xgreat grandfather.  Indeed, it explains where he went between the 1841 and 1851 census.  He was not transported.  Checking Suffolk criminal records at the Record Office, I found that the 1844 sentence of a Robert Barber was over in West Suffolk, at Bury St Edmunds Assize.

I had jumped the gun again - based on the very partial online record.  I keep learning this lesson, but it should also serve as a lesson to genealogists abroad, that rely only on digitalised or transcribed records of English ancestors online.  What you are seeing is a partial record.  There can be so many John Smiths, or even Robert Barbers, in a small area. A visit to the County Archive (Record Office) revealed so many more records of Barbers in the South Elmham area, that cannot be seen online at,, nor on  Beware!  I see awful, incorrect family trees (not just my own ha ha), whenever I view personal online trees at

The Tovell Family of Wrentham, Suffolk

While I was at Lowestoft, I thought that I would take a quick look at another ancestral family of mine, local to this Archive.  The Tovell Family that lived at Wrentham, Suffolk, during the late 18th Century, and fall on to my mother's side of my family tree.  Although members of a local Congregationalist chapel, for some services, they referred to the local parish church.  It was in a transcript of those parish registers, that I found a number of burials of the children of my 4xgreat grandparents Tovell:

Wrentham, Suffolk Burials

  • Thomas Tovell, an infant.  Bur. 29 Jan 1773
  • Elizabeth Tovel, an infant.  Bur. 29.Mar 1778
  • Sarah Tovel, infant.  Bur. 13 Jan 1780
  • Thomas Tovell, an infant.  Bur. 31 Dec 1782.

They went on to have a third son baptised Thomas Tovell in 1785, who was my ancestor.  Sometimes though, the infant mortality of those times can get to you.

Genealogical updates - 3rd Feb 2017

Above photo of Emily Smith (nee Barber) and her son Sid Smith (a First World War veteran) in Norwich, Norfolk.  Emily was born at Hedenham, Norfolk in 1859, and was my late father's maternal grandmother.  In the 1871 census, she was recorded as an 11 year old crow keeper.  Emily went into service in Norwich, where she met my great grandfather Fred Smith, a wheelwright born at Attleborough, Norfolk.

New Gedmatch

I've recently had two genetic matches that actually work out in the form of documentary evidence.  the first came via FT-DNA Family Finder, when I was approached by an Australian genealogist, who it turns out, is the fourth cousin of my mother, via the Thacker line.

Then over the past few days, I spotted a new kit on GEDmatch, that shared 56 cM, with the longest segment at 27 cM.  It is on my father's side, no match to my mother's kit.  My closest ever GEDMATCH.  It's early days, but a quick comparison on our documentary records show a documentary match.  We both descend from a Barber from the hamlet of St Michael, South Elmham, Suffolk.  Gedmatch puts us at four generations apart, but I suspect a few more.  I feel a need to visit St Michael and the Suffolk Record Office to clear this family up.  Only a week ago, I discovered online that my 3xgreat grandfather Robert Barber of St Michael, may have been transported by the Suffolk Assizes to Norfolk Island, and onto Van Diemen's Land (update: See next post - he was not!).

I still had more success with "expanding" my family tree by contacting genealogists back in the old days, by surname interests listed in the annually printed GRD (Genealogical Research Directory), or in monthly genealogical magazines.  However, there is something fascinating about discovering distant relatives by comparing chromosome browsers online.  To think, and to see those shared DNA segments is very cool.  It shows how little bits of personal DNA filter down, often to unknown people in the street, with no idea of relationship.

Thacker News

I received another commissioned certificate from the GRO (General Registry Office UK).  I didn't waste money, it belonged to an ancestor - Susannah Thacker, a 3xgreat grandmother.  She was born at Salhouse, Norfolk in 1823, to an anabaptist family of agricultural labourers.  She had given birth illegitimately to my 2xgreat grandfather George Thacker in 1847.  After that, I had no idea where she went.  Her son George Thacker, was brought up at Rackheath, Norfolk (next to Salhouse) by his grandparents.  He recorded Susannah Thacker in the father entry of his marriage registration.  Until I saw that, I only knew her from census data as Susan Thacker.

I recently searched online for her, I wanted to know where she went.  I only found index references from the GRO.  I ordered.  Now I know that in fact, she left her son George with her parents, but went on to marry a widower, a Samuel Birch, at the Norwich Registry Office in 1855.  They lived in Norwich.  That seems good.

George Thacker with his wife Sarah (nee Daynes) circa 1877.

Genealogy - why?

Anyone that loves a who dunnit, or a crime novel, should love genealogy.  It is all about detective work.  looking for clues and evidence.  Collecting it.  Answering mysteries - even as mundane as "what happened to the Peach's of Maxey" (the father was transported for stealing cattle), or where did my 3xgreat grandmother go?  Awesome stuff.

Family Tree Quality Control

As I wait for my Living DNA test results, I've been investing more research time into my documentary trail.  This has included ordering several birth - marriage - death certificates from the GRO (General Register Office, UK Gov), and further checks, rechecks, and searches online using,, and

Filling in the blanks.  looking for correlations.

I've recently found an incorrect ancestor.  A Nicholls on my mother's side.  The usual case.  I had found a perfect candidate in one very close parish.  I followed their trail, added three generations including heaps of siblings.  On recent review though - I find another candidate, in another close parish.  Sure enough, when I investigate all of the evidence - this one was far more likely.  It was backed by census claims.  I even found my previous candidate living with another family years later in a census.

I still make mistakes in genealogy, and expect to continue to do so.  In this case, I've had to crop away at a bushy branch and replace it relatively, with a twig.  It's all about pursuing the truth though, isn't it?  To the best our abilities to use data that is available.

The new GRO certificates haven't revealed anything revolutionary so far.  All of them though have turned out to belong.  The marriage of great grandparents Fred Smith to Emily Barber gave me their non-conformist chapel location in Norwich, their marriage date, and confirmed everything that I knew about them at this point of their life.  The death of my 2xgreat grandfather Henry Brooker gave me his death date, cause of death, last job, last address in Dartford, and was registered by my great grandfather (living at the same address as during the 1939 register).  without seeing the certificate, I could have never have proven that this was my Henry Brooker on the indexes.

I also purchased the birth certificate of my 3xgreat uncle Henry Shawers.  i was hoping that it might give some clues to my elusive 3xgreat grandfather Henry Shawers, and onto his origins.  Nothing there I'm afraid, although again, it belonged to the right family.  Confirms that he was who I thought.

Now I'm waiting on the marriage certificate of George Barber to Maria Ellis.  I have some concerns on this one, touch wood no unpleasant surprises.

My Family and Abraham Lincoln

Okay, honesty time.  I have (not yet) found any proven connection between myself and the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.  The title is a little tongue in cheek, but it's my blog, and I have a serious dearth of famous ancestors in my recorded family tree.  What I have recently discovered though, is that the Norfolk village of Swanton Morley is an ancestral hot spot on my father's side, and that the paternal ancestors of Abraham Lincoln, did indeed also hail from that village.  Therefore it is not unreasonable to speculate, that at some point since the Medieval, we do indeed share ancestry with the 16th President of the USA.  Lincolns did indeed remain in the parish until modern times, along with my Harris and Barber ancestors.

Lets start with my Reginald John Brooker, paternal grandfather's pedigree:

My grandfather's parents separated while he was young, and he was brought up at Northall Green Farm by his maternal grandparents William and Harriet Baxter.  When he was a boy, he would play by hanging by his arms from the nearby railway bridge.  His older sister Gladys would sometimes be allowed to visit.  She remembered happy times and yellow flowers on that farm.  Northall Green Farm is technically in (East) Dereham, but is actually located nearer to the village of Swanton Morley.  Many of his genes from his mother's side really had not travelled far.  He had some very old ancestral associations with his home - both in East Dereham, and in Swanton Morley.

Reginald as a boy in 1920.  He is on the second row from back, on our far left.  Standing, plain dark top, round spectacles.

His mother's side of the family also had an undesired association with the nearby Mitford & Launditch Union Workhouse at Gressenhall.  His grandparent's that reared him, had both been born in that workhouse.  They had both been born illegitimate of unmarried mothers.  However, I recently discovered that they both claimed to know and to name their biological father's on their marriage registration.  His grandparents married at the church in Swanton Morley.  As I was to discover, many of the bride's ancestors at least, had previously processed through the same building over the centuries.

Harriet (my great great grandmother) claimed at her wedding that a William Barker was her biological father.  He was from a Dereham family.  I'm not chasing up that line for now, instead, lets go up her mother's line.  Her mother was Harriet Barber, born 1826 in ... Swanton Morley.  Harriet disappears after the birth of her daughter.  Hopefully she went on well in life, perhaps married and changed surname.  In 1847, she would have had to wear a yellow jacket of shame in Gressenhall Workhouse.

Harriet's father in turn had also been born illegitimate - a feature of incredible frequency in this particular line of our family tree.  What prompted such illegitimacy?  Was it poverty?  He (my G.G.G Grandfather), was born in Swanton Morley in 1803, the baseborn son of Sarah Barber.  His name was James Alderton Barber.  In adult life, he tolled as a farm labourer in the Swanton area.  

His mother actually had no less than six children born in the village of Swanton Morley between 1803 and 1818, whilst somehow avoiding marriage!  Neither do they all appear to have had the same father.  a Mr Alderton may have fathered two including our ancestor.  A Mr Sissons at least one other (a common custom in illegitimacy was to give the biological father's surname as a "middle" name).  Maybe I should try to chase up and eliminate which local Mr Alderton was likely to be our ancestor, but such trails are tenuous.  I really don't know how she survived in this early 19th Century rural community.  I sniff a fantastic story, if only I could dig it up.

However, lets go back down to her son, James Alderton Barber of Swanton Morley.  He married at least three times.  Perhaps making up for his mother.  His second marriage in 1825 was at Swanton Morley church to our ancestor Jemima Harris.  

James and Jemima Barber were to go on to have no less than eight children baptised at Swanton Morley Church between 1826 and 1842.  Jemima herself, my G.G.G Grandmother, was born ... you guessed it, illegitimately ... the daughter of Elizabeth Harris of Swanton Morley.  I really find it fascinating, the level of illegitimacy on this line.  A local socio-economic history would be very interesting.  This family is full of mothers, rather than fathers.  They may have been strong and independent.  Or they may have been victims.

G.G.G.G Grandmother Elizabeth Harris herself was baptised in that same church in Swanton Morley in 1768.  Her parents had narrowly avoided yet an earlier illegitimacy event themselves by marrying a few months earlier - at Swanton Morley of course, in 1767.  They were Solomon Harris and Elizabeth Bradfield.  We're going back now aren't we.  Swanton Morley is starting to feel as one of our many genealogical homes.  Hey, I still live only around 15 miles away from there today.

Here she is today.  All Saints Church, Swanton Morley, Norfolk.

I only know of two children of Solomon and Elizabeth Harris.  Our ancestor Elizabeth, and her sister Martha.  I hope their parents had a successful life.  Back then, life was far more precarious than it is today.  Okay let us step back another few generations.  Elizabeth was baptised in nearby East Dereham in 1745.  The daughter of an Allen and Rachel Bradfield.  What great names!  As for Solomon, he turns out to be a Solomon Junior.  He was the son of Solomon Harris and a Mary Aimes? of Swanton Morley.  Solomon Senior married Mary at Swanton Morley in 1725.  I'm not sure of her maiden name.  The hand ascribed registers are so poor - Aitkjens?  I've gone for Aimes.  They had at least three children baptised at All Saints, Swanton Morley between 1725 and 1736.

The view today from Swanton Morley Church.

Solomon (senior) was himself baptised at this same church in 1702.  He was the son of my G.G.G.G.G.G Grandparents Francis Harris and Thomasin Sniss?.  They were married at Swanton Morley in 1701.  Francis must have been pushing it a little, as it appears that he had married a Susan Thirston in Swanton Morley in 1682.  He was recorded as a wiidower at the marriage to our ancestor Thomasin.

Francis himself?  I can see earlier Harris's in the Swanton Morley registers - but just when I think that they just might record Francis's baptism - they fade and blur.  So I can speculate - but not link. They were in the Swanton Morley area at the same time, at least for a few centuries, as Abraham Lincoln's ancestors.  Hey - there are those undeclared paternities.  I don't want to spread rumours.  But did our family play a part in the making of the USA?

Two Fathers and more Online Genealogy

The above photograph is of my great great grandfather, William Bennett Baxter, born at Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, England, in 1846.

Well, I've finally updated my Gramps genealogical database for the first time for months.  It's grown!  It now includes details for over 1,600 ancestors and family relatives.  I have to admit, a lot of the swell is down to online genealogical research, using,, Norfolk FHS, BMD,, etc.  I DON'T ever resort to copying off other people's trees, although I do at times, when I'm stuck, check them to see how other's think, as the hints that they should be.  To be honest though, I often don't agree with their conclusions.  

I do use Search.  I do use transcriptions - but whenever the original image is available (as it increasingly is now), I do verify with it.  Quite often, transcribers get it wrong.  I do also enjoy browsing through digitalised images of parish records, looking for siblings and clues.

Two Fathers

With traditional documentary-based genealogical research, we of course cannot prove a biological line.  We can rarely identify NPEs (Non-Parental Events).  All that we can do, is do our very best to track names through family interviews, documents and records.  Wherever possible, we should verify connections, check and record sources, look for correlations.  This isn't however always possible.  The genealogist has to then decide whether they have enough evidence to connect an ancestor.

For quite some time, I was proud that I had recorded all of my ancestors up to and including great great grandparent level.  However, at great great great grandparent level (Generation 6), I had three missing direct ancestors.  All three of them were the unrecorded father's of three great great grandparents, born illegitimate in Norfolk during the 19th Century.  I had 29 out of 32 biological ancestors recorded for Generation 6.

Then recently, I cracked two of them!  At least I have one evidence for their names.  Two of my illegitimate born great great grandparents, William Bennett Baxter, and Harriet Barber, were actually a married couple.  They were both illegitimate, and had both been born in Gressenhall Union Workhouse close to East Dereham in Norfolk.  William was base-born there  to a pauper named Eliza Baxter.  That she gave him the middle name "Bennett", and there had been Bennetts in the area, always made me suspect that his biological father was believed to have belonged to a Bennett Family, but which?

Then some research online, and it was a back to basics research that cracked it.  I was sure that I had seen their 1866 marriage certificate or entry, at nearby Swanton Morley before, probably years ago.  But if I had seen it before, and I now suspect that I hadn't, then I missed the key.  They BOTH named their alleged biological fathers in their marriage register entry!  How could I have not seen this before?

William Bennett Baxter claimed that he was the son of a labourer, by the name of ... William Bennett.  Harriet Baxter (nee Barber), claimed that her father was a labourer by the name of William Barker.  It's only their word, on their marriage entry - to their knowledge, but I've accepted that testimony, and have added ancestors on those lines.  I haven't yet found much about William Bennett. But I did quickly find more on my 4 x great grandfather William Barker.  He was a shoe maker in East Dereham, the son of a master boot maker.  Perhaps his family didn't approve.  Two years later he married an Elizabeth Wales.

My Fan Chart of Direct Ancestry, updated. I now have 234 direct ancestors named.

Other New Ancestors

The majority (but not all) of my newly claimed ancestors have been Norfolk ancestors on my Father's paternal side, balancing things up rather nicely.  Some of the newly discovered branches include a substantial number of new ancestors recorded both in Dereham, Norfolk, and in the nearby village of Swanton Morley.  They were two very ancestral homes in my tree.  I've recently extended the Baxter of Dereham line back safely to the 1760's.  I've also traced more of my great grandmother Faith Brooker's (nee Baxter) tree, including her direct maternal line to a Rachael Bradfield of Dereham.  Her daughter Elizabeth was baptised there in 1745.  In 1767, Elizabeth Bradfield married our 7 x great grandfather Solomon Harris at Swanton Morley.

I've also extended the line going back from my paternal grandmother (Doris Brooker nee Smith).  I've found more of her ancestors in the South Norfolk village of Hedenham, stretching back to a James Goodram, the son of John and Lydia Goodrum.  James was baptised at Hedenham in 1780.

Finally, I've tidied a few dates on my mother's side, and even started to reassess the ancestry of my children's mother.

Here is a count of direct ancestors from a Gramps report:

Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)

Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 has 31 individuals. (96.88%)

Generation 7 has 55 individuals. (85.94%)

Generation 8 has 53 individuals. (41.41%)

Generation 9 has 44 individuals. (17.97%)

Generation 10 has 16 individuals. (3.52%)

Generation 11 has 6 individuals. (0.59%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 235. (11.68%)

That's enough genealogy for a while!  Living DNA report next.  Sample was activated and returned.

The Dog Runner, and some new genealogy

I took the above photograph of myself on a recent run with the dogs,, using the self-timer function on my thirty five year old Olympus XA2 compact camera.  Taken on Rollei Retro 400S film, that I then developed in LC29

Genealogy - the Barbers of Swanton Morley, Norfolk

I did consider an alternative title for the post, following some more paper genealogical research ... something along the lines of From a long line of bastards.  However, not all family might share my amusement of such a title.  What prompted that thought was some online ancestor-chasing in one particular root of my father's ancestry.  The Barbers of Swanton Morley, Norfolk.

I recently reported on an ancestral root from my father's side of the family, with the surname Barber.  I traced them through my crow-keeper great grandmother to villages in South Norfolk.  However, I'm now on the trail of a totally different Barber family, also on my father's side, but this time from Mid Norfolk.

My great great grandfather, William Bennet Baxter (photograph below), married my great great grandmother Harriet Barber, at Swanton Morley, Norfolk, in 1866.  Both of them had been born illegitimate at the nearby Gressenhall Union Workhouse.  Their connections with that workhouse didn't end there.  Their first two child Jemima, was also born there illegitimately.  Later family members also had connections with that workhouse, that now houses Norfolk Rural-Life Museum.  I often like to think of that building, as the Family Home.  I knew that William Baxter's mother in 1846 was an Eliza Baxter.  She must have had to face the shame of wearing a yellow jacket in the workhouse, to signify that she was an unmarried mother.  She may have also been excluded from the workhouse Christmas dinner, as another shaming.  I've recently discovered that her parents (my G.G.G grandparents) were a Samuel and Frances Baxter (nee Shilling), of nearby East Dereham, Norfolk.

Moving back to the Barbers, starting with Harriet Baxter (nee Barber).  She was born at Swanton Morley circa 1847.  She appeared on one census in Swanton Morley as a young girl, with her grandparents, James and Jemima Barber (nee Harris).  She is named there as a granddaughter of James.  However, who was her mother?  I'm missing a generation.  She was born at the Union Workhouse, and I'm fairly certain that she was illegitimate, and that with the census information, suggests to me that her mother was a daughter of at least James Barber.

So I start searching parish registers for Swanton Morley.  It turned out that G.G.G granddaddy Barber, was born as James Alderton Barber in April 1803 at Swanton Morley.  He married at least three times.  The first marriage I can't find.  The second was my ancestral, he married G.G.G Grannie Jemima Harris at Swanton Morley on 6th December 1825.  She gave him at least seven kids, although at least four of them died young.  Then at the age of 58 years, she died.  He married again before 1861.  Later he had a wife called Amelia.

James had seven children by Jemima.  One of them must have been the parent of my Harriet.  Which one?  I believe that she was illegitimate but carried the Barber surname until married.  That suggests a daughter of James and Jemima.  They had at least four daughters - Hannah, Frances, Jemima (twin of James junior), and Mary Ann.  On checking the burial register of Swanton Morley, things narrowed down.  Hannah had died as an infant.  Jemima died age four (her twin brother died age seven).  Mary Ann died as an infant.  That only leaves Frances, born 1830 at Swanton Morley.  However, it's bad to assume too much in genealogy, so I've decided to pay out for Harriet's birth certificate from the GRO in London.  I should have my answer in a few weeks time.

All of the child deaths that you see in these 19th century families.  It does sometimes knock you back as you uncover them.  The poor health, lack of welfare, and shear poverty that families had to endure then.

I've got to wait for that certificate to arrive, in order to verify which of James's children was the parent of my Harriet.  However, I went back on the lineage a bit further, and it gets interesting.  G.G.G Grandad James Alderton Barber was born illegitimately in Swanton Morley on the 28th April 1803, to a Sarah Barber.  He was not alone.  Between 1803 and 1818, my G.G.G.G Grannie Sarah apparently had at least six children, all baptised and recorded as illegitimate!  I'll never know the full story, but somehow she survived unmarried.  The first two children carried the middle name Alderton, perhaps suggesting that was the name of their biological father.  A later child carried the middle name Maris, and another was named Sissons Barber.  All could suggest a number of biological fathers.  All were born in Swanton Morley.

I feel a little embarrassed talking about illegitimacy as a subject.  It is no longer seen as something shameful, nor should it be - but it was seen as sinful and irresponsible for a very long time.  The status no longer exists in the 21st Century, with the changes in family structures and a shift away from religion.  That it was treated as so shameful now sounds outrageous.  A side effect of a religious and hypocritical society - taking it out on children, and on mothers.  So when I see an ancestor living in a small Norfolk village during the Napoleonic period, I wonder how she lived, what happened, how was she seen, did her children survive?  She may well have been a colourful ancestor, and the talk of the village.  Or she could have been the tragic victim of abuse?

The illegitimacy wasn't restricted just to her generation.  As I said, her great granddaughter Harriet was also most likely (waiting for that certificate to confirm) illegitimate and born in a workhouse - as was Harriet's husband, and their first child.

Poverty, hypocrisy, and infant mortality.  The great Nineteenth Century.