Henry Shawers - timeline of an ancestor

The above image I took recently at the medieval festival in Bayeux, France.  My great great great grandfather, Henry Shawers is described as a narrow lace or trimming weaver.  Does the above represent his trade well?  Here I'm going to record all of the evidence so far for Henry, who I believe, is the first non-English ancestor that I have discovered, out of 270 direct ancestors, researched for over 25 years.

I'm going to present the evidence in a time line.

1826-1828

1827 +/- 1 year, The approximate birth year of Henry Shawers, most likely Switzerland.  His father was a coppersmith named John Shawers.  Their names have most likely been anglicised with immigration.  Henry was illiterate.  Their surname could for example, have been:   Soruhes, Schwarz, Schwares, Shaers, Schoovers, Chouart, Scherrais, Shavier, Cerrier, or Soyers

1829
1830
1831
1832
1833
1834
1835

1835-10-11 (Oct 11th), Elizabeth Durran, born in this year, was baptised at Deddington, Oxfordshire.

1836
1837
1838
1839
1840
1841

1841-06-06 (Jun 6th), 1841 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of John Shawers or his son Henry.  Elizabeth Durran was 5 years old, living in Deddington, Oxfordshire.  Henry would have been about age 14.

1842
1843
1844
1845
1846
1847
1848
1849
1850
1851

1851-03-30 (Mar 30th), 1851 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Durran was age 15, still living with her parents and siblings in Deddington, Oxfordshire.

1852

1852-08-11 (Aug 8th), passengers on the Lord Warden, disembarked at Folkestone docks.  The ship had carried them across the Channel from Boulogne, in France.  The List of Aliens recorded as arriving with this ship included a Monsieur Shawers, recorded as having French nationality.  Unfortunately all of the passengers had their occupations lazily recorded as Gents, but I wonder, not a lot of immigrants coming into the country by the name of Shawers, and only five years before our Henry married Elizabeth Durran in Bethnal Green.

1853
1854
1855
1856
1857

1857-09-20 (Sept 20th), Henry Shawers married Elizabeth Durran at St Philip, Bethnal Green, London.  I have the GRO Certificate copy.  I also see the church register entry on Ancestry.com.  They tally.  He stated:

  • He was a bachelor, and age 31, born about 1826.
  • He was living with Elizabeth at Banner Square, London
  • He was a Narrow Weaver.
  • His father was called John Shawers who was a Coppersmith.
  • He signed X - he was illiterate.  Elizabeth, age 22, was a spinster and also signed X
  • They married by banns.
  • Witnesses were James Brown and Mary Tilsely.  Both signed X.

1858

1858-09-11 (Sept 11th), Elizabeth Rosina Shawers was born at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  Daughter of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth (nee Durran)

  • Henry Shawers was a Narrow Weaver Journeyman.
  • Elizabeth the mother registered the birth.
  • They were addressed to 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.

1859
1860

1860-01-08 (Jan 8th), first son, Henry Shawers (junior) was born at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  Son of Henry Shawers (senior) and Elizabeth (nee Durran).

  • Henry Shawers was a Narrow Weaver.
  • Elizabeth the mother registered the birth.
  • They were still living at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone.  That's at least between 1858-09-11 and 1860-01-08

1861

I believe that sometime between his birth in January 1860, and late 1861, that Henry Shawers (junior) had died, but the death is not registered in any way that I have yet found it.

1861-04-07 (Apr 7th)  1861 Census of England & Wales.  2 Sun Row, St Mary, Islington, Finsbury, London, England. Henry Soruhes Head. Mar. 33. Trimming maker Switzerland. Elizabeth Soruhes. Wife. Mar. 26. Oxfordshire.  Rose Sohures. dau. 2 Dalston. Henry Sohures. Son. 15 months
  • His name is recorded as Henry Sohures.
  • His son, Henry (junior) is still alive age 15 months.
  • He is recorded as being born in Switzerland.
  • He was 33 years old, born about 1828 in Switzerland.
  • They were living at Sun row, Islington, London.
  • He is recorded as a "Trimming weaver".

I believe that their son Henry Shawers (junior) died between April 1861 and April 1862, but I have not yet located his death or burial.

1862

1862-04-07 (Apr 7th), Second son, William (Henry) Shawers is born south of the Thames at Hospital York Road, Waterloo Road Second, London, Surrey.  I have a copy of the GRO birth certificate.

  • Reported by mother E Shawers (nee Durran) of 4 Austen Terrace, St Johns Road, Upper Holloway, North London.
  • Henry Shawers recorded as Narrow weaver of fringe and trimmings journeyman.

1862-10-31 (31st Oct), Henry Shawers is imprisoned at Wandsworth Prison, London with a sentence of one month, for the offence of begging.  I found this on a digitilised image of the Prison Register at FindMyPast.co.uk.

  • Henry Shawers was a Lace Weaver
  • He was age 34, born about 1828
  • Height five feet, two and three quarter inches.  Grey eyes, fresh complexion, no marks.  Weight, a eight stone, ten pounds.
  • He was a vagrant, no address.
  • He was registered as F born.  Foreign born, not British Empire judging by other entries in the register.
  • His crime was begging.
  • He was illiterate.
  • He was Christian.
  • He was sentenced at Wandsworth, London, by C Dayman, magistrate.

1863

1863-05-15 (May 15th) Second son, William Henry Shawers died at Bletchingley, Surrey.  I have his GRO birth certificate.  Son of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth.  He was recorded as 1 years old.  His cause of death was ?Caucrumous? certified.  See his burial which states Small Pox.

  • Henry Shawers was a Trimming Weaver
  • Registered by mother, Elizabeth, present at death.

1863-05-18 (May 18th) Second son, William Henry Shawers was buried at Bletchingley, St Mary, Surrey.  Found on Ancestry.com including digitilised image of registry.  William Henry Shawers was recorded as "a stranger's child', 13 months old at death.  Buried in the north side of the grave yard.  Died of Small Pox.  A number of burials at that time, both child and adult were recorded as Small Pox.

  • They had moved south, out of London.
  • "A stranger's child" could refer either to the family being on the move, travelling, or alternatively hint that the father was a foreigner.

1864

1864-11-07 (Nov 7th), Third son, Arthur Henry Shawers was born at 11 Thomas Street, St Peter, Brighton, Sussex.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  The son of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth (nee Durran).

  • Henry Shawers was a Trimming weaver Journeyman.
  • Registered by mother, Elizabeth of 11 Thomas Street, Brighton.
  • They were living at 11 Thomas Street, St Peter, Brighton, Sussex on the South Coast.  In 1871 on the census, 11 Thomas Street is full of tenants and appears to be a lodging house in Brighton.

1865

1865-04-06 (Apr 6th), Third son Arthur Henry Shawers died at Baker Street, Enfield, Middlesex.  I have a copy of the GRO death certificate.

  • Sometime during the winter of 1864/5, they had moved from Brighton on the south coast, up to Enfield, north of London.
  • Reported by father, Henry Shawers signed X.  Of Baker Street, Enfield
  • Henry Shawers recorded as a Lace Weaver journeyman.
  • Arthur died age 5 months of pneumonia.
  • This is the last record I find of Henry with his family intact.

1866
1867
1868
1869
1870
1871

1871-04-02 (Apr 2nd), 1871 Census of England & Wales.  I cannot find Henry.  However, I find his wife Elizabeth, and daughter Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, living at 7 George Place, Lansdown Road, Charlton, Kent (East extremity of London), under new identities:

  • Elizabeth Shawers (nee Durran) is known as Elizabeth Hayes, wife of a sailor (mariner).  This could suggest that Henry Shawers died between 1864 and 1871.  However, poor people, particularly in urban centres could not afford divorce, nor always marriage licence.  I haven't yet found Mr Hayes, who may not even have existed, nor her marriage to him.  I find no death or burial of Henry Shawers.  No remarriage of Elizabeth.
  • Their daughter Elizabeth Rosina Shawers is known as Rosa Hayes, age 7.  She is living alone with her mother at the above address.

1872
1873

1873-07-21 (Jul 21st), A Henry Sayers, Lace Maker is imprisoned for seven days at Wandsworth Prison, London.  Sentenced for being drunk on the highway.  Is this our Henry Shawers?  Is he still alive?

  • Five foot two inches, blue eyed, Fresh complexion, no marks.  Weight, nine stone, seven pounds.
  • Lace Maker
  • Age 45, born about 1828.
  • Born in Switzerland.

Is this our ancestor, Henry, still alive in 1873, while his wife and daughter lived in Kent under different names?  I think it is.

1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881

1881-04-03 (Apr 3rd), 1881 census of England & Wales.  I cannot find Henry.  I find his wife and daughter, still living as Elizabeth and Rosa S Hayes.  Now they are in service, in Fulham, London, working for a middle class Portuguese family.

  • Elizabeth states that she is married.  She is now 45 years old.  Still no sign of a Mr Hayes.
  • They are both working as servants.  Elizabeth Rosina Shawers (my great great grandmother) is 22 years old.

1882
1883

1883-09-29 (Sep 29th), Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, marries my great great grandfather, Henry Brooker at St Johns, Fulham, London.  They live at 49 Estcourt Road, Fulham.

  • Elizabeth states that her name as Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, not as Hayes.
  • Her father is recorded as Henry Shawers
  • Her father's occupation is recorded as a Weaver.

1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1891

1891-04-05 (Apr 5th), 1891 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  His wife Elizabeth Hayes (nee Shawers, nee Durran) is living at 1 North Street, Deptford, London, with her son-in-law and daughter, Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker

  • Elizabeth Hayes (nee Shawers, nee Durran) is recorded as a 55 year old widow.  I suspect Henry Shawers has passed away by now.

1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1901

1901-03-31 (Mar 31st), 1901 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Hayes is living at 33 Loampit Vale, Lewisham, with her son-in-law and daughter Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker

  • She is recorded as a 65 year old widow.

1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911

1911-04-02 (Apr 2nd), 1911 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Hayes is living at 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham with her son-in-law and daughter Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker.

  • She is recorded as a 75 year old widow.

1912
1913
1914

1914-05-11 (May 11th), Elizabeth Hayes, of 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham, born 1836, is admitted to Greenwich Workhouse by her daughter Mrs Brooker.  From Ancestry.co.uk.  Digitilised image of workhouse entry register.

  • Elizabeth is described as a widow of "Henry, an Actor".  Is this a Henry Hayes, the "sailor", or some sort of referral to Henry Shawers?

1915

1915-12-01 (Dec 1st), Elizabeth Hayes dies.  I have the GRO death certificate.

  • Age 80 years.
  • Died of senile chronic bronchitis
  • Death registered by her daughter E.R Brooker in attendance at 31 Caradoc Street.
  • Addressed to 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham.
  • Records that she was "Widow of Henry Hayes (an actor".

Henry and Elizabeth's son, my great grandfather, John Henry Brooker, was in the Royal Field Artillery at this time.

John Henry Brooker and partner Mabel, at Sheerness, Kent, in 1933.  John was the only grandson of Henry Shawers.

Conclusions

Henry Shawers, Henrich Schwarez, Henri Cherrais, or whatever name that he was born with, was a 19th century lace weaving immigrant into the East End of London, perhaps French, perhaps Swiss.  He was illiterate, a christian, and he suffered terrible poverty during his life in England.  He was short and slight, only around 5 ft 2" (158 cm) tall, with a fair complexion, no marks, and perhaps grey-blue eyes.  He may have been the Monsieur Shawers that arrived from Boulogne, France, at Folkestonedocks in 1852.  He met and married a young woman from rural Oxfordshire, a tailor's daughter named Elizabeth Durran in Bethnal Green, close to the Spitalfields weaving centre of London's East End.

Their first child was a daughter that they named Elizabeth Rosina Shawers - known as "Rosa".  She was to be their only child to survive infant hood to adulthood.  My great great grandmother Brooker, born on Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London, during September 1858.  A second child, a son named after his father, Henry Shawers the junior, was also born at Pownall Road in January 1860.  I don't see the family settle again after this date.  In April 1861, they were living in Islington.

During early April, 1862, they were now living in Waterloo, south of the bridge in Central London.  Their second son, William, was born there.  I believe that their first son Henry, had already passed away by this time.

Weaving was in decline in the removal of protectionism, the rise of the power loom, and factory production.  Henry survived by specialising in the lace trimmings and fringes, perhaps of dresses and skirts.  But it wasn't easy.  He resorted to begging, a crime of poverty that was punished by a spell in Wandsworth prison that October.  

Something made them move south, out of London.  Was it an attempt to return to the Continent?  Perhaps visit a relative of Henry's on the South Coast, a work opportunity, or were they pushed by the gruelling poverty and disease?  Their second son William, was buried it appears, on this journey, from small pox, and was buried "a stranger's child" in the Surrey village of Bletchingley.

They ended up for a while in a lodging house on the South Coast in Brighton.  Their third son Arthur, was born there.  Then they moved northwards again over the winter of 1864 / 1865.  In early April, 1865, they were now living at Baker Street, Enfield, to the north of London.  Arthur, age five months died there of pneumonia.  Their third son.  The third to die as an infant.  Only their daughter, Elizabeth Rosina Shawers still survived.

I don't see them as a family again after the death of Arthur in Enfield, 1865.  By 1871, Elizabeth and their daughter were living at Charlton, near to Woolwich, South London.  However, they used the names "Elizabeth and Rosa Hayes" and Elizabeth stated that she was the wife of a sailor.  Her marriage to Henry Shawers appears to have been over - but had Henry died between 1865 and 1871?  I can't find his death, neither have I found her second marriage to a Mr Hayes, a sailor.  I never see her with him on any record.

Then in July 1873, a Henry "Sayers", a lace maker of very similar physical description, born about the same time, appears briefly in Wandsworth Prison, for being "drunk on the highway".  It sounds so much like our Henry - and he was foreign born, only this record tantalizingly records him as "born in Switzerland".  Was this our Henry, estranged from his wife and daughter?

That's the last possible sighting of Henry on record.  He evaded both 1861 and 1871 English censuses.  I can't find his death or burial.

As for his wife Elizabeth, she continued to live under the name Elizabeth Hayes for many years at her daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Rosina and Henry Brooker's home in the Deptford then Lewisham area.  Shortly before her death in Greenwich workhouse during 1915, her daughter recorded for her, that she was the widow of Henry, an Actor.  A final puzzle to her life story.  Was this really a Henry Hayes, or was it Henry Shawers?  Why actor?

Time Travelling back through my ancestry timeline - Super Family History

The Dance of Cogul, tracing by Henri Breuil.

A Timeline for my ancestry based on current evidences.

3,000,000 years ago.

In Africa.  Eastern and / or maybe Southern Africa.  Hominids.  We call them Australopithecines, and in some ways, they resembled modern chimpanzees but that were adapting to walking upright bipedally, in open environments.  They made stone tools.  They had an omnivorous diet.  They were my ancestors three million years ago.  As they were for all of us.  Natural Selection was the big, very slow kicker for prehistory.  Things changed very, very slowly,

200,000 years ago.

The first hominids that are regarded rather loosely as Anatomically Modern Human started to emerge in Africa.

At this time, most of my ancestors still lived in Africa, but some of my non-anatomically modern ancestors had already migrated out of Africa, and had dispersed across Eurasia for some time.  They included those archaic humans that anthropologists presently call Neanderthals and Denisovans. 

50,000 years ago.

Most likely by now, most of my hunter-forager ancestors had left Africa.  An early out-of-Africa base appears to have been Arabia and the Middle East.  Some of my ancestors had met now, after long family separations, it was the birth of the Eurasians.  The last Ice Age encroached.

14,000 years ago.

People had been learning to live with the climatic fluctuations of the last Ice Age.  Each hardening of climatic conditions had frozen Eurasian human populations into isolated conditions that increased genetic drift.

Where were my hunter-forager ancestors 14,000 years ago?  Most likely in pockets dispersed across Western Eurasia, from South-West Europe, across to Central Asia, and from Arabia up to Siberia.  My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor at this time, most likely lived somewhere between what today is Syria, and Pakistan.  He could for example, have lived in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.  My direct maternal ancestor (mtDNA line) most likely lived in another pocket of hunter-foragers somewhere in Central Asia.  Others very likely lived in the Caucasus, Southern Europe, Middle East, and Arabia.

5,600 years ago.

Many people in Western Eurasia were adapting to a new way of living, where farming and agriculture, with a range of domesticated species of animal and plant were spreading, often carried along in waves that are marked in our DNA.  The Neolithic Revolution that had affected my ancestors had occurred a few thousand years earlier in South-West Asia, in an area that we call the Fertile Crescent - the Levant, and down the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor may have lived in one of the Uruk farming settlements in Babylonia, or could have been a Neolithic farmer in a number of cultures spread across what is now Iraq, Iran, or Pakistan.  He alternatively could be one of a number of specialists that early civilisation was generating - a potter, a weaver, or a miner.

My direct maternal line had drifted out of central Asia, and onto the Eurasian Steppe Corridor.  My mtDNA ancestor was most likely living now on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes - what is now Ukraine, Southern Russia, or Kazakhistan.  Her people would have most likely herded domestic livestock including horses, cattle, goats and sheep.  They were mastering the horse and using the first wheeled wagons. On the Steppe corridor, they had access not only to trade with the civilisations south of the Caucasus, but to other cultures, and their materials.  They were experimenting with some of the earliest metallurgy including copper working.

Asides from her, I most likely had a number of other ancestors living in these pastoralist cultures on the Steppes at this time. Perhaps around 28% of my ancestors 5,500 years ago, lived there.

Other ancestors of mine at this time, were dispersed across Europe.  They include the Neolithic European farmers.  They had descended largely from populations in the Levant and Anatolia.  Some could have even lived in Megalithic Britain, but most likely, many of my European Neolithic ancestors lived elsewhere on the Continent, in for example, the Danube valley, or Iberia.  Many of them had ancestry that had hopped westwards along the Mediterranean, the first farmers from Anatolia and the Levant (50% of my ancient admixture), but with a smaller admixture of hunter-gatherer ancestors that had previously lived in Europe (12% of my ancient admixture).

4,600 years ago.

My Copper Age horse riding Steppe ancestors had migrated westwards into Europe.  There they had admixed with the earlier European Neolithic people.  Their DNA appeared in a Copper Age fusion culture across Central Europe (Poland, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, etc) that we call the Corded Ware Culture.  My direct maternal ancestors (mtDNA line) were most likely of that culture for a time.  Their mtDNA markers turn up associated with it.

Aside from her, some of my other ancestors would have been in the Corded Ware Culture.  However, the westward movement of DNA from the Steppes didn't end there.  In Western Europe, it triggered the birth of another culture, that archaeologists call Bell Beaker Culture.  Some of my ancestors could have belonged to the Bell Beaker culture in Iberia, or Western France.  However, what is more likely is that at least some of them belonged to a Bell Beaker culture that had settled in the Lower Rhine Valley (The Netherlands and NW Germany).

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was an exception.  He most likely was living somewhere around what is now Iran, possibly as a farmer in the Bronze Age civilisations there.

3,600 years ago.

I want to just stop here, to record that some of my Bell Beaker Culture ancestors had crossed the North Sea from the Lower Rhine (Netherlands) to settle in South East Britain.  Their descendants were living in Bronze Age Britain.  I can't say with any degree of certainty, if my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was a part of this migration, or whether her line was still on the European Continent, and crossed later.  Either are equally feasible.   I would have had other ancestors, perhaps the majority at this time, scattered across the European Continent, but most likely, some in what is now Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Southern Europe.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of Iraq, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was an Assyrian.

2,600 years ago.

I'd estimate that perhaps around 38% of my ancestors were now living in Iron Age Britain.  My Iron Age British ancestors would have lived in the round houses and would have farmed the land.    Some people refer to the culture of the British Isles at this time as Celtic.  Some of my ancestors may well have belonged to a tribal federation, that was later known as the Iceni.

This may or may not have included my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor, who could have been a Briton, but may have equally lived along with many of my other ancestors - in an Iron Age Germanic culture in the Netherlands, Northern Germany, or Denmark. Others may have lived further to the south and west in Europe in other cultures  such as the Gauls.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of the Middle East, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was a Persian.

1,700 years ago.

Lets stop here a moment.  Roman Britain.  Perhaps 40% of my ancient ancestors living here at the time.  Britain had been occupied by the Western Roman Empire for some time.  My ancestors in Britannia would have very much identified as Romans, although they largely descended from the Iron Age Britons. However, there were traders, soldiers, and merchants from further afield here.  That might have even included my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor, that could for example, have traveled to Southern Britannia from Assyria or Persia, or perhaps even from the Eastern Roman Empire in Anatolia and the Levant.

Meanwhile many of my ancestors were living in Germanic pagan tribes across the North Sea in what is now the Netherlands, Northern Germany, and Denmark.  Others may have been living in Roman Gaul, perhaps even in Southern Europe in places such as Tuscany.

1,000 years ago.

I believe that the majority of my ancestors now lived in early medieval southern Britain, although some may have still lived further to the south in places such as Netherlands, France, Spain, or Italy.  If he didn't arrive earlier, perhaps my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor arrived in Wessex about now, as for example, a specialist from the Middle East, working for the church.  Many of my ancestors in South-East Britain had arrived from across the North Sea over the preceding centuries, with Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Frisians, Danes and Saxons. 

This would have included Anglo-Saxon ancestors of my mother, that most likely rowed past the decommissioned Roman shore fort at Burgh, and perhaps moored at Reedham.  It may have included Danish ancestors of her that a few centuries later settled the district of Flegg in East Norfolk.  DNA shared on the Continent in places such as modern day Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Denmark reflects strongly in my ancestral DNA tests.  Much of it may have arrived during these early medieval immigration events.

My direct maternal (mtDNA line) would most likely be in East Anglia or nearby by now.

500 years ago.

Exchange between South East Britain and the European Continent didn't end.  It is possible that I had more ancestors arrive here from Normandy, Medieval France, and the Spanish Netherlands.  However by 500 years ago, It is possible that all of my ancestors now lived in Tudor England.  There is still the chance of the odd later ancestor migrating from elsewhere, although I don't yet see it in any genealogical record.  It is likely that my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was living in Southern England, and that my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was living in East Anglia.   I trace his line back to the Oxfordshire / Berkshire border, and her line back 300 years ago to the village of Bunwell in Norfolk.

It is likely that the majority of my Tudor ancestors were living in East Anglia by now, particularly in the County of Norfolk.  Many of the men would be transitioning from medieval peasant status to that of free rural labourers or some into farmers or tradesmen.

300 years ago.

It is highly likely that by now, all of my ancestors lived in South-East England.  The majority in Norfolk, East Anglia, perhaps as high as 77% East Anglian, also a cluster in the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and a smaller cluster around Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

Their trades included agricultural labourerers, shepherds, horsemen, marshmen, smallhold farmers, watermen, carpenters, inn keepers, hawkers, etc. They were the English rural working classes of the 18th Century.

Their recorded surnames included:

Moore, Gunton, Mar, Mollett, Portar, Beck, Breeze, Cruchfield, Lewell, Mingay, Wittham, Thurkettle, Gardiner, Ursul, Upcroft, Neale, Neville, Hammond, Bennett, Read, Bradfield, Aimes, Sniss, Wick, Bligh, Frances, Rippon, Saunderson, Goodram, Seymore, Waine, Blaxhall, Jacobs, Yallop Brucker, Gregory, Hardiment, Hardyman, Briting, Hill, Harrison, Brown, Harding, Creess, Tovel, Osborne, Nichols, Bond, Bowes, Daynes, Brooker, Curtis, Smith, Baxter, Shawers, Edney, Tovell, Key, Tammas-Tovell, Thacker, Lawn, Tammas, Hagon, Hewitt, Springall, Porter, Rose, Larke, Annison, Barker, Brooks, Ling, Rowland, Gorll, Dingle, Marsh, Symonds, Dawes, Goffen, Waters, Briggs, Nicholls, Shepherd, Maye, Morrison, Merrison, Norton, Cossey, Harrington, Barber, Peach, Dennis, Durran, Freeman, Hedges, Crutchfield, Quantrill, Page, Dove, Rix, Sales, Britiff, Goffin, Coleman, Tibnum, Mitchells, Ellis, Beckett, Riches, Snelling, Ransby, Nicholes, Harris, Shilling, Wymer, Moll, Ginby, Gynby, Gaul, Edwards, and Gall.

50 years ago.

I was a small child in Norfolk.  Born English, to a local East Anglian family.  Yet look back at my ancestral timeline.  My ancestry is from all over Europe, and even from across Western Asia, and before that from Africa.  We are all cousins in one large global family.  Much of my family timeline, will also be your timeline.


That's time travelling through my own ancestry.

Our Norfolk wherrymen ancestors of Reedham


Image above by Snapshots Of The Past (Wherry leaving Wroxham England) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I've long wondered about some of the ancestors of my great grandmother Flo Curtis, on my mother's side.  She was born at Freethorpe, Norfolk in 1884, as Florence Key.  She is standing in the below photo, on crutches, behind my grandfather who is holding his daughter:


Florence's father, George Key, was a local carpenter of Freethorpe, and her mother was born as Sarah Goffen at the nearby riverside village of Reedham in 1853.  Here is Sarah, standing behind my grandparents wedding in 1932:


Sarah most likely met young George Key through trade links from her late father, Richard Goffen, who is recorded on census as a master carpenter of Reedham.  He was also recorded as an inn keeper or publican at a pub that was called the Brick Kiln at Reedham, close to the river.  Reedham was an important river side parish along the River Yare.  The river connected the medieval City of Norwich to the North Sea via Great Yarmouth. Rich pastures lay to the east of the village on the marshes of the Halvergate Triangle, which with Breydon water, once formed a great sea estuary.  A ferry crossed the strong tidal waters of Reedham.


Now, I have indeed found the evidence that the Goffens of Reedham were involved with the Wherry trade.  Until the late 18th Century, most cargo and passengers along the Broadland waterways of East Norfolk were carried by the old square mast long boats known as the Norfolk Keel:


Then from the early 18th Century, a newer series of vessel designs started to take over on the lowland waterways of the Norfolk Broads, that featured a high-peaked sail with the mast stepped well forward.  They corresponded with a great age of Norfolk windmills and wind pumps.  The classic Norfolk wherry.


Nancy at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The men that sailed them were often regarded as a particular breed.  They lived on the waterways, in small cabins fitted with a stove.  Moving cargoes and in some cases, passengers, between Norwich and the port of Great Yarmouth.  In 1833, a new canal named the Haddiscoe Cut, was opened up near to Reedham, that also allowed vessels to trade to Lowestoft in Suffolk.  The watermen carried cargoes of coal, timber, lime, chalk, cement, ale, grain, and other goods up and down the waterways of East Norfolk.

My ancestor, Richard Goffen was a riverside carpenter and inn keeper at Reedham, and almost certainly was involved with this trade.  I've suspected that for a while, but now I can see just how deeply his family were involved.  A census records that two of his brothers, Edward Goffen born at Reedham in 1793, and John Goffen born there ten years later were both indeed, watermen, with John specifically recorded as a Wherryman.  Brother Edward Goffen was also an inn keeper at another riverside Reedham pub, the Lord Nelson.  The whole family appear to have been involved with river trade, with a fourth brother, James Goffen born at Reedham in 1806 being recorded as a lime burner and coal merchant.  Without a doubt his coal, chalk, and lime were being transported along the river, possibly by his brothers.  As a family, they appear to have been particularly successful in this trade.  Wherries were being built at Reedham, and I suspect that our ancestor may have been involved as a carpenter in the boat building trade.

All four Goffen brothers were born at Reedham, to Richard and Judith Goffen (nee Shepherd). Richard the senior was most likely born at nearby Strumpshaw in 1731.  I have no record of his occupation, but I wonder if he was also involved in the river trade, that inspired his four sons.

Marriage of Richard Goffen (senior) to Judith Shepherd at Reedham in 1793.  This was his second marriage, after his previous wife Ann (nee Mingay) passed away.

Their son, Richard Goffen (junior) also married twice. I believe that his first wife was one Elizabeth Scarll, who he married at nearby Cantley in 1821.  In 1843, he married our ancestor Elizabeth Nicholls, who then at the age of 21, was no less than 27 years his junior.  This didn't stop them having seven children between then and 1860.  Clearly his trade supported him well at the Brick Kiln inn.

Richard (junior) died in 1861.  Elizabeth went on to marry again, this time to a Matthew Bush of Freethorpe.

That's my family link to the classic icon of the Norfolk Broads.  The Norfolk Wherry.

A recent ancestral journey with the Daynes of Garvestone and Brandon Parva

An incredibly beautiful sunny day for mid April.  I had a day free, mustn't waste it.  Mustn't waste life.  So on the bicycle, no plan, or idea where I was going.  I ride just down the road intending to explore the local back roads, and I passed this old diesel train sitting at the Wymondham station of the Mid-Norfolk Railway, a heritage line that terminates close to my home. I couldn't miss the opportunity, so bought a ticket to the other end of the line at Dereham, and jumped on board the vintage train with my bike.

Dereham (formerly East Dereham), was the hometown of my father.  Thankfully I had very little cash with me, so could avoid the temptation of tasting the wares of the Dereham pubs.  The journey to Dereham slowly rattled along the old Mid Norfolk railway line.  Once there, I came up with the idea of cycling back to Wymondham via some of my ancestral parish churches.

Such a gorgeous day.  Perfectly warm enough in T shirt and shorts.  Yellow primroses.  Buzzards.  Narrow country lanes, hedrerows, and tracing the footsteps of some ancestors.  I followed a cycle route out of the Mid Norfolk market town, and headed for the village of Garvestone, where some of my mother's ancestors by the surname Daynes (or Daines), had lived during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The parish church at Garvestone is dedicated to St Margarets.  My 6 x great grandparents, Isaac Daynes and Mary Osborne, were married there in 1754.  I searched the grave yard for Daynes, but the only one that I found, was not of a direct ancestor.  I only found it with the help of a mapped index inside of the church, as the headstone had fallen down and was covered with lichens.  I literally excavated it from the vegetation:

Perhaps my Daynes ancestors were unable to afford headstones.  I decided to next follow their tracks.  They later moved a few miles to the parish of Brandon Parva.  Back on the bike:

I had to ride up a hill through a farm yard to reach the pretty church of All Saints at Brandon Parva:

My 4 x great grandfather Reuben Daynes was baptised here in 1785.  He later moved with his family to Besthorpe near to Wymondham, where my great great grandmother Sarah Daines was later born.  After visiting this church, I carried on cycling home in the sunshine.  Beautiful day.

More Clues on the Brooker line

New College Chapel Interior 2 Oxford UK - Diliff 
New College, Oxford, by Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Following advice on the Berks & Bucks Ancestry & Genealogy Group on Facebook, I commissioned fresh searches county indexes by the Oxfordshire FHS (Family History Society).  It hasn't done anything to confirm my Hagbourne hypothesis.  However, it did uncover my 6xgreat grandparents Brooker's marriage, and it wasn't somewhere that I would have looked.  They were married 1st November 1746 at New College, Oxford.  Both bride and groom recorded Long Wittenham as their parish.  I would not have expected such a grand wedding venue for my ancestors.  It turns out that it was quite common for people, even poor people, from parishes in the surrounding countryside, to be married in Oxford, as many of the clerics were also academics within the colleges.  The entry also gives me Mary's maiden surname - GARDINER.

I now have TWO suspects for 6xgreat grandfather John Brooker's origins.

  1. The Hagbourne John Brooker, son of John and Ursula.  Baptised 1723.
  2. An Oxford St Mary John Brooker, son of a John.  Baptised 1723.

The agent for the Oxfordshire FHS search, did warn that he felt it a little unlikely that my John was the son of John and Ursula Brooker of Hagbourne.  The reason being, that other than "John", there is little evidence of other family forenames such as Ursula or Elizabeth.  However ... it looks as though Mary Gardiner herself was baptised in 1717 at East Hagbourne.  If she hailed from there, then that provides a strong correlation.  If I do eventually tie my John Brooker to the Hagbourne Brookers, then I have a fair chance of extending the line back to 1642.

Another interesting thought, is that Hagbourne if accepted, does take us in the right direction for a piece of DNA evidence.  We know that in the 1740's, a Thomas Chandler lived at Basingstoke, Hampshire, that shared our Y-DNA.  At some point, our Brooker line and that Chandler line must have had a common paternal ancestor.  Hagbourne is taking us in that diection.  Only 28 miles by road from Basingstoke.  A massive assumption here.  Chase our paternal Y-DNA line back further, we KNOW that it arrived in Southern England, from Asia, most likely during the Medieval period.  Basingstoke is on a direct trajectory between Hagbourne and Southampton docks.

The search goes on.

Additional News

The marriage certificate of George Barber and Maria Ellis at St Michael, South Elmham, Suffolk, turned up in the post this morning.  No nasty surprises.  It utterly confirmed that my George Barber, was the son of Robert Barber, etc.  Another marriage date added to the tree.  This couple were ancestors of my grandmother Doris Brooker.

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 Ancestry.co.uk, Findmypast.co.uk, and FamilySearch.org.

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.

Some Ancestral Churches, East Norfolk

I recently on one particularly sunny winter's afternoon, took a quick tour around a small selection of medieval churches within the dense geographical cluster in my mother's family tree.

Reedham St John the Baptist

My Ancestry Place report for Reedham, Norfolk.

1771-08-05 Marriage Maye, Judith (I0328) and Shepherd, James (I0327)

1793-01-28 Marriage Shepherd, Judith (I0323) and Goffen, Richard (I0320)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I0324)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I1321)

1795-10-26 Birth Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1795-11-01 Baptism Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1799-02-24 Birth Goffen, William (I1318)

1803-06-05 Birth Goffen, John (I1319)

1805-10-06 Birth Goffen, James (I1320)

1818-03-24 Death Goffen, William (I1318)

1841-06-06 Census Shepherd, Judith (I0323) Age 68, independent. Widow.

1851-03-30 Occupation Goffen, Richard (I0314) Inn keeper and master carpenter. Brick Kiln pub, Reedham riverside.

about 1852 Birth Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302)

1861-04-07 Census Goffen, Richard (I0314) 65 year old carpenter with wife and children. By the river.

1861-11-04 Burial Goffen, Richard (I0314) Age 66

1863-04-04 Death Goffen, John (I1319)

1895-07-24 Death Goffen, James (I1320)

Freethorpe All Saints
My Ancestry Place Report for Freethorpe, Norfolk

calculated 1771 Birth Waters, Robert (I1378) 

calculated 1772 Birth Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) 

calculated 1804 Birth Waters, Mary (I0307)

1804-01-29 Baptism Waters, Mary (I0307)

1808-06-26 Birth Waters, Judith (I1469)

1810-01-11 Birth Waters, Martha (I1470)

1813-01-03 Baptism Waters, Elizabeth (I1471)

1814-05-22 Baptism Waters, Elisa (I1472)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307) and Key, William (I0306)

1826-06-11 Baptism Key, Maria (I1377)

1828-06-01 Baptism Key, Susan (I1376)

1846-02-06 Birth Key, Sarah Ann (I0309)

1848-02-20 Birth Key, George (I0301)

1848-03-13 Baptism Key, George (I0301)

1851 Census Key, William (I0306) Near the Green, age 47 born at Norwich, with wife Mary and two children including George age 3

1851 Occupation Key, William (I0306) Agricultural labourer

1851 Census Waters, Robert (I1378) Near the Green. Age 80 with wife Elizabeth.

1851 Census Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) Age 79, living near the Green, with husband Robert, in Freethorpe. Place of birth - Freethorpe.

1855-01-16 Burial Waters, Robert (I1378) Age 86

1870-03-01 Marriage Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) and Key, George (I0301)

about 1885 Birth Key, Florence (I0070)

1891-04-05 Census Key, George (I0301) 43 year old carpenter, born Freethorpe, with wife Sarah and four children, including sarah, age 20, working as domestic servant

1891-04-05 Census Key, Florence (I0070) Age 6, with parents and siblings. Born Freethorpe. Father was a carpenter.

1901-03-31 Census Key, George (I0301) 53 year old carpenter with Sarah and son George.

1901-04-05 Census Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) Age 48 born at Reedham, with carpenter husband George Key.

1905-11-21 Birth Curtis, Ernest William (I0047)

1916-09-17 Marriage Turner, Mary Ann Elizabeth (I1259) and Curtis, Herbert Henry (I1250)

Strumpshaw St Peter My Ancestry Place Report for Strumpshaw, Norfolk

1747-11-24 Marriage Rowland, John (I0291) and Dawes, Sarah (I0292)
before 1773-03-16 Birth Rose, Robert (I0256)
1774-04-10 Marriage Cossey, Martha (I0346) and Norton, David (I0345)
before 1774-12-04 Birth Norton, Lydia (I0340)
before 1775-03-18 Birth Rose, John (I0248)
1777-01-00 Death Norton, David (I0345)
1777-10-19 Marriage
Banns
Briggs, John (I1526) and Jacobs, Elizabeth (I1557) Both single, of Strumpshaw
1779-01-05 Marriage Rowland, Joseph (I0281) and Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1779-03-17 Birth Rose, Henry (I0242)
before 1779-11-15 Birth Rowland, Martha (I0249)
calculated 1781 Birth Briggs, Susanna (I0311)
before 1782-03-28 Birth Rose, Susannah (I1034)
before 1784-10-28 Birth Rose, Mary (I1035)
1785-08-05 Baptism Dingle, Robert (I1448)
1787-01-04 Baptism Dingle, William (I1449)
1788-07-10 Baptism Dingle, Anna Maria (I1450)
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0242) Pauper
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0254) Age 43. A married man and a pauper
1790-10-06 Baptism Dingle, Mary (I1451)
1792 Baptism Dingle, George (I1452)
1794-02-00 Death Gorll, Mary (I0255)
1795-08-11 Baptism Dingle, Elizabeth (I0258)
1801-10-27 Marriage Rose, John (I0248) and Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1802-03-02 Marriage Rose, Henry (I0242) and Ling, Margaret (I0243)
before 1802-06-15 Birth Rose, Margaret (I0244)
1802-08-02 Marriage Rose, Robert (I0256) and Nicholls, Ann (I0825)
1803-05-09 Marriage Briggs, Susanna (I0311) and Key, William (I0310)
before 1804-04-01 Birth Rose, John (I0251)
before 1804-10-10 Birth Rose, Fitt (I0827)
before 1805-06-16 Birth Rose, James (I0252)
before 1807-10-27 Birth Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1809-05-12 Birth Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
before 1810-07-28 Birth Rose, Henry (I0829)
1819-01-27 Marriage Merrison, Lydia (I0342) To William King
1819-04-00 Death Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1823-12-07 Birth Rose, James (I0887)
before 1825-05-08 Death Rose, Amelia (I0886)
before 1826-10-22 Birth Rose, Amelia (I0888)
1827-01-09 Marriage Wilson, Ruth (I0944) and Rose, James (I0252)
1827-11-06 Marriage Curtis, William (I0209) and Rose, Mary Anne (I0210)
1828-01-03 Marriage Shorten, Thomas (I1019) and Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
1828-02-07 Marriage Tungate, James (I0847) and Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1828-05-26 Birth Rose, William (I0889)
before 1830-09-03 Birth Curtis, William (I0199)
before 1831-05-02 Birth Rose, John (I0890)
1831-07-01 Marriage Wigg, George (I1031) and Rose, Martha (I0883)
1832-10-04 Marriage Rose, Susanna (I0832) and Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1834-12-07 Birth Rose, Robert (I0891)
before 1836-02-07 Birth Rose, John (I0834)
before 1837-07-23 Birth Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1838-04-14 Birth Rose, Samuel (I1022)
about 1839 Birth Tungate, George (I0852)
1839-06-03 Marriage Griffin, Jemima (I1033) and Rose, Richard (I0885)
before 1840-07-12 Birth Rose, Maria (I0893)
1841-08-15 Marriage Rose, Fitt (I0827) and Tungate,
Maria (I0830)
1841-12-06 Burial Briggs, John (I1526) Living at Wickhampton. Age 90
before 1842-06-18 Birth Rose, Maria (I0837)
before 1843-09-03 Birth Rose, Samuel (I0894)
1843-10-05 Burial Dingle, Thomas (I1446)
1845-10-00 Death Rose, John (I0248)
1847-04-08 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Gymer, Mary (I0895)
before 1848-09-10 Birth Rose, Hannah (I0897)
1850-02-18 Marriage Rose, John (I0890) and Hendry, Agnes (I0920)
before 1850-04-07 Birth Rose, Elizabeth (I0898)
before 1850-06-09 Birth Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1852-01-04 Birth Rose, Mary Ann (I0899)
before 1852-08-08 Birth Rose, George (I1009)
before 1854-05-16 Birth Rose, James (I0900)
1854-08-13 Baptism Rose, Robert (I0230)
before 1854-11-05 Birth Rose, Frederic (I1002)
before 1854-12-31 Birth Rose, Sarah (I0844)
before 1855-05-27 Death Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1855-06-25 Death Rose, Sarah (I0844)
1857-02-00 Death Rose, John (I0834)
before 1857-03-30 Death Rose, Hannah (I0897)
before 1858-06-06 Birth Rose, William (I0845)
1859-05-26 Marriage Hendry, Margaret (I0915) and Rose, William (I0889)
before 1860-01-26 Birth Rose, John Henry (I1006)
before 1861-01-12 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1025)
1861-12-04 Burial Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1862-03-00 Death Rose, Susanna (I0832)
before 1864-02-24 Death Rose, Mary Ann (I0838)
before 1864-03-18 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1864-10-19 Marriage Mitchell, Richard (I0938) and Rose, Maria (I0893)
before 1864-11-16 Death Rose, John (I0890)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1025)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1872-02-20 Marriage Rose, Mary Ann (I0899) and Alexander, Frederick (I0906)
before 1873-01-05 Death Rose, John (I0251)
1876-01-01 Marriage Rose, George (I1009) and Broom, Alice (I1010)
1876-04-18 Marriage Rose, Elizabeth (I0898) and Thompson, George (I0905)
before 1876-07-02 Birth Rose, William (I0930)
before 1878-05-26 Birth Rose, Herbert (I0932)
before 1879-05-04 Death Marshall, Elizabeth (I0881)
before 1879-07-13 Birth Rose, Laura (I1013)
before 1882-03-12 Birth Rose, Alice Maude (I1015)
before 1882-10-15 Birth Rose, Anna (I0934)
before 1884-12-16 Birth Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1884-12-21 Death Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1886-03-21 Birth Rose, Henry (I0935)
1886-10-18 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Manthorpe, Mary Ann (I0896)
1887-07-07 Marriage Scott, Sarah Elizabeth (I0846)
and Rose, William (I0845)
before 1891-01-22 Death Rose, Anna (I0934)
1891-02-00 Death Rose, Fitt (I0827)
1895-03-30 Marriage Thrower, George Frederick
Cooper (I1012) and Rose, Edith
(I1011)
1895-04-00 Death Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1895-05-03 Death Rose, George (I1009)
1900-04-21 Marriage Rose, Laura (I1013) and Benns, Clement Claude (I1014)
1901-04-27 Marriage Rose, William (I0930) and Nobbs, Mary Elizabeth (I0931)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I0933) and Rose, Herbert (I0932)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I1015) and Rose, Herbert (I1016)
before 1903-10-23 Death Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1926-06-19 Death Susanna (I0923)
before 1943-12-24 Death Rose, James (I0900)
before 1949-04-23 Death Rose, Mary Mendham (I0907)