Tracing my forbears in North Devon

Category: What's New at Hibbitt.org.uk

Barnstaple, North Devon
Barnstaple, North Devon

Our son has recently relocated to Barnstaple in North Devon and so I decided to see how close I could come to finding forbears who lived near there. I knew I had ancestors from North Devon and so I made a start by looking into my 5 x great-grandparents, James Alford (abt. 1772-1847) and his wife, Catherine Bellew (abt 1785-).

When the couple married, James was resident in Bideford and Catherine in nearby Westleigh, the latter being situated some 6.5 miles south-west of Barnstaple town centre.

James initially worked on the land as a husbandman in Great Torrington but by 1841, at the age of almost 70, he was described as a toll collector located at Chapelton Gate, Tawstock, about 6 miles south of Barnstaple.

After James' death in 1847, Catherine continued as a toll collector at the Turnpike Gate at Ashreigney, a few miles south of Chapelton. She was still described as a turnpike gate keeper ten years later in 1861, although she was visiting one of her daughters in Bridgetown, Tawstock, on the day the census was taken. Catherine was approximately 76 years old and still working.

Map of North Devon
Map of North Devon

The Alfords came from High Bickington and before this, in the early 18th century, from Roborough by Torrington. I am familiar with a Roborough in the north of Plymouth and, at the back of my mind I seemed to recall there was another Roborough in Devon. What I didn't know was that there is a third Roborough, an area very near to Barnstaple itself.

My 8 x great-grandparents, Lewis Alford and Mary Beale, married in Roborough by Torrington (14 miles due south of Barnstaple) in 1704 and their son, also called Lewis, married a Mary Alford and so Mary didn't need to change her name after she'd wed. This couple had ten children, one of whom was called George, a yeoman born in 1747, who married Margaret Hern/Hearn. These were my 6 x great-grandparents and they are buried at High Bickington, about 4 miles north-east of Roborough.

Margaret's parents were John Hearn and Frances Newcombe who were both from High Bickington. Four years after John's death, Frances remarried, this time to a John Richards. John Hearn's parents were Robert Hearn and Margaret Edworthy who married in High Bickington in 1714 and Frances was the daughter of William Newcombe and Joan Crocker.

Catherine Bellew's forbears all came from Yarnscombe which lies approximately 8 miles south of Barnstaple. Her parents, William Bellew and Catherine Paddon, were born in about 1750 and 1752 respectively. Catherine Paddon's parents were Peter Paddon and Sara Isaac who married in Yarnscombe in 1748.

Back to my 6 x great-grandfather, William Bellew, his parents were Henry Bellew and Mary Fursman. Henry was born in Yarnscombe in about 1719, the first of seven children belonging to William Bellew and Elizabeth Milton. This William Bellew was born in the 17th century, the son of my 9 x great-grandparents, Laurence Bellew and Mary Mogridg who married in 1682. Laurence was a yeoman when he died in 1713, having left a will, an abstract of which has apparently survived. I have yet to discover the contents of this document.

Finally, I have the name of my 10 x great-grandfather, William Mogridg, but nothing more is known about him.

None of these ancestors made it all the way to Barnstaple but James Alford and Catherine Bellew did in fact come very close.

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Sentimental Sunday: My Granny Geake would have been 100 today

Category: Sharing Memories

My Granny Geake
My Granny Geake.

What a celebration we would have had if my Granny (Phyllis Grace Geake, nee Weaver) was still with us as she would have been 100 years old today. This is a photo of her celebrating her 80th birthday. Cheers Gran and thanks for the memories!

[Why Sentimental Sunday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

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100 Years But Not Forgotten

Category: Ancestors Corner

Henry James Weaver
Henry James Weaver. R.I.P.

I can't let today pass without marking the centenary of the death of my great-grandfather, Henry (Harry) James Weaver. I've blogged a number of times before about how he was accidentally killed when a bomb (hand grenade) prematurely detonated during training back at the base after serving in the trenches in WW1. Therefore, today I thought it would be fitting to simply post a photograph of my Granny Geake's father, whose presence in her life she dearly missed.

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Remembering my hilarious Granny on her birthday

Category: Sharing Memories

Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando
My Granny Hibbitt: Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando.

My Granny Hibbitt (Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando) was born on 1st September 1904 above a sweet and tobacconist shop called the Golden Butterfly in Saffron Walden in Essex.

After moving to Plymouth with her family, she attended Gunnerside School for Girls situated in North Road East in Plymouth. In 1920 she joined the Post Office working as a telephone operator and married my Grandpa in 1931, having previously been engaged to three other men. Way to go, Granny! She later worked in Bond, Pearce, Eliott & Knape Solicitors in Plymouth until she retired in 1961.

Much of Granny and Grandpa's early married life was spent in Tavistock where they rented a bungalow which they named Walden after Granny's birth place. They retired to the village of East Allington in the South Hams and I can remember many happy visits to their house, days spent on Grandpa's little boat on the Kingsbridge/Salcombe estuary and walks down by the local stream where there was an abundance of bluebells.

Granny had a funny turn of phrase. She was well-spoken but would mess around with words too, sometimes pretending to be posh (with huge tongue in cheek) and then using poor grammar on purpose just because she liked the sound of it, I guess. Here's an excerpt of a letter she wrote to my dad in 1950 when dad was presumably away on a course...

"...We are very glad you are coming back and your honourable Father will meet you at North Road Station whence you will proceed to the offices of the most important and highly respected solicitors in the West of England and pick up your most esteemed Mother. Thence to your country home in the wilds of Dartmoor."

She goes on...

"I am of a most desolate miserable disconsolateness about my Peter Lansdale wot only got 8 points. I had set my heart on him winning it, the poor darling. I expect some beastly, dirty, filthy, lousy, swinish, form of human life in the shape of another speedway rider put his elbows out and pushed my Pete..."

She did make me laugh a lot, did Gran.

After Grandpa died in 1972, Granny stayed on in their cottage until her final year in 1992.

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Our Family Tree Pedigree Charts are now online

Category: What's New at Hibbitt.org.uk

A section from Annie's Pedigree Chart
A section from Annie's Pedigree Chart

I've added a new feature to my family history website - family tree pedigree charts of Harvey's and my direct ancestors. The charts are in PDF format and can be zoomed in and out in order to view different parts of the family.

These charts are especially useful as a starting point for those matching our DNA but they can also help anyone interested in finding out where individuals might fit into our trees.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ANNIE'S AND HARVEY'S ANCESTORS CHARTS

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The Barnes Family Tree has grown

Category: What's New at Hibbitt.org.uk

Barnes Family Tree

You haven't seen many blog posts from me in recent months but this isn't to say I haven't been busy with genealogy. On the contrary, I thought it was about time I worked on expanding Harvey's family tree which, until recently, had 88 individuals within 32 families. The BARNES Tree has now grown to 506 individuals within 171 families covering all of Harvey's ancestral lines.

Some branches remain fairly sparse whereas others reach back to the 17th century and it's interesting to discover where some of his families come from.

Harvey's dad was from Newlyn in Cornwall and three quarters of Harvey's paternal side hailed from this area or from within a few miles of the village. Some of the primary names include BARNES, HARVEY, THOMAS, REYNOLDS, DAWES, TRELEAVEN, TREGURTHA, KEIGWIN, KELYNACK, COTTON, TONKIN, REED, PAUL, LEAH and GUY. The final quarter comprised the WRIGHT family from East Devon and the DEVERILL family from Mere in Wiltshire.

Harvey's maternal families are more widely spread. His grandad's father, William SMITH, was from Selkirk and the generation before him was from Dumfries. Harvey's grandad's mother's line was the London-based BYDEN family with older generations originating from Southampton and there were also the DAVEYs from Sussex. We also find offshoots from Harvey's maternal grandmother living in parts of Kent. These were the GARDNER, BUTCHER, CROTHALL, LAW and WORGER families. In London we find ancestors by the names of ADAMS and HARLEY. Finally, in Norfolk, we have the APPLEGATE, ALLEN, BIRD, EVERETT, JACKSON and WABON families.

There are two 9 x great-grandfathers in the tree; Richard JENNENS/JENNINGS from Ludgvan, Cornwall, whose eldest child was born in about 1684; and John ARGOLL, also from Ludgvan, whose daughter was born in about 1681. There may, in fact, be 8 x great-grandparents who were even older; Robert BUTCHER and his wife, Mary STROUDE, married in Monks Horton, Kent, in 1670.

The least developed branch are the Scottish SMITH family, hindered by the fact that I don't have access to many Scottish records and the surname being so common. Nevertheless, I hope to make some more discoveries in future as we are still within the number of generations where autosomal DNA can help to provide answers.

Please click here to explore the BARNES FAMILY TREE.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Church Record Sunday: DNA helps me find more ancestors

Category: DNA

St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel
St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel.

My latest breakthrough has come via DNA testing. For some time now I have known my 5 x great-grandmother was called Anne Twogood/Toogood. She married my 5 x great-grandfather, Robert Weaver snr., in Curry Rivel, Somerset, in 1779 but I had nothing else to go on. There were no suitable baptisms in the village and I didn't know when she was born.

Then last week I received an email from a person matching my maternal aunt's DNA and I immediately noticed the name, Toogood, in his tree. It turns out this person is descended from Anne's brother, James Toogood, and so, through parish records, I was able to ascertain that my 6 x great-grandparents were Robert Toogood and Elizabeth Ostler.

Robert Toogood was baptized in nearby Aller and this is where he married Elizabeth. I went on to discover that Elizabeth's family were from Curry Rivel and so my association with this village on this line dates back to at least the early 18th century when my 7 x great-grandparents, Edward Ostler and Mary Rich, married there in 1724 and had a total of eleven children. Sadly, so many of them died as infants or children, two of them being buried within a week of each other.

Because of the random nature of DNA, it's interesting to note that my mum didn't share any DNA with this match so, not surprisingly, neither did I. This is why it's great to have other family members tested.

[Why Church Record Sunday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

New Genealogical DNA web page

Category: DNA

DNA

I have today launched a new page on my website briefly outlining a few suggestions for people who match our families' DNA.

There are plenty of resources on the internet offering detailed information about the subject of genealogical DNA. Rather than reinventing the wheel, my page is a starter for anyone who thinks they may be related to me or Harvey and would like to know where we tested and what else they can do with their DNA results in order to carry out deeper analysis.

Topics include: 'Cousins, please consider testing', 'What is the AncestryDNA test' and 'Upload your raw data to GEDmatch'.

Click to view my Genealogical DNA web page.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Sympathy Saturday: Remembering Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando

Category: Sharing Memories

Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando
My paternal grandmother, Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando.

Remembering my Granny Hibbitt (Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando) today on the 24th anniversary of her death.

[Why Sympathy Saturday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

My AncestryDNA results say I'm from the Emerald Isle

Category: DNA

Annie's Ethnicity Chart
Annie's Ethnicity Chart

Yesterday, I received the results of my AncestryDNA test. In a previous post I hinted that I thought I'd be predominantly British with possibly some Irish, Scandinavian and Western European genes. I wasn't too far off except to learn that I've inherited a substantial percentage of Irish ethnicity, estimated to be more than half.

I find this quite surprising as the only link to Ireland that I've made is a 2 x great-grandmother on my mother's side. I believe she was called Mary Ann Burgoyne but there is even confusion over her maiden name as my great-grandmother's birth certificate states she was previously called Congdon.

Mary Ann married John Gale Hellier/Hellyer in Shanagolden, Limerick, Ireland in 1871 and their first child was born in Devonport, Plymouth in 1878. John was in the Royal Navy but it is nevertheless puzzling as to why there were so many years between the marriage and the children arriving, especially as I have a feeling he may have been shored-based at various times during this period. Did Mary Ann stay in Ireland for a few years after she was married?

To add to the confusion, Mary Ann's father, William, was described as a sailor on her marriage certificate so it is possible that her own family moved around when she was growing up. Burgoyne is not an uncommon name in Tavistock, Devon, which is where the Hellyer family were from so could she have been a local girl after all?

None of this explains the exceptionally strong Irish connection in my DNA but, as DNA is passed down randomly, it's possible that I've inherited more Irish genes than I might have done if I'd been created on another day!

The DNA results incorporate hundreds of years, even up to a thousand, so it was interesting, though not surprising, to discover that I'm definitely from the European continent:

Ireland - 52%
Great Britain - 15%
Scandinavia - 15%
Iberian Peninsula (ie. Spain & Portugal) - 10%
Europe West - 5%

Plus less than 1% traces each of Europe West, Italy/Greece and Asia South which apparently may or may not be part of my genetic ethnicity.

Obviously there was a lot of migration between neighbouring regions so these figures are merely estimates but I find it fascinating nonetheless.

If other family members take the test, it makes it easier to see which DNA matches we have in common and therefore can offer clues about how we might be related to other people and which ancestral line we are connected through. My mum and dad have already agreed to take part.

If you're related to me and this interests you, may I encourage you to take an AncestryDNA test so we can compare notes and find those elusive ancestors.

You can see my ethnicity page here.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]
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