My Granny Geake - photos, cine and video footage

Category: Cine Films and Videos

Posting photographs, cine and video footage of my Granny Geake (born Phyllis Grace Weaver: 1916-2005) on what would have been her 105th birthday. Known as Phyl, she was born in Tavistock in Devon ten days after her father was killed in WWI. Orphaned before the age of five, she went to live with her maternal grandparents where she later said she was somewhat spoilt by her uncles. After her grandmother died in 1925, Phyllis lived with her aunt, Edith Ellen Martin, and uncle, John Luxton Martin. The environment was stricter but Phyllis later said it did her good. She was intelligent but was denied a place at the grammar school because she had no father.

She married my Grandpa in 1938 and they lived in Tavistock all their married lives. However, the Second World War meant they didn't see each other for four years between 1941 and 1945. During this time Phyllis developed an overactive thyroid and became gravely ill before having an operation to remove the gland.

Phyllis worked in Leonard's Shoe Shop and also in a newsagent's shop as well as helping my Grandpa with his fruit and vegetable round. She took great pleasure in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was well known for her broad Devonshire accent and raucous laugh. She was plucky, generous and hospitable, always wanting to feed you up whenever you visited. She laid on many family Christmases and when I stayed with her as a child, we always stopped for elevenses which was a special one-to-one time.

Phyllis finally left Tavistock in 2004 to go to live in a retirement flat in Plymouth but not before organising the sale of nearly all of her furniture (and not through the internet either). She died the following year, leaving a big hole in the family where a kind and bright personality once was.


This video can also be viewed on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSyLHS1HD2M and in my website video gallery.

Music: The Entertainer (1902, piano roll) by Scott Joplin

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Paying tribute to Henry Weaver

Category: Sharing Memories

The weather was perfect on that day in October 1999 when my family visited the town of Merville in France. It was the early days of the internet and I used my dial-up connection to organise the trip, feeling quite proud of myself arranging the hotel and train and bus journeys, all without being able to speak French.

My gran, Phyllis Grace Geake, nee Weaver, had never seen her father's grave until that day. Henry James Weaver died on 8th September 1916, killed by accident in WWI when a hand-grenade detonated prematurely whilst the men were training at the base during a rest period. Ten days later, gran was born.

My gran, mum, dad, aunt, my son and I took a train from Plymouth to London, then the Eurostar under the Channel Tunnel to Lille, where we stayed in a hotel. The next day we boarded a train to Armentieres and then a bus from there to Merville. I remember the bus journey to this day as the driving was eratic and we were veering all over the place. Scary!

When we arrived at the village we found a little French cafe where they dished up the best omelette I've ever tasted. Then we made our way to the edge of the town where the cemetery was situated. Gran was 83 and had arthritis but she managed to walk there. Being October, it was quite bitter but we were all wrapped up warm and someone had carried a little seat for gran to sit on when we arrived.

This photograph always seems so poignant to me, seeing my gran sat there with her thoughts after laying the wreath I'd bought from the Royal British Legion before we left England.

Phyllis Grace Geake (nee Weaver) by her father's grave in Merville Communal Cemetery
Phyllis Grace Geake (nee Weaver) by her father's grave
in Merville Communal Cemetery

Henry is buried in the shadow of the Great Cross, alongside the two other men who died in the same accident, Lance-Sergeant AW Mead and Private JS Litchfield. He's also commemorated on the War Memorial in his home village of Curry Rivel, Somerset, and his wife's town of Tavistock, Devon.

The grave of Henry James Weaver (3 Oct 1882 - 8 Sep 1916)
The grave of Henry James Weaver (3 Oct 1882 - 8 Sep 1916)

After we all signed the Visitor's Book, we made our way back to Lille and spent another day there before coming home. I was glad we managed to take gran to Merville and she went again with my brother some time after this. It was something she always wanted to do because I know she missed not growing up with a father. In fact, she was orphaned altogether before the age of 5 but, somewhat ironically, she was the one grandparent I had who spoke about her family, even though she had virtually no memories of them.

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Solving the next Ridley Riddle

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

In my previous post, I described how I learnt that Joseph Ridley and Mary Dean were the parents of my 2 x great-grandfather, Henry Frederick Ridley. My next task was to discover where Joseph and Mary came from and how they fitted into their families.

I'll begin with Mary. First of all, I found her in the 1841 census living with Joseph in Brewery Street in Aston, Birmingham, with a number of their children. Their surname was spelt Riddly, just to make things difficult! After Joseph's death in 1847, I initially struggled to determine what had become of Mary. However, I eventually came across her by accident in 1851 as a visitor in a household headed up by a John Dodds, along with her 3 year old daughter, Mary Ann. They were located at Stoke Works, Stoke Prior in Worcestershire. I'd originally missed Mary when I first viewed this particular census record as she was no longer called Ridley. The only reason I'd found the record in the first instance was because I was looking up her daughter. Mary, herself was now called Mary Hill but it wasn't until I discovered a newspaper notice in the Birmingham Journal that I realised Mary had remarried a William Hill, less than four months after Joseph's death and so the Mary Hill listed in the Dodds household was indeed my Mary Ridley, nee Dean.

Descendants of Sarah Dean
Descendants of Sarah Dean

The good news was the 1851 census stated Mary's birthplace as Lichfield in Staffordshire so I next set about looking for her baptism entry. I knew her approximate birth date was around 1811. The only entry I could find which fitted the bill was a baptism on the 4th March 1810 at St Chad, Lichfield, Staffordshire, "Mary illegitimate daughter of Sarah Dean". This then, became the end of the road on the Dean line as I couldn't find where Sarah was from and I didn't know her age and, with Mary being illegitimate, I had no knowledge of who her father might have been. Searches for Mary after 1851 have also proved fruitless so I'm not certain when she died but I don't think it was long after this.

Turning now to Joseph, I was unsure of his birthplace. The only census record he appeared in was in 1841, living in Birmingham, Warwickshire. The specific place of birth was not a census question for that year. The answer was 'Yes' to being born in the county but, then again, the same answer was given for Mary and we now know that she was born in Staffordshire.

Joseph's age at death meant he would have been born in around 1811 but I could find no baptism record for Joseph in Birmingham. I was running out of options so I decided to concentrate on the whereabouts of Joseph's children as well as any potential siblings.

Descendants of Samuel Ridley
Descendants of Samuel Ridley

As already mentioned, Joseph's daughter, Mary Ann, was with her mother in 1851 and I found her again in 1861, this time residing in Catherine Street, Aston, Birmingham, and crucially she was labelled as a niece. The head of the household was Frederick Ridley who, by definition, must have been her uncle. I proceeded to look into Frederick and discovered that he was born in Birmingham in about 1819. Again, there was no baptism but Frederick married twice and both marriage certificates recorded his father as Samuel Ridley, a carpenter by trade. In fact, Samuel was a witness at Frederick's first wedding.

Keen to find more evidence I discovered Joseph's daughter, Mary Ann, residing at Canal Street in Birmingham in 1871. This time she was listed as a lodger, the head of the household being an Emma Hood. This meant nothing to me at that stage but when I went in search of Joseph's possible siblings, there was an Emma Ridley who married John Hood in 1842 in Aston. Could Emma have been Joseph's sister? Her marriage certificate also showed a father called Samuel described as a cabinet maker, which would be in keeping with a carpenter.

Emma was living with a family by the name of Lee (sometimes spelt Lees) in 1841, 1851 and 1861. The head of the household, John Lee, had married Ann Ridley in Aston in 1824, another potential sister for Joseph. Also residing with the Lee family in 1841 was a 26 year old John Ridley, who married Emma Ketteridge in 1846, and who also stated his father was Samuel Ridley, a carpenter, so it looks likely that John Ridley was a brother. Indeed, witnesses at his wedding were Frederick and Ann Ridley, Ann most likely being Frederick's first wife, Ann Cobley.

In 1851, the Lee family had a 'visitor' called Joseph Ridley, born in about 1835. This turned out to be Joseph and Mary's son and so I'd found an aunt/nephew connection similar to that of the uncle/niece connection previously mentioned. In fact, Joseph junior was baptised on the very same day in the same church as Ann Lee's son, John Lee junior, even though John was already three years old.

The final piece of the puzzle came, once again, with the use of DNA. You may recall in my previous post that a new person had appeared in my dad's DNA match list which showed a connection to Joseph Ridley and Mary Dean. Well, this same person kindly allowed me access to his DNA results and I discovered that he had a match who is descended from Joseph's brother, Frederick Ridley and his wife, Ann Cobley. This then implied a common ancestor being Samuel Ridley. Yes!

As you can see, it's very useful to have Viewer access to the DNA match lists of other people descended from your ancestors as you get more bites of the cherry, so-to-speak. Ancestry allows this but I'm not sure how easily it can be done on any other DNA websites.

Ideally, I would like to see at least three descendants all sharing DNA at this level but the probability of this happening as the generations grow more distant is much decreased. Every generation loses 50% of their DNA from each parent as they pick up the combination from both of their parents to bring them back to 100%. This is why it's so important to test the oldest generation available.

I never did find a single baptism for any of the children of Samuel, and I'm not entirely certain as to who his wife was either. I can't say whether it would pass the genealogical standard of proof but I'm confident of my findings and feel the evidence for Samuel being my 4 x great-grandfather is compelling.

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DNA finally knocks down my brick wall

Category: DNA

I recently made some headway with a family history brick wall. For many years I'd been stuck on my 2 x great-grandfather, Henry Ridley. I was even beginning to wonder whether he was in fact my biological ancestor as I couldn't find any suitable DNA matches amongst my family's DNA kits.

All I had to go on was the 1871 census where he appeared alongside my 2 x great-grandmother, Hannah Maria Cotterill who, at the time, was specified as Ann Ridley but they were never actually married. She, too, was a brick wall of mine for quite some time but I managed to make some progress on her a few years ago.

The Family of Henry Ridley & Hannah Cotterill
The Family of Henry Ridley & Hannah Cotterill

Anyway, the census implied that Henry was born in about 1841. Mind you, his age was very difficult to read so I wasn't exactly sure. It also stated he was born in Birmingham which didn't give me a lot to go on as Birmingham was quite a reasonable size, even back then, having a population of 183,000. Further investigation showed there were a number of Henry Ridleys to choose from so I wasn't really sure where to begin.

Some time ago, as an exercise, in order to try and untangle the many Ridley families, I began making a list of Ridley references from the Birmingham parish and census records. After doing this, I was still none the wiser. For instance, I discovered there were two Joseph and Mary Ridleys living in adjacent streets, both having children at the same time. Thank goodness they had different occupations. I hypothesised that one of these couples might have been Henry's parents as there was a baptism of a Henry, in 1840 with parents with these names. Nevertheless there were other Henry Ridleys born around those few years and, remember, I couldn't be absolutely certain of his age. In addition, I couldn't find a suitable birth record, so I was well and truly stumped.

Then, out of the blue I was checking my dads DNA matches the other day when I discovered a new match with dad and another person who is also descended from Henry, making three Ridley descendants sharing DNA with each other. Bingo! The good news was that this new match linked into our Ridley line a generation above Henry and so I was finally able to ascertain who Henry's parents were. It turned out they were indeed one of the Joseph and Mary Ridley couples. In fact, Henry had a middle name. His full name was Henry Frederick Ridley. I'd seen this before in my searches but was hesitant to make the assumption that this was my Henry as Frederick hadn't previously appeared on any other record that I could link him with. I eventually found an entry in the birth indexes whereby he was just named Frederick, without the Henry, believe it or not! As it turns out, this is a very complicated family to research.

The new DNA match is descended from another Joseph Ridley, Henry's brother, who was born in 1835. This particular Joseph also appears to have had a slightly complicated life. I found two probable marriages for him to the same woman. He married Eliza Goodman in 1855 and then again in 1871, it seems. They had five children but sadly four of them died, all before the age of five. Joseph was in the army and was posted to Calcutta. In November 1871 their youngest child, Samuel, was buried whilst the family were abroad. Why did they marry twice? Did Joseph and Eliza go through a second wedding because they'd lost their first marriage certificate and needed to prove to the army they were married before travelling abroad? This is purely speculation, the answer will doubtless never surface.

The Family of Joseph Ridley & Eliza Goodman
The Family of Joseph Ridley & Eliza Goodman

Back to Henry. Now that I had his middle name, I was able to confirm what had been my suspicions for a while. I wasn't certain what had become of him after he and Hannah had parted company but there was a marriage to an Anne Elizabeth Shipman in Sheffield in 1873 and their marriage certificate confirmed that Henry's father was Joseph Ridley, a metal mixer, which was conducive to his known occupation as a caster. The sad fact is this wedding took place less than 18 months after my great-grandmother, Alice, was born, so it's quite possible that she never knew her father. Indeed she gave the occupation of her stepfather when she got married in 1895 and stated that her father was deceased which wasn't the case at all.

The Family of Henry Ridley & Anne Elizabeth Shipman
The Family of Henry Ridley & Anne Elizabeth Shipman

Henry was a blacksmith and appears to have been itinerant. After the five children he'd had with Hannah, he went on to have six with Anne, who was known by her middle name, Elizabeth. All of these six children were born in different places and, all but the two youngest, died in infancy. The last surviving daughter, Jane, lived until 1971 but I wasn't able to discover any children she might have had with her husband, David Kimpton.

The youngest child, Joseph Henry, born in 1890, died in the First World War in April 1915 and his name appears on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres. His service record stated that his personal property and medals were to go to a Samuel Drury of 62 Ryton Terrace, North Anston, Sheffield, described as the 'soldier's guardian'. It seems he'd lost touch with his sister, Jane, and I believe both Henry and Elizabeth must have died by then but I haven't been able to find out where or when. It's quite sad as Samuel Drury stated, "No knowledge of relatives - came to ask to be taken in, for a home, we did so. He lived with us some seven years before the war". Mrs Drury was his landlady and his sister was understood to be living in the Sheffield locality but it wasn't known exactly where. Nevertheless, they may have caught up with her eventually, as there is a faint note on the record stating, "Sister notified".

I discovered one final snippet of information about Henry. When he was 17 years old, he was sentenced to six months in prison for breaking into a house and stealing clothes and other articles. Henry's father had died when he was only seven years old and I wasn't able to find him in the 1851 census at all. His mother, who'd remarried, had his younger sister with her, but where was 11 year old Henry? I can't help wondering whether he was living hand-to-mouth from an early age and maybe this is why he'd turned to crime. We shall probably never know the truth but who am I to judge? I suspect his life would have been disparate and chaotic. He was probably very poor and had to go wherever he could find work. Unfortunately, this would have been all too common in the inner cities of Victorian Britain and I, for one, am very glad I wasn't around then.

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Aerial photograph of Kalat Fort - 1934

Category: Famous Connections

The 31st May - being the anniversary of the 1935 Earthquake in Quetta, I thought I'd have a rummage around in Harvey's Grandad's archive where I found a number of aerial photographs. Regular followers may remember that Cyril Ellen was in the RAF and, during this period, he was the Squadron Leader of No 5 (A.C.) Sqdn based in Quetta.

Whilst many of the photographs are loose, some are labelled on the back. The remainder appear in a report entitled Annual Flight Through Mekran - 1934. The photographs were taken in November of that year and little would they have known about the devastation which was to follow six months later.

This particular photograph appears to be labelled Kalat Fort, although I stand to be corrected if I've misread the writing. The earthquake in Balochistan, British India (now part of Pakistan), caused destruction in almost all the towns close to Quetta including the city itself and tremors were felt as far as Agra, now in India. The largest aftershock occurred on 2 June 1935. This however did not cause any damage in Quetta but the towns of Mastung, Maguchar and Kalat were seriously affected by this aftershock.


Kalat Fort circa 1934
Click the image for a larger version.


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A modest update to Harvey's Y-DNA

Category: DNA

I logged into FamilyTreeDNA today, something I hadn't done for quite some time, and noticed that Harvey has travelled down the Y-DNA haplotree a couple of more branches. This would be because there have been new people taking the test. Previously, Harvey was located at S18890 but now he has moved through FT161969 to BY100453.

What does this mean? Well, not a lot at this stage except that it's encouraging to know that others are still interested in taking the Big-Y DNA test. The FT161969 > BY100453 in Cornwall (Harvey's line) is a long thin line with parallel Dutch and Finnish lines going back to 450 AD and it may be Norman. We still await a Barnes man from Cornwall, or elsewhere, to give Harvey a closer match.

Section of the Y-haplotree showing Harvey's BY100453 subclade
Section of the Y-haplotree showing Harvey's BY100453 subclade


See more on Harvey's Y-DNA here

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Remembering Grandpa

Category: On This Day...

Funeral flowers placed on the grave of Charles George Hibbitt
Funeral flowers placed on the grave of Charles George Hibbitt

On this day in 1972, my Grandpa, Charles George Hibbitt, died aged 73, at South Hams Hospital in Kingsbridge, Devon.

He was buried with his sister, Nellie, at Drake Memorial Park in Plymstock on 12th October. I drive past this cemetery when I visit my parents and I still pay my respects at the grave from time to time.

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My Granny Hibbitt - photos, cine and video footage

Category: Cine Films and Videos

Photographs, cine and video footage of my Granny Hibbitt (born Ivy Alice Dando: 1904-1992).

Known as Isey, she was born above her grandmother's sweet shop known as the Golden Butterfly in Saffron Walden in Essex. Her father was a dentist and, by 1910, the family had moved to Plymouth in Devon.

Isey was employed in the telephone exchange where presumably she met my Grandpa who also worked for the G.P.O. (General Post Office). Much of their married life was spent in Tavistock during which time she worked for a solicitor's firm in Plymouth. They retired to East Allington in the South Hams area of Devon and Isey outlived her husband by 20 years.

Isey's hobbies included making wine and collecting shells on the nearby Devon beaches. She then attached them to terracotta pots using Polyfilla or sometimes she used tiny square tiles and she'd let me have a go too. I remember her as kind and diplomatic with a vivacious personality and a lively sense of humour.


This video can also be viewed on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuyq3LZ4j-E and in my website video gallery.

Music: Cheezy Piano Medley by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


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On This Day in 1869 and 1959

Category: On This Day...

I have only just realized that one of my dad's grandfathers was born on this day, 2nd August, and the other died on this day.

Alfred Charles Newbold Hibbitt was born on 2nd August 1869 at Back 20, Chester Street, Birmingham, Warwickshire. He joined the Royal Navy in 1885 and went on to become a Chief Petty Officer in the Coastguards. He was invalided out in 1920 and died in 1928.

Alfred Charles Newbold Hibbitt with his daughter, Nellie
Alfred Charles Newbold Hibbitt with his daughter, Nellie

Charles Llewellyn Ernest Elbert Dando died on 2nd August 1959 at Moorhaven Hospital, Ugborough, Totnes, Devon. His death certificate shows he died of pulmonary oedema and pneumonia, left heart failure, anaemia and carcinoma of the prostate. He was born at 86 Regent Street, London, on 4th June 1876 and worked as a dentist for half a century.

Charles Llewellyn Ernest Elbert Dando with his wife, Alice
Charles Llewellyn Ernest Elbert Dando with his wife, Alice, at Goodrington

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Big update at my family history website

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

It's been some time since I revised my online family tree although I've been working in the background for almost two years since the last update. The tree has now increased from 2051 individuals within 574 families to 2544 individuals within 709 families. I can't list all of the changes but I will highlight some of the main ones.

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Firstly, I've updated the following files in the Family Tree Charts section:
Annie's HIBBITT, DANDO, GEAKE & WEAVER Ancestors Chart - both in pdf and html format.
Annie's Ancestor Fan Chart.

In the same section, I've also added a pedigree chart for my half 2nd cousin once removed (Chart 4) whose DNA I manage. We both share an ancestor on our matrilineal lines. My cousin's family tree web pages can be navigated by clicking on the father/mother links beginning at this page. My 2 x great-grandmother, Grace Martin, was my cousin's great-grandmother.

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Since DNA has shown a break in my HIBBITT line, I've altered my tree to demonstrate this. I'm not completely certain where the break comes but I suspect it is either with my 2 x great-grandfather or my great-grandfather. I have currently made the assumption that my 2 x great-grandfather, Charles Newbold Hibbitt, was 'adopted' by Amos Hibbitt and Mahala Newbold and I've placed a note on the family pages to this effect.

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Previously, one of my paternal lines stopped at my 5 x great-grandparents, Abraham Woodall & Martha Lee but I've added parents for Martha and a few more generations back from Abraham. At the moment the information is sparse but I will flesh this branch of the family out with siblings and more detailed notes in due course.

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Turning to my maternal side, I have added a number of generations beyond my 4 x great-grandmother, Sarah Street, since the discovery of an old Family Bible which was able to confirm Sarah's parents' names. I do still need to undertake further work on this branch of the family too when time permits.

Family Bible showing the names of Sarah Street's parents
Family Bible showing the names of Sarah Street's parents

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Finally, I have undertaken quite a lot of work on the family of my 2 x great-grandparents, John Gale Hellier & Mary Ann Congdon. I've added detailed notes for their children, including for my great-grandmother, Sarah May Hellyer. Several of John and Mary Ann's children died in infancy including both twins and the youngest son, died at the age of nine, most probably of polio. The youngest daughter, Jane, died in the 1918 flu epidemic at the age of 29. All of the children were below the age of 18 by the time they were orphaned which meant that many of them were separated from each other, being sent to live in orphanages or with relatives.

Mary Ann Congdon had long been a mystery to me but I have finally made some progress on her family line. I wasn't sure whether her name was Congdon or Burgoyne but it turns out that William Burgoyne was her stepfather. Her parents were James Condon and Louisa Reed. Very little is known about James but he probably died before Mary Ann was 4 years old. Her mother, Louisa went on to marry William George Henry Burgoyne in 1857 but it seems the marriage was not a happy one according to a court case in 1883 where Louisa was accused of assaulting her husband and being a drunk. Not surprisingly, the couple separated.

Louisa Reed's parents were George Reed and Bridget Ellis although for some unknown reason, Bridget also went by the name of Catherine or Kate. It's believed she was from Cork in Ireland which might explain some of my Irish DNA.

You will find detailed footnotes for the Reed and Ellis families on their particular family web pages, including newspaper articles outlining the dispute between Louisa Reed and her husband, William Burgoyne.

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