Harry William Downing 1876-1915 Painter and Sailor of Southend-on-Sea and Bristol, and my third great uncle Harry was the third child of Henry and Harriet Downing, brother to Emily, Joseph and my great great grandmother Annie. He was born in Steeple, Essex, in 1876. I am pleased to say that Harry was not a bigamist … Continue reading Harry William Downing: Lost at Sea
While we are on the subject of the Whibley family (no, I still haven't heard from Ronan Quick), I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my great great grandfather, Richard Whibley, a school gardener.
For the last four months, one name has sat at the top of my AncestryDNA messages. Ronan Quick. Out of the 10,000+ AncestryDNA members who share some DNA with me, Ronan is my top match. But how am I related to Ronan, who lives in a tiny town on the other side of the world?
Jack and Herbert were the children of Emily Downing, the oldest daughter of Henry Downing. They were cousins to my great grandfather Frederick. They were both civilians killed during The Blitz.
Joseph is a relative that I still have many unanswered questions about - so you may find this post resurfaces in future with some updates. Who was his first wife, and where did she go?
Last time I wrote about the Beales of Biddenden. My Beale ancestor was not a Richard, but John Beale, the ninth of Rich Richard's ten children. Though not as wayward as his brother Crusty Richard, John also provided his share of headaches to the Beales. John's mother's (Frances Beale, nee Witherden) letters are kept by the Biddenden History Society, and according to a Beale cousin who has seen them, she was in frequent dismay at John's behaviour, which included gambling and sending his washing back to River Hall. Frances also expressed disapproval at John's choice of wife, Elizabeth Hope, so much so that she apparently forbade the marriage. John seems to have paid lip service only to her wishes and had four children with Elizabeth out of wedlock, giving them the surname "Beale Hope", before finally marrying her in 1850, four years before his mother's death but long after his father's. They went on to have another ten children after the wedding! Why did the Beales disapprove of Elizabeth so much?
Rich Richard came from a long line of successful Beales in Biddenden. They owned a beautiful country house called River Hall, which is still in existence now. Built in the 1400s and refurbished in the 1700s. It is now a listed building, probably worth several million pounds. River Hall was not only the Beales' home but the seat of their cloth-making business. It had been passed down through nine generations of Beales before this story begins. Said Beales had massive altar tombs in the churchyard at All Saints Church, Biddenden, and plaques in their memory within the church. They were clearly very rich and highly respected. How did they come to end up with nothing?
Genealogy really is the art of uncovering secrets, in most cases, the secrets of people who are long dead. Most of these secrets are far enough detached from your real life to be truly upsetting, but when you start delving into the past, you must be prepared for the possibility of finding something quite upsetting. Read more...
For a long time I believed that Samuel Downing, the first son of Southminster patriach Joseph Downing, had died in infancy. It seemed the logical conclusion - there was no sign of him in any of the Southminster records or anywhere else in England for that matter and the parish register from the relevant years that would show his burial had been destroyed. His mother and sister had also disappeared in this period, and his mother was clearly dead, as Joseph had remarried and described himself as a widower.Read more...
Randolph was a blue nosed greyhound, the son of national two prize winning greyhounds, High Tory and Heptarchy. He is better remembered than many of his human contemporaries. Read more