Annie Catherine Downing: Found Mutilated on the Line

Annie Catherine Downing 1877-1899 Domestic Servant of Southend, Essex, and my great great grandmother. My mother actually started tracing the family tree before I did.  The person who sparked her interest was her grandfather's mother.  She knew her grandfather, Frederick, had been brought up by his uncle, because his mother had died.  She did not … Continue reading Annie Catherine Downing: Found Mutilated on the Line

Ronan Quick Update

Or rather, lack of update, as I seem to have hit another wall! In my last post about my mysterious third-cousin-or-closer, I talked about how "Ronan" and I most likely shared a set of great-great grandparents, or a singular great grandparent, and based on the matches we had in common, I knew that the connection … Continue reading Ronan Quick Update

Harry William Downing: Lost at Sea

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

Ronan Quick: The Mystery Cousin

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?

Thomas Sharp Hope: My Emigrant Ancestor

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?

The Beales of River Hall

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?

The Small World of Genealogy

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from one of my matches on (a DNA genealogy website).  I was particularly pleased to hear from Duncan because unlike most of my matches, he was English with a tree full of English people and possible connections. But there was a shock in store...