I'm currently taking part in the MIND initiative, RED January - the purpose of which is to do some form of exercise every day to raise awareness of mental health issues and how exercise affects the mental health. While I'm doing that, I'm also going to take a look at some ancestors whose mental health … Continue reading
Henry Bishop: The Alternative Deacon
Henry Bishop is another example of a very distant non-blood relative who has grabbed my interest. He was my 5th great aunt husband's brother, and lived alongside my Downing Ancestors in Southminster. I find building a picture of 19th century Southminster, the key figures in the village and how they all interacted with each other … Continue reading Henry Bishop: The Alternative Deacon
George Appleton: A Bad Apple
George Appleton 1873-1934 Habitual Criminal of Hadleigh, Essex and Cleveland, Ohio, and my half fourth great uncle Since I have spent so much time researching my mysterious bigamous disappearing ancestory, Angelina/Leanor Appleton/Collins/Moxon, her siblings were a natural point of interest. I knew two of her younger full siblings had emigrated to California and two of … Continue reading George Appleton: A Bad Apple
George Pillcher Hill: The Disappearing Husband
George Pillcher Hill, 1869-1943 Hairdresser of Bletchley and Southend and the husband of my third great aunt. A common peril for genealogists is falling down a rabbit hole. Not just the literal rabbit holes at Sutton Road cemetery in Southend, where I nearly broke an ankle, but the distraction of a rather interesting individual who … Continue reading George Pillcher Hill: The Disappearing Husband
Jack and Herbert Gillingham: Civilian War Dead
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.
Randolph Downing: A Dog Remembered
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
Joseph and Hannah Downing: The Oldest Couple in Essex
My grandfather, Aubrey Downing, passed away last year at the grand old age of ninety-six, and I had the privilege of giving the eulogy at his funeral. Of course, I just had to sneak a bit of family history into it by telling the congregation that it was no surprise to me that my grandfather had lived so long - he came from a long line of long-lived Downings. The average life expectancy for a man born in the 1700s was about 35. Our three Downing ancestors born in that century far exceeded that. John Downing (my 5th gg) lived to 88, Joseph Downing (my 6th gg) lived to 77, and Samuel Downing (my 7th gg) lived to 73. However, Joseph Downing junior (my 4th gg) took it a step further and made headlines with his old age. Read more...
Catherine Downing: The life of a lunatic
Catherine was the older sister of my ancestor Henry Downing. Like many young women of her time, she went into service at a very young age. At the age of fourteen, she spent five months in Surrey Lunatic Asylum. On her discharge, she found another position as housemaid with a family near Chelmsford. Her next employer, however, was a step up. Horace Lloyd was a wealthy barrister and counsel, living in Sussex Gardens, Paddington. Horace Lloyd was so posh that he even has a Wikipedia entry. This environment must have been very unnerving for a poor girl from rural Essex and could have tipped her fragile mental health over the edge. Read more...
James Dorr: Transported to Australia
When I first read the 1819 will of the Southminster Downing patriarch Joseph, one thing stood out. Joseph had stipulated that upon his wife's death, his capital should be divided equally amongst his children, "except my daughter, Sarah Daw [Dorr], the wife of James Daw [Dorr], who has before been provided for". Read more...
Joseph Downing: How My Family Came To Essex
My majority of my research has centred on my mother's family, the Downings, who lived in Southminster, Deepest Essex (and later Southend-on-Sea). This lively family were always up to mischief and rarely off the pages of the Chelmsford Chronicle. But I knew they weren't always from Southminster. Every Downing that I had researched was descended from the same man, Joseph Downing. According to his burial record, Joseph was 77 when he died in 1819, meaning he had been born around 1742. But there was no baptism for Joseph in Southminster, or indeed of any other Downings prior to him. Where did he come from, and why?