Difficult Ancestors

I had a very frustrating day at the Kent Archives yesterday! I had four Kentish Questions that I needed answering: I wanted to know the name of a father of an illegitimate baby who was born in Buckland in 1865.  There is a slim chance this might appear in the baptism or workhouse records.  But … Continue reading Difficult Ancestors

Eleanor Hope: An 18th Century Single Mum

Eleanor Hope, 1767-1838 Single Mum and Garden Digger, Frittenden, Kent, and my 5th great grandmother I wrote a little about Eleanor Hope when I told you about her son, Thomas Sharp Hope, the ancestor who took my genes to New York, Kalamazoo and beyond.  Last week I visited the Kent Archives in Maidstone in the … Continue reading Eleanor Hope: An 18th Century Single Mum

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?

Frederick Allen Downing: finding the father of an illegitimate child

Frederick was an obvious choice for a starting point for this blog.  His parentage was the biggest mystery in my family tree, and at one point, I thought it an unsolvable mystery.  It turned out the answer was staring me in the face all along. Read more...