John Beale: letters from the grey sheep of the family

John Beale 1811-1873 Farmer of Biddenden and Beckley and my great great grandfather.   Rich Richard Beale, 18th century dog doodler and Twitter sensation, had eleven children.  The second youngest was my great great grandfather, John.  I have been lucky enough to receive some copies of letters once in the possession of my 3rd great … Continue reading John Beale: letters from the grey sheep of the family

Elizabeth Beale: Mystery SOLVED

My fourth cousin Geoff and I had reached different conclusions as to the identity of our 6th great grandmother, as discussed in this post.  A quick summary is that in 1705, there lived three Richard Beales - our ancestor (Tombstone Richard), his cousin (Other Richard) and some random Richard in Wadhurst (Wadhurst Richard).  One of … Continue reading Elizabeth Beale: Mystery SOLVED

Rich Richard and the Trousered Chicken

It appears that my great great great grandfather has gone viral, nearly 200 years after his death. The Museum of English Rural Life, in Reading, has acquired various bits of Beale memorabilia - mainly farming diaries and account books.  But one little book caught their eye more than others: the school maths book of 13 … Continue reading Rich Richard and the Trousered Chicken

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

Who Was Elizabeth Beale?

Elizabeth, wife of Richard Beale (1663-1757) Clothiers of Biddenden, Kent and my 6th great grandparents There's been quite a few posts on this blog about unidentified fathers, but this is my first unidentified mother! I was very pleased to get an email from my Beale cousin, Geoff West, the other day.  Geoff was one of … Continue reading Who Was Elizabeth Beale?

Whibley Wobbles: who is the father of Ambrose Whibley Remington?

Ambrose Whibley Remington, 1762-1846 Gardener of Hunton, Kent, and my 4th grandfather I will confess my sins now.  When I was very new to genealogy, I committed one of the cardinal sins.  Excitedly coming across some other people's family trees that featured my ancestors, I copied names, dates and places to my own tree without … Continue reading Whibley Wobbles: who is the father of Ambrose Whibley Remington?

Seaman Cooke Beale: A London Wharfinger

Seaman Cooke Beale,  1742-1789. Wharfinger of London, and my 4th great grandfather. It's the ancestors closest to home that get neglected.  After all, I've lived in London all my life.  I am very familiar with London Bridge - I used to live a short walk away.  I've walked past Southwark Cathedral a million times.  There … Continue reading Seaman Cooke Beale: A London Wharfinger

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?

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?