I think of myself as not only almost completely British, but almost completely Southern as well - most of my research is within Kent and Essex. But I am actually one eighth Yorkshirese. My great grandmother, Elizabeth Danby, came from a little town near Harrogate. She met my great grandfather, Frederick Downing, when he was … Continue reading My Northern Roots
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
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
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...