Friday, September 24, 2010

Andover Parish Registers - 24 Sep 2010

Continuing on today with the Andover Parish Registers. I would like to complete to the end of Parish Register 3 over the next couple of weeks. We will see how that goes. This is an interesting time period in British History as it is partially during the period of the Commonwealth. The priest is no longer recording in the register but rather it is an appointed Registrar although could be the priest as I still haven't been able to read the signature of the person who entered the comment into the register that he would now be assuming the office of Registrar and recording in the Register. I am at 1657 now and Restoration of Charles II as monarch was in 1660. The pages are headed up Bearths at the moment with no Baptisms listed. That will change again with the Restoration of the Monarchy and the Church of England as Registrar of BMBs.

Going over Dorothy Blake's will yesterday was an interesting sojourn back in time. Dorothy has been widowed five years when the will is written. The legacies from her husband's will have not yet been paid it would appear as she mentions that her children must sign off of these legacies in order to inherit under her will. The legacies are smaller under her will. Times must have been hard for this Blake family. I need to go and redo my will for William Blake which was dated 25 Apr 1641 with a codicil dated 8 Nov 1641 and he was buried 4 May 1642. At that time William, his second eldest son is working in Warwickshire as a teacher; he must not have felt his place was as a priest in the parish at Oxford. By 1644 he has returned to Andover and he marries Ann Hellier. The registers at this point are starting to be less well kept and I think that he registers the baptisms of their three children himself in the register - there are very few for each year and the handwriting is different for each entry. But is this my ancestor? Of that I am not entirely convinced although it would seem logical that he is. I need to find more proof to connect Thomas to John (by baptism Thomas' father is John but I am looking for a specific John; John the son of William Blake Clerk). From William back to Nicholas is all by will and from Thomas forward to my father is quite straightforward.

I completed a redo of William's will from 1641 and the changes did not add anything to the will that I did not already know. It is cleaner though - I have improved at transcribing in the last three years. I opted not to do my CG examination right away after completing my PLCGS because I did not feel I had enough experience to be a CG. At that time I was still considering working but now I am firmly retired but it would be nice to do the CG now if only to show how much I have improved in seven years of taking courses and doing my own family history. I am starting to write more and having the CG at least lets people see I have completed the necessary training to do Genealogy in a rigorous fashion. Although I think that 30 years experience certainly has a strong play in that as well. I can feel the lack of experience when I come across something difficult. Usually I can work my way through it but it doesn't come easily to me.

Definitely this is a family in the decline of their fortunes which fits in well with what I know of the Blake family from my grandfather. This is just one line but it is the line that remained at Andover and did not move on to Surrey or London.

Richard's children did not call in the mortgage on the property of Eastontown from Thomas but William is now asking that that be done in his will. I gather from Dorothy's will that this was not a successful endeavour. Possibly no one wanted to purchase the property and Thomas Blake (married to Eleanor Hall) simply let it go into decline since he wasn't living there anymore anyway. He was in London and that was where he and Eleanor were buried. Bad luck for William's family as they appear to have had a large sum of money tied up in Eastontown. My grandfather described it as a pile of rubble when he was a child and wondered why his father was so proud to think of his Blake family who lived at Old Hall. All a matter of perspective I suspect for he seemed to me to be proud of his Blake family of Andoverbut wasn't so attached to the story of living at Old Hall. Time does change one's perspective as I rather think I have inherited the Blake family pride in this regard; proud of this family that remembered its ancestory and treasured it like gold. As far as I can tell they always made their own way in the world and owned no one anything. If they didn't have their great mansions and enormous land holdings they still had their pride as Englishmen in a land they loved.

I remember when I was young I used to tell Grandpa that I would go to England with him and I think if he had been younger and healthier he would have taken me. He did want to return but by the time the Second World War was over he was 70 years old and he had lost that drive that would have taken him there. I used to tell my grandmother that as well as she wanted to see England one more time - I think age must do it - but we never did go and I married young at 20 so the opportunity passed and it didn't happen.

When we went to England in the spring of 2008 and we were at Upper Clatford I whispered to the trees in the graveyard at All Saints that I was bringing back the memory of Samuel Blake since he couldn't do it himself. In Bishops Nympton I touched the trees that line the walk (now topped from their massive height of earlier years) and left my memories with them of a family that had been at Bishops Nympton from the late 1500s until they came to Canada in 1851. At East Buckland where my ancient Pincombe was baptized in the late 1400s, I wondered if I could feel the spirit of my ancestors saying hello to me from far back in time - it felt so warm and friendly there. The churchyard so very ancient, the yard has grown up around the church it has been there so long but inside the Church was like a new building with a new rug on the floor and everything polished and shining. It is the centre of the community of East Buckland that Church. It was wonderful to be there and I relish the memory of that visit. We came back through Filleigh down the road that they must have traveled from their farm to the Church Sunday after Sunday. The hedgerows were at least fourteen feet high leading us to the Church and away from it.

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