Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Newspapers and genealogy

Last evening at the Annual Meeting of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society John Reid gave an excellent talk on newspapers - what you might find in them and where to find them here in Canada. I have to absolutely agree with him that you find all sorts of nuggets in the newspapers. For my three only Canadian born ancestors (my mother, her father and his mother) I have uncovered some very interesting items just to add to the overall picture of them in particular my grandfather as he died when my mother was only eight years old. I heard a lot of stories about him as a child and when one is painted as the "black sheep" of the family it does stir your interest. I had expected to find items to prove the story but in all actuality every time I dug a little deeper I uncovered the story of a man surrounded by tragedy - by the time he was fourteen years old his mother had died, his younger sister had died, his younger brother had died and all of his beloved grandparents. He did have a lot of first cousins and this must have been very supportive for him but still the heavy feeling of death at such a young age must have affected him deeply.

On the other hand, whilst reading The Times I discovered the likely reason for my Pincombe family emigrating from Devon UK to Westminster Twp, Middlesex County, Canada West in 20 November 1850 arriving  at the Port of New York 7 January 1851. My 2x great grandfather John Pincombe (the emigrant) and his seven siblings were all orphaned by 1827 when their father Robert died (their mother Elizabeth had died in 1823). Their father had provided for them but land that had been held as copyhold passed to his younger brother Thomas or his older brothers John and William as that was the terms of the copyhold agreement. Robert had acquired freeholds though and was able to provide for his children. The oldest brother John had never married but did accept that Mary Pincombe Thorne was his child by Ann Smaldon. In the mar quarter of 1843 Mary Pincombe Thorne married William Smith at Ringwood Hampshire and hence her name was then Mary Smith just to tie in with the published accounts.

When John died in 1838 he left a small legacy in terms of a piece of property to Mary Smith and he had written a new will in order to add this legacy. There was however an earlier will. His brothers (William and Thomas) decided to conceal the later will and produced only the earlier will (they were executors for both). Mary had been told by John that he would give her this piece of property and so Mary took the brothers to court. This was the item that I found in the Times and indeed there were four articles describing how the brothers had actually managed to convince the court that there hadn't been an earlier will and the decision was given in their favour. In their "generosity" they took Mary out to dinner but they drank too much revealed to Mary that there had been a later will and that she was entitled to the property. With her husband's assistance, Mary then returned to the court and the brothers had to own up to the existence of the other will. They were fined and the land awarded to Mary. Although this had absolutely nothing to do with my Pincombe line I have a strong suspicion that it may have been one of the reasons that they sold their land and came to Canada. Also the eldest son of Robert Pincombe (older brother to my John Pincombe) had already emigrated to the United States having sold the freehold which was left to him by his father. Certainly family lore said that he had encouraged his siblings to come although they all chose to come to Canada instead of the United States.

Robert Pincombe's descendants still live in the Shawnee Kansas area and they were in contact with my Pincombe line into the 1920s although contact now has been lost. Newspapers can be very revealing and help you to piece together parts of the lives of your ancestors. My Pincombe family was written up in the London, Ontario newspaper a number of times which has also added to my knowledge of the family. I was also lucky as a child growing up to hear many stories of my emigrating ancestors; indeed I know all of their emigration stories but then I only have five sets of emigrant ancestors: Thomas Routledge and Elizabeth Routledge were my first emigrants (3x great grandparents) along with their 14 year old daughter Mary arriving in 1818; Robert Gray coming with his brother William c 1832; John Pincombe and Elizabeth Rew along with their 14 year old son William Robert in 1850/51; Ellen Rosina Buller in 1908 (along with her sisters), and Samuel Blake and Edith Bessie Taylor along with their 9 year old son Ernest Edward George Blake (my father and his parents).

Indeed John was so very accurate in pinpointing the many reasons to look at newspapers other than BMD information.

With my husband still needing a lot of help on my part, my blog has suffered dreadfully. However, I think all the gardening is good for me. I am not really a plant person but it is interesting figuring out what is a weed and what is plant to be retained. My hoeing is coming along slowly but I can manage the lawn mower fairly well. We have a large lot to cut which can occupy a large piece of a morning.

The Blake family group for Theophilus Blake has now produced an amendment to our article in Anglo Celtic Roots which I have now sent in for approval for the next issue of the journal. It is very interesting to see this rather large group of people (around a dozen) working together to solve the mystery of different haplogroups for what appeared to be two families both from the same area of Norfolk. In reality the story has now been developed around the proofs which were there but not seen by everyone so that a misunderstanding arose concerning his ancestry which is resolved. The next step is to write an article for The American Genealogist. I was hoping that one of the more "famous" genealogy writers might pick this up and run with it but it doesn't appear to be happening so I shall soon start to write the article with the available proofs. With a dozen authors it should make interesting reading as we develop it together.

I continue working on the marriages in the Blake family. It is an ongoing process and one that I have the highest priority on for my one name study. I need to know all the Blake families from 1837 on in the different areas before I can move back into the Parish Registers.

1 comment:

JDR said...

Thank you for the kind remarks Elizabeth.