I’m on a quest to track down the various branches of my family tree and then write it up in a format – perhaps a picture book – that my kids can show their kids!
Check Out Part 1 Here
After she told me that there was a blown up picture of Overington’s Forge in Durrington, I said to Sarah, I wonder if I can contact Tesco’s and find out if they have an original of that picture with my great-grandad Albert Edwin Lish in?
She replied “Yes, or perhaps you could contact that Worthing Historian chap, Chris Hare, he might know.”
“Chris Hare? That sounds familiar. Let’s Google him….OMG I know him…he’s the bloke I used to sit RIGHT NEXT TO, in Political History, at Durrington High School, back in 1977-78. How weird is that?”
So I dashed off an email to Chris, with all the usual chitchat, asking if he knew how the photo of Overington’s had come to be used in the Tesco’s foyer, and if he knew where I could get a copy.
Bless him, he emailed me straight back, telling me about his book and attaching a copy of the photo. He could even let me have a print if I wanted one.
So my grand-dad, Ronald Lish, had a father Albert Lish, a blacksmith, who married Rose Hillman. Tracing the Lish family back over the centuries, to 1625 and Johanis Lish, it seems as if they didn’t stray far from Worthing. Many lived in the surrounding villages, particularly Henfield and Poynings, and many lived and are buried in Steyning.
I turned my attention to my Nan, Amelia Lish. I knew nothing about her beyond that she’d been in service since she was about 14 (Wiston House?), had met Ron on Worthing Seafront and that she came from Suffolk. Her marriage certificate had come back and given me a couple of bits of new information. The certificates not only list info about the person concerned (date of birth and maiden name) but the two fathers of both bride & groom, so are well worth the £20 odd you pay for one.
Amelia & Ronald’s certificate confirmed her maiden name was Moss and her middle name was Martha (new information to me). She was born on 22nd September 1911. I remembered that was her birthday because it was exactly one week before mine on the 29th. She married Ronald James Lish in April 1934 in East Preston, Sussex and he was listed as a bricklayer, living in Durrington.
Nan and I used to spend a lot of time together, as my sister Heather and I used to go there most days after school, and even lived with our Nan and Grandad for a couple of years. Another story for another day. She liked to teach us skills and we spent many happy hours cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting and banging together bits of wood in Grandad’s garage. During these times, we talked and suddenly I remembered that she had said her mother’s name was Winifred. I’d laughed as it was SUCH an old fashioned name.
Amelia’s dad is listed as William James Moss, a clerk, and the Census records say she may have had a sister called Edith W. Moss who lived with them in Worthing for a while, shortly after Ron and Amelia got married. I do recall she had a relative who she used to visit in Partridge Green, perhaps that was Edith?
Now to find William James, who must have come from Suffolk, where Nan had told me she was born. I had no more info than that but this is where the Ancestry magic clicked in. As soon as you start plugging in people’s names and guessing at their birthdays (assume everyone lives 50 odd years and allow 20 years between generations as everyone married young) then it gives the software enough to go on. It will start suggesting people from the digitised Birth, Marriage & Deaths records, parish records, not to mention the cataloguing of gravestones in graveyards, that has been going on for many years now. This process can take a few days, so if you don’t start getting suggestions immediately, don’t despair, give it time.
According to Ancestry, William James Moss was born in 1890 in Suffolk; his father, Charles, was 22 and his mother, Annie, was 21. He had one daughter, Amelia, with Winifred Florence Hawes in 1911. He died in 1976 in Bucklesham, Suffolk, at the age of 86, and was buried there. No mention of an Edith. W. Moss though, although the W suggested she might have the middle name of Winifred, their mother. She could be an aunt, as an Edith appears in the generation before.
Now here’s where things get even more interesting. If you just follow your family tree up, as far as you can go on each side, you come across some interesting characters and sometimes mysteries, and the Moss / Hawes family had plenty of both..
Winifred was born in 1892 in Athlington, Suffolk. Her father, Frederick, was 35, and her mother, Eliza Hawes, nee Whatling, from Hoxne in Suffolk, was 37. Winifred was 19 and single in the 1911 Census, listed as living at Fur House, Athelington, Eye, Suffolk, with her father, mother and sister Emily who was 26. Frederick was listed as a farmer so the name Fur House is interesting.
Winifred married and had one daughter, Amelia, with William James Moss in 1911. She died in 1950 in England at the age of 58.
But when I looked into Winifred’s father, Frederick Hawes, born in 1857 in Athelington, Suffolk, it got a bit more confusing.
A picture appeared and as you can imagine, pictures of working-class people are few and far between. My interest in Frederick was piqued. This is a blown-up section, in the original photograph there is a woman and child. But in the one I saw originally, he’s surrounded by a large family and lots of children. But hang on, I thought he only had two daughters, Winifred and Emily?
From the ‘Births, Marriages & Deaths’ records, Frederick appears to have had three wives, Alvina Jennings, Eliza Whatling and Eliza Skinner. According to Ancestry, when you plug all those wives in, Frederick apparently had seven sons and 12 daughters.
According to the 1987 Census, he did live in Hoxne, Suffolk at that time, so that must have been where he met Eliza. He is listed as getting married in October in Hoxne but also to Alvina Anna Jennings, on the 1st or the 10th of October, in Stradbroke, Suffolk. Did he then go on to marry Eliza Skinner? More work to be done here I think. Frederick died in April 1943 in Suffolk at the ripe old age of 86.
Robert Hawes, Frederick’s father, was born in 1809 to Robert Hawes (born 1767) and Elizabeth (nee Bains). Keeping track of birthdates is sometimes the only way to keep track of individuals through the generations, especially where families have the habit of calling one child after the father!
Robert’s parents were Thomas Hawes and Elizabeth (nee Shadwell), Thomas’s parents were Robert Hawes and Mary (nee Walker) and so on backwards in time, but then it gets interesting again.
Robert’s parents were Ambrose Hawes (born 1654 and Susan (nee Crouching). Now, in my short experience of doing this, when you get an interesting name, you are getting close to something with potential. Why would a family break with habits of several lifetimes and call a child Ambrose? Where did that name come from?
While Ambrose’s dad was another Robert Hawes (born 1630), who married Ann (nee Gay), and Robert’s dad was another Thomas Hawes (born 1605) married to Mary, Thomas’ dad was yet another Thomas (born 1573) who married a Lettice Underwood.
Bingo! Letice, Lettice and any other spelling permutations was a name most favoured by the gentry, as Queen Elizabeth’s cousin once removed was named Lettice Knollys, the one who had an affair in 1565 with Elizabeth’s much-beloved companion Lord Robert Dudley.
Lettice Underwood was born to Sir George Underwood and Alice (nee Brockett) in 1575, in Weston, Hertfordshire, England.
Weirdly, the other person who used to sit on our set of 4 desks at school in that history lesson was Peter Underwood. He was a large, rather volatile chap and I was quite scared of him. (The fourth was Leonard Paine, who I had rather a crush on!). I’ve never met an Underwood since.
Back to the 16th Century… Sir George Underwood could trace his lineage back to Sir Thomas Underwood who, around 1500, married Isobel de Weston, whose father was Sir Thomas Weston and her mother was Lady Cecilia D’Irmingland.
Lady Cecilia had been born in 1457 in Sharrington, Norfolk, England, just next door to the county of Suffolk, where my grandmother had been born.
Rather taken with that name, I did a bit of digging online and found out that Lady Cecilia had obviously been considered either important or beautiful enough to paint, as a slightly fuzzy portrait can be found online. Please let me know in the comments if you know where I can see the original or if you know the artist.
The style of the time was very much the High Renaissance of famous Italian painters like Da Vinci and Michaelangelo but was slowly evolving to include the more formal ‘Old Master’ style and German and Dutch painters were starting to make a name. Many artists painted portraits to keep bread on the table but it was considered a distraction from the grand works – usually religious or classical – they all craved to paint for grand patrons like the Church or aristocracy.
The Irmingland family seat was Hastings-Hall Manor, as detailed in this online history, “Edric a Dane owned Irmingland at the (Edward The) Confessor’s survey, and it contained two carucates, one belonged to the lord in demean, and the other was in his tenants hands, the whole was then of 20s. per annum value.”
…but it was no more, sadly, “as in 1433, Agnes, widow of John Hoddys of Buxton, daughter and heiress of William Hastyngs of Irmingland, and Cecily her daughter, released all right to John Bettes, senior, of Irmingland, and so it became joined to The Manor of Whitfoot’s-Hall, Which anciently belonged to a family sirnamed from the town; in 1196 Warine de Irmingland (fn. 8) and Godfry de Irmingland held it at the 3d part of a fee, as parcel of the honour of Clare; he was son of Ralf, and father of that Ralf, that was lord here in 1249. In 1302 John de Ermingland had it, and in 1315 Ralf de Irmingland and John aforesaid, whose family continued long here, and had lands; but the manor was sold by Ralf in 1327, to Thomas Whitefoot and Alice his wife; Robert Whitefoot, parson of the moiety of Reepham St. Mary, John his brother, and Margaret his sister, all of Reepham, being trustees; and in 1336, Godfry (fn. 9) son of Ralf de Ermingland, released all his right; in 1394 Henry Whitefoot had it, and he and his feoffees in 1396 mortgaged it to John Spoo and Nichola his wife; and in 1410 released it to Roger Taylor of Wulterton, and John Mertoft; Richard Whitefoot had it, and Joan his widow in 1422 released it to Taylor and Mortoft, and in 1423 Taylor, Mortoft, Spoo, and his wife, sold it to John Bettes, senior, and his trustees; and in 1427 Robert, son and heir of Henry Whitefoot of Gressenhall, released all right, and so Bettes became sole lord, and afterwards joined the two manors, as they now remain.”
Notice that a Nichola Spoo lived there in around 1396. Life is full of spooky co-incidences. There is an Irmingland Road, just north of Norwich, which I imagine might be the area where Lady Cecilia lived until she married Sir Thomas Weston.
“Edward the Confessor was one of the last Anglo-Saxon English kings. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066. Edward was the son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy. He succeeded Cnut the Great’s son – and his own half-brother – Harthacnut.” The popular tv series “The Last Kingdom” covers this time and all the colourful characters in the most entertaining detail.
I was pretty excited now and, fuzzy or not, very happy to find Lady Cecilia – my 14th Great Grandmother – in my family tree and to be able to share her with my family. The best bit is that she is related to both parts of my family, as she comes down through our Mother’s side.
My plan is, once I’ve finished the family tree, to go on a driving tour of England and Scotland and visit all the most significant places. As one of the fixtures on my must-visit restaurants is Moreston Hall, Norfolk, owned by Chef Galton Blackiston, I’m delighted to see that is just up the road from the location of Irmingland Road and the rather austere Norman church All Saints, which must have seen some Irminglands in its time.
I’m all fired up now, remembering how much fun this is, several months later.
Tune in regularly to hear the next, possibly the most exciting part of my family history discovery journey.
Certianly the one that had the most positive personal impact on me, just when I needed it most.