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18 May 2022

Food & Drink - Week 19: 52 Ancestors

Margaret's Jubilee breakfast in Southampton 2012

Whilst most of our travelling is undertaken jointly, in 2012 I travelled alone to the USA and England, leaving John to the mercies of personal care workers for those many tasks he could do himself.  This meant that I did not have to take wheelchair accessibility into account and therefore was able to stay with friends and relatives in many places.

My fourth cousin Ange whom we'd first met in 2008 on our three-month road trip with a wheelchair-accessible motorhome invited me to use her place as my base.  Ange and Paul (another wheelchair user) live in Southampton where my father was born in 1914.  He had migrated with his mother to Australia in 1925, joining his Dr Barnardo sponsored older sisters.

Ange kindly showed me many places around Southampton where my ancestors had lived for over two hundred years.

During my time spent at their place, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was celebrated.  One of the major initiatives was to encourage the British population to hold Jubilee breakfasts - almost like a Christmas or American Thanksgiving Day.  The idea was to invite neighbours or family to celebrate this special event, commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's sixty years on the throne whilst watching the pageant on TV.  Quite apt in 2022 when we have already started to celebrate the Queen's Platinum (70th) anniversary, don't you think? 

Check my post in 2012 at Diamond Jubilee Celebrations at Totten. You can safely say I didn't enjoy black pudding.  Nor did I finish my plate - I am not used to such big breakfasts.

Social: Week 18 - 52 Ancestors

Peter, Linda and me in Weymouth 2014

 Until Covid 19 hit us worldwide in 2020, my husband and I were avid overseas travellers, despite the complexity of such travel, given that John has lived with quadriplegia since 1970 and was 78 when we last  travelled. After two trips around Australia in 1995 and 2003, we started exploring the Northern Hemisphere in 2008 after John retired.  We flew to London that year and after a few days in London, we travelled to Derby where we picked up one of only two wheelchair accessible motor homes.  We hired it for 11 weeks and toured England and Ireland.

I had retired from full time work in 2002 and by 2005 was well into exploring our family history.  My grandparents all hailed from the south of England - Hampshire and Kent whilst John’s grandparents were all born in Australia with ancestors - some of them convicts - arriving between 1832 and 1867.  However his heritage is 70% Irish with the rest hailing from Yorkshire and counties north of London.

Linda, me and Ange in Dover, 2016
By 2007, both of us had made connections with cousins we had never heard of, let alone met.  The Internet and family history and surname societies had opened a whole new world.  We wanted to meet some of these cousins.  John and I travelled to Britain and America together initially in 2008 but later by ship, plane, train and rental car in 2014, 2016 and 2018. I also travelled solo to England and the USA after receiving an offer too good to turn down in 2009.  I did a further solo trip in 2012.  Each of these trips was for 5 weeks - quite long enough for us to be apart.

The towns, cities and countryside we explored were amazing - so different from much of Australia.  

Elizabeth and her children in Orange County, Florida

However, meeting so many cousins, Moxon connections (not all related), Facebook friends and in my case an English friend I’d last shared a house with in 1972 in Sydney was even better. Some we met for a meal whilst others came to visit us at our campsite or hotel.  When travelling together, we could not stay with anyone because only one house was wheelchair accessible.  Why?  Because my newly discovered fourth cousin Ange had a husband who also had quadriplegia, injured in 1973, three years after John had done so.

So really, meeting these cousins and friends was always the highlight of our travel adventures.  Many we have seen time and time again. I wrote a blog post about this in 2012.  Check it out at  Travelling solo.  We are active members of The Moxon Society and English, American and Canadian members - mostly not related to John - have been extremely generous with their time, showing us around and often shouting our meals.

Documents: Week 17 52 Ancestors

Annie Ashby’s marriage record 1888

After researching one’s ancestors for a couple of years, one learns to treat official records such as birth,  marriage, and death with a pinch of salt.  My maternal birth grandmother’s ancestry is a case in point.  Kate Elizabeth Palmer gave birth to my mother in 1912 with her father’s name left blank and never told her daughter who he was. Seventeen years after my mother’s death, I now know it was the butler in Kent where my grandmother was the parlourmaid.  I only found this through a close DNA match.

Kate herself was born illegitimate with the father’s name left blank although she was known as a Palmer.  It took me a long time to realise that she was registered at birth in 1881 with her mother’s maiden name of Annie Ashby, a field worker in Ightham, Kent.  My mother later told me that her mother Kitty Palmer Pocock’s father was a John Palmer and this appears to be verified by DNA records.  She didn’t know that John Palmer was her mother’s half nephew roughly the same age as Annie.

And Annie herself?  Yes, she too was illegitimate although, like her older full siblings, she had been baptised with Cornelius Palmer listed as her father. Her mother was Elizabeth Ashby, widower Cornelius Palmer’s servant listed in the 1841 census.  They were never married.  He had about 11 children with his first wife Eleanor who died in 1839.  By the 1851 census, Cornelius was 75 and on poor relief, but Elizabeth, now known as Elizabeth Palmer had four children by him and was to have two more!  A labourer, I can imagine that Cornelius was too mobility-impaired to work.  By 1861, the year he died, he was listed as an inmate of the West Malling Union Workhouse.  This was the defacto "nursing home" of the day.

In the 1861 census, Elizabeth and all her children were listed as Ashby.  Then in 1869, she did marry - this time to Reuben Hartrup whom she'd known since childhood.  In 1841 and 1851 he'd been living with her parents, Henry and Elizabeth Ashby.  He may have been regarded as an adopted son since in one census he was noted as Reuben Ashby.  The spellings of his surname were many, as I noted in a previous post.

So with Annie's varied surname history - born illegitimate but with a known father - and having already borne a child known in the village as Kate Elizabeth Palmer but registered as Palmer, what surname did she decide to use when she got married in 1888? Well Palmer was the most convenient.  And she had indeed been baptised in her home village by that surname even if she was registered by the government as Ashby in 1855.  It made sense.

But why didn't she give her father's name as Cornelius Palmer, actually the truth?  Instead, she created a new name for her step-father and named him as Reuben Palmer.  He'd never been known as that.  His name was Hartrup/Hartrop/Aleroupe/Altroup/Holtrop - take your pick.

No wonder family history research is so hard, although fascinating.  One can definitely not trust the officially records to be corrent.

21 Apr 2022

Negatives: Week 16 52 Ancestors


A negative Covid-19 rapid antigen test

Negative! The best state to be in these days, wouldn’t you say?  COVID-negative, that is.

Who would have thought, in late 2019 when eastern Australia was experiencing bushfires like never before, that 2020-2022 would be even worse years.

Thankfully, in 2022 we have the benefit of vaccines which, whilst not reducing the risk of infection, do at least reduce the likelihood of serious illness and death.

So far, my many Rapid Antigen Tests have proved negative, as have my PCR tests.  Can't say I expect that to continue forever.

However, getting back to family history research.

What are the negatives of diving deep into family history research?  Well, for one, not much housework gets done. Nor do I get much sleep - at least in the early days whilst staying up till midnight, 1:00am or later, trying to work out which George W. Tucker was my great grandfather or what was the maiden name of that 4x great grandmother called Mary.

Exploring our DNA can also be negative, especially when a promising match can't be bothered, or maybe doesn't see a message. Or a match with a tree shows just three names or six noted private or has no linked tree at all.

However, the joys of family history research far outweigh the negatives.  I doubt there would be many here who would disagree. And fortunately, my significant other is just as passionate about discovering his ancestry as I am.


13 Apr 2022

How do you spell that? Week 15 52 Ancestors

Census record 1891 Kate Palmer and grandparents

My birth grandmother, Kate Elizabeth Palmer (1881-1970) grew up in Ightham, Kent, England and her birth was unfortunate.  Her mother was Annie Ashby (1855-1935), herself born outside of marriage and it was some time before I discovered that Kate had been baptised in the name of Ashby with her mother named as a field worker and her father's name left blank.  However, Kate was always told her father was John Stephen Palmer whose records suggest he was Annie's half-nephew.  The Palmer and Ashby families in Ightham were intertwined with baptismal and census surnames being changed seemingly willy-nilly over the second half of the 19th century.

Annie Ashby's mother was Elizabeth Ashby who by age 14 in 1841 had become the housekeeper/servant to local widower Cornelius Palmer and bore him five children prior to his death in 1861 when he was described as a pauper. Annie was one of them.

In 1869, Elizabeth Ashby married Reuben Holtrop (baptised in Ightham in 1816 as Reuben Haltrup).  Reuben appears to have been part of the Ashby family for many years.  In 1841 and 1851, he was living with Elizabeth Ashby’s parents, Henry and Elizabeth Ashby and her siblings.  Elizabeth’s father was recorded as Henry Ashby, a labourer.

In 1891, my birth grandmother Kate Palmer, aged 10 was living with her grandmother Elizabeth and her step-grandfather Reuben on the Ightham Common.  They were probably squatting in one of the former mining employees' houses, deserted since the mining company pulled out years before.  Her mother Annie, newly married had moved to a neighbouring village, Seal and was establishing a growing family. No doubt Kate moved there later because she was close to her younger half-siblings.

On Kate's marriage certificate in Sydney in 1918, she states her mother's name as Annie Altroupe, obviously one of many corruptions of Reuben's surname.

 Reuben’s surname was recorded in many different forms throughout his life:

·      Haltrup – christening, 13 April, 1817 – son of Harriet Haltrup

·      Ashby – 1841 census boarding with the Ashbys (see below)

·      Holdrop – 1851 census (boarding with Henry & Elizabeth Ashby (senior) & family) – agricultural labourer

·      Alhoupe – 1861 census  (original image looks more like Altroupe) – soldier/ lodger – with Elizabeth Ashby (Henry & Elizabeth’s daughter)

·      Hartrup – marriage to Elizabeth Ashby on 15 January, 1869 at Ightham – father named as William Hartrup

·      Hartop – 1871 census (Ruebin)

·      Hartrop – 1881 census

·      Alerop – 1891 census (although more likely Altrop – wrongly transcribed)

·      Holtrop – death certificate 1891

 Certainly, Reuben must have been illiterate.  Neither he nor Elizabeth signed their marriage certificate in 1969 – it was left to the rector.

4 Apr 2022

Check it out: Week 14 52 Ancestors

Using a Genealogical Proof Argument

My ancestor Isabella Sievewright, mother to 15 and wife of John Rose (1804-1884) was a most irritating woman. Why did she have to die in 1850, leaving her only footprints at her marriage in Southampton in 1825 and her 1841 census record showing that no, she wasn't born in the County of Southampton (now Hampshire)? 

With 15 children, the slight majority living to adulthood, it is not surprising that many family historians were keen to find out who she was and where she came from. I had been puzzling for 12 years and others for even longer. When I finally worked it out, I attempted to add it to Wikitree and received a very rude response from a man who had added a different Isabella's baptismal record and ascribed her to different parents. I complained to the administrators and they followed it through and deleted his public response but left the tree as it was, so I was unable to take her tree further back. 

Therefore, I decided to write a "genealogical proof argument" to see if I could persuade the administrators to take me seriously. I had learned how to write these through watching a webinar last year. It was presented by Cyndi of CyndiList fame. 

 Here it is: 

I do not believe that Isabella Sievewright who married John Rose in Southampton in 1825 was the daughter of Robt. and Mary Sievewright of St Botolph without Algate, as recorded on the tree above. I have developed a Genealogical Proof Argument to state my case as below: 

Genealogical proof argument

Isabella Sievewright (1806-1850) 


Who was Isabella Sievewright, where and when was she born and who were her parents? 


Since Sievewright is a Scottish name and far less common in England, she could have been born in Scotland or be of Scottish heritage. 


Isabella Sievewright, born in 1806 at St Luke, Finsbury, London was the daughter of Alexander Sievewright and his wife Isabella Watson. They were both born in Dundee, Scotland and had two other children, Margaret and Alexander, also both born in Dundee. The baptismal record was badly transcribed as Swewright. Isabella Sievewright married John Rose in Southampton in 1825 and bore him 15 children. This conclusion differs from Isabella’s parentage shown on Wiki Tree at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sievewright-35

The problem 

Since Isabella died in 1850, she appears in only one census, that of 1841. The census states that she was not born in the County of Southampton (later called Hampshire). The marriage certificate includes no other information apart from their names and suggests they were both of full age. No parentage is listed for her.

Her age is recorded inconsistently on her death certificate and the 1841 census. 


Some of Isabella and John Rose’s children were baptised with middle names which looked like surnames. These included Watson, Thane, Martin and Sievewright. Could these middle names have been ancestors of either John or Isabella? These children were: 
  • James Martin Rose (1826-1857) 
  • Alexander Thane Rose (1830-1848) 
  • David Martin Rose (1831-1833) 
  • Charles Watson Rose (1834-1904) 
  • Francis Watson Rose (1834-1899)
  • Samuel Saint Rose (1835-1905) 
  • Isabella Sievewright Rose (1840-1881) 
The author is a descendant of George Henry Rose, the second son of Isabella Sievewright and John Rose. Additionally, a granddaughter of Isabella Sievewright, Alice Rose (1857-1935) b. Southampton, daughter of George Henry Rose married (in Southampton) Francis Watson Young of Dundee in 1877, and established her marital home in Dundee, Scotland . 

Could this be a clue? This hint was reinforced when David Young’s heritage was researched. His mother was Margaret Ann Sievewright (1817-1998), born in Dundee to Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson. Margaret Ann Sievewright’s paternal grandmother was Christian Thain (1752-1788). In other words, three of the names which appeared as middle names in John Rose and Isabella Sievewright’s family. Could Margaret Ann Sievewright, born in Dundee to an Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson have been Isabella Sievewright’s sister? There was also another sibling, a son Alexander born in Dundee to the same couple in 1813. 

Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson’s marriage could not be found in Scotland. However, Alexander Sievewright was recorded as living in Poplar, London in 1812 with his occupation being recorded as commander of the ship Fame. Eventually, their marriage was found at St Luke, Finsbury, London on 27 December 1805. 

Could Isabella have been baptised at the same church? This was another stumbling block since no researchers have been able to find a baptism. However, after searching for an Isabella, born to an Alexander and Isabella at St Luke, Finsbury without a surname, eventually her baptism was found. The surname had been very badly transcribed by Ancestry as “Swewright”. The original record of baptism shows that the surname was Sievewight. The record records Isabella’s birth as 6 November 1806 and her baptism as 4 January 1807. 

DNA evidence 

As well as the conclusions reached due to the marriage between my 2x great aunt Alice and her first cousin once removed (1CR1) Francis Watson Young, there are common DNA matches between the author, Margaret Elizabeth Tucker (1947-) who is Isabella Sievewright’s 3x great granddaughter and another descendant of David Watson (1737-1808) and Isabell Matthew (1745-1828) who are Isabella Sievewright’s paternal grandparents. This match is also a 5x great-grandson of David Watson and Isabell Matthew. 


The WikiTree administrators have noted that the original baptismal information was Contested, have made me the manager of Isabella Sievewright's ID and I can now add her ancestors.

So it pays to Check It Out.

31 Mar 2022

Sisters: Week 13 52 Ancestors

Reed family, about 1891

The Reed sisters

My paternal grandmother, Granny Tucker was one of six daughters of Robert Henry Reed (1858-1915) who was born in Plymouth, Devon but grew up in Southampton where he moved with his mother and siblings in the 1860s. After marrying Harriett Rose (1859-1924), he became an ambitious master baker with three bakeries and a tearoom.  The family, although large like many Victorian families, was quite comfortable in the 1880s, 90s and pre-WW1.

The six girls had an older brother - George Henry Reed - born in 1877.  The photo on the left includes my only photo of him.  He was learning the bakery trade but married and moved to Canada in 1913. It is unknown whether he ever visited England again.

The first girl, Harriett Sophia Reed was born very soon after her brother but she died within a few months.  Her middle name was that of her eldest aunt and she was named for her mother and grandmother, both called Harriett.

Harriet Reed Yeoman's house in Southampton

Harriett Peirce Reed, the oldest surviving sister was born in 1878, again named after her mother, Harriet Rose Reed.  She became a schoolteacher in Southampton and did not marry until 1932.  Her husband, a widower was a master grocer.  Harriet survived him by a number of years, dying in 1953.  In about 1960, my father received a solicitor's letter stating she had left most of her property to him and his surviving sister Cecily Mary Tucker in Australia.  Again, I have no other photo of Harriet. Her middle name was her maternal grandmother's surname although it is usually spelt Pearse. She is the girl sitting with the stick on her lap.

Alice Reed Bayford & son Norman

The second daughter Alice Rose Reed was born in 1881. Alice is standing beside her father in the photo above. She married her first cousin James Bayford in 1910 and moved to Hammersmith in London.  James was the son of Sophia Pearse Reed, Robert Henry Reed's older sister.  She had one son, Norman Bayford.  

Unfortunately, her husband James Bayford died of malaria whilst serving in Thessalonika in Greece in 1918. He was an insurance agent before the war and Alice continued to run the business until her retirement, possibly in the 1940s.  She appeared to be a very practical woman and was the executor of her mother's will in 1924.  Additionally, she assisted her mother and two of her sisters trading out of debt left behind after their father's demise in 1915.

Minnie Reed Irvine/Young on right
Minnie Kate Reed was the third daughter, born in 1882.  She is sitting in the front middle of the photo. My father told me she "married poorly".  She was the first of the sisters to marry, doing so in 1905 in Southampton.  She married William Henry Irvine (1877-1944) in 1905.  Her oldest child Kathleen Minnie Irvine was born in 1906.  By 1910 at the latest, Minnie left her husband and Kathleen appeared to be left mostly with her aunts.  Minnie partnered with a Tom Young of Twyford, Hampshire, a bricklayer and had a child by him named Kate Young in 1910 in Maidenhead, Berkshire. After 1911, no further trace of Kate can be found. Two more children were born in Brentford, London in 1912 (Tom Stamford Young) and 1913 (Elsie Young).  Minnie appears on an electoral roll in 1921 still living with Tom Young, taking his name. Family lore suggests at least one of the children was sent to Canada as a British Home child.  Minnie kept in touch with her sisters but appeared to be a lost soul in her later life.  In 1949, Elsie's birth certificate was amended by Minnie, and witnessed by her sister Alice to remove Tom Young as her father.  However, no other father was stated.  Minnie is shown in photos in later life holidaying with her sisters, but she lived in London for the remainder of her life, dying in 1957.  Her oldest child Kathleen preceded her in death, dying of kidney disease in 1942.  William Henry Irvine remained in Southampton, with his occupation being a night watchman on his 1944 death certificate.

Edith Reed Tucker & son Bob

My grandmother Edith Annie (1884-1973) was the fourth surviving daughter. She was musical and started courting my grandfather Sydney George Tucker, the son of a prosperous music dealer aged sixteen.  They were engaged when she was 21 and married at 23 at Bovey Tracy in Devon.  Her uncle gave her away.  This appears strange.  Did her father not approve of her marriage?  Whatever the reason, they were very happily married, with daughters Jessie Agnes and Cecily Mary born in 1908 and 1910, followed by my father (pictured) in 1914.  Syd signed up as an aircraft gunner but suffered serious wounds, both physical and mental and died of his own hand in 1919, whilst in hospital.  My grandmother had a tough life thereafter since her father was deceased and her father-in-law had remarried a much younger woman who convinced him to change his will.  My grandmother was forced to send her daughters to Dr Barnardo's Homes whilst she worked in the confectioners' tearooms.

Tucker family in April 1917

In 1923, Dr Barnardo's Homes proposed sending one of the sisters to Canada and one to Australia, both as domestic servants.  The girls, just 13 and 15 insisted on going together and their mother supported them to do so if they were happy to. In January 1924 they were sent to Sydney, NSW and their mother and brother were facilitated by Barnardos to join them in 1925.  Whilst the children were happy, Edith never felt settled, had to take up domestic work to survive but never saw England again.  She remained a widow with my father supporting her by purchasing a house from his war savings.  She died in 1973, having spent long stretches dealing with and being treated for depression.

Kate Rose Reed was born on Christmas Day, 1885.  She married Sidney Bellenger, a printer with whom she worked in 1909.  The couple had no children but together with her oldest sister, teacher Harriett supported Edith's children in practical ways such as warm clothing and shoes after Edith became widowed. My dad and other family members called the couple Steak and Kidney, behind their backs presumably.  Kate often wrote to her sister Edith and to my parents in Australia. She died in 1971.

A son was born in 1887 and named after his father, but died within 12 months.

Molly and Jean Kennedy before parting in 1927

The youngest daughter, Jessie was born on 24th June 1989.  She married a professional cricketer, Alexander Stuart Kennedy in April 1910 and their older daughter Mary (Molly) Stuart Kennedy was born later that year. I was told that Jessie perfected her cake decorating skills whilst working with her mother and sisters post-WW1.  Alex represented England in five test matches against South Africa and in the early 20s, the family migrated to Cape Town, South Africa where Alex became a cricket coach. Another daughter Jean was born in 1923 but the marriage was already in jeopardy.  

Jessie Reed Kennedy/Davies

Alex initiated divorce proceedings on the grounds of adultery, finalising the case in 1925 and by 1927, Molly Kennedy accompanied her father back to England, leaving baby Jean with her mother.  Jessie then married Charles Davies in Cape Town and had three more children by him.  The family later migrated to Rhodesia where Jessie died of cancer in 1957. 

Jessie and my grandmother Edith corresponded for the rest of their lives. My father remembers meeting the family with his mother in Cape Town in 1925 on his way to Australia.

Descendants of the four sisters who had children are now scattered over four continents: England, Australia (including some from South Africa and Zimbabwe), South Africa and America (Florida). Since 2008, I have met three out of four cousins in England, seven in Florida and two in Australia (both born in Africa).

My father particularly remembers being surrounded by kindly aunts in England and later receiving care packages and letters from them during his WW2 service in New Guinea and Bougainville.