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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.