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19 Jun 2022

Popular name: Week 24 - 52 Ancestors

 A family of Georges

George William Tucker (1856-1924)
Until the late 19th century when parents began using names they liked rather than names that were traditional, there was a regular naming pattern within Anglo-Saxon families.  The oldest son was named after their paternal grandfather, the next son after his father, the next after his maternal grandfather.  Some families also included the maiden surname of their mother or grandmother as a middle name.  As genealogists, we find these middle names very helpful indeed.

Not so helpful is the sparing use of middle names in families.  Cousins will often have the same name and they married women called Mary or Elizabeth or Sarah.  Very frustrating trying to sort out who was who.

In my ancestral lines, the name George appears time and time again, especially in my Tucker (paternal) tree.  From the early 18th century there is a William, then a George with a brother William, then a William with a brother George. The father-in-law was often a George as well.

I suppose the two names common in my family commenced as a tribute to William of Orange - William III - who succeeded to the throne together with his wife Mary of Orange in 1689 and George 1 who succeeded in 1714.  This probably explains the popularity of Mary and Elizabeth as common family names too.

My brother -  the only remaining male Tucker - has George as a third name.  My father was Robert Sydney George and Robert's father was Sydney George Tucker (1882-1919).  Robert's maternal grandfather was also Robert.  Sydney's brother Albert received William as his third name.

Beyond that, my Tucker ancestors did not have a second name - they were:
  • George Tucker (1832-1914) whose younger brother was William
  • George Tucker (1802-1881) whose oldest brother was William
  • William Tucker (1764-1833) whose oldest brother was George
  • William Tucker (1728-1784) who married Mary Goulding.   Her Goulding ancestors were also William and George.  His Tucker ancestors were William and William.  There was a George in the 1600s as well but whether he is a father or uncle, I do not know.
All I know is that I wish my ancestors in Wiltshire and Hampshire had more imagination!

8 Jun 2022

Mistake: Week 23 - 52 Ancestors

My dad didn't think my mum was a mistake

Freda in Dunedoo 

My mother’s birth was not planned.  In fact, she was a mistake, the result of two employees in a stockbroker’s house coming together maybe fleetingly, maybe not.

He was the butler in the Forbes’ household and she was the parlourmaid, both senior servants providing a comfortable lifestyle for a family of three.  The stockbroker died later that year and must have been an invalid because two nurses were also employed as well as three other servants.

The stockbroker’s wife was born and grew up in St Petersburg, Russia but was of Scottish and English heritage.  Their only son Nevill Forbes usually resided in Oxford as a Reader in Russian.  He had spent quite some time in Russia whilst recovering from tuberculosis at his uncle’s specialist medical centre on the Black Sea.  He was probably bilingual from an early age and later became the second Professor of Russian at Oxford.

Initially, I thought that Nevill was my mother’s birth father after my mother’s half-sister told me that her aunts in England described Freda’s father as the young man of the house.

So I made the mistake of going down that rabbit hole: it appeared to make sense, especially after a researcher in New Zealand told me he believed that Nevill was his grandfather.  DNA testing later proved that neither of us was correct.  I eventually found a close DNA link with an American resident who proved to be the great-granddaughter of the butler, Henry Edward Jones. Henry was a similar age to his master’s son Nevill but was very much a similar class to my birth grandmother, Kate Palmer.  However, he was a married man with a wife and two children living in the same village and in no position nor desire to acknowledge another servant’s baby.

It seemed a sensible solution- at least for the butler but maybe also for the wealthy employers to remove Kate (known as Kitty in Australia) from the village.  Someone - possibly her employers - provided her with a travel trunk with her initials inscribed and escorted her to Antwerp where she boarded a steamship to Sydney on Christmas Eve 1911.  She arrived in Sydney at the height of summer at the end of February but it must have been a cold reception since she knew no one.

My mother, born on 5 June 1912 was immediately promised to a farmer’s wife who had delivered a still-born son and was soon taken by train to Dunedoo in the central west of New South Wales.

Freda found out that she was "adopted" at the late age of 18 when her mother told her it was time she left home.  It was a shock and she had mixed feelings about it since she didn't have a great deal of respect for her adopted mother.  The latter 'ran around town' a bit too much for teenage Freda's liking and she felt badly for her adopted father, a kindly man.

Learning who her birth mother was, she spent a weekend meeting Kitty and her new family.  However, 
before leaving, Kitty told her that "it was nice meeting you dear but I don't think we should do it again."

So at age 18, Freda felt rejected twice over.  Nevertheless, in her local town, she was befriended by some warmhearted people, including the local Anglican rector and his family of girls.  When she married my father in her early 30s, this family hosted her wedding reception.

As I grew older, I realised that my mother sometimes had a "chip on her shoulder" but at the same time. having received kindness when she needed it, she handed it out in spades.  My childhood friends always remember her with fondness as do many of the neighbours' families.

1 Jun 2022

Conflict - Week 22: 52 Ancestors

John Rose of Southampton

My ancestor John Rose - my 3x great grandfather from Southampton invited conflict.  A proud working-class man, he believed that all working men should be enfranchised ie be able to vote. He also believed in education for all and access to newspapers, something the government of the day thought was dangerous as it might lead to revolution as it did in France in 1879.

Mind you, literacy and enfranchisement of women was not a concept that men of any class considered at the time.

John Rose appeared to have no respect for the conservative press.  He once made a great point of saying he “objected to the authority adduced, as he (Rose) did not now patronise the Hampshire Advertiser” (reported in 1836 in notes of a public temperance meeting aimed at removing the inducement for the poor frequenting the public-house or beer-shop)[i].  He mocked the newspapers read by the gentry and the establishment, and it would appear that he had quite a following.  The same 1836 article about ale making reported John Rose as stating:

 “They could not hinder the rich from enjoying themselves in luxury and drunkenness, and why then try to shut up beer shops, where plenty of information was to be got, &c. &c. &c.”

It is probable that William Rose, the beer seller of East Street in 1836 was John Rose’s brother or another relative.[ii]

Beer shops and public-houses were places where working men and others gathered, especially since there would have been no room to entertain at home, and street corners would have been too cold and uncomfortable for socialising.  The public houses were centres for discussion and exchange of information.  As a politicised working man with strong opinions, John Rose would most likely have understood the hidden agendas of the men of standing in Southampton.

No wonder he often found himself at odds with the establishment.

In fact, John Rose was fined time and time again and was imprisoned at least twice – in 1834 and in 1841.  The first time was in a passing reference in an article about his wife Isabella Rose, giving his reaction to her being fined for selling unstamped newspapers[iii]:

“This decision was immediately conveyed to her husband, who in turn broke the windows of his prison-house.”

John Rose seemed to have been hot-headed indeed – was he manic?  He was fined on a number of occasions for assault or was involved in altercations, and even a knifing, which ended up before the Southampton Magistrates.  Other matters included libel (1839) and, like his wife Isabella, selling unstamped newspapers.

[i] Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday 7th May 1836:  Temperance Meeting at Southampton.

[ii] Kelly’s Directory, 1836

[iii] Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday 14th June 1834: Before the Mayor and Magistrates.

Yearbook: Week 21 - 52 Ancestors

My yearbook for 2019

 When I was at high school in the 1960s in New South Wales, Australia, there was no tradition of publishing a Year Book featuring remarks about individual students.  I doubt there is even today.

In 1963, my school - Macarthur Girls High School in Parramatta - began producing an annual magazine called Newlands, named after the original land grant on which the school had been built.  However, it was merely a collection of students' best stories and poems, school sporting teams, and the annual musical produced by teachers and students.

No way did I feature in any of the stories or activities.  Whilst mildly scholarly, I did not excel at poetry, story writing, sport, or singing.  I was not a member of the school leadership either.

So my contribution to this theme is merely my social media record for some years.  Facebook permits one to use photos to produce a printed record of a year or even specific dates within a year.  Using this feature, I commissioned a hard copy "yearbook" of my activities and shared articles in 2019.  That year, we did not undertake any major travel - we had that planned (and aborted) for 2020.  Nevertheless, I had enough shared photos and comments to fill quite a substantial book recording our activities and local and world events which occupied my attention at the time.

I don't always plan a year book, but one year - 2014 - I captured all the shared photos, posts and comments from our amazing five-month adventure in England and the USA.  That was the year we took a Cunard voyage to Southampton via Panama, hired a car for four weeks in England after spending a week in London, crossed the Atlantic to New York on the Queen Mary 11, crossed America from Boston to Seattle, took an Alaskan Cruise on Celebrity Solstice and flew back to Sydney from Vancouver.

Treasured social media memories in hard copy.

Textiles: Week 20 - 52 Ancestors

Sheep grazing

Simon Rose, a wool comber

My 4x great grandfather Simon Rose was a wool comber in Southampton in 1795.  We only know this because he took on an apprentice that year, his 8-year-old step-daughter Unity Hunt.

Wool combers were an indispensable trade within the woollen textile industry.  They were skilled labourers and undertook a seven-year apprenticeship before becoming a journeyman, taking up contracts wherever they could.  After gaining experience they could become a master wool comber. 

The wool combers' job was to disentangle the wool in preparation for weaving. It was a comparatively well-paid industry in the 18th and early nineteen centuries before being mechanised in the nineteenth century. It was a cottage industry in those days and was hot and dirty work. The hand combers first had to prepare the wool by washing, oiling and separating it into workable amounts, then heating the wool over coal or a woodstove prior to combing it. It was not until the 1840s that mechanisation was introduced and hand combing became redundant.

Simon was born in 1747 in Misterton, Somerset, a village very near the town of Crewkerne.  The area was known for sheep farming and cottage-based textile industries - wool combing and weaving.  Simon still lived there into adulthood because it was in Misterton that he married twice, the first to Susannah Burt and the second to Ann Hunt who outlived him.

It is unknown when he moved to Southampton or why.  Maybe there were more opportunities to extend his trade there. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, wool combers began to demand better working conditions and pay and it was probably at his father's feet that his son John Rose (1804-1884) became politically aware.