In memory of my Nevill relatives who died in the Great War

I am posting this now rather than on 11 November, as I won’t have access to a computer on that day.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

My five Nevill relatives, described in the rest of this post, are the only relations who died in World War I that I have so far identified.

Read more »


Clarinda Boddy (c1844-1909) part 1

When I first came across Clarinda Boddy, she didn’t particularly stand out… Clarinda was just an unmarried daughter who I made a note of from census returns for her father – Clarinda’s father being John Marlett Boddy (c1791-1875), a son of my direct ancestor George Boddy who I have described in earlier posts (here and here).

 Clarinda Boddy first attracted my attention when I found the following interesting news report in The Times Digital Archive:

“FEMALE MEDICAL STUDENTS – At the preliminary examination in arts at the Society of Apothecaries, which has just been brought to a close, 109 candidates presented themselves, when 72 passed and received certificates of proficiency in general education. Among them were the following ladies, placed in the first class and in the order of merit:- Annie Jacob, Mary Susan Mungearn, Clarinda Boddy, Elizabeth Longheed, and Catherine Mitchell. The following were placed in the second division:- Julia Cock, Elizabeth Grace Evans, and Janet Michie. At the half-yearly preliminary examinations in arts, &c., for the diplomas of fellowship and membership of the Royal College of Surgeons, to which young ladies are not admitted, the large number of 410 candidates presented themselves—viz., 128 for the fellowship and 282 for the membership; of this number 71 passed for the first-named distinction and 180 for the latter.”

from The Times 28 Sept. 1878 p6 colA (my enboldening)

Clearly there was more to Clarinda Boddy than I had realised! I reviewed my known facts. Her father, John Marlett, had died in 1875, and her mother, Mary, a year later. Her father had worked for the Admiralty, and the probate value of his effects was about £20,000.

So, it looks like once her parents were gone, Clarinda could please herself, and it clearly pleased her to look into medical training. As can be gleaned from the comments in The Times news report, and from any casual reading around about the history of women in medicine (for example), 1878 was right in the middle of when women were finally being allowed to qualify as doctors. Indeed, the first five women doctors qualified and were placed on the Medical Register in 1877.

So, now I was motivated to look further into Clarinda’s life, and the next step was tracking her through later census entries:

  • 1881 Clarinda is visiting a sister in Paddington, London, but is described as a medical student
  • 1891 cannot find an entry
  • 1901 Clarinda is a boarder in Maidstone, Kent and her occupation is a physician, living on her own means

So, Clarinda had succeeded in training and qualifying as a doctor! I knew the next step was to discover where she trained and when she qualified…

…but I’ve gone on long enough, and that will have to wait for another post 😉

Meet the Shephards

I have recently posted a new page about my Shephard ancestors. My Shephards can be summarised as: from Birmingham and later from London; mainly brass founders; and Quakers. Do go have a look!

I must admit that I go into more detail about where Quaker (or Society of Friends) records can be found than about the Shephards themselves, as Quaker records are very useful for family history research before 1837.

My favourite Shephard family so far is that of Richard Shephard (c1743-1800) and Mary Jarrett (c1742-1820). They married on 30 November 1770 at the Publick Meeting House in Eatington (now Ettington), Warwickshire. This was after a two month period of seeking permission to marry, and being checked by members of the Society. A quote from the Meeting’s Minute Book illustrates this (see note 1 for full reference):

At our Monthly Meeting held at Long Compton of 29th of ye 10mo 1770 …

… Richd Shepherd and Mary Jarrett continuing their Intention of Marriage and no obstruction appearing they are left to their Liberty to accomplish the same according to good order, and we appoint Wm Marshall and Jn Bevington to attend on the day of Marriage to see that good order is Preserved and Report the same at our next [meeting]

Richard (a brass founder) and Mary duly married, lived in Hill Street and Litchfield Street in Birmingham, and had nine children.

They chose an interesting mix of names for their children (one of the reasons I find them interesting): Mary, Sarah, Martha, Rebecca (died age 1), Gulidina twice (both died under a year old), Kerenhappuch, Richard (died at 6 weeks), and Hannah.

Most of the names are obvious family or biblical names. Of the others, Kerenhappuch is also bibilical (she was a daughter of Job), and I haven’t managed to trace any information on Gulidina… so if you know something, please let me know!

Note 1: full reference for 29 Oct 1770 quote from Minute Book

Warwickshire South Monthly Meeting Minute Book, Ref No. 142 Vol. 1704-1779 (no page numbers, entries in date order); from Microfilm copy held at Birmingham Central Library, Microfilm Ref: PG 3568.

Happy Birthday to Amadis Surflen born 1784

This is the first post of a series, where I introduce some of my past relatives on their birthdays.

Amadis Surflen was born on 13th October 1784, in Margate, Kent, the son of Edward Surflen (1752-1797) and Ann Humbel (c1758- after 1809).

I don’t know anything else about Amadis Surflen – not even if he survived childhood. I have found references to an Amadis Surflen operating a bathing machine at Margate in The Times newspaper, but I think this probably refers to an Amadis born in 1746.

Amadis is clearly a family name. I have three records of the name across three generations: Amadis Surflen b1746; Amadis Surflen b1784; & Edward Amadis Nevill b1813 (son of Mary Ann Surflen).

So in the absence of any knowledge about the man Amadis Surflen, what about that name?

Starting simply, Amadis means ‘love of God’.

Deeper than this, where did the name come from? The main reference I can find is to a wildly popular 14th/15th century portugese/spanish tale of a knight errant ‘Amadis de Gaula’. This well-known tale of chivalric romance is apparantly referred to repeatedly in ‘Don Quixote’ by Cervantes, as “the character Don Quixote idolizes Amadís, and often compares his hero’s adventures to his own” (quote from Wikipedia article on Amadis de Gaula).

Massenet wrote an opera ‘Amadis’ based on the story, and Goethe wrote a poem in 1775, ‘The New Amadis’.

Picture me now, imagining a Surflen ancestor revelling in the romance and heroism of Amadis de Gaula and inspired to name a son… it’s probably more prosaic than that, but I can dream 😉

Introducing the Claydons

I’ve just added a page introducing the Claydons from Essex that I have tracked down.

Sadly, this isn’t a very impressive selection of direct ancestors… only my great grandmother Caroline Claydon, and her father James – more details on my problems tracing my Claydons on the new page!

When I think of the Claydons, it is really Caroline Claydon I imagine. From the stories I’ve been told, and the pictures I’ve seen, she sounded and looked like a formidable person. She was certainly a survivor.

Her first husband, Walter Alliston died of throat cancer, leaving her with two young children (aged 10 & 4). She took in boarders for a while, and one of these became her second husband – Hugo Otto Greiner, an engineer from Germany working at a local factory. They had one child together and a much longer marriage (29 years). Hugo died in 1930, and she lived on to 1949.

George Boddy’s 1805 letter to the Admiralty

To follow up a previous post, here is the transcribed text of this most interesting and amusing (in my view) letter my ancestor George Boddy (c1761-1834), a shipwright & Timber Master, wrote to Sir Evan Nepean at the Admiralty.

The text of the letter is below the cut. Just a few comments first:

To me as a family historian, the letter reads as if George Boddy knew I wanted a summary of his career & family 😉 I feel very lucky that George wrote the letter & that I’ve found it.

Did this letter to Sir Evan Nepean help in getting George the recognition, money and help he sought? I don’t know (yet – more research required), but from other information about the Boddy family I suspect that in the end he did…

  • George’s son John Marlett Boddy (c1791-1875) went on to a career in the Admiralty. I suspect, but have yet to prove, that John Marlett is the former midshipman of HMS Conqueror referred to in this letter – he is certainly the correct age (14 in 1805).
  • Two of George’s grandchildren were apparently named after Sir Evan Nepean – Evan Nepean George Boddy (b1830) and Wentworth Nepean Boddy (b1835), sons of William Barnard Boddy (c1800-1884).

There are so many other things I want to comment on, but rather than ramble on, I’ll just let you read the letter for yourselves – its below the cut. Read more »

Google Book Search & George Boddy

My ancestor George Boddy (c1761-1834) was a shipwright and Timber Master in the Royal Navy Dockyards for 57 years. I have traced his long career using various resources, but one of the most helpful has been Google Book Search.

When I heard about this new search function last year, I tried the names of various ancestors – I thought that maybe one would appear in a book published in 1850, or some such.

Amazingly, George Boddy scored hits in books published in 1983 and 1999 on naval dockyard history. As the books are still in copyright, there were only two line snippets in the results, but I was able to order both from my local library for the bargain inter-library loan price of £1.75 each 🙂

So I discovered the work of a naval dockyards historian called Roger Morriss, including the precise references to George Boddy in Admiralty and Navy Board papers at The National Archives, Kew and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Who knows if I would have ever identified these papers for myself – but Roger Morriss’s work found via Google Book Search gave me a very welcome short cut.

This July I visited The National Archives, Kew, and read, photographed and transcribed the letters from & about my ancestor – a real thrill for me and my mum who was visiting the Kew archives for the first time.

I now know, in George’s own words, about his career moves from dockyard to dockyard, his invention of a tool to remove broken pintles (don’t ask, but he was hoping for money from the Admiralty!), and about struggling to provide for his eight children.

Note 1: The National Archive references are:

ADM1/4379  a box of loose letters; specifically letters numbered Pro B300, Pro B301 & Pro B302;

ADM1/4379 letter Pro B300 Page 3 letter from George Boddy to Sir Evan Nepean July 1805 This image is Crown copyright.

ADM106/2227 a book of copy letters from the Navy Board to the Admiralty; page 385.

Note 2: the two naval dockyards history books are:

The Royal Dockyards During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, by Roger Morriss. Pub. 1983 by Leicester University Press. ISBN: 0718512154

History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards, edited by Kenneth Lunn & Ann Day. Pub. 1999 by Routledge (UK). ISBN: 0720123496

Introducing the Allistons

I’ve added a page giving an overview of the Allistons I have tracked down, including a pedigree chart for my great grandfather Walter Alliston.

My Allistons are from Essex, and I haven’t managed to track them back terribly far – my earliest Alliston is Thomas, born in 1774.

When I think of my Allistons, my main thoughts are of sad deaths and spelling that surname!

  • Walter Alliston died in 1899, aged 45, of throat cancer. He took five months to die, and my family has a sad letter he wrote from hospital
  • Henry Alliston, his father, died in 1864, aged 50. He fell from a hay wagon & broke his back, but took nine weeks to die
  • try saying ‘Alliston’ and you can probably imagine all the possible ways people hear & write it down – Allison & Elliston are ones I’ve found quite often

Meet the great grandparents!

When I started researching my family history about four years ago, I was lucky enough to already know the names of all eight of my great grandparents. I think that these ancestors are an ideal way to start my family history on this blog.

Indeed, on this blog, all lines will flow back through history from my great grandparents … as I don’t intend to go into detail for more recent family, in order to protect the privacy of the living.

So here they are, introduced through their marriages, my great grandparents:

Walter Alliston & Caroline Claydon married on 2nd February 1889 in Braintree, Essex.

Eliza Birt & Edward Ward married on 2nd August 1886 in Stradbroke, Suffolk.

Richard Henry Cormack & Annie Rose Nevill married on 1st February 1893 in Islington, Middlesex.

Mary Ann Pooley & Joseph Edmond Shephard married on 23rd February 1881 in Brighton, Sussex.