Quick note to apologise to any who have left comments which I had not answered. I’ve now got in touch!

Have a great Christmas, everyone. See you in the new year!


So, I had a one month sub to Findmypast and used it as much as possible when time permitted (and when I had a visitor staying in my computer room). Unfortunately, I did not do a search log, so I can’t recall what I actually searched for. I did find some info, and hummed and ha-ed (apparently it’s “hummed and hawed”) about others, making notes on my tree. This is all well and good except when I come to do another search and see I’ve already done it. Tsk, tsk. Nor did I come here to discuss any finds. Tsk, tsk once again. So, the last month or so is a blank for this blog.

I re-enrolled for the futurelearn genealogy course, which I’d done a few years ago. It was equally good the second time around, although I’d like to get more in depth and have exercises which are more personal, as someone suggested. I like someone’s idea of doing one of those coffee-book printings with a few details of ancestors for my daughters. It would make it more accessible to them. A project for the new year.

Anyway, I ordered a couple of wills within the past month or so. One of them is very difficult to read, so I’m still deciphering that one. Then, more recently, I got the will of Richard Jones. Luckily, for such a common name, I knew where the family lived and had a memorial card for him (so also knew the exact date he died). The will solved a small puzzle.

I had inherited a small painting of “Mrs Goff” (written on the back).


She was one of five small portraits, the subjects of only two of which I’d identified. Richard mentions his daughter, Mary Gough, in the will. Now I knew it was Mary who had married Mr Goff. I subsequently found her marriage to John Goff. Previously it had been difficult to find the marriage of a Jones woman (as you can imagine). Yay for small victories. I’m sure there was another one recently (as I remember saying “I found you!”) but as I have not taken notes lately, it’s gone. Shocking!

Alrighty, so I just did a search for Elizabeth Malam, wife of Matthew Darlington. In two census returns she had her birthplace listed as Weston, Cheshire. In the third, she had Wybunbury, Cheshire. One’s within the other’s parish so when I found a baptism for the approximate year in Wybunbury, I figured that was the right one. So I got her parents, John and Hannah. Considering two of Elizabeth’s eldest children were named John and Hannah, that had to be right. From her parents names I found a marriage of John in 1803 to Hannah Sutton. Then a list of children from 1804 to 1814 – seven siblings for Elizabeth. I found a death for Hannah Malam in 1831. Then I found census returns. John, widowed, was living with his son, William and family. John was listed as a “pauper butcher”. William and his wife, Catherine, had seven children. Strangely one of them is listed as a “servant” instead of “son” in a later census, although I found the baptism. Couldn’t see the original so I couldn’t figure out what that was about. The same with Hannah’s death in 1831. She was listed as age 51 or 57 – again no original to decide for myself.

Not a bad result for an afternoon’s searching.

At a loss as to what to search for next, while I have a sub at findmypast, I turned my attention to Christopher Dart, born around 1800, probably in Devon. Very few Christopher Darts were born around that time. I had a list of about five, one born in Calstock, Cornwall, and the rest in Devon.

I detailed everything I knew about all the Christophers, including their parents, their siblings, locations, etc. I looked at census returns to try and track down any Christophers and/or their siblings. I was able to eliminate two Christophers, as they appeared in the 1841 census, “my” Christopher having died before then.

I found no Christopher Darts in the census for Cornwall, and no other Christophers in census returns for Devon apart from the two eliminated. So I still couldn’t eliminate three of them. Two of them died in 1838 and 1841 respectively, in Okehampton and Newton Abbot, so that appears to mean that the remaining Christopher out of the five, is “the one”.  I’m still rather confused though.

I tend to favour the Christopher born in Tavistock as it was a mining district and this Christopher’s father was a miner. However, it seems the two brothers, John and Thomas, were agricultural labourers. I would guess that Christopher followed in his father’s footsteps and sought mining in Cornwall where he met his wife. I haven’t found much about mining in Devon or whether miners there sought work in Cornwall. I suppose so. Miners went where there was mining.

I wish I could say with certainty though. Names don’t help. Christopher’s surviving children were named John and Elizabeth. The Christopher in Tavistock had a brother called John and a sister, Ann. It might have been Elizabeth Ann, (the name of his daughter) as there was an Elizabeth who married a William Jago in 1837. A Thomas Dart Jago, age 7, was visiting his uncle, John Dart, in 1851. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to knowing.

I was in despair when I thought I was locked out of my blog account forever. WordPress had logged me out and my browser-saved password didn’t work. I had closed the email account associated with this blog account but luckily I could open it up again and get WordPress to send me a password link. I finally got access to update this blog again. What a relief.

I had not done anything – any research or follow-up regarding any family history for some months. But the need is there again, as I want to plan a trip to the UK to visit ancestral villages and do some research. Anyway, back into it.

My brother had done his DNA test with ancestry and was disappointed with the results. I am trying to get him to upload the data to GEDmatch. Ancestry have re-evaluated the ethnicity estimates, with less than satisfying results, now lumping in Northwest Europe with Britain which is effectively useless. Before, I had about 42% British and 25% Western Europe. Now it’s 74% Britain and Northwest Europe. Dumb.

I had done a LivingDNA test also, and had been very disappointed in the equally vague results but I logged in again to see if it was any more detailed. It appeared so. There was a breakdown which put Devon at the top of the British counties (and only 2% Scandinavian compared with 6% at ancestry). The Devon connection seems to affirm my theory that Christopher Dart, the Cornish miner, was born in Devon. I must try again to find his birth details.

Through GEDmatch I discovered a relative through my maternal grandfather’s mother’s line, so I have her family’s DNA too. I’ve never really felt anything for that side of the family. (It’s funny how some branches hold more interest than others.)

I also revisited myheritage where I had uploaded my DNA data. Their ethnicity estimate is really really vague, but they have useful connections with others whose DNA you share. I was able to see any common surnames and even trees of distant cousins without having to pay. Thus, I found a Powell connection, which I am delighted with. The son of my mother’s second cousin shares some DNA with me. I have always felt more for the Powell and Jones side of the family than any other. Interestingly, according to LivingDNA, I only have 5.4% and 1.4% South and North Welsh respectively. South surprised me. I had always thought the family were North Wales but there is obviously some migration there.

For the past few days I have been browsing rather aimlessly, looking for information on the Phillips/Rogers line (the source of my mitochondrial DNA) trying to get back further. No luck so far.

Somehow I got on to the family of William Wall, the brother of my great-great-great-great grandmother. I found his will and purchased it but the handwriting is difficult to read. I did discover his wife’s name, however, and could look for a marriage record. He married Margaret Perkin. One of the executors of the will was someone with the middle name of Perkin, so perhaps her nephew? The family had a tradition of using the mother’s maiden name as a middle name.

I looked back at my grandmother’s handwritten tree for the William Wall Jones family (William Wall Jones was the great nephew of William Wall). They lived at Condover Grange in Shropshire.I wanted to compare her tree with what I had since found, and what was still missing.

Gwen had entered three children: Percy, William and Edith or Gertie. I had found five children: Hannah Maria, William Wall, Sarah Anne, Agnes Edith, and Percy.

Gwen had Edith/Gertie marrying someone with the surname of Holt. The daughter of this Holt married a schoolmaster with the surname of Dixon and their son being Jeffrey Dixon, a clergyman. I found that it was Hannah Marie who married a John Hoult. Their daughter, Gertrude Hoult (probably the source of Gwen’s confusion) married Geoffrey Dixon, a schoolmaster, and later a clergyman. It was wonderful to see some of her notes confirmed or clarified. I was delighted to find them.

Gwen had William junior marrying someone with the surname of Reynolds (“aunt of Cissie”). Unfortunately, I don’t know who Cissie is. I found that William had married a Jane Stanyer.

Gwen had William’s children listed as Dakin, Edith Ward, and Gertie. The children I found were Edith May, Florence Mary, and Gertrude Wall. I’m not sure if Dakin was meant to be a first name or a female marrying a Dakin. I’ve found nothing yet.

Gwen had written that Percy died in Australia, but I cannot find records for his emigration to Australia or his death record.

So, there are still gaps but they’re closing, slowly.

Yesterday, I continued to search aimlessly, trying to fill more gaps but it’s a rather haphazard approach. I think I shall move onto planning a trip and note down exactly what I want to see and do.

I ordered the will of my great-grandfather, William Darlington Asher, who died in 1930. It reads as expected, leaving his daughters £100 each and his brother £50. Then to a Miss Edwards £30, who may have well have acted as a domestic servant. What I did not expect, though, was that he left his house, furniture and £50 to a Mrs Gertrude Annie Lofthouse. And then a very short sentence, leaving the remainder of his property to his wife (not even mentioning her name), but there is no mention of what that might have been.

Who on earth is Gertrude Annie Lofthouse? Apparently she married a Stuart Lofthouse in Chorlton, Lancashire in 1919, her maiden name Clark. I have found no other information on her. I need a 1921 census. The 1939 register comes too late.

I feel aggrieved on Kate’s behalf. Why did this woman get the house and furniture and £50? Did that mean that Kate was turfed out of her home or did they have another property? Living with William D at the time of his death was a Bryce Eglington Ross, one of the executors. What’s going on?

He also asked that his executors destroy all his private papers as soon as possible after his death. Wow.

I have so many questions…

Thinking later, maybe she was a live-in carer if he was ill with cancer? Who knows. It still seems unfair to Kate.

I  happened upon a link (on Facebook) to websites to look for books or PDFs of family or county histories. Included amongst them was a link to familysearch’s books. I idly searched for Cornelius (only because it is an unusual surname). I found a PDF of over 100 pages long (“History of the Cornelius family in England : starting from the past to the present of the Cornelius line”) of a researcher’s attempts in about 2003 to follow the line down on several branches! She was very thorough, looking at alternatives and eliminating some based on sound evidence.

It confirmed my belief that the “We’re related” app was wrong in the parentage of an ancestor, thereby linking me to several different “famous” Americans.

So today I have been reading this amazing document and making notes on my tree, searching on Cornwall OPC and Findmypast (currently subscribed to for a short time) to confirm. The author included snippets from actual microfilmed documents so there’s no arguing the authenticity.

I haven’t even begun to search for other documents out there. It will be interesting if there is anything else on one of my branches.

I haven’t updated lately, but that’s not to say I haven’t been dabbling.

I belong to a few genealogical pages on Facebook (and they’re’ the only reason I visit Facebook these days). You learn some interesting stuff there. I found out about ancestry’s “We’re related” app, which I thought would be bogus but interesting to see. When I finally got the thing working, it came up with six so-called famous people, three of whom I had never heard of, five of whom were American. It will take a bit of time to verify, especially as they claim that my ancestor Mary Poor was the daughter of someone called John Preble. They all reach back to the 16th century which also seems dubious. We’ll see.

More interesting, however, is familysearch’s version “Relative Finder”. Again, “famous” American people I’ve never heard of but I’ve looked at a couple and they do list ancestors I’m familiar with but reaching back another four or five generations, so I will verify those also – a much easier task as it’s all there in familysearch with sources. I can always double-check with the Cornwall OPC (yes the interesting Cornish ancestors yet again).

As a result, I’ve just spent all morning adding details to the Cornelius and Johns family (the parents of Elizabeth Cornelius, who married Christopher Dart, were John Cornelius and Ann Johns) with more to do. Somone has done a lot of research linking children and parents, going back to the 1600s.

Considering the many different surname changes from the supposed common ancestor to the famous person (through female lines), it’s no wonder I can’t find names in common when trying to link DNA matches. It’s extremely complex.

ancestry.com sucks. I signed up for a month and after not getting anywhere with the DNA results, decided just to search for stuff that I needed to using the records. It won’t let me, despite confirming that I’ve paid. Whenever I click on something to view the record it takes me to a subscription page.

I dislike ancestry. They promise so much and deliver bugger-all, and their results page leaves a lot to be desired. Like familysearch, why show me results that don’t fall into the parameters I specified. It’s a waste of time scrolling through irrelevant results.

Give me findmypast any day.

Edit: Well, it seems the sub I went for only included basic records (which appear to exclude parish records and anything before 1840), which are of no use to me, since I’ve exhausted pretty much all those records, so I asked to cancel, which they have done. I didn’t see any benefit in having a subscription for the DNA part of the site and dislike their search result display so goodbye ancestry.

Just a brief entry to express how disappointed I am. I had my DNA test done last year at ancestry and didn’t really do anything with it because I didn’t have a current sub. They wouldn’t show how people were related to you unless you paid up.  Well, I finally succumbed and paid for a month with ancestry and thought, right, what can you tell me, expecting to be able to contact lots of new genetically-related relatives to expand the tree. Well, the vast majority of them have no tree at all, and the rest have trees full of surnames which are completely different to everyone in my tree. How on earth would you figure out how you are related? So I paid my money and got precisely nothing out of it. The very first match did have a tree and the correct surname but they’re a beginner and had little information regarding our common surname. So I won’t get anything of interest from them either except for descendants.  Talk about hugely disappointing and, I felt, a waste of money.  As a resource for normal genealogical research I dislike ancestry, preferring findmypast, so that money could’ve gone back to findmypast to fill in gaps I’ve found during the past year. Huh.

Had to vent.

And finally, a year and a bit later, I reach the end of this challenge. It’s been really helpful for getting my head around what I have and what I don’t have. Anyway, for this final week I have included more than one ancestor: John Stevens and his parents (and beyond). I cannot claim to have undertaken all the research – much of the information (especially the earlier years) has come from another researcher, but where possible I have confirmed the dates.

John was born in about 1715 in St Ives, Cornwall. He was baptised on 24 March 1714/15 (pre-Gregorian calendar).  John was the son of Vivian Stevens and Anne Sprigg. He married El(e)anor Penrose (or Prouse, depending on which website you look at) by licence on 25 March 1738 in St Buryan to the south-west of St Ives. John was a lawyer, then mayor of St Ives and had 13, maybe 14 children:  John (1739); Anne (1740); Vivian (b. 1741, d. 1741); Francis (b. 1743, d. 1744); Francis (1744); Eleanor (1745); Mary (1747); Vivian Francis Penrose (b. 1749 but the long name didn’t prevent his early death in 1750); Elizabeth (1750); Jane (1752); Andrew (1754); and Thomas and Henry (1756). According to the other researcher there was also a Susannah born in 1758 but I have not been able to find a baptism.

John was listed as a lawyer or attorney up until about 1741 in the baptisms and burial of children, and then as a mayor from 1743. Unfortunately, later entries don’t give John’s’ occupation. Eleanor died in 1785, buried on 16 August in St Ives. John died in 1791, buried on 9 September in St Ives.

Vivian Stevens, John’s father, was baptised on 16 February 1685 in Towednack, Cornwall. His parents were Andrew and Elizabeth Stevens. He had two confirmed siblings – sisters, Ann and Margery. According to various records, Vivian was a merchant, collector and alderman.

Vivian married Anne Sprigg on 31 January 1711 in St Ives. They had five children that I know of, including John: Elizabeth (1712); (John); Andrew (1717); Anne (1720); and Catherine (1723) – children of “Mr” Vivian Stevens (and Anne).

Vivian died in 1735, buried on 16 October in St Ives. It was noted he was a “collector” – of what I wonder. I imagine it was some sort of profession such as collecting taxes. If he was born in 1685, that made him only 50 when he died.

Anne lived on to 1764, buried on 6 December in St Ives.  It is Anne’s family that is interesting, in that it can be traced back further. It’s often the female line on “Who Do You Think You Are?” that reveals fascinating history.

Anne’s parents were Thomas Sprigg and Ann Hammond. She was baptised on either the 10th or 16th December 1685 in St Ives (depending on whether the transcriber could read the second digit – if only I could see the original). Thomas Sprigg(e) married Ann on 20 November 1677 in St Ives.

Thomas was baptised on 30 November 1655, the eldest son of Robert Sprigg(s) (no mother mentioned, and I can’t find a marriage for Robert) as far as I know. Thomas had two sisters and a brother – Mary, Elizabeth, and John.

Now comes the stuff from yet another family researcher at ancestry that I can’t confirm, and so, at this point, is pure speculation. It would be great if I could find confirmation. Apparently Robert Sprigg (who died in 1667 in St Ives) was the son of Thomas Spriggs and Margery Anderton. I have not been able to find a baptism for Robert so can’t confirm or deny. Nor can I find a marriage for Thomas and Margery.

Thomas was apparently the son of John Sprigg and Pascoe James, but again I can’t find a baptism or marriage, so don’t know where this information came from. Thomas apparently died in 1663. I can confirm the baptism of John Sprigg on 26 November 1566 in Bodmin, Cornwall. Whether he’s a valid ancestor or not remains to be seen. He was the son of Robert Sprigg (and, apparently, Agnes Hendye). I did find a marriage of Robert and Agnes for 2 September 1565 in Bodmin.

Robert was, apparently, born in 1545 and died in 1596. He was the son of David Spriggs (who, apparently, was born in 1505 but that would make him 40 years old when Robert was born, or at least, baptised). David apparently died in 1559.

It would be amazing if it could all be confirmed, reaching back towards the end of the 15th century(!), but as I don’t know from where or how the information was obtained, it will have to stay theoretical. (You can’t trust anything on ancestry. One “researcher” had attached my Scottish grandmother to her family of totally unrelated people.)

So this brings me to the end of the challenge. It’s been tremendously helpful and made me realise how much I still have to find out – so many relatives, so little time, so little stuff online. I need to look at originals, especially since different transcribers give different dates, unable to read digits clearly.  (So lots of planning to do to enable me to visit the records.)

Naturally, I’ll continue to update this blog with other finds or observations.  Thanks for reading!


Sources: findmypast; familysearch; Cornwall OPC database; west-penwith.org.uk/ivesbur4.htm; sallenbach.net; wikipedia; http://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/records/john-sprigg_63672852