I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their warm hospitality and kindness, for letting me stay in their homes and driving me around and answering the thousands of questions I had on the family history.
The time seem to take forever but finally it was the 10th June and I was on my way to doing a trip that I had dreamed of doing for years, family history research. The family were not able to come because of work and school commitments so it was decided that I would go on my own and research to my hearts content. I was able to meet a lot of family members on both my husband’s side as well as my own.
Well, the trip started on a sunny summer day in Spain where I was met by Gary’s cousin Melanie and her husband. I changed and we headed into Madrid to met Janice and Graham who is Gary’s 2nd cousin once removed. Janice and Graham had travelled from southern Spain to meet us in Madrid as they couldn’t attend the family reunion in the UK.
It was if we had known each other for years. We talked, walked, sat and drank sangrias, walked, sat, talk and drank sangrias all night. As you can see we did a lot of walking, talking, sitting and drinking. The days are long in Spain, lunch is at 4pm and dinner at 10pm. The conversation was mostly family history as you can imagine. Janice’s grandad was the brother to Gary’s great grandfather so we exchanged photos and stories. We all had a fantastic time. The next 2 days I was sightseeing with Melanie and Laznaro.
Madrid is a lovely place and next time I will be bringing the family. It was time to leave Spain and head off to the UK. I had a stop over in Jersey in search of a great grand Uncle of mine. Jersey is a lovely place with very narrow roads. Now you wouldn’t think you could get lost on an island but yes I did, several times in fact. You will fine though, you always find your way back to where you started. I found the cemetery where Alfred Noah Wailes Horton was buried unfortunately I could not find his headstone or his wife Sadie. I went to the Jersey Zoo to see the only full size Skelton of a Dodo Bird (impressed) it had just returned from France where it was on show for a lot of years in the Louvre.
I finally arrived in the UK, picked up the car and headed down to Eastbourne and then up to Stratford on Avon and over to Gary’s cousin Phillip’s house for a couple of weeks. I was going to research the army records at Kew but the records have been moved to the county’s and parishes where the battalions were based. So if you didn’t know which battalion you had no hope. I was a little disappointed so I spent several days researching 3 other family members’ history. This had some great outcomes. I spent a day with Corin who is Gary’s 3 cousin on the Williams side and he drove me around Gosport and Alverstoke (2 areas where the Smiths and Williams came from). It was a fantastic day; we talked family history all day. It didn’t start out too great as I got lost (again) and was on the wrong side of the port opposite Gosport. I was on the Portsmouth side. June the 26th was the first of the 2 family reunions I had organised. I had help with the Smith/Penn/Williams reunion from Donna Penn who is the wife of Clive Penn, Gary’s 4th cousin. This was from Gary’s dad’s side of the family. So we had family members from the Smiths, Penns, Williams and Croucher families there.
Donna suggested that a tour around Petersfield might be a nice drive for some of the family members who had never been there or didn’t realise the significance that Petersfield played. So we decided that it would be a great idea to tour around the area that one of families comes from. Lily Penn married William George Williams (Great grandparents of Gary). We all met at ‘The Weatherspoon Pub’ in Petersfield (not realising that the pub played a big part in the history of the Penns in Petersfield as well). I picked up Gary’s Aunt and cousin and arrived on time at the pub. Everyone arrived and we were comparing stories and photos when I realised that one of the key families where not there yet (or so I thought) I rang and they said they were at the pub too but I couldn’t see them. They had been sitting out side waiting for me to turn up. They weren’t worried because the last time we met we were 5 hours late so they thought I was late again. So we talked for a little while and then we all got in the cars and head off. I was last car in the convoy of cars (big mistake) and you wouldn’t read about it I got stuck in the driveway of the pub with passing traffic (not a lot of traffic in a small town until you need to keep up with others) so by the time I could get out on the road the other cars had gone.
Now who was the tourist here!! I rang Clive and said help!! They sent a car back and I followed them to the first destination. When we left I made sure I was in the middle of the convoy this time. I was not planning to get lost again. It was a very hot summer day (for the UK) 27 degrees Celsius. Bye the time we got back to the pub and had some dinner everyone was feeling tied and exhausted from so much information. It was about 6.00pm when everyone left so by the time I dropped Gary’s aunt and cousin back home it was 6.30pm and so then we started to talked again and it and before you know it, it was 8.30pm. Everyone have a fantastic time.
The only downside was that Gary couldn’t be there. We were going to get Gary to remote in on the computer but because we left so late to do the tour it made it too late to call Gary as it would have been very early in the morning in Australia. I spent some time with Yvonne and Phillip (Gary’s cousin on his mum’s side) which was most enjoyable as well. Yvonne and I would be on the laptops til late at night comparing information on the familles. It is way more fun when you have someone to research with. We did a lot research and shopping (break from research).
I had a ball. I was also able to meet up with Yvonne and Phillip’s son Chris who I hadn’t seen since 2004. From Wiltshire I made a day trip over to Bristol where I spent the day with one of my cousins and found out a lot of things about the Wolstenholme side. Unfortunately John could not attend maybe next time. My next stop was Bramshot, Cheshire to stay with Gary’s 1st cousin once removed and his wife Kay. His name is Garry as well (spelt with 2 ‘r’). Garry is the son of Gary’s grandad’s brother William (confused). Now this was one of the most interesting stops because William had written a journal of his life from a very young age. I was amazed to see 8 very large volumes and I only had two days to read them.
We spent the nights reading and photographing all the photos and the relevant information in the journals (I had to pick what applied to the Smiths/Hedgers/Crouchers). I spoke to Garry and Kay’s son Adrian in Canada and met their daughter Susan and her family at one of the manor houses in Bramshot. Garry’s wife Kay is a fantastic cook. I was spoilt while I was there. Kay gave me some of her recipes so I’m looking forward to trying some of Kay’s recipes, when I get back home. My next stop was Bolton, Lancashire where the Wolstenholme’s and Povey’s came from. I stayed with Linda my second cousin once removed. Again it felt like I had known Linda for years and years. We would sit up to the early hours of the morning on our laptops comparing information on the families.
It was Linda’s birthday while I was staying there and her granddaughter put on a birthday party for her so I got to meet a lot of Linda’s family. It was a fantastic day. I was able to spend a day with Graham and his mum Ivy (nee Povey) who took us around the different churches in Bolton, Little Hulton and Deane. It was a great day. The only disappointing thing that day was when we went to the Deane Church the gravestones are all overgrown and very hazardous. We tried to find a couple of the ancestor’s graves to no avail. It was so dangerous that Ivy fell in a hole on the other side of the cemetery (out of sight), so we didn’t even know that it had happened. Thank the lord Ivy didn’t break a bone.
The 9th July arrived and this was the date of the 2nd reunion (my side of the family) so we met at a pub halfway between Preston and Bolton (a very nice pub) where Linda and her family came, Linda’s sister and family, Graham and his family, Graham’s brother and family and Ivy and Gordon (descendent from Povey’s). There was also Graham (descendant from the Holt family) (Linda had made contact with Graham only weeks before I arrived). The families represented were Povey’s/George’s/Holts and Swallow’s.
The day was a great success as well. We looked at photos and shared lots of information. While staying with Linda we did a few road trips to Yorkshire to visit St Pauls cemetery Hanging Heaton where my Horton family are buried but again no headstones. On a positive side I did get to see
- The house that my ggggg grandfather lived in, in Todmorden, Yorkshire.
- A family graveyard (the church has long gone) in Little Hulton for the Wolstenholme’s.
- Graveyard in Tyldesley (try saying it!!)
- The school my grandfather and his siblings would have gone too.
- The church that my grandparents were married in (just up the road from where Linda lives)
- The houses were my great grandparents and grandparents lived.
- The towns they grew up in and around Bolton.
We made a trip to the Bolton achieves as well for a day. Now I must have had rocks in my head to think that I could find centuries of info in one day. You may have guest it didn’t happened. I could spend a lifetime there and still not find everything I was looking for.
It was time for me to leave and head back down to Hampshire to stay with Donna and Clive. So 4.5 hours later I arrived in Hampshire a little bit weary but still excited to spend my time with Donna and Clive researching the Penn family and the areas they lived in.We visited every graveyard around the Petersfield/Sheet/Bramshot/ Buirton areas (all family towns). The most exciting graveyard in the area was the ‘Midland Graveyard’ hidden away up a forested lane. You would never know that it was there. Donna didn’t know till Clive told her just before I arrived. As you walked into the graveyard there are 2 churches one from the 1800.s and the other dating back to the 1100.s. The graves around the 1100’s church are still in mounds after hundreds of years. Amazing!!
They are in all sizes and the odd one would have a headstone but so weathered that you could not read the inscription. Donna and I would be on the laptops to early hours of the morning as well sending Clive to the bedroom to watch his movies in quiet. Sorry Clive!! I was amazed and so excited that one night you would find a grave or an address they lived in and the next day we could drive over to see it, awesome!
Everyday we would venture out to see what we could find. We ended up in Portsmouth 2 days looking for the allusive Cannon William Smith who was a catholic priest. The first day we found the Catholic Cathedral, entered while a service was on, not making too much noise spotted a priest in a back area went and asked where the gift shop was (the shop had books on the history of the church) unbeknown to us it was an area for priest only.
No public allowed (now if we were from this parish we would have known that) He took us though the back of the church to the gift shop where we ask about the Cannon. They then sent as around to the Bishop’s office at the first door we come too (not the right door mind you) the Bishop (not that we knew it was the Bishop at the time) answered the door and told us to go to the next door, so we did. We asked the Bishops secretary about the Cannon and she went off to find someone who could help. It was the Bishop (the priest from the first door) who came and spoke to us about the Cannon’s of the church and Cannon Smith was not one of them. The bishop escorted us outside and then told us a little history of the church when WWII was on and how the church was bombed, very interesting.
We went away very disheartened not knowing where to look next. I emailed Janice and asked for any information she may have on Cannon Smith (who was at her mother’s wedding). It was written on the marriage certificate that he was from St Mary’s (which is a Church of England church) but how can that be if he was a catholic priest, the plot thickens. The next day we visited Portsmouth we went to St Mary’s church and found a book there with all the Cannons in it and there was a Cannon Smith who was a very well known Cannon (he even had a plaque on the wall in the church) of the church but his name was Walter Smith not William Smith.
So the lady in the church at the time said she would contact someone and ask them about him. Unfortunately she emailed me back saying no luck. So we still can’t find him. I am still continuing my research into the Cannon and hopefully one day I will find the right church. We then visited two of the main cemeteries in Portsmouth looking for Harriet Penn and some Smiths. I did however find Harriet Penn’s (nee Livermore) who was the mother of Lily Williams (nee Penn) in one of the graveyards but unfortunately she has a lodger now.
Because the grave has not been visited nor had a headstone for so long (Harriet died in 1914) the graves are reallocated to other people. This person has a small headstone. So if you ever what to visit Harriet’s grave let me know and I will send you the plot details. Well my trip is growing to a close now. I am sad to be leaving as I have more questions now than when I started and would love to follow them up now. Hopefully the next trip I can stay longer (plan to live in the UK for a while).