family history

Dad’s DNA: The Mother Lode

When I was a child I used to have this odd … not fantasy … belief? … that I was adopted. (Or maybe actually an android. Or maybe a dragon. You get the point.) 8 year old me can rest easy knowing that my dad is definitely my dad and my mother is definitely my mother. (And I am definitely human.)

As I thought, my dad’s DNA results from Ancestry were delivered about a week after my mum’s.

And holy moly …

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Mr. DNA Brings New Surprises; or My Mother’s DNA Results!

A little over a year ago I shared the results of my Ancestry DNA test and how it laid to rest one of the family legends my mother had grown up with. As time has marched on and Ancestry gathered more and more participants (recently surpassing the 2 million mark), the amount of matches I was able to access grew and grew. The vast majority of these were in America – but without a full view of the American ancestry of each of my parents it wasn’t always possible to gain a sense of which side the matches were. Consequently, when an offer reducing the price of the costs to only £60 each (instead of the standard £80) came online a week or so before my parents were due to spend time back in the UK, I decided to take advantage of the coincidence and hopefully find some clarity on these results.

Despite being posted at the same time, my mother’s saliva sample arrived at the lab and was processed about a week ahead of my father’s … and today I received her results …

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The Fascinations of Halliday, or The Perils Of Ignoring Old Research

Way back in the mysterious depths of time (aka 2002) when I was still something of a newbie and early on in my family history journey (following a move from the UK to France where I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands…), I was in correspondence with a distant relative based in Queensland, Australia. Brian had spent many years compiling what he called The Halliday Heritage, a story of our combined family, which he very kindly shared with me. Sadly, I took what I immediately needed (yep, I admit to being a harvester of names back then …) and ignored the rest. Going over it again and giving this rich seam of information the attention it deserves has thrown up some interesting titbits …

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Yorkshire Puddephatts, or The Surname Conundrum

It’s no big surprise that on one side of my mother’s family there’s a surname that I’m more concerned with than any other. That is, my grandmother’s maiden name: Holborow. Part of the reason for this – I’m not going to say obsession – bias is that it’s a pretty rare surname. It’s no Smith, Jones or Taylor. Consequently when I come across another surname that seems … striking in some way it causes my inner onomatologist to sit up and take notice. Therefore when I started working with someone with a distinct last name I was intrigued …

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Everett & Nellie Payne: or, The Folly Of Believing Everything You Read On The Internet

I mentioned my paternal great-grandparents Everett & Nellie Payne way back in September 2013 in this post, but have never come back to talk about this family in more detail. But this post is less an exploration of them, and more a warning about the ever-present danger of trusting other people’s data – even when sourced – and not eyeballing that evidence for yourself …

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My DNA Test

About a week ago, the lovely Alex over at Root To Tip blogged about the results of her DNA test performed via Ancestry, and it got me thinking as earlier in the year at the end of last year I also spat in a tube and sent it back to Utah (all via a family member in the States as Ancestry had not yet started testing via the UK), but had never publicised the results. (In case you’re worried I’m going to get all science-y and talk about haplogroups, haplotypes, single nucleotide polymorphism or allele frequencies – I’m not.)

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Generations

Do you ever find a family line that has a mix of occupations – and you wonder how much the behaviour of one generation has affected the subsequent ones? I came across one such line recently.

A cousin of mine (7th cousin once removed but, hey, who’s counting?) recently shared a link to an online digital archive of American newspapers, as part of the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection. As I always do when faced with a ‘new’ searchable database, the first name I type in is ‘Holborow’. As its such a unique surname I’m always pretty sure that any results have a link back to my family – and I came across some fantastic articles in this archive.

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More Australian Shenanigans!

In my previous post about Australian migration, I mentioned a lady who had (possibly/probably) married her (possibly/probably) deceased first husband’s (half) uncle. I don’t want to leave you thinking that this kind of thing was present in only one side of my family. Oh no. My father’s side has an interesting tale to tell too …

William Fisher and Hannah Perry were married in Collingbourne Kingston on 10 March 1806. They already had one son together before the marriage, but would go on to have another 10 children. I am descended from Jacob (3 x great-grandfather), born in 1813, but amongst his 3 younger sisters was Jemima, born c.1815 – she was christened on 24 March of that year in the parish church, St. Mary’s.

St. Mary's church, Collingbourne Kingston. © Graeme Harvey

St. Mary’s church, Collingbourne Kingston. © Graeme Harvey

On 05 October 1833, Jemima married William Smith in Collingbourne Kingston church. The couple had a daughter, Emma, born out of wedlock, and then another 10 (much like her own parents).:

  • Emma Fisher
  • George Smith
  • Jane Mary Smith
  • William Smith
  • Henry Smith
  • Louisa Smith
  • Thomas Smith
  • Martha Smith
  • Jemima Smith
  • Daniel Smith
  • John Smith

In early 1855, Jemima and William left England aboard the  Asiatic, bound for Australia – perhaps prompted by the gold rushes of the 1850s – as “assisted immigrants” (that is, people whose passage was subsidised or paid for through one of the several assisted immigration schemes which operated to New South Wales from the United Kingdom and other countries). They arrived in Sydney (or possibly Newcastle) on 25 May 1855.

smith1855

They had travelled with a number of their children, but not Emma or Jane who were by this time married with families of their own. Emma married George Romans in Hounslow (then Middlesex) on 23 September 1860. Emma’s sister Jane married William Annetts on 29 May 1855 in Collingbourne Ducis.

It was Jane and William who were the next to travel to Australia. On 24 February 1857 the pair – and their two children, Mary Jane and Charles – left England. Approximately 90 days later the Herefordshire arrived in New South Wales.

annetts1857

Around this time a number of William Annetts’ siblings made the journey, including his brother Thomas. Thomas married Martha Smith, Jane’s sister, on Boxing Day 1864 in Gundagai, and they had 8 children before his death in October 1886.

LA HOGUE - From a painting by Jack Spurling illustrated in "SAIL: The Romance of the Clipper Ships"

LA HOGUE – From a painting by Jack Spurling illustrated in “SAIL: The Romance of the Clipper Ships”

By this time Emma, Martha’s eldest sister, and her husband George Romans and their children had arrived in Australia (on 21 October 1878 aboard the La Hogue). As you will see, 18 year old William Romans is present.

romans

Three years after the death of her first husband, 42 year old Martha Annetts nee Smith, married her 24 year old nephew, William.

I feel that I need to reiterate that this is not a nephew-by-marriage. William was the son of Martha’s elder (half) sister, Emma. I am a firm believer in that we, sat here today, cannot truly judge the actions of our ancestors as we do not know them, their lives or their struggles. However, occasionally you come across something that truly makes you sit and wonder.

And I have to say, this is one of them. How did that happen? How was it received in the family? In the wider community? How did they overcome any ‘opposition’? Its one of the down sides of family history – especially when its half a world away! – that you’ll  never know all the answers (unless you’re incredibly lucky) … which in this instance is a crying shame.

They went on to have two daughters (bringing Martha’s total number of births up to 10 – in league with her mother and grandmother!), Albertha Muriel and Letha Marion.

Martha Smith with husband/nephew William Romans

Martha Smith with husband/nephew William Romans

Hallidays In Australia

My previous post introduced the Halliday family via my 4 x great-grandmother, Ann Halliday. She was the oldest child – and only daughter – of John Halliday and his wife Elizabeth Angell. After marrying in Sherston Magna, Wiltshire on 12 October 1815, John and Elizabeth would have a total of four children.

 

Descendant Chart for John Halliday

Descendant Chart for John Halliday

Whilst many families ‘lost’ children to emigration, all 3 of John’s sons left their lives as agricultural labourers in Gloucestershire to make their way in Australia.

The first to make the journey were the younger two brothers – John and Thomas – on the Duke of Wellington, which departed from Deptford on 4 July 1849 and arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 November.

John married Martha Williams – who he knew back in “the home country” – in October 1850. After an eventful life that included striking gold in Bendigo and Eaglehawk, and starting the first market garden in South Australia, John passed away in August 1919, aged 91. Martha would follow in November 1923.

Men of the Halliday family. Left-right: Charles Arthur, 59 years; Maurice Vernon, 5 years; Herbert Arthur, 35 years; John, 90 years.

Men of the Halliday family. Left-right: Charles Arthur, 59 years; Maurice Vernon, 5 years; Herbert Arthur, 35 years; John, 90 years.

Obituary taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 15 August 1919

Obituary taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 15 August 1919

Thomas had a somewhat shorter life in Australia. He was married on 25 July 1863 to Ann Halliday nee Sherwood, and the two of them went on to have two daughters – Emily and Ann – with Ann dying in infancy. (Emily would go on to marry her cousin William Francis Halliday, son of James and Hester.) The family moved from Woodville to the Adelaide Hills where Thomas was a gardener at Biggs Flat, as well as a woodcarter. According to a report in the The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser on Friday 6 May 1881, Thomas was found dead in the road to Echunga on the morning of 1 May 1881 by a drover. The inquest, held at the Aldgate Pump Hotel on the same day, heard from various people regarding the incident. The landlord of the hotel stated that Thomas had been intoxicated the previous evening and that he was often seen “under the influence of drink”. A fellow gardener at Biggs Flat similarly attested to Thomas liking a drink. John, Thomas’ brother, also said the same.

The final verdict of the jury was: “That deceased met his death by concussion of the brain, caused by a fall from his dray while under the influence of drink”.

Ann herself is a bit of a conundrum. She was probably born in Owlpen, Gloucestershire in 1838. A woman by the name of Ann Sherwood marries a George Halliday in the Tetbury district of Gloucestershire in the first half of 1856. It is my assumption (and I have no proof as yet, but some strong supposition!) that this George Halliday is, in fact, George Marsh Halliday, illegitimate son of Ann Halliday and George Marsh – and half-brother to my 3 x great-grandfather Thomas Halliday Hurcombe. Two children are registered in Adelaide in 1859 and 1862 (Loveday Henry Halliday and Albert Halliday) with the parents of George Halliday and Ann Shorwood. I can’t find a passenger listing for George and Ann between 1856 and 1859. Some sources believe that she is the same Ann Sherwood that is listed in 1854 onboard the Time and Truth – but this seems unlikely given that this Ann gives her place of residence as Ireland and her age is out by approximately 3 years, and marries Thomas as Ann Halliday, not Ann Sherwood.

George disappears from the records at this time, and Ann reappears when she marries Thomas in 1863. She is listed as deceased in a newspaper article from the time of Thomas’ death, but no mention of their surviving daughter. Then an Annie Halliday marries William Allen Waples on 21 February 1880 in Adelaide. She died 26 August 1880 from peritonitis rupture – presumably following the accident alluded to in the 1881 article.

Article regarding Thomas' death, taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 6 May 1881

Article regarding Thomas’ death, taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 6 May 1881

In 1856 the eldest brother, James, his wife Hester (aka Esther), their 6 children and an 11 year old Elizabeth Cottle (possibly a niece of either James or Hester) left for Australia from Plymouth  aboard the Hooghly, and reached Port Adelaide on 25 July.  During the crossing Hester had given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Oddly, the ships list of the time lists the baby as male. James and Hester would have 11 children in total, including the William Francis who married his cousin Emily. Two of William’s children – Charles Edward and Maurice Roy – would go on to marry two of their cousins – Annie Myrtle Halliday and Elva Joyce Halliday – who were both children of Albert Halliday, the son of Ann Sherwood and George Halliday.

Somewhat of a tangled web woven by the members of the immediate Halliday clan in Australia!

Who’s The (4 x Great-Grand) Daddy?

On 14 January 1852 my 3 x great-grandfather, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe, was born.

When I was first researching my family history – apart from putting out feelers regarding my American grandfathers – the Holborow/Hurcombe lines of my mother’s ancestry marked my initial steps into this world. My mother was very close to her maternal grandmother, Edith May Holborow nee Hurcombe, and also to Edith’s parents, Alfred William Hurcombe and Harriet nee Robins, so it seemed fitting that I started here.

Back row, l-to-r: Eva, Edith, Ver.  Front row, l-to-r: little me(!), my brother Alex

Back row, l-to-r: Eva, Edith, Ver.
Front row, l-to-r: little me(!), my brother Alex

I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers (especially about 2am when the lights come on, but that’s a different story), and starting the genealogy journey I was somewhat suckered in to the use of other people’s information over finding things out on my own with the actual records. Consequently, I was happy enough when I found information regarding Alfred’s father, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe.

Alfred & Harriet Hurcombe, near Devizes

Alfred & Harriet Hurcombe, near Devizes

Thomas’ mother was quickly identified as Ann Hurcombe, formerly Halliday, and his father as Stephen Hurcombe. Stephen was somewhat older than Ann, being born on 13 January 1799 in Leighterton, Gloucestershire. In fact, records show that he had been married before. On 13 December 1823 he first married spinster Jane Davies and they had two children: David (27 February 1825 – 8 May 1857) and Mary (10 December 1826 – 12 May 1846). Four months later, in April 1827 Jane died.

After several years, the 36-year-old Stephen married 19-year-old Ann Halliday on 12 October 1835 in Leighterton. Ann brought another child into the family – a one year old son, George Marsh Halliday. Ann hadn’t been married before Stephen, but there was a prominent farmer in the village called George Marsh. Whilst I can’t prove anything, it may be a case that George senior fathered a son on the young Ann who then named the son after the purported father.

Stephen and Ann went on to have a number of children:

  • Elizabeth: 21 Aug 1836 – 1918
  • Emanuel: 03 Feb 1839 – 1922
  • Emily: 11 Apr 1841 – 08 Jun 1851
  • David Henry: 24 May 1845 – 10 Jan 1919

…and it was during this research, after tracing the Hurcombe line back a further couple of generations, that I came upon the death entry for Stephen: 28 March 1850.

As Thomas wasn’t born for another almost two years, it would be extremely unlikely for Stephen to be his father – as so many people had presumed and slavishly copied down (and, in fact, Stephen can still be found listed as Thomas’ father in online trees despite this glaring error in mathematics – and I doubt that Ann concentrated on the wallpaper that hard for two years …).

Other than using both her maiden and married names in her son’s name, there is no additional clue as to the identity of his father. Ann would go on to have another illegitimate son, Alfred Thomas Halliday, in 1859. Despite having been registered as a Halliday at his birth, in 1889 when Alfred married, he did so under the name Alfred Hurcombe, and appears in all of the relevant census as such. His children were all baptised with the surname of Hurcombe.

Aged almost 60, in January 1876, Ann married a Chelsea pensioner named Peter Adams – who was 13 years her junior, reversing the earlier age difference with her first husband!

Descendant Chart for Ann Halliday

Descendant Chart for Ann Halliday

So who was the father of Thomas (and Alfred)? His birth certificate simply has a line in place of father’s name. Contact with other Hurcombe/Halliday researchers mooted that at least one of the fathers may have been a younger brother of Stephen’s called David – but that is sheer speculation, and without anything such as bastardy papers we will perhaps never know how much of a Hurcombe Thomas and his (half) brother Alfred were.

Thomas went on to marry Emily Raines in the Tetbury Register Office on 17 February 1974, and the pair had 7 children – their third child (and third son) was Alfred William, my 2 x great-grandfather. He passed away on 13 March 1927 in Leighterton, with Emily following on 26 January 1938.

Gravestone of Thomas Halliday Hurcombe

Gravestone of Thomas Halliday Hurcombe