my family

George Marsh Halliday

A long, long time ago (or at least that’s what it seems like to me) I mentioned in passing one George Marsh Halliday, the (half) brother of my 3 x great-grandfather, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe. I know I’ve talked about Thomas and George’s mother, Ann Adams otherwise Hurcombe formerly Halliday before now (on more than one occasion, I’m sure!), but George has remained a footnote … until now …



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.)


Charles Victor Hurcombe

I thought I’d follow up last week’s ‘Ancestor Of The Week’ with another that was inspired by his hair (although I have to say that although he isn’t an ancestor – he’s my 2 x great-uncle – the photo beautifully illustrates the power of genetics).

I have inherited many things from my parents – a widow’s peak and passive-aggressive arguing from my father, trick knees and bad ears from my mother – but looking at the wider family on my mother’s side and one thing becomes apparent. Hair. It tends to be thick, wavy, dark and lustrous. (Two of my brothers are blond, but have the thick waves when it is allowed to get long.) Mine, too, has a propensity for the … if I’m being kind then we’ll go for Mr. Darcy curls … if I’m being less kind then we’ll go for Don King.

I used to call this ‘Holborow Hair’ after my maternal grandmother and her father’s family. However, upon finding the below photograph it has now been altered to ‘Hurcombe Hair’.

Charlie Hurcombe

Charlie Hurcombe

Now that’s some hair.

Charlie was born in the small Gloucestershire village of Tresham, located between the National Arboretum at Westonbirt and the village of Wotton-under-Edge, on o3 February 1909. He was the eldest son and second child of my 2 x great-grandparents – Alfred William Hurcombe and his wife Harriet Robins.

Alfred was a shepherd, as can be seen on the family’s 1911 Census return.

1911 England Census

1911 England Census

Other than his sister, Edith (my great-grandmother), and his parents, Charles also shared his home at that time with a William James Meacham. There is no (known) connection between the Meacham and Hurcombe or Robins families, and I believe that little William is the brother of a Wilfred Harold Meacham who was also born in Tresham in 1910. In 1911 Wilfred is living with his (presumed) father, Frank Meacham, less than 20 miles away from Tresham in Coates, Gloucestershire. Frank was a cowman so perhaps he knew Alfred from the farming community, or his wife (Elizabeth Jane nee Clarke) knew Harriet. As to where Elizabeth is in the 1911 census, there is an Elizabeth Meacham listed as a patient in the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Given a lack of other options, I strongly suspect that this is William and Wilfred’s mother. (To set your minds at rest, there’s no death registered for an Elizabeth Meacham in that area for quite some time!)

Alfred worked for Richard Holborow at Burden Court Farm in Tresham for many years. In 1922 the family moved to Heddington (near Devizes) and he became a shepherd at Nether Street, a nearby hamlet/collection of farms. Given the proximity to Devizes, it is likely that Charlie met his wife, Violet Muriel Brewer, there. They married in 1931 and went on to have 3 sons.

Charlie & Vi

Charlie & Vi

Charlie passed away in 1994, with his wife following 2 years later. He’d worked for the ambulance service in Devizes for many years, and in his spare time started a small garden near the ambulance station. After his retirement he still visited the station and tended the garden. Following his death the other guys decided to honour him and his green fingers by creating the Charles Hurcombe Memorial Garden.

Charlie Hurcombe Cup

Gateway Ancestors

Alex’s Root to Tip post that I shared a few days ago (what do you mean you missed it? The original is here…) has had me thinking about gateway ancestors.

A ‘gateway ancestor’ is one that links your family to one that is ennobled in some way – landed gentry, some level of aristocracy or – gasp – royalty itself. One perks of finding one of these links (or so you may think) is that these families will have been investigated and documented and pedigree’d many times in the past thus saving you effort and money. Obviously another perk is the added … cachet of having a ‘royal connection’. You can see how this fits in with Alex’s article on mistakes caused by ‘wishful thinking’ – if you had a choice would you prefer to be descended from Boleyn the fish gutter of Stockport or that other Boleyn family of some repute?

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