Wednesday, August 18, 2010

absolutely not about genealogy

Mid-August {sigh} …… where has (most of) summer gone? Well, wherever summer has gone/is going, fall is coming and the winter-is-around-the-corner syndrome has hit with a vengeance. Thanks in part to air-conditioning (we have been 100+ frequently this year) I have halfway knitted a new scarf ~ with no snowflakes in sight. Arthritis-in-the-thumb be damned, I refuse to spend my hard-earned $$ on mass-produced stuff any more. Got a little long-absent knitting enthusiasm going and unearthed some other patterns, notably one for an aran purse I have always wanted to make. Wonder if I will this time? Hmmm ……

One love of my life that never sleeps nor takes a sabbatical is reading ~ this summer, replete with glorious five-day weekends, has been epic. All three of Steig Larssen’s Millennium tomes bit the dust. I was so wound up in the first two that I actually bought for the first time in forever, the hardcover edition of number three because the paperback was not out.. A second hardcover, since I simply could not wait, again, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven – an absolutely incredible read and a definite read-again – as a matter of fact I have not even put it in a bookcase. Then along came Minette Walters, Greg Iles, Kathy Reichs, Peter Robinson and oh wonder of wonders, the magnificent Stephen King and his delicious Under the Dome. SK at his finestkind.

I have been reading (and knitting) since before I was four years old – my favourite book as a child was Kingsley’s The Water Babies seconded by anything Enid Blyton. It was a given in our house that I could not simply be called for dinner if I was deep in a book, I had to be physically touched or I would read right through any mealtime. That being said, only two books in my entire adult life have affected me personally (and my adult life accounts for a considerable length of time) - the first was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Hospitalized at 16 for tests, I received my first copy from a friend – I could not put it down. Perhaps it was the era, my own idealism, but I really, really wanted to be Dagny Taggart (and find John Galt). Romanticism aside, Ms. Rand’s depiction of the destruction of a corrupted society scared me to death. Some years later and a lot of water under the bridge, and The Stand arrived (bless Mr.King) – one more time the world as we know it became redundant – in my mind I became Frannie helped that I identified Harold as a teenage acquaintance), confused but with that strong inner spark. I have absolutely no idea of how many times I have read each of these…….

Reading Under the Dome spurred me to re-read other Stephen works, so far I have gone through Lisey’s Story, Hearts in Atlantis, Talisman, Black House (latter two with Peter Straub), The Dead Zone …… and currently Insomnia. I see Duma Key staring at me as well. Despite all of this I have a confession to make – for reasons I cannot fathom I have never been able to get “into” the Dark Tower series – each time I have tried, because I KNOW I will love it, I get stopped dead part way through Gunslinger …….

UPCOMING EXCITEMENT! The erudite Jack Whyte has a new book due out in September. I have read his Dreams of Eagles series several times as well as the Knights Templar Trilogy. This book is the first of the new Guardians Trilogy, the subject is the Scottish Wars of Independence, and it is called The Forest Laird – William Wallace, to be followed by Robert the Bruce and later The Black Douglas. Given our family history and Dad’s propensity for quoting Robbie Burns “'Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled”, they should be extremely interesting. Another author, of whose books I have read only one and was suitably impressed, is Mark Chadbourn. Quite some time ago I picked up his Lord of Silence and loved it. Inexplicably (to me at least ) my bookstore has not seen fit to stock anything else of his, until now that is -

Because of this experience with Mark Chadbourn’s books – and others ( Kate Forsyth, Stephen Lawhead, Maggie Furey et al) I have been thinking about an e-reader ….. just thinking though – I might have a hard time giving up the ‘feel’ of a book in my hands and yet, the weight of the reader versus a hard cover book or even today’s trade paperbacks would be much easier on the arthritis in these hands, not to mention that ordering books online in the midst of winter would be infinitely preferable to venturing outside. I do so love being in a bookstore though {sigh}

Throughout the years I have read a huge proportion of the classics from Dostoyevsky to Dickens, best sellers such as Gone with the Wind, but now I concentrate mostly upon my true loves, fantasy literature and any and all interpretations or points of view on the Uther/Arthur/Merlin saga with a few mysteries thrown in for good measure.

In no particular order, some favourites …..

~ Guy Gavriel Kay ~ Maggie Furey ~ Pamela Freeman ~ Janny Wurts ~ Helen Hollick ~ Mark James ~ Gail Z Martin ~ Irene Radford ~ Karen Miller ~ Mark Chadbourn ~ Gregory Frost ~ Holly Taylor ~ Robert Scott & Jay Gordon ~ Bernard Cornwell ~ Edward Rutherfurd ~ Ayn Rand ~ Thomas B. Costain ~ Trudy Canavan ~ Khaleed Hosseini ~ Stephen Lawhead ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley ~ Jack Whyte ~ Anne Kelleher ~ Laura Resnick ~ Kathy Reichs ~ Greg Iles ~ Minette Walters ~ Juliette Marillier ~

I think I started this whilst bemoaning the approaching end of summer …. back to SK …

Monday, August 2, 2010

sooooooooo – who are the Stockwoods??

To date we haven’t visited Mum’s family at all, so here goes …

. Mum’s mother Terry, our Gran, was Stockwood by birth and a Linehan by marriage

. her mother Eveline (Grannie Stockwood) was married to a Stockwood and was a Davies by birth

. Eveline’s mother Maria (Grannie Davies, so as to be distinguished from her daughter) was a Davies by marriage and a Price by birth. Not knowing Grannie Davies’ Christian name, asked our Peg who was convinced she was called Eveline, like her daughter. Uncle Den however, set me straight – she was Maria Price ~ Our Mum was called Gertrude Maria and Uncle Den was Dennis Price Linehan in her memory.

. Gran married a gentle Irish miner called Daniel Linehan who had arrived in Wales barely into his teens and found work in the pit at Coedely. They had three children – Dennis Price, Gertrude Maria (Mum) & Margaret Teresa – all three gave me as much information as they could - we even have an audio tape courtesy of Peg, of Gran singing all the ‘old’ songs. It has often occurred to wonder how she sang so prettily given she was rendered deaf when quite young.

Rather than attempt to unravel the Davies records in Wales for the moment, I chose to go with the Stockwoods, especially since apart from his name, no-one really knew a blessed thing about great-grandad Alfred John Stockwood.

baby steps 

One of the first places one looked for family back then was the 1881 Census for the UK (not including Ireland). There were a lot of Stockwoods ~ including a six year old Alfred John, born in Cardiff, listed as ”nephew”, living with a John Collins and his wife Sarah-Annie.

(herewith began the mass accumulation of paper – I kept every Stockwood listing from 1881, feeling that someday they would prove to be “mine” – and down the road a few years, most of the Welsh ones are!).

Must digress a wee bit to confess that I do “collect” Stockwoods. By this I mean that I research the name even when I cannot immediately prove a connection ~ in doing this I have details from all over the world, including a large family in our own province of Newfoundland ~ Florence, the researcher, ‘knows’ that an ancestor called John came from the UK, but not his actual origins. Similar families exist in parts of the UK, in Lincolshire & Essex where a William Stockwood married into the Moncar family – William’s father, whom I have never found, was Thomas, a bricklayer from Middlesex. Two Welsh Stockwood ladies married into the Hole family – one of these ladies we have absolutely identified, the other, because of a date discrepancy, is a bit of a problem.

Perhaps the best link, because it included contact with a living relative, was looking into Gran’s claimed connection with Arthur Mervyn Stockwood, late Bishop of Southwark. Peg said they did not really believe Gran, but research has proven that they should have, Gran & Arthur were in fact third cousins. His nephew David, who sadly has since passed away, lived in Toronto ~ we exchanged quite a few emails about the family.

Back to Alfred John 

Mailing lists are wonders. I needed to know who AJ’s parents were and a list member with local access to parish records kindly presented me with their names – Thomas Stockwood and Annie Collins along with a bonus of two other children, both older than AJ, Thomas William (1867) and Annie Gertrude (1869).

In 1881, Thomas William, a fourteen year old clerk and nephew, was living at the Junction Hotel in Taff’s Well with the proprietors, John and Urina Davies.
Annie Gertrude at twelve, was in an orphanage – of their parents there was no sign, ominous if you take into account Annie Gertrude’s residence, the Muller Homes in Bristol.

The orphanage was to be my first BIG BREAK – the Muller Homes were still in existence, albeit as a museum  and I was able to obtain and hold in my hand photocopies of handwritten correspondence from 1877, requesting that Annie be admitted, the information that had to be supplied, her acceptance and her dismissal in 1882.

From this I learned that:

. Thomas, her father, had drowned at sea in 1874

. our grandfather AJ was born after his father’s death

. her mother Annie (or Angelina) passed away in 1876

. Thomas’ father William who was helping Angelina, died two months later in 1876

All relatives, Grandparents, aunts and great-aunts, uncles and great-uncles, were enumerated along with their relationships and reasons why they could not take Annie in – some would be willing to take though her if for any reason she had to leave the Home.

Interestingly, one had blatantly lied as I was to discover later – Urina Hicks Davies states that she was a widow, yet in 1881, four years later, her husband John was alive, well & running the Junction Hotel with Annie’s older brother Thomas in residence.

The papers included:

. the death certificate for Angelina
. the newspaper article recounting Thomas death
. Thomas and Angelina’s marriage certificate
. Annie’s birth certificate
. statements of health from a doctor
. letters from town officials detailing the childrens’ financial situation

... a veritable goldmine of information. How sad that the necessity of placing a child in an orphanage would result in someone a hundred years later being able to tarce their family.
This set of documents with its myriad pieces of information, no matter how obscure, has allowed me to build a decent family history, albeit the “distaff” side as Dad would have said, tongue in cheek………

With the deaths of their father, mother and grandfather, Angelina and Thomas’ three children were separated. One has to wonder if they ever saw each other again – certainly neither Mum nor her brother and sister knew of them – perhaps Gran did, but if so, she never said …