The Mystery of Edwin Owen

A long, long time ago, when my family history research was in its infancy, I came across one of those pieces that don’t seem to fit the puzzle. Now, thanks to a reply from Emma, it is a mystery no more.

Compton Bridge House, 2019.
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Remembrance: Pte. C Dennis

Fazeley cenotaph

It is rare to find men named Dennis commemorated on war memorials, as most of them were miners, or in other reserved occupations, so it was a surprise to find one C Dennis on the cenotaph at Fazeley, Staffordshire, near to Tamworth. So who was he? Was he related to me?

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Dusting off the Shelve

St Michael and All Angels, Wentnor, Shropshire.  Geograph: copyright Richard Law reused under creative commons.

There was a time when I thought I had probably gone as far as I could in tracing direct ancestry, but I am still chipping away.  This time I have piggy-backed a little on another Ancestry tree builder:  rogerv190 and his Vaughan and Powell Family Tree, via Ancestry.  Roger had unearthed a couple of wills (transcribed) and related documents that provided some links that searching databases of parish records does not reveal.

For example: one Orlando Rowson, of Shelve, Shropshire, whose baptism record remains illusive unless you know where to look.  Orlando?  Now there is a surprise, especially after all those quintessentially British Johns, Williams and Thomases. Continue reading “Dusting off the Shelve”

Locks and clocks

Claydon top lock nb Equinox
Claydon Flight, approaching the top lock.

I have passed this way several times, and moored both above and below the locks.  I have even walked across the fields to the east, over lawn hill, but had not visited the village itself.  To be fair there is not much to attract passing boaters: no shop, or pub, but there is marked on the Ordnance Survey and “M” for museum, and, as in most English villages a church of some age.  So I took a short excursion away from the canal, taking the unnamed lane from the bridge by Claydon Middle Lock.

It was a brighter day when I side-tracked to Oxfordshire’s most northerly village, and here are a few images:

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Sadly, due to the virus, the church was not open, but it might be worth a revisit another time.

The Church of St James the Great serves the parish of Claydon with Clattercote.  Originally Norman, built around 1100, some features remain from that time, including the south door.  The bell tower was added in the fourteenth century, and the nave extended eastwards at about the same time.

The Knibbs were clock and instrument makers of some reputation, operating mainly in Oxford and London.    Joseph Knibb was the most famous.  He supplied a turret clock to Windsor Castle and counted King Charles II among his clientele.  According to the BBC one of his long case clocks sold at auction at Donnington Priory, Newbury, in March 2014, for £286,800.  Apparently, three others survive, as well as other clocks.

The privately owned Bygones Museum is no longer operating.

Once upon a time there were three pubs, but the last closed thirty years since.

Missionary position

An accidental discovery about my grandparents.

Lichfield Mercury 27 June 1952, p8 col1.


Missionary work in Eastern Nigeria where she had spent a number of years was discussed by Mrs. A. P. Saunders (Hednesford) at the monthly meeting of women’s work for overseas missions in connection with the Chasetown section of the Cannock Chase Methodist circuit. Continue reading “Missionary position”

Blooming relaxation

Claydon Locks sign
Claydon Lock Flight. Five locks ascending 30’6″ (9.3 metres).

Through the dinette window, I can see that the towpath here on the Grand Union Canal has been mowed.  There is a lowish hawthorn hedge with a few nettles, grasses, a gone-to-seed cow parsley plant at its base, and a clump of white clover.  It is overcast and windy, so not a good day for seeing lots of damselflies and other flying insects, but even in the warmer weather of last week, wildlife was limited.  This comes in stark contrast to the South Oxford Canal, where I spent lockdown, and which I navigated as the limitations for we liveaboards were relaxed.  Here are a few images from the area around Claydon, near to the flight of five locks that lift the canal by 30’6″ (9.3 metres) to cross the watershed between the valleys of the Rivers Cherwell and Leam (pronounced as “lemm”, as in Royal Leamington Spa).  Here are a few images from that section of canal.

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Goacher hell!

There really is some rubbish work on genealogy websites!  Taking up more Thrulines, I look at the family Goacher, sometime of Coleorton, Leicestershire, and Measham, Derbyshire (in the mid eighteenth century).  The main source of records for this post is Findmypast’s collection of parish records for these places, with some help from Ancestry.

I will begin with a tree to explain my connection:

Catherine Goacher tree Henry
At the top (black ground) is my fourth great grandmother Catherine Goacher (1746-1799), and ringed my great great grandparents, Henry and Dorothy Dennis, who moved from the Leicestershire to the Cannock Chase coalfield.

For a long time, Catherine was just a name, the wife of Thomas Hogg.  This is all very straightforward, but the next generation is anything but.

And there is a mysterious Letitia, who some suggest was Catherine’s sister, but that seems to be something of a mirage!

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There’s something about Benjamin

Wildman Benjamin thrulines
Screenshot from Ancestry. Note; the dates for Benjamin Wildman (1752-1802) are derived from other trees in the database.

Continuing my review of Ancestry’s ThruLines suggestions as to my ancestors.  This time it’s fourth great grandfather Benjamin Wildman, father of Mary Wildman, whom I considered last time.  I already had a Benjamin Wildman in my tree, too, based on the baptism of Mary, but, while I had a birth date of 1750, ThruLines led me to others who had 1752, and with different parents.  Obviously, both could not be right, so what is the truth?

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