Sunday, 18 September 2011

Obituary Sunday-The Curious Death of Francis William Bradford Swanwick

Perhaps one of the more interesting deaths in my family was that of my great-great-grandfather, Francis William Bradford Swanwick,  an organ and harmonium builder. Below, I've transcribed his obituary, or rather, the report of his inquest:
Dr. Thomas held an inquest, on Monday, at St. Pancras on the body of Francis Swanwick, aged 56, an organ builder, lately residing at 81, Raleigh-road, Hornsey. He was engaged in business at Holloway, and was in the habit of travelling home by the Great Northern Railway, holding a season ticket. On Dec. 20 a postman, named George Walker, while standing on the up platform at Holloway Station, noticed a gentleman, who proved to be the deceased, lying between the platforms and near the metals. Walker got onto the line and heard deceased say 'Pick me up'. Witness was about to do so, but a train approaching he fled. When the train had passed porters lifted Mr. Swanwick on to the platform. It was then found that he was minus an arm and leg, limbs which were left on the metals,-replying to Superintendent R. Parish, of the railway police, the witness said that there was a notice board at the end of the slope of the platform, cautioning passengers against crossing the line to down trains. There was, however, a subway by which passengers might reach the down platform in safety. Mr James Londland, station master at Holloway, said that the passengers, notwithstanding the witness's caution, had persisted in crossing the line. They were trespassers, and liable to a fine of 40s. The deceased was found 11 yards from the up platform. Witness's belief was that the deceased was knocked down by an empty coach train as it rounded the corner-a train which he would not be likely to see until it was upon him. The jump from the platform to the metals was one of 4 feet-Dr. F. Edison, house surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, said Mr. Swanwick was in a very collapsed condition when received. He had lost his right arm and leg. Death speedily ensued. Before he died he said he did not know how the accident had happened-Mr. Londland said electric lamps shone upon the notice board. The edge of the platform was not whitened. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death".

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mystery Monday-The Clare Family

Here I'm going to provide you, my gentle readers, with one of the thorniest problems I've tangled with in my family history-my great-grandfather, John Frederick Clare, and his family.
The problem with Johnny Clare was that he was not a particularly nice man, nor were his family. He married my great-grandmother, Vera Johnson, in 1944, and their first daughter, my grandmother Valerie, was born in 1946. They had another daughter, Rosemary, in 1948, who was always known as Linda. Unfortunately, Linda died in 1949 after choking on a scrap of rubber from a burst balloon and Johnny, who at the time was in debtors prison, refused to come out for the funeral. He then divorced his wife and, in something which surprised even me, remained in the same village in Yorkshire, married, and had another 6 children. He would live until 1991 and would never meet his firstborn again.
So, what's the problem with Johnny's family? Well, Johnny was born on the 27th June 1918, at 111 Station Road, Holbeck, in Derbyshire. His father, Charles, was already fairly elderly at 50 and his wife was younger by around 14 years. Her family, the Ellis family from Leeds, were easy to track. Charles and Sarah had married on the 10th October 1904 and herein lies the first mystery.
Charles and Sarah, to the best of my knowledge, don't appear on the 1911 census. I have scoured it for a mention of them and, unless I am being remarkable stupid, I cannot find them. I have searched and searched and I still can't find them.
The other mystery is Charles himself. I know he died between 1918 and 1924, when Sarah married an alcoholic named John Henry Wyatt who was thoroughly unpleasant and apparently used to beat Johnny...what a lovely family I have on my mother's side. The marriage certificate records him as a railway platelayer, and his father as John Clare, a carpenter. But other than the marriage certificate and his son's birth, I cannot find Charles.
I have been wrestling with this problem for ages and I just thought that those who are talented with mysteries may be able to give a helping hand if you feel generous. If not, well, the mystery's out there now.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Black Sheep Sunday-Charlie the convict

Hello, and my first proper post. First of all, a great big thanks to all of those who commented and who've decided to follow me. You're all brilliant. And onto the interest of today's post: Charles Green (1804-1874), known affectionatly as Charlie the convict.
Charlie was born on the 27th April, 1804, in the little agricultural village of Vernham Dean in Hampshire, just to the north of Andover, and baptised after 2 days, the son of William Green and Mary Stroud. The swift baptism was unusual in his family, all his brothers had waited at least a month for their baptisms, so perhaps he was sickly and therefore was not expected to live. Whatever the case, Charlie was the sibling who didn't stick around in Vernham, unlike his siblings. He moved actually quite a lot, and we next find him in Isleworth in 1826, near London. Why on earth he felt the need to move to Isleworth is a mystery in itself, and he did not remain there long, just enough time to woo and wed Miss Sarah Bird, originally of Hungerford, in Berkshire, on the 11th October.
Evidently the life near a big city was not for this couple as they leave for Sarah's hometown very soon after, and in 1828 the couple's only child, a daughter, Mary, was born there. But the movement around the south of England was nothing compared to what would occur in 1831.
1831 was the year that the Luddite riots occured in the south of England. In Hungerford, the mob smashed up threshing machines, and Charlie smashed one up by himself. The Hungerford men then met up with a mob from Kintbury and there was general smashing and rioting and the like. The vicar of Hungerford conferred with farmers and managed to obtain a small pay rise for the workers on the condition that they went home. The Hungerford mob dispersed but the Kintbury mob continued rampaging. The police arrived, and the riots were suppressed. The rioters were all arrested, and sent to Reading gaol.
The rioters didn't take their fate quietly. Charlie's eldest brother, William, was trying to free him desperately, collection testimony from all his former employers describing him as a 'sober, honest and inoffensive man' and sent them to the Home Secretary. Unfortunately, the attempts failed and Charlie was transported for 7 years to Australia. He did apply for his wife and child to be sent over but this was declined.
In 1842, Charles made an application to marry fellow convict, and Irishwoman named Rose Cunningham. This was declined, as he already had a wife and child in England and letters claiming otherwise were proven to be forgeries. 4 years later, however, the couple did marry in Appin. Whether this is bigamous or not is uncertain as we don't know when Sarah died.
That regardless, two years later the marriage ended with Rose's death, leaving Charlie alone again. He didn't stay so for long, and on the 1 May 1851 in Fish River, to Elizabeth Heness, daughter of Francis and Mary. This was to be a very fruitful marriage with 11 children: Maria Clementine, Charles Francis, Mary Ann, William, Frances Charlotte, Josiah, Martha Jane, Elizabeth Patience, Caroline, Clara and Emily. The family was to flourish with branches throughout New South Wales.
Charlie died at Neapean Towers in East Bargo on the 3rd April 1874. His wife, Elizabeth, died in Miranda on 8th March 1930, outliving her husband by more than 50 years. She never remarried.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Well, here I am. I'm a 14-year-old who is obsessed with all things genealogical, and with my surname being Green, I thought I try and be clever and call myself Greenealogist. Anyway, over the seven or so years I've been researching my family, I've discovered lots and lots of relatives, but not many stories which are out of the ordinary. There's some stuff, though, and of course as in every family sometimes the interesting people are the normal ones. I'm also going to share some stories of how I researched and, perhaps a tad selfishly, hope for some help with some brick walls that remain stubbornly well-constructed. In my researches, I've discovered relatives in America, Canada, Australia and of course there are the Flemings. But more about them later. Most of the time, I concentrate my attention on my British ancestors, who seem to primarily consist of long lines of the dreaded Ag Labs. I'm also lucky to have a large collection of photographs, only some of which I actually have in a corporeal form. I've ended up a genealogist thanks to my aunt, who is perhaps the most dilligent person I have met, and I've been assisted by various distant cousins. So, a hearty thanks to all them, and here's to the new blog.