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Archive for the Category "Genealogy"

Happy 200th anniversary Oct 13

The latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? has served as a useful reminder that I’ve been neglecting the old family history of late, so in the last few weeks I’ve rejoined Ancestry, hunted through census records, and buried a host of ancestors whose deaths have now been added to the FreeBMD index. I noticed today is the 200th anniversary of the marriage of Richard Diggens and Mary Matthews, my great-great-great-grandparents, so thought I’d write a little bit about them and their family.

Richard was born in Berkshire (most likely Brimpton or Sulhampstead Abbots) around 1780; Mary was born in Brimpton c.1785. They married (obviously) on 13 October 1806. In common with many of my ancestors, Richard was an agricultural labourer. He died of influenza in 1848, leaving Mary a pauper until her death ten years later. They had nine children, two of whom died as infants.

Their son Richard was, in 1831, a carter’s boy earning three guineas a year, his “contract renewed each year at the Michaelmas Fair”; he was subsequently a farm labourer. He married and had six children. His family fell on hard times when he beame ill and more than once he was subject of a parish removal order. He died c.1865, many of his descendents settling in nearby in Reading.

Richard and Mary’s youngest son, Henry, was also an ag lab in Brimpton, before marrying Mary Hampshire in London in 1856 and moving to Sydenham, now part of the London Borough of Lewisham. By 1891, he worked at the gas company there; he died in 1899. Henry and Mary had at least five children and many of their descendents remained in South London and neighbouring Kent.

Henry’s older brother William, born c.1823, moved from Brimpton the short distance to Woolhampton, where he worked as a gardener’s labourer. He and his wife, Harriet Malt, had eleven children. Their one son, also William (good name), was variously a servant, a plasterer’s labourer, and a warehouse foreman for the “India Gov Stores” – perhaps related to the East India Company? He lived in London and Brighton before, following the death of his first wife with whom he had five children, returning to London where he remarried and had three more.

William the Younger’s many sisters had families of their own: Mary married into the Steanes; Alice into the Chivralls; Clara into the Smiths (aka the Kings); and Edith in to the Goddards. Kate Diggens, my great-grandmother, moved from Brimpton to London where she married my great-grandfather, Albert Pinnock, a hotel worker.

Should you come across this post while Googling your own ancestors and recognise these names, please drop me a line at

The last week or so Jun 19

Saturday 10th:
Went to see the musical Avenue Q in London. It officially opens next week but has been in preview since the beginning of the month. It’s Sesame Street for twentysomethings, with a hint of Team America. It’s a funny show with catchy songs, although it’s interesting to ponder how much of the humour comes from having puppets on stage as protagonists rather than coming from the script. The whole cast was great and really brought the muppety characters to life. Definitely worth a visit.

The Richard John BlacklerThursday 15th:
To Liverpool for work (it feels odd using the term “business meeting” as we’re not really a business, but that’s what it was). Took the opportunity to visit the pub – specifically, the Wetherspoon’s across from Lime Street station. The pub is named after the founder of the department store, Blacklers, that used to on the site until its closure nearly twenty years ago. The co-founder was Richard John Blackler, the son of my great-great-grandfather, also Richard John Blackler.

Sadly, there wasn’t any information about the family on the walls amongst the illustrations of Liverpudlian history. According to a very helpful barman, the last time the pub was refurbished some of the furnishings were thrown out, and this included the display explaining the history of the building. In the corner of the pub, though, sits Blackie, the Blacklers Stores rocking horse. And, yes, I am therefore twice as Scouse as I am Welsh.

Angel of the NorthSaturday 17th:
On Saturday, I went down to Durham (hence the photo from the A1) for a lovely civil partnership ceremony, and then on to an excellent reception where I caught up with loads of fanboy mates (bloggers Paul, Jim and Jules amongst them), wittered on about the new series, and danced to ELO.

Sunday 18th:
Watched Doctor Who. I now have my Out of the Blue/Discovery/Time box set on hand and am resisting the temptation to put Mr Blue Sky on repeat.

Shameless promotion Jun 04

My home broadband is from a company called Madasafish. While that may not seem immediately promising, they’re as fast as BT – since they use the same exchanges – and cheaper. The normal price is £17.99 a month, but you get the first six months at £11.99 a month, so the first year (which is as much as you need to sign up for) average at £14.99. It’s not unlimited usage, but you get 5Gb inclusive each month, and it’s £2 for each additional gigabyte. I’ve found them very good value for money even though I sometimes go over the download threshold. There’s also a pricier account that comes with 20Gb. The couple of times I’ve used their customer support they’ve been very helpful and polite and sorted out any problems quickly.

Why I am writing this? Because if you sign up using this link (or an ad on this blog), they’ll credit your account with £10 and give me £20. So it’s in my interest to get you signed up 🙂

While I’m at it, here are a couple of genealogy recommendations which I don’t get paid for. Ancestry now have the 1841 census online, meaning that all seven England & Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901 are now available through their site. There is a subscription fee, but if you’re doing a lot of research it’s well worth it.

Another source for genealogical research is the Society of Genealogists. It’s not cheap to join, but members get a quarterly magazine, some free credits for Origins, and, most importantly, free access to the Society library in London, which is full of useful resources, especially parish registers.

Reds under the bed Sep 05

As if my distant connections to Tony Benn weren’t incriminating enough, here’s a relation by marriage sure to get me on to Joe McCarthy‘s little list.

John Edward Emile (Von) Holtorp (aka Emile Holtorp, aka Citizen Holtorp), is described on thus:

Holtorp, Emile — Polish émigré in London; member of the General Council of the International (October 1864-66), Corresponding Secretary for Poland (1864-65), delegate to the London Conference of the International (1865); in 1866 joined the International Republican Committee set up by Mazzini.

In 1898, my great-great-aunt Emily Baily married George Holtorp. Emile was his father. I feel the need for a chart.

Tree connecting me to Emile Holtorp

On the 1871 census, Holtorp describes his occupation as “Political refugee”, although on his son’s marriage certificate he is recorded as a draughtsman. As Corresponding Secretary for Poland of the International Working Men’s Association, he put his name, with Karl Marx’s, to such documents as a letter to President Johnson, a card for societies forming part of the Association, and an address to Abraham Lincoln.