On my recent trip to England, we flew into London and spent the first 4 days there.  This gave us time for site-seeing and we had a good time acclimating to the different time zone and accent.

Then it was time to move on.  I had planned that we would go first to Hythe in my quest for information about our Denman family.  Hythe, Kent, England was where William and Ann Boorman lived the first 4-5 years of their married life.  It was where their first 3 children were born, including my ancestor John Denman.  It was where they last lived before migrating to the new country, the U.S. in 1795.  We got ourselves to the Victoria Coach Station, bought a cup of tea and a sandwich for lunch on the bus, and found seats to wait for our bus to be called.

Two and a half hoDSCN2088urs later, at mid-day, we arrived in Hythe which is in the county of Kent and right on the English Channel.  Hythe is a small town of about 14,000 residents now, however in 1801 its population was between 1200-1400.  We got off the coach, wrangled our suitcases and looked at Hythe from the ground.  Just a couple of blocks away was the Malt Lodge, where we were booked to stay.  It was too early to fully check in, but they were happy to take our luggage in and since they knew which room we would be in we were able to take care of the formalities and get a key.

We went across the street to check out the Malthouse Arcade, an antiques mall just across the street from the Lodge.  We had tea and a sandwich, browsed a bit and then went out to look at the town.  I wanted to find the Library, since that was my goal for the IMGP4785next morning.  I had several items on my to-do list for the Hythe Library, including looking at their microfilms of parish records and whatever other documents might be available on microfilm.   As it turned out, the Library had a small Local History room and the town museum is in the same building.

We discovered that there was a walking tour of the town being offered the next morning, and my sister decided she would try that out while I used the Library microfilm reader and books.  (I was conflicted about this choice since I guessed that a tour with a guide interested in the town history would be interesting and useful.  I hoped my sister would take lots of pictures and ask lots of questions!)

Hythe is a cinque port, DSCN2176one of the towns that historically helped guard the southern English coast which is closest to France from invasion.  Although it was most active in defense before Queen Elizabeth I’s time, with the French Revolution taking place (1789-1799), there were fears that France would turn to invade England.  This may have been part of the young Denmans decision to migrate to the very new country that was America in 1795.  The picture shows Town Hall which was finished in 1794.  The rooms above are where meetings were held.

I have found no information so far that tells why William Denman moved to the coast from his Sussex farming town.  This move took him away from his General Baptist church community.  There is, so far, no documentation of any group moving to the Hythe area at that time and it was a close-knit community.  That was presumably why William went back to it for his bride, traveling some distance to Headcorn to marry in 1790 having already settled in Hythe.

In the Library, I was able to discover several interesting pieces of information.  My first goal was to verify the burial I had been told about several years ago1.   This was the burial of an infant, Richard Denman 3 Nov 1794.  I wanted to see that record for myself and to verify that there was nothing else.  Since I have never seen a Richard said to be a son of William and Ann, I was hoping there might be more.  Richard might have been a child of William and Ann, depending on how old he was when he died, but there was no listing of parents to be found and I did not find any other Denman listings.  (There were listings for four Booremans: 2 burials and one a son of named parents.)  Based on the date of burial, he might have been born to them between their son William (b. 8 Feb 1793) and daughter Elizabeth (b. 22 Sep 1794), although this would have been very close spacing since there were only about 19 months between William and Elizabeth.  While physically just possible, it does seem unlikely.  My tentative conclusion is that it is equally or more likely that there was another Denman family in Hythe at the same time and that Richard was their son.

I also found a book of the poll tax for Knights of the Shire to represent the County of Kent in 1754.  This book listed a John Denman as a freeholder in Kent, as well as 3 Boremans (John and 2 Williams) as freeholders.  Freeholder means that they owned the land as opposed to leasing it.  It is possible that any of these were relatives of my young Denman couple and that this relation encouraged William Denman to relocate to Hythe.  I haven’t found any evidence of what William did in Hythe, although I suspect he was a farmer.  Certainly, in New York he farmed.

The last find was a couple of manuscripts, written in 1969 and 1970, by the local Methodist minister about 19th century Methodist history in Hythe.  There were several fragments in these two manuscripts that document the earlier presence of a Baptist community (perhaps before 1800) and tells of a “nice little chapel” used by the Baptists (and was owned by a woman who was a Baptist) before the Methodists started renting it in 1813 or before.  Also found: a reference to the Hythe Methodist Baptism Registry dating to the beginning of required registration in 1837 when all the non-parochial records were called by the Crown to be turned in for safe-keeping.  This first Methodist registry was an old Book of Births and Baptisms annexed from the Baptists who had used the chapel before them, and is said to be in the PRO in London.  Unfortunately I did not manage to get there to look for it myself, but I’m hoping I can track it down online or at least find out if there might be useful information in it about my Denman and Boorman families.

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  1. Hythe, St. Leonard 1781-1812

I haven’t posted anything for quite a while. This is probably not the best way to dive back into the pool, but I read something on a blog recently that disturbed me and I can’t get it out of my head.

Randy Seaver posted a blog last week about his most exciting genealogical discovery.

I am quite certain that the blog did not intend to deliver the message I took from it; nonetheless, it bothers me.

Randy’s most exciting discovery is that his second great-grandfather was adopted.

I understand the thrill of finding new information. I have yelled loudly in public places and danced around the room while security guards were summoned to deal with the crazy person. Discovering that one of your ancestors was adopted is exciting. It’s part of the story and, as genealogists, once we move out of the name-collecting phase the story is what we care about.

But Randy goes on to say that he had to excise an entire pedigree from his family tree. He does say he kept the family in his database; I’m not sure as what. Now he is looking for the bio parents. I assume they will replace the other family in the tree.

No, please no, it has to be the other way around.

My favorite cousin is adopted. We share a family; my 2nd great-grandfather is her second great-grandfather. There’s a reason we have phrases like “biological parents” and “birth parents.” It’s to distinguish those people from the real parents. My cousin has found her birth parents and has some new cousins. That’s great. You can’t have too much family. (Well, of course you can, but we don’t have to talk about that).

Here’s the point, really, I’m getting there. I don’t want to be excised! Future researchers, reading this long after I’m gone, if reading is still what you do, don’t excise me! It hurts. My whole crazy family, whoever’s womb they emerged from, needs to stay together. I don’t care how long I’ve been dead, I’m sticking with my cousin.

So the good news is Randy gets to keep a lot of folks in his tree and the bad news is….for once, there isn’t any bad news.

 

 

 

 

 

The summer passed very quickly and I was consumed by planning and then taking a 2 week trip to England with my sister.  While genealogical research and even a small amount of organization took place, I was too distracted to note it.

Now I am back and re-adjusted to my own time zone again, and the annual Fall time change hasn’t happened yet to confuse me.  I came home from a wonderful trip with a head full of new thoughts and information, and many pages of paper as well as a usb thumb drive with 2 wills and many pictures.  Here is what I will accomplish in October:

1.  I will enter all new information from the 5 large sheets containing family trees that I returned with, thanks to my cousin and another Denman researcher who may or may not be related many generations ago.  I have a Sussex Denmans database in RootsMagic to connect all this information.  [These are what is known as A1 size sheets, about 22 by 33 inches, and will be stored in a mailing tube when I have extracted the information.  I would like to scan them, and will do that or get it done some time in the future.]

2.  I will likewise go through all the pages I acquired at the Hythe library and at The Keep and from my cousin and integrate this information into the RootsMagic database.    [Some of these pages are A3 size, which is about ledger size, and I’m not sure yet how I will file them.  The rest are, I think, A4 size and should fit all right in my standard files.  I will also scan all of them.]

3.  I will separate my pictures by location and label them.

4.  I will write at least one post for this blog about the trip and our experiences.

So July got away from me and it looks like August is going to be very busy too.  I’m finding that the format of my to-do list isn’t working for me anymore – doesn’t motivate me to get any specific thing done – and kind of bores me.  So I’m thinking about how to change it into something more useful.

In the meantime, this month I’m going to just briefly describe what I’m doing by weeks.  The first week I have to finish planning the big England trip with my sister, which includes either going to NH to meet with her or a focussed phone call.  It is one month to our trip!  Will end the week with a quick getaway to Portland with my husband, and a meet-up with youngest niece.  Tractor races!

The second week includes the TIARA conference here in Massachusetts that Judy and I are attending.  It looks like I may have a family branch (Boothby) that came from Ireland, maybe Ulster Scots, which in my understanding included people from northern England and Scotland who were sent by England to Ireland to manage lands etc.  I also have a collateral line that came from the Dublin area (the Daltons and Barrys who married into the Coffin family in Cincinnati).  Judy’s got Irish interests as well so this conference should be a blast.

The third week my husband and I are driving to Philadelphia via Connecticut (to  pick up his 90-year-old cousin) to visit more cousins.  There is one baby to meet and a new one on the way as well.  It takes a lot to move us out of the usual routine to go visiting like this, but sometimes you just have to do it!

And the fourth week will be given over to organizing my packing for England.  I’m communicating with my Denman cousin (we don’t have the exact relationship pinned down yet, but that is one of my big goals for the trip), who we will meet up with and spend a little time in her area of the world.  This part of the trip is really exciting to me, and I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about the whole trip when we return.

So, that’s how my August and first half of September are shaping up.  I hope all of the genealogists out there have equally fun plans for the rest of the summer.

 

Sea LettersStackpole-cover_thumb.  Letters and Journals of the Captain Andrew Pinkham family of Nantucket and Ohio, 1813-1870.. By Renny A. Stackpole. Published by Maine Authors Publishing. 2013. 161 pages.

Mr. Stackpole writes in his introduction, “Sea Letters reflects this writer’s experiences exploring the letters of the Andrew Pinkham family of Nantucket, who emigrated  from their island home at the outbreak of the War of 1812.  They and eleven other families from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard sought a new life in the rich farmlands of the Ohio valley.”

Mr. Stackpole writes about Captain Andrew Pinkham and his wife Deborah Bunker and their sons, focusing on detailing the lives of their sons, two of whom were in naval or merchant service.  He had access to a number of letters written to and from them, and a variety of other written materials including journals and diaries.  He weaves a narrative story of a period of history of this country and of the times of these people from a large collection of papers.   From Mr. Stackpole’s extensive knowledge of the family and the places, he is able to make inferences as to the Pinkhams’  thoughts and actions.

Captain Andrew Pinkham, in the honored tradition of Nantucket, was a seasoned mariner who had pursued whales in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.  He also served as the master of merchant vessels, sailing from New Bedford and from London at different times.  He was gone for long stretches of time, leaving his wife Deborah with 4 sons to raise.

Mr. Stackpole describes, briefly but persuasively, the experiences of the people of Nantucket from the American Revolution to the War of 1812 and the hardships they endured.  The ships of Nantucket, which provided most of its income, had suffered great losses of life and money during this period history and therefore the population of Nantucket had suffered.  Ships were captured or sunk, sailors were impressed into service by enemy ships, cargoes and the money they represented were lost.  Having endured his own losses, in the Fall of 1812 Captain Andrew Pinkham decided to move his family from Nantucket to the country, to Clermont County, Ohio where he purchased land.

I was immediately interested in this book when I saw this connection between Nantucket and Ohio.  This is the time period when my Coffin family made the same move and I have long wondered about their motivation.  There are tantalizing clues in this book from the brief history given in the Introduction and first chapter, and references to letters written between those who had traveled already to Ohio and those still in Nantucket which promise to answer some of my questions.

Mr. Stackpole’s book will appeal to early Ohio and Nantucket historians, as well as those interested in life on the seas and naval history.  The use of so many letters (and careful references), which are written so well, gives us a window into lives and events as they happened, and will likely draw an even wider audience.

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