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

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.

 

2014-01-31 17.02

Research
*  My goal this month is to document what I actually know about my Denman immigrant ancestor in preparation for my trip in the Fall.  Try to figure out where the information about William’s parents came from and what documentation actually shows it.

*  I spent some time in May putting together a new family tree for a young couple in my family that is getting married in June.  I like the idea of showing the joining of the two families.  I also discovered that I really enjoyed the interactions with the parents of the two young people and liked getting to know about their families in ways I hadn’t before.  Neither family is directly related to me, but one of them has been “part of the family” for so long that it feels like there is a direct relationship. 

Organization

*  Digital organization – barely started the process with the Denman line in May, so this is my on-going goal.  The Denman line is not actually the next family alphabetically (which is what I would usually do) but I am going to England in the Fall with specific questions to answer about the Denmans.  In addition, I correspond with several Denman researchers and continue to find new information, so this *really* needs to be brought up to date (so I don’t re-invent too many wheels).  This organization work will also, very likely, suggest research paths to take on this family.

*  Scan the land records for the Salts, enter into spreadsheet of things scanned.

Education

*  Watch at least one webinar.

*  I spent a fair amount of time looking at videos and websites to learn a bit about how to use the Charting Companion software which I just bought to use to make charts that my RootsMagic won’t make.  Strictly speaking this isn’t genealogy education but technological education but I think it counts.

Two weeks ago I got an email that there was a comment to be approved on our blog.  When I read the comment I was thrilled and then, I have to admit, just a tiny bit suspicious (sorry, Linda!).  The writer said she had come across a copy of a deed showing William Denman buying land in upstate New York in 1795.  She wanted to know if this was my family by any chance.  You can see the comment and my response on the Contact Us page.  I was actually still on vacation and in Canada when I first read this and responded.

As soon as I got back home, I emailed my genealogical genie and we had several emails back and forth about what it was and how she came to have it.  She told me that she volunteers in a non-profit animal shelter that accepts donations which it then sells to help support the work at the shelter.  She had noticed the names on the document and thought she’d try to see if she could find out anything about them.  Her hope was that someone in the family would be interested in it.  She didn’t spell it out, but obviously found the blog and the Denman names I have written about before, so she left a note.

I was very eager to know more about what she had, and she offered to get a picture to email to me.  Her husband took several shots and they showed me that it was indeed a copy of the original William Denman deed.  It shows William and Ann Denman acquiring the 200 acres in New York where they built the homestead that was the place my Denman family first settled in this country.  I have written about this place before, here.

What I haven’t told about is the existence of this original deed.  My sister and I were lucky enough to see it in person when we visited the Denman family in Grahamsville New York two summers ago.  It belongs to our Denman cousins, and has hung on their office wall for a number of years.  The story we were told was that someone had discovered it in an envelope in a safe deposit box in California when its owner had died.  Apparently the executor thought it belonged back in New York and it was sent to the Denmans who still live in the Neversink area where the family first settled.  They framed it and hung it in their office.  I got one picture of our older cousin holding it, but we couldn’t get a copy of it made while we were there.  (I admit to being somewhat concerned that it needed to be re-framed with archival matting and protective glass, and hope that this has been done since then.)  Anyway, I didn’t get a real chance to read the document but I could see the signatures of William Denman and of Ann Denman who signed as a witness.

IMGP4527The good news is that Linda found me and offered me the copy, if I was willing to pay the postage and make a donation to her shelter.  I was glad to say yes.  She got it to a shipper and I found it waiting for me two days later when I returned home from a day out.  It is now hanging in my home office. The good news is also that this piece of family history survived the impact of hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.  The bad news is that it is stuck to the glass and has a lot of water damage.  However, it is still completely readable.  And the stamp on the back of the frame shows it was framed in Pasadena California.  I am hoping to hear from the company, which is still in business.

There is still the genealogical mystery of who made this copy, and when.  Also how did the person who donated it to the shelter come by it and where?  My genealogical genie is going to ask her a few specific questions which may help me figure out if her family is related to the Denmans and if she got the document in California or someplace else.

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