Thursday, October 13, 2011

who do you still think you are?

Apologies, but I’ve been having a further look at my family history – so this is probably only going to be of interest(?) to family members. Thus far, however, I’ve failed to unearth any fresh insights since I last explored things in 2006. I’ve been looking through records (ie. simply looking at details of my father, grandfather, great-grandfather – not their brothers/sisters etc) and it all appears to be incredibly dull by comparison with the revelations on the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” programme!
In the last 225 years, tracing the family tree back six generations to the birth of my great-great-great-great-grandfather Robert, our family “seat” has moved less than 50 miles!
Robert Broadway 1786-1844 (cabinet maker): born Radway, Warwickshire; died: Stratford-on-Avon.
John 1814-89 (cabinet maker): b. Banbury; d. Warwickshire.
Frederick 1840-75 (brass worker/cabinet maker): b. Leamington; d: Birmingham.
Frederick 1864-1943 (brass dresser): b. Birmingham; d. Birmingham.
Frederick 1888-1964 (jewelry worker): b. Birmingham; d. Birmingham.
Ronald 1921-1992 (printer/compositor): b. Birmingham; d. Birmingham.
Steven 1949- (architect): b. Birmingham.

On my father’s mother’s side of the family (and following the father-grandfather line etc again), there is a pretty similar picture:
Joseph Flavell 1772-1861 (miner): b. Staffordshire; d. Staffordshire.
William 1795-1856 (cabinet maker): b. Birmingham; d. Warwickshire.
William 1828-1892 (engine fitter): b. Birmingham; d. Birmingham.
Walter 1857-1914 (steam engine fitter): b. Birmingham; d. Birmingham(?).
Rose Flavell 1888-1974 (my grandmother): b. Aston, Birmingham; d. Birmingham.

On my mother’s side, it’s somewhat more difficult. Her grandfather, Albert Walker, appears on the 1901 census in Birmingham – along with his wife Helen and sons Albert 6, Howard 5, Frank (my grandfather) 4 and Joseph 4months… but there’s no sign of any of them on the 1911 census under the “Walker” name. There’s been some family speculation about a name-change from Witcomb or Wickens (when Frank died in 1984, his daughter’s Edna and Mary (my mother) were going through his pockets and found a paper stating he had changed his name from Wickens to Walker!!) and that Albert was a violent alcoholic (according to Frank’s daughter Edna) and ended up living in a hostel. There’s also speculation that the family changed its name after Frank’s father had committed a murder (or jumped ship?). Certainly, we have a certified copy of his birth certificate "for the purpose of employment" dated 1911, signed for by his mother “Helen Witcomb” - referring to his father “Albert Witcomb” as being a brass metal annulater(?)/ journeyman.
The 1911 on-line census is sadly lacking in detail (eg. it fails to list the names of all the people in the household) which makes things doubly hard.
Sadly, thus far, I haven’t been able to come up with anything concrete on the matter (if only the BBC would provide me with some direct assistance!).
With virtually no information as far as my mother’s father’s side, it’s been a little more straightforward as far as my mother’s mother’s side is concerned:
Thomas Bridgens 1806-47 (glass maker): b. Worcestershire; d. Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
William 1826-1909 (glass blower): b. Kingswinford; Staffordshire; d. Shropshire.
Joseph 1862-1917(iron peddler worker): b. Stourbridge, Worcestershire; d. West Bromwich, Staffordshire.
Ada Bridgens 1897-1986 (my grandmother): b. Handsworth, Staffordshire; d. Birmingham.
Given that my ancestors have remained firmed entrenched within a very small geographical area over the past (nearly) quarter of a millennium, I feel somewhat guilty that I’ve broken the family mould and “emigrated” to Bristol!
So, no mariners, no authors, no artists, no politicians, no leading industrialists, no royalty - but it was good to see that we had a late 18th century miner in Joseph Flavell! Just a good(?), straightforward(?), boring(?) working class family.


blue hands said...

I notice that even when you start from a female member of your close family, you always follow the male line back. Perhaps following up some of the women might throw up someone more interesting!?

bigdaddystevieB said...

It’s REALLY difficult to get specific details on the female side (eg. trying to establish a pre-marriage surname is extremely difficult just from the census records; census details invariably list wife’s “rank, profession or occupation” as “wife” – or sometimes just indicating “ditto” to the husband’s occupation). Of all the females traced on the family tree, there are only TWO whose occupation is shown as anything other than “wife”, namely: Louise Flavell in 1881: “button maker”; Helen Hunt in 1891: “waitress”; and Elizabeth Hunt in 1881: “black ornament maker”.