Geoffs Genealogy Update 26 June 2007

Tuesday June 26th, 2007 | Geoff

The past week has provided much of interest.

Last Tuesday I was at a monthly meeting of the Shropshire Family History Society at the shirehall, Shrewsbury. While we were hearing a talk about the history of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and their now defunct ground – the Gay Meadow – all hell let loose outside! Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the rain came down with such force as is rarely seen in this part of the world. The lights went out for a short while, but our speaker manfully carried on!

By the time I left for home the rain had eased a little – it was by then only thrashing it down! The M54 motorway was awash, as were parts of Newport town centre. Not a good night to be driving! I was glad to get home.

On Thursday last I was booked in for a session at the LDS Family History Center. The usual venue is having some work done to its roof, so the Family History Center has been temporarily relocated in the new LDS temple at Lawley. What a magnificent edifice that is! It really stands out – being visible from quite a way off. A white building, built in what I would describe as a colonial style. The inside is also impressive.

The object of my research this time was the Wright family of High Wycombe. I had arranged the loan of a microfilm containing baptisms at High Wycombe 1782-1810, but in fact the film contains records from a greater time frame than that. I found the baptisms of the children of Joseph & Elizabeth Wright – nine of them between 1782 and 1802 – and then another, dated 1810. My ancestor – Hannah – was baptised in 1789. There seems little doubt that this is “my” family, as there were no other Wrights bearing the names Joseph and Elizabeth.

I shall return to the Family History Center this Thursday, and research this film further. I’m looking for any further Wright entries, as they may prove to be relevant to my research.

Last Friday evening Jan and I were looking after our grandchildren, and I passed away the hours by doing a bit of internet research, mainly on I looked at a couple of lines, but had the most success with the Heppells. I am quite amazed at the success I’ve had with this line of research since I started looking at it last Autumn.

On this occasion my main sighting was Richard Bryan Heppell (born 1812 in Sunderland). On the 1851 census I found him living with his spouse and two sons at Mile End Old Town, Middlesex. I then looked at the Civil Registration index and found his marriage, which took place in December 1837. His wife was Ann Maria Holt, born c1817 in Somerstown, Middlesex, and their marriage took place in St Pancras registration district. Furthermore, I traced both his sons in the births index, born 1838 and 1840 in Islington registration district.I then looked for the deaths of Richard and Ann. Free BMD told me that there were two entries for the name Richard Bryan Heppell, one in Sunderland in 1854 and one in Stepney in 1861. I pretty well knew that the 1861 entry would be my man, but needed to prove it to myself – after all, he could have moved back to Sunderland and died there. I therefore sought him on the 1861 census in Stepney, and I found him – albeit indexed as Keppell! There is no doubt that the man who died in September 1861 was the man I was interested in – the son of George Bryan Heppell (1777-1832). I wonder who the man who died in Sunderland in 1854 was. Probably a relation, I would imagine, as the Bryan name appears a number of times in “my” Heppells. I shall have to look into that.

All this leads to further questions (wouldn’t you know it!). What became of the two boys, and when did Ann Maria (Holt) Heppell die? I haven’t yet started to investigate the boys, but I have found a death in March quarter 1886 that may well relate to Ann. The age ties up, and the location was Stepney. However, I need to prove it, and if this was her it begs the question of where Ann was in the period 1861-1886? I haven’t yet found her on the censuses.

Incidentally “my” Richard Bryan Heppell had a most interesting occupation. He was a Coal Meter. I had never before heard of such an occupation, so I looked it up on an online dictionary at This told me that a Coal Meter was ‘A licensed or official coal measurer in London’. Further information on Richard’s occupation came from ‘Coal Trade: Introduction’ the Journal of the House of Lords: volume 62: 1830, pp. 1435-437. URL:, which told me that:

‘The Coal is heaved out of the Hold of the Ship into the Lighter under the Inspection of a Meter appointed by the Corporation of the City of London. He is entitled to have an Assistant. The Meter is paid Three Shillings a Day, and Three and Sixpence in lieu of Eating and Drinking, although generally the Captain invites him to Dinner.These Payments are in addition to Four-pence per Chaldron Metage, paid to the Corporation of London, out of which they allow One Penny per Chaldron to the Working Meter, and provide the Vats, leaving a Clear Annual Surplus of about £16,000, which is applied to the general Purposes of the Corporation, and to One Halfpenny per Chaldron paid the Meter by Government.

Evidently Richard had a very responsible job. I shall have to check whether there are any records of his employment in the Corporation of London archives.

That’s about all for now, until next week.

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