Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 October 2015

Tuesday January 5th, 2016 | Geoff

In September I’ve not concentrated on one area of research, but have amused myself by dipping into bits of genealogy research as the fancy took me. I think I’ve got a couple of  things to mention that may interest you.

It’s a long time since I looked at the Welsh Herberts, so when I saw a reference to the untimely death of David Meredydd Herbert in the second world war I thought I’d take a look into the matter. David was born in Cardiff in 1919, the son of Charles Meredydd Herbert (1872-1940) and Gwladys May Katharine Riches (1878-1972), and I have no information about him apart from the information I have just seen. contains a reference from the Commonwealth War Graves Registers, showing that he is commemmorated on the Dunkirk Memorial, in France, as a casualty on the Lanastria, a ship that went down on 17 June 1940. He was only 20 years old when he died.

As the entry states that David was serving in the Royal Army Service Corps I sort of assumed that he was probably one of the troops killed at the time of the evacuation from the Dunkirk beaches, but when I looked at the RMS Lancastria in Wikipedia that turned out not to be quite correct.

In fact the Lancastria was a Cunard liner, capable of carrying over 2,000 passengers, which had been pressed into serve in the second world war as a troop carrying ship. Two weeks after the Dunkirk evacuation she was  off the French port of St Nazaire, engaged in the evacuation of British troops and civilians from France, when she was attacked by German aircraft, and so badly damaged that she sank within 20 minutes. There were almost 2,500 survivors of this disaster, but at least 1,700 people are known to have died, which makes it possibly the biggest sea disaster ever. The British Government suppressed the release of news of the catastrophe with D Notices, but the news broke in the New York Times a few weeks later, and was then picked up by British newspapers.

Sadly, Charles’s father had died in the preceding January, so this must have been a particularly difficult time for his mother.

Later in the month I decided it was high time that I had another go at researching my Lancashire Hewitt forebears. I have never had a great deal of success with this line of research, but I come back to it every now and again, hoping that some more relevant sources have become available.

My direct ancestor, Charlotte Hewitt, was born c1800, probably in the Winwick area. We do not know the identity of her parents, but we did discover, many years ago, that she gave birth to a son named William Hewitt in April 1822 –  the problem being that she was not married at the time. She identified the father as Charles Hatton of the township of Kenyon, Lancashire, and he was ordered to pay for the support of the child. However, charles had already fathered another child out of wedlock, in the previous year. This child was born around February 1821 and was named Joseph Higham, the son of Ellen Higham, singlewoman. On this occasion, also, Charles had been ordered by the local Oversers of the Poor, to pay for the support of the child. One is forced to conclude that as Charles appears to have been an ordinary working man, a large proportion of his income must have been going on these payments.

I have tended to ignore Charles in my research. After all, my Hewitt forebears, descendants of William born in 1822, where Hewitts, not Hattons. However, a few weeks ago I changed my view, decided that when all is said and done, Charles was my ancestor just as surely as all those other ancestors who did behave in a more conventional way, and that I should, after all, try to find out what became of him.

It turns out that Charles Hatton was, after all, a decent chap. On 1 September 1823 at Winwick he married Ellen Higham, and they lived together thereasfter in the Winwick area. I traced the couple on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses. By 1841 Charles was an Ag Lab, and  they had seven children, the eldest of whom was Joseph Hatton. Ten years later both Charles and Ellen Hatton were recorded as being 51 years of age, Joseph was not in the household, which consisted of five children and a male lodger. Charles was said to be a Hand Loom Weaver (Silk), born Kenyon, and Ellen, also born Kenyon was a Silk Throwster, presumably twisting the silk into thread. By 1861 Ellen had died one year earlier, and Charles was enumerated, still in the same part of Lancashire, with two of his children and a daughter in law. He had reverted to being an ag lab.

I can see from the Civil Registration Indexes that Charles died in 1865. I think I may have traced his baptism at Lowton, St Luke in December 1799, which would tie up with his age as stated in the censuses.

Obviously, I could develop this research considerably, tracing the lives of Charles & Ellen’s children towards the present day, but for now I am content with what I have just found out. Unfortunately, although I tried, I didn’t really make any great progress with my Hewitt research. If anybody is interested, William Hewitt (b 1822) lived out his adult life in Manchester, marrting Elizabeth Green (b 1827) in 1852. They had seven children, one of which was my ancestor – Arthur Thomas Hewitt (1852-1915), born Manchester d Penwortham. If anybody reading this knows anything of these people I shall be delighted to hear from you.


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