Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 October 2015

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.


  • This page was last updated on Tuesday January 5th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 June 2014

This month I have been continuing my ongoing work, updating my records with information that I had not previously got around to dealing with. My problem always is that I’m such an avid collector of information that many of my finds don’t get added to my records, so I’m working towards rectifying that situation.

At the same time, as I work through this process, I often come across records in my data that I can now add to. Sometimes, for example, the only source I have for a person may be the Haberdashers’ Company’s Bankes Pedigree Book, or information obtained from a family member. Where I spot these situations I usually take a few minutes to revisit the research, seeking to add to the record. One such case was Charles Hewitt, the brother of my father’s mother – Emma Hewitt (1885-1971).

Charles Hewitt was born at Farington, Lancashire, and baptised at St Paul’s Farington on 1 December 1878. He was a son of Arthur Thomas Hewitt (1852-1915) and his first wife, Mary Ann Rosebottom (1843-1892). Farington lies just a few miles south of Preston, Lancashire, and Charles appears to have spent his formative years in this area. Farington as a town grew on the back of the development of the railway in the nineteenth century, and it is no surprise that in 1907 we find Charles working as a Platelayer on the railway. Platelayers were (and still are) responsible for checking the condition of railway line, and effecting maintenance and repairs as necessary, so it seems that Charles had a pretty responsible job.

On 19th December 1907 Charles married Elizabeth Ann Cuerden (b. 1880) at St Paul’s, Farington.  The couple continued to live in the area, and had four children:

  • Mary Ellen Hewitt (1908-1918)
  • Annie Hewitt (b 1910)
  • Elsie Hewitt (b. 1912)
  • Sidney Hewitt (1914-1992)

In 1911 and 1912 Charles’s occupation was shown in the records as ‘Labourer’, but at some time thereafter he was enlisted into the British army, serving as a Private in the First World War in the 1st Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.

I have not managed to trace Charles’s service record, but have known for many years that he was killed in action, dying on 19th April 1917. There is a headstone which commemmorates him in the graveyard at St Paul, Farington, and he is also listed on the war memorial at Lostock Hall, which is where his widow lived in 1917.

In my latest foray into the records I have been able to add some further information about the circumstances of Charles’s death.  Firstly, using, I found the probate record relating to his estate in the Calendar of the Principal Probate Registry:

HEWITT    Charles of 24 Black-lane Lostock Hall near Preston
Lancashire died 19 April 1917 near Arras France Administra-
tion London 19 November to Elizabeth Ann Hewitt widow.
Effects £42 10s.

I had not previously known that Charles died near Arras, and was spurred on to search further. On the Find A Grave website ( I discovered that Charles’s grave is in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery at Arras, in Bay 6. On the Forces War Records website ( I found information about the history of the East Lancashire Regiment, which gave me a list of the regiment’s engagements in 1917:

The First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, and The First Battle of Passchendaele.

I then looked at the Wikipedia website, and found that the three Battles of the Scarpe were part of the battle of Arras, a major offensive in Northern France. The First Battle of the Scarpe took place on 9th – 14th April 1917, and the Second Battle of the Scarpe did not start until 23rd April 1917, so it seems possible that Charles was mortally wounded during the first of these actions. As he died five days after the First Battle of the Scarpe it could be that he died a few days after being wounded, maybe in a field hospital.

Maybe the next step in this research would be to try to obtain the regimental War Diary covering the time of Charles’s death, in the hope of learning more of the circumstances of his death.

Having learned more of Charles’s demise, I then looked into the lives of his four children, and managed to add quite a lot of information to our records. All this tends to emphasise the point that it really is worth re-visiting previous research to see whether we can expand our knowledge by using sources that have appeared on the internet more recently.

Happy hunting!

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday June 4th, 2014.

Geoff’ Genealogy Update 28 April 2008

Since my last blog entry I’ve been as busy as ever. Lots of new information has come to light, partly through new contacts made via Geoffs Genealogy and partly through contacts made via the Genes Reunited website.

My Culshaw research has been sadly neglected for a few years now, which is a shame, because I have made some wonderful friends in Lancashire during my work on this line, and also thoroughly enjoyed carrying out the research in places like Preston, Leyland and Ormskirk.

The truth is, I’m stuck, and have been for some years!

If anybody can tell me who were the parents of John Culshaw, born c1760, probably at Burscough, I’ll be very grateful. I have searched as many Lancashire Wills as I have been able to, looked at some of the estate papers for the Earl of Derby’s estate, and looked at as many parish registers as seem relevant, but the problem really is that there was more than one John Culshaw who came into the world at about that time, in the Ormskirk area, and I can’t say which one was my ancestor.

Anyway, I made contact with Valerie, a Culshaw researcher who is registered with Genes Reunited. It turns out that Culshaw is not her main research interest, and her Culshaws are on the line I call the “Catholic Culshaws”. This is to distinguish them from my forebears, some of whom were catholics, but most of whom were not.

The “Catholic Culshaws” have long attracted our interest because their lives seem to run parallel to my forebears. On the 1841 census for Farington the two households were living very near to one another, and they continued to live close to one another for most of the nineteenth century. Our belief has always been that there is very likely to be a link between the two families, but we have not yet found it. If there was a link, it must be pre 1760.

Anyway, it was good to exchange trees with Valerie, and to make one another aware of our respective interests. Who knows, one day we may be able to link up our trees!

Another Genes Reunited contact was on the Hewitt line. In his Hawkridge tree Arthur has a certain Charlotte Hewitt, born Ardwick, Manchester in 1858. She was a sister of my great grandfather – Arthur Thomas Hewitt (1852-1915). I knew she had married a certain George Pratt in 1878 and that he had died before the date of the 1881 census, in April 1881. What I didn’t know was that she then married John Frederick Hawkridge (b 1851 at Derby) with whom she produced four children. This intelligence set me off researching this clan, and I traced the births of their children and also the available relevant census entries (1891 & 1901). I also traced some army service papers re one of the sons of John and Charlotte – Thomas Hawkridge (b 1890).

Arthur lives in the USA, and has a most impressive Hawkridge pedigree.

These examples point up the benefit that can be gained from websites such as Genes Reunited. I don’t keep up my membership long term, preferring to pay for a short term membership every now and again, but there is no doubt that the network of researchers on GR has grown a lot since I was last a member, a few years ago.

Among recent visitors to Geoffs Genealogy was Ronnie, my recently acquired contact in the USA. He is descended on the Clements line. Emily Jeans Clements features in the Bankes pedigree because she married Robert Hanham Collyer as a 16 year old girl in London in 1864. He was aged 50 at the time, and already married! After the couple had produced two children Emily evidently realised that her spouse’s first wife was still alive, and sued for divorce – a very rare event in 1873. Anyway, the marriage was annulled in London. Robert Hanham Collyer said at the hearing that he had not heard from his wife for many years, and had believed her dead. I assume that this explanation was accepted by the court, because he was not imprisoned for bigamy. My last sighting of Emily in the records was on the 1881 census, when she was living at Camberwell, Surrey, with her two children, aged 15 & 14. I don’t know what became of her after that. Her daughter, another Emily, married William Sleigh (I wrote about this marriage in this blog a year ago). I don’t know what happened to the son – Robert L Collyer, who was born in France c1867.

Ronnie is descended from one of Emily’s siblings, and has provided me with a wealth of material about the Clements family, including some lovely photographs. Obviously, the Clements line is not of direct relevance to the Banks pedigree, but I’m always delighted to receive information such as this, as apart from its intrinsic interest, it helps to put the characters who married into the Bankes descendants’ lines into their context.

Thank you Ronnie.

As if all that were not enough I’ve also had very enjoyable contact with Bankes descendants who are descended on the Welsh line from Joseph Rand, half brother of Bankes. I’ve long taken a great interest in the Welsh line, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jan & I visit Carmarthenshire quite often, so are able to use the relevant local records quite easily. Secondly, this branch of the pedigree has within it a lot of very interesting people. On the whole they were quite prosperous people, so they have left behind them a decent quantity of records. Finally, my interest has been kept up by the fact that I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the people descended on the Welsh branch – and very pleasant people they have proved.

It has long been my aim to add a section on these Welsh Bankes descendants to Geoffs Genealogy, but as yet that ambition remains unfulfilled. So much to do, and so little time in which to do it. Still, hope springs eternal …..

  • This page was last updated on Monday April 28th, 2008.