Jul 212014

Life …. work …. life …. work …. what is the right balance? Well, we (me and Mr FWL) are trying to tip the balance a little more towards the ‘life’ side of the see-saw at the moment and ensure that we spend some time on leisure pursuits and interests away from work.

NunneySo yesterday, we travelled to the picturesque village of Nunney in Somerset. Located near Frome, the name of the village comes from Old English and means Nunna’s island. With many tourist attractions including the ruins of Nunney Castle, a historic church and ducks wandering the streets near the river, the village was apparently the subject of a BBC Radio 4 report asking whether “the prettiest village in England” is a place where we can learn “how to mend our broken society”.NunneyCastlew

Nunney is full of history with evidence of Roman settlement in the village provided by the discovery of a hoard of Roman coins in 1869 at Westdown Farm and a villa with a mosaic floor. The village is mentioned as a manor belonging to William de Moyon in the Domesday Book in 1086 though the book does not mention a castle.

For many years, from the medieval period until the nineteenth century, Nunney was the site of water-powered mills owned initially by the Hoddinotts and then by James Fussell. Many Fussell names were on gravestones in the churchyard along with some one-name study names. The camera took quite a battering!

A lovely village to wander around – check out the Visit Nunney website for Treasure Trails, local events, places to stay and much more.

Jul 202014

Margaret Robson was the second – but the only surviving – child of William and Ann (nee Codling). Baptised in the parish of Morpeth, Northumberland on 9 August 1829, her brother – William – died aged 1 in two years earlier in 1827.

Margaret bp1829

Margaret’s father died in 1841 from cancer, leaving Ann and Margaret at Bridge Street, Morpeth in the 1841 census, aged 35 and 12 respectively. In our family papers is a letter from my g-g-grandmother to my g-grandmother, who had clearly asked questions about her ancestors (in 1924!):


Although the facts relating to Ann Robson’s second marriage and the link to the proprietors of the Morpeth Herald have not been confirmed, there is no doubt that Margaret – referred to as Mrs Gosling due to her later marriage to James Foulds Gosling – did ‘come south when she was 20 and married your father’s father at Guildford’.

She was in her early 20s at the time of her ‘move south’. In 1851 – aged 21 – she still lived in Morpeth with William and Jane Hunter at The Earl Grey Inn, referred to as their ‘niece’. In the ensuing three years, she has travelled nearly 300 miles to London, met James Foulds Gosling – a carpenter of Guildford – and married him in Marylebone on 13 May 1854:

M1854 J GOSLING James Foulds ROBSON Margaret

As mentioned in the blog about her husband, Margaret was widowed in 1869 and in 1871, was working as a mangling worker with six of her seven living children (Louisa having died in 1859) at home in Stoke Fields, Guildford. The family tree which was passed down by my maternal grandfather stated that one of James’ brothers was ‘friendly to Robson on death of brother‘. More than friendly, I would say:

Margaret and George

George Douglas Gosling was born in 1820, the first child of John Thomas and Ann (nee Foulds) Gosling who married in Guildford in 1819. James Foulds Gosling was the fifth of their six children, born in 1833. Unfortunately, George died two years later in 1877 in Chertsey, Surrey and Margaret outlived both of the Gosling brothers. She died in Westminster in 1911, just before the census.

Jul 192014


Born today in 1860 in Fall River, Massachusetts, Lizzie’s mother died in 1863 and her father, Andrew Borden, married Abby Gray two years later. In 1892, Andrew and Abby were brutally murdered and Lizzie was charged with the crime, as it was widely known that she hated her stepmother. After a two week trial that caused national sensation, Lizzie was acquitted as the evidence against her was largely circumstantial. However, she was ostracised by those who were convinced of her guilt. Nevertheless, she spent the rest of her life in Fall River and died there of natural causes in 1927. The case was memorialised in a popular skipping-rope rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks;

When she saw what she had done

She gave her father forty-one.

Folklore says that the rhyme was made up by an anonymous writer as a tune to sell newspapers. Others attribute it to the ubiquitous, but anonymous, “Mother Goose.” In reality, Lizzie’s stepmother suffered 18 or 19 blows; her father suffered 11 blows.

Jul 182014

Today marks the anniversary of the Chappaquiddick incident. Shortly before midnight on 18 July 1969, Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy left a party on the island of Chappaquiddick with a young colleague, Mary Jo Kopechne.

K000105According to his own testimony, Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge and into the channel, before swimming free and leaving the scene. He did not report the accident for over nine hours. Kopechne died in the car through either drowning or suffocation.

Doubt was cast on the Senator’s account of what actually happened but there was no clear evidence that he was guilty of any serious crime. However, he did plead guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury and later received a two month suspended jail sentence. He remained in office but the incident became a national scandal and may have influenced his decision not to campaign for President of the United States in 1972 and 1976.

Senator Kennedy was the third longest serving member of the United States Senate in American history. Voters of Massachusetts elected him to the Senate nine times ‎—a record matched by only one other Senator.

Jul 172014

Crazy ThursdayAnd we really have gone a bit bonkers today in this heat…..

Black Sheep. There is (at least) one in every family and there are some very entertaining reads across the internet about how to recognise if you are it! But who would have ever dreamed that, when I decided to put ‘Black Sheep’ into Ancestry, the 1940 US Federal Census would return Black Sheep, Mrs Black Sheep and their three children, Philip Hubbard, Ellie Sheep and Gilbert Sheep, aged 32, 14 and 8 respectively. Not sure how Philip avoided being a sheep but maybe that’s an investigation for another day.

Mr and Mrs Black Sheep

We couldn’t stop there of course…. and so came Wanda K. Wilfart - born in 1957 in Bradford. Real! Honest! Her parents were Wladyslaw  and Concenttina (nee Strazzen) Wilfart. I am not sure about the origin of their surname!

There are hundreds – nay thousands – of these amazing names appearing all over the net on genealogical forums. Keep your eyes peeled genie-investigators….

Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join my other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com