Jul 242014

This week has been a week of heavy duty research for us here at Family Wise Limited and we have discovered that we have a problem. We know too many people researching particular names and so, dozens of names jump off the source information that we just can’t leave behind, especially when there are photographs involved!

But yesterday, we found something which we had never seen before – not unusual and generally a good experience! In the December quarter of 1874 in the parish of Oaksey (Malmesbury RD), we found the marriage of Charles Boulton and Ellen Hedges. That – of course – is not unusual in itself. But, spot the crucial piece of information which is missing:


We are now left wondering if the date is recorded on the GRO copy of the marriage certificate…. Has anyone else seen this omission before in a parish register? Intriguing ….

Jul 232014


40,000 spectators in the stadium and over a billion people worldwide are about to be treated to a stunning night of entertainment from Scottish icon Rod Stewart, former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle and singer-songwriter Amy McDonald - and undoubtedly a few surprises – in the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The world is holding its breath and for the first time in Commonwealth Games history, the Opening Ceremony will feature a Commonwealth-wide fundraiser for children – UNICEF. Stars from the worlds of sport, screen and stage are due to appear, coming together tonight in the hope of saving and changing the lives of millions of children across the Commonwealth.

Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy, international singing superstar Nicole Scherzinger and TV presenter and DJ Reggie Yates will appear as never seen before, in exclusive footage exploring different regions of the Commonwealth to witness UNICEF’s life-changing work. We will all have the chance – spectators, athletes and over a billion viewers from across the Commonwealth – to come together for one special moment, to Put Children First.

And that is just the beginning…. 6,500 athletes and officials from 71 countries will compete in 17 sports over 11 days, from 23 July to 3 August 2014. From the precision of lawn bowls to the exciting combat of wrestling and judo – from the high adrenaline of track events to the grace and beauty of gymnastics – Glasgow is now prepared to stage a fantastic summer of sport, as well as offering a massive range of cultural and arts events for everyone.

Most sports will take place on three compact site clusters to the east, south and west of the city centre but there are some events that take place outside the city; shooting at Carnoustie, Edinburgh will host diving and Strathclyde Country Park will host triathlon.

Focussing on writing ‘the book’ is going to be a challenge over the next two weeks, I sense….

Jul 222014

MMag22 July is the feast day of St Mary Magdalen who was the patron saint of pharmacists, hairdressers, repentant sinners and reformed prostitutes. A strange concoction of – one would hope – unlinked ‘professions’.

During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were almost no career opportunities for women. Recently, I have been reading a fascinating publication entitled Madams, Bawds & Brothel-Keepers of London by Fergus Linnane, which details an intrepid and gifted group of females who scaled the heights of what was literally ‘a man’s world’ by becoming bawds. Taking what had been an activity which was on the borders of legality, they turned brothel-keeping into a major industry.

With increased records – court documents, newspapers, diaries, letters and more – we can now draw on a rich variety of sources to gain an insight into the lives of women. For example, Charlotte Walker…. a prostitute and pickpocket who had a long and eventful career in the St Giles area of London. Appearing twelve times to answer charges at the Old Bailey, her story is told on London Lives, including ‘fifteen arrests for felony … arrested for assault and for being disorderly … and once for being a vagrant’. Mary Clayton also wrote about The Life and Times of Charlotte Walker, Prostitute and Pickpocket in the London Journal (2008, Vol. 33, pp. 3-19) and it was certainly seem that she did not fit in the ‘reformed’ category of prostitutes. Heaven knows what St Mary Magdalen would have made of her….!

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.

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