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Favourite Find

Ann Gillett

I think my favourite find will have been finding my cousin who had gone to live in Australia in the 1960s and lost touch with her grandmother. To be fair, the credit is not mine, all I did was post a thread on Genes Connected as it then was and her brother-in-law spotted it and  contacted me.

Favourite Discovery

Finding a will led me to confirm a connection between two branches of the Lewcocks, then there was finding the marriage of Richard Gillett and Ann Wood, my maternal great x3 grandparents when I wasn’t actually looking for it and had basically given up.


Or maybe it is tracking down the marriage of Charles Reed and Elizabeth Cheeseman, paternal great x2 grandparents?

Elizabeth was a real trouble to track down. I knew from  later census returns that she was born in Blendworth or Horndean or Forestside in Hampshire but was by then living in London. Her married name was transcribed as Reed/Reid/Read which didn’t help much either. I knew that at some point she had been married to a Cheeseman from her daughter’s birth certificate but at the time the 1851 census was not fully online, so I had to wait.

I had spent many hours looking for an Elizabeth born c1829 in that area of Hampshire. I eventually found a possibility living with a Martha Cheeseman in 1851. They were both listed as laundresses, and they seemed to be the “next door” household to Aldingbourne House – about halfway between Arundel and Chichester in Sussex.

© National Archives

This turned out to be a Eureka moment as Elizabeth was listed as Martha’s son’s widow, so this helped sort out the correct marriage to Charles Reed, in London, and from there I was able to track down her baptism, parents etc. Finding the two marriages had also needed a lot of cross checking of GRO references – FMP makes that rather easier now.

Headstone of William Cheeseman

Elizabeth had been married in August 1850 in Catherington and widowed by the following April. I eventually discovered that William had died of typhus in Portsea in January 1851 and is buried just down the road from me in Climping churchyard – his headstone and those of Martha and John, his parents, are still there and legible. This was definitely a research task which need certificates and it also involved using newspapers from FMP and my membership of SFHG to establish what became of William.

I always feel a little sad that they were married for such a short time – she was only just turned 21 when she was widowed, then I remember that I wouldn’t be here otherwise. There are some old cottages at the opening of the drive to Aldingbourne House and I often wonder if that was where she lived, and did she walk through the village I now live in to visit Climping Church where William was buried? She was married to Charles in Hoxton in 1857 so she may not have lived here for long.

One find that I hope will eventually make its way on to the list will be the whereabouts of my paternal grandfather, his new wife and baby son and his mother, the daughter of the afore mentioned Charles and Elizabeth Reed, on the 19th of June 1921 when the recently released census was taken.  They are not enumerated at the address in London where they were living on the 15th of May that year when their son was baptised, but I have found his father in what looks like a hotel in Leeds. At about this time my great grandparents relocated to Leeds, but my grandparents stayed in London until at least the following year when their second son was born. All the usual, and unusual, search methods are not tracking them down as yet.

Otherwise my favourite find has to be the latest piece of information from the latest record set I have explored, looking to add details to my family history.

Favourite Photograph

Favourite Photograph

In February 2019, I went to Cardiff to catch up with a paternal aunt who I’d not seen for several years for one reason or another. She shared some family photographs from her mother's family which I had never seen. The quality isn't great as they are mobile phone...

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Since I first started my family history research seriously in 2002, I have wanted to find out more about my maiden name and its origins. It is a relatively unusual one, but prone to variants and other mis-spelling over the years. Although it is always in the back of...

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