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Week 4: Close to Home

St Mary’s Church, Clymping

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but decided that transport links weren’t going to be too good. I knew Chichester already and in the and plumped for a smallish village between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, It had a regular bus route (I’m a wimpy driver and who on earth invented roundabouts?) along the coast, a couple of shops, a hairdresser and village hall as well as post office and surgery (and good broadband). I found a house and I settled down to continue my family history research.

More and more was coming on line in 2008 and I started to revisit people I had tentatively found but been unable to go further with. One was the first husband of Elizabeth Adams, my paternal great great grandmother.

I had found Charles Reed my ancestor already and had only recently managed to work out their marriage. I knew their places of birth from census returns but it had taken some serious cross matching with census returns, FreeBMD and GRO references to get the correct certificate for Charles Reed and an Elizabeth! I still remember that sense of satisfaction when I found it.

William Cheesman. St Mary’s Church, Clymping

She gave her birthplace as a different but close parish around the West Sussex/East Hampshire borders every time, he was from Chichester, but they married in London in 1857. It was my first second marriage certificate and there it was – Elizabeth Cheeseman formerly Adams – and it was the same surname of a visitor to the family.

Finding the marriage helped me find her location in the 1851 census. It was less than two miles from where I was sitting! She was with her mother-in-law, Martha; both widowed and they were listed as laundresses, hmm.

Now I knew that she had been married before, I found her first marriage in August 1850 very quickly but was unable to find her first husband’s death for a couple of years even with a short timeline of August 1850 to April 1851. There were several possible candidates but I left it alone for a while. Then the British Newspapers went online and I eventually found his death notice in a Hampshire paper. He had died in Portsea in the January and his body was to be buried in Climping. Climping churchyard is not far from me. The SFHG burial search confirmed that he was indeed buried there. I decided to visit the churchyard and found that not only was he buried there but his headstone is still there alongside that of his mother – Martha Cheesman nee Till, whose mother was born in .. .. the village where I live.

When looking up the references today for this article I found a reference to an Elizabeth Cheesman who was arrested for stealing four pairs of stockings in August 1851. She was sent for trial and was sentenced to 3 weeks hard labour for larceny, presumably in Portsmouth Borough Gaol which was the one in operation at that time. There were other Cheesman families in Portsmouth at the time so not necessarily “my” Elizabeth at all but this will give me something else to research.,

My investigations into the Cheesman family have also led me to some very enjoyable art workshops in Littlehampton, but that is another story: 1 and 2 Pier Road. Littlehampton

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

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Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

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Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

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