Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guy's Tonic

2, Aylesbury Road, Wing, Bucks
My Daughter, who is suffering with a very bad Ulcerated Stomach, has been taking Guy's Tonic for some time, and I am glad to say is now much better.

from the Penny Illustrated Paper, 4 July 1898

I'm not sure exactly who this might be there's no George Gardiner and family in Wing in either the 1891 census or 1901 census. There was a George born in 1871 in Littleworth but in the 1901 census he's single and living in Leighton Buzzard.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The professional pugilist

In my last post I mentioned that James YOUNG, a visitor in my WILLIAMSON household at the time of the 1911 census, declared himself to be a professional boxer. Knowing virtually nothing about modern-day boxing, let alone the 1911-era sport, I spent some quality time online last night seeing what I could learn.

"Modern Boxing - From A Correspondent" appeared in the London Times on 28 October 1910. Boxing appeared to have gained some respectability in recent years, thanks to the Queensberry rules that provided more structure around bouts and the use of gloves. In amateur circles boxing was recommended as a good way to keep fit. On the topic of the modern professional, I learned that

"there has been a great increase in the number of professional boxers in this country, who earn a somewhat precarious living by giving public exhibitions of their prowess and occasional lessons. There are now many places in London and the provincial cities where these exhibitions are held periodically.....Today attendance at a boxing entertainment is as safe as a visit to a music-hall; indeed the smaller music-halls in the poorer districts of Greater London often provide the impresario of the professional boxer with the arena he requires."

and that the professional boxer was generally characterised as

"an amiable, quiet-mannered young fellow who is decently educated and, unlike his rugged and illiterate predecessor, does not cut loose from the decencies of life during the interval between one period of training and will generally be found that the professional glove-fighter in this country is an honest gladiator and a good citizen, who wishes to satisfy his employers and the people who pay to see him in action."

From The Times I also learned that 1911 was a dramatic year for London boxing. A bout was planned between local boy Bombardier Billy Wells and the African-American Jack Johnson, however this was eventually scrapped after an outcry. The problem seemed to be that this was expected to degenerate into an old-fashioned prize-fight rather than a civilized boxing match, by virtue of the fact that (warning: politically-incorrect cringes ahead) Johnson would likely employ unsportsmanlike American tactics and "the present contest is not one of skill because on the one side is added the instinctive passion of the negro race which is so differently constituted to our own". Oh, and it would also set a bad example in far-flung areas of the Empire like South Africa if their "coloured population" were to see cinematograph footage of the fight. There's more about the US context to these arguments over at Johnson's entry on Wikipedia including the race riots across the US as a result of one of Johnson's 1910 bouts.

The times being what they were, I suspect that Irish boxers were likely not held in quite so high a regard as their English counterparts. My man could have just popped over for a fight or two, so I will need to see if any Irish newspaper archives are available that might mention him. There is an Irish boxer by the name of Jim Young in the boxing encyclopaedia, who had fought the more famous Pat McAllister, The Irish Terror, in 1912 - could this turn out to be my James Young?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish connections

I don't have any Irish ancestors myself, but I do have an Irish visitor living with my ex-Wing WILLIAMSON family in Wembley at the time of the 1911 census. Would anyone like to claim James YOUNG, a single 23-year-old (so born around 1887) professional boxer from Milltown, Dublin, Ireland?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google Street View

I just made an exciting discovery - the Google Street View cameras have now been round Wing, and on a sunny day, no less!

If you happen to be a current resident, I'm not really cyber-stalking you, honestly - I'm just admiring the buildings.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

All Saints Church in the snow

You may have noticed I get a little over-excited when it snows in England, and start pining for photos of Wing in the snow. I was just browsing Flickr and came across a lovely treat - a couple of photos of All Saints Church, taken right before Christmas last year. Thanks to Ian A Wood for posting these to Flicker.

All Saints Church - so pretty, and at full size I can even make out a CUTLER gravestone (can't see the details beyond that though).

War Memorial

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The will of Thomas ADAMS

Just after Christmas in 1837, Burcott farmer Thomas ADAMS was murdered. His eldest son William was charged with the murder but found not guilty - you can read newspaper reports of the trial along with other contemporary commentary as to the events that transpired and likelihood of the verdict being correct.

Here's the Adams family in question (click to enlarge):

Thomas had drafted his will in 1835, then added a codicil in early 1837. His wife Martha had died in 1828 however he had twelve surviving children, some adult, some minor, to be considered as well as responsibilities for legacies to his mother and brother. The will itself runs over seven PDF pages, has a lot of what-if scenarios in it, and is altered slightly by the codicil, so the abstract that now appears on the Wing One Place Study wills pages is quite abbreviated.

The first point I found interesting is the explicit instructions he left as to his grave - in a common grave in the church yard of Wing as near as possible to the remains of his late father and grandfather, and that "plain head and foot stones" should be raised for himself and his father. You can see Thomas' stone illustrating my page of the newspaper reports, and it stands tucked up against All Saints Church in the north-west corner. It is pretty plain I guess, however from his wording I would almost expect it to be completely unengraved. I didn't specifically take note of any other Adams gravestones in the immediate vicinity but I understand that there are indeed others in adjoining plots. Has anyone else seen explicit instructions like this in the will of their ancestors from Wing?

Thomas had an obligation under his father's will to make annual payments to his mother and brother, and this continues under Thomas' will (the obligation is passed on to son Henry Charles once Henry turns 21 if his grandmother and uncle are still living). After their decease, an annual sum is to be paid to son William - would William still have been entitled to receive this given the court cases? Perhaps it never became an issue - he died 8 years later so may have predeceased his grandmother and uncle. I guess I should look those deaths up....

William's entitlement to this sum was void if he ended up inheriting "estates lately belonging to Stephen Raymond esquire deceased situate in the said county of Bedford" - what connection did Stephen Raymond have to the Adams family? Why was there a question mark over William's possible inheritance from him - was this dependent on some other event that hadn't yet occurred, especially as it is obviously still in doubt at the time Thomas added the codicil to his will? I must look for Stephen Raymond's will!

The upshot of the rest of the will is that younger son Henry Charles Adams, who was 11 at the time the will was drafted, was the primary heir rather then eldest son William Francis. Was this a reflection of the relationship between Thomas and then-fifteen-year-old William, or was the inheritance from Stephen Raymond sufficient to provide for William?

Freehold property in Wing (including four lots named with reference to the Wing inclosure map of 1797 which I don't have) and Stewkley was to be held in trust for Henry Charles, while copyhold property in Wing was to be sold and the proceeds plus any rents received along the way held in trust and used to pay various legacies to Thomas' other children. The two eldest daughters were married by then and aren't mentioned at all (had they died by then?) while the remaining seven daughters (including one married) and William received a total of £70 plus their share of sums paid by the trustees for "heriots, fines and fees in procuring admission to the copyhold part of the said hereditaments". I hadn't encountered the term heriots before but apparently this is a term dating back to feudal times - probably a bit rare by 1835 from the sound of it? - and means a death-duty payable by the lessee (in this case by Thomas) to the lords owning the property. I think the "fines and fees" also sound like they may be payments out, which would mean those charges would all be deducted from the sums payable to the children. Should those named children die, any surviving lawful issue they left behind would take their parent's share.

All the farm assets (eg cattle, grain, implements) and household goods were to be sold after Thomas died, and together with any actual money would fund the funeral, testamentary and gravestone costs. After those costs were covered, £400 was set aside to build "a substantial farm house" for the benefit of Henry Charles. The balance of this pool of funds was then to be divided against the other named children. The reference to building a farm house is interesting - was the current home in disrepair? Not grand enough? The codicil, added in 1837, mentions the £400 but the wording seems a bit odd and I can't work out if it implies the house had since been built or if Thomas decided that this created an imbalance and that William should get the equivalent amount.

This was a particularly long and interesting will, especially in light of subsequent events in this family. It's also been helpful in providing interesting snippets about Burcott House Farm, the property owned by Henry Charles Adams and previously farmed by his father and grandfather by the sound of it. As you can see there's a few more things coming out of this will for me to research!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

BMD certificates

The charge for ordering a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate from the GRO will be going up from 6 April from £7 to £9.25. While I don't have a problem with them needing to cover their costs, I will certainly be dipping into the piggy bank and seeing how many I can order before then, as that's quite a difference once translated to to my current NZ-dollar purchasing-power.

Monday, March 01, 2010

March update

This month we have some Wing people popping up in the parish registers of Drayton Parslow (SMITH, WILLISON). I've also finished the extraction of key information from the will of Thomas ADAMS, Wing's most famous murder victim. Expect to see a separate blog entry with my thoughts on this will later on this week.

And now for some behind-the-scenes action.....

The top tray is my genealogy intray. There's about a dozen pieces of paper in there that relate to my personal genealogy, the rest is Wing information still to be incorporated into the Wing One Place Study. And that's just the information I have waiting in hard-copy, I will try not to think about the computer files (like the half-finished pages on farms and farmers of Wing). On the bright side, I have now cleared the top half-dozen pages you can see as that's the Adams will.

Yes, it sags under its own weight. Must try harder in March!

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