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Benford Family….Weavers of Kettering, Northamptionshire

5 Jul
2013-09-26 07.01.41

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Sarah Benford of Kettering – 1745 to the Parish Of Ullesthorpe and attested by: Thomas Benford  and George Smille (DOC 1)

The Northamptonshire worsted trade began in the late seventeenth century.  The Militia Lists of 1762 and onwards  list a number of freeholders engaged in the industry in the market town of Kettering. The establishment of the trade is attributed to the local supply of the long – staple wool that was necessary for worsted cloth production.

Northamptonshire Milita Lists for Kettering:

Benford John    Kettering Hux     weaver   1762

“WEAVER – A person who runs one or more looms to weave cloth. The more looms, the more money. Weaving is a very noisy operation, leaving many weavers deaf. Whether deaf or not, most weavers will have learned to lip-read since this is the only way to hold a conversation in the weaving shed.”

Benford Sam     Kettering Hux     combmaker    1762

COMB MAKER – “Makes Combs for the Textile Industry”

 

Benford Ben      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool comber    1771

 WOOL COMBER – “Operated machinery that separates the fibres ready for spinning in woollen industry”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

 

Benford Ben Jr  Kettering Hux     weaver     1774

Benford Ben Sr    Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux     wool sorter    1774

WOOL SORTER – “one that sorts wool according to grade specifications”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

 

Benford Ben       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford John     Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool sorter    1777

Benford Wm       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

 

Benford Wm     Kettering Hux    weaver 1781

Kettering was an influential urban area in the 13th and 14th centuries and by 1700  it had become an important centre for the woollen cloth trade. During the late 17th century and in the 18th century, Kettering specialized in the worsted trade, which has been attributed to the local availability of long-staple wool, best suited to domestic spinning. The wool was sorted and that which was intended for manufacture at home, was combed and then distributed in small quantities to the lower economic class of people who spun and reeled the wool. The spun wool was then passed on to the weavers. A Randall, in his book The Kettering Worsted Industry of the Eighteenth Century, claims “weaving was concentrated in Kettering, while the wool combing took place at Long Buckley about 15 miles south-west of Kettering”.  By 1741 Kettering was producing Shalloons – “A fabric of tightly woven wool, mainly used for the linings of articles of clothing” (Wiktionary) and was sending upwards of 1,000 pieces to the London markets.

There was a sudden collapse of the Northamptonshire worsted industry in 1770 and by 1794 the work force was 50% of the 5–6,000 people employed at its peak. The decline of the worsted trade of 1770 was largely due to the mechanization of worsted spinning in the West Riding of Yorkshire and over the county border in Leicestershire.

In my previous Blog, I referenced Benjamin and Sarah Benford who had relocated from Kettering to Ullesthorpe around 1745. They had relocated  prior to the decline of the Worsted Textile Industry, but their move may have had more to do with family as Sarah was from there and the birth of their first child was eminent. Many young women returned to their family at this time.

On my visit in 2013, I was able to visit the County Records Office in Leicester and discovered a document  known as a Settlement Certificate. These were documents issued by Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor in a given Parish, to prove in which Parish a Family was  legally settled and to indicate, that should Poor Relief be needed, the family could be returned to that Parish. These certificates weren’t only provided to paupers. Regular Families often obtained them if they were moving to a new parish, and subsequently, if they fell on hard times, that Parish would know where to return them to obtain Poor Relief. This document helped me break through one of the many Brick Walls I had encountered in my research.

  1. In 1745, one such Certificate was issued to Benjamin Benford and Sarah (Page) Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire and was addressed to the Church Wardens of the Parish of Ullesthorpe in Leicestershire. Benjamin had been born in Kettering in 1714 to Thomas and Sarah (Stanley) Benford (married Dec 16, 1708. On January 3, 1745 he married Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe. In order to settle in Ullesthorpe, the family would need a Settlement Certificate.  This Certificate answered my question….Was Benjamin who lived in Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire….from eleswhere? It seems this was the case… And just like like in the Bible…Benjamin begat Nathaniel in 1748?, Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1774, and Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1804.  (see Document 1 at the top of the Page) It is from this line that my Great Grandmother Clara Benford Perkins descends…..she being the daughter of Nathaniel (1804).

 

2013-09-26 06.59.44

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Elizabeth Benford and their Children Joseph, Jesse and Hannah – 1779. (DOC 2)

In this document (Doc 2), we have a Settlement Certificate for a later Benford Family who looks to be relocating at the time the decline is hitting its peak. It is 44 years later……1789 when this Benford Family is looking for opportunity eleswhere. There are two signatures of interest on the document…..Thomas Benford Senior and Thomas Benford Junior. On the document (DOC 1) created in 1745, there was one Benford signature…..there was a Thomas Benford who dies in Kettering in 1750 and I would guess he is the signatory on document. He had a son Thomas born in 1721 who could be Thomas Senior age 58 on document 2 and the other signature that of his son, Thomas Jr. likely around 25. Have I confused everyone…if only these people would have used different names or incorporated their birth year into the name as in Thomas 1721. You have no idea how difficult it is to sort out who is who in the records.

I located a Thomas Benford of Kettering listed as a Master Serge Maker in 1753 (The Genealogist) and he had an Apprentice by the name of Benjamin Meadows. In 1755 Thomas is listed as a Serge Weaver and has an apprentice Thomas Spriggs. This is likely Thomas Senior (Thomas 1721 who would be 34). 

The Genealogist-paid site

Masters Name Thomas Benford
Masters Trade Serge Weaver
Masters Abode Kettering, Northamptonshire
Apprentice Name Thomas Spriggs
Date of Duty 29th July 1755
Date of Indenture 4th July 1755
Term 7 Years From 24th Ju

Serge Weavers weave SERGE, a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings.  The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven.

I have been attempting to trace the ancestry of the Benford Family of Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire for the past 10 years. I had always thought that the family likely originated in Warwickshire and moved up the road through marriage, perhaps from somewhere in the Coventry area.  My thinking may be partially correct.It would appear that at least one Benford Family…Benjamin Benford/Sarah Page had moved up the road …not from Warwickshire but from Kettering, Northamptonshire to Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire in 1745.  

I can’t find Benford’s in the Parish Records of that County (Northamptonshire) earlier than the 1700’s and these people all appear to be connected to the Worsted Industry which developed in the 1600’s. Could it be that the ancestors of these Thomas Benford’s…..weavers of Kettering, had originated in Warwickshire where the Benford name appears in the Parish Records from the 1500’s. People always moved for economic opportunities.  (Distance from Coventry, Warwickshire to Kettering, Northamptonshire is only 33 miles.) More research is needed.

From parish records for Claybrooke LEI we have a Benjamin Benford christened in 1751 – parents Benjamin and Sarah Benford. From apprenticeship records, we have a Nathaniel Benford (age 14 born circa 1748) apprenticed to John Barker CARPENTER of Little Ashby (Ashby Parva) about 1.5 miles from Ullesthorpe in 1762…perhaps the beginnings of the Carpenter trade for the Benford Family. The BIG Question…Is he Benjamin and Sarah Benford’s eldest son? Have not located a Birth Record for him. He would have been born 3 years after they married. Are there previous births for this couple..maybe the child died? 

We have in the Kettering Fuller Street Baptist records, a Benjamin Benford buried  21 Sept 1800 age 84 (born 1716) and his wife Sarah buried 26 Oct 1800 age 82 (1718).   We have a Thomas Benford buried there in 1791 age 81 (born 1710) and  a Nathaniel who was christened in Theddingworth , LEI (13 miles from Kettering)  June 5, 1714… parents Thomas and Sarah Bendford.  Are these  Benford’s related and the sons of one Thomas Ben(d)ford of Kettering? Did Benjamin and Sarah return to Kettering at some point in their lives?  ketteringca1900

If my thinking is correct then a Benjamin Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire married a Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe LEI and started the Benford dynasty in Leicestershire. They were Non Conformists (Baptists) and the records are difficult to track, but a Benjamin and Sarah Benford are both buried back in Kettering (Silver Street Baptist). The names Benjamin and Nathaniel run through several lines in both counties making great difficulties in determining who is who.

On top of that, there are Benford’s in the southern USA in the early days of the plantations where a Nathaniel Benford is a slave owner in Charles City Virginia. He frees his slave and they move north and today there are many Slave Descendents with the Benford name. Many Non-Conformists left the Midlands to escape religious persecution and became some of the earliest settlers in the USA. Thomas, Benjamin and Nathaniel are the names running through generations on both sides of the pond.

As is always the case, my research will continue. I think I have proved the Kettering and  Ullethorpe/Claybrooke connection. Now I must continue to find out the Kettering/Warwickshie connection…if there is one.

More info on the Textile Industry if you are interested…

Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World | 2004 | GULLICKSON, GAY L.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Gale Group Inc.
TEXTILE INDUSTRY.

“Between 1450 and 1800, textile production was second only to agriculture in economic importance. It employed more people and produced more profit than any other manufactured product. Production and trade existed at two levels:

Peasants and villagers turned locally grown wool and flax into fabric and clothing for themselves and their neighbors. The cloth they produced was of poor quality and not designed for export to distant markets.

On top of this local market, there was a large and lucrative trade in quality goods.

Two types of wool fabric were produced in Europe—woolens and worsteds.

Woolens were made from short-staple wool fibers that were swirled together before spinning. The cloth had a soft-textured appearance and feel.

Worsteds were made from long-staple wool and had a harder, smoother finish. Soft woolens were considered far more desirable than the harsher worsteds and dominated the wool trade.

Turning raw wool into fabric was a long, complicated process. The sheep’s fleece was sheared in one continuous piece, rolled, sacked, and sold to merchants (drapers) or clothiers or their agents. The fleeces were dirty and greasy, not uniform, and far from ready for spinning and weaving. Fleece breakers opened up the fleece and removed the large pieces of debris that were caught in it. The fleece was then pulled apart, and the wool was sorted into three or four grades. Next, the sorted wool was cleaned. Any remaining debris was removed from the fleece by beating it with sticks, and then it was washed in alternating hot and cold, soapy and clean water. Some fleeces were dyed at this point, but dyeing raw wool produced dull colors, and it was common to dye fabric after it was completed rather than when the wool was raw. Whether it was dyed or not, the fleece was now lubricated with butter or oil to make it easier to work.

After breaking, cleaning, and oiling, the wool passed into the hands of combers and carders. Their task was to convert a mass of tangled, curling wool into long, straight, smooth fibers for worsteds by combing, or into a smooth ball of short wool fibers for woolens by carding. Spinners converted the combed or carded wool into continuous lengths of yarn by pulling, twisting, and turning it into a thin, continuous thread. This was the most labor-intensive part of the process.

Weavers usually wound their own warps and prepared their own bobbins for the loom. The best woolens were woven on broadlooms that produced fabric that was 1¼ meters wide and 22 to 23 meters long. It commonly took two men and one child (most often, probably, a boy in training) to operate a loom and weave the cloth. Once the woolen cloth was woven, it passed into the hands of fullers who cleaned and softened it by dunking it in water that contained various kinds of detergents and soaps that dissolved or absorbed the fat that had been added to the wool before it was carded or combed.  Fullers placed the folded cloth in a vat and trod on it with their feet, periodically removing and refolding the cloth so it would be evenly fulled.

After fulling, the cloth was dried, stretched, bleached, and perhaps dyed. Teaselers raised the nap by brushing the cloth with the burr of the teasel plant to impart a soft finish. It was clipped smooth by shearmen, pressed, and returned to the merchant for sale. The entire process involved twenty people (not including dyers) for each piece of cloth produced and took at least six weeks. Women worked as carders, combers, and spinners, while men performed most of the other tasks. The finer the cloth, the larger the labor force and the longer the time it took to produce it. The finishing of worsteds was much simpler (they did not require fulling, teaseling or shearing, for instance), but the market for them was much smaller.

For the  luxury trade in silk, wool, linen, and (eventually) cotton fabric, the most important were heavy woolens. The customers for these fabrics were wealthy landowners, government and church officials, merchants, financiers, aristocrats, and master craftsmen in Europe, Asia and the Levant.

Most important of all the textile industries was the trade in raw wool and wool fabric. Sheep raising abounded everywhere and in the fifteenth century, the best fleeces came from England. In the sixteenth century, Spanish merino sheep knocked English sheep into second place.

Where oh Where Was Benjamin Sleeth Born? Think it was Staffordshire, England

26 Jun

 

GBPRS-STAFF-ST-NICHOLAS-ABBOTS-BROMLEY-BIRTH-D1209-1-3-1734-1780-00061

Parish Record 1753 at St. Nicholas, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire

That  A Benjamin Sleeth was born is a fact, as his marriage to Mary Quinton is recorded at Abbots Bromley,  February 14,  1753. Likely he was born sometime between and  1713 and 1735 making him between 18 and 40 when he married. On checking the records, there does not appear to be any Sleeth’s or Quinton’s baptised in this Parish around that period, so the likelihood is that Benjamin and Mary did  not grow up here.

st-nicholas-church-abbots-bromley

St-Nicholas Church, Abbots-Bromley… Interior

Benjamin Sleeth with his wife Mary, had a son William, October 22, 1769 and recorded it in the Parish Records of St. Editha at Church Eaton, Staffordshire.  Many of the descendants of William Sleeth/Sleith are buried there. (Note the spelling changes Sleeth to Sleith to Sleath for later generations.) William is the only Sleeth baptised here in this time period.

william sleeth

Baptismal Record for William Sleeth/Sleith (1769) who was the son of Benjamin Sleeth.

 

St Editha's Church

St Editha’s Church at Church Eaton

I was in Church Eaton in 1979 and visited with descendants of William Sleeth/Sleith. Sarah Jane Sleath (1869)Perkins’ father George Sleath (1830) and Nan (1911) and Richard (1913) Sleath’s Grandfather Richard Sleath (1843) were brothers. They were the sons of John Sleith (1805) who was the son of William (1769)

Nan Sleath Bailey and Richard Sleath  at St. Editha Church…1979.

Sarah Jane Perkins, daughter of George and Abigail (Rogers) Sleath later years of Lichfield, Staffordshire

Sarah Jane Sleath Perkins, daughter of George and Abigail (Rogers) Sleath later years of Lichfield, Staffordshire

 

 

 

 

Benjamin sleeth

Benjamin Sleeth buried September 16 , 1798 All Saint’s Bloxwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have Benjamin Sleeth’s burial in Bloxwich, Staffordshire at All Saint’s Parish Church on September 16, 1798 which was 45 years after his marriage. We could assume that, had he been born in 1713, he would have been 85 years of age and if born in 1735, he would have been 58 years of age. His wife Mary, had been buried 10 years earlier in 1788.

 

Scan0052

“there was no municipal cemetery, and all the dead of Bloxwich were buried in the churchyard of St. Thomas of Canterbury (now All Saints).”

“Throughout the Middle Ages Bloxwich had been a small agricultural village with a population of around 600, but it expanded in the 18th century when coal mines were opened. There were many cottage industries at this time, making awls, nails, needles and saddle blades. By early 19th century Bloxwich was surrounded by canals, encouraging expansion, as goods could be moved more easily.

Bloxwich had a chapel of ease within the parish of Walsall, granted in the 15th century, but did not become a separate parish until the 19th century. An old preaching cross, believed to pre-date the church still stands in the churchyard. All Saints Church dates mostly from 1875-1877 when the original church, St. Thomas of Canterbury, was rebuilt and rededicated. Church Street led to the poorest part of Bloxwich known as Chapel Field Cottages. A workhouse on Elmore Green was open by 1752.”   (British History online)

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Grounds at Bloxwich Church  

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Rebuilt Bloxwich Church

 

Susan Martin, who I met at the Exodus: Movement of the People Conference in 2013  sent this email: “Benjamin and Mary would have been buried from what was then a chapel of ease from St Matthews, Walsall . Bloxwich didn’t become a separate parish until 1842. Mary would have been buried by the old chapel of ease but this was rebuilt in 1794 , in time for Benjamin in 1798.The present church was virtually rebuilt in the 1870s. However I guess Benjamin and Mary are in the grounds. All tombstones removed, some against the wall surrounding the cleared line”

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Bloxwich Church Grounds

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Cycle path through Goscote Corridor

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View from back of #72

003 (1)

 

“We had a good afternoon – after several days of non-stop rain and more due for the next three days that I took a walk to Station Road Rushall and can now send you updated photos. No 72 is still there, windows different. I guess the two sheds were the back gardens? I walked along a drive at back and took two photos of the view which there must be from the house. One of the last photos shows the cycle path now going through what is known as the Goscote corridor (goes through the land at the back of 72) and the big stream.  The countryside in the Goscote corridor hasn’t changed over the past 40 years!

 

Records:

Place Church Baptisms Marriages Burials
Bloxwich All Saints 1733-1932 1843-1928 1733-1954

Benjamin is not a name that was popular with any of the Sleath’s anywhere at that time…I only found one baptised in 1665 in Gilmorton, Leicestershire, and none in Warwickshire or Staffordshire in the 1700’s using Ancestry. The one born in Gilmorton, Leicestersire would have been a good candidate for having a son named Benjamin, but he died in 1713 leaving his wife Mary Crick with 3 small children living in Husband Bosworth and none of them a Benjamin.  Did any of his siblings born before him, name any of their children after him?

While I was searching The Genealogist, I came across an interesting record….

Sleeth london

Sleeth Mary wife of Benj, Gent Servant, 29 Rugeley Staff.

In 1772, at the British Lying in Hospital (for “poor and distressed married women”) in Endell Street, St Giles in the Field in London, I found a record for  male child born to Benjamin and Mary Sleeth. I would have discarded this as a possibility as I know there are many Sleeth’s/Sleith’s/Sleath’s born in the London area, however they listed their Parish of Abode as Rugeley, Staffordshire….6 miles from Abbotts Bromley,   10 miles from Bloxwich and 12 miles from Church Eaton. He was a Gentleman’s Servant….A valet or “gentleman’s gentleman” is a gentleman’s male servant; the closest female equivalent is a lady’s maid. The valet performs personal services such as maintaining his employer’s clothes, running his bath and perhaps (especially in the past) shaving his employer). This Benjamin may have entered service as a younger man and worked his way up to this position.

British Lying -In Hospital….24 Endell Street, Covent Garden  1749 – 1913  Maternity

Surgeon in attendance would be called to judge whether the birth would be an easy natural one and could be left to the Matron to deal with, or would need continuing medical involvement.

From 1752 female pupils were admitted to learn midwifery, usually for a period of six months.

In 1756 the Hospital changed its name to the British Lying-In Hospital for Married Women to avoid confusion with the City of London Lying-In Hospital, which had opened in 1750, and theGeneral Lying-In Hospital, which had been founded in 1752.

stpauls2

The oldest maternity hospital in London, the Lying-In Hospital for Married Women, opened at the end of 1749 with the Duke of Portland as its President.  It had been established by a group of governors of the Middlesex Hospital, who were dissatisfied with the facilities available in that Hospital for women in labour.  They purchased a house in Brownlow Street (now Betterton Street), off Long Acre, and furnished it with 20 beds.

The staff consisted of two physicians and two surgeons who practiced midwifery, a Matron skilled in the same, a chaplain, an apothecary, nurses and “other inferior servants”.

Women were admitted in the last month of their pregnancy – they were only permitted to stay for three weeks –  and needed a letter of recommendation from a subscriber (patients were not charged by the Hospital) and an affidavit of their marriage and their husband’s settlement.

Patients received breakfast at 9 o’clock, lunch at 1 o’clock and supper at 7 o’clock.  In the winter they  went to bed at 8 o’clock and in the summer at 9 o’clock.

IMG_20130911_121742

Brick Building just down the street was the Lying In Hospital

In a strange coincidence, I had walked Edell Street many times before on trips to London and often had coffee at a small cafe….turns out I had a view of the Lying In Hospital but I was unaware of what the building had been in earlier times.

 

Another record for the same birth date, lists a girl Jane as being born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith……so was it a boy or a girl or twins or a different Benjamin and Mary or transcription error.

Sleeth london

27 Sept…. 28 Sept a boy

 

 

 

Had  Benjamin  been hired as a Gentleman’s Servant in Staffordshire and come to London with his Gentleman. Did his gentleman live in London with a country house in Staffordshire or  did his Gentleman live in Staffordshire and have a London house?

I kept looking in that area and discovered a Richard born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith in Wandsworth in 1767. Wandsworth in those days was rural and agricultural. Was this the same Ben and Mary? Did the Gentleman have a home in this area? Was this Benjamin and Mary the parents of Jane?

More Records more confusion….This Record  was discovered among the Clandestine Marriage Records in London for 1667 to 1754….on Ancestry.

A Benjamin Slyth of Walsall married Mary Thompson of Santree, Ireland on August 3, 1717 in London.  Officiating Ministers: Vyse, Draper, Evans, Wagstaffe, Floud, Gaynam, etc (1709 Nov – 1721 Apr) (Ancestry) Now whether this was my Ancestor, I can only surmise. Again the reference to Walsall, (Bloxwich was a chapel of Ease from Walsall Staffordshire) would give me pause for my thinking. Was this a young couple…. he Church of England, she a Catholic from Ireland and were they pregnant? Did they run away to London to be married or were they already in London?   Did they remain in London or return at some point to Staffordshire. Did they have a son and name him Benjamin? 

What was a clandestine marriage?

A Fleet Marriage is the best-known example of an irregular or a clandestine marriage taking place in England before the Marriage Act 1753 came into force on March 25, 1754. Specifically, it was one which took place in London’s Fleet Prison or its environs during the 17th and, especially, the early 18th century.

41813_b0146270-00109

Facts are beginning to build.

1717                   Benjamin Slyth and Mary Thompson marry in London…..List Walsall as his abode

Early 1700’s    Benjamin Sleeth is born …SOMEWHERE..

1753                   Benjamin Sleeth and Mary Quinton marry in Abbots Bromley

13 years between these records…..so Mary, mother of William, would have only been 13 when she                                                                      married in  1753.    How likely would this be?

“Under Lord Hardwicke’s marriage act in 1753, the law was changed so that anyone under twenty one had to have the consent of guardians or parents, but there was no lower age limit. It also had to be celebrated in church and an entry had to be made in the parish register and signed by both parties. The law was introduced to in response to agitation on the part of the nobility, who were alarmed at the ease with which young heiresses could be trapped in indissoluble marriages, and have their money stolen!
Source : Belinda Meteyard, ‘Illigitimacy and marriage in the eighteenth century’, Journal of Interdisciplinary history

Ithis a different Mary? An entirely different  couple?   Does this Mary die and Benjamin married a different Mary?

1769                Benjamin and Mary Sleeth (26) have a son William baptised in Church Eaton...Home Parish?

1772                   Benjamin and Mary Sleeth have a male child at the Lying in Hospital in London and list Rugeley                                at their abode…he a Gentleman’s Servant. Mary is 29 so born c. 1743.

Still there are so many questions…are these Benjamin’s the same or different people? What about the Mary’s? Why are there no Sleeth Children born between 1753 and 1769. Does Mary Quinton Die and Benjamin  doesn’t remarry for several years? again to another Mary?

 

DSCF2846

Nan Sleath Bailey and Me at Rushall, Staffordshire in 1979

I’m stuck! For the past 8 years I have been trying to trace my Sleath Family and it hasn’t been easy. They of course couldn’t be consistent in the spelling of their surname, and this is only the first of many issues.  I started out by tracing my Grandmother, Sarah Jane Sleath, born 13 Aug 1869 in The Outwoods, Shropshire.  Things seemed to be going well and I located her father, George Sleath born in Hinstock, Shropshire in 1830.  His father John Sleith, I found in Church Eaton, Staffordshire. John Sleith (note first change of spelling for name) was christened 17 Mar 1805, the son of William Sleith of Church Eaton. I knew this was the right connection as St. Editha’s Church Cemetery is the burial place for a number of  my Sleith’s. Richard Sleath, George’s brother,  was born in 1843 in Sydney, Shropshire and buried at St Editha’s. I took the photos in 1979 on my first trip to England, long before I got into searching my family history. Oh how I wish I would have asked those “oh so important questions” when I was there and my relatives were still alive.

My Great Grandfather Left his Mark….Claybrooke Parva, Leicestershire

8 Jun
Mark of John Perkins

Stable block in Claybrooke Parva, Leicestershire showing my Great Grandfather’s handiwork.

I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Etienne de Grellet
Quaker Missionary

This was an Email I sent to John Althouse, Editor of the Clandigger:

Just reading the May Clandigger published by the Edmonton Branch of the Alberta Genealogy Society and the article about the BRICK in the Wall. It reminded me of an email I had received some time ago from someone from my ancestral village…Claybrooke Magna/Parva in Leiecestershire, England. I had posted an enquiry on the Leicestershire Village Website re the Perkins Family.

Nicholas Jenkins references his stableblock (see picture 1891 ) with the name of my great grandfather…John Perkins.

Thought this might be an interesting follow up to your article. Didn’t know the format you required so I sent the entire email with pictures so you could judge for yourself.  Louise

Email from Nicholas Jenkins:

“Paul Smith, who is my neighbour, passed a copy of your email to me. 

I can’t tell from your email where you are located. From your note it would appear that you might be abroad. If so, are you in Canada? You will see why I ask the question later in my message.  I & my family have lived in Claybrooke Parva since November 1979. There was a chap who lived in Magna named Tom Perkins & I suspect he was the chap who Paul Smith spoke to. He was much involved with village life & I believe served for many years on the Claybrooke Magna Parish Council. He moved to Lutterworth in his latter years where, I presume he died. 

My home has a stable block that was erected in 1891 and the ironwork was made by J Perkins of Claybrooke Magna – see attached photo & note that the village had no ‘e’ on end. The number 1 under the crown indicates the quality of the iron as there were different qualities used for things like hinges to pots & pans etc. 1 is the lowest quality. I have a sheet on this somewhere but can’t find it. It would seem that this would have been John Perkins – see attached document. I have not studied the family tree but your photo would seem to be early 20th Century. This would make me think that the John Thomas shown would probably be son of the John who died in 1896. The Tom Perkins I knew – but only in passing – did tell me a bit of history when I showed him our stable block iron work.

 The info from Kelly’s Directory 1891 for the Claybrookes might be of interestKelly Directory p2

Tom Perkins told me that he was named after his uncle, the Claybrooke Magna Blacksmith. His uncle emigrated to Canada after WW1 (early to mid 1920s??) to make a better life for himself & family. Would our Tom have been named after John Thomas? Is John Thomas the man who emigrated & Tertius (3rd son?) would have gone too? Hence I ask if you are in Canada. Tom did tell me that the Perkins smithy also made most of the ironwork in the cemetery & around the churchyard. Sadly a lot of that was used for military purposes in WW2.

Note: My Grandparents and my dad, then 9 years old, emigrated to Canada in 1913. Don’t know who Tom was named after…perhaps it was his uncle John Thomas. 

 

Obituary for John Perkins…Village Blacksmith.  1896

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That’s about all I have. If you’ve contacted the Benfords then I would have thought they’d know something more on Perkins. The buildings you have in your 2011 photo are for sale at a very high asking price & planning permission for 4 homes. The agents are Wells McFarlane see attached.”  Regards..

The Village Smithy around late 1890’s and Main Street in Claybrooke  Magna

John Thomas Perkins Blacksmith

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Main Street Claybrooke Magna as it looks today. Property was up for sale on my last visit. 

 

 

Cu Chi Tunnels…. near Ho Chi Minh City….The Vietnam American War

17 Jan
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Intrepid Travelers…..Should I?

I had arrived in Saigon, or as they now call it, Ho Chi Minh City, on my tour of Cambodia and Vietnam. This was a dream trip for me. Growing up in the 60’s in North America, something was always happening in this period of rapid change. I was in High School when John. F Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963  and Lyndon Johnson was elected president of the United States in 1964. I was aware there was a war going on in Vietnam, but is seemed so far away, I didn’t give it much thought until the “Draft Dodgers” started arriving in Canada. I was in University at the time and realized that many of my profs and fellow students were newly  arrived young American males. Not everyone was a draft dodger, some had obtained deferments or exemptions.

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Picture in the Museum of the Revolution in Saigon

There had been some opposition to the draft in the USA prior to their involvement in Vietnam, but it was when the Baby Boomers, that well known group ( me included) born between 1946 and 1964,  became eligible for the draft, that there was a steep increase in these deferments and exemptions, especially for college and graduate students. For those that were not successful…..living in Canada was a possibility.

By the time I was able to afford to travel the world, the Vietnam War had been over for 40 years. For  most it was just part of history, but for me, it was the one war with which  I felt some connection…..so here I was in November 2015, hot, sweaty and almost dead from the heat and humidity I had experienced along the Mekong River, checking in to the Hyatt Hotel,

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A cold Beer!

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Hyatt Hotel Saigon

where all I wanted was a room where I could hole up in the cool. It was waiting for me and I didn’t care if I ever left. Well as you will know if you travel, this feeling passes quickly once you are revived with a local beer and a short rest. Thank goodness for Mini Bars, even if they cost a fortune! I was ready to take on SAIGON! I  discovered that our tour the next day would be to the Cu Chi Tunnels somewhere outside of Saigon and that it would take most of the day.

Now I had never heard of the Cu Chi Tunnels and didn’t have a clue as to where I was going or what I would be seeing. I did a bit of research on my laptop and discovered that these tunnels, 40 km north of Saigon near the village of Cu Chi and covering some 400 square km, had originally been  dug in the 1940’s when the Communist led Viet  Minh were fighting French Colonialism. When the Vietnam War, or as the Vietnamese refer to it…the American War, began in the 60’s, the Viet Cong dug more tunnels and linked them together from one village to another. This area, a Viet Kong stronghold, was heavily defended and used as a base for attacks on Saigon. When the Americans built their base at Cu Chi in 1966, they were unaware that just below them were hundreds of miles of tunnels that reached as far as Saigon. It is impressive to note that these tunnels were dug  by hand…..they used a simple tool and a basket to take out the dirt!

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Basket used to remove dirt when building the tunnel

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Generally done by children and younger adults

The 75 mile long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam and turned into a destination for tourists, as well as a memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Visitors are told about the tunnels with demonstrations by interpreters and  invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. These have been modified to allow larger people entry.

The tunnels contained living areas, storage depots, ordnance factories, hospitals, headquarters and a range of facilities than enabled people to live, and wage war from underground for years at a time.

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Building weapons using American leftovers

 

 

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Cooking and eating area

 

When United States and Australian troops began sweeps into the area they had no idea of the tunnels’ existence. Known as Operation Crimp (1966) and involving some 8,000 troops from the United States and Australia, this attempt to defeat the Viet Cong in the Cu Chi district was, to that date, the largest operation in Vietnam.

The Tet Offensive in January 1968 signaled the beginning of the end of the war. Although the communists suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Americans,  it had a profound effect on the US government and shocked the US public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the communists were being defeated and incapable of launching such a massive effort. What the World, saw thanks to Reporters,

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Saigon during the Tet Offensive   Cholon District

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Prize winning photo taken on the streets of Saigon during the Tet Offensive  “Saigon Execution” by (Eddie Adams)

 

 

Cameramen and Reporters in Saigon, was that the greatest power on earth had been humbled by the courage of the Vietnamese resistance. U.S. public support for the war declined and the U.S. sought negotiations to end the war. Nixon was elected president in November 1968 with his plan to end the war in Vietnam. It took him 5 years to do so.

 

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We arrived at the Cu Chi site and began our tour through the jungle. Don’t think it was  quite the same as during the war…..they now have paved paths, clean washrooms and a Refreshment and Souvenir area.

The brave, who could handle enclosed spaces in darkness and hot stale air, went down into the first 2 levels of the tunnels. The taller people had to crawl on the their knees..and these tunnels had been enlarged to accommodate westerners. Can you imagine what it would have been like to spend years in here along with the rats, ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions and spiders ?

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U.S. 25th Infantry division troops check the entrance to a Vietcong tunnel complex they discovered on a sweep northwest of their division headquarters at Cu Chi on Sept. 7, 1968 in Vietnam. (AP Photo)

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The tour pointed out the use of camouflage to hide the tunnel entrances.

 

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Using Leaves for camouflage

 

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The passages were usually about 5 feet in diameter, but in some places they were much narrower. Everyone was involved in building these tunnels…the young were the diggers, even children were involved in collecting leaves to cover the trap doors.

We saw various examples of Booby Traps that were used to maim or kill the enemy.

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Punji Bo0by Trap

They  were quite gruesome when you imagined someone impaled on such a device. IMG_20151109_104136IMG_20151109_104006 (1)IMG_20151109_104058 (1)

 

 

 

We returned to Saigon later that afternoon. I decided to see what else I could find on the internet related to the War here in Saigon. I came across the following article which gave me something to think about following my visit to Cu Chi.

In remembering Saigon, we forget why the US lost

Sholto Byrnes is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Malaysia.

This piece is from The National OPINION published in Abu Dhabi….March 31, 2015

Some of the most iconic images of the last half century, reproduced endlessly in films, were taken in Saigon 40 years ago at the end of this month.

Who is not familiar with the photographs of helicopters taking off from what was then the capital of South Vietnam in April 1975, as American personnel and thousands of desperate Vietnamese attempted to evacuate while the armies of the north broke into the city? It marked the end of the Vietnam War, a conflict that cost the lives of at least one million Vietnamese, with one estimate putting the figure at over three million.

Given the enormous loss of life, the well-documented atrocities by US forces and the long-term devastation caused by the massive use of Agent Orange to deprive the Viet Cong of forest cover, it is quite remarkable just how friendly relations are now between the US and Vietnam. Diplomatic relations were established in 1995, and a “comprehensive partnership” was launched in 2013.

It is a measure of how close the two countries have become that Vietnamese diplomats would rather the old enemy was a more forceful presence in the region. They are hoping Washington will check China’s seemingly inexorable advance across the South China Sea, much of which it claims as its own territorial waters.

Much as the amity is to be welcomed, the 40th anniversary of the war should also remind us of how misguided much of America’s pushback against Communism was, over many decades – and to what catastrophes it led.

Vietnam was one example. For the leaders of the north, the war with the Americans was a continuation of the anti-colonial struggle against their former masters, the French. Indeed, it was General Giap, the victor of the battle of Dien Bien Phu (which led to France surrendering and withdrawing), who was in command of North Vietnam’s armies against the Americans.

The latter, however, couldn’t see beyond “the red threat” and preferred to support a series of corrupt and chaotic military dictatorships in South Vietnam.

It is not as though they were unaware of the popularity of Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader, throughout the whole country.

As Dwight D Eisenhower, the US president, wrote in his memoirs: “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting [in 1954], possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader.” And that, apparently, could not be allowed.

It was a similar calculation that led the US to support the 1973 coup against Chile’s president, Salvador Allende. That was followed by 17 years of rule by a military junta headed by the late General Augusto Pinochet. Allende had been democratically elected, but America preferred a dictatorship that became a byword for repression – all because Allende was a Marxist.

The list of dictators the US supported in Latin America alone is too long to list here, but the policy of favouring anyone on the right over politicians deemed too friendly to Communist powers was applied around the world, and often with disastrous results.

It is quite possible, if not likely, for instance, that if General Lon Nol had not overthrown Cambodian ruler Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970 – a coup in which CIA involvement was alleged – Cambodia might well have been spared the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.

For it was this act that precipitated a civil war in which the US backed Lon Nol, but who eventually fled after Communist troops, initially aligned with Sihanouk, surrounded the capital in 1975.

Sihanouk had tried to steer a course between “American imperialism and Asian Communism”. It was America’s man, Lon Nol, “Who obliged me to choose”, he said.

Sihanouk’s middle way could have saved Cambodia from a genocide in which one-fifth of the population perished. But it wasn’t sufficiently anti-Communist for his replacement’s backers.

The Cold War is long over, of course. But this aspect of it is one that should be remembered as the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s end is marked.

What a wasteful, pointless conflict that was, and so at odds with America’s continued commitment to spreading freedom and democracy around the world.

For either freedom or democracy to mean anything, a people’s ability to choose a government of whatever political stripe they want is a basic requirement, even when that government is not to the taste of America.

But for too long it appeared that American rhetoric was undermined by its actions: stolen elections were ignored, and when they were free, it was more a case of “you can vote for whoever you like – so long as we approve”. Such impressions have not been forgotten in many of the countries affected, and still fill the wells of suspicion about America’s eagerness for forceful interventionism abroad.

Rarely can there be a clearer example of muddled US thinking over democracy than the 2006 Palestinian elections. Hamas won that contest by a considerable margin, only to be told by the Bush administration that it would not deal with the group. Hamas was subsequently declared a terrorist organisation by the US.

It is a lesson worth bearing in mind when images of the fall of Saigon resurface, whether in print, on television news or in the numerous Vietnam films. Ask yourself: why did those millions die? If it wasn’t for democracy, then for what?

 

Life-Magazine-Tet-Offensive (2)

 

 

 

 

Islington, London…..Then and Now….

14 Jul

DSCF7253 I first discovered Islington in 2010 when I went to London with the London Trippers, a group of diehard Family Historians, who think spending the day in the depths of the Archives is the only way to go. We were staying at Rosebery Hall, one of the Residences belonging to the London School of Economics. Many of the archives were within walking distance, which was why earlier groups recommended this as the place to stay.

London Metropolitan Archives

London Metropolitan Archives

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Room at Rosebery Hall

Also, even though it was not always clean and things didn’t always work, it was cheap and offered a Full English Breakfast and if you took a baggie, you would have enough food for lunch.

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Breakfast in the Cafeteria at Rosebery Hall

This spring was my 5th visit since 2010 and I think of the Hall as my London home away from home. The price was up to 45 Pounds a night, but it is still a steal in London. Until my visit in 2013, I wasn’t aware that Islington had been home to some of my Ancestors who, I thought, lived and died in Warwickshire. Since then I have learned otherwise…people MOVE…they have always MOVED and in 1776, they were no different. In 1965, the Borough of Islington was created by incorporating some of the old parishes where my Mason Family once lived. It now takes in Clerkenwell, St. Luke’s, Canonbury and Pentonville as well as others.

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St. Luke’s today

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St Luke’s Parish Church

If you begin your walk on Old Street, just a few steps from the SOG..Society of Genealogists, one of the other spots I hang out, you come across St. Luke’s Church. It has been decommissioned…and is used by the London Symphony Orchestra for their community and music education programs. In the late 1700’s,  Spencer and Martha Mason from Warwickshire had 10 children baptised there between 1777 and 1795.  The first was John,  christened in 1777 and the last Eliza, christened in 1795. The child that I have been able to trace is Daniel Spencer Mason, christened in 1793. Spencer Mason was a Baker, and as such was a member of the Mercer’s Guild. It was this organization that provided the funds for his youngest son, Daniel Spencer Mason, to attend St. Paul’s School.

Full text of “Admission registers of St. Paul’s school, from 1748 to 1876”……Daniel Spencer Mason, aged 11, son of the late Spencer M., baker, Old Street ….18o4] SCHOLARS OF ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL. 229

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Old Street today where Spencer Mason once had his bakery.

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Spencer Mason (1802) and his son Daniel Spencer Mason (1846) are buried here

Bunhill Fields Cemetery

Spencer died when Daniel was only 9.  He was  buried in the Bunhill Fields Cemetery on Dec 16, 1802…Piece 3989: Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road. Bunhill was in use as a burial ground from 1665 until 1854, by which date approximately 123,000 interments were estimated to have taken place. Over 2,000 monuments remain. It was particularly favoured by Nonconformists and contains the graves of such notables as John Bunyan, Daniel Dafoe, William Blake  and Isaac Watts. Just across the street is John Wesley’s Chapel.

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John Wesley’s Chapel

St Mary's church

Rebuilt St. Mary’s Church

Daniel Spencer Mason went on to become a Draper and had a shop at #107 Shoreditch High Street. According to the 1841 Census he had a house he shared with his sisters Mary Ann Finch (widow) and Ann Mason at New Norfolk Street not far from St. Mary’s Parish Church in Islington. This area was destroyed by bombs in WW2 and the house is no longer standing. Islington is mentioned in an early Anglo-Saxon charter and was originally named Giseldone, then Gislandune. The name means ‘Gisla’s hill’ from an old Saxon personal name Gisla and dun meaning ‘hill’. According to one early writer, it was a savage place, a forest “full of the lairs of wild beasts”, where bears and wild bulls roamed. On the edges of the forest was a pasture for hogs. In The Domesday Book of 1086 the name had mutated to Isendone, and then Iseldone, which remained in use until the 17th century when it was replaced by the modern form.

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Poster is in St. Mary’s Church

In the Middle Ages, most of the land belonged to religious institutions. After the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-1540), much of it was given to aristocratic families, often the friends of the Tudor monarchs. By the 17th century, Islington had grown from a hamlet into a village, spreading along Upper Street and Lower Road, which later became Essex Road; by the 18th century, the area had become became famous for its dairy herds, which supplied London with butter, cream and milk.

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Canonbury Square

London grew rapidly in the 19th century and brick terraced houses began to take over the agricultural land. Local farmers turned to manufacturing bricks and developing property. Canonbury Square  is an attractive square, developed between 1805 and 1830 and included a variety of distinct styles. In 1812, when few properties had been built, the New North Road turnpike, now known as Canonbury Road, was constructed and bisects the square. Many significant figures from the arts and literary worlds have lived on the square, including George Orwell (1944) and  Evelyn Waugh (1928). The Mason Family lived at New Norfolk Terrace, not from here.

Islington map

Mason House on Norfolk Street/New Norfolk Street near New North Road

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Finsbury Estate

With the advent of the railways came industrial development and corresponding social decline. Eventually, many big houses and once elegant squares fell into disrepair. For much of the 20th century, Islington was a poor, down-at-heel area. However, post-Second World War rebuilding and later gentrification improved both housing standards and the appearance of local streets. In recent decades, although some significant social problems remain, Islington has become a desirable residential area, as well as a place to head for leisure and entertainment. Run-down establishments have given way to smart restaurants, local theatres, galleries and shops, whilst new shopping centres have grown up at Angel and Nag’s Head. Properties now range in the 700,000 to 5.5 million pounds if they have been restored.

Finsbury Estate, one of a number of  large Public Housing Estates,  is next door to Rosebery Hall. When I first visited in 2010, I was kept up at night with noise made by the local teenage residents, gathered on the street corner under my window. Drug deals and fights went on all night. The area has been cleaned up in recent years with surveillance cameras and police patrols.  The development includes a library and the Islington Museum which opened in 2008 below the library.

Bob...The Street Cat who along with his owner James, Busked outside the Angel Station.

Bob…The Street Cat who along with his owner James, Busked outside the Angel Station.

Islington has had a host of noteworthy characters over the years. Bob and James, a man and his cat are only some of the latest. They became famous worldwide after their books “A Street Cat named Bob” and “The World  According to Bob” were published. Instead of keeping warm in Waterstone’s Book Store at the north end of Islington Green, they came to sign their books.  If you are not familiar with their story…it is one of love and how one stray cat helped a man who had spent 10 years on the London streets as an addict, begin a new life. James in  turn, had rescued Bob after he wandered into his flat, sick and worn.

The Sadler Wells Theatre is also a neighbour of Rosebery Hall. It is a performing arts venue and the 6th on the site since 1683. Patrons were gathered outside one April evening as I returned home, enjoying their drinks in the warm spring London weather. I laughed when I saw some patrons arriving on their bikes which they locked up against the lamp poles. This is not something that happens at such venues back home.

Exmouth Market with outside seating for nearly every pub and restaurant

Exmouth Market with outside seating for nearly every pub and restaurant

Not far from Rosebery Hall is Exmouth Market..a pedestrian friendly street with Shops, Cafes, Restaurants and Pubs. On a Friday night it gets very busy as the young people come out to celebrate the end of another work week.  My favorite Cafe is Cafe Nero at the end of the street. It is here I usually have my final coffee as I head to catch the #63 bus which will take me to Kings Cross to begin my long journey back to Canada. I keep the Coffee Card in my wallet as I know it will be only a matter of time before I am there once again. 2013-09-09 16.52.55

Leicester: The King in the Cathedral…Richard lll

28 May

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Five hundred and thirty years after he was hurriedly buried in the Grey Friars Priory, Richard III was buried with full honor and dignity on March 26, 2015.

When I heard about the discovery of his remains under the car park in Leicester back in 2012, and the subsequent decision to have him reburied in Leicester Cathedral, I knew I had to be present. After all, my ancestors were living in Claybrooke Magna in the late 1500’s, according to Parish Records. If they were there then, it is likely that they were there in 1485 when Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth…… and the battle field was only a mere 9 miles up the road. I thought, “were they aware of what was going on at the time?”

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My picture taken in 2010.

Also, like Philippa Langley, the woman who lead the Looking for Richard Project, I too felt a connection to the car park. While visiting Leicester back in 2010 and wandering the backstreets of Leicester late one afternoon, I came across a gated site with brick buildings and interesting chamber pots silhouetted against a darkening sky. The place had a haunted feel to it, so I took a picture.

It was the same site !

It was the same site……August 2012.

Two years past and it wasn’t until August 2012, when I heard about the discovery of the remains of Richard III in the Car Park, that I took a look at my old pictures. I had a feeling that it was the same site I had photographed…..it was!

Once the date of the Reburial was announced, I made my reservations so as not to be left out. I even entered the lottery for seats at the cathedral…some 600 were going to be made available to the public.  I wasn’t successful, but wasn’t too upset as they had 14,000 applications for the draw.

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Friars outside Leicester Cathedral

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Aitone Concert at Holy Cross Priory

I arrived in Leicester on March 23, checked into my hotel at 3:30PM and hurried off to the Cathedral for the 5:00PM Vespers Service that was to be sung by the Dominican Friars. Later that evening, I attended a concert at their church, the Holy Ghost Priory on the New Walk, to hear Aitone, a choir based in the east Midlands town of Long Eaton. They were formed in the autumn of 2005 with the goal of exposing new audiences to Early Music. They are a mixed a capella group singing a range of music from the 11th to the 18th centuries, including Anglo-Saxon chant, West Gallery psalmody, medieval English discant and Renaissance music. They were simply amazing, especially in that venue.

Next day was all about attending Workshops on “Writing About Richard and His Times” sponsored by  Leicester Adult Education Centre and the Leicester Public Library. Shakespeare has portrayed Richard III as the archetypal villain, while others see him as a much maligned monarch. What are the facts and how have they been presented? The Historical Novel Society brought together authors from differing perspectives. They included Alison Weir, renowned author of many factual and fiction books on the period; Joanna Hickson, broadcaster, author of Red Rose, White Rose and writer on the genesis of Tudor England; Toby Clements, author of Kingmaker and writer on the Wars of the Roses; and Jenny Barden, Tudor era author and creative writing tutor. The English love their history and can be very vocal when defending their point of view. I was afraid a war might break out at one point in the afternoon when a member of the audience took one of the panelists to task!

In the evening there was a lively discussion at Leicester Central Library: Richard III in Fact and Fiction – Who should we believe? chaired by the Richard III Society chairman, Dr Phil Stone and panelists David Baldwin, adviser to the Richard III Visitor Centre; Peter Hammond, historian, author of Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, broadcaster and historical novelist Joanna Hickson, and Toby Clements. Never knew the distinctions between History, Historical Non-Fiction and Historical Fiction. WOW…was I educated that night.

Dean Monteith and the Bishop of Leicester

Dean Monteith and the Bishop of Leicester

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My new Leicester friend, Diana (rear) watch the service on the Big Screen

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Philippa Langley and Dr. John Ashdown Hill

Thursday,March 26 was cold and wet. It did not deter hundreds of people from  coming out to line the streets around the cathedral and the 2 squares where BIG SCREENS had been set up. The Reburial Service took place in the cathedral before guests which included Sophie, Countess of Wessex, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Benedict Cumberbatch, religious leaders  and 200 members of the public. The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, presided over the service during which, The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said: “People have come in their thousands from around the world to this place of honour, not to judge or condemn but to stand humble and reverent.  From car park to cathedral…Today we come to give this King, and these mortal remains the dignity and honour denied to them in death.”

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Dr. Jo Appleby (Osteologist) and Dr. Turi King, (Genetic Analysis) from Leicester University

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Cumberbatch going for TV interview

I watched the arrivals of the guests outside the cathedral and then saw the service broadcast on the Big Screen in Jubilee Square.

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Church of st James the Greater

Later that evening the Richard III Society sponsored The Middleham Requiem by Geoff Davidson, a “dramatic cantata which tells the story of Richard’s life using a narrator, three vocal soloists depicting Richard, Queen Anne, and King Edward IV, two choirs (adults and children), a twenty-piece orchestral ensemble and pipe organ”. Performed in St James the Greater Church, it was an appropriate closing to a “one of a kind day in history”.

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Clergy Procession after the Service of Reveal

On Friday there was a Service of Reveal to bless the new tomb. It was a warm spring day in contrast to the cold, wind and rain the day prior. In the evening Leicester was aglow with fires and fireworks. Over 8,000 flames were lit around Jubilee Square and Cathedral Gardens, illuminating the area  with a trail of fire sculptures lighting the sky to mark the reinterment of King Richard III.

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Richard’s Horse

Fireworks were lit from the cathedral area to end the day.

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Jubilee Square and the Fire Pots

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Fireworks from the cathedral roof

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Leicester Cathedral lit up

Sunday was Palm Sunday and in the morning I had returned to St James Church for the morning service.

In the afternoon, I decided that as I was leaving the next day, I would walk down to the cathedral for the Evensong Service at 3:00.

Our Private Service with Richard III

Our Private Service with Richard III

Either the Luck of the Irish or my “Guardian Ancestors” were with me….I had no expectations other than to hear the Choristers. The church was closed to visitors until the next day and I knew that if I wanted to view the tomb, I would have to return early in the morning and line up with the crowd.

At the end, Dean Monteith, who had taken the services all week, invited the 20 of us to visit Richard’s Tomb!!! Even those that had INVITATIONS to the THREE SERVICES this past week, would not have had such a moment….something I won’t soon forget….an English Cathedral with the afternoon sun streaming through the stained glass windows, the choir with wonderful voices  and a Private Evensong Service with Richard !!! now buried in his tomb! Pete’s Blog last week made the following comment about the work of a cathedral “the special just highlights the importance of the ordinary” referencing the Richard III Reburial events of the past week and the ongoing work of a cathedral…well today was just an ordinary Sunday Service and I was just an ordinary person….but somehow the ordinary became very special….. Farewell Leicester….until next time!

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Banner with the Boar

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Handmade Pall

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Crown

 

   

                                               

Rest easy……Richard III……..The King in the     Cathedral!          DSCF7122                  

Upstairs and Downstairs at Claybrooke Hall, Claybrooke Parva, Leicestershire

13 Jan

claybrooke hall from the roadIt was the  advertisement on the internet that caught my eye………

“7 bedroom House for sale in Lutterworth  950000£……..Approached via a private gated driveway, this magnificent Georgian hall benefits from an abundance of period features. Claybrooke Hall is a magnificent Grade II listed hall and offers the opportunity to reside in a truly unique historic home, with the benefit of a central village location and an ample plot …  Claybrooke Hall was where my Grandmother Sarah Jane Sleath worked prior to her marriage to John Thomas Perkins in 1901.

The pictures showing the interior are wonderful….and I could see the Parlor where my grandmother worked as a Parlor Maid and the kitchen where her friend worked as a cook. Bet these rooms  didn’t look like that back in 1901.

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kitchen

Bedroom

And look at the gorgeous bedroom….a few too many flowers but all that could be changed.

Now 114 years since my Grandmother worked there, this Old Hall is once again up for sale. I would wager it has many stories to tell about the occupants, if only it could talk. Well it can’t, but perhaps I could fill in the few details I have discovered about the place.

Claybrooke Hall was built in 1718 by Thomas Byrd, a local landowner and Justice of the Peace and in 1765 it was sold to Cluer Dicey as a “gentleman’s house”. The conveyance of Claybrooke Hall and lands from George Byrd to Cluer Dicey is dated 11 Oct 1767…(From Humphry’s Family Tree Page).  When he died in 1775, his will described him as of “Little Claybrooke in the county of Leicester, Esq.” He also had two farms in Little Claybrooke and property in Stoke Newington, London.

“A George Fitzwilliam Hodgson also lived at Claybrooke Hall. He was a Lieutenant in the Queen’s regiment of Foot. He died Feb 1799 aged 45. He  married his wife Sarah Brotherton in Boston Lincolnshire in 1787 and had a number of children both there and at the Hall. A son Thomas Brotherton Hodgson born 12 Feb 1794 and christened at St. Peter’s Claybrooke Parva died in East Indies 1816 aged 22. I’ve not found anything on him & why he was in East Indies. Family tablet is in East wall of South aisle, the Lady Chapel, in church. St Mary’s Church in Withern Lincolnshire has a number of monuments to the Fitzwilliam and Hodgson families.  Information provided by Nicholas Jenkins….August 2015….

On the 1841 Census,  Thomas Edward and Anne Mary Dicey were living there with their 4 sons including  Albert Venn Dicey who was born 4 February 1835 at Claybrook Hall in Leicestershire, England. He was the third son of Thomas Edward Dicey, a leading journalist of his time, by his wife Anne Mary, younger daughter of James Stephen, master in chancery. Albert was a British jurist and constitutional theorist. He is most widely known as the author of An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885). The principles it expounds are considered part of the uncodified British Constitution.  He was a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford and became Vinerian Professor of Law and a leading constitutional scholar of his day. Dicey popularised the phrase “Rule of law”, although its use goes back to the 17th century.” (from Wikipedia)

On the 1861  Census,  Mary Douglas, wife of  H. Sholto Douglas, captain in Her Majesty’s 42nd Regimen and their 8 children were living in the Hall. The Captain was away on Military duties, however he obviously returned home frequently as he had 6 children born at the Hall between 1854 and 1859. At this time a number of Domestic Servants were required to keep things running….Butler, Groom, Cook, Kitchen Maid, Parlor Maid and 3 Nurses to care for all the young children.

On the 1881 Census, Mary Emily Simpson formerly of Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire and her sisters Emma and Louisa had taken over the hall. Mary had worked with her father , the Reverend Francis Simpson, to improve the lot of the farm lads of Boynton and Carnaby. She gave us an account of her labours in a book, “Ploughing and Sowing: or the Annals of an Evening School in a Yorkshire Village and the work that grew out of it- By a Clergyman’s Daughter”. According to her Obituary, she carried on her charitable work once she moved to Claybrooke Hall  where she opened a Convalescent Home in connection with the Leicester Infirmary. Her twin sister Emma, who was ill at the time of Mary’s death, died not long after. At this time, the Hall had 4 general Female Domestic Servants and a Cook. Louisa, the remaining sister continued to live in the Hall, and on the 1891 Census only the Housekeeper, Sarah Robinson and the Parlor Maid Bessie Tyres were listed. It is likely that Louisa was away visiting friends when the census took place.

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Louisa Simpson and her companion Charlotte Hillyer

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Sarah Jane on her Bicycle

My Grandmother Sarah Jane Sleath had taken up the position of Parlor Maid, by the time the 1901 Census was taken. Louisa had a companion Charlotte Hillyer and a full staff in residence. These included Bessie Tyres, now the nurse attendant, Sarah Haywood, a housemaid, Ethel Crisp, a kitchen maid, Janet Taylor, a nurse and Hetty Williams, the cook.

Bessie Tyres and Sarah Jane Sleath

In the late 19th Century, British families were in the world of “Upstairs Downstairs”. Each family either had a member that was in service or the household included at least one maid. By the end of the Victorian era, likely one third of all women had been a domestic worker at some point in their lives. In 1881, there were over 1.2 million females in Domestic Service and at least 50% were under the age of 20. Interesting to note that when my Grandmother was at the Hall, the younger Housemaid and Kitchen Maid were from the local area, whereas the nurse, nurse attendant and the parlor maid were from neighbouring counties. It would be interesting to discover how they came to be employed at the Hall. Had they responded to an advertisement, attended a Hiring Fair or heard of the vacancy from a friend or other relative? Claybrooke Hall was no Downton Abbey, but likely the same things occurred just on a smaller scale. These young women may have been kept busy with all the household chores, but they must have had the odd day off…how else were they to meet prospective husbands. Sarah Jane may have met John Thomas Perkins, the village Blacksmith, when he came to the Hall to carry out some work. Tradespeople and craftsmen would have used the back door and it would have been answered by one of the maids who would have supervised them in their duties.

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J Perkins Claybrook his handiwork as Village Blacksmith

The following is an extract from correspondence between myself and a resident of Claybrooke Parva today. It provides some light on the duties of a Blacksmith.  Mr. Jenkins wrote “My home has a stable block that was erected in 1891 and the ironwork was made by J Perkins of Claybrooke Magna – see attached photo & note that the village had no ‘e’ on end. The number 1 under the crown indicates the quality of the iron as there were different qualities used for things like hinges to pots & pans etc. 1 is the lowest quality. I have a sheet on this somewhere but can’t find it. It would seem that this would have been John Perkins.  I have not studied the family tree but your photo would seem to be early 20th Century. This would make me think that the John Thomas shown would probably be son of the John who died in 1896. The Tom Perkins I knew – but only in passing – did tell me a bit of history when I showed him our stable block iron work.

Tom Perkins told me that he was named after his uncle, the Claybrooke Magna Blacksmith. His uncle emigrated to Canada  to make a better life for himself & family. Would our Tom have been named after John Thomas?(Possibly) Is John Thomas the man who emigrated & Tertius (3rd son?) would have gone too? Yes along with his wife Sarah Jane Sleath) Hence I ask if you are in Canada. Tom did tell me that the Perkins smithy also made most of the ironwork in the cemetery & around the churchyard. Sadly a lot of that was used for military purposes in WW2.”

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Fanny Haywood Cook, (black belt) Sarah Haywood Maid (back row) with their husbands and mother Emma.

Fanny Haywood, a friend of Sarah Jane,  must have gone to Claybrooke Hall just after the 1891 census. Her descendant Ann who now lives in Wales, has several books inscribed by her dated that year (1891) when she was still at Great Longstone,  Derbyshire as Cook for Captain Legge the Chief Constable of Derbyshire.  She wrote “Fanny downgraded going to Claybrooke to be nearer home when her mother became ill and after Fanny married, her mother lived permanently at Ullesthorpe”.

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Nellie Benford, niece of John Thomas Perkins, Sarah Jane Sleath, Bessie Tyres on Wedding Day May 5, 1901.

Sarah Jane left the Hall when she married John Thomas Perkins at St. Peter’s Church on May 5, 1901. That was, as I said earlier,  114 years ago.

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St. Peter’s Church at Claybrooke Parva LEI

The hall has had other residents since then, but as yet I haven’t done any research to determine who they were. If anyone has information, I would be delighted to hear from you and add your story to mine. I also hope that the information in my Blog is correct, but if anyone notes errors, again, please let me know so the story can be amended. Also a reminder to those doing their own family history, also fully check the Census to see who lives with or near by to your ancestor. Often relatives live nearby or a widowed parent moves in with a married daughter or a relative isn’t where you think they should be but may be listed as a Visitor at another relatives place. Often over time, you find young people marrying others who live down the road.

It is amazing who you are able to locate in the manner. I did research for someone and it turned out that the ancestors they were looking for had once been neighbours. She was the daughter of the grocer and he was the married man living next door with his wife and family and for whom she did housework. Turns out she became pregnant, he left his family and they emigrated to Canada from England where they established a complete new family. Lost all contact with their English families!

Claybrooke Hall

Nathaniel Mason’s Will: Grasier of Withybrook, Warwickshire

1 Jan

Nathaniel's will

 

It begins….”I Nathaniel Mason of Withybrook in the County of Warwick Grasior being of sound and perfect mind memory and understanding God be praised to make and ordain this to be my last will and testament in manner and form following and first and principally command my soul in the hands of God Almighty and my body I commit to the earth to be reverently buryed  at the discretion of my executor herein after named and as for and concerning such worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bestow upon me I give and dispose as followeth”

WOW…didn’t know that there was no punctuation in those days and that it would go on for three pages in a script and wording  with which I was not all that familiar. It soon became clear that Nathaniel had died childless and that his brother JOHN MASON and his brother-in-law JOHN BLOCKLEY, husband to his sister ELIZABETH,  would be his executors and that JOHN MASON would get the largest part of the estate. Guess this is why the John’s in my direct line farmed the land in Withybrook. John Mason born in 1748 is my 3X Great Grandfather and it is his daughter Ann Mason that marries into the Perkins Family.

John Perkins…Grandson of John Mason, Son of Ann Mason

 

Why would I want to spend so much time on the will of someone who died almost 300 years ago? The answer is “I’m  crazy..well yes… but I am also curious and a Family Historian” and this Will gives me a great deal of information about my Mason family. They appear to have lived in Warwickshire for a very long time…..Sarah,  daughter of Thomas Mason was born March 4, 1653 in Withybrook and a Thomas Mason was buried there in the church cemetery age 91 in 1691… meaning he was born around 1600. Good possibility that he was the father of Thomas Jr. who was born in 1633…..so there we are, almost 400 years on the farm, so to speak. This information is found in the online scanned Parish Church Records….no more transcriptions with their many errors. I can turn the pages and see the names for myself!

 

 

Farm at Withybrook, Warwickashire

Farm at Withybrook, Warwickshire some 8 miles from Coventry

Right at the start, I had to access a dictionary. What is a Grasior or Grasier?….my guess would be farmer of some sort. Oxford says ” someone who feeds cattle for market or a large scale sheep or cattle farmer”.  After the preliminaries of the will, Nathaniel begins his bequests. He takes care of his wife Elizabeth for the remainder of her life by a trust  of 240 pounds managed by the TWO JOHN’s. He gives her “my BED in the parlor with all the bedding thereunto belonging in my chest standing at the said bed foot all my linen except for what is used with my other beds all my pewter which was my wife’s at the time of our marriage.” Nice of him to return it to her.

He then goes on to make specific monetary bequests to his siblings, kinsmen, kinswomen and nieces and nephews.  “How I give and bequeath unto my nephew JOHN MASON, son of my said brother John  Mason the sum of 100£ . To my nieces ELIZABETH DALTON and SARAH MASON daughters of my said brother John Mason and to each of them 40£ apiece. To MARY MASON another daughter of my said brother John Mason” …..and so on and so on as the money is doled out. Hard to equate the value of this money in today’s terms, but I would guess that he was a reasonably wealthy gentleman. (In 1720 an ounce of gold in London cost about £4.31  and today it costs £768 and a midling type of family could live on 40 to 60 pounds a year.)

He takes care of John’s younger children.. “How I give to my nephew DANIEL MASON another of the sons of my said brother John Mason the sum of 10£ to be paid at age 13 in order to put him into an apprenticeship.”  Apprenticeships were commonly arranged for the younger children in large families so they would be able to earn a living.

Next he disposes of  his possessions many of which go to his nieces “. How I give and bequeath to my niece ELIZABETH DALTON my bed in the chamber over the hall with all the bedding thereunto belonging and my best brass pot. How I give unto my niece SARAH MASON my bed standing at the stair head with all the bedding thereunto belonging. How I give to my niece MARY MASON my great table with the joynt stools thereto belonging. And the other chest in my said parlor and also my best cupboard in the said hall.

The next part of his will is very useful as it names men that his kinswomen married, where they lived and what they did…..a big help in family history research. “How I give to my nephew JOHN BLOCKLEY son of  SISTER BLOCKLEY the sum of 100£ and to my niece ELIZABETH daughter of SISTER BLOCKLEY 40£ and to MARY BLOCKLEY daughter of  SISTER BLOCKLEY 20£. How I give to my kinswomen ELIZABETH AND MARY ROBINSON daughters of LUKE ROBINSON of ANSTEY in the CITY OF COVENTRY GRASIER and to each the sum of 20£ at the ages of 21 years. So this clues me in to the fact that the  Robinson’s and the Blockley’s are extended family and I know where they are living in Warwickshire relative to where Nathaniel was living in Withybrook. Since land is passed only to the eldest son, it is important to determine what happened to the rest of the sons and daughters. These women are likely his cousins/aunts which mean I have more help to trace backwards to the common ancestors…Thomas Jr (1633) and/or Thomas Sr. (1600).

This item I found interesting “How I give unto Mr. almighty SMITH of Leire in the county of Leicester and Mr. THOMAS SMITH his brother each of them 5£.” I wonder what his relationship was with the 2 brothers? Perhaps they had done him wrong in some business transaction….I don’t believe almighty is a christian name…but rather in the vain of “so who does he think he is”.

In a codicil to the will he makes some changes….How I make and appoint my Kinsman JOHN MASON of Rynton aforesaid YEOMAN Sole Executor of this my last will and testament and do give unto him all the rest of my GOODS CHATTELS and PERSONAL ESTATE…..a very lucky man I would say as he always would be reasonably well off.  The  Concise Oxford Dictionary  states that a yeoman was “a person qualified by possessing free land of 40/- (shillings) annual [feudal] value, and who can serve on juries and vote for a Knight of the Shire. He is sometimes described as a small landowner, a farmer of the middle classes.”  Owning land was the main form of wealth in the 18th century. Political power and influence was in the hands of rich landowners. At the top were the nobility. Below them were a class of nearly rich landowners called the gentry. In the early 18th century there was another class of landowners called yeomen between the rich and the poor.

So..there you have it…the information that can be gleaned from a Will. The class system was alive and well in England but it would appear that this part of my family was doing OK!

Reburying of a King Found in a Car Park! Richard lll

12 Sep
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King Richard III

The remains of Richard III will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral on March 26, 2015. Now why would I be interested in such an event? The story begins in 2010, when I first visited Leicester. The London Trippers, part of the England/Wales Group at the Alberta Genealogy Society, had spent 2 weeks in London researching their ancestors in  various archives. Following that, everyone went their separate ways and I decided to visit Leicestershire, home to my Perkins/Benford ancestors.    

 

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My home away from home in the Belmont Hotel. Made The Bar my office.

I wanted to visit Claybrooke Magna, a small village 12 miles from Leicester on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border, where my Dad had been born in 1904. His father and grandfather had been the Village Blacksmiths since 1860. The Benford branch of my family had been the Village Carpenters for an even longer period of time.  I made the Belmont Hotel in Leicester my home base and would often head out along the New Walk, a delightful pedestrian walkway which took me to the city centre, where I  would  take photos. 

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My picture taken in 2010 of the Car Park where Richard was discovered behind the wall on the right.

One day, late in the afternoon, as I was heading home, I came upon a property with an iron fence and gate and behind it some Brick Buildings  with chimney pots and a long Brick Wall which made a great picture against the darkening sky. This was one of hundreds of photos I took on the trip, and I never gave it another thought until August 2012  when I learned that the  remains of King Richard III had been discovered in a car park in Leicester. 

Richard III Dig: Bones Found Under Leicestershire Car Park

Richard III: ‘When I saw the skull, the hair on the back of my neck stood up’

As archaeologists leave the Leicester site where they believe they have found royal remains, locals are already convinced………

Richard III car park

Trench 1 was dug on the other side of the wall and that is where Richard’s remains were eventually discovered. (From The Guardian Newspaper Sept 23, 2012)

I  thought, “Could this be  in the same area that I had taken the photo 2 years earlier. The place looks familiar.” I got out my pictures and sure enough it was the very same site.    I joked with friends that the archaelogists should have asked me as I knew where Richard was…. I had taken that picture in 2010 because Richard III had been trying to  get someone’s attention to have him removed from the car park site to somewhere more befitting a grave for a king.

It was the same site !

It was the same site ! The wall behind which he was discovered has been taken down.

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Greyfriars Friary

The actual search began on August 25, 2012, the 527th Anniversary of his burial. In  2010, Dr. Ashbrown-Hill had published compelling evidence building on the work of David Baldwin, that Richard was buried in the choir of the Greyfriars and his remains had not been disturbed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He also traced Richard’s family tree to the Ibsen family, descendents of Richard’s sister. Their mitochondrial DNA sequence could be helpful in proving the remains were Richard’s if they were ever located. Phillipa Langley had approached the Leicester City Council with a proposal that part of the Car Park where part of Alderman Herrick’s garden and the Greyfriars Friary had stood, be investigated. A team of archaeologists undertook an assessment of the site and developed an excavation strategy. The dig was eventually funded by the City Council, The University of Leicester and the The Richard III Society. By a strange quirk of fate, the bones that were discovered on the first day of the dig in the first trench dug, ultimately turned out to be those of Richard III.

Richard III reigned for only two years and two months…1482 – 1485. He was born during the reign of King Henry VI and his childhood was lived during the War of the Roses. Richard’s first recorded visit to Leicester was on May 10, 1464 at the age of 11. He was also in Leicester on a Post Coronation Progress and stayed at the castle from August 17-20, 1483. On August 7, 1485 Richard learned that Henry Tudor had landed in Wales and intended to claim the throne. Richard sent out letters to his followers ordering them to gather at Nottingham and Leicester. On August 20, 1485 rode into Leicester for the final time. He stayed overnight at the White (Blue) Boar Inn and the following morning rode out over the old Bow Bridge. He was on his way to fight in what would become known as the Battle of Bosworth. During a gallant fight, he was killed in battle and his body was brought back to Leicester over the same bridge he had crossed that morning. He was 32 years old. His body was eventually buried in the Greyfriars Friary, a site that runs parallel to St. Martin’s Cathedral. His remains were to languish in this grave till August 2012. He was 32 years old.

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Greyfriars with St. Martin’s in top left corner

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Richard’s remains were found in Trench 1 beside the wall

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I took my photo from the iron fence on the street looking towards the wall.

King Richard III to remain in Leicester

May 23, 2014

 Follow Dean Monteith’s Blog on the St. Martin’s website.

A statement from The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral:

“The delays are over.  The law is clear and unequivocally set forth in today’s judgement.  Richard III fought here, fell here, died here, has lain here and was rediscovered here.  He will now be finally led to rest with the prayers of God’s people in a manner fitting to his story and with dignity as befits a child of God and an anointed King of England. This historic place marked the end of one dynasty and the start of the next.

This community, which has changed so much since then, then symbolises the best of modern Britain – respectful of the past, diverse in character and generous in welcome.  Our community are humbled to be entrusted with this next task on behalf of the people of England as the eyes of the world watch on.

Everyone now knows about the ‘King in the Car Park’, championed by the Looking for Richard project and achieved with the partnership of the City of Leicester and the expertise of the University of Leicester.”

Richard’s remains will be buried in St Martin’s Cathedral March 24, 2015.   At present there is a Memorial Stone to Richard. This will be removed and a new tombstone created.

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St. Martin’s Cathedral showing Choir and Altar.

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Memorial to Richard in front of Altar.

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Plans for the new memorial.

David Monteith’s Blog continued…

“We now will continue to work together to complete the task in Spring 2015. The past weeks of waiting have been trying for all our staff and volunteers and this entire process has been costly financially and emotionally.  But I want to say to everyone, whatever viewpoint you take that everyone is welcome here.  Bosworth was a bitter battle with different branches of the same family at war.  Five hundred years on we can learn a little and my prayer is that we might travel now together to finally lay King Richard to rest. The final paragraph of the ruling summed up: ‘Since Richard III’s exhumation on 5 September 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt.  Issues relating to his life and death and place of re-interment have been exhaustively examined and debated.”

The Very Reverend David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, has explained the considerable efforts and expenditure invested by the Cathedral in order to create a lasting burial place “as befits an anointed King”.  “We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.”

Recent announcements indicate that The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster (Roman Catholic) and The Archbishop of Canterbury (Church of England) will both be taking part in services in Leicester Cathedral to mark the reinterment of King Richard III. Remember there was no Church of England in the time of Richard III. It hadn’t yet come into being, so Richard would have been a devout Catholic.

Both Dioceses are working together with other stakeholders to organise various acts of worship during the week in which Richard III’s mortal remains will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral. 

  • On Sunday March 22 the remains of Richard III will be received into Leicester Cathedral. 
  • On Monday March 23, Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) of Richard III in Holy Cross Church. 
  • On Thursday March 26, the mortal remains of Richard III will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • On Friday March 27, invited people from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.
  • In addition, the Cathedral will be open for people to visit, to pay their respects and to pray from 23-25th March, and from Saturday 28th March the area around Richard III’s tomb will be open to the public.

 It is not only Richard who has a connection to Leicester. In 1913, it was from here that John Thomas and Sarah Perkins, my grandparents and Tertius Perkins, my father, left for Liverpool and ultimately their new home in Canada. They had been living in the city for several years since leaving Claybrooke Village.    See the 1911 Census Form completed by my Grandfather.

Perkins 1911 England census

The 1911 Census Form completed by my Grandfather.

Leicester Train Station

Leicester Train Station

 My roots go deep in the English soil. I have discovered Perkins, Benford, Mason and Sleath names in the Parish Records of Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire going back to the late 1500’s.  My immediate family was from Claybrooke Magna, LEI and Withybrook, War, while my Benford family, was at one point in time in Leicester.…perhaps some of them were actually there when Richard was buried.

I have a Burial Record from Ancestry…Scanned Parish Records from Withybrook Church showing that Thomas Mason would have been born around 1600, 115 years after Richard’s Burial. Thomas’ Great Great Grandfather could then  have been alive during Richard’s Reign. Gives one something to think about!

Thomas Mason
Death Age: 90
Birth Date: abt 1601
Burial Date: 13 Jan 1691
Burial Place: Withybrook, Warwickshire, England
Father: Mason
Mother: Mason

John Mason
Death Age: 85
Birth Date: abt 1656
Burial Date: 15 Dec 1741
Burial Place: Withybrook, Warwickshire, England
Father: Mason
Mother: Mason

My plan is to be in Leicester in March 2015 for the Reinternment of the Remains of Richard III. I may not have a seat in the cathedral, but I will certainly be outside! Perhaps some spirits from the past will be there with me!

UPDATE: March 18, 2015

Only 4 days and I will be flying over to London and then on to Leicester for the Reburial Activities. It is a solemn occasion indeed, as is any burial, or in this case a reburial of remains. That does not mean that there can’t be any celebrations…..life is for the living and they are the ones left to remember and celebrate the life of the one who has died. This can be done with words, pictures and music and in this instance FIREWORKS from the Cathedral roof. Let us all remember this King who ruled for such a short time and died too young. Let us try for greater understanding of him and his accomplishments…..a man of the late Middle Ages.

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