Life on the Frontier…Prince George, British Columbia……1902’s

16 Mar

Prince George, BC …..1921


Canada Arrivals Form 1921…Agnes MacMillan

She arrived in Canada June 13, 1921 at Quebec City aboard the Empress of France after a 6 day Transatlantic Crossing.  The family was then routed across the country on the Canadian Pacific /Grand Trunk Railway to Prince George, BC. This would likely have taken a week or more of train travel from the east to west coast of the country…a distance of 5500 km. Agnes MacMillan was only 12 years old and was on her third continent in as many years.

Growth of Prince George…

“The Nechako and Fraser rivers were the main transportation routes through the early 1900s. Sternwheelers paddled the rivers, transporting people and goods from place to place. Fort George and the newly developing town of South Fort George boomed in 1909 as forestry became the main industry and sawmills were built.

When the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway arrived in 1913, the Nechako and Fraser River junction became the new town center and was named Prince George. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company chose the name, though it is unclear why Prince George was selected. Three reasons have been suggested: that it was named after King George III; that it would distinguish it from other similarly named nearby towns of Fort George and South Fort George; or that it was actually named for Prince George, the youngest brother of King George VI.

With the onset of the World War I in 1914, the local economy was devastated as many local men enlisted and the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was halted, creating a massive drop in population, a problem that was exacerbated by the ensuing Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Prince George persevered through the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s and did not experience any significant growth until World War II when an army camp was built at the foot of Cranbrook Hill, bringing new life to the struggling businesses and service industries.”   From Prince George Wikipedia

Agnes was likely registered in the local school upon arrival in Prince George. In the online newspaper collection for the Prince George Citizen…I found my mom listed in the school grades which were posted in the paper.

Prince George Citizen Building Prince George 1921

In the December 1921 edition my mom was in Division 2 and had an average of 57%.  This would have been her first year of school in PG. Looks like the school would have additional classrooms for the new term in January 1922. By June she was still at the bottom of the class but had been promoted. 

Certificate of Proficiency …June 1923

By 1923 she was on the Roll of Honor. Her teacher was Olga Shields.

My mom must have had a job as a Mother’s Helper because there are a number of pictures of her with a family. One photo says “From Bayley” and is of the youngest child. Thesed pictures taken over several years show my mom at different ages.





Mom and her charges..possibly the McInnes Family ( a name on the back of a picture)

1921 directory

1923 Directory

I also checked the BC Directories and found that in 1921 Stephen Presence was listed. This was the friend the Bates family listed on the Port of Entry form. He was working for the CNR as a station fireman, the same thing Fred Bates would do when he arrived later in 1921.

My mom had several boyfriends according to pictures in her album. Looks like she had her coat draped over her arm in the first picture……couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Then I saw the next picture..1489593546385-39c99f8c-f21c-484d-b417-ec8faf0ce713

Is that a coat on her arm?

Mr. WHO?


1489593744856-ddd60aa5-74e3-470d-95f5-e67579e4ae2c (1)

Her Friends?


Bathing Beauty


Main Street

1488663983496-f71c3796-4c6d-439a-83f1-82c3c6ec53f7 (1)

What was the occasion for the Roses?

She seemed to have had a carefree life in Prince George as a teenager. ….Interesting I could find no pictures of her with Fred and Daisy. She was also in Edmonton by 1928  when she would have been just 20…possibly even earlier as I think she may have gone to Westmount School for awhile. Why no family pictures…..?

 Chilean Lassie…..The Early Years!…Coquimbo, Chile

10 Mar

One determined young lady…Agnes Irvine MacMillan

She was playing in the garden and her mother told her not to stick her fingers in the parrot’s cage…which, of course, is precisely what she did…..and, of course, she was bitten. This is one of the few stories I can recall my Mom telling me when I asked her about her life in Coquimbo. I had no idea where this place was, but I knew it was a long ways away.

Like many others before me, I now regret not asking her more questions….but realistically, how many of us do this in a timely fashion. When we finally take an interest in our ancestors, it is too late. Those who had the answers are gone and we are left to piece the individual’s story together from whatever bits and pieces we can cobble together.

Knowing that my Mom had been born in Coquimbo, Chile ….I was fascinated with her EXOTIC ORIGIN. Her Father, Thomas MacMillan, was a Scot who had left Glasgow and somehow ended up in South America. Her Mother, I thought her name was Juana Rojas,  was supposedly a Spanish woman. I never saw a picture of her as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a fire at some point in time, or so the story goes.

Thomas MacMillan..his portrait hangs in my living room

I knew that Thomas MacMillan had died in Coquimbo and the family ended up in Kent, England where my mom went to school in Maidstone/Chatham. Her brother David had gone there to fight in WW1 and was now responsible for the  family. Sometime later she came to Canada  with her sister and Canadian brother-in-law and wound up in Prince George, BC.  Several years later she came to Edmonton and went to school at Westmount. She also worked as a Nannie for the Tommy Dykes Family. In 1928, as a 20 year old young woman, she enrolled in the Nursing School at the Misericordia Hospital. It was here in 1938 that she met my Dad and the rest is history.

These are the simple facts that  tell how my mom made her journey from Chile to to England to Canada, met my Dad and had her children. Seemed to me there was more of a story to be told to fill in all the aspects of the life of this amazing woman…Agnes Irvine MacMillan Perkins. And so…I began to dig in the old steamer truck and unearthed the pictures.

Inastroza siste I’mrs

Postcard from The Inastroza Sisters to my Aunt Daisy 1929

I found a photo of 2 ladies and a post card sent to Daisy, my Mom’s sister. I remembered her talking about the Inastroza Family and the 2 daughters. I checked Family Search and found a number of Baptisms at the Cathedral in La Serena for a number of Inastroza babies in the 1890’s….obviously a local family. The postcard dated 1929 was sent when Daisy would have been living in Prince George. The picture was of the Plaza de Armas in Coquimbo.

Then there was a baby picture of my mom…she would only be a few months old. (1908) Because she was an afterthought….her siblings were 18 (Daisy) and 23 (David)….they were just more adults in the household. What was it like growing up in that adult world? This also raises a question….could she have beeen the illegitimate daughter of her sister Daisy? My grandmother would have been around 53 when my mom was born and not impossible…. but…… I will never know.


Agnes as a baby….4 months (1908)


Coquimbo as it looked when my Mom was born…was her house up there on the hill…somewhere?

I would imagine that around age 6, Mom went off to school. Was this a British School? I do remember that she said she spoke Spanish, but as an adult she had lost most of it.


“After the Port of Valparaíso opened to free trade in 1811, the English began to congregate in Valparaíso. The first to arrive brought with them tools, articles of china, wool and cotton, with instructions to return with copper and hemp. This was the first exchange of what would become a deep-rooted commercial relationship between Great Britain and Chile. In Valparaíso the English established their largest and most important settlement, creating neighborhoods characterized by British schools, social and sports clubs, business organizations, and periodicals. Even today British influence is apparent in such institutions as banks and the national navy, as well as in certain social activities, such as football (soccer), horse racing, and the widespread consumption of tea.” Wilkpedia

This was a skipping song she taught me...
"Arroz con leche quiero
casarme con esta niña mi casa yo" and meant
 "Rice with milk I want to get married
 with this little house and me" 
Funny what sticks from all those years ago.


Coquimbo….Location of Pampilla today


Chile’s Independence Day in September….Pampilla


Mom is the middle of the three girls bottom left


Agnes…..age 10….before leaving for England

Thomas MacMillan had died, and when WW1 was over, the family joined her brother David who had gone to England to fight in the war.

They sailed aboard the Oriana (Pacific Steam Navigation Co.) from





Valpariso, through the Panama Canal and arrived in Liverpool, England 27 May 1919.

Found the Passenger lists on Ancestry…

Notice Juana, my Grandmother , is now Jane.

Bedford Place at Rocky Hill, Maidstone as it is today.

I know very little of her time in Maidstone and Chatham. I visited there in 1979 on my first trip to England. Didn’t have much time and there was little to see on a day trip from London. Upon arrival they gave Bedford Place, Rocky Hill, Maidstone as their address. I would assume that was where her brother David was living with his wife Miriam.

Marriage Certificate for David and Miriam..Their father’s Thomas MacMillan and George Thomas Evernden were deceased. Witnesses..GT Evernden and William C Cormwell…?  Daivid was living at The Barrack’s Maidstone..Miriam at 1 Bedford Place.

I discovered pictures of her brother David and sister Daisy, her father Thomas..but none of her mother.

David Taylor MacMillan

David married Miriam Emily Everden at St. Peter’s Church in Maidstone on September 14, 1918.

St. Peter’s Maidstone, Kent

David Taylor MacMillan circa 1917…Maidstone Kent, England

GoogleEarth_Image (3)

1 Bedford Place Maidstone Kent

My grandmother, Juana/Jean MacMillan died in 1920 age 65 making her birthdate c. 1855. She died in Chatham at 37 Church Street, age 65, of Heart failure. Her daughter Daisy MacMillan was in attendance. Listed as widow of Thomas MacMillan, Marine Engineer.

Daisy MacMillan married Frederick Charles Bates on April 17, 1921 at St. John the Divine in Chatham. Georgina Bates was a witness….mother of Fred and a widow.


Cooking Class in Maidstone School

White door is #27 Rochester Street Chatham, Kent, UK

This early chapter in my mother’s life ended on June 8, 1921 when she sailed from Liverpool aboard the Empress of France to her new life in Canada. Her Father had died in Chile in 1917, her mother had died in England in 1920 and so, she was accompanying her sister Daisy and Daisy’s new husband, Fred Bates to Canada.

What was she thinking as she stood on the deck watching the coastline of Liverpool, England fade away. This was the second time in only 2 years that she had watched the Place she called Home disappear on the horizon. She was only 12 years of age! an ocean away….another county, another place to call HOME!


Stay tuned for Chapter 2….Life on the Canadian Frontier!

Thomas MacMillan….A Glasgow Lad goes to Sea… and ends up in Valpariso and Coquimbo, Chile

22 Feb

Thomas MacMillan


His picture has hung in my living room for over 40 years. I always thought he had a kind face. I know very little about about him except the few details I remember being told by my mother when I was a child. He was Thomas MacMillan, my mother’s father.

It is Family Day Weekend here in Alberta, so what better time to try and discover something about this man…. my Grandfather. I knew he worked the boats along the coast of South America. My mother and her siblings had been born there…David and Daisy in Callao, Peru and my mom, Agnes, in Coquimbo, Chile. He was supposedly born in Glasgow, Scotland, but how he got to South America and married a local woman…well who knows!

When I was looking at old pictures in a Steamer Trunk in the basement, I had  come across a picture of him on a ship…I assumed this was one of the Coastal Steamers he worked on  up and down the coast of South America.


I knew he had died in Coquimbo prior to my in in mom, her mother and sister Daisy going to England to join her brother David, who had been there to fight in WW1.   I believe she said he had been kicked in the head by a horse and died as a result of the injury.

So where does one start in a search for someone on whom you have almost no information, including a Birth date. Fortunately I have a Genealogy Family…those are the folks that have an addiction to Family History….their own and that of others…and who are willling to help out others. Joyce Willard and Lynn Fogwill are two such people. They gave me hints on how and where to search in Scottish Records. Lynn, having Seafaring Ancestors, gave me great clues as to the hierachy on a ship, apprenticeships and the Maritime Archives at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

So I began my latest quest with that infomation in mind. Apprenticeships…..many of my Paternal Ancestors has apprenticed as Carpernters and Bakers….but an Apprenticeship for someone going to sea…?

About UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910 (From Ancestry)

This collection contains lists of young men who were indentured to merchant navy ships between the years 1824 and 1910. They include details such as name, age and date at registration or indenture, vessel, port of registry, and birth year and place.

Historical Background

The National Archives describes the legislation that brought these records about:

Under the Merchant Seamen, etc, Act 1823 (4 Geo IV c 25) Masters of British merchant ships of 80 tons and over were required to carry a given number of indentured apprentices. These had to be duly enrolled with the local Customs Officer. These provisions were extended by the Merchant Seamen Act 1835 (5 & 6 Wm IV c 19) which provided for the registration of these indentures. In London they were registered with the General Register and Record Office of Seamen and in other ports with the Customs officers who were required to submit quarterly lists to the Registrar General. In 1844 it was provided for copies of the indentures to be sent to the Registrar General, and although compulsory apprenticeship was abolished in 1849 the system of registration was maintained. Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (57 & 58 Vict c 60) a parallel arrangement was introduced for apprentices on fishing boats.



Apprentice’s Indenture Record for Thomas MacMillan 1864

The Ancestry Site is publishing amazing records these days and I was able to locate a record of Indenture for Thomas MacMillan. Not 100% sure this is my Thomas, but for now this is a search in progress.  The age would line up with what I think would be his birth date.

The records indicates that Thomas was 15 years of age when he was Indentured on October 7, 1864 for 6 years to Jonathan Starling out of Grimsby, aboard the Wanderer #15888.  Interesting that I call my blog A Genealogist goes WANDERING….perhaps it is in the GENES and we are both WANDERERS!

Grimsby  is a large town and seaport in Lincolnshire England, on the South Bank of the Humber Estuary close to where it reaches the North Sea..In 1857 there were 22 vessels in Grimsby. Six years later in 1863 there were 112. The first two legitimate steam trawlers ever built in Great Britain were based in Grimsby. By 1900, a tenth of the fish consumed in the United Kingdom was landed at Grimsby, despite the many smaller coastal fishing ports and villages that also supplied the nation.

I searched a number of Crew Lists and found another Thomas MacMillan. This one was aboard the Russia out of Liverpool in 1868. Now according to the term of indenture on the Wanderer he should have been there till 1870….but things happen…. in 1868 he would have been around 18/19.  This Record is for the Release at Termination of a Voyage…March 28, 1868.





















About Glasgow, Scotland, Crew Lists, 1863-1901

This database contains crew lists, agreements, certificates of discharge, and some related documents for 11 ships that landed at Glasgow’s ports. The ships were

  • Bornu
  • Russia
  • Scythia
  • Pride of England
  • Gulf of Lions
  • Parthia
  • Hispania
  • Galoon
  • Clydesdale
  • Persia
  • Cherokee

Details available vary


« Back

Name Official number Flag IMO
Year built Date launched Date completed
1867 20/03/1867
Vessel type Vessel description
Passenger / Cargo Iron Screw Steamer 3 Masts
Builder Yard Yard no
James & George Thomson, Govan Cessnock Bank 93
Tonnage Length Breadth Depth Draft
2960 grt / 1709 nrt / 358.0 ft 43.0 ft 19.4 ft
Engine builder James & George Thomson, Finnieston, Glasgow
Engine detail
600nhp 1-screw

1880 re-engined C2cyl

1889 re-engined T3cyl 14kn, J & J Thomson

First owner First port of register Registration date
J F J Burns, Glasgow (The British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Co – Cunard) Glasgow 09/05/1867
Other names
Subsequent owner and registration history
by1875 Burns & McIver (Cunard), Liverpool
1875 Charles McIver (Cunard), Liverpool
c1877 The Cunard Steam Ship Co Ltd, Liverpool
1879 SA de Navigation Belge-Americaine (Red Star Line), Antwerp – reg Antwerp
Vessel history
1880 lengthened: 4572grt 435.1ft (4 masts?)
End year Fate / Status
1902 Collision 06/03/1902
Disposal Detail
On voyage Liverpool for Philadelphia with 114 passengers, 89 crew and general cargo, collided with ss HARMONIDES (3521g/1891, River Plate for Liverpool) 45nm WSW of Holyhead in dense fog and sank; 2 lives lost in launching one of the boats, but remainder transferred to HARMONIDES, which later arrived Liverpool.
WAESLAND was being navigated with extreme caution but HARMONIDES, while at reduced speed still struck WAESLAND amidships with considerable force






Thomas MacMillan aboard the Arica as Chief Engineer sailing Coquimbo to Valparaiso



Certification Certificate for Thomas MacMillan, Chief Engineer  1894

About Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919

This collection of crew lists held by the Liverpool Record Office includes records for 912 ships whose home port was registered as Liverpool, England. The lists contain information on ship voyages, crew members, and apprentices. Many of the records are grouped together as agreement booklets or ships’ logs.

Crew lists vary in detail but can include the name or signature of the crew member, age or birth year, birthplace, nationality, residence, service on other ships, rate, date and details of engagement and discharge, reports of character and ability, and other assorted notes.

Once you locate your ancestor on a particular ship, do a search for just the name of the ship to find logs and other ship information. Ship information pages consist primarily of the crew list cover pages and contain information regarding a ship and its voyage(s). The name of the ship, port of registry, and date are almost always present, but these documents do not contain lists of names.








To find the Agreements of a particular vessel and year, researchers have to locate a ship’s official number: the MHA documents are filed by this number. Watching the video on this site “Welcome to the Maritime History Archive” will explain why: the following explains how you find a number, and then how you can check for what documents have survived and which now constitute archival holdings.

In the Mercantile Navy Lists [See Glossary], find the name of the vessel alphabetically. There may be several vessels with the same name, but the official number is unique: it never changed for the lifetime of a vessel regardless of changes of name or purpose. Several vessels may have the same name, so it helps to have as much information about the vessel, including Port of Registry, Tonnage, and Ownership.

To search the Mercantile Navy List, one can locate physical copies for the years in which one is interested in by asking the MHA staff for research assistance. The Maritime History Archive holds bound volumes for the following years:

1868, 1875, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1891, 1892, 1896, 1899, 1904, 1907, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925-1940, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957-1965, 1968, 1973.

Microfilm and/or microfiche copies are available for the following years:

1857-1864, 1866-1908, 1910-1914, 1916-1920, 1922.

Researchers can also check their local libraries or archives for copies of the MNL near their relevant year.

It is becoming easier to search the Mercantile Navy Lists online. The Maritime History Archive and the Memorial University Digital Archive Initiative now offers the Mercantile Navy Lists and Maritime Directory online in their self-search collection.

The Crew List Index Project (CLIP) is also a useful resource for finding official numbers and other vessel information through their online finding aids.

Once an official number is determined, researcher can use the number to search the Maritime History Archive Index, which will show the years for which the MHA has documents, including the main type of document, and whether other archives have holdings for vessels and years. See the guide to the MHA codes and Agreements and Accounts for the different types of documents.  For example, if we search the MHA Index for the official number of the Brio (97966), the Index tells us the MHA has holds at least document for each of the years: 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1897, 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1909, and 1910.

Finding Official Numbers

To find the Agreements of a particular vessel and year, researchers have to locate a ship’s official number: the MHA documents are filed by this number. Watching the video on this site “Welcome to the Maritime History Archive” will explain why: the following explains how you find a number, and then how you can check for what documents have survived and which now constitute archival holdings.

In the Mercantile Navy Lists [See Glossary], find the name of the vessel alphabetically. There may be several vessels with the same name, but the official number is unique: it never changed for the lifetime of a vessel regardless of changes of name or purpose. Several vessels may have the same name, so it helps to have as much information about the vessel, including Port of Registry, Tonnage, and Ownership.

To search the Mercantile Navy List, one can locate physical copies for the years in which one is interested in by asking the MHA staff for research assistance. The Maritime History Archive holds bound volumes for the following years:

1868, 1875, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1891, 1892, 1896, 1899, 1904, 1907, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925-1940, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957-1965, 1968, 1973.

Microfilm and/or microfiche copies are available for the following years:

1857-1864, 1866-1908, 1910-1914, 1916-1920, 1922.

Researchers can also check their local libraries or archives for copies of the MNL near their relevant year.

It is becoming easier to search the Mercantile Navy Lists online. The Maritime History Archive and the Memorial University Digital Archive Initiative now offers the Mercantile Navy Lists and Maritime Directory online in their self-search collection.

The Crew List Index Project (CLIP) is also a useful resource for finding official numbers and other vessel information through their online finding aids.

Once an official number is determined, researcher can use the number to search the Maritime History Archive Index, which will show the years for which the MHA has documents, including the main type of document, and whether other archives have holdings for vessels and years. See the guide to the MHA codes and Agreements and Accounts for the different types of documents.  For example, if we search the MHA Index for the official number of the Brio (97966), the Index tells us the MHA has holds at least document for each of the years: 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1897, 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1909, and 1910.

In 1902 PSNC’s Royal Charter was extended for a further 21 years and the crown on the house flag changed from the Royal Crown to the St Edward’s Crown. Between 1890 and 1904 an number of iron hulled ships were converted into coal storage hulks at the major South American ports as it was considered cheaper to bring ships alongside for coaling and storing rather than to undertake the operation using local lighters. At some ports larger ships did not go alongside a quay but used PSNC’s pier-like jetties or tenders. In the UK the Merseyside ‘naval yard’ was closed down, the stores, maintenance and engineering staff being dispersed, and their berth was moved across the river to the Alexandra Dock in Liverpool.

PSNC sold their interests in the Australian route to Royal Mail Line in 1905 together with their share in the Orient Pacific Line and the Oroya (2), the Oruba (1), the Orotava and the Ortona. With these vessels the Royal Mail incorporated the Orient-Royal Mail Line in February 1906 and gave the ships distinctive buff-yellow funnels. The Orellana and the Orcana became surplus to requirements and were sold to the Hamburg America Line. Investment in new ships continued and during 1906 four new cargo ships were delivered demonstrating the company’s propensity for ordering in bulk. In 1908 the Orcoma (1) was delivered. Referred to as the ‘all-electric’ ship she was the first of the company’s vessels to exceed 10,000grt.

The introduction of certificates of competency gave engineers in the British mercantile fleet a status they had not previously enjoyed and it put them in the same position as deck officers.  Standards of training still varied widely and the Institute of Marine Engineers, established in 1889, became the driving force behind moves to change the rules relating to apprenticeships.  The Board of Trade, which controlled the granting of British certificates of competency, had initially insisted upon an apprenticeship lasting a minimum of three years, six months of which had to be spent in a drawing office.  As shore apprenticeships throughout Britain lasted a minimum of five years the Institute requested that this term should also be required for potential seagoing engineers as it would ensure that they had completed their apprenticeships.  This request was resisted under pressure from influential shipowners who feared that a shortage of engineers would result and eventually a compromise was reached on a four-year apprenticeship with allowance being granted for time spent at a technical college. New regulations were introduced in 1901 and since then they have been frequently amended with respect to the training and examination requirements ensuring that the high standard of the British certificate of competency or ‘ticket’ is recognised throughout the world.


I Always Wanted an Inca Ancestor…..and now I may have one! Chapter One….The Beginning…My Grandmother Juana Rojas  from Coquimbo, Chile

24 Sep

My Indigenous Ancestors lived up here in these Hills…. Machu Picchu in Peruvian Andes….joking of course!


At last, I have the results of my DNA testing done by Ancestry and now I know I have  DNA from the Indigenous People of the Americas. It may be a small amount….but it is there!

I had Autosomal DNA tested…. the following is a definition….

“Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome). Autosomes are numbered roughly in relation to their sizes. That is, Chromosome 1 has approximately 2,800 genes, while chromosome 22 has approximately 750 genes. 


Native American 8%

“Primarily located in: North America, Central America, South America..this info came with my DNA Results from Ancestry…..Your genetic ethnicity estimate indicates that you have ancestry from the region that is home to the indigenous people of the Americas. This vast region stretches over two continents to include the rugged territory of Alaska and Canada, mountains and plains of the United States, dry valleys of Mexico, tropical jungles of Central America and South America, and the Patagonian steppes of southern Argentina and Chile.

Migrations into this region

“North and South America were settled by at least three waves of migrants from Asia, who occupied the Americas from Canada to the southern tip of Chile. North America was initially occupied by people who came from Siberia and coastal North Asia, when probably fewer than 1,000 individuals crossed the Bering land bridge; they were likely tracking animal herds and discovered an expansive new territory. Native Americans appear to derive from this initial wave of migration. Mounting evidence suggests they dispersed rapidly along the western coast of the Americas, perhaps by sea, within a period of only about a thousand years. Not long after humans first appeared in today’s Alaska and the western United States, they had already settled as far south as the tip of modern-day Chile.”

MY DNA would suggest that in addition to my Native American DND, I have some Celtic DND from Europe and Great Britain…pretty good combination, I would say. 

Europe 92%

  • Ireland 33%

  • Europe West 33%

  • Iberian Peninsula 9%

  • Italy/Greece 8%  

    Prehistoric Ireland & Scotland

    “After the Ice Age glaciers retreated from Northern Europe more than 9,000 years ago, hunter- gatherers spread north into what is now Great Britain and Ireland, during the Middle Stone Age. Some 3,000 years later, during the New Stone Age, the first farming communities appeared in Ireland. The Bronze Age began 4,500 years ago and brought with it new skills linked to metalworking and pottery. During the late Bronze Age, Iron was discovered in mainland Europe and a new cultural phenomenon began to evolve.

    Around 500 B.C., the Bronze Age gave way to an early Iron Age culture that spread across all of Western Europe, including the British Isles. These new people originated in central Europe, near what is Austria today. They were divided into many different tribes, but were collectively known as the Celts.

    The Celts

    From around 400 B.C. to 275 B.C., various tribes expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, France, England, Scotland and Ireland—even as far east as Turkey. Today we refer to these tribes as ‘Celtic’ though that is a modern term which only came into use in the 18th century. As the Roman Empire expanded beyond the Italian peninsula, it began to come into increasing contact with the Celts of France, whom the Romans called “Gauls.”

    Ireland  33%

    Primarily located in:Ireland, Wales, Scotland  Also found in:France, England

    A variety of internal and external influences have shaped Ireland as we know it today. Ireland’s modern cultural remains deeply rooted in the Celtic culture that spread across much of Central Europe and into the British Isles. Along with Wales, Scotland, and a handful of other isolated communities within the British Isles, Ireland remains one of the last holdouts of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of Western Europe. And though closely tied to Great Britain, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character through the centuries.

    Europe West  33%

    Celtic and Germanic tribes

    Although “Celtic” is often associated with the people of Ireland and Scotland, the Celts emerged as a unique culture in central Europe more than 2,500 years ago. From an epicenter in what is now Austria, they spread and settled in the areas of today’s western Germany and eastern France, generally near the Rhine and Danube Rivers. By 450 B.C., their influence and Celtic languages had spread across most of western Europe, including the areas that are now France, the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles. The Celts either conquered or assimilated the previous inhabitants of the area, and almost all languages and cultural and religious customs were replaced. The only exception, most scholars believe, is the Basque language, which managed to persist in the Pyrenees of southern France and northern Spain.

    In the early 4th century B.C., Celtic tribes in northern Italy invaded and sacked Rome, setting the stage for centuries of conflict.

    In the 5th century B.C., Germanic peoples began moving south, from Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany, displacing the Celts as they went. It is unclear what prompted their movement, but it may have been climate related, as they sought warmer weather and more fertile farmland. The Germanic tribes’ expansion was checked by the generals, Gaius Marius and Julius Caesar, as they approached the Roman provinces around 100 B.C.”

    And just to round things out..I have

    European Jewish  4%…. go figure! Primarily located in:Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel

    Coquimbo, Chile                                              


    Coquimbo Plaza de Armas today



    Just like her Ancestors…….My Mom lived somewhere up in the hills above the Port of Coquimbo, Chile …..not quit so posh as the Incas! though!   

Agnes, my Mom and Daisy, my Aunt

Chalk and Chilean Cheese…circa 1939. Agnes and her sister Daisy

Knowing that my Mom had been born in Coquimbo, Chile in 1908…..I was fascinated with her EXOTIC ORIGIN. Though her father was a Scot that had left Glasgow some time around the 1880’s for South America, her Mother was supposedly a Spanish Lady. I never saw a picture of her as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a fire at some point in time. I also never asked those important questions such as, “what did your mother look like” and “what was her name”? I remember being told that it was Juana Rojas, but when I located Passenger Records for their trip to England in 1919, she was listed a Jane McMillan, likely Anglicized.  Regardless, my Mom’s appearance hinted at DNA from somewhere other than Scotland. 


Once you start looking on the internet it is amazing what you are able to discover. I was looking at old images of Coquimbo and I came across this photo which looked amazingly familiar. It seemed to be a gathering of some kind. Down to the basement and into the old trunk. There they were…2 pictures I had looked at previously trying to see if I could locate my grandparents. Apparently in September every year a big Fiesta is held. “With the advent of the twentieth century, the Pampillera Party and festive connotation of day 20, were growing year by year. The variety and incorporation of local popular entertainment led to a large influx of public, interested in enjoying a day of leisure and the spectacle of racing.



Found this photo on line and it looked like a familiar setting…it was the Pampilla in Coquimbo.


Somewhere in this group is likely Thomas and Juana MacMillan enjoying the Pampilla.


In this picture I can locate my Mother..middle of 3 girls in the center of the picture.

I have never told my Mother’s Story as I really didn’t know much about her early life. I knew she was born in Coquimbo Chile on October 23, 1908.


Thomas MacMillan, My Grandfather

Her father was Thomas MacMillan, a Scot from Glasgow, who had somehow made his way to South America likely sometime in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s. He worked on the Steamships that went up and down the coast of South America. Had he originally started out sailing across the Atlantic when The Pacific Steamship Company introduced sailings from Liverpool through the Straights of Magellan to

Valpariso in 1869 and then to Callao in 1870 and…… when he met Juana Rojas he switched over to work the Coastal Steamers…..but did he work the Coastal Steamers exclusively…found the on Ancestry..Crew Lists from Liverpool…one Thomas MacMillan from Coquimbo age 43 in 1895..could this be my Grandfather??


Crew List for the Arica…previous ship the Boliva…Thomas MacMillan 1895  Found on


Thomas MacMillan..front row Right as you look

Jean Taylor or Juana Rojas is much more an unknown. I have never seen a picture of this lady but I believe my mom took after her in looks and stature. Given the birth dates for her children, it is likely she married Thomas in the early 1880’s, possibly is Callao Peru, but equally likely Coquimbo, if that was his home base.   They had 3 children, David, Daisy and Agnes. I believe they may have had other children…Robert, Margaret and Thomas who may have died as infants.                                                                                                                                  


David Taylor MacMillan Born Callao, Peru c. 1885


Agnes Irvine MacMillan Perkins Born Oct 23, 1908 Coquimbo, Chile




Daisy Wallace MacMillan Bates Born c. 1890 Callao Peru

Family Story is that David went to England in 1917 to fight in WW1. Thomas, the father died sometime thereafter, and when the war was over the remaining family moved to England in 1919. David was listed as Clerical on the Ship’s manifest, age 33 which would make his birth 1884. Travelling with him from Valpariso, Chile was William James Trevissick and his family.


David Taylor MacMillan Chile to Liverpool March 1917 aboard the Orissa.

Orrissa Pacific Steam Navigation Company

“The Pacific Steam Navigation Company (PSNCo) was formed by an American, William Wheelwright, to operate steamship services along the Pacific coast of South America. Having failed to raise money in the USA, he succeeded in London and was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1839. Services started in 1840 with two wooden paddle steamers, Chile and Peru. The company built up a large fleet of coastal steamers, and 1867 it was decided to introduce a through service from Liverpool via the Straits of Magellan. Five screw steamers were ordered to operate this service. Rather than wait for delivery of these, PSNCo inaugurated the new venture in 1868, using their paddler Pacific, built for coastal services in 1865. The ships ordered in 1867 began arriving in 1869, operating between Liverpool and Valparaiso. In 1870, the PSNCo decided to extend services to Callao, and a further four steamers were ordered. In 1872, a mail subsidy of £10000 per annum was granted and the PSNCo began operating a weekly service from Liverpool. The calls at this time included Bordeaux (later Pauillac), Lisbon, Sao Vincente (Cape Verde Islands), Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Punta Arenas.

The three sisters were built for the Valparaiso service. They were inferior to the ships built for the Australian route which preceded them. They were 5300 gross tons, 421 feet long, and had single funnels. Oravia was wrecked in Port Stanley in 1912. Oropesa became an armed merchant cruiser in 1914, and was passed to the French Navy in 1915. She was sunk by a submarine in 1917. Orissa was lost to a submarine in 1918, having remained in commercial PSNCo service.

David sailed to England aboard the Orissa in 1917.

The PSNCo was the largest steamship company in the world in 1873, but their success was short-lived. Due to a combination of circumstances, including political unrest, and competition from other shipping lines (White Star amongst them), PSNCo found themselves in financial difficulties and many ships were laid, service speeds were reduced, and departures became fortnightly again. Two ships were sold to Royal Mail Lines, and four others were chartered (and later sold) to the Orient Line for a new steamship service from London to Australia via the Suez Canal. Conditions in the PSNCo original trade area continued to deteriorate, and Chile went to war with Peru and Bolivia in 1879.

Information found on Find a Grave


Thomas MacMillan had died in 1917 and was buried in the English Cemetery at Guayacan Coquimbo. We also share a birthdate…January 18th.

Name: Thomas MacMillan
Birth Date: 18 Jan 1855
Birth Place: Glasgow City, Scotland
Death Date: 1917
Death Place: Chile
Cemetery: English Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place: Coquimbo, Coquimbo, Chile
Has Bio?: N

Copy of the register of the British cemetery at Guayacán, Coquimbo, Chile    images-1


Guayacan Cemetery

Format: Family History Library Salt Lake, Utah

Books/Monographs/Book with Film






[20] h. : tabla geneal.

Subject Class:

983 A1

  History of Guayacan

“In 1846 the village of Guayacán was established as a maritime and mining establishment thanks to the management of Robert Edward Allison.  In 1856, José Tomás Urmeneta installs its copper smelter and a rail line was built in 1862  to pique Tamaya and pier on the coast.  The establishment of Guayacán cast was one of the largest in the country in the nineteenth century , growing to about 35 hearth furnaces in its heyday.

In 1874 it is created the English Cemetery, home to the first Scottish and Welsh families who settled in Coquimbo. In 1880 the Church of Guayacan is constructed, made of pieces by engineer Gustave Eiffel in Paris.”


Coquimbo in the early 1920’s

Mom had few memories of her childhood, not that I really questioned her. She remembers the garden at the rear of their house. There was a parrot kept in a cage and she had been instructed not to put her fingers into the cage. Well ….you guessed it..she did and she was bitten! 

Coquimbo today…

From the website    “Thus the English Neighborhood (Coquimbo, Chile) revived…. it became more representative of the history of the city as buildings and facades were restored..


Port of Coquimbo Chile


English District today

“The cobbled streets made us walk through a gallery of stores. Each facade witnessed who inhabited the place two centuries ago…. behind them there are shops offering everything from fine wines, chocolates and snuff to art objects and handicrafts made by local artists. Today in Coquimbo, thanks to the joint efforts of its inhabitants and restoration policies, it is possible to navigate a real postcard of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Notably, the neighborhood was called “English” by the language of those who lived and quickly excelled in Coquimbo. Fine old homes  were raised with balconies looking for a glimpse of the sea. The community of immigrants was entering its style and design in this port architecture that helped to consolidate this parallel to the social and commercial life of the city expansion.”














Through the center of town..







1919 the family left Coquimbo via Valpariso for England. Perhaps this was the train they took to Valpariso 430 km to the south where they would board the Oriana. My mother was only 11 years old when she made this voyage through the Panama Canal and on to Liverpool. Her life would take many turns in the next 3 years…To Be Continued!                                    

Benford Family: Northamptonshire 1600’s – Plague, War and Fire

15 Jul


Northampton, on the Great North Road out of London, was for many centuries, subject to a steady flow of people and goods on the move and thus liable to infections and diseases from this transient population. It succumbed to the plague from 1570 to 1579, then again from 1603 to 1605 when 500 perished.

In 1638, the Register Book for St. Sepulchre’s ChurchThe-Church-of-St-Sepulchre-Northampton-by-Harris-Brothers-Abel-Son-c-1850s2  has  an entry on March 29 among the burials…”att which time the sickness beegan”…and on January 1 of the following year…”att which time the sickness ceased, the Lord be praised.” In this parish in 1638, there were 114 deaths, the average for the previous five years only 18. Great_plague_of_london-1665 (1)

Understanding what is happening in the area in which your ancestors lived is extremely important. We often overlook the fact that entire families can die when a disease sweeps through the city, town or village. We are searching the records without success and asking ourselves why we can’t find any marriages…perhaps the reasons could include deaths in the family causing families to break apart and move elsewhere to re-establish themselves.

There is also the fact of this case, The English Civil War, a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between the Parliamentarians (Round Heads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers)  principally over the manner of government.

One of the famous battles took place at Naseby in Northamptonshire. “It was a war that more men per head of population lost their lives than in the First World War, with Northamptonshire always on the front line between the Royalists and Parliamentarians.

Article comes from “Northampton Herald and Post”   Posted: May 27, 2015 By Mike Ingram

Battle of nasby

Battle at Naseby, Northamptonshire

“On 22 August 1642, King Charles I raised the Royal Standard at Nottingham, signalling the start of the war. He immediately sent around 300 men under the command of Sir John Byron (the poet’s ancestor), from Nottingham to the Royalist center of Oxford to enlist effort in the south. Byron’s route took him through Brackley, where he arrived on the evening of 28th August. Then, as supper was being prepared, they were attacked by a force of some five hundred locals wielding pikes, bills and pitchforks. Whether the attack was opportunistic or planned is unknown, although the numbers are large enough to suggest an ambush. Byron and about half his men made their escape towards Oxford. The others were caught unprepared and routed. The booty was enormous, and the value of all the gold, money and apparel taken was worth more than £6,000 to £8,000. Most but not all was handed over to Parliament.

Parliament began to assemble its army at Northampton under the Earl of Essex. In letters to his brother in London, Nehemiah Wharton, sergeant of musketeers recounted how he, and his men marched from Coventry to the town, plundering the countryside as they went. On 1 September, they spent a night at Long Buckby, ignoring the Royalist presence at Holdenby House, but there was a shortage of accommodation and the church was crowded with tired soldiers. Nehemiah Wharton, told his brother they “were glad to dispossess the very swine.”

 Northampton would become the main infantry garrison and supply depot for the Parliamentarian Army in the East Midlands for the entire war. On 14 September, the Earl of Essex reviewed his army in Northampton. It was said to be 00 – 20,000 strong. The royal connection to Northampton Castle had becomes less significant, and by the time of the English Civil War,  Northampton was decidedly pro-Parliament, the people of Northampton supported Parliament and Oliver Cromwell’s Republican Roundhead Army. The town had a long history of religious dissent from the Lollards and Puritanism gained a strong hold on the town. The corporation of the town, having already refused to provide troops to the King in 1632 or to pay the notorious Ship Money Tax in 1636, petitioned Parliament in 1642 against papists and bishops.

Over 4,000 pairs of leather shoes and 600 pairs of cavalry jack-boots for the Parliamentary armies were manufactured in Northampton during the Civil War, and a further 2,000 for Cromwell’s New Model Army  in 1648. Until well into the 19th century, the shoe industry boomed in and around the town with small manufacturing workshops set up in the surrounding areas.

The war ended with a Parliamentary victory. England became a Commonwealth which lasted 10 until the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.”


As usual in wars of this era, disease caused more deaths than combat. There are no accurate figures for these periods, and it is not possible to give a precise overall figure for those killed in battle, as opposed to those who died from disease, or even from a natural decline in population.

Figures for casualties during this period are unreliable, but some attempt has been made to provide rough estimates. In England, a conservative estimate is that roughly 100,000 people died from war-related disease during the three civil wars. Historical records count 84,830 dead from the wars themselves. Counting in accidents and the two Bishops’ wars, an estimate of 190,000 dead is achieved,out of a total population of about five million.

Northampton had only begun to recover following the war when the entire town center was destroyed by fire in 1675.  The blaze was caused by sparks from an open fire in St. Mary’s Street near the castle and devastated the town center, destroying about 700 buildings [out of 850] including All Saints Church, in six hours. Three quarters of the town was destroyed, 11 people died and about 700 families were made homeless.

The Fire of Northampton in September 20th 1675. (Northampton Mercury Sept’ 25 1875.) 

The late Mr de Wilde, writing in the “Northampton Mercury” on September 25th 1875, says:  “September 20th 1675` – perhaps the most memorable day in the history of Northampton – was a blistering autumn day, with a fierce wind blowing from the West. We can imagine that the industrious trade folk were not tempted out much but preferred – those that were in the leather trade to stay at home and apply their skill to the manufacture of leathern bottles and the immense pliant folding-top boots of the period, the women plying their bobbins and thread. Towards 12 o’clock, however, when, perhaps dinner was occupying the attention of most, the news spread that a fire had broken out in a hovel near the castle, and had extended to some adjoining tenements. Some run down to the scene of the disaster, to look or assist in extinguishing the flames, while others deemed it the wiser and more comfortable thing to make sure of a good dinner while it was good, designing to stroll down afterwards and see what was to be done. Little did they think, those who were thus nonchalant, that the fire was coming to them to save them the trouble of going to it. But such it was and with terrible speed. The bells of All Hallows had scarcely chimed the hour of noon, when say an eyewitness they “began to jangle a different tune.” Dinner was then forgotten and boots and leathern bottles and lace, and everything save personal safety, for fanned and fostered by the fierce west wind, it was making its way with terrific speed to the centre of town, literally licking everything up in its course. It commenced in a cottage at the upper end of St Mary’s Street near the castle”

Now you may ask what all this has to do with my Family History and my Research. Our ancestors did not live in a bubble. They were part of the action that was going on around them. It is extremely important to know your history and its timelines. It is also important to have maps from that same time period. Villages disappear..borders move. All this information can help you understand why your ancestors did what did and moved where they moved. 

 Nathanel Benfford was likely born around the end of the English Civil War…circa 1654. He married Jane Joalmer in 1679, four years after the great fire destroyed Northampton. They were married at St. Giles on December 20, 1679. The register indicates they were living in Denton, a small village 7 miles outside Northampton.


Nathanel Benfford of Denton 1679

Interestingly, at the same parish church, St Giles, in 1660, a Will Benfford married a Mathe?  Taylor on February 11, 1660. It took me awhile to decipher the early English writing, but when I did I had quite the surprise. Here was a possible C. The register indicated that Will Benfford was from Couentree (Coventry, Warwickshire) and Mathe? Taylor was from Northan (Northampton, Nothamptonshire). Hours of hard work had finally paid off….and only if you are a Family Historian will you understand why anyone would spend hours searching for one record.


Will Benfford of Couentree…1660

Why would I stop searching at this point when I am on such a roll. WOW…there he was… even earlier Bennford…William Bennford… with another spelling of the surname….this time in Raunds, Northamptonshire in 1626 and marrying Mary Wells. Raunds is 20 miles from Northampton. Don’t      know where this William is from….more digging.

FreeReg Marriage entry on 13 Jul 2016

For information about this place follow the link to Raunds

If you believe there to be an error in this transcription then please report it to our data manager.
Field Value
County NTH
Place Raunds
Church name St Peter
Register type
Marriage date 01 May 1626
Groom forename William
Groom surname BENNFORD
Bride forename Mary
Bride surname WELLS
Register note
Transcriber not
 People move….people have always moved….we tend to overlook this fact when trying to locate our ancestors. 


Peter Spufford is a Senior Lecturer in History

“single population movement in seventeenth century England was this enormous flow of people into London. The growth in size of London affected many parts of the country...He mentions Cogenhoe in Northamptonshire where “in a 10 year period…1618 to 1628…two thirds of the population changed due to migration”.
Don’t limit your thinking to the village where your ancestors were born and when you can’t find them there in subsequent years …give up…It would be like saying “people born on the other side of the country in Newfoundland would never move to Ft. McMurray Alberta for work”…they do now and they did then!
mary wells

Mary Wells daughter of Thomas Wells, Parish Record, 1606 of Wadenhoe..21 miles from Northampton

Going backwards one generation, to search for William’s father has proved difficult. There are a number of William’s born in Warwickshire around this time and also one born in Lichfield, Staffordshire in 1600. Are any of these William’s the father I am seeking….who knows…..suffice to say….likely one could be and that makes my connection to Warwickshire even more certain.

TIP: Spellings of names aren’t fixed..they change for many reasons….I look for Benford, Bentford, Beneford, Bendford, Benfford and Bennford and I am sure there are others….makes life interesting. 


If you are interested in Coventry…..Further Reading

The City of Coventry: Social history to 1700

“The 1590s and 1600s were marked by another period of activity on the part of the Puritan council. The same council meeting which gave permission for the last performance of plays in Coventry ordered all the maypoles in the city to be taken down ‘and not hereafter to be set up’. With the suppression of the last of the public festivals, life became very drab, and, moreover, trade probably suffered. Ben Jonson’s description of the Puritan tradesmen of Coventry, though written in 1625, doubtless applied equally to the 1590s:

‘A pure native bird This: and tho’ his hue Be Coventry Blue Yet is he undone By the thread he has spun For since the wise town Has let the sports down Of May games and morris For which he right sorr’ is, Where their maids and their mates At Dancing and Wakes, Had their napkins and posies . . .’ Jonson ends by suggesting that the only use left for the Puritan’s thread is ‘to hang or choke him’.

Sabbatarianism was also growing during this period. In 1588 the opening of shops, playing games, or idly walking about were forbidden during servicetime on Sundays.  In 1599 these orders were intensified, indoor games and idly sitting in streets or fields being added to the other forbidden activities. Football in the streets would incur gaol after 1595 and children’s games in the street were forbidden in 1605.  This suggests that the earlier prohibitions were being disregarded, as does the complaint of churchwardens that, in spite of their efforts, many ‘do lie in bed’, while others went to neighbouring villages where they could spend the Sabbath profanely, drinking and enjoying themselves ‘to the great dishonour of God and the offence of others’. In the same year church attendance on Sundays was made compulsory and listening to sermons and theological debates replaced the more frivolous recreations of the past. The first weekly lecture, which was to become a feature of the Commonwealth period, was established in 1609.

The Puritans found that James I, like Elizabeth, disappointed their expectations. In 1611 they were ordered, in a letter from the king himself, to receive the sacrament kneeling, ‘to the grief of many’. Ten years later James refused to approve the new charter until he was satisfied that the orders of the church were being observed.

The Puritans were back in the ascendancy in 1641 when the altar of Holy Trinity was replaced by the table. Two Presbyterians, Obadiah Grew and John Bryan, became vicars respectively of St. Michael in 1642 and Holy Trinity in 1644. The covenant was taken in 1643 and Coventry remained staunchly Parliamentarian throughout the Civil War period. It is possible that the phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ derived from the unbending attitude of the townsfolk to Royalist prisoners sent there.  The diary of Robert Beake (mayor, 1655) gives some indication of the strict Sabbatarianism in force in Coventry during the Commonwealth period. Offenders were put in the stocks or the cage for travelling on Sunday, and even the man who was travelling ‘to be a godfather’ was fined.

Most of Coventry’s chief citizens remained Protestant and anti-Royalist in sympathy, and many of the measures of the Puritan years, like the compulsory attendance at church and the closing of shops on Sunday, remained. Nevertheless, there was a conscious reaction against Puritan repression at the Restoration, at least on the part of those in power, and probably among many of the people as well. The Restoration was celebrated with feasting, bonfires, and conduits running wine. Grew and Bryan were ejected, the lectures suppressed, and maypoles brought back.  In 1662 the font and organ were restored to St. Michael’s and the king’s brother, later James II, was entertained by the city council.  The pageants were never revived but there was some attempt to recreate the pageantry and gaiety of an earlier period. Waits were appointed in 1674 ‘to play in the city as the waits formerly did, during the pleasure of the house’ and the Great Show Fair, the successor of the Corpus Christi Fair, was celebrated by feasting at about the same time.  The year 1678 saw the permanent establishment of two institutions – the waits and the Godiva procession.

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.

“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



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… 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.



“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)


Grounds at Bloxwich Church  


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”


Bloxwich Church Grounds


Cycle path through Goscote Corridor


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!



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.


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.


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.


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… 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?



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.

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