Sunday, 7 July 2013

Oh, Chrysler!

A couple of years ago, I posted the above picture of my grandmother's family enjoying a roadside picnic in front of a 'mystery mobile'. (The original post can be seen here).

When my 'car-brained' brother came to visit a little while ago, I recruited him to help me find out more about the car in the picture.  After much google searching, we believe the car to be a 1927/28 Chrysler Imperial 52 coupe.  For comparison, here are some other pics of this model:

source: 'Antique Automobile Club of America' forums

source: Hemmings Motor News (Reader's Rides)
I also found this vintage (American) advertisement on the 'Imperial Club' website:

source: Imperial Club

(zoom of the '52'):

I'm pretty sure this is the right one but I welcome any corrections or other information.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wrestling Legend

I had some credits to spare at 'Find My Past' so I trawled the newspapers and found some references to my 'celebrity' ancestor, William WREFORD (introduced here).

In the Western Times (Tuesday, February 27, 1866):

The eyes of all classes of politicians are now on the pretty town of Tiverton,
but we believe it is not generally known that there is now residing among us
the greatest of living wrestlers.  We allude to that respectable old yeoman,
Mr. William Wreford, who may be truly said to be the hero of a hundred contests
in the wrestling ring.  The admirers of this most manly and ancient sport will
be glad to hear that Mr. Wreford, though several years above seventy, still
carries his manly figure erect, and has the most retentive memory.  Mr. Wreford
suddenly shot up to the height of fame by throwing the terrible Jordan at a
great contest at Crediton, in 1812, when he was but nineteen years of age, and
his huge opponent was in the prime of life.  Mr. Wreford is a noble specimen,
both as regards personal strength and social qualities of the good old English

Later that year, the following was printed in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (Friday, 07 December, 1866):

DEATH OF A RENOWNED DEVONSHIRE WRESTLER. - On Sunday last the veteran William Wreford died after a very short illness at the house of one of his children, in
the metropolis.  Mr. Wreford bore a name familiar to all the lovers
of wrestling, both in the provinces and the metropolis.  Indeed, there is
probably none who appeared before the public so frequently and for such a long
period as he did, for though by profession he was, like his ancestors, a
farmer, yet he passionately loved the most ancient of all pastimes, and for a
period of nearly thirty years generally contrived to be present at all the
great wrestling matches in Devonshire, and almost invariably maintained the
high reputation which he gained before he was twenty years of age.  Mr. Wreford
was born at Morchard Bishop, near Crediton, the inhabitants of which have been
from time immemorial noted for their great stature and strength.  Indeed, the
father of Abraham Cann, the champion wrestler, was a native of Morchard Bishop,
and according to the testimony of the ancients was in many respects a superior
wrestler to his renowned son.  At 18 years of age, Mr. Wreford attended a great
wrestling match at Crediton, and at its close stood high in the prize list;
this was in 1811. The next year his name became a household word throughout the
whole county, for having again contended at Crediton, nearly at the close of
the play he found himself pitted against the terrible Jordan, a man of gigantic
stature and strength, and who according to one author was so feared in the
Plymouth wrestling ring that the committee at last excluded him in their
advertisements from contending for the prizes offered by them; but at Crediton
Jordan was destined to play the part of Goliath, for after twenty minutes
contention, Mr. Wreford succeeded in throwing his huge adversary such a
tremendous back fall, that hte crash occasioned thereby was almost similar to
that produced by the felling of an oak tree, and young Wreford amid the
deafening applause of an immense concourse of all classes was triumphantly
carried on the shoulders of several stalwart men to the Ship Hotel, in
Crediton, there to receive from the committee something more weighty, if not so
verdant, than that which the Grecian heroes of old were crowned.  In 1813 Mr.
Wreford visited the metropolis and contended with the champion Fouracres, whom
he threw the best Cornish wrestlers at Plymouth, and, with one or two others of
their party, bore off very heavy prizes.  In 1825 the writer was personally
witness to a great gathering of renowned wrestlers at Credition, when there was
a vast assemblage of gentry and yeomen, who betted freely on their favourites.
At this memorable match Mr. Wreford had to contend with the renowned James
Stone (who on account of his prodigious strength and activity was nicknamed by
one of the London daily papers "The Little Elephant") and a terrible encounter
ensued, for the men grappled with each other in such a way as almost to realise
Homer's description of the struggle beween Ajax and Ulysses.  In truth the
first shock resembled the meeting of two fierce bulls.  At first Mr. Wreford
appeared to have the advantage, but before ten minutes had elapsed he was
literally hurled into the air, and fell with terrific violence on his back; yet
he was quickly on his legs again, declaring that he would seize the first
opportunity of recovering his lost laurels.  Not long after he and Mr. Stone
again met at Southmolton, when for the first half hour they contended with
varying success, after which it was apparent that the strength of the "Little
Elephant" was the most unduring, and at the end of seventy minutes, Mr. Wreford
having been much shaken by repeated fallso on his side, was reluctantly
compelled to give over the contest through his opponent with his usual
magnanimty offered to forego claiming the prize until the next day, thinking
that his friend's indomitable pluck and well-known elasticity of body might
possibly then enable him to renew the struggle.  That this was no fanciful
picture, the fact of Mr. Wreford throwing, six or seven years afterwards, teh
celebrated Cornish wrestler Francis Olver, though several of his ribs were
broken before he took his opponent by the collar is, we think, conclusive
evidence.  Until the last few months Mr. Wreford has been residing at Tiverton;
and when we saw him in January last he was as erect as a bean-stick, and in
every respect appeared twenty years younger than he really was.  He then gave
us an extraordinary proof of the retentiveness of his memory, for testing his
many statements by teh records of hte Crediton Old Wrestling Club, we
invariably found them correct.  Mr. Wreford was a well informed, genial-hearted
old man, full of anecdotes of celebrated wrestlers and of scenes of the old
coaching days and he and Mr. Robert Stone, brother of Mr. James Stone, and
himself a renowned wrestler, quite laughed at the general idea of the "dangers
of the wrestling ring," and well vindicated the practice of wrestling, which
had been handed down in rural districts from father to son for many hundred
years, and both, to the writer's great amazement, declared that their legs were
wtihout a blemish, though they must have received thousands of severe kicks. -
Morning News

What a find! *pleased face*

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Commercial Inn

I had some credits to spare at 'Find My Past' so I trawled the newspapers and found a death notice for George WREFORD's daughter, Harriet in 1858.

April 29, at Witheridge, aged 7 years, Harriet, second daughter of Mr. George Wreford, Commercial Inn.

It seems my WREFORDs may not have run the Hare and Hounds after all (see previous post, Pub Crawl). Although it is possible they could have run both during their life in Witheridge - this has been the only time I've found where the inn was named.

The Commercial Inn in Witheridge,Devonshire closed sometime after 1894. The Witheridge Historical Archive website has a gap between the 1850 and 1878 directories for the inn's keepers and I'm still yet to find a directory for the area circa 1861.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Find A Brown

After contact from a distant relative, I've spent the weekend revising my BROWN information and basically doing a kind of stocktake on the records I have for the family.

James BROWN (abt 1801) had 3 successive wives, 8 children and one more potential child born out of wedlock (see Antenuptial Fornication).  These lives centred around the farm, Woodhead of Dardarroch in the Glencairn parish of Dumfriesshire.  After tidying up my records, I rewarded myself with a quick search for Dardarroch and lo and behold, the gravestone of James' parents was revealed to me (or at least the location and inscription):

screenshot from

Jun. 11, 1793
Dumfries, Scotland
Apr. 29, 1870
Dumfries, Scotland

In memory of Daniel BROWN who died at Moorhouse, Keir 29th April 1870 aged 77 years. Also William his son who died 1st May 1865 aged 34 years. Also Mary his daughter who died in 1848 aged 7 years. Margaret his daughter who died in Sept 1858 aged 28 years.
[West Side]
Here lyes Margret BROUN who died Mrch 14 1796 aged 2 months. Margt BROWN spouse to William CLERK, who died 27th Oct 1820 aged 25 years. Also Jean MAXWELL, spouse to John BROWN, who died upon the 19th Jan 1827 aged 66 years. Also the said John BROWN who died at Woodhead of Dardarroch the 15th of April 1840 aged 80 years. Erected by John BROUN, father in Crosford. 1796.
Penpont Parish Churchyard
Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

This gravestone inscription has given me another child (Margret); death dates for John BROWN & Jean MAXWELL, as well as approximate birth dates.

It has also given me some other leads to follow, including 2 other 'Brown' graves on the Find A Grave website. Thankyou transcriber!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

To Let or Not To Let?

Hare and Hounds TO LET notice
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post
22 April 1858

This notice was found on a visit to the Exeter Library a few years ago. It relates to the letting of theHare and Hounds Inn of Witheridge in 1858 - only a few years before my WREFORDs inhabited it in 1861.  Perhaps the WREFORDs took over this letting in 1858? 

The text is very difficult to read but I have uploaded it here (with a transcription of what I could make out) in case anyone has any suggestions.
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post
Exeter, Thursday, April 22,1858 (p1)
TO LET by Tender, for a Term of ...... [years] from Midsummer next, all ......[establish]ment called the HARE AND [HOUNDS] [encompassing?] a dwelling-house, malt- ...... and also a garden and two fields? ... the occupation of Mr. William ... 
... [business is now?] being carried ...
... be sent on or before the 1?th .... to Mr I M?H C?mins?, Solictor, ...

Front page the above notice was 'clipped' from
UPDATE - I have found evidence that the family actually kept the Commercial Inn - see post here

Sunday, 13 January 2013

RIP Easy IGI Searches Online

I found this unfinished post just 'laying around' which reminded me just how much I miss the old IGI search on the Family Search website.  Not quite sure about their reasoning but in their attempt to improve, they basically made it worse.  I'm not going to moan about something that is provided for free but I just... miss it.  

Here is the old post (with a couple additions) which seemed to be a HOW TO FIND ANCESTORS BORN BEFORE 1837 or a recount of how I came to a conclusion but I'm not sure what I was trying to prove. It may be of some use to someone:

Thomas PALMER is listed on his son's marriage certificate 1848 as a 'Bookseller':

A search of the IGI online (after census searches of son George's approximate age) now identifies his wife as Ruth (and locale as Portsea):

The original baptism entry in the Saint John's Chapel, Portsea parish registers gives further confirmation these are the correct people, as Thomas' occupation is listed as 'Book Binder' (same field of work - books):

Back to the IGI to search for the marriage of Thomas and Ruth, which gives her maiden name as Ruth WRIGHT (married in Saint Mary's Portsea):

This makes it easier to search the census records which then give me approximate birth dates for Thomas and Ruth.  Parish records can now be searched for the marriage (possibly more information); their own births/baptisms and other children of the marriage.  

Next Steps:
Find copy of Thomas & Ruth's marriage entry in the Saint Mary's, Portsea parish registers
Find copy of Thomas & Ruth's baptism entries in Chichester, Sussex (church unknown)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that... There could be so many other explanations - too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source - 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID - 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 - born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 - living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)
Sometime after 1841 - moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 - became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 - adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.

Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches - 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)