by Bryan Pledger

His granddaughter is studying at a local College and each student had to work out how to overcome the problems of working without the College equipment.  The project title was TRACING and his granddaughter decided to continue with her idea of family history tracing and actually making a 3D Family Tree.  Granddad was asked for help in sourcing family photographs (the older the better!!) and interesting stories about her ancestors.  It soon became apparent that he had a problem as the boxes of pictures, documents, and Family Tree Maker information was not something easily passed on.  Using “Individual Records” from FTM, by adding pictures etc and researching events detailed he was able to write the Life and Times of over 30 ascendants.  He tried to bring to life each of them and e-mailed them to give the basic information to use.  He discussed the Life and Times of Phillip Pledger 1710 whose parents although born in London left Wales in June 1701 in the ship William & Mary and landed in Philadelphia on 8th September 1701.  Philip was born in 1710.  His son married and returned to England to settle in Sussex about 1767.  Some examples of the work from his granddaughter were shown from three A0 books and videos she made for the College.

What she wrote on the front page of the project he thought summed up what family history is all about:-  “A sculpture of my family tree, which I made out of real wood to communicate how important family is to the viewer, especially at this point in time.  It is bringing my family tree to life and combining nature and history.  As the branches grow this reflects family growth and the unity between the two”.  The life and times of George Tompkins showed an individual’s story including what life must have been like at RAF Amport in WW2 hidden in a labyrinth of country lanes.  Using twigs from the garden, a glue gun and a deep photographic frame she made her 3D Family Tree.

He noted that his cousin Susan Tompkins had been contacted in April by John Wakeling who’s grandfather Frederick (was their grandfather Henry’s brother) who had turned his family history information into books but were written with all the family included in the script.  He sent portions of the text stating his grandfather had sisters Maria, Sarah and Martha Tompkins.  Martha married Henry John Welch from which Bryan broke down a brick wall.  

At the start of WW2 the 1939 Census showed him and his mother living at 8 Letty Green along with the Shawyer family.  He spent months trying to find a connection with the Shawyer’s but without success.  John showed that in the 1939 Register the Welch family were living at 7 Letty Green. The Sawyers had the room to accommodate them but they were not related.

John’s e-mail exchanges revealed that Sarah Ann Tompkins was given the pet name little dot or doddie.  This stuck as “Auntie Dod”.  He had photos of Martha and Maria but none of “Dod” and asked if he had one.  Bryan sent a photograph showing an Uncle Charlie, a Grandma Tompkins and a Dodd sent by Miss Simms although he had no idea who they were. John stated it was Auntie Dod, her widowed mother Sarah Ann Tompkins and Charlie the husband of Maria Sarah Tompkins.  He found Constance May Simmons living in the village.  They agreed that due to lack of space on the card she shortened it to Simms.  He ended by noting perhaps he gave the audience thoughts of what they can do to use the information they have to pass it on to the younger generation.



by Peter Beaven

Four examples were given showing how Ancestry DNA testing helped expand family trees.

The first case appeared this year from South Africa and at the top of her tree was the surname of Peter’s mother.  This person had not been found earlier on census records as she was staying with grandparents.  When found, her father was a Wesleyan Minister, explaining her birth in South Africa.  She returned to Cape Town at the age of 25. Looking recently on her local family tree her marriage is recorded a fortnight after arrival.

The second case solves a family mystery.  On the 1851 census is a family with the first son born in Derbyshire; two children born in Pennsylvania and two more in the UK.  A search filtered by family name and Pennsylvania found just one contact; the associated tree showed the daughter and had a photograph of her in 1897 with two named grandchildren.  A similar filtered search on name and birth in North Bradley found a distant relation who had emigrated to Utah where she was a noted church member.  There is also an image of her and next to it is a group of 10 icons which provide links to people who have used this photo on their own trees.  

The last, most recent addition to the list of matches, is from Bruce (not his real name) in Australia.  Shared Matches with him showed that he was related to another person on Peter’s list of DNA contacts.  It turned out that she is his half-sister which was a complete revelation as Bruce did not know that he had been adopted.  In looking into this Peter found that at that time it was illegal for a woman to give birth to a child out of wedlock.  The legislation resulted in the “White Stolen Generations” and the “Aboriginal Stolen Generations” where babies were taken from their unmarried mothers.  In the five decades up to 1982, the newborn babies of single women were forcibly removed from them for adoption.  More than 250,000 white mothers lost their babies to forcible removal at birth.



by Stuart Ingram

Two cousins of Stuart’s great-grandfather married two brothers, but that wasn’t obvious as one was Arthur Britton John Ketcher and the other was Napier Dent.  They both used both surnames and selected from their numerous forenames too, for no obvious reason. All very confusing!

The 1871 census showed their father John Dent as married, with Jane Ketcher as an unmarried “housekeeper”, and the sons who were registered in her name alone.  John had had an earlier family with wife Jemima, but she and two children vanished after 1861.  But he provided for all his children and Jane in his Will, the money coming from the Thames barge “Windsor Castle” that he owned.  Jemima had died by then, though John and Jane never did marry. The family split was recently explained by an Ancestry tree based on an LDS “Ancestral File”.  From 1852 all four Dents joined a Mormon church in Maldon but John left after three years (“cut off from church”).  Ten years later Jemima and the two children went to Salt Lake City.

September 2020

Sandra Barkwith

Sandra Barkwith