Jean Betsy Shayler, 1923-2018

Jean Shayler & Roland Blackford 1948This photo shows my great aunt Jean Shayler and her husband Roland (Jack) Blackford on their wedding day on 5th June 1948. Tomorrow would have been their 72nd wedding anniversary and I’m grateful to their daughter Carol and grandson Matt for providing most of the information below about Jean’s life. Continue reading “Jean Betsy Shayler, 1923-2018”

What’s in a name? My shambling ancestors


The origin of some names is obvious; my surname, Bolton, is clearly from the town of that name in Lancashire and several other names from the Lancashire branches of my family tree are also derived from places – Kearsley, Partington and Sharples being three examples. 

Other family names derive from relationships in the past. In my tree I have a lot of Harrisons and also some Johnsons, which must originally have been Harry’s son and John’s son. And of course some family names come from the occupations of our ancestors, such as Wheeler, Turner and Smith, all of which appear in my family tree.  Continue reading “What’s in a name? My shambling ancestors”

George and Jane Stickley – a 19th century separation

Jane Everex

Jane Stickley nee Everex

George Stickley was the brother of my great-great grandmother Elizabeth Stickley, making him my 3 x great uncle. The family came from the village of North Moreton in Berkshire, where George was born in 1839. It was a large family with 11 children and their father Samuel Stickley worked as an agricultural labourer and in his later years as a publican. 

In 1860, when George was 21, he married Jane Everex who had been born in the nearby village of Long Wittenham, although her father was born in South Moreton and the family had moved back to the village by the time of the 1851 census.   Continue reading “George and Jane Stickley – a 19th century separation”

Mary Beecham – a quiet life?

Witney postcard

Postcard of Witney, about 1900, featuring a shepherd and his sheep

My 3 x great grandmother Mary Beecham is one of the people in my family tree that I have quite a lot of information about, but don’t feel I know much about her as a person. She appears in every census from 1851 to 1901 and I have found records of her baptism, marriage and burial. I also know the names of her parents, siblings, husband, children and grandchildren. But what kind of person was she? There are not many clues but let’s have a look at what we do know about Mary and her life.  Continue reading “Mary Beecham – a quiet life?”

Frank Harrison junior, who ran away to sea

Frank Harrison 2

Frank Harrison, son of Frank Harrison, and father of Frank Harrison.

Following a recent post about my great grandfather Frank Harrison, I thought I’d say a bit more about his son of the same name.  

Frank junior was born in 1887 and was the fourth of nine children in the Harrison family. As a youngster Frank always said he wanted to go to sea and he first ‘left home’ to go to sea at the age of four!  (thanks to my second cousin Joe Harrison for this vital piece of family info). I think they managed to get Frank back before he reached the sea, which was some distance from the family home in Manchester. Continue reading “Frank Harrison junior, who ran away to sea”

Frank Harrison, the man who didn’t emigrate to Canada!

Frank & Alice Harrison (2)

Frank Harrison and his wife Alice

My great grandfather Francis Harrison was born in Manchester on 27 March 1854 – 166 years ago today!  Known as Frank, he was the seventh of the eight children born to Thomas and Mary Ann Harrison. Francis was baptised at St George’s church, Hulme and I include here an extract from the baptism register.  Continue reading “Frank Harrison, the man who didn’t emigrate to Canada!”

Have I found Emmeline?

50 Woodstock Road, Oxford

The house on Woodstock Road in Oxford, where Emmeline worked as a cook in 1911

Ever since I started researching my family history, my great grandmother Emmeline Lois Austin Knights has been a woman of mystery.  She first appears in the April 1911 census working as a cook in Oxford. In September 1911 she married Frederick Shayler and they settled in the Northbourne area of Didcot, near Frederick’s family. They had four children, the oldest of whom was my Grandad. Both Frederick and Emmeline died when their children were still young and the children were cared for by their Shayler uncles and aunts and didn’t have any contact with their mother’s family. They were told that Emmeline came from County Waterford in Ireland. Continue reading “Have I found Emmeline?”

A walk around Spitalfields

Fournier Street 2

Fournier Street, Spitalfields

Earlier in the year I posted about some ancestors I’d discovered in Spitalfields, London. Although most of my Huguenot history took place in Canterbury, I found that there were strong connections between the Huguenot weaving families in Canterbury and London. There were marriages between some of these families and I also found evidence of families moving between the two locations, probably because of the changing economic environment.  

My 5 x great-grandmother Ann Battaille is a case in point. Ann was baptised at the ‘Chapel of the Hospital’ (the French Protestant church) in Spitalfields in 1737. She married Daniel Lepine (who was from a Canterbury silk weaving family) in 1760 at nearby St Matthew’s in Bethnal Green. Ann and Daniel lived in Spitalfields / Bethnal Green for several years after their marriage and their six children were all born and baptised there, but towards the end of the 18th century they relocated to Canterbury and both died there.  Continue reading “A walk around Spitalfields”