Saturday, February 08, 2014

Turning Down the Empty Glass #4

Click on the numbers for the 3 earlier parts of this 4-part series, those relating to paternal ancestors are #1 and #2.
#1......#2.... #3

My maternal grandmother and her ancestors are last, but certainly not least in the four posts about my family history.

My grandmother May Bracegirdle married Sidney Bulpitt (see #3) in or about 1915. Their elder daughter, my mother Mary, was born in late September 1915. May and Sid would have a second daughter, Lillian some 7 years later.

 Sidney and May Bulpitt with elder daughter Mary, my mother.

 3 generations: May, Mary and Ann (me looking coy)

The back of the photograph (above) was inscribed by Lillian (my Aunt Lil)  : "Mum & sister Mary & Ann. This picture went through the 1939 war pinned on many gun site walls"

May, my grandmother, was born on 19 May 1894, daughter of Sarah (formerly Petch) and John Bracegirdle. May had borne a son out of wedlock (father unknown) in 1910. Her son, John, was raised by May's mother, Sarah.
Sarah and John Bracegirdle, my great-grandparents

Who was John Bracegirdle, my great grandfather? Where was he born? This has proved to be one of the most stubborn of brick walls in my family history. I know from census returns that he was a groom and servant at a picturesque and historic stately home in East Yorkshire: Burton Agnes Hall, shown here.

His place of birth on census return for 1891 was given as "Fulford", a village not far from York. I have been able to find no records of any Bracegirdle families in that area, nor have any helpers on genealogy message boards I've approached for assistance.

Bracegirdle is an unusual surname. It derives from an occupation:
This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a metonymic occupational name for a maker of breech-girdles, that is a maker of belts for holding up breeches, from the Olde English pre 7th Century, Middle English "brec" (Old French "braie"), breeches, with the Olde English "gyrdel", a girdle, belt. The surname is particularly widespread in the county of Lancashire (and Cheshire)...... The first recorded namebearer appears in London in the late 13th Century............(See here).

I was close to my grandma, May, having spent some years of my childhood during World War 2, living with her and grandad. I used to ask her about her father. He had died young, she said, when she was around 4 years old, her memories were hazy. His death certificate is recorded in 1898, his age then noted as 37, which might be an approximation, as on his marriage certificate in 1890 he was listed as age 27. My grandmother told me, when asked where her father came from, that he was "a foreigner". "Foreigner" in those days probably meant someone not from the surrounding area, rather than someone from another country. She would usually add that he "liked his drink", something that might have led to his early death. One of her clearest memories of her father was of him coming home one Christmas-time, drunk and carrying a pig under his arm! I believe I'd have rather liked my great grandfather! No such tale was a helpful lead to John Bracegirdle's origins though.

The letter below, dated 13 Dec. 1896, was treasured by my grandma, as a memory of her father. He is writing to his mother and father(presumably his in-laws for this to have remained in my grandma's possession) for an invitation to visit them at Christmas-time. Whether this was the Christmas when John arrived the worse for wear, and bearing a pig, isn't known!

John Bracegirdle appears in the 1891 census return as age 28, married, "groom/domestic servant in Burton Agnes, born "Fulford".

I obtained a copy of the marriage certificate of John Bracegirdle and Sarah in the hope of finding helpful clues. It certifies that the pair were married in Nafferton on 26 November 1890, when he was 27, she 23. His occupation is noted as "Groom", place of residence: Burton Agnes, his father's name is given as another John Bracegirdle, occupation "Labourer". Sarah is listed as "spinster", residence at time of marriage: Nafferton, her father William Petch, "Labourer". Witnesses were George Wilkinson and Mary Petch, Mary A. Staveley, all relatives or neighbours of Sarah.

If John Bracegirdle truly did come from Fulford, I doubt he'd have been thought of as "a foreigner" by my grandmother. As there's no sign of any Bracegirdle families in that area, I suspect that either the census taker misheard or misinterpreted the place name - or that my great grandfather had tried to cover his tracks for some reason. I suppose there is always the chance that he was son of a pair of travelling agricultural servant/labourers who spent a shortish time in Fulford and gave birth to a son, between census times - a 10-year gap. I suspect, though, that John Bracegirdle could have moved to Yorkshire from rural Cheshire, where there are to be found numerous Bracegirdle families. I tracked down any likely John Bracegirdles there, also in Lancashire, and came up with one I consider a likely "favourite": John Bracegirdle born in Knutsford (Knutsford.....Fulford.....ripe for misinterpretation?) who was 17 and a groom/domestic servant to a veterinary surgeon in the census for 1881. I've been unable to pin him down in an 1871 census at age 7 so far though, if his father's name really was John, but there are several other John Bracegirdles aged 7 listed with fathers of different first names.

John Bracegirdle's true origins will remain a mystery for ever, I fear. Sarah, John's wife and my great grandmother, remained a widow for some years after John's death.

 Sarah Bracegirdle, my great-grandmother

She married Henry Earnest Waites in 1910. Sarah and her second husband brought up my grandmother's son, John and eventually they ran a small farm in Gembling, East Yorkshire. Sarah worked at one point, my grandmother told me, as caterer looking after workers on a larger farm. She was always remembered by relatives as a "wonderful cook", a title my grandmother and my aunt inherited, though my mother and I missed out - at least on the "wonderful" part! I met my great grandmother several times, remember her as a tall, slender - almost gaunt - lady, but no more detailed memories remain.

Sarah's parents were William Petch of Nafferton and Martha (formerly Wilkinson, of Brigham). William, born in Hutton Cranswick, worked in the Nafferton flour mill, is listed in the census of 1901, then aged 54 as "weighman miller in flour mill", Nafferton, East Yorkshire.

William Petch , his wife Martha below
His wife, Martha is noted as aged 53. Also listed as living (or visiting) at 70 Station Street with William and Martha are some grandchildren:
Florence (11), Fred (4), Mary (6) (should be May) and Alice (2), along with "visitors", Sarah Bracegirdle (widow, 32), John Petch (28), Mary Petch (24), Thomas Tomlinson(30), Hannah Marson (17) and Thomas Sawdon (21). The three male "visitors" all farm servants.

Quite a house-full! I wonder if that census was taken close to some holiday time, or maybe near the date of a  wedding when family members gathered together. Sarah and May are the only pair present I fully recognise as mother and daughter - my grandmother and great grandmother. The family tree of the rest of the Petch family has always been a huge mystery to everyone; my mother, her sister and I have giggled over it more than once. I knew Florence and Alice as older "aunties", but neither was my grandmother's sister - maybe they were her cousins, but even she, and they, seemed hazy on that score.

William Petch was born about 1848, his father John Petch born 1815/18, Hutton Cranswick , married Sarah Jefferson (1816-1851). John Petch's father was another John Petch (1791/2)born in either Hutton Cranswick or Louth, Lincolnshire, who married Mary (possibly Mary Wallis). Both Johns were agricultural labourers.

There's a muddle here, I'm not yet clear on it.

This photograph of a John Petch comes from, it appears in several different family trees which must be loosely linked to my own, if this is, indeed the same John Petch, grandfather of William (my great-great grandfather). I'm not happy with the "Louth, Lincolnshire" connection, but it could fit. In the census of 1871 a John Petch, aged 80, married to Mary, is noted as born in Hutton Cranswick. That is my John Petch. In earlier census returns a John Petch with a wife Mary (nee Wallis) was noted as born in Louth Lincolnshire - but resident in Hutton Cranswick.

The following links are not 100% certain due to the above confusion: Father of the senior John was another William Petch (1770-1847), his wife was Jane (nee Wise 1769-1823). William's father was yet another William Petch, married to another Jane (nee Green).

PETCH: The surname, Petch, is said to be of medieval French origin and derives from the Old French "pech(i)e", the Latin "peccatum", meaning sin. A curious nickname surname, it was probably used more often in jest than as a mark of censure, or even in the ironical sense, as in the case of Robert Pecce, the Bishop of Coventry in 1123! The following examples illustrate the name development from the earliest recording ... Haimund Peccatum, Hamo Pecce (1121 - 1160 Suffolk), Rotbert Pecceth (1123 Anglo Saxon Chronicle), William Pesche (1178 Pipe Rolls Yorkshire), Gilbert Pechie (1200, Pipe Rolls, Cambridgeshire), Geoffrey Pech (1191, Pipe Rolls London), Richard Pechee (1275 Hundred Rolls Norfolk). In the modern idiom the variant include Pe(t)chey, Peach(e), Peech, Petch(e).
From HERE.

(From Wikipedia)
Pipe Rolls were financial records maintained by the English Exchequer, or Treasury. The earliest date from the 12th century, and the series extends, mostly complete, from then until 1833. They form the oldest continuous series of records kept by the English government, covering a span of about 700 years. The early medieval ones are especially useful for historical study, as they are some of the earliest financial records available from the Middle Ages.

Returning to my great grandmother's father, William Petch - his wife Martha Wilkinson's family can be traced back to early 18th century:
Martha's father was James Wilkinson (1828-1876 ) born in Skerne, married to Frances of Kirkburn (1829-1892).

James Wilkinson's father was George (1787-1876) born in Cherry Burton, married to Martha Jane (formerly Ness 1789-1834) of Nafferton, daughter of John Ness of Wansford and Martha(nee Marson 1761-1816) of Nafferton.

Martha's parents were Richard Marson (1722-1794)of Nafferton and Mary Haggard of North Frodingham (1722-1759).
Those place names seem scattered but all are close together in the same area of East Yorkshire.

My maternal great grandfather's origins remain a mystery, but female lines in this branch of my genealogy are strongly based in East Yorkshire.

Turning down an empty glass for my grandmother May, with all her, and my, ancestors, known and unknown.

And when Thyself with shining foot shall pass
Among the guests star-scatter'd on the grass,
And in thy joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made one - turn down an empty glass!

Gathering the 4 family strands together: my traceable ancestor lines derive from East and North Yorkshire, Suffolk and Essex, Wiltshire and Hampshire, possibly Cheshire. Further back than documentary evidence allows, it's likely that a few elements in these lines had their deepest roots in France (Vasey, Petch) and in Scotland (Scott).

The "brick-walls" encountered so far are:
a)Who were my paternal grandfather's father and antecedents?
b)Was John Thomas Midgley the biological father of my paternal grandmother, or was she daughter of his wife Fanny(his second cousin) before they married?
c) Where did my maternal great-grandfather come from, who were his family?

A last photograph, small one but one I've always loved it, because it was taken some time after my father had suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident. A friend had encouraged him to try to drive the motorbike and Dad had managed to throw himself off it into the road and damaged his face quite badly. You can still see signs of some dressings I think. He had scars for the rest of his life. It could have been horrendously worse. I'm posting this, coincidentally, on my Dad's birthday, 8 February. This little pic of an ice cream party, with Dad, Mum, Grandma May and me carries a very happy memory.
 Happy Birthday, Dad!


mike said...

I bet there will be at least a fifth installment in your family tree series. The Bracegirdle link will appear out of no where one of these days. My sister invested over a decade trying to find information on our paternal grandfather and her endeavor was finally met with success, and of course, led to the next inquiry of paternal great-grandfather...another wall.

As I understand it, allows users to contact one another via email, which is how my sister finally made some important connections. She has likewise filled-in information for a number of other seekers. Plus, is always expanding their database.

If you're like my sister, you will never be at rest until ALL branches are completed. She says she's done, but I'm sure she will forever more be on the lookout for information!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks, yes, I'd like to think someone, somewhere, sometime, will stumble into one or more of the 4 family history posts and provide me with a hint which could help solve at least one of the mysteries still remaining. :-)

I'd considered re-posting the 4 episodes to a separate blog, but have now decided against that. This blog has been part of blog-world since 2006, though a very, very minor element of it. I think it's more likely that links to posts here will travel further than from a brand new blog suddenly appearing containing just 4 posts. I'm the only person in the world truly interested in all four episodes anyway. Even my cousins would have interest in just one or two of the pieces. and its contributors might unearth something eventually. I shall keep an eye on the site from time to time, as will anyjazz - he has brick walls too. Like your sister, though, I feel I'm done - gone as far as I can sensibly reach from this location. Had I been back in England, other avenues would have been available for deeper research.

kaleymorris said...

I can see a resemblance between you and Sarah Bracegirdle.

Twilight said...

kaleymorris ~ Can you? I used to think I could too, especially in the photo of Sarah and John, and when I used to wear my hair dragged back into two braids at school - but neither my grandmother nor my mother agreed- they always said I looked like my Dad and his side of the family. :-)

LB said...

Like kaleymorris, I also see a resemblance, Twilight. Debated about commenting on it, but when I saw I wasn't the only person who thought so, I had to.:)

In my family, one of my mother's younger brothers looks just like their great grandfather. And apparently I bear a striking resemblance to one of my mother's cousins - my mom told me people used to comment on how her cousin looked a lot like the actress, Loretta Young, which is something I heard when I was much younger too. Genetics are amazing!

Twilight said...

LB ~ Ah well, maybe I was right when I saw a likeness then! :-) I suppose my mother and grandma had clear memories of how Sarah looked in her much later years, and decided I didn't look like her as she was when she'd aged.
The great grandmother I recall didn't look anything like either of the photographs of her when she was young.

Genetics are amazing yes. I think some families have more distinct likenesses facially and in physical build than others - some emphasis on particular bits of the DNA I guess. My father's family did have a very strikingly similar "look" which I often thought was "foreign" , Italian, middle-eastern, that sort of thing. I remember once someone asking me if I was Turkish - that happened when I was around 18.
But I didn't discover anything that might lead in a "foreign" direction, unless, perhaps there's a clue behind one of the brick walls :-)

mike (again) said...

Many other traits beyond physical appearance can be genetically linked, too. I saw a 20/20 program with a segment regarding the Utah infertility clinic where one of the technicians (now deceased) criminally switched the father's sperm for his. The resulting daughter was genetically tested and found to be the technician's daughter and the mother said that the mental traits of her daughter were much more similar to the technician's known talents.

Genetically-linked traits are often not discernible in one's astrology, either (or are they?). Twilight, do you share any observable mental traits or talents with your gene line?

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ It's a fascinating topic - whether astrology also links to genetically-linked traits of personality and/or appearance.

I don't know what mental traits or talents any of my gene line possessed beyond my parents and grandparents. If I do share any of mine with them, whether this would be down to genetic link, astrology, or "learned" by association with them, or from other causes would be hard to differentiate.

I think I mentioned in one of the posts that I suspect my two "wandering" grandfathers who wandered from the south to Yorkshire (and possibly a wandering great-grandfather) could contribute to my own wandering traits (love to travel) and those of my parents, who loved to move house and business, and did so several times more than average mortals.

Astrologically, I share my father's Aquarius Sun sign, and his Saturn in Aries. My mother had a stellium in Cancer (not including Sun) I have natal Cancer rising. My maternal grandmother had Sun in Taurus and ruler of my Aquarius Sun, Uranus was in Taurus when I was born.

My mother's Sun was in Libra, her father's in "Airy" Sun link comes from both sides.

In nature though, I've always been most like my father.

Twilight said...

I've added a pic at the end of the post. :-)

LB said...

Love that last photo, Twilight.:) I'm assuming that's you standing next to your dad?

While not really health problems per se, throughout my life I've had to deal with various challenges. Some are very mysterious; they come and they go and I've learned to do my own research and then lean in. My mom used to wonder why, claiming there wasn't any family history. Then when I found my sister (the daughter my mom gave up at birth), I was *amazed*.

Although we have completely different body types (different fathers), not only do we look alike, years ago we'd also been (mis)diagnosed with the same rare condition! Whereas I refused the treatment and ended up figuring out some of what was going on on my own, my sister (whose approach to life and health is *much* different than mine - our Ascendants are *exactly* square) went along with it and now can barely walk, though she continues to believe it (and everything else they've prescribed) has helped.:(

The other thing is that I'd always assumed the Mars-Pluto square in my chart was inherited from my dad's side of the family. That is until I found my sister and discovered she has the same aspect. Her square even forms a tight T-Square with my own - ouch! You can imagine.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes that was me - long time ago.

That's a good example of genetics/astrology you've provided from your own experience - thank you!

Regarding health/physical issues, there is one noticeable link I have to my mother's side. She suffered from really bad varicose veins and ulcers in her legs, especially after I was born. She inherited the tendency from her father, Sid Bulpitt, who also suffered from leg ulcers throught his life. He told us that his father had suffered similarly.

I don't suffer nearly as badly as they did, no varicose veins as such, but have inherited faulty valves (or some deficiency) in my ankles and feet. I had one very bad ulcer on my foot some years ago, caused by accidental sun damage from a metal adornment on a sandal - the ulcer went very deep, took 2 years and a lot of pain to heal it. So...that's an easily identifiable family link, a fault in the DNA I guess, which thankfully has become kind of "diluted" with time and because another different gene pool has been mixed in.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Leg ulcers seem kind of scary, actually. Good thing your own issues aren't as severe, though what you went through must have been pretty painful. Sorry!

My mom (whose Mars was in Aquarius) suffered from varicose veins. I've read where Aquarius rules the shins, ankles and circulatory system, so it makes sense. Since my Moon and Chiron are in Aquarius, I need to be aware and proactive myself. Gotta keep that chi flowing!

Twilight said...

LB ~ My grandfather's father told him to keep his legs the equivalent of "moisturised"- though that wasn't the word they used back then - by rubbing them frequently with goose grease. LOL! I use Lubriderm, which I suspect has never seen a goose but helps skin on ankles and feet to avoid becoming dry and more susceptible to breaking in case of minor injuries. :-)

James Higham said...

Right, Twilight, we've got you well tabbed now. Your history is known, m'girl.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ ...and the NSA is welcome! ;-)