Archive for September 2016

Tracing my forbears in North Devon

Category: What's New at

Barnstaple, North Devon
Barnstaple, North Devon

Our son has recently relocated to Barnstaple in North Devon and so I decided to see how close I could come to finding forbears who lived near there. I knew I had ancestors from North Devon and so I made a start by looking into my 5 x great-grandparents, James Alford (abt. 1772-1847) and his wife, Catherine Bellew (abt 1785-).

When the couple married, James was resident in Bideford and Catherine in nearby Westleigh, the latter being situated some 6.5 miles south-west of Barnstaple town centre.

James initially worked on the land as a husbandman in Great Torrington but by 1841, at the age of almost 70, he was described as a toll collector located at Chapelton Gate, Tawstock, about 6 miles south of Barnstaple.

After James' death in 1847, Catherine continued as a toll collector at the Turnpike Gate at Ashreigney, a few miles south of Chapelton. She was still described as a turnpike gate keeper ten years later in 1861, although she was visiting one of her daughters in Bridgetown, Tawstock, on the day the census was taken. Catherine was approximately 76 years old and still working.

Map of North Devon
Map of North Devon

The Alfords came from High Bickington and before this, in the early 18th century, from Roborough by Torrington. I am familiar with a Roborough in the north of Plymouth and, at the back of my mind I seemed to recall there was another Roborough in Devon. What I didn't know was that there is a third Roborough, an area very near to Barnstaple itself.

My 8 x great-grandparents, Lewis Alford and Mary Beale, married in Roborough by Torrington (14 miles due south of Barnstaple) in 1704 and their son, also called Lewis, married a Mary Alford and so Mary didn't need to change her name after she'd wed. This couple had ten children, one of whom was called George, a yeoman born in 1747, who married Margaret Hern/Hearn. These were my 6 x great-grandparents and they are buried at High Bickington, about 4 miles north-east of Roborough.

Margaret's parents were John Hearn and Frances Newcombe who were both from High Bickington. Four years after John's death, Frances remarried, this time to a John Richards. John Hearn's parents were Robert Hearn and Margaret Edworthy who married in High Bickington in 1714 and Frances was the daughter of William Newcombe and Joan Crocker.

Catherine Bellew's forbears all came from Yarnscombe which lies approximately 8 miles south of Barnstaple. Her parents, William Bellew and Catherine Paddon, were born in about 1750 and 1752 respectively. Catherine Paddon's parents were Peter Paddon and Sara Isaac who married in Yarnscombe in 1748.

Back to my 6 x great-grandfather, William Bellew, his parents were Henry Bellew and Mary Fursman. Henry was born in Yarnscombe in about 1719, the first of seven children belonging to William Bellew and Elizabeth Milton. This William Bellew was born in the 17th century, the son of my 9 x great-grandparents, Laurence Bellew and Mary Mogridg who married in 1682. Laurence was a yeoman when he died in 1713, having left a will, an abstract of which has apparently survived. I have yet to discover the contents of this document.

Finally, I have the name of my 10 x great-grandfather, William Mogridg, but nothing more is known about him.

None of these ancestors made it all the way to Barnstaple but James Alford and Catherine Bellew did in fact come very close.

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Sentimental Sunday: My Granny Geake would have been 100 today

Category: Sharing Memories

My Granny Geake
My Granny Geake.

What a celebration we would have had if my Granny (Phyllis Grace Geake, nee Weaver) was still with us as she would have been 100 years old today. This is a photo of her celebrating her 80th birthday. Cheers Gran and thanks for the memories!

[Why Sentimental Sunday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

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100 Years But Not Forgotten

Category: Ancestors Corner

Henry James Weaver
Henry James Weaver. R.I.P.

I can't let today pass without marking the centenary of the death of my great-grandfather, Henry (Harry) James Weaver. I've blogged a number of times before about how he was accidentally killed when a bomb (hand grenade) prematurely detonated during training back at the base after serving in the trenches in WW1. Therefore, today I thought it would be fitting to simply post a photograph of my Granny Geake's father, whose presence in her life she dearly missed.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Remembering my hilarious Granny on her birthday

Category: Sharing Memories

Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando
My Granny Hibbitt: Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando.

My Granny Hibbitt (Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando) was born on 1st September 1904 above a sweet and tobacconist shop called the Golden Butterfly in Saffron Walden in Essex.

After moving to Plymouth with her family, she attended Gunnerside School for Girls situated in North Road East in Plymouth. In 1920 she joined the Post Office working as a telephone operator and married my Grandpa in 1931, having previously been engaged to three other men. Way to go, Granny! She later worked in Bond, Pearce, Eliott & Knape Solicitors in Plymouth until she retired in 1961.

Much of Granny and Grandpa's early married life was spent in Tavistock where they rented a bungalow which they named Walden after Granny's birth place. They retired to the village of East Allington in the South Hams and I can remember many happy visits to their house, days spent on Grandpa's little boat on the Kingsbridge/Salcombe estuary and walks down by the local stream where there was an abundance of bluebells.

Granny had a funny turn of phrase. She was well-spoken but would mess around with words too, sometimes pretending to be posh (with huge tongue in cheek) and then using poor grammar on purpose just because she liked the sound of it, I guess. Here's an excerpt of a letter she wrote to my dad in 1950 when dad was presumably away on a course...

"...We are very glad you are coming back and your honourable Father will meet you at North Road Station whence you will proceed to the offices of the most important and highly respected solicitors in the West of England and pick up your most esteemed Mother. Thence to your country home in the wilds of Dartmoor."

She goes on...

"I am of a most desolate miserable disconsolateness about my Peter Lansdale wot only got 8 points. I had set my heart on him winning it, the poor darling. I expect some beastly, dirty, filthy, lousy, swinish, form of human life in the shape of another speedway rider put his elbows out and pushed my Pete..."

She did make me laugh a lot, did Gran.

After Grandpa died in 1972, Granny stayed on in their cottage until her final year in 1992.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]