The Dark Room Mystery Remains

Category: Ancestors Corner

I was in London on Wednesday and, whilst I was there, I spent a few hours at the National Archives. My main purpose was to see if I could satisfy the family lore which suggests that Harvey's grandad, Cyril Ellen, had set up a dark room on a ship.

Cyril joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Chief Petty Officer in April 1915 attached to the photographic department and he also undertook observer duties. I know he was on HMS Riviera from July 1915 to November 1916 so I looked up some of the ship's logs but unfortunately I couldn't find anything helpful. I didn't have time to order the logs for every month that he served on the ship so I picked out various individual months but nothing popped up.

The only mention of Cyril which I could find was on the 30th June 1915 at about 5pm and this wasn't a mention by name. This was the day before his service record states he joined HMS Riviera and simply reads...

"One C.P.O. (Air Service) rating joined ship".

Ship's Log for HMS Riviera - 30th June 1915
Ship's Log for HMS Riviera - 30th June 1915
(Click the image to see a larger version.)

Riviera was a seaplane tender which had been converted in 1914 from a cross-channel packet ship. She underwent a second conversion in early 1915 and saw service with the Dover Patrol whilst Cyril was on the ship. I'm aware there was a dark room onboard by 1918 but the exact date it was put there remains elusive. I also know Cyril got into a couple of scrapes in May and June 1916 but the log didn't reveal anything about these incidents.

After he left Riviera, Cyril gained a Commission and was drafted to Stavros in Greece (which was an airfield adjacent to the sea by the time he arrived) where he was engaged in photographic flights at low altitudes for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross gallantry medal.

So the question as to whether Cyril set up a dark room on a ship is still outstanding. I wonder if we'll ever find documentary evidence in support of this family tale.

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Visiting my gran's birthplace of Saffron Walden in Essex

Category: Making Memories

When we visited the market town of Saffron Walden in Essex in the summer, I just had to take the photograph on the right because it reminded me of a postcard (seen on the left) which most likely belonged to my Granny Hibbitt (Ivy Alice Hibbitt, nee Dando) and which is now in my possession.

St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden, Essex
St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden, Essex
(Click the image above to see a larger version.)

My gran was born in Saffron Walden in 1904 and was baptized in St Mary's Church on 23rd October of that year. By the time of the 1911 census, the family had moved to Plymouth but I can't be certain exactly when they arrived.

Gran had an affinity with Saffron Walden and when she and my Grandpa settled in Tavistock, they called the name of their bungalow in Chollacott Close, Walden, although now it has a number. I know that they visited Saffron Walden at least once (and probably many more times) because I have a cine film of them in the town.

It was nice to finally see the sweet shop where my gran was born. The Golden Butterfly at 2 Market Street was a sweet and tobacconist shop then and still is to this day. I bought a bag of sherbet lemons so I could have a peek inside.

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Tombstone Tuesday: 99 years since Henry James Weaver died in the Great War

Category: Ancestors Corner

Memorial Board in St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel
Memorial Board in St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel

Today is the 99th anniversary of the death of my great-grandfather, Henry James Weaver, accidentally killed by a bomb prematurely exploding during training at a base in France during WW1.

The photograph shows Henry's name on the War Memorial board near the back of the church in Curry Rivel, Somerset - Henry's home town.

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

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Cine footage of Anne Hibbitt's Christening Day

Category: Sharing Memories

Annie's Christening DayMy grandparents and parents used to use a cine camera before and after I was born and my Grandpa Geake recorded the films onto video tape in the early 1990's. Since then they've been transferred to DVD and converted to mpeg files.

Last week it would have been my Granny Hibbitt's birthday which reminded me that I was Christened on the day she turned 59 so I decided to upload some footage of the event onto YouTube.

The cine film includes me as a baby, my parents, both sets of grandparents, my aunt and my elder brother. I was baptized at St Eustachius Church in Tavistock and the film was taken outside the front door of my Granny and Grandpa Geake's house in Crelake Park, Tavistock.

Without further ado, HERE'S THE CINE FILM.

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Family Recipe Friday: Huckleberry Pudding

Category: Mrs Beeton's Cookery Books

The following recipe appears in the 'American Cookery' Chapter of my gran's 1894 publication of 'Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book and Household Guide'.


HUCKLEBERRY PUDDING.

INGREDIENTS. — A pint of huckleberries(or whortleberries, as we call them), 2 eggs, a pint of milk, a saltspoonful of salt, 1/4 teaspoonful of soda, 1/2 teaspoonful of cream of tartar, enough flour to make a thick batter.

Mode.-Mix the cream of tartar with the flour, and dissolve the soda in hot water, then make into a thick batter with the other ingredients. Pick and mash the berries, dredge them with flour, and stir into the batter. Pour the mixture into a buttered mould, and boil 1 hour. Serve with some very sweet sauce.

Time, 1 hour. Seasonable from July to September.

See this post for more information about the book.

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

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

Friday's Faces From The Past - Phyllis Weaver of Tavistock

Category: Sharing Memories

Phyllis Weaver
My gran, Phyllis Weaver (who later became Phyllis Geake)

Today I thought I'd post a photograph of my maternal grandmother as a young woman. I think she looks quite glamorous here.

[Why Friday's Faces From The Past? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

Early Triumph motorcycle reminiscent of Grandpa's WW1 service

Category: Ancestors Corner

Harvey and I visited the Shuttleworth Collection in June at the Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire where they keep a wonderful collection of historic aircraft and vehicles dating from the first half of the 20th century. It's a fascinating place and well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area and have an interest in early aviation.

Amongst the collection of motorcycles there, I spotted an early Triumph which looked familiar to me. Pictured below you'll see it was a 1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D. (spring drive) which used the same basic engine that gave excellent service for despatch riders during the Great War.

1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D
1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D

My Grandpa Hibbitt was a despatch rider during the First World War and this reminded me of the motorcycle he was sitting on in a photograph dating from this period.

Charles George Hibbitt as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider in WW1
Charles George Hibbitt as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider in WW1

In the photo, he is seated on a Triumph Model H which was the first Triumph not to be fitted with pedals, so was a true motorcycle. The Triumph Engineering Co Ltd had been using the advertising slogan Trusty Triumph since 1910 and the Model H became known as 'The Trusty' as it proved reliable in wartime conditions, despite a weakness in the front fork spring. This was prone to break on rough ground, so despatch riders would strap a leather belt around it as a precaution. The picture shows that my Grandpa did this very thing.

More than 30,000 Triumph Model H motorcycles had been produced by the end of the war in 1918 and by the time it was discontinued in 1923 a total of 57,000 had been produced.

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Site Updates - Surnames: Edwards, Bishop, Jones, Geake

Category: What's New at Hibbitt.org.uk

Hibbitt Family Tree section

FindMyPast have recently released the 'British Army, Casualty Index War of 1812' collection. I knew of an ancestor who was in the army around the time of the Napoleonic Wars so I thought I'd look him up to see if he featured in these records.

Angel Edwards was the son of my 5 x great-grandparents, Nathaniel & Grace Edwards. I knew he was born in Hatherleigh, North Devon, in around 1783 but I hadn't been able to find out what had eventually become of him after he'd enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1803 and, at some point, become a regular soldier in the 8th (King's) Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion. It turns out that Angel died of wounds in 1814 after the Battle of Lundy's Lane (also known as the Battle of Niagara Falls). He'd have been about 31 years old.

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, which took place during the 'War of 1812', was fought between American troops and British regulars assisted by Canadians defending their homeland and militia on the evening of 25 July 1814, almost within sight of Niagara Falls. You can read more about it at the War of 1812 website.

-------------


I've added a few more details for Thomas Bishop & Elizabeth Jones. Thomas was a coal miner and the family lived in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil.

Thomas' father was Joseph Bishop but not much is known about him as yet.

Elizabeth's parents were Thomas Jones and Hannah (maiden name unknown). Thomas' occupation was a Railman and the couple had nine children.

My grandparents, Phyl & Bill Geake
My grandparents, Phyl & Bill Geake

Lastly, I've added some additional information for my grandpa, William Hellyer Geake, but there'll be more to come when I have the time.

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Sentimental Sunday: My visit to the charming village of Curry Rivel in Somerset

Category: Making Memories

Whilst away recently on a short break, hubby and I took the opportunity to stop off at the quaint village of Curry Rivel on our return journey. Tucked away in the Somerset countryside, the village features a church, parts of which date back to the Norman period, a village green and some lovely character properties.

St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel
St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel

Curry Rivel was the home of my Weaver family for centuries; my 6 x great-grandparents married in St Andrew's Church on 5th August 1745 and there is evidence of numerous generations of Weavers living there before them. I've been reluctant to include these generations in my tree without further documentation but I may revisit this again some time in the future and take a view.

Whilst I explored the churchyard I happened upon three Weaver headstones, one of which belonged to my 4 x great-grandparents, Robert Weaver and his wife, Sarah nee Street. Robert and Sarah were 80 and 82 years old respectively when they passed away.

The headstone of Robert Weaver and his wife, Sarah nee Street
The headstone of Robert Weaver and his wife, Sarah nee Street

Inside the church, on the War Memorial board I saw the name of my great-grandfather, Henry James Weaver. Someone had taken the trouble to compile a folder entitled, "Men of Curry Rivel Who Died in the Great War 1914-1918". Killed in September 1916, Henry had stood or knelt at the altar of this same church only nine months earlier when he'd married his bride, Florence Smale.

The altar inside St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel
The altar inside St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel

I wrote in the visitor's book and, at the last minute, I went back and added my email address. By a strange co-incidence, three days later, I received an email from the great-grand-daughter of one of Henry's sisters who had just visited the church and had seen my message.

A committee, formed in 1919, decided the main village War Memorial should be situated "on the roadside, on the King's highway, so that not only the inhabitants of this district could see it, but also all those who passed by on that road ..." Henry is remembered on this memorial which was dedicated at a moving service attended by the whole village on 7th November 1920. I have no idea if there were any representatives from the Smale side of the family (his widow and child lived in Tavistock in West Devon) but I would imagine Henry's parents, and perhaps some of his siblings, would have been present.

The War Memorial at Curry Rivel
The War Memorial at Curry Rivel

My gran (Henry and Florence's daughter), lost touch with her father's side of the family after she was orphaned when she was quite small. Later, in 1939, she travelled to Curry Rivel from her home in Tavistock with my mum who was then a baby, to see if she could find family. She asked someone whether there were any Weavers still in the village and was directed to the home of her Uncle Dick (Richard Arthur Weaver) and his wife, Alice. I believe Dick wasn't there at the time but to my gran's amazement, the person who came to the door was her 91 year old grandfather, William Henry Weaver (1848-1944). They were both thrilled - my gran hadn't known the old man was still alive.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you may like to take a moment to view the short video I took during my brief visit.

[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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Visiting Westminster College, Cambridge

Category: Making Memories

Last week, Harvey and I took a short break, spending time in the Cambridgeshire/Essex/Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire area. Whilst we were there, we visited Westminster College in Cambridge, a centre for learning within the United Reformed Church, which also houses several sets of archives:
  • The records of Cheshunt College (including correspondence with the Countess of Huntingdon).
  • The Presbyterian Church of England archive.
  • The United Reformed Church History Society collection.
  • The records of Westminster College.
  • The Churches of Christ archive.

Westminster College
Westminster College, Cambridge

I've mentioned before how my 6 x great-grandfather, John Dando the elder, wrote to the Countess of Huntingdon in 1771, having first been introduced by letter by Rev'd Rowland Hill, an itinerant preacher with whom John was acquainted.

Rev'd Hill wrote…

"According to your Ladysps orders I have spoken to a Hatter who has sent his terms in Letter By Mr. Hawksworth. I shall also this evening speak to a clothier who shall also write you his terms. as I believe them both to be real Xtians I hope there is no reason to doubt but you will have Xtian treatment from ym both."

Letter written by Rowland Hill

Letter written by Rowland Hill
Letter written by Rev'd Rowland Hill to the Countess of Huntingdon
(Click the images above to see larger versions.)

In his letter, John informed the Countess of the price of his hats and went on to discuss the evangelical revival taking place in his area. This would, no doubt, have been of interest to the Countess who had founded the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, a Calvinistic movement within the Methodist Church.

Letter written by John Dando

Letter written by John Dando
Letter written by John Dando to the Countess of Huntingdon
(Click the images above to see larger versions.)

It was great to see the original letter in person and I would like to mention the wonderful enthusiasm of Helen, the archivist at the College.

The Lodge at Westminster College
The Lodge at Westminster College, Cambridge

Westminster College is a lovely Grade II listed building with some beautiful architecture and I especially liked the library and the Chapel. Had I known in advance that they offer accommodation, I think I'd have been tempted to stay for a couple of days!

Letters reproduced here with the permission of the Trustees of the Cheshunt Foundation, Westminster College, Cambridge.
Rev'd Rowland Hill Letter Reference: (F1/1200)
John Dando Letter Reference: (F1/141)


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