Finding more Kidderminster ancestors

Category: What's New at

Samuel Cotterell's name and occupation as recorded on his son, Edmund's, marriage certificate
Samuel Cotterell's name and occupation as recorded on his son, Edmund's, marriage certificate

I've made a little progress on my Worcestershire based ancestors. I was aware that my 4 x great-grandmother was Elizabeth Lewis who married Samuel Cotterell at Kidderminster, in 1782. I have now found her baptism dated 4th February 1757 showing that she was the daughter of Richard and Mary Lewis. Mary's maiden name was Rook/Rooke/Rooks.

Mary Rooke was born in approximately 1734, the daughter of Thomas Rook and Sarah Payton who married in Kidderminster on 30th May 1726.

The eldest of four, Elizabeth Lewis appears to have been Richard and Mary's only daughter. Two sons, who were probably twins, were baptised on 23rd October 1759 but sadly William died on the 24th and Francis on the 25th. This was also the day both boys were buried. Their youngest son, named Richard after his father, was baptised in October 1760, less than three months after Mary's husband had died so life must have been tough for her.

The Payton surname was prevalent in Kidderminster from as early as the beginning of the 17th century when an Elizabeth Payton was baptised in 1620. The Rooke name appears in the town just a little later.

Kidderminster is known for the manufacture of carpets, which began during the 18th century and developed out of a well established cloth industry. I don't know what my Lewis, Rooke and Payton forebears did for a living but I do know that Samuel Cotterell was a weaver so I think it very likely he was connected to one of these industries.

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In Remembrance

Category: Ancestors Corner

The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London
The Cenotaph in Whitehall
I took this photograph when I visited London in June 1980

In remembrance of...
  • 4732 Private Henry James WEAVER (my great-grandfather) - 2/1 Bucks Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
    Born 3 October 1882 in Curry Rivel, Somerset. Died 8 September 1916. Killed by accident during bomb practice. Buried in Merville Communal Cemetery Extension in France. Commemorated on the War Memorial in Curry Rivel and Tavistock War Memorial in Devon. Left a widow, Florence (nee Smale) and an unborn daughter.

  • 2007216 Sapper George HARVEY (Harvey's great-grandfather) - 9th Battalion, Canadian Engineers.
    Born 23 July 1884 in Newlyn, Cornwall. Died at No. 9 General Hospital, Rouen, France. Died of a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension in Rouen. Commemorated on the War Memorial in Newlyn and on a stone on the side of the Primitive Methodist Church in Newlyn. Left a widow, Lizzie Annie (nee Thomas) and two daughters under the age of 10.

  • Lieut.-Comdr. (E) Charles Henry MARTIN R.N. (my great-uncle) - Royal Navy.
    Born 1 May 1903 in Twerton-on-Avon, Bath, Somerset. Died 9 April 1942 off Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). Went down in H.M.S. Hermes. Lost at Sea. Commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon. Left a widow, Nellie Gertrude (nee Hibbitt).
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The varied life of Ann Weaver (1830-1885)

Category: Ancestors Corner

The churchyard pathway at Curry Rivel, Somerset, leads out onto the Green
The churchyard pathway at Curry Rivel, Somerset, leads out onto the Green

My 3 x great-grandmother, Ann Weaver, has been an enigma for quite some time but more recently I've made some progress with a little help from another family historian along the way.

Ann was born in 1830 in the village of Curry Rivel in Somerset. She was the daughter of a cordwainer or boot and shoemaker. She gave birth to my 2 x great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver (known as Harry), in 1848 when she was eighteen and unmarried. I still don't know who Harry's father was as he isn't recorded in any documents.

Ann appears to have lived with her parents until 1856 when she married a soldier, John Willshire, who had previously fought in the Crimea. They married in nearby Taunton and then left the area and were living in barracks in Canterbury shortly afterwards. Harry remained in Curry Rivel with his grandparents. John and Ann had a son in 1858 but sadly Ann was widowed in 1864. John had been medically discharged from the army three years beforehand due to phthisis pulmonalis, otherwise known as tuberculosis of the lungs. Their son attended the Royal Military Asylum in Chelsea to complete his schooling.

Ann married again in 1866. Her second husband was Charles Cleverly who was almost ten years her junior. He had various occupations ranging from a farmer's boy, a carter, groom and omnibus driver. Charles and Ann lived in the Saint John area of Westminster. For some reason Charles was not with her in 1881 when the census was taken but Ann had her youngest son at home and was making a living as a shirt maker, something it seems she'd been doing for at least a decade.

Ann died of apoplexy (a stroke) on 17th May 1885, aged 54. She'd only suffered briefly and her husband, Charles, was with her when she died. Charles remarried in 1887 and was still alive in 1891 but he disappears from the records after this.

What became of Ann's sons? Harry followed in his grandfather's footsteps and, after a short time working as a journeyman shoemaker in Drimpton, Dorset, he returned to Curry Rivel where he lived and worked until he died in 1944 at the ripe old age of 95.

Ann's younger son, William John Willshire (probably known as John), stayed in London and worked as a clerk. The London lifestyle was likely much less healthy and he died aged 40 having married his second wife less than two weeks beforehand.

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My Grandpa Hibbitt - cine footage and photographs

Category: Cine Films and Videos

Cine footage with a few stills thrown in of my Grandpa Hibbitt (Charles George Hibbitt: 1898-1972).

Known as Charlie, he was born near Dundalk in Ireland. His father was a Coastguard and the family moved around before settling in Devon. Charlie went to live and work in Tavistock as a telephone engineer and inspector before retiring to East Allington in the South Hams area of Devon.

Grandpa's hobbies included cars and motorbikes (he was a motorcycle despatch rider during WW1), boats, short wave radio, photography and capturing cine films. He was more often than not, behind the camera, but I've managed to find a few short clips of him amongst the family collection.

This video can also be viewed on my YouTube channel at and in my website video gallery.

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Tracing my HIBBITT family through DNA - Can you help?

Category: DNA

Blacksmiths Lane, Exton, Rutland
Blacksmiths Lane, Exton, Rutland
(Photograph kindly supplied by Caroline White, a distant cousin in Oundle, Peterborough.)

I'm seeking men called HIBBITT / HIBBETT or any of the variants listed here, to see whether you would be willing to test your Y DNA. If your name isn't Hibbitt but you suspect you are descended from a direct paternal ancestor with the name, then come on board.

Sorry ladies, we don't possess a Y chromosome but it would still be great to compare if you have taken an autosomal test such as the AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Finder or MyHeritage test. If so, please get in touch.

Since my dad took the Big Y DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA we've discovered that an ancestor of ours may have lived in or around the Stirling area of Scotland in Roman times.

Y DNA traces the patrilineal line (eg. father's father's father, etc.) which, in our case, is our Hibbitt line. However, this particular ancestor would have lived in a time before the adoption of surnames.

I've put together a comprehensive account of the history of my Hibbitt line dating from 60,000 years ago to the present day.


Through traditional research, I've traced my Hibbitts back to the beginning of the 18th century. I found my 6 x great-grandfather, John Hybit, living in a village called Exton located in the county of Rutland, the smallest county in England.

Dad's DNA matches quite a number of men who have all tested positive for a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) called R-S424, otherwise known as the Little Scottish Cluster. Many men, but not all, in the S424 project at FTDNA trace their ancestry to southern Scotland where their common ancestor is believed to have lived centuries ago.

Just how and when our relatives found their way from Scotland to Rutland remains a mystery but I'm hoping that, as additional data comes in from more Y-DNA testers, we may learn more about the Z36747 subclade which is dad's current terminal SNP. Dad has some novel variants in his Big Y test which may tell us more in the future if another Big Y tester has the same variant(s).

If you are a male called HIBBITT (or a variation of the name) please would you consider taking a Y-DNA test. It doesn't necessarily have to be the Big Y as there may be cheaper options depending on your goals. It may also be possible to obtain some Y DNA data from an autosomal test too. Please contact me if you'd like more information or if you do decide to test.

John Hybit seems to have been the progenitor of so many who carry variations of his name and it would be good to learn whether we are all related and where he might have originated from.


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The Big Freeze of 1947

Category: Sharing Memories

Charles George Hibbitt at Princetown during the winter of 1947
Charles George Hibbitt at Princetown during the harsh winter of 1947
working as a telephone inspector.

After yesterday's post which included the picture of my Grandpa Hibbitt inspecting telephone wires, my dad filled me in with a few more details. This is what he had to say...

I was with Dad that day when we went up to Princetown and I took the picture of him holding the old overhead junction route between Tavistock and Princetown with his old box camera. The wires should have been some 30 feet up, but the sheer weight of the ice broke the poles carrying them and were just stumps when we got there. Needless to say Princetown was cut off from the outside world telephonically.

When we returned home, we blackened out the bathroom and "fixed" and "developed" that picture and some others that we had taken that day. (Fixing and developing were done in two trays of acid separately).

The snow/ice was six, yes, six feet thick, and you could walk on it as if it were a pavement. Temperature would be about minus five, with wind chill when it blew. That point would have been about 1400 feet above sea level, higher than Princetown itself. The fir trees in the background were cut down years ago and now appears as a field and of course, all the junction circuits are, and have been, laid underground in the road for many years.

This wasn't the first time Grandpa had encountered the harsh Dartmoor winter. Click the links below to view newspaper cuttings of when his Post Office van got stuck in a snowdrift near Postbridge in 1935.

Link 1
Link 2

They were hard winters, for sure!

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On This Day in 1972

Category: On This Day...

Charlie Hibbitt and his sister, Nell
Charlie Hibbitt and his sister, Nell

Remembering my grandpa, Charles George Hibbitt, who passed away on this day 45 years ago. I have many happy memories of my Grandpa Hibbitt including our times spent on his boat which you can read about in my previous post.

Charlie Hibbitt at Princetown during the winter of 1947
Charlie Hibbitt at Princetown during the harsh winter of 1947 working as a telephone inspector.

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DNA testing is getting more popular

Category: DNA

AncestryDNA Matches
Part of my Dad's AncestryDNA Match List

A nice surprise popped up in my family's DNA match lists a couple of days ago. Unknown to me, the grand-daughter of a known cousin on my dad's side took the AncestryDNA test. I still have a few gaps in my family tree and having other close relatives tested makes it easier to narrow down on which side of the family to concentrate the search. My dad was an only child and and so was his mother so my only hope of finding a close cousin is on my dad's father's side so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see this match appear.

I remain hopeful that one day I will be able to discover who my 2 x great-grandfather's parents were. My ancestor, Henry Ridley, was born in Birmingham in about 1841 but this is all I know of him. The new cousin match is also descended from Henry and so anyone matching both her and my dad will point to a match on the Hibbitt/Ridley side of the family.

Noted by Ancestry as a 3rd-4th cousin, the relative is actually a 1st cousin 3 times removed to my dad and shares 144 centimorgans across 8 DNA segments. Because older generations share more DNA, I'm looking forward to other members of her family testing too.

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Any old excuse!

Category: On This Day...

The original gag
The original gag

(Click the image above to see a larger version.)

Harvey's grandad, Cyril Ellen, was born on this day in 1895. Talking of birthdays, whilst serving in the RAF with 45 Squadron in Egypt in 1921, Cyril who was the Adjutant, issued a memo on behalf of his Commanding Officer. The order was that the officers' birth certificates were all to be altered to show the same date of birth and this might occur up to six times a year.

It turns out it was simply an excuse to have a jolly good old knees-up!

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Hellyer, Helyer, Hellier, Helliar, Heller, Hillier, Holliar and so it goes on...

Category: Ancestors Corner

Today's genealogical tip is to consider all name variants when you can't find a record for your ancestor.

I've had a minor breakthrough in tracing my Hellier/Hellyer line into the 18th century. For a while I'd been stuck at the marriage of my 4 x great-grandparents, Samuel Hellier and Elizabeth Gale, in Tavistock, Devon.

Various searches had drawn a blank in finding Samuel's baptism until I checked the FindMyPast website once more. The site is very useful in picking up name variants and lo and behold, I came across a baptism of a Samuel Heller (note the missing 'i' or 'y') on 15th December 1781 in Abbey Chapel, Tavistock. It seems his parents were Presbyterians.

Samuel, who was a mason, had previously married Thomasin Langworthy in 1801 and a son, Thomas, was born in 1802. Thomasin died in November 1814 and Samuel wasted no time in marrying Elizabeth five months later. Doubtless, she was already carrying William, my 3 x great-grandfather, by then. Besides William, I could find no evidence that Elizabeth had produced any other children.

Thomasin was the illegitimate daughter of a mother with the same name. Elizabeth Gale's roots are still unknown. On one census she is noted as having been born in Widdecombe on the Moor [sic] but I cannot find any Gale baptisms in Widecombe.

St Eustachius Church, Tavistock
St Eustachius Church, Tavistock

Samuel Hellier's parents were John Hellier and Amy Bennett who married in St Eustachius Church in Tavistock on 11th December 1770. This church has seen many family weddings. Of the seven generations from my parents to my 5 x great-grandparents, five of these couples were married in this church and I was baptized there.

John and Amy's eldest daughter, Mary, had arrived by March 1771 and a second daughter was baptized in May 1773. Sadly, both children had died by the end of the year. Four sons followed but Thomas died in 1782, aged three, and two more daughters were born in 1784 and 1787.

I've made no further progress on Amy's ancestry and John's is uncertain. John Hellier died in early 1841 at the ripe old age of 90 so I knew he would have been born in approximately 1751.

There were a number of Hellier couples having children in Tavistock during the mid 18th century. However, I have a feeling that John's parents might have been Edward Hellier who married Mary Cann in Crediton in 1750. Their son, John, was baptized in Crediton that same year. Subsequent to this, an Edward and Mary Hellier were having children in Tavistock. As stated above, John and Amy named their first child Mary, and it so happens their eldest son was Edward. Could they have been named after their grandparents? Without additional evidence to link the Crediton couple to the Tavistock couple, I have decided to leave Edward and Mary off my tree for the time being.

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