Marriage record finally opens doors to a brick wall

Category: Ancestors Corner

What a difference one little word can make on a historical document! Today's tip is to always view as many versions of an original record that you can possibly find.

For a long time I'd been unable to move beyond my 4 x great-grandmother, that is until now. I knew she was born in approximately 1786 or 1787 and that she may have been born in Widecombe-in-the-Moor in Devon although one census documented her birth place as Tavistock where she was living at the time.

Elizabeth Gale married my 4 x great-grandfather, Samuel Hellier, in Tavistock in 1815 but I could find no Elizabeth Gales baptised in either Widecombe or Tavistock in the correct time frame.

Then recently someone mentioned in the Devon Family History Society Facebook Group that FamilySearch had added to their collection of Devon Bishop's Transcripts (1558-1887). I'd already seen copies of Samuel and Elizabeth's marriage in the Parish Registers but the Bishop's Transcripts contained one vital piece of information which was missing from the other records. Elizabeth was described as a widow and so Gale would not have been her maiden name.

The marriage record between Samuel Hellier & Elizabeth Gale showing Elizabeth was a widow
The marriage record between Samuel Hellier & Elizabeth Gale showing Elizabeth was a widow

Armed with this new information, I soon found a marriage between a man called Gale and an Elizabeth; James Gale married Elizabeth Carton in Tavistock on 22nd July 1806.

James was a mason by trade but when their eldest daughter, Eliza, was born he was a hellier, an occupational name for a slater or tiler of roofs or a thatcher. This struck me as strange considering that Elizabeth later married Samuel Hellier who was himself a mason.

James and Elizabeth had three children but James died in 1812 and was buried on 5th March, less than four months before their infant daughter, Jane, was buried. That must have been a terrible year for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth had a son by Samuel called William Hellier who was my 3 x great-grandfather. Samuel was a widower when he'd married Elizabeth, having previously been married to Thomasin Langworthy. They'd had a son in 1802 called Thomas.

I promptly found Elizabeth's baptism on 12th November 1787 in Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Her full name was Elizabeth Wills Certon (note the different spelling from Carton). She was the daughter of John Kerton and Joan, nee Cleave. The name also appears as Kirton and Kirten in various records.

Through finding the word, widow, on a single document, I was able to trace the Kerton line back to my 9 x great-grandfather, Richard Kerton, who lived in Bickington in Devon and was probably born around 1650.

Elizabeth Certon's Ancestors
Elizabeth Certon's Ancestors

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DNA uncovers a family secret

Category: DNA

A new DNA match recently appeared in our match lists (I'll call her Sally - not her real name) which revealed something about my maternal grandmother's uncle that I feel sure my gran never knew about. Richard Arthur Weaver, brother of my great-grandfather, Henry James Weaver, had an illegitimate child before he was married.

I've said before how my gran lost touch with her father's family having been orphaned at the age of four so it's not surprising that my gran probably wouldn't have known this. See my previous blog post at which mentions how my gran visited the family many years later.

At first, it wasn't obvious how Sally and I were related and so I set about reviewing the evidence and eliminating suspects. Sally is my third cousin and a second cousin once removed to my mum and aunt. Richard Weaver was her great-grandfather and so we share common ancestors in our 2 x great-grandparents, William Henry Weaver and Jane (nee Arnold).

This is how I worked out the relationship. Sally shares 120 centimorgans across 7 segments of DNA with my mum. I used the calculator at which confirmed my suspicions that the match had to be reasonably close. Most of these segments even passed down to my brother, one generation below.

Sally's grandmother, Laura, was born in July 1901 and I managed to find Laura's baptism which included Weaver as a middle name. Her full name was Laura Bessie May Weaver PAYNE. My gran's maiden name was Weaver so this immediately gave me a clue as to which side of my family I needed to concentrate on. I had already drawn the conclusion that the connection was likely to be on my mum's maternal side because two paternal first cousins of my mum and aunt have taken a DNA test and neither of them are a match to Sally.

I began looking for likely candidates as to who might have fathered Laura. I felt that our 2 x great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver, was a little too far out of range for the amount of shared DNA, and probably too old for a young girl to be interested in him (although not impossible of course). This left my great-grandfather, Henry, and his older brother, Richard, in the frame. If it was Henry, who was 18 when Laura was born, then Sally would be my mum's half first cousin once removed. The DNA match falls within range but is less likely than if it was Richard who was 26 when Laura was born. In this scenario, Sally would be my mum's second cousin once removed and this was more of a comfortable fit, DNA-wise.

These were pointers rather than definite conclusions because DNA inheritance is random and there is quite a bit of overlap in the amount of DNA someone can share with a cousin. I had to find something to tie Richard to Lily Payne, the mother of Laura, so I looked up the newspapers on FindMyPast and, lo and behold, this is what I found.

28th September 1901 in the Chard and Ilminster News...

CASE ADJOURNED. - Richard Weaver, of Fivehead, had been summoned by Lily Payne, of Isle Abbots, to show cause, etc. but the case was adjourned.

The Chard and Ilminster News, 28th September 1901
The Chard and Ilminster News, 28th September 1901

Then on 2nd November 1901, again in the Chard and Ilminster News...

SETTLED CASES. -...The case adjourned from the last Court in which Richard Weaver was summoned by Lily Payne to show cause, etc., had also been satisfactorily arranged by the parties.

The first article mentioned that Richard lived in the village of Fivehead which lies between his home village of Curry Rivel in Somerset and Lily's home village of Isle Abbotts. I had no other documentation placing him in Fivehead including the 1901 census when he was living in Curry Rivel only a few months before Laura was born. Nevertheless, I couldn't find any other Richard Weavers in the locality that could have been the father and, of course, we had the DNA too.

Lily Payne was born on 2nd November 1882 and her parents were James Payne and Susan (nee Lewis). Lily was almost 17 years old when she was baptized on 18th October 1899 in Isle Abbots.

I subsequently found Lily had another child called Gwendoline Gertrude Weaver PAYNE baptised in 1908 but born in 1903 so it looks quite possible that Richard had a second child by her.

In 1906, Lily Payne went on to have yet another child called Reginald Harold Marsh Payne but I'm guessing he had a different father called Marsh. Then in 1910, Lily married Thomas Edmonds and they had a son together, Donald Clarence P Edmunds/Edmonds, in 1912. Lily died in 1928 and is buried at Fivehead.

Richard Weaver married Alice Trott in 1906 and, as far as I can tell, they never had any children of their own. Richard had a long career as a postman but started out following in his father's footsteps in the shoemaking business. He took it up again after he retired from the Post Office and died in 1949, being outlived by Alice.

Laura married Herbert Gerald Young in 1923 and had three boys. She died in Bournemouth in 1963.

Gwendoline married Joseph H Manns in 1921 and I believe she died in December the following year after having a daughter called Phyllis.

Reginald married Annie Rebecca Stait in Tidenham, Gloucestershire, in 1929 and they had a daughter. He passed away in Newport in 1986.

Finally Donald married Dorothy L West in 1939 and he died in 1966.

My 2 x great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver, was also illegitimate and, to date, his father is a complete brick wall. Perhaps Sally's and my close family's DNA working in tandem may one day solve this mystery too.

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How to ensure none of your Gmail goes to your Spam mailbox

Category: General

Gmail Filter
Gmail Filter

It's becoming a frequent occurrence that emails I send to potential relatives and DNA matches are not arriving. If you are a Gmail user, I've written a guide that will show you how to make sure none of your messages are sent to your Spam mailbox.

Gmail No-Spam Filtering Guide

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100 years of the RAF

Category: Ancestors Corner

Cyril Ellen's 1918 RAF Commission

(Click the image for a larger version.)

To mark 100 years since the birth of the RAF (Royal Air Force) I'm posting a copy of the Commission that Harvey's grandad, then Lieut. Cyril Norman Ellen D.F.C., received in November 1918 and which had come into effect on 1st April 1918.

Cyril was based in Stavros in Greece at the time and Frank Marlowe, one of the pilots serving with him, wrote in his diary: -
31st March: The last day of the RNAS. Tomorrow we become RAF - and we don't like it a bit.

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Mention in Dispatches 100 years ago

Category: Ancestors Corner

The notice Harvey's Grandad received advising him of his Mention In Dispatches

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Harvey's Grandad, then Temporary Observer Sub-Lieutenant C N Ellen, was mentioned in dispatches in 1918. The M.I.D. citation appeared in the London Gazette on 11 June 1918 and was "For Gallant Conduct and Distinguished Service during the Period from 21st September, 1917 to 28th February 1918", a period which ended exactly 100 years ago today. He received it "for Salonika" whilst serving in the Aegean with the Royal Naval Air Service, soon to become part of the RAF.

The Wing Commander who signed the original notice was F W Bowhill who became Air Chief Marshall Sir Frederick Bowhill during World War II.

The clipping from the London Gazette kept by Harvey's Grandad
The clipping from the London Gazette kept by Harvey's Grandad

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Who am I? What's my name?

Category: DNA

R1b-L21 Descendant Tree borrowed from the 'R L21, Z290 and Subclades FamilyTreeDNA Project'

(Click the image for a larger version.)

For a number of years I've believed my patrilineal line (my Hibbitt ancestors) dated back to the early 18th century, being located in the village of Exton in the county of Rutland. However, recent DNA discoveries have thrown this into question.

The records I've looked at to date show no sign of a problem but it's looking likely that my family has a NPE (non-paternal event) or misattributed parentage. How do I know this?

I recently started a Facebook Group called Hibbitt/Hibbett (plus other variants) Family History Research Group. There are a number of people in this group who descend from a John HIBBIT & Mary Toft who married in St Pancras, London, in 1770. One member, who is a direct male line descendant of this couple, ran his father's AncestryDNA test through the Morley Y-SNP Subclade Predictor Tool and received a basic haplogroup of R1b-Z2534.

My dad knows his current haplogroup (R1b-Z36747), having taken a number of Y-DNA tests. It can be written as a series of subclades moving forward in time as various mutations arise:
R1b-M343 > P297 > M269 > L23 > L51 > P312 > Z290/S461 > L21 > DF13 > DF21 > S3058 > S424 > S426 > CTS2187/S190 > Z36747

Unfortunately, the Z2534 haplogroup split away from my dad's haplogroup at DF13, a haplogroup which was formed in approximately 2600 BC. The path is:
R1b-M343 > P297 > M269 > L23 > L51 > P312 > Z290/S461 > L21 > DF13 > Z253 > Z2534

Therefore my dad and the descendant of John HIBBIT (m. 1770) cannot share a recent patrilineal ancestor.

At this point I wasn't too concerned as paper records haven't connected the London HIBBIT family to the Rutland HIBBITT/HIBBETT family. I was therefore keen to hear from descendants of my most distant known ancestor (MDKA), John Hybit, who married three times in Exton between 1712 and 1732.

I believed I was descended through John HYBIT's son, William, and so I was pleased to discover that a descendant of John's son, Matthew, had received his AncestryDNA results. He too was a direct male line descendant and very kindly ran his DNA through the Morley Tool. It turns out that he too, received a result of R1b-Z2534.

The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the London HIBBIT group and the Rutland HIBBITT/HIBBETT group share a distant ancestor dating back to about 4600 years ago, give or take a few centuries either way. The likelihood is that if they were to undertake dedicated Y-DNA testing, they would probably find that their common ancestor is much more recent than this and they would also be eligible to join the R-Z253 Project at FamilyTreeDNA.

Unfortunately for me and my close family, it is looking very likely that we are the odd-ones-out. However, I would still be glad if additional, suitable candidates would ascertain their haplogroup so we can be more certain of the facts and to perhaps narrow down precisely in which generation the NPE occurred.

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A Tale of Tragedy

Category: Ancestors Corner

Matthew Hibbit was born in about 1735, the second son of my 6 x great-grandparents, and he married Frances Penruddock in St Peter & St Paul's Church, Exton, Rutland, on 13th November 1758. I decided to take a look at Frances' family and, not for the first time, I stumbled across a great deal of tragedy.

Frances was the sixth of eight children born to Richard and Dorothy Penruddock between 1722 and 1737 in Pilton in Rutland. Richard died in December 1739 when Frances was barely six years old.

Her mother remarried in January 1741. Her second husband was a farmer called John Deacon who I discovered was dead two months later. Dorothy must have been pregnant with John's child when they married as John junior was baptised on 29th April 1741. Worse still, Dorothy was buried on the same day. What a start in life for that poor baby and all of his half siblings.

Snow Scene
Photo by Myeongseon Song on Unsplash

Much of Europe suffered severely cold weather during the winter of 1739/40. This became known as the Great Frost in Ireland which was particularly hit. The streets of London were clogged with snow and ice and the River Thames was frozen for about eight weeks. This was followed by more cold weather and severe gales affecting shipping and one of the worst dry spells of the 18th century which resulted in famine and disease.

The period 1740-1743 has been shown to be the driest period of the last 280 years, with the year 1740 the coldest recorded over the British Isles since comparable records began in 1659. One can only wonder whether the Penruddock/Deacon families living in Rutland were affected by these adverse conditions too?

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How long have we been in Rutland?

Category: General

The Rutland Psalter
Illumination in The Rutland Psalter produced c. 1260 in England

I've found some interesting names in the Rutland Lay Subsidy Roll of 1296/7. I'll never be able to prove my connection back this far but this may offer circumstantial evidence for perhaps some of my family having been in the area for a long time.

Place, Name

Empingham, Richard Hobburd

Teigh, William Hubert

Teigh, Richard Hubert

Seaton, William Tubbe

Glaston, William Tubbe

Teigh, Henry de Neubold

Teigh, Richard de Neubold

Oakham, William de Neubold

Oakham, Richard de Neubold

Clipsham, John Le Neubrid

Tickencote, Richard Neubrid

Ketton, William de Neubotle x 2

Ketton, Juliana Neubotle

Ketton, Henry de Neubotle

Ketton, Marg' de Neubotle

Could Hobburd and Hubert be a variant of Hibbitt? Maybe stretching it a little, who knows?

My 6 x great-grandmother was Ann Tubbs who married John Hybit in Exton in 1732. Could either of the Tubbe men be my ancestor?

Mahala Newbold was my 3 x great-grandmother. She married Amos Hibbitt in 1830. Her grandfather, John Newbold, was located in Exton in the late 18th century. I have seen the spelling written as Neubold and Newbolt too. Could any of these people be my forbear?

Source: Names from Rutland Lay Subsidy 1296/7. Created by Douglas Galbi -

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Latest on our Hibbitt Y-DNA kits

Category: DNA

My dad's Y STR test has recently been upgraded to 111 markers. However, as I thought might be the case, he doesn't yet have any matches at this level. This would be because the right men haven't yet taken the test. Hopefully we shall have some men who are descended from John Hybit of Exton, Rutland, testing in the future and then we may begin to discern which markers are related to which branches of the family.

Z36747 men on The Big Tree
Z36747 men on Alex Williamson's 'The Big Tree'

In the meantime, Alex Williamson has begun updating 'The Big Tree'. Initially dad's kit was placed with another kit whose ancestor was called Doggart. However, a new Big Y kit (Chism) has recently arrived and formed a new subclade below Z36747 with Doggart. Dad now sits alone at Z36747 until any closer matches appear.

Note: I've updated my 'Tracing Annie Hibbitt's Deep Ancestral Roots Through Her Dad's Y-DNA' page with these changes.

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How to obtain a Y-DNA haplogroup from an autosomal DNA test for free

Category: DNA

The Morley Y-SNP Subclade Predictor Tool showing my dad's estimated haplogroup
(Click the image for a larger version.)

If you are male and have taken an AncestryDNA, 23andMe or MyHeritage autosomal DNA test, it may be possible to extract some Y-DNA data from your DNA file to obtain an estimated haplogroup. I should emphasize that this isn't a substitute for a dedicated Y-DNA test but it might be useful in pointing you in the right direction for further testing or to see whether you are likely to match with others who share your surname.

It's free to use the Morley Y-SNP Subclade Predictor Tool at All you need to do is download your raw data file from one of the three testing companies mentioned above and run it through the tool so there's nothing to stop you having a go. It's very easy to do. There are limitations in that the SNP needs to be present in the Morley tool and in your autosomal DNA test which is why you will only get a basic haplogroup.

This link provides instructions on how to use your AncestryDNA kit with the Morley Tool.

My dad took the Big Y test at FamilyTreeDNA which gave him a current terminal SNP of Z36747 which can be written as...

R1b-M343 > P297 > M269 > L23 > L51 > P312 > Z290/S461 > L21 > DF13 > DF21 > S3058 > S424 > S426 > CTS2187/S190 > Z36747

Before ordering Big Y, using my dad's AncestryDNA kit and the Morley Tool, my dad's haplogroup was reported as S190. You can see therefore that he made it quite a way down the Y phylogenetic (or evolutionary) tree towards his terminal SNP by simply using his autosomal test.

Likewise, my husband, Harvey, has recently ordered a Big Y test but he's undertaken some SNP testing in the past to give him a subclade of S18890 which can be written as...

R1b-M343 > P297 > M269 > L23 > L51 > U106 > L48 > Z9 > Z30 > Z2 > Z7 > Z8 > Z338 > Z11 > Z12 > Z8175 > FGC12057 > S18890*

The Morley Tool gave him a haplogroup of Z12 which is how I knew to order the L48 SNP Panel at YSEQ. The Big Y will supersede this SNP Panel when the results are back and he might even end up further downstream of the S18890 SNP.

To find out more about these haplogroups and what it means for my HIBBITT family and Harvey's BARNES family click on the following links...

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