Battle of Trafalgar veteran or a tall story?

Category: Famous Connections

When Israel Edwards died in Australia in 1877, there were a number of obituaries printed in the press in both Australia and England. There are, however, some inconsistencies in Israel and his wife, Susanna's, story.

Just how old was Israel?

Israel's obituary mentions he was aged anything bewteen 102 and 106 years old when he died. Nevertheless, assuming he was baptized as a baby in 1786, he was more than likely about 91 years old.

One article says that Israel was widowed at the age of 60 and implies that Susanna died before the family emigrated in 1847. Israel would indeed have been about 60 in 1847 but Susanna didn't pass away until 1860 after the family had been living in Australia for 13 years so Israel was nearer to 74 years old at this stage.

Susanna was supposedly 21 when she married Israel in 1818 and he 45. There were apparently objections raised by her friends because she was so young. Her death record states she was 23 years old when she married and he would actually have been about 32, approximately 9 years age difference rather than the exaggerated 24 years.

Did Israel really assist Vice Admiral Lord Nelson when he died?

The age discrepancies are not the only problem. Israel was supposed to have served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and to have been present at the Battle of Trafalgar on the Victory when Nelson was killed. One artcicle goes so far as to say that Israel ran to pick up Nelson as he fell.

Death of Nelson
Detail from The Death of Nelson by Daniel Maclise (Houses of Parliament, London)

This sounds a little far-fetched to me and further investigation shows no surviving evidence to support the fact that Israel was in the Navy and he does not appear in a search on the Trafalgar Ancestors website. The story goes he left the navy before he was entitled to a pension which may give him a little benefit of the doubt.

Israel's brother, Angel, did enlist in the Army Reserve in 1803 but Israel's contribution may have been a tall story which he told his children, either for fun and they believed it, or for any number of other reasons. We shall probably never know the truth.


One thing to say is that the journey to Australia in 1847 would have been a brave thing to do at the time, not least because the ship they sailed in lost her main top mast near Madeira in a heavy gale and so they had to return to Plymouth and set sail again almost a month after setting off the first time.

The family moved from Adelaide to Victoria in about 1852 and, if the obituaries are to be believed, Israel worked on the diggings for a couple of years. Victoria's first Gold Rush started in 1851 so the reason for the move to Victoria appears obvious. What is not so clear is why they emigrated in the first instance but this may have had more to do with conditions at home.

The Irish Famine was ongoing in 1847 and this would have affected mainland Britain too. Indeed, Israel's nephew and niece-in-law, Israel Edward Ball & his wife, Ann (nee Dearing), both died in that year along with their infant son. The effects of the Corn Laws and their Repeal may also have contributed to the decision to emigrate. This link gives an example of the hardships these laws brought about and which were suffered by a North Devon farm labourer and his family. There's just no knowing what life in North Devon was like for Israel and Susanna but it must have been hard and they probably looked to Australia for a better way of life.

The obituaries can be found on Israel and Susanna's family page.

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

Site Updates - Surnames: Reckett, Edwards, Saunders, Bowden, Dashper

Category: What's New at

Hibbitt Family Tree section

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

Richard Fryer (1663-1710) - Last Will and Testament: new document in the E-Shop

Category: What's New at

At last, following on from the publication of my series of articles in the Discover Your History magazine last year, my final article is now available for download in the E-Shop.

Last Will and Testament

Complementing the document, 'Richard Fryer (abt. 1663-1710) - Biography', Last Will and Testament is a commentary examining Richard's will and the inventory drawn up after his death, placing his story into an historical context.

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

1 month's access to the British Newspaper Archive for £1

Category: General

The British Newspaper Archive is offering a month of access for £1 (usually £9.95). Subscribe before midnight on 20th July, choose the 1 month subscription and enter the promotion code SUMMERSALE.

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

Tuesday's Tip: Cornish ancestors? View Cornwall parish records.

Category: Handy Family History Links

If you have Cornish ancestors, you may be interested to know you can browse images of the original parish registers at FamilySearch.

If you're a member of Ancestry, these images are also available at

Tip: try using the Cornwall Online Parish Clerk database to obtain a date for an event before looking up the original image.


[Why Tuesday's Tip? 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 & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Explore 2 million new Non-Conformist records on FindMyPast

Category: Handy Family History Links

Just a quick note for anyone with Non-Conformist ancestors, FindMyPast have now added Non-Conformist baptism, marriage and burial records to their collections.

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

240,000 extra newspaper pages now online

Category: Handy Family History Links

Thousands of historical newspaper pages are added to The British Newspaper Archive every week, so the coverage keeps getting better and better.

In the last month, 240,000 extra pages from 1790-1954 were made searchable. 56 English and Scottish newspaper titles were updated, including the Aberdeen Journal, the Kent & Sussex Courier and the Morpeth Herald.

The additions also included three brand new titles:
  • Dundee, Perth and Forfar People’s Journal, covering 1858-1861.
  • Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald, covering 1913, 1915 and 1924.
  • Penny Illustrated Paper, covering 1862-1870.
You'll find more information and a full list of recent additions here.

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

Those Places Thursday: More Devon Ancestors

Category: What's New at

Hibbitt Family Tree section - Surnames: Ball, Dearing, Edwards, Riccard, Bowden, Wilkins, Sanders

I've been investigating the ancestors of Israel Edward Ball and Ann Dearing, in addition to adding further details for this couple.

Israel and Ann were due to be married in 1838 when Ann was pregnant with daughter, Maria. Banns were read in February but, for some reason, the wedding didn't happen at this time. Perhaps the baby was early - Maria was baptized on 22nd April - but we can never be certain of the reason for the delayed nuptials.

When Ann was pregnant with their daughter, Mary, banns of marriage were once again called and Israel and Ann married in Okehampton on 2nd August 1840. Mary was baptized three months later. Sadly, Mary died in 1842 and a son, William, arrived in about 1845.

Tragedy struck again in 1847 when Ann died in February and then Israel in August. Two weeks later, little William was buried. A note in the burial register mentions that Israel was buried by order of the Coroner. I haven't yet established the cause of death but there doesn't seem to be anything in the newspapers so I imagine the coroner may have become involved if he died alone......Read more »

Site Updates - Surnames: Moore, Alford, Bellew, King, Stuart

Category: What's New at

Hibbitt Family Tree section

Since FindMyPast recently added a lot more Devon parish records, I thought I'd do some further investigation into my maternal line. I've therefore added the parents of my 3 x great-grandmother, Mary Jane Moore:
Place names: Beaford, Shebbear, Buckland Filleigh, Westleigh, Great Torrington, all in North Devon.

Turning to my paternal line, I have now added the parents and siblings of Robert Stuart King:
Place names: Stone near Dartford, Leigh on Sea in Essex, Bath and Cossington in Somerset.

Both the King and Stuart lines are interesting families. More to come later. They are related to me through the marriage of Ruby Dando (my great-grandfather's half sister) who was married to Robert.

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

All in the name of progress...

Category: General

Regular followers of my blog will notice I haven't been posting very much in recent months. This is because I've been upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 Pro. First of all, I borrowed a Windows 7 PC to see just what software would and wouldn't work and after a few weeks of testing, I had my new PC built.

Leaving Outlook Express behind in favour of Mozilla Thunderbird was a culture-shock - I've heavily customised the program to look as close to OE as I could get.

I also hate the so-called ClearType (it should be called fuzzy-type) which Microsoft force on to their users and so I have removed this as far as possible. However, there isn't a way that I could find to get rid of it in Internet Explorer and so I've switched to Mozilla Firefox as my main browser.

I missed my XP start menu and so I installed the wonderful Classic Shell program - incidentally, a must-have for Windows 8 users in my opinion.

My web design program had to be updated too, as well as many more programs and some I've had to resign to the bin as they no longer work on Windows 7.

All this and then I finally had to look at my family tree software. Having tried Legacy, RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker 2014, Ancestral Quest and Family Historian, I hit a snag with every one of them. Some were too complicated for my liking but my main issue was after exporting a GEDCOM file to run through the program which generates my family web pages, I found facts listed in the wrong order and even children and wives in the wrong order too.

I eventually settled on resorting to my old and trusty Family Tree Maker 2006 program, but not before having to download a patch file first. I'm aware that reports can't be exported to PDF documents on a 64 bit machine. Although there is a work-around by using a third party program such as PDF995, this doesn't allow for single page outputs of charts. I shall probably have to export a GEDCOM and import it into FTM 2014 and produce the chart from there. I'm not so keen on the chart layouts in the 2014 program and it's more bother than before.

And so, in the name of progress, I feel Microsoft have put me through the ringer somewhat without me gaining anything, other than an operating system which will hopefully be supported for some time to come.
«Prev || 1 | 2 | 3 |...| 5 | 6 | 7 |...| 29 | 30 | 31 || Next»