My Who Do You Think You Are? Timeline

Category: Sharing Memories

I've created a timeline of my ancestry showing my great-grandparents and grandparents. Come and see. (Click the image below.)

My Who Do You Think You Are? Timeline
My Who Do You Think You Are? Timeline

And click the tree below to view the people mentioned in my timeline.

Click the image for a larger version.

On This Day - Remembering the Quetta Earthquake of 1935

Category: On This Day...

Today, 31st May, sees the 82nd anniversary of the earthquake at Quetta, Balochistan, British India, which is now part of Pakistan. Harvey's grandparents and mother, who was a child at the time, were caught up in the disaster which killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

Quetta Earthquake 1935 - Buildings were reduced to rubble
Quetta Earthquake 1935 - Buildings were reduced to rubble

Harvey's grandad, Cyril Ellen, was the squadron leader of No 5 (AC) Squadron which was based at Quetta and his grandmother, Gladys Ellen (nee Gardner), was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Silver Medal for the part she played in the rescue effort.

The earthquake struck in the early hours and the RAF suffered heavy losses in the airmen's barracks. Conditions were horrendous during the days and weeks which followed.

It appears that Cyril remained in Quetta until he took a flight to Karachi on 20th June. The family sailed from India on 20th July, arriving back in England on 9th August.

We have no precise details of Gladys' contribution in the aftermath of the quake but the Muswell Hill Record & Friern Barnet Journal paid tribute to the bravery she displayed in the rescue work.

The Kaisar-i-Hind Silver medal awarded to Gladys Ellen
The Kaisar-i-Hind Silver medal awarded to Gladys Ellen

Handy links:

A web page detailing Cyril and Gladys' story including photographs and copies of documents. I've also transcribed an excerpt from the RAF Operations Record Book giving an account of the earthquake.

Photographs taken by Cyril after the earthquake.

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York families of Kidderminster

Category: Ancestors Corner

St Mary & All Saints Church, Kidderminster
St Mary & All Saints Church, Kidderminster

On my father's side, my 3 x great-grandmother, Hannah, who married Edmund Cotterill had been a long-standing brick wall until recently when I managed to make some progress.

I hadn't been certain of Hannah's maiden name although I had previously found a marriage between an Edmund Cotterill and a Hannah Smith. The censuses told me that my Hannah was born in Kidderminster in about 1799 but I could not find a baptism for a Hannah Smith with these details.

The breakthrough came when it became clear that Hannah's original name was not Smith. She had been married before and William Smith was her first husband. Hannah's father's name was recorded as George York in the register when she married Edmund and I then quickly discovered a baptism for Hannah York on 25th March 1799 in Kidderminster.

Hannah was the youngest and only daughter of five known children of George York and Elizabeth (nee Price). When George died it was his daughter, Hannah, who acted as his executor.

Elizabeth's heritage is still unknown but George York was the son of another George York and his wife, Hannah (nee Dixon). This couple were married in Kidderminster in 1751 and three children were born there between about 1754 and 1760.

I recently ordered a couple of wills from the Worcestershire Archives belonging to two different George Yorks of Kidderminster. One was not available but I'm still trying to obtain a copy and, unfortunately, the other didn't appear to belong to either of my Georges. I have a suspicion that my Yorks may have originated from Oldswinford near Stourbridge but, as yet, this is unproven.

Image: From Google Street View

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Website changes and how to subscribe to my blog

Category: What's New at

The Hibbitt and Barnes Family History website home page
The Hibbitt and Barnes Family History website home page

Having neglected my website for a little while I've finally got around to decluttering my home page. Gone are the reams of text which used to occupy the lower part of the page. Now I simply direct people to my Sitemap if they want to find their way around my website.

At the bottom of my homepage is a Facebook icon which links to my Blog on Facebook. Anyone is welcome to follow my family hstory posts. If email is your preference, there's a box where you can subscribe for free updates or if RSS is your bag there's a button for that too.

I've also added a new page under the DNA section called 'Our List of DNA Verified Ancestors'. So far I've managed to confirm nine ancestral couples on my side of the family and five on Harvey's through the use of DNA matching to other descendants. The list is available by clicking here.

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My Grandpa Geake, a moving history

Category: Cine Films and Videos

One hundred years ago on 25th April 1917, my Grandpa Geake (William Hellyer Geake), known as Bill, was born in a blizzard in South Wales. Hopefully the snow was outside!

Grandpa was the fifth of eleven children and the family lived at Gilfach Goch, a few miles from Pontypridd. After leaving school at 14, he went to work in the coal mines and I was told the story of the roof collapsing one day. Grandpa escaped in one direction and a friend of his went in another and the friend was sadly killed.

When Grandpa was 15, most of the family returned to Tavistock in Devon, in the area where their ancestors had lived for generations. Grandpa worked as a milkman for the Co-op before World War Two broke out.

He enlisted in the Royal Marines on 1st January 1941 and served in Egypt, Palestine, India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Belgium. After the war, Grandpa became a founder member of the Tavistock Royal Marines' Association and he also belonged to the Royal British Legion.

He had various jobs, one of which was as a postman, and afterwards Grandpa had his own greengrocery round which he ran for 15 years. This is how I first remember him. It was hard graft in all weathers covering some remote areas including Princetown on Dartmoor. Towards the end of his career, he became the Greengrocery Manager in Key Markets which was a local supermarket in Tavistock.

Grandpa Geake married my Gran in 1938 in St Eustachius Church, Tavistock, where he was a bell ringer and the bells were rung as the couple left the Church. They began married life living at No. 19 Bannawell Street and, within a few years, they moved to their council house at 4 Crelake Park which was to be their home for the rest of Grandpa's life and even longer for Gran. They had two daughters and in 1988 they reached another milestone when they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

There was a small number of allotments a few yards from the bottom of their house and Grandpa had one of them but I always had the impression it was serious stuff so I wasn't allowed to misbehave or interfere, especially with any of the neighbouring allotments.

Grandpa took up bowling in his retirement, belonging to the Tavistock Sir Francis Drake Bowling Club. This hobby was the catalyst for other family members to get involved with bowls which they still enjoy today. I also remember how Grandpa spent a lot of time in his shed in the garden, a shed he inherited from his Aunt Lil (Lily Sarah Thompson, nee Hellyer). He was handy with his hands and he used to make all kinds of items out of wood. I think it was also an excuse to have some time to himself.

All four of my grandparents got on with each other like a house on fire. My brothers and I were the only grandchildren for both sets of grandparents and so many happy memories include family get-togethers where we were the centre of attention.

Grandpa was not blessed with good health and developed Type I diabetes at a fairly early age. He passed away on 18th June 1994 in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, aged 77.

Grandpa enjoyed gadgets and he took many cine films and bought a video camcorder in the early 1990's. He painstakingly transferred the cine films onto video (for which I shall be eternally grateful) and I have since converted them to DVD and Mpeg format. Here is a compilation of some of the scenes when Grandpa himself appeared in the footage.

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

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Photo of Harvey's gt-gt-grandmother, Maria Bunstone Thomas, nee Guy

Category: Ancestors Corner

Maria Thomas, nee GuyA member of Harvey's family recently sent us some information regarding the family history as well as some photographs.

One of the photos was of Harvey's 2 x great-grandmother, Maria Bunstone Thomas (nee Guy). She was apparently posing for the newspaper for what they supposed was her 100th birthday, but she was actually 99.

Click here to view the complete image.

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Tuesday's Tip: Always check the original record

Category: What's New at

The marriage between Stephen Bonston and Grace Farmer
The marriage between Stephen Bonston and Grace Farmer

I recently revisited the marriage between Harvey's 4 x great-grandparents, Stephen Bunstow/Bonston and his wife, Grace. Stephen married Grace Farmer on 27th October 1818 in St Saviour's Church, Dartmouth in Devon.

When I first looked at this, I didn't have access to the original record but doing so now puts a different complexion on things. Far from Farmer being Grace's maiden name, the record states that Grace was a widow so I set about looking for a marriage between a Grace and an unknown Mr. Farmer.

Next, I discovered a marriage between Charles Farman and Grace Lang on 16th March 1812 at the same church. I now had Grace's correct maiden name. Charles appears as Farman, Farmer and Firman in different records. There's even mention of the name Palmer too. He died in 1815.

I found a baptism in 1795 for Gracey Tucker Lang. She was the youngest of six known children of Samuel Lang and Jenny Tucker so this takes me back another generation.

So what can we learn from this? To always view the original record whenever possible, be it in an archive, a scanned image, facsimile or photocopy. You can often find more information than is available in a transcribed record.

Finally, there's a tiny bit of extra detail in Stephen and Grace's marriage record. Not only was Stephen a mariner when he married, just like Grace's first husband, but we find out that he was 'late of Dover'. However, this is where the trail goes cold.

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

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My Great-Auntie Betty's Scottish lineage

Category: What's New at

My Great-Auntie Betty Geake, nee Hutton
My Great-Auntie Betty Geake, nee Hutton

A few months ago my great-aunt Betty (Betty Gordon Hutton) passed away and I have since added her lineage to my website. Auntie Betty was married to Uncle Ron (Ronald Arthur Geake) who was my Grandpa's brother. They were married in St Eustachius Church in Tavistock, Devon, in 1952 but Betty was not a local girl - she came from Leslie in Fife, Scotland.

Betty, who was born in 1927, was the daughter of John Hutton and Lizzie Meikle. She had three older brothers and was a teenager when her mother died in 1943. Her father married again, this time to Betsy (or Bessie) Henderson Speed in 1946.

The Hutton line lived in Methihill and West Wemyss in Fife. Betty's grandfather, David Hutton, married Jane Peebles from Kingsbarns, Fife, and Jane's parents, Robert Peebles and Ann Ramsay, were married in Barry in Angus in 1838. David Hutton was the son of Walter Hutton and Christian Reid who were born in about 1816 and 1817 respectively.

Returning to the Meikle line, Lizzie was the daughter of Thomas Meikle and Betsy Gordon, hence my Auntie Betty's middle name. Betsy Gordon was the youngest of Robert Gordon and Mary McGregor's seven children. Mary's parents, Robert McGregor and Christian Scarlett, were married in Portmoak, Kinross-shire, in 1799. Finally, Robert's parents were my Auntie Betty's 3 x great-grandparents, John McGrigor and Mary Laurie, who also married in Portmoak, the year being 1773.

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Susanna Stinchcomb: my ancestor's maiden name finally revealed

Category: Ancestors Corner

I've been researching my family history since 2007 and it is only just recently that I believe I have discovered the maiden name of my 6 x great-grandmother, Susanna, who was married to John Dando, the elder.

Their marriage had eluded me until a distant cousin and Dando descendant pointed me in the direction of some records produced by the Bristol & Avon Family History Society at In the Downloads section there is a link to a transcript of Bristol St James Church Marriages 1559-1753. The following entry is listed:

15 Mar 1740/1 - John Dando - Susanna Stinchcomb

I knew that John and Susanna's eldest son was born in about 1743 so this marriage, which took place in 1741 using our modern-day Gregorian calendar, fits nicely in the timeline.

I don't have details of where Susanna hailed from or who her parents might have been and I suspect, but have no proof, that John Dando was originally from Rangeworthy in Gloucestershire. The first definitive evidence I'd had of the couple is when they were living in Dursley, Gloucestershire, their children being born and baptized there between 1743 and 1760.

I have mentioned before how John was engaged in starting up a meeting house for Calvinistic Methodists in the area, which became known as Dursley Tabernacle. The tabernacle was rebuilt in 1809 and there is a large plaque on the wall dedicated to John and Susanna but still I hadn't known her maiden name.

Although the spelling in the church register is Stinchcomb, this is most likely a variant of Stinchcombe. There happens to be high ground situated close to Dursley called Stinchcombe Hill from where magnificent views can be seen of the local area and beyond.

Views from Stinchcombe Hill near Dursley
Views from Stinchcombe Hill near Dursley.

John's son, also called John, moved to Bristol at the end of the 18th century and it was during this time and through the next generation, that the family hat-making business flourished.

John, the elder, kept a hat shop in Dursley and I've always been under the impression this was a parochial enterprise but maybe it was a little more prosperous than I'd imagined. If John was marrying in Bristol, then maybe he was purchasing raw materials at the port and cutting out the middle-man or perhaps he was selling his wares to the city's merchant classes. I doubt we shall ever know for sure. What I do know is that John Dando's Non-Conformist connections brought him into contact with the Countess of Huntingdon and, in 1771, he wrote a letter to her in which he discussed the hats he could supply so he was probably doing alright for himself. After his death, John's youngest son continued to run the hat shop in Dursley until his mother died, after which time he moved to London.

It's fascinating how a tiny piece of information transcribed from a parish record, can help build a picture of an ancestor. I now have a slightly different impression of John Dando, my 6 x great-grandfather, from learning that he travelled to Bristol to get married and I would hazard a guess that this was not a single event.

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17th century newsflash: Okehampton's thatched school house catches fire

Category: Ancestors Corner

Regular readers will know that I've been tracing backwards on my maternal grandfather's line, through my Edwards, Recket, Pudicome and Randall ancestors. Last time, I reached back to 1672 when my 7 x great-grandfather, Nathaniel Randall, was born in Okehampton in Devon. His father was John Randall and his mother was Jane (nee Wood).

John and Jane married on 27th October 1665 in Colan in Cornwall. They had five sons between 1666 (the year of the Great Fire of London) and 1676. The fire raged from the 2nd to the 5th September and their eldest son, William, was baptized just days later on the 11th September but thankfully, they were living a long way from London in Jacobstowe in Devon.

John Randall was appointed the Vicar of Colan in 1663 and in the following year he became the Rector of Jacobstowe. By 1670 his responsibilities had broadened when he became the schoolmaster at Okehampton Grammar School and the Chaplain at St James' Chapel, Okehampton.

Here is a transcript of the form of agreement which John signed...

"It is agreed on and fully consented to, that Mr. John Randall shall have liberty to teach scholars at the School House of the town and borough during the pleasure of the Mayor, Principal Burgesses and Assistants for the time being, and it is agreed on that the said Mr. Randall shall read Common Prayer at the Chapel mornings and evenings, and that he shall preach four Sessions Sermon every year, and that the said Mr. Randall shall instruct 6 or 8 poor children freely, such as the Mayor for the time being shall think fit, and that the said Mr. Randall for, and in consideration of his pains in the discharge of the duty incumbent upon him, shall have liberty to dwell in the school house, and that he shall have £15 yearly in the gift of the Mayor and Burgesses in recompense of his pains, and it is moreover agreed that the said Mr. Randall shall preach a sermon once every year at the election of the Mayor, provided it shall be free for the Mayor for the time being to have whom he pleaseth to preach at any session or election held for the town and borough. Witness our hands and seals this day," etc.

John had his own encounter with fire when, on 29th October 1670, the chimney in the school house caught ablaze. The thatch was destroyed but most of the timber was preserved and so the school house was rebuilt in the following year with "a chamber over it, and new heated".

On 13th May 1672, John Randall with the Mayor of Okehampton, the Vicar (Mr. Hussey) and many town inhabitants viewed some of the parish boundaries on Dartmoor Common. It was usual for the beating of the bounds, as it was called, to take place on Ascension Day or during Rogation week.

John died in 1680 and was buried at Jacobstowe on 8th December, described as the Rector of the Parish. He was buried in wool according to an Act of Parliament which was designed to protect the English woollen industry. He left no will but his estate was administered in 1681. The fate of his wife, Jane, is currently unknown.

Image courtesy of Sailom at

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