Archive for October 2015

Workday Wednesday: Cappen Sam, the right man in the right place

Category: Ancestors Corner

In 1893, Harvey's great-great-grandfather, Samuel Wright, was at the forefront of new technology. After three decades working with machines, he was put in charge of a new steam joinery works in Penzance, Cornwall, owned by Messrs Caldwell.

A newspaper article of the time goes into great detail about the new equipment. There was initially some concern that the labour-saving machinery would lead to unemployment in the trade but the reverse turned out to be the case.

It seems Samuel was head-hunted for the job as the newspaper states… The machinist and joiner, who was had down from Exeter to take charge of this branch, was Mr. Samuel Wright, and Messrs. Caldwell consider "Cappen Sam" is "the right man in the right place."

From The Cornishman newspaper article dated 1893
From The Cornishman newspaper article dated 1893

Site Updates - Barnes Family
[Why Workday Wednesday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

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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.

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