Friday, 29 June 2018

Hugenots

De la Coste coat of arms








 One branch of my husband's family were Hugenots, that were French protestants who had to flee France because of religious persecution. Leen Arie's  8th great grandfather Louis De la Coste came to Rotterdam in the Netherlands when he was 10 years old in the autumn of 1684. His parents later traveled further to Geneva in Switzerland and his sisters and brother ended up living in London, England, but Louis stayed in the Netherlands were he studied and became a Preacher. When he was  44 he wrote a short record of were his ancestors were from and why they were forced to flee for their beliefs and were given refuge in a foreign country. He wrote -"For the honour of God, and praise for his goodness and for the instruction of my children and descendants, have I, Ludovicus De la Coste, Pastor in the Reformed church of Jesus Christ in Dordrecht, written the following things.....so that my children will know who their forefathers were and why it was necessary for them to leave their Fatherland ......"
Louis's (or Ludovicus as he was later known) ancestors were originally from the area  of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. They probably left this area in the 16th Century because of religious persecution and settled in La Rochelle which was a predominately Protestant city. Many Hugenot families came to settle in La Rochelle during the wars of religion and as a centre of trade it became a rich and powerful city in the late 16th century. The De la Coste family were merchants and probably prospered in this cosmopolitan city.
They would have also suffered during the great siege of the city from September 1627 to October 1628. At the beginning of the siege the population of the city was 28,000 and at the end the population had dwindled down to only 5,400 through famine and disease.
Persecution of Protestants intensified at the end of the 1670's and in 1681 at the young age of 7, Louis and his brother David were sent by sea to Bristol, England so that they could receive an education in the Protestant religion, they spent two years in Bristol. During the sea voyage home his brother David died and was buried at sea.
In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was revoked, this Edict which had been signed in 1598 by Henri IV granted the Protestants relative liberty to practise their religion. However with the revocation of this edict, Protestants were compelled to renounce their religion or to flee the country.
Louis and his siblings left La Rochelle in the autumn previous to this year, sailing with his maternal aunt Elizabeth Chintrier and a cousin. They left from Saint-Martin-de-Re, a small fortified city on the Ile de Re, to the Netherlands, it was a journey of 12 days, they arrived in Rotterdam on the 9th of October. His parents travelled later to Holland,probably after closing up their business affairs, and on the 14th May 1686 his Father and family were given citizen rights to the city of Rotterdam.
Last week me and my husband were able to visit the beautiful city of La Rochelle and walk in the footsteps of his ancestors in the city which offered them refuge for several generations but which they were also forced to flee. What a blessing that we have to live in a time and country which allows us to practise our religious beliefs in freedom, this is something that we should never take for granted.  As Ludovicus also wrote " .... so that they will learn to trust in God, having a good conscience which is better than all worldly goods, and that they shall never forget what God commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 10:19 -  Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."


Hugenot refugees



Friday, 22 June 2018

Illustrious Ancestors

Even though I am sure that many people can eventually trace one of their family lines back to royalty it certainly gives you a kick when you do actually discover a link.
My 3rd great grandfather married Grace Morsehead in Phillack, Cornwall on the 21st November 1825, Grace's maternal grandfather was Arundel Pryor, his mother was Margaret Arundel daughter of John Arundel of Truthall, which is situated close by the little village of Sithney, Cornwall.
The Arundel family were a prominent well loved Cornish gentry family and several of John Arundel's forebears had important functions in Cornwall such as Governor of Pendennis Castle and Sheriff of Cornwall.

Arundell coat of arms


The nice thing about connecting to the Landed- Gentry is that the genealogy is recorded back for several hundred years, and the Arundell family of Cornwall are amongst the few Cornish families of Norman origin, the Arundell's possibly came over from Normandy with William the Conquerer.
Several years ago a fellow genealogist gave me the tip and sent me the information that through marriage the Arundell family also linked up with Royalty, via Elizabeth Plantagenet the daughter of Edward I of England. Through this Royal line I am also descended from William the Conquerer of Normandy, hence this story, as the last few days we have been on holiday in Normandy  and I have been reading a lot about this illustrious forebear. Last Friday we visited the beautiful city of Bayeaux  and were able to view the amazing Bayeaux Tapestry, which is in fact an embroidered record of the famous Battle of Hastings of 1066 and is almost 1000 years old. It is about 70 meters long, amazing that such a delicate object has survived through the centuries, and how wonderful to have an ancient 'comic strip' story of one's ancestors.



Thursday, 10 May 2018

My Grandmother Charlotte Blakey and her Bigamist mother






Charlotte was born on the 14th of May 1889 in Preston, a small village north of Hull her parents were Joseph Fothergill Blakey and Maria Dalton, they were married on the 13th of November 1887 in Hull. Her father Joseph was originally from Leeds but was employed as a postman in Hull at the time of his marriage, when Charlotte was about 2 years old Joseph decided to leave his wife and child and return to Leeds, on the 1891 census he is recorded as living with his mother and other siblings in Holbeck near Leeds, he was then aged 27 and an unemployed postman. His wife Maria and daughter Charlotte were living in 1891 next-door to her parents at 49 Townside Road, Preston. I don’t know whether Maria expected Joseph to return or send for her to move to Leeds or whether their short marriage had been so incompatible that they no longer wanted to be together, in those days a divorce was only available for the rich. What I do know is that Maria eventually met and fell in love with someone else, that person being George Curtois who was a green grocer and had a shop on Porter Street in Hull when Maria first met him. In 1893 Maria became pregnant with George Curtois’s child; because she was still legally married to Joseph Blakey she was unable to marry George. On the 13th of September 1893 she gave birth to a daughter who was named Georgina, on her birth certificate her father is recorded as being George Blakey (a slight deviance from the truth), occupation grocer and her mother Maria Curtois Blakey formerly Dalton, they were residing at 31 Porter Street, probably above the grocery shop. By the spring of the following year Maria was once again pregnant, this time George must have wanted the child to legally have his surname because on the 27th of September 1894 George Cave Curtois and Maria Blakey were officially married in the Register Offices of Hull. At the time of her second marriage Maria would have just turned 30 but her age on the marriage certificate is recorded as being 36, the same age as George, she is also recorded as being a widow which is also false because Joseph Fothergill Blakey was still alive and living in Leeds. I can’t blame Maria for this deceit and her bigamist marriage, she obviously hadn’t heard anything from her first husband for many years and was about to give birth to the second child of George Curtois, if she had been found out and accused of bigamy she could have received a large fine or a prison sentence. On the 17th of December 1894 she gave birth to a son who was named after his father, George Curtois. Three years later, just before young George’s third birthday his father George  died of consumption, he was only 39 years old and at the time of his death they were living at 29 Buckingham Street, Hull and George had been a master grocer. By the time of the 1901 census Maria and her children had moved to 15 Ellis Street were Maria is recorded as being a widow living on her own means, her age is recorded as being 32 when she was in fact now 36, living with her were daughter Georgina Curtois aged 8, son George aged 6 and Charlotte Blakey aged 11 and recorded as being a niece, (it seems that Maria was still trying to cover up her past). Maria also had a boarder residing at her address, the 29 year old James C. Smith who was employed as a labourer at the Engine works. On the 11th of June 1903 Maria once again entered into a bigamist marriage with this selfsame James Coy Smith, this time Maria gives her age as being 33 when she was in fact 38, just less than a year later on the 21st of May 1904 Maria Smith died of consumption, her age is recorded as 33, she was in fact 39, her daughter Charlotte was 15, Georgina 10 and George only 9. Apparently Joseph Blakey received notification of Maria’s death and turned up one day by his sister-in-law Alice Dalton asking for information about his daughter Charlotte, Alice felt that he had left it a bit late to be showing concern for his daughter and told him that Charlotte had died. Joseph doesn’t seem to have remarried, in 1901 he was living in Armley near Leeds with a housekeeper and an adopted son called Percy Siddle, aged 2, Joseph’s occupation was painter. 
 I don’t know who looked after Charlotte and her siblings after her Mother’s death, possibly her aunt, but 5 years later she married Robert Strickland and they moved into their own little house, number 7 Lauriate Avenue, close by to the newly built Alexandra Dock where Robert was employed by the Hull and Barnsley Railway company as a coal tipper or heaver. 













Sunday, 15 April 2018

My Dad the Magician



I grew up with a Dad who was a magician, he told us children that he had special gifts because he was the seventh child of a seventh child. I remember thinking that when he looked at me through his rear view mirror of the car that he could maybe read my thoughts, so you always had to watch out what you were thinking.
It was also dangerous to pick up a coin laying around on the coffee table because you might just get an electric shock, Dad liked practical jokes.
Dad was a member of the magic circle and when he and Mum where just married he would often do magic shows for local events or parties and Mum would be his assistant. So as any good magician he also had his own white rabbit which he could of course pull out of his hat and astound his audience with. Unfortunately  Dad came home from work one day and found the rabbit dead with a carrot and lettuce stuffed in it's mouth, and since that time poor Mum was accused of killing the rabbit with kindness, those of you who know my Mum can understand how this happened.
Dad would often perform magic shows for church activities and I am sure that many members can remember having to put their finger in the guillotine just after witnessing how a carrot was chopped in half, luckily nobody lost a finger.
Dad was especially good at card tricks and even in his later years would amaze his grandchildren and great grandchildren with his tricks and sleight of hand, how many children were amazed to have him produce a ball out of their ear.
When I was about 11 and living in California my Dad enrolled me in a magic school, I don't think that I attended for long, probably because we moved to Canada, but I did learn the rope trip and also that magicians never reveal the secret of how a trick works.
Last October me and my husband were in Hull and were able to visit Dinsdale's Joke shop, this is an amazing little shop full of all sorts of tricks and treats. I was amazed that the man working in the shop remembered my Dad so well and had so many fond and funny memories of him.



Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Del Monte man




I grew up with Del Monte canned peaches and pineapples, this was because during most of my childhood my Dad worked for Del Monte Foods.
In the early sixties he helped to set up the company in Great Britain and in 1965 he traveled to the U.S. to study the latest sales and merchandising techniques being used by supermarkets in New York, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and California. After his tour he attended a two week sales training session from Del Monte in San Francisco both as a student and as an instructor and then he travelled back to New York to attend Cornell University's annual National Sales Trainers' conference.
In 1967 Dad became the Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland so we moved to East Kilbride, near Glasgow. Dad was very successful in Scotland and was able to increase sales of Del Monte in this area, as well as playing lots of golf.
Whilst sorting through papers and photos belonging to my parents I found a couple of letters congratulating my Dad on his good work as well as some photos of him giving training sessions and a newspaper article about his trip to the U.S. which was featured in the Grocer of October 1965.
Dad was a great salesman and could sell anything, in fact later in life he worked for awhile for a cemetery selling grave plots.
In the 1980's there was a commercial for Del Monte - " The Del Monte man says yes", for me Dad was the Del Monte man.









Saturday, 30 December 2017

George Robert Strickland - Eulogy 19th December 1927 - 18th December 2017

George Robert Strickland or Bob as he was more familiarly known was born on the 19th December 1927 in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. He was the youngest of 7 children having 4 elder sisters and two brothers. Bob's father was badly injured during the first world war and was unable to work so their family had to live off of his war pension.
Less than a month after Bob's 12th birthday on a cold January morning Bob's elder brother Fred came downstairs to find his father dead. The 2nd World War had just broken out a few months before and both Fred and Norman had joined the navy.
Bob's elder sisters were either married or living away from home so it was up to 12 year old Bob to help look after his mother who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A year later on the 8th April 1941 Bob's mother also passed away, Bob was 13 years old and an orphan.
After his mother's funeral he was taken up to South Shields to live with his father's sister Annie. He wasn't happy there so after a year he decided to return back to Hull.
Hull was an important port, and because of this it was regularly bombed so when he arrived back at his old home everything was dark because of the blackout. Bob found his way to his married sister's Lilly's home and was able to live with her for awhile.
During this time Bob did all sorts of jobs, he learnt to drive whilst delivering laundry in an old ambulance and he even worked at Hull Fair on the dodgem cars.
Bob was 17 at the end of the 2nd World War but still had to go into military service, after military training in England he and his fellow comrades were shipped off to Egypt, during his time in Egypt Bob learnt a little bit of Arabic, even if it was only swear words.
After returning home from Egypt Bob decided to attend a school to learn typing and shorthand. It was here that he met his sweetheart and wife of more than 67 years, Doreen.
Bob and Doreen were married on the 25th March 1950 at St. Peters Church Anlaby.
A year and a half later their first child was born, John Robert Strickland, then two years later they were blessed with a baby girl Denise Violet Strickland.
For a while it seemed as if their family was complete, then in 1960 two LDS missionaries knocked at their door and were able to answer questions that no one else had been able to answer. Bob and Doreen and their two children were baptised and became members of the West Hull branch. A year later in 1961 they were once again blessed with a daughter, Debra Anne Strickland.
Shortly after Debra's birth Bob's work necessitated that he would have to move away from Hull, first to Little Neston in the Cheshire Peninsular and then to Sutton Coalfield near Birmingham. Bob began work with Del Monte (canned peaches etc) who had just begun to open up their offices in Great Britain. After another move to Sunbury on Thames Bob was eventually promoted to regional manager of the company in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the family moved up to East Kilbride in Scotland.
During all of these moves Bob and Doreen lost touch with the church and became inactive, during a business trip to the States Bob was able to visit Salt Lake City and writing home to Doreen he said - "There is something about this city that makes you feel different. We must attend church when I get back and start living a better life, one that makes your family better." Close quote.
Even though he said this it wasn't until they were living in Scotland and two Jehovah Witnesses knocked on their door, that the ball was set in motion, Doreen told them that they didn't go to church but that they were LDS, and these two Jehovah witnesses then rang the doorbell of a neighbour a few houses further along and she also told them that she was LDS, they told her that they had spoken to a neighbour who was LDS. This good sister quickly came around to our house and invited our family to a fireside and from that moment on we became reactive in the church.
On the 8th November 1969 our family travelled down to the London Temple and we were sealed together for time and all eternity.
After several business trips to the States Bob had developed a great desire to emigrate to the United States. In 1971 the opportunity arose, Bob sold his house and gave up his job and he and Doreen, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, and their three children moved to California to follow the American dream. Three months after arriving their 4th child Kim Doreen Strickland was born in San Pedro. What a blessing was that latecomer to Bob and Doreen in their later years.
Things didn't turn out as planned in America and Bob returned to work for Del Monte and they eventually moved him to Toronto, Canada. Both John and Denise remained in California and Denise met and married her husband Mario Gomez.
After a year in Canada, Doreen returned to Great Britain with Debra and Kim and Bob returned about a year later. Eventually Bob and Doreen were able to emigrate back to the USA with Kim, first to California and then to Arizona.
During his life Bob served faithfully in the church in many callings, he was Branch President in Scotland and Bishop of the Bedford ward in England. He has touched many peoples lives for good and shared his British humour. Even in his last week he was able to bare his testimony to his family.
Bob loved to play golf and he was also a wonderful magician a member of the magic circle. In his younger years Doreen was his assistant though he always accused her of killing his white rabbit with kindness by over feeding it, those who know Doreen can understand how this happened. Bob could perform marvellous tricks with cards but he also loved practical jokes and as a child we quickly learned never to pick up a silver coin laying on the table or you might just get an electric shock.
Bob was also a wheeler and dealer and was always buying and selling cameras or watches etc. Even as a young boy of about 5 his mother caught him outside trying to trade his grandfather's silver watch for some marbles.
Bob had a full life, he almost reached his 90th birthday but died just a few hours before, I like to think that his parents and siblings wanted to celebrate this birthday with him. His body was worn out but his spirit lives on.
He will be missed greatly by us his family, he was a loving husband to his wife Doreen, after 67 years of marriage and the ups and downs that every marriage has they still held hands. It was very emotional last week to witness how tenderly Mum and Dad said goodbye to each other.
Dad was also a great father to us four children, I can remember as a child feeling safe and protected on his knee, I loved to give him big kisses which he would give names to such as a smasher, or a smacker.
Dad has also left a great legacy of grandchildren and great grandchildren -  John and Joan's children Richard, Tracy, Lorna and Rachel. Denise and Mario's children Mark, Nathalie and Matthew, Kristin and Susan. Debra and Leen Arie's children Esther, Arjen and Laura and Kim and David's children Breanna, Aaron and Kelsey.Dad was very proud of each of his grandchildren and what they have accomplished in their lives and they also have fond memories of a fun Grandad who taught them to play cards or allowed them to decorate his face with flowers.
From these 12 grandchildren have come up to now 20 great grandchildren, Dad's memory will live on in these children.
I am so thankful for the knowledge that we have that this life doesn't end with death, a few days ago my sister Kim rang me up crying, she was feeling very strongly the miss of her Dad. I told her that for me it was different because I have lived far away from my parents for 36 years and that each goodbye at separation from them during all those years was like a death, but they were still there, just far away. I said to Kim that Dad is still here, he is just far away in another place where the internet connection isn't so good or is maybe just one way.
Dad we love you and will miss you but we know that you are close by and will keep an eye on your family. Love you Dad!



Saturday, 24 June 2017

Memories in stone


In my last blog that I wrote about my great grandmother Rose Tozer, I mentioned that her father William Frederick Tozer died when she was only two years old.
When I first started researching my family history about 40 years ago Rose Tozer's birth certificate was one of the first documents that I ordered, at the time I was living with my parents in Bedford, England. All of my grandparents were from Hull in East Yorkshire so I was surprised to discover that Rose was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Since Wellingborough is located quite close to Bedford we decided to visit the cemetery there on a Sunday afternoon on the off chance that maybe we might find a gravestone of one of Rose's family.
It was quite a large cemetery so when we arrived we spread out in different directions, to be honest I didn't even know whether the Tozer family had lived in Wellingborough for long and whether they were living there when William Frederick died, in fact I didn't know at the time when he had died.  It was a lovely surprise then, when after only ten minutes of searching my Dad and younger sister Kim called over that they had found a grave stone of William Frederick Tozer!
William had died in 1872 so it was just over a hundred years after his burial that his great Grandaughter, my mum, and his great, great granddaughters were able to stand before his grave. It was a lovely grave, with the words " In affectionate remembrance of William Frederick Tozer who died 15 May 1872 aged 32 years."
Underneath were written the words " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"
William Frederick was a painter and decorator so I always wondered whether he had fallen off his ladder or something but after ordering his death certificate I found out that he died of Otitis (an ear infection) of two weeks which had then spread to the brain. This was in the days long before antibiotics and must have been excruciatingly painful.
In my next blog I will share more about William Frederick Tozer, his family and his occupation.