Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Huguenots and Provence

I have just finished reading a book by Tracy Chevalier, author of the Girl with a Pearl Earring. This book is called The Virgin Blue and is set in France, it is the story of Ella Turner or Tournier who moves to France with her husband's work and during her time there begins to research her Tounier ancestors who turn out to be Huguenots who fled their homeland after the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of August 1572 which began after the wedding ceremony of the Catholic King's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre. The massacre began in Paris but spread to other areas of France, it is estimated that about 30,000 Protestants were murdered at this time because of their beliefs and many decided to flee to Geneva in Switzerland or eventually to one of the safe cities like La Rochelle.

St. Bartholomew Day massacre

As I mentioned in a previous blog of June 2018, some of Leen Arie's ancestors were Huguenots who lived in the 17th century in La Rochelle and were refugees to Holland in 1684 after it became impossible for them to remain Protestant in an intolerant country.   
Leen Arie's 8th great grandfather Louis De La Coste was 10 years old when he and his family fled to Holland, later he became a well respected Minister of religion in Dordrecht and in 1717 he decided to write a short history of his family and were they all ended up living after their evacuation from France.
At the beginning of his history he mentions that he often heard his father say that their ancestors were originally from Provence in the South of France and that because of persecution for their beliefs they were forced to flee and ended up in the city of La Rochelle. He then goes on to record that his great grandparents Michel De La Coste and Marie Papin  were witnesses at the marriage of their son Jean in 1624 and that Michel was a merchant and burger of La Rochelle.
It is very probable that Michel or his parents fled Provence in the late 1570's after the St. Bartholomew Day massacre.
Last year we visited La Rochelle and the Isle de Re and this year we are planning on spending our holiday in Provence. Whilst studying the map of the area around Aix au Provence I discovered a small town called La Coste, situated in the Luberon area of Provence. Could this be were Leen Arie's ancestors originally came from? The prefix 'De' in French  means 'of' so the name means Michel 'of' La Coste. Interestingly I have read on internet that alot of Huguenots lived in the Luberon area and the coat of arms of the town of La Coste has a Huguenot cross on it. We will definitely be paying a visit to this place and I will keep you informed. 

Coat of Arms of La Coste Provence

La Coste Provence

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Brickwalls and Printers

A brickwall in genealogical terms is when you frustratingly can't get any further with a certain line. I have been able to trace my paternal Strickland/Stickland line back to the 1600's but with my maternal Orwin line I have become stuck with Robert Orwin who was married in 1825 in London, I believe that he was born around 1796 but because he died just before the 1851 census was taken, which would have told me where he was born I am still not sure where he came from. This is my brickwall.
The Orwin name is dominant in the Sunderland, Newcastle area and I have found a Robert Orwin who was born around that time, did he move down to London to find work as so many did in the 1800's? There are also Orwins in the Chesterfield area and also some Orwins in London.
The name of Orwin can also be misspelled as Urwin, Unwin or Onwin so this makes it even more complicated
My Robert Orwin was a Miller as was his wife's family Sarah Freeman of Frindsbury, Kent. I have found an Orwin/Unwin family living in Frindsbury and one of their children was called Robert, but he died shortly after his birth. Maybe this family had another child called Robert who was born a few years later? I have been unable to find any record up to now but sometimes the parish registers are quite illegible.
Another clue is that a sister of Sarah Freeman, Hester Duly nee Freeman, named one of her children William Orwin Duly, and this was before Sarah married Robert. Who did she name him after? and where the Freeman and Orwin families already connected ?
I have recently ruled out the Robert Orwin who was born in Northumberland as I have found him and his wife and children on the 1841 census, still living in the Northumberland area.
As I mentioned I have my Robert Orwin's marriage record to Sarah Freeman in 1825 in Stepney, London, also the baptism of two of their children in Bermondsey named Sarah and Robert, also an article in the local newspaper about Robert's bankruptcy tells me that he was a Miller living on Tooley Street in Bermondsey. 

Their third child Eliza was baptised in Chatham, Kent and then they moved to Bristol, Gloucestershire, a distance of about 160 miles were their fourth child William was born. Their fifth child Charles was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire. 
Shortly after the birth of Charles the family moved up to Hull, East Yorkshire a distance of 245 miles! Here their sixth and youngest child Maria was born.
Robert worked in one of the many windmills located at that time in Hull, but unfortunately died at the young age of 57 in 1849 of tuberculosis.

His wife and children continued to live in Hull and his eldest son Robert my 2nd great grandfather also became a miller.
I would love to find a definite clue to point me in the right direction of were Robert came from so that I can then trace the Orwin line further back.
Just recently I discovered a Thomas Orwin who was a printer in London in the 16th century, his device was "By Wisdom Peace, By Peace Plenty"
After his death his widow continued his work in the printing shop for several years and printed many books during the rest of her life, a real emancipated woman!
My brother John was a printer for many years so it would be nice if we could link up to this Orwin printing family in some way, maybe it is in our blood.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Last Will and Testament of William Frederick Tozer

Death announcement in local newspaper

Testament of William Frederick Tozer

This is the last Will and Testament of me William Frederick Tozer of Wellingborough in the county of Northamptonshire. Plumber, Painter and Glazier.
I appoint my dear wife Eliza Loman Tozer and my brother Edwin James Tozer of the town of Northampton, Plumber, Painter and glazier, Executers and trustees of this my Will.  I bequeath unto my said wife Eliza Loman Tozer absolutely all my household goods, furniture and implements of household books, plate, linen, china, glass and consumable stores and all my wearing apparel, watches and trinkets.  I also bequeath to my said wife absolutely the legacy or sum of Twenty five pounds to be paid to her as soon as conveniently may be after my decease.  I devise and bequeath all my real estate (if any) whatsoever and wheresoever (except estates vested in me as a trustee or mortgagee) and all my stock and implements or utensils in trade, books and other debts and policies of Assurance on my life and all the residue of my goods, chattels, effects and personal estate unto and to the use of the said Eliza Loman Tozer and Edwin James Tozer their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns according to the natures and qualities thereof respectively. Upon trust as soon as convieniently may be after my decease to sell, dispose of and convert into money all such parts thereof as are in their nature saleable and to collect and get in the residue thereof. And I direct that my trustees or trustee for the time being shall stand possessed of all the moneys to arrive from or be produced by the sales, disposistion, convertion and getting in of my real and residuary personal estates, upon trust in the first place to pay and discharge thereout all my funeral and testamentary expences and just debts and all costs and expences incident to the execution of the trusts of this my Will and also the pecuriary legacy hereinbeforen bequeathed to my said wife. And upon trust in the next place to lay out and invest the residue of the said trust moneys in their, her or his own names or name in the Parlimentary Stocks or funds of Great Britain or at interest upon Goverment or real or any personal security or securities in England and from time to time at their, her or his discretion to alter, vary and transfer the same moneys or any part thereof for into or upon any other stocks, funds or securities of a like nature as often as they, she or he shall think fit and to pay the annual income of the said trust money unto my said wife Eliza Loman Tozer during her life if she shall so long remain my widow. And from and immediately after the decease or second marriage (whichever shall first happen) of my said wife, then upon trust and I do hereby declare that my trustees or trustee for the time being shall stand possessed of all the said trust moneys and the annual income thereof, In trust for my three children William Henry Tozer, Frederick Tozer and Rosa Tozer and such other ( if any) children or child of mine who shall be living at the time of the decease or second marriage (whichsoever shall first happen) of my said wife and who being a son or sons shall attain the age twenty one years or being a daughter or daughters shall attain that age or marry and the issue then living and who shall then have attained or shall thereafter attain the age of twenty one years of such (if any) of my said children as shall be then dead, leaving issue, such children and issue ( if more than one) to take in equal shares as tenants in common but so that the issue of any deceased child shall take by

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Eliza Lowman Challis

My last blog was about my maternal great great Grandfather William Frederick Tozer, so I thought that it would be nice to write something about his wife Eliza Lowman Challis.
Eliza was born on the 24th of May 1842 in the lovely seaside town of Ramsgate in Kent. The fifth child to Henry Challis and Eliza Turner.

Both her father Henry and her Grandfather Joseph Challis were in the transport business, Joseph ran a coach service between Ramsgate and Canterbury and her father was a Carrier of groceries, a Postmaster and later a Fly Proprietor. A Fly was a one horse two wheeled light carriage and a Fly Proprietor usually owned several Flys and employed the drivers, a bit like a taxi service.
In a story by Charles Dickens 'The Tuggs's at Ramsgate' he tells how when passengers disembarked from the City of London-Ramsgate steamer " a chorus of fourteen or so men" would be calling "Fly, sir?" trying to win the passengers as customers and to bring them to their lodgings. Charles Dickens was often in the area around Ramsgate so must have experienced this first hand.

Eliza would have grown up in reasonable prosperity, her family lived at 130 High Street, Ramsgate which is in the centre of the town, close to the church and about 10 minutes walk from the harbour, she was the fifth child of seven.
In 1861 at the age of 19 Eliza was employed as a milliner in Ramsgate. Shortly after 1861 she and her parents moved to Dover where her father worked as a victualler - a victualler is traditionally a person who supplies food, beverages and other provisions for the crew of a vessel at sea.
Sometime whilst living in Dover, Eliza met her future husband William Frederick Tozer who was working at the time as a decorator or grainer in Tunbridge Wells, which is about 100 km from Dover. Maybe they met in Ramsgate whilst William was taking a short holiday? What is certain is that they married at St. Mary's church, Dover on the 4th June 1866 and Eliza went to live in the lovely town of Royal Tunbridge Wells with her new husband.

In December 1867 her first child was born William Henry Tozer. Shortly after his birth they moved closer to William Frederick Tozer's family in Northamptonshire and William began his own Painting and Decorating company in Wellingborough. In 1870 their second son Frederick was born and on the 9th October 1871 my great grandmother Rose Tozer was born. The family were living at 34 Market Street, Wellingborough and William Frederick's decorating business was doing well when at the beginning of May 1872 he developed an ear infection which caused an infection to his brain membrane and within two weeks he had died.
Eliza was 29 at the time of her husband's death and had 3 children under the age of 5. In my next blog, which I promise will be alot sooner, I will post William Frederick's Last Will and Testament, and then a following blog I will write about Eliza's further life and her move up to Hull in Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

William Frederick Tozer - Painter and decorator

In my blog of June 2017 'Memories in stone', which was about the death of my great great grandfather William Frederick Tozer. I promised that I would write a blog about his life, that is as far as I am able to tell the story of his life from the few facts that I have found out about him.
Still I will do my best to paint a picture of William's short life and the time in which he lived.
William Frederick Tozer was born on the 1st May 1840 at 70 Hatfield Street, Christ Church Surrey, the second child to William Henry Tozer and Maria Bishop. On his birth certificate his father is recorded as being a painter.

 William wasn't baptised until the 27th August 1841 and on this register his birth date is given as 16th July 1840.  In 1851 they were living in the St.Pancras area of London and his father was a Journeyman Painter, also William Frederick had several more younger brothers and sisters.
By the time of the 1861 census his father had set up his own Painting and Decorating company in Northampton employing 1 man and 3 apprentices, both William and his elder brother Charles were working for their father and in a newspaper advertisement of 1862 you can read that their work wasn't just painting and decorating but also involved picture framing, guilding, plumbing and sign writing (that must be were my daughter Esther got her talent for sign writing from).

Shortly after this date William Frederick found work as a Grainer and Painter in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and it was whilst living here that he probably met his future wife Eliza Lowman Challis, daughter of Henry Challis of Ramsgate, Kent.
William and Eliza were married in the St. Mary The Virgin church in Dover on the 4th June 1866, he was 26 years old and Eliza was 24.

In December 1867 their first child was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells, he was named William Henry Tozer after his grandfather.
Shortly after the birth of their son, William Frederick and Eliza moved back to Northamptonshire where William started his own painting and decorating company, located at 34 Market Street, Wellingborough. In 1870 his second son Frederick was born and on the 9th October 1871, Eliza gave birth to my great grandmother Rose Tozer.
William Frederick's business seems to have been very successful, in fact  he was asked to help in the decoration of the large hall of the newly built Corn Exchange of Wellingborough. According to the local newspaper his finished work reflected his good ability as a decorative painter.

Unfortunately William Frederick's promising career came to an end with his untimely death on the 15th May 1872, caused by an ear infection which spread to his brain, he was only 32 years old and his wife Eliza was left with three young children.
I will post a copy of his testament in my next blog.

Friday, 29 June 2018


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 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.