Tag Archives: Genealogy

The Brewer’s Drayman

McEwan draymen 1929This photograph, found in a junk shop many miles from where it was taken, apparently portrays the draymen of McEwan’s Fountain Brewery, which was founded in 1856 by the brewer-politician William McEwan,  donor of Edinburgh University’s magnificently grandiose McEwan Hall.

The photograph is dated 1929: depression was biting, and the following year McEwan’s would merge with its rival William Youngers in order to survive.

As a vital link between brewery and drinker, the drayman holds an honoured place in popular culture.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines him as ‘a man who drives a dray (in England, usually a brewer’s dray)’ and, if case you were wondering what a dray might be, cites a French-English dictionary from the reign of James I:

Haquet, a Dray; a low and open Cart, such as London Brewers use’

Literary allusions

At about the same date, the drayman found his way into Shakespeare, albeit in unflattering guise: Pandarus, in Troilus and Cressida (1609) describes Achilles dismissively as:

‘A dray-man, a porter, a very Cammell’

Charles Dickens sketched a more benign portrait of the London drayman in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1843): the enamoured John Westlock helps Ruth Pinch over a rope which two ‘good-tempered burly draymen’ are using to lower beer barrels into a cellar:

‘… and when John helped her – almost lifted her – the lightest, easiest, neatest thing you ever saw – across the rope, they said he owed them a good turn for giving him the chance. Celestial draymen!’

The grotesque broadside ballad ‘Barclay and Perkins’ Drayman’, which crudely expresses even cruder racist sentiments, portrays the drayman as the thuggish but majestic object of a Thames-side widow’s love:

This drayman was more than six foot high,
a proper broad great back man
She thought him best the reason why
he was twice as big as the black man
His face was like the moon just rose
More like a priest than a lay man
The eyes they did sparkle and so did the nose
Of Barclay and Perkins Dray man

A heavyweight occupation

Physical strength was obviously a prerequisite for the job, and in 19th century popular culture the drayman became something of a champion.  He was not however known for his radical politics. Punch magazine noted that draymen were among the first to enrol as Special Constables in April 1848 to protect the City against a Chartist demonstration.

The draymen of Barclay and Perkins’ brewery, which was on Bankside, stepped into the limelight in 1850 when General Haynau of Austria, who had notoriously ordered the flogging of Mme Madersbach, a Hungarian aristocrat, visited the brewery. He was met by a hostile crowed of draymen and labourers and was forced to flee and take refuge in a dustbin, from which he was eventually rescued by police.

A few figures

That fount of Victorian wisdom, Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates, tells us that in 1858 there were 205 great brewers in England and 40,418 licensed brewers.  According to the Findmypast indexes, the census of England, Scotland and Wales of 1851 identified 604 men as draymen (or brewer’s draymen or brewer’s carters), of which 119 were in Scotland. (The total population at this date was around 20.9 million.)  In 1881, a handful of draymen’s wives were also described as draymen: in most cases, the description has been struck through by the enumerator but against one the word ‘milkseller’ has been added, an indication that some of the draymen were probably milkmen, not brewery carriers.

Heavy lifting

The heavy loads carried by the draymen took their toll.  The pioneering bone surgeon Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (1856–1943), whose father was an army surgeon, studied the skeletons of brewers’ draymen and other manual lifters and noted that:

‘In the case of the brewers’ drayman who carried a heavy barrel on his right shoulder, the spine had become adapted to meet its burden’.

The industry had yet to embrace the culture of health and safety, in which it is now classed (in the US) in the category of ‘Material Moving Workers, All Other’.  In the UK, while the horse has been replaced by the engine, the old word is still used, resonating down the centuries in honour of this essential British occupation.

 

Drayman

Sources

The Oxford English Dictionary (online)

Bodleian Library, Broadside Ballads Online

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (1609), Act 1 Scene 2, line 24

A. James Hammerton, Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in 19th century Married Life (Routledge: London, 1992)

Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit liii. 609 (1843)

Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates (1858)

Who’s Who in Orthopaedics (London, 2005, page 184)

DNA and the descent of hereditary titles

Later this month the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will make an important judgement as to whether DNA evidence can be used to decide how hereditary titles should descend. The case in point relates to the baronetcy that was granted to the Pringle family of Stichill in Scotland in 1683.

DNA evidence appears to show conclusively that since 1919 the wrong branch of the family has used the title. In this year the 8th Baronet, Sir Norman Robert Pringle, died, apparently leaving three sons. The eldest son, Norman Hamilton Pringle, inherited the title in the normal way after his mother made a Statutory Declaration that he was her eldest son by the 8th baronet. Then in 1961 Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle died and his eldest son, Steuart Robert Pringle, inherited the title. Sir Steuart, who was a distinguished General in the British Army, died recently, and his son, Simon Robert Pringle, expected to inherit the title.

In fact, the DNA tests showed that Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle’s father was not the 8th baronet, and technically he was illegitimate. Norman Hamilton was, so to speak, ‘the ‘cuckoo in the nest’. Further tests showed that the 8th baronet’s eldest son was actually Ronald Steuart Pringle, and Ronald’s son, Norman Murray Pringle, now claims that he is the true heir to the baronetcy.

Will the seven judges decide in favour of Simon Robert Pringle, or his cousin Norman Robert Pringle? The decision could go either way, but if the DNA evidence is recognised as good decisive evidence, it may open up a great many claims to titles and inheritances which can be disputed on the grounds of the results of DNA tests.

Roll of the Baronets 2011

Roll of the Baronets 2011

A few years ago at Debrett Ancestry Research we encountered a rather similar situation where genealogical research showed that the title in another family of baronets, Smith of Eardiston, had been used by the wrong branch of the family since 1893. In this case, it was a bigamous marriage which caused the problem. As a young man, Christopher Sydney Winwood Smith (died 1887), who was the eldest son and heir of the 3rd baronet, went to Australia, where he worked as a labourer.  Without telling his folks back home, he married a poor Irish girl, and had a son by her. The son and his descendants knew nothing of their titled Smith relations in England and were unaware that they were rightfully baronets.

Gervase Belfield, genealogist at Debrett Ancestry Research, fought a long and at times frustrating campaign to have the mistake corrected. Eventually, in 2008, the Attorney General agreed that a written ‘Caveat’ should be entered on the Official Roll of the Baronetage, revealing the true identities of the baronets of Smith of Eardiston since 1893.

If the Privy Council judges decide to allow DNA evidence in establishing the identities of the rightful inheritors of titles, then there may be many other claimants waiting in the wings. Debrett Ancestry Research has the necessary experience to take up the challenge of proving the true heirs to these disputed titles.

Letter from the Crimean War

One of the great fascinations of genealogy is the way that personal stories sometimes leap off the page of what might –  were it not for microfilm and digitisation – have been a dry and dusty pile of official documents. Wills – particularly the older ones – can vibrate with personal feeling, centuries after they were written. Occasionally, a less formal document finds its way into the probate registries. Among the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the letter of an officer to his brother, written during the Crimean War as he awaited orders to join the Siege of Sebastopol, is preserved. The letter replaced the will that Major Edward Rooper, at the age of 36, had not got round to making, and so what happened next is all too painfully obvious. Hindsight adds poignancy to Rooper’s anticipation of ‘a few casualties’ at Sebastopol and to his wistful pleasure to think that at home ‘the quail are just coming in’:

Letter of Edward Rooper to George Rooper of Lincoln’s Inn

Camp nr Beicos, Aug 29 [1854]

Dear George
There is no doubt of the melancholy fact that we have got to go and take Sebastobol [sic] and considering they have 90,000 and we 50,000 I fear the operation will not be over easy.  I much fear the Authorities are driven in to the attempt by the attacks made on them by the Press, in fact the ravages of the Cholera have been fearful not so much in loss of life, though there has been enough of that, as in the weak state the slightest attacks of it reduce the men to. The Duke of Cambridge says the Army at Varna is almost annihilated for the present and that we look healthier and better than any Regt there. At the same time we had about 12 per Cent sick. Our loss to now is twenty two. Our doctors have not shone in the matter much only now adopting the measures found efficacious by now experienced men. We expect to go every day as they say the Expedition is to sail on the 2nd from Varna.

‘Buyukdere Valley, and Beicos Bay'. wood engraved print 1856. Unsigned;sketched by Capt. Montagu O'Reilly.

‘Buyukdere Valley, and Beicos Bay’. wood engraved print 1856. Unsigned;sketched by Capt. Montagu O’Reilly.

Even for a pleasanter place than the Crimea is likely to be at present I should be sorry to leave this beautiful view of the Bospheros which we command up and down from our lofty Camp. I have laid on a fresh Servant too and speak Romain to any amount. I was just beginning to inquire about the shooting of which I think we should get some good if we remained here. It is pleasant to know the quail are just coming in. I have not been very often to Stamboul but enjoy the place the more the better I know it.

Of course you will go to the Turkish Bazaar Show in London – as they are not loquacious or energetic it must be almost as good as the real live article – I rather singularly met the other day Hussey Pasha whose acquaintance I made at Yannina years ago. He was very civil to me but I did not remember him until we parted when I heard his name. I have written to B. to say they must not expect to hear regularly now but repeat the warning when you write If any accident happens to me and I expect there will be a few casualties I wish you and John to divide anything I may have I owe nothing to anyone hoping to date my next however safely from Sebastobol …

Yours ever E.R.

Appeared personally George Rooper of 68 Lincolns Inn Fields, Alfred Malins and Henry William Birch…

George Rooper is a brother of the above named Edward Rooper late a Major in HM Rifle Brigade at the Crimea in the Empire of Russia deceased that on or about the thirteenth day of July 1854 the said deceased sailed from England with his Regiment for the Crimea where they arrived 20 September 1854… On 10 September he received a letter from his brother … his brother was wounded in action at Inkerman in Russia on 5 November 1854 and died on 15 November in consequence of his wounds on board the Tranport ship Golden Fleece at sea on his passage to the hospital at Scutari.
Probate granted 17 May 1855 to George Rooper Esq.

The Crimean War

The Siege of Sebastopol, which gave a horrific foretaste of the trench warfare of the First World War, began on 25 September 1854 and ended on 8 September 1855. The Allies lost nearly 10,000 men and the Russians, nearly 13,000, on the last day of the siege alone.

The Battle of Inkerman, in which Edward Rooper lost his life, took place on 5 November 1854 when the Russian Imperial Army took the offensive against the besieging British and French troops, whom they greatly outnumbered. Rooper was one of 6 officers and 144 men from his regiment who died; in total, the British suffered 2,357 casualties, the French 929 and the Russians, 12,000. There was no decisive victory, but the Russians ultimately withdrew.

Map of the Crimean War, from Wikimedia

Map of the Crimean War, from Wikimedia

 

The Rooper family

Edward Rooper was the youngest son of the Reverend Thomas Richard Rooper and Persis, née Standly, who married in 1806 at Little Paxton in Huntingdonshire. Edward was baptised in Abbots Ripton, Huntingdonshire, on 27 January 1818 and Hart’s Army List shows that he was already serving in the Rifle Brigade in 1840. From 1841 until at least 1861, the family lived at Wick House in Hove, Sussex, where his father was a ‘clergyman without care of souls’ and commanded a large establishment of servants. Another older brother, John, was also an army officer.

Edward’s father survived him; his brother George lived to a great age, and the 1901 census found him living in Paddington ‘on means’, a widower of 89.

Notes

George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge (1819–1904), commanded the first division of the army to serve in the Crimea.  Aged 35 and inexperienced, he joined the battle of the Alma on 20 September 1854 at which 622 men out of 1361 were lost.  He was invalided home on 27 December 1854 (Edward M. Spiers, ‘George, Prince, second duke of Cambridge (1819–1904)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009).

For a detailed, fully illustrated account of the Battle of Inkerman and the Siege of Sevastopol visit British Battles.com.

 

Some Do’s and Don’ts in Genealogy

We have been researching British ancestry since the 1970s.  Our starting point is often the research already carried out by the family.  From the thousands of cases we have worked on, here are a few hints for those just starting out…

DO Talk to your relatives

Your own family members are your most precious resource, so if you can, ask them as much as possible.   Our Recollections book is designed to help in this process.

Recollections: A Personal Record

DO Plan your system of recording

You are probably going to amass a large volume of detail.  Before you begin, think how you are going to record what you find.  In a database, online, by hand, or in a  format of your own devising?  All of these options are valid, but make sure that they will last, and that they will be understood not only by yourself but by anyone else you might want to share them with.

DO Record your sources

Be meticulous.  Every time you record a fact, or a theory, make a note of where you found it.

DO Record full details

To avoid having to revisit records, make sure that you capture everything the record says, the first time, by saving an image or transcribing it in full, with its source.

DO Label family photographs

Using full names and dates if possible: not just ‘Mum and Dad’!

Uncle Sam & A. Gladwys (Morris)DO Consider the context

Find out about places and occupations; as well as making the research more interesting, it might explain where an ancestor might have come from or where they worshipped.

DO Work back from the known to the unknown

Avoid the temptation to leap to a more interesting family of the same name.   If anyone tells you they have a family tree with a gap in it, consider whether you have ever seen a real tree with a gap…

DON’T Trust family trees or entries submitted to websites

… unless they are supported at each stage with clear evidence, such as an image, citation or link to a primary historical record.

DON’T Jump to conclusions

It may not always be possible to establish clear-cut evidence of a link, particularly in a period or location where records are sparse, but avoid gung-ho or wishful thinking genealogy.

DON’T Assume printed sources are always correct

To err is human.  Transcriptions and indexes are never completely accurate.  Early genealogical works such as Burke’s Landed Gentry relied on family information that was often wildly inaccurate.

DON’T Restrict your search to what is easily available

If you hit a problem: be logical.  Don’t be tempted to just search what is online, on the shelf in front of you, or indexed.  The answer may be quietly sitting in an unindexed record from the  parish next door.

And finally, keep an open mind.  Your ancestors may have some surprises to spring on you…

 

Sir William Betham, ‘great Irish genealogist’

The adjective ‘great’ is not one frequently applied to genealogists, but a notable exception is Sir William Betham (1779–1853), often described as a ‘great Irish genealogist’.  Sir William was not however Irish by birth, and probably would not have described himself as a genealogist: his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography defines him as an antiquary and his abiding interest was in ancient Irish history.

Arms of the Ulster King of Arms

Arms of the Ulster King of Arms

Sir William inherited his antiquarian interests from his father, William Betham senior (1749–1839), a clergyman and schoolmaster from Westmorland.  After his marriage in 1775 to Mary Planque, a widow of Suffolk, Betham settled in that county and had fifteen children.   He served as headmaster at Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, for nearly half a century; by 1829, by which time he was 80 years old, the church commissioners declared that the school had declined from its earlier ‘considerable repute’.  Betham nevertheless remained in post until 1833 when he became Rector of Stoke Lacy in Herefordshire.

Betham senior published two genealogical works, neither of which was greeted with much acclaim: Genealogical Tables of the Sovereigns of the World came out in 1795 and a Baronetage followed, in five volumes, from 1801 to 1805.  The title page of the first volume quotes the 18th century orientalist John Richardson:

It is hardly necessary to observe, that Genealogy is so intimately connected with Historical Knowledge, that it is impossible to arrive at any proficiency in the one, without being minutely versed in the other.

True to this observation, Betham senior was also a local historian; like many such projects, his intended county history never came to full fruition, but a single volume of a History of Suffolk was published in 1814, based on his findings, and his papers now form part of the Fitch collection in the Suffolk Record Office.

William Betham junior’s education was presumably provided by his father; neither appears to have  attended university.  His connection with Ireland was accidental; as a young man in 1805, he visited the Record Tower at Dublin Castle (then the repository of state records) to search for some documents for a law case on which he was employed.  The disarray in which these records were kept so struck him that he asked to be appointed deputy keeper of the records.  This application was successful, and Betham moved to Dublin and set about restoring order to archival chaos, becoming also deputy Ulster King of Arms.  A knighthood followed in 1812 and eventually, in 1820, Sir William Betham was appointed Ulster King of Arms, a post he held until his death (he was succeeded by another publisher-antiquarian, Sir John Bernard Burke).

In Dublin Betham acquired a passion for ancient Irish manuscripts and history, and also a large collection of early Irish manuscripts, which he sold to the Irish Academy at the end of his life.  He published his first slim volume, Irish Antiquarian Researches, in 1827, shortly after his admission to the Royal Irish Academy.   Further publications on English and Irish history followed, and at the end of his life Betham acquired an interest in Etruscan literature and language and its relevance to ancient Irish.  In the introduction to Irish Antiquarian Researches Betham wrote:

In the course of those investigations and arrangements, which my official duties have from time to time rendered necessary, I could not fail to observe, how little is known of the true history of Ireland. Notwithstanding the irreparable losses, by fire and other destructive casualties, of many ancient, valuable, and important documents, there still remain many consecutive series of rolls and other evidences sufficient to preserve the chain of history unbroken…

Ashfield_Gales_Betham_Pedigree

Sketch pedigree from one of Betham’s notebooks (1800)

Betham was not to know of the still greater ‘irreparable losses’ which were to come, when the Public Record Office was set alight in 1922 and so many documents  –  wills, parish registers and early census returns  –  were lost for ever.  He was thus unaware that the greatest of his legacies to the historian and genealogist would be, not his published works, but his private notebooks, for while supervising the indexing of the Prerogative Wills[1]  in his keeping, he had made genealogical abstracts of them (up to 1800 for wills, up to 1802 for administrations), from which he created sketch pedigrees which contain later additions and amendments.  The notebooks ran to 34 folio volumes and were accompanied by a meticulous ‘index of alliances and aliases’.  These abstracts, known as Betham’s Abstracts,  are now in the National Archives, Dublin and go some way to mitigating the enormous loss of the original wills and administrations.

Betham died in his adopted city of Dublin in 1853 and was buried at Monkstown, County Dublin.

J. T. Gilbert, ‘Betham, Sir William (1779–1853)’, rev. Michael Erben, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008.

J. T. Gilbert, ‘Betham, William (1749–1839)’, rev. Colin Lee, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005.

Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536–1810 (Dublin, 1897).



[1] The Prerogative Court dealt with estates in more than one diocese; before 1816 its records were fragmented since hearings were usually in the judge’s residence.

Female Ancestry: Following the Maternal Path

The vast majority of our clients want us to concentrate on their paternal ancestry, which is understandable as this is the traditional way in which we view our family history in Britain. Looking from the child to its father, and then to its father’s father, is deeply engrained in our sense of self. The transfer of material wealth and reputation has followed the same paths through the ages, tagged with the father’s name alone. Many early parish register entries do not even bother to record the name of the mother of a child at baptism. (Some of our clients follow the same tradition with their starting information…)

Very occasionally, however – perhaps once among a thousand clients – someone wants to look at their ancestry from a different angle: to follow the thread back not from son to father but from daughter to mother, and this matrilineal approach makes a refreshing change. If we are interested from a biological point of view in how we became what we are, researching our female ancestry is no less logical than chasing a surname through the ages.

In traditional English families, maternal surnames are quite often preserved as middle names: we find this in all classes, but particularly where money or property entered the family via a wife. These are of course helpful clues for the genealogist. In extreme cases – among the wealthy – this gratitude was expressed (or demanded) by abandoning one’s paternal surname in favour of that of a generous female relative; or by hitching the two names together with a hyphen.

The Scottish tradition among women of never quite abandoning their maiden name after marriage, but preserving it as an alternative or middle name, is always a welcome sight. It reflects traditional practice in societies such as Iceland, where identity focuses on the given name, although surnames still refer to the father, not the mother. (An Icelandic surname is likely to refer to the father’s given name, as in early Welsh naming patterns.) Icelandic telephone directories are arranged not by surname but by given name.

In general (but few generalities in genealogy are safe), following the female line is more challenging. When concentrating on a single surname we can make blanket searches of records, sifting out all possible references to a family; and if we hit a difficulty, there are fewer clues to guide us out of it. If a marriage was not recorded, or perhaps just did not take place, we can get completely stuck.

On the positive side, however, as a client recently pointed out, the genealogy is likely to be more watertight: it is difficult to wrongly identify the mother of a newborn baby, but how many birth certificates or baptismal records do not accurately name the true father? Now that DNA tests have become more accessible, we may be about to find out.

Following the female path is the more adventurous option: a female line is more likely to take you farther afield, to a new area or even a new country. Genealogy is always full of surprises, but by leaping at each step to a new surname, who knows what you may find?

Click on the link to see one we did earlier:
A matrilineal pedigree