Thursday, 25 March 2010

Into the vale of years - discovering ancestors in Shakespeare's Warwickshire

Wilmcote, Warwickshire

As if my Brummie family tree hasn't expanded quite enough throughout the posts of this website, with ancestors arriving into 19th century Birmingham by the cart load from the rural villages of Shropshire, the smokey furnaces of the Black Country, the bustling bridges of the Liffey and the ravaged fields of Galway, be prepared for a whole new branch of the tree which takes us back in time to the hedgerows, lanes and timbered hamlets of Shakespeare's very own country around Stratford-upon-Avon in South Warwickshire.

A common occurance for family tree researchers is the invariable cul-de-sac when one reaches an ancestor with no obvious links to anyone else in their immediate family. This often happens with female ancestors if you don't have a maiden name to help you make the next generational step backwards. No maiden name means no surname to search for. When this happens, the initial impulse is to keep following the paternal line as far back as possible in order to expand the tree, but it does mean that you leave behind a trail of great great grandmothers who appear to have been brought into the world by an anonymous stork.

However, the beauty of the internet and the emergence of sites such as Genes Reunited in the past 5 or so years is that suddenly there is a new potential to make contact with people who can not only link into some of these lonesome ancestors (perpetually waiting for someone to rediscover their siblings and parents), but to actually double the size of one's own family tree via a couple of emails and the viewing of the persons tree.

This is exactly what happened when I made contact with a lady on Genes Reunited named Freda whose  ancestor, Emily Carpenter, is my g-g-grandmother. When Freda and I subsequently opened our trees to one another, it transpired that the wealth of her family tree research in Warwickshire equaled if not surpassed my own in other locations and, between us, if we were to join our trees through this single link, our joint tree starts to run into hundreds of individuals.

Obviously the majority of Fredas ancestors are so distantly related to my own, and largely through marriage as opposed to genes, that it would be non-sensical to transfer them all into my own tree (and vice versa). However, there are relevant genetic lines which it would be worth making note of.

The point at which my own family tree takes a branch off into the research published by Freda on Genes Reunited begins at the marriage of my paternal great grandfather Terence Millington to Pheobe Adderley at St Judes Church in Birmingham city centre. Phoebe's father was Alfred Adderley, a stationary engine driver born in Birmingham in 1849 and her mother was Emily Carpenter, who was born in Wilmcote in Warwickshire in 1851. Alfred and Emily Adderley lived in Lee Bank in Birmingham and had 9 children.

I knew from census records that Emily Carpenter originated from Wilmcote, a small village near Stratford and that her father's name was Henry. The register office for the area was actually over the border in Worcestershire at Alcester and the birth of an Emily Carpenter was registered at Alcester in the December quarter of 1851. Beyond this, I knew nothing further about the origins or family of g-g-grandmother Emily Carpenter.

See my post here for information about the Adderley family in Lee Bank:

According to Freda's research, Emily Carpenter was 3rd of 6 children born to Henry Carpenter (b.1826) and Elizabeth Bradley (b.circa. 1826). Emily's brothers and sisters were:

George born in Stratford c. 1848
Jane born in Aston Cantlow 1850
Emily born Aston Cantlow 1851
Eliza born in Aston Cantlow c.1854
Thomas born in Harbury c.1857
Charles born in Birmingham c.1859

Emily's father (my g-g-g-grandfather), Henry Carpenter was a labourer in a stone quarry. He was born in Aston Cantlow in 1826 and married Elizabeth Bradley in Alcester in 1845.

Henry was one of five children of William Carpenter and Elizabeth Green (both born early 1800s).

The five children were:

Joseph born in Bearley and married Francis Oliver
Hannah born in Aston Cantlow and married George Keasley
William b 1820
Samuel b. 1823
Henry b. 1826

Aston Cantlow

(From Wikipedia )

Aston Cantlow is a village and civil parish in the Stratford district of Warwickshire, England, on the River Alne. It lies 5 miles north-west of Stratford, and 2 miles north-east of Wilmcote, the parish stretching across the valley of the Alne. The main village, consisting of a single street, lies on the east bank of the stream; and behind the hamlet of Little Alne on the opposite bank, about ¼ mile north-west, the Alne Hills rise to rather over 400 ft. round the scattered hamlet of Shelfield. The valley is bounded on the east and south by a line of low hills, partly wooded, which divide it from the Avon. On this ridge are two more hamlets-Newnham and, about a mile to the south of it, Wilmcote, which has been a separate ecclesiastical parish since 1863. The eastern extremity of the parish touches Bearley and Snitterfield and includes the hamlet of Pathlow on the Birmingham-Stratford road.[1] It was the home of Mary Arden, Shakespeare's mother.

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