Family History - tales around the tree
© 2023 smhopkins. While every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided on this site is accurate, no guarantees for the currency or accuracy of information are made. If you do make use of any of the information here or have anything to add or correct, please let me know. sue [at]


Blundell - Wigan & Wirral Boniface - Sussex Bradley - Suffolk & Essex Bustin - Oxford Campleman - Hull & SE England Catt/Cattley - Kent & London Copping - Kent, Margate Courtney - Wirral & Liverpool Cox - Dorset & Sussex Coyne - Ireland & Chester Curtin - Ireland, Midlands & USA De Normanville - France, London & South Australia Divall - Sussex & Lewisham Foot - Dorset Greenway - Sussex & London Griesel - Germany, London & Essex Grubb - Lewisham Holbrook - London & Essex Hopkins - North Shields, Wirral & Liverpool Hurst - Hounslow & Rhyl Jagger - Essex Laird - Surrey & London Lovel - North Shields Milleman - Holland, Kent, London & USA Molnar - Hungary & London Morgan - Devon Murray - Kincardineshire, London & South Australia Paver - Hull & London Pearl - Suffolk & Essex Rankin - Glasgow, Midlands & Canada Robson - Lewisham & London Skinner - Essex Smart - Essex, London, Canada & Seattle Starr - Norfolk & Westminster Still - Kent/Sussex, Essex Tales around the tree unrelated stories I’ve come across in the course of research and too good to ignore The Gallery revived School photos, Midhurst and Birkenhead & more
Wednesday 5th April 2023 - Mistaken identities George Wilson crops up in the Hopkins family tree when he unofficially adopts his niece Mary Jane Hopkins from South Shields and brings her up in York. For a man who rose from being a chemist to manager of the York Glass Works, to being a proprietor of the same, to Alderman, to being the youngest Lord Mayor of York, Justice of the Peace and landed property owner, George Wilson is remarkably vague about his origins. In the censuses he only twice becomes more specific than just Kent: in 1891 he says Lee - which is near Lewisham - and in 1851 he says Aldwade, a place I can’t trace at all. He is more consistent with his age, which generally indicates a birth year of 1820. George married twice and I got a copy of his first marriage certificate from the GRO which gives his father as “George Wilson, Gentleman”. For his second marriage the marriage register entry was viewable online and here his father is said to be “John Wilson (dec’d), Captain RN”. To be Mary Jane’s uncle he needed to be her mother’s brother and I knew her father had been John Wilson, a Mariner. Recently the York marriage registers have gone online and it appears from the original that George’s father was stated then to be “John Wilson, Gentleman” - so the copy I got from the GRO had been incorrectly copied at some stage. Having had a recent email correspondence about the fact that GRO copies don’t show genuine signatures it now appears that they can also be factually wrong! The Wilson/Hopkins story is complicated and a work in progress. I’ve also had to sort out two Elizabeths in the last couple of days. Ancestry ThruLines - never a reliable source - suggested that my greatx4 grandmother Elizabeth Challis had an illegitimate daughter Alice in 1763 when she was already married to Joseph Baldwin with a son born in 1762 and another due in 1764. As all these events were happening in the Castle Camps area of Cambridgeshire I guessed the two Elizabeth Challises were probably cousins, and their fathers it turned out were brothers William and Robert Challis, sons of William Challis and Elizabeth Wake from neighbouring Brinkley. Elizabeth, the mother of Alice married William Tilbrook in 1766. William Challis and Elizabeth Wake are my greatx6 grandparents and they married in Brinkley in 1713. Elizabeth Davidson/Davies is from the Hopkins side of the family and she married Thomas Courtney in Liverpool in 1858. She married with the surname Davidson and said her father was Edward Davidson, and I was having trouble tracking down this family. I finally went back to look again at their son John Courtney who I noticed, like his mother, in some of the censuses gave his birthplace as Port Wyne (or Wine), or Oswestry in Shropshire. I was able to find John’s baptism in Llanyblodwel parish on the 5th January 1862 where their abode is given as Birkenhead and Thomas’s occupation is Sailor. It’s possible as a boatman he travelled the Shropshire Union Canal which passed nearby, and a glance at the map of this area on the National Library of Scotland site shows the neighbouring Porth-y-Waen. Having noticed that the Courtney children’s births were registered with Elizabeth’s maiden name as Davies and now with her place of birth discovered I could track down her family. Her father was Edward Davies and the family lived in Llynclys, in the parish of Llanyblodwel, where he worked as a mole catcher. There was apparently a further complication to Elizabeth’s story, for a record sourced from FamilySearch correctly showed her baptism on the 13th January 1833 but also her burial in Llanyblodwel on the 26th February at the age of eight months. That would have meant she was born in June or July 1832 and not baptised until she was over six months old, unusual in an age of high childhood mortality. Two different records have been amalgamated: the Elizabeth who was buried in Llanyblodwel was the daughter of John and Ann Davies née Probert of the township of Blodwell, born June 16th 1832 and baptised July 8th 1832 in Pant Chapel, Oswestry. Both her baptism and burial records clearly state the family to be from the township of Blodwell, not Llynclys. Hopefully I’ve now got the right people in my family tree: I never take ThruLines at face value and have always - if possible - double-checked FamilySearch transcriptions. The GRO error is more concerning and I am now wondering about the accuracy of my collection of certificates that I can’t check against the original registers. Sunday 12th March 2023- Daniel Napoleon Bennett Every now and then a unique name from the family history reaches out and demands attention, and such a one was Daniel Napoleon Bennett. He has gone down in some family memories as a Captain in the Royal Navy, sadly the facts don't back this up. It was in March 1842 when a case of assumed mistaken identity brought him before the Clerkenwell magistrates accused of stealing half a dozen silver forks from the Reform Club where his brother worked as a servant, and taking them to a pawnbroker. The report in the Morning Herald on March 28, 1842 describes him as " A tall, exceedingly well-dressed, very portly, and altogether quite a gentlemanly-looking man, wearing his short-collar à la Byron and his nose à la Napoleon, with rather a sentimental pair of whiskers." His father, William Bennett, is recorded at this time as running the Golden Anchor in St John-street- road, Clerkenwell where Daniel was found “asleep with his head on the table in the bar”, by the police. The pawnbroker’s confidence that he had identified the right suspect quickly faded away when faced in court by this “respectable- looking young man” and Daniel was let go “without a blemish on his character”. Daniel had married Maria Corke, from Tonbridge in Kent (she's the family connection) in St Martin in the Fields on 17th September 1839; here he gives his occupation as Seaman, while his father William was a Coachman. Their daughter Agnes Price Bennet was born on the 4th November 1842 and baptised in St John the Baptist, Hoxton on the 21st January 1844, when again Daniel is just described as a Seaman. Agnes married William Henry Forbes at St John the Baptist Church in Hoxton on the 28th January 1863, and her father Daniel is said to be a Sailor, and deceased; and here is a salutary lesson not to believe everything you find in the newspapers, for the announcement of the marriage in all the Somerset newspapers - from whence William Henry hailed - places the wedding at St John's Church in Wells, and has promoted Daniel to "late Capt. Bennet, R.N." Perhaps that is what William Henry told his Somerset family though ... Daniel's career at sea wasn't with the Royal Navy and he appears in the Merchant Seaman records with ticket no.27,985. According to this he was born in Bognor on the 21st July 1814 - he was baptised in St Andrew, Holborn on the 18th September 1815, as his father was a Coachman this is not impossible. He first went to sea as a Servant in 1834, and lived in Walbrook, London when unemployed. He was 31 when he was first ticketed as a Servant which matches this date of issue: in London 24 Jun 1845; Servant in this context would refer to cabin crew as opposed to deckhands. Daniel has one voyage out listed for 1845 with the comment: "Deserted at Calcutta 27/11/45". He probably never returned home, for the death of a Daniel Bennett, aged 33 and "a townsman; and a patient in the General Hospital" is recorded on the 1st March 1846 in Calcutta, and he was buried next day in Fort William, Archdeaconry of Calcutta. Was Maria informed of his death? By the time of the 1851 census she is describing herself as a widow and has returned, with her daughter Agnes, to live with family in Sussex. Sunday 5th March 2023 - Casellis: Blockmakers, Banjos and poetry When Edmund Caselli took his banjo playing talent into the music halls at the start of the 20th century it wasn't felt that he needed a stage name: his own name, thanks to his Italian ancestry, was obviously considered exotic enough. His great great grandfather, Ranieri Caselli, was described as a Yeoman of the parish of St Saviour Dartmouth in Devon, when he married Jenny Hingston in the church of St Clement Townstall in Dartmouth on the 20th May 1782. Their son Ranieri was baptised just over a month later in St Saviour. Ranieri Caselli junior next appears in Plymouth when he married Elizabeth Richards on the 28th January 1808, Ranieri was working as a Blockmaker - a skilled craftsman working in the shipyards making pulley blocks for ships' rigging - and the parish registers for St Andrew show that they had four children baptised in the parish (and three buried) before moving further west to Falmouth. Ranieri's wife Elizabeth, died in Falmouth in 1826 and he married Joanna Rowe in 1827 in Mylor in Cornwall and by 1851 they had moved to Liverpool; Ranieri, now 68, was still working as a blockmaker. Ranieri and Elizabeth’s son Edmund Hingston Caselli was born in Falmouth on the 11th of June 1818 and by 1851 he had moved to Deptford in Kent, where he is working as a blockmaker. Shortly after the 1851 census on the 11th May, Edmund married Jane Clymo in Southwark. Their son Edmund was born the following year in Deptford, and he married Jane Tanner in 1872. In keeping with the family tradition Edmund and Jane called their first son Edmund. He was born in Deptford in 1873, and was followed by Jane born in Box in Wiltshire, her mother's home village, in 1876. In 1901 Edmund and Jane's son Edmund is living in Battersea, with his widowed mother and younger siblings. Single and aged 27, he gives his occupation as Music Teacher, but he was already performing locally on the banjo and mandolin as he appears as Ted Caselli in a review of a Mitre Music Society special ladies' night variety show carried by the South London Chronicle in March 1900. By 1904 partnered with Charles (or William) James he is touring the UK in a double act as Caselli & James "banjo experts". In 1905 they are billed as "The Greatest Exponents of Banjo Playing", and by 1906 they had joined Harry Rickards company touring Australia, where they first appeared in Sydney in October before going across to Perth at the start of 1907, where according to the Perth Daily News they were "the principal stars of the present company". Romance broke up the partnership when James married a fellow performer, Malvena Moore. By August 1907 Edmund was back in the UK performing solo, and James was doing the same in Australia, with both of them seeming to be repeating their old repertoire: the parson's sermon had been considered the high point of their duetting in 1906 and both continued to perform it on opposite sides of the world. THE CENTRAL HALL [...] Caselli, an expert banjoist, pleased the well-filled house with his selections. His best efforts were the overture to "Poet and Peasant", and a representation of a church service, even to the parson's sermon, the latter being produced by clever manipulation of the strings. Sheffield Daily Telegraph December 31, 1907 ROYAL REVELLERS. Will C. James, billed as "England's, Greatest Banjoist", from the Alhambra, London, was the star new turn at the Royal last night, and what he can't make a banjo do, heaven only knows. He can make it speak anyway, and his imitation of a village church service was complete, even to a droning parson's sermon. Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954) Sun 9 Jun 1907 The adverts for Edmund's performances contain the usual hyperbole, referring to him as a "phenomenal banjo expert & comedian", reaching "the Limit in Scientific Banjo Playing. Also including Humorous Imitations". The reviews are more measured but he does seem to have been very popular and successful, touring the length and breadth of the country. In July 1911 Edmund Caselli "the phenomenal banjoist" was performing at the Kino in Jarrow and the Royal Kino in Hebburn as a musical interlude between the Kinematograph picture programmes. It must have been on this occasion that he met his future wife, Marie Elizabeth Scott; she appears as a Musician in the 1911 census living with her parents in Hebburn. Her father Richard is a Cinematograph Agent, one brother is a Cinematograph theatre manager, another brother and a sister are clerks in a Cinematograph box office, and adverts in the local papers make it clear her younger brothers are running both the Kinos in Hebburn and Jarrow. Edmund and Marie married on the 12th November 1911 in Hebburn, and their first child Marie was born in 1912 in South Shields. For the next few years Edmund continued to tour the provinces and their second child, Edmund Scott Caselli, was born in Southampton in 1915. If the lack of newspaper adverts and reviews for the second half of this decade is any indication, it would seem that Edmund was no longer touring which may suggest he had a permanent position in a jazz band. An advert in The Era from August 25th 1920 places Edmund as a member of the Syncopated Five along with Rube Cooper, violinist; Jack Seymour, pianist; Steve Le Roy, drummer; James Chambers, saxophonist. They spent the summer season 1920 at the Grand Hotel, Cliftonville, Margate and were “At liberty October 2nd for forthcoming winter season. Only first-class offers entertained for a first-class band.” In 1921 the family are living at 26 West Square in Southwark and Edmund describes himself as a banjoist employed by Mitchell & Booker (Palais de Danse Ltd, Hammersmith) with his place of employment the Rectors Club, Tottenham Court Road. Probably performing as a member of a jazz band it seems unlikely that this was the Syncopated Five as Rube Cooper - who seems to have been the leader of that group is living in Margate and performing at the Queens Highcliffe Hotel as a violinist while his employer is said to be D. De Groot, musical director. Follow this link for more on Mitchell & Booker and the Rectors Club. By the end of the 1920s Edmund is advertising for work again and touring with venues in Surrey and Kent to Hertford and Huddersfield. 1931 finds him in Cleveleys in Lancashire performing with Claude Ewin’s Cabaret Revellers. His final adverts in The Stage appear in 1936, and Edmund died in Marylebone at the start of 1938 at the age of 64 - performing his “phenomenal” banjo routine to very nearly the end of his life. His wife Marie’s death was registered in Rochford in Essex also in the first quarter of 1938. Edmund had two of his compositions published by Clifford Essex & Son: Languid Blues in 1914 and Dainty Hussy in 1930. Monday 16th May 2022 - Coppings in Margate Read more … Thursday 24th March 2022 - The Rickling Skinners Read more … Tuesday 8th March 2022 - Jagger to Smart Read more … Thursday 18th November 2021 - Sidney Tuffrey 1865-1961 Read more … Thursday 2nd September 2021 - Wolvercote - Balls, Busbys and Bustins Read more … Friday 27th November 2020 - Curtins & Rankins Read more … Tuesday 5th October 2020 - Charlotte Cox Read more … Tuesday 29th September 2020 - Jessie Mary Woodward Read more … Tuesday 4th August 2020 - The Queen’s Arms near Dartington, and the Alsop family of Newton Abbot Read more …
With family members from most of the counties of England (also Scotland, Ireland and continental Europe, and probably Wales and the Isle of Man) this is a collection of stories about people whom I have found interesting. This page reflects my current research and the sidebar lists the main names already researched to a greater or lesser extent.