Shade Burns

Shade Burns sounds like the sort of moody paradoxical title I’d have given a poem during my teenage years, but it is in fact the name of a man born in 1835, in Stoke-Beurne, Northampton.

It took me a little while to find his baptism, because on the 1851 census he and his siblings are shown as being born in Oxfordshire, and his name is down as Shadrach, not Shade.

There are two reasons why I’m sure the Shade, Shaid and Shadrack I found in the censuses and baptism are the same person.
One is that his sister is living with them and her new husband in 1851, as Hannah Hizzard, and she later appears in the newspaper  article connected to Shade (I’ll come to that in a bit) and the second is this great comment on the place of birth on the baptism; ‘Accidentally in Stoke-Beurne’. Maybe he came early, or the conception date was a bit off, or they were delayed in their journey home…  I find myself wondering, was he born in their cart or carriage at the side of the road? Or did the family rent lodgings as they travelled for work – perhaps they were charged extra for the additional laundry!

There is the possibility that the name Shadrach being recorded by the 1851 census enumerator was a case of the enumerator just deciding that Shade was clearly short for the more common Biblical name. There would also be a subtle pun for anyone who knows their Bible (I don’t, but thankfully for me Google and Wikipedia do) as Shadrach was one of the Jewish men thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when they refused to bow down to the king’s image.  ‘Shadrach Burns’…Cheery! However his baptism says Shaid, and he calles himself Shade, so Shaid/Shade he will be.

In 1860 Shade marries widow Sarah Taylor (nee Johnson), and the 1861 census shows them living with their 8 month old daughter Rebecca and 3 children from Sarah’s first marriage. His occupation is Hardware dealer, although on Rebecca’s baptism (she is baptised Rosa Rebecca) it says he is a ‘Broker’, which is essentially a salesman or ‘middleman’ who arranges sales rather than someone who sells directly.

The UK City and country directories have him as an Ironmonger in 1864, and then back to being a Broker (and Cane worker) in 1876.

By 1871 they have 2 more sons, Frederick and George, but sadly Rebecca died in December 1861 and William Taylor, Sarah’s last son from her first marriage, died aged 9 in 1867, two terrible losses.
There’s a tendency to ‘brush off’ deaths of children in the Victorian period, we’re constantly told horrifying statistics of child mortality to the point where it can be perceived as expected by Victorian parents, but this just isn’t the case, I have generations of large families in my own tree where no children are lost, and have read countless heartfelt monuments to young children who have died placed in Churches, and in this case Shade’s family are not living in poverty or in a large industrial city where malnutrition and disease were a little more expected.

Then in 1874 Sarah passes away, and in 1880 Shade also dies, on Valentine’s Day.

In his Will, it shows that he leaves his money to his Step-son Edward Thomas, who at the young age of 23 becomes legal guardian of Shade’s two sons; George aged almost 18 and Frederick, 16.. Despite this however they instead go to live with their cousin Thomas Wheeler, a coal merchant, in Norfolk Street (the house no longer exists, in it’s place stands a rather monstrous multi storey car park).

Then as now, no matter how much or little someone leaves when they die, there can be disputes amongst siblings and extended family about who get what and who said what to whom, and in this case an incident occurring from such an argument was reported in the local newspaper, only it is the landlord who takes exception!

Here Hannah Hizzard is reported with the H’s dropped as Anna Izzard – she has gone to her brother’s lodgings and taken property deeds and money from his belongings (7l being around £300 in today’s money), and then had them promptly, and forcedly, taken from her person by the landlord. Not only is her case dropped but no mention is made of what happened afterwards. We can only ascertain that Thomas Wheeler, the cousin, took possession.

It is interesting that she does not take them to court here for any reimbursement of those items but actually for the assault upon her – perhaps because she knew her claim to those would never come to pass she was trying to get reimbursement via compensation for the assault.

This article brings to light numerous insights into her and Shade’s situations at the time. Firstly, Shade is in the possession of property, yet he is lodging in a ‘Beerhouse’. He is also apparently unwell enough that his sister is needing to ‘attend’ him for 5 weeks and he said she could sleep at the lodgings. The fact she is choosing to sleep there suggests that Shade was sick enough to warrant round-the-clock care, as Hannah’s home is some 20 miles away in Ardley. If this is the case, you have to feel for poor Hannah, who has caused such disruption to her own family life (her youngest son is still only 10 at this point) and with only her version of her brother’s words to defend herself, he not having made any provision for her in his will or publicly announcing any intentions before he died. Could then his death had been sudden? Seen as temporary, perhaps he intended to return home?  His obituary in the newspaper, although short, mentions that he previously lived at Ebb street as well as the location of his death, as if he were still to return there or owned the house still. The fact his will leaves everything to his step-son rather than two near adult sons also suggest it was made earlier, when they were much younger, and had not since been updated.

Hannah herself is living with her husband back in Ardley by the 1881 census, and in 1891 now bears the occupation of ‘Midwife (sick)’. Sick before the occupation of Nurse, Midwife etc. means that she is caring for sick mothers/babies temporarily rather than is sick herself. The distinction is made when a nurse or midwife is not permanently employed/present at a hospital. She dies in 1895, leaving just £48 to a James Smith and David Walter, two people who I have no idea of their connection to her. A mystery I will look into at a later date, for my own curiosity.

His sons however, do not fare so well.

Both George and Frederick are living with the Wheelers in 1881, by 1891 George has married and moved out with his wife Mary, and Frederick is living with them. 1901 find Frederick in prison, and in 1911 I can’t find him despite knowing he doesn’t die until 1916, still in Oxfordshire.

It did not take me long to find numerous newspaper records of his court appearances. The first is a rather mild accessory to poaching one rabbit, or rather he was a lookout for another man along with 3 others. The next is for being drunk and disorderly, the one after shows that perhaps his family are still trying to help him/stay on his side.

At the end there’s a rather poignant caution from the judge to not come before them again… needless to say he does, for breach of the peace for fighting, theft and most often, drunk and disorderly.

On February 24th however it is reported again that he is charged for theft – his 20th conviction!

At first I thought the last remark meant he would be given 20 months in prison, one for each previous offence, but actually it seems it was only 2 months, one for each charge of stealing from this court appearance, as although he is indeed in prison in Warwick in the 1901 census in April, he is back in court by August 1900 for being Drunk and disorderly again. (Although to be fair to Frederick, he was merely ‘sleeping it off’ in a doorway when a policeman rudely awakened him by dragging him upright, so began swearing at him and ‘making a scene’).

It goes quite quiet for Frederick then, bearing in mind we know he lives until 1916 I can’t find him in the 1911 census, and although we know from newspaper reports he travels to London occasionally, presumably to find work, his death is registered in Abingdon.

George however is definitely in London in 1911, working as a labourer in a house with 20 other men in Lambeth, houses which have now been split into flats, a one bedroom flat being worth over £500,000!
He is listed as single rather than widowed, and a quick search shows Mary as an inmate of Headington Union workhouse a couple of miles east of Oxford, aged 45 with a 2 year old son, John Price Burns, her first child. She is listed as widowed although we know George is alive, and the baptism for James Price Burns in 1909 has no father mentioned. There is a John Price living in St Ebbe in 1901, perhaps Mary had an affair and George left her, or perhaps George abandoned her first, the child could well be his (only DNA testing with mutual descendants could prove it) and she was saying she was widowed so he didn’t get called in for letting her become chargeable to the parish – it doesn’t help that I haven’t yet been able to find Mary or George in the 1901 censuses, so am unable to see if they were still together then, although as they are both ‘missing’ it suggests they were and are lost on a rogue record somewhere.

For such a small family they certainly had their share of upset and trouble, both parents and 2 siblings die, those left struggling with alcohol or experiencing a marriage breakdown. Despite this though they did seem to be a family who wanted to help each other out or stick together and up for each other as much as was reasonable; victims of circumstance.


Sexey Beard b.1780

Sexey Beard felt appropriate to mention at the moment because of the ongoing fascination with ‘hipster beards’; a very annoying phenomenon for men like my boyfriend, who had a beard before it was ‘in’… However this particular person is actually a woman born in Somerset around 1780.

On 28 Mar 1809 in Worle, Somerset, Sexey marries a James Stabbins, and her name essentially becomes the title of one of those odd pulp fiction books from the 70’s…

d369c369c537660cd234b6b7a367420e f8e003e4eae500a937506e928f51eeea trapped              …. pulpfiction

I digress.

I have already covered the Sexey name’s connection with Somerset in a previous post – although something I found interesting when looking up this Sexey was that she was mis-named as ‘Sexa’ both on the 1851 census and again on her Burial record. This could be because the name Sexagesima was also in use at the time as a first name, presumably after Sexagesima Sunday, the second Sunday before Ash Wednesday in the Church, as well as Sex- names being used for the 6th child, although this was usually reserved for males and the name ‘Sextus’.

I could not find a definite entry for Sexey Beard’s baptism, however a simple google did find this entry from an 1831 report entitled Bristol charities: being the report of the commissioners for inquiring concerning the charities in England and Wales so far as relates to The Charitable insititutions in Bristoledited by Thomas John Manchee (I guess he wasn’t too bothered about snappy titles)

So obviously workable farmland was provided to Sexey’s parents, possibly because of some kind of connection with Samuel Poole, a previous beneficiary. I am rather intrigued as to what the ‘Swan’s Nest’ actually refers to, if anyone can enlighten me please do! This also tells us that Sexey’s Mother was Ann Poole, and as there are no Beard’s marrying Sexey’s at all, we know Sexey does not refer to her mother’s maiden name. It could perhaps be from a Grandmother or other relative, or even a close friend as has happened in my own family tree, but because the word ‘sexy’ was not in use at that time to mean what it does now, it could just be that her parents heard the name and liked it!

The next we can definitely see of Sexey in written records is her marriage, but we do have quite a lot of info about her afterwards.
In the 1841 census, (where she has been transcribed as ‘Serge Stobbins’ – le sigh) we find her and husband James living in St George’s in Banwell (in itself an interesting parish) with their daughter Ann and James’ niece, also Ann Stabbins. I also found a baptism for a Patience Stabbins born in 1811. These seem to be the only two children they have.
James is a farmer, and although Sexey is widowed by 1851, she has now taken on the management of 46 acres herself. Her address is given as west Wick now but the two places border each other so it could well be the same land. Her daughter Ann is still living with her, as well as two house servants and one farm servant. Managing 46 acres could surely not be done by one man, so I’m guessing that she got an extra house servant so she could go out onto the farm, still working hard at 68.

1861 finds our Sexey living with her daughter, now Ann Crossman, married to Robert Crossman. I realised the children’s ages, 18 and 14, did not make sense, and the 1851 census for Robert confirmed that these were a previous wife’s children. That previous wife was in fact Ann’s sister Patience!

Patience had died in 1848, very sadly within a few weeks of her father’s James’ death, which must have been very difficult for Sexey. Usually in cases such as these the sister marries her brother in law quite quickly, somewhere away from home. Although it wasn’t uncommon for unmarried sisters, who had few options to support themselves besides marriage, to step in to care for the family for convenience, it was at the time illegal. This may be why they went away to Bristol to be married, as their local priest would certainly not have sanctioned the marriage.

The Bristol Mercury & Western Co. Advertiser, Eng. Sat. 16 June 1855. Pg. 16.
MARRIED June 10, at Christchurch, Bristol, Robert, eldest son of Mr. Crossman, of Wood-spring farm, to Ann, only surviving daughter, of the late Mr. James Stabbins, of Banwell.

This sort of marriage was made illegal by The Marriage Act 1835 –  largely because of the belief in the Church that husband and wife “became one flesh,” therefore your wife’s sister was really your own sister. There was also some dubious science to back it up, claiming  married couples become blood relations through some biological consequence of sexual intercourse.  Some people also worried it would sanction husbands and their wives’ sisters lusting after each other whilst the wives were still alive, or that family trees would become too complicated and accidental incest would occur.

What ensued was six decades of petitioning to the government to overturn this rule and allow men to marry their wive’s sisters again.
It started in 1842 when a Marriage to a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill was introduced and defeated by strong opposition, but it was fought again on the political scene almost annually.

Supporters of the act argued that prohibiting these marriages was unfair to the poor, (and perhaps in this case also the more rural folk who may have had less choice, Tom Cox has done an excellent piece on the challenges of rural dating) who could not afford to hire help and could not travel out of the country to get married.

The lengthy nature of the campaign even seeped in to popular culture –  in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Iolanthe (1882),  the Queen of the Fairies sings “He shall prick that annual blister, marriage with deceased wife’s sister”, and Mrs Dinah Maria Craik wrote a book entitled Hannah, published in 1871, which tells the story of a man who falls in love with his deceased wife’s sister when he calls on her to care for his baby daughter (Mrs Craik had acted as chaperone to Edith Waugh when she travelled to Switzerland to marry the painter Holman Hunt after the death of his first wife, her sister Fanny).
Eventually, in 1907 The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act  removed the prohibition (although it allowed individual clergy, if they chose, to refuse to conduct marriages which would previously have been prohibited). Interestingly it was not until 1921 that the Deceased Brother’s Widow’s Marriage Act was passed.

I realise I’ve been on a large tangent, however I’ve come across so many of these illegal sister-in-law marriages in people’s family trees I thought it worth mentioning. Not least because I’ve found that sometimes when people research their trees they concentrate on their direct lines, and often will not research a second or third wife, so will miss the connection entirely.

Back to Sexey in 1861 – now 81 and listed as a landed proprietor, so I imagine she was either receiving a small income from renting out farmland she still owned or may even have owned the farm they were all living on, as although it is not named on the sheet the front page of the census makes mention of a ‘Stabbins Farm’.
Unfortunately by the 1885 map the farm has been renamed, and in modern times the once very rural landscape is now sliced in half by the M5, with a few industrial estates built on it for good measure.

When she dies on the 10th June 1862, Ann is her sole executrix and Sexey leaves just under £200 (around £8,000 in today’s money), which is quite good for a Victorian lady who’d been a widow for some 15 years and is a testament to how hard she continued to work.

Special West b.1774 – and the society of Friend’s pioneering treatment of mental health

Who remembers the collective global outrage when Kim and Kanye West dared to name their child Saint. SAINT! How arrogant, how typical of them etc. A quick google reveals pages of articles and tweets and such filled with disdain.And yet…Saint was really quite a common name in the scheme of things all through the 19th century and either side of it. Usually, to be honest, it was a child born on and named for a Saint’s Day, or one of the more common ones like St John (Sinjin as it was supposedly pronounced by the upper classes). But you can also find ‘Saintley’, ‘Saints’, ‘Sainty’ and the fantastically named ‘Saint David Frederick Borthwick Gilchrist Linley’.

So when I came across this particular name, it did briefly cross my mind at how collectively outraged the world would have been if the West’s had named their child Special West.

In this case I came across Special West junior first, and both he and his father Special were not celebrities with questionable egos, they were perhaps a sort of opposite of that; Quaker farmers from 18th Century Hertford.
They lived at on Chapmore End farm, leasing the land from a William Baker rather than owning it, in a rather nice bit of countryside (also note the building named ‘Bleak House’ just below!). A barn conversion of the dairy on the property is currently on the market for £2,000,000!


Apart from birth and death records, and a marriage for Special snr. – I only have one census record for them, showing Special West jr in 1841, living in Fulford Ambo at the ‘Friend’s Retreat’. I knew The Friends were Quakers and my first rather naive thought on reading the word retreat, was that it was some sort of holiday resort where Quakers from all around the country could meet.

Instead it was, and still is, a progressive institution for the treatment of mental health problems.

From their website;

Opened in 1796 by William Tuke, a retired tea merchant, the original Retreat was intended to be a place where members of The Society of Friends (Quakers) who were experiencing mental distress could come and recover in an environment that would be both familiar and sympathetic to their needs. Some years earlier, a Leeds Quaker, Hannah Mills, had died in the squalid and inhumane conditions that then prevailed in the York Asylum, and appalled at this Tuke and his family vowed that never again should any Quaker be forced to endure such treatment.

Tuke introduced more humane treatment based on restoring the self-esteem and self-control of residents, with early examples of occupational therapy (walks and farm labouring) and a social environment where residents were seen as part of a large family-like unit, built on kindness, moderation, and order. There was a religious dimension too, but inmates were essentially accepted as potentially rational beings, who could recover through self-restraint and moral strength. They were permitted to wear their own clothing, and  to engage in handicrafts, writing and reading, and  could wander freely around The Retreat’s courtyards and gardens, in which lived small domestic animals.

There was some minimised use of restraint, but physical punishment was banned. Door locks were encased in leather, the bars on windows made to look like window frames, and the extensive gardens included a sunken wall that was impassable yet barely visible. Straitjackets were sometimes used, at least initially, as a last resort. Tuke was initially derided for his methods but they began to shape the way people viewed mental illness in a much more positive light.

In the circumstances, Special was probably in the best place he could be at the time.

Many records have recently been made available via a collaboration between the Borthwick institute and the Wellcome collection, and  I haven’t spotted Special West’s name amongst the available papers so far (I did however come across the records for alcohol purchases, mostly Port and Sherry  – the treatment approach obviously wasn’t abstinence based!).

However one interesting aspect was that they had a graded payment system, so people from any pecuniary background could be treated there, and the richer people’s assets were used to make up the costs for the poorer patients ‘upkeep’.


With this in mind it’s easy to see why people living as far away as south Cornwall made the long journey to York to the retreat. Special himself would have travelled a good 180 miles to go there over any of the closer London asylums, such as Hanwell, or indeed Bethlam (Bedlam).

As he doesn’t appear in the 1839 records I would guess that he was admitted after that date. Sadly he dies in September 1842. My own work with a dementia charity makes me wonder if his and many other elderly people’s ‘mental illness’ at the time was actually a type of dementia, however we could never be sure. The records will be available within the next few months so I will report back then.

Special was not married and didn’t have any children, so the Special name was not passed down. It was however lovely to come across an nicer aspect of history that greatly interests me, and although a lot of the positive changes were lost later in the 19th century as institutions grew larger and more impersonal, it’s scary to think how much further behind in our attitudes we might be now had the Society of Friends not built The Retreat.

Snowflake Celia Rivett b.1881

In honour of the snow that has sporadically deposited itself about the country this week, I decided to search for historical Snows in the birth records. There were lots of Snowden/Snowdon’s, over seventy Snowdrops, and around four Snowflakes. I did a quick search for them and found that Snowflake Celia Rivett didn’t seem to appear in any censuses.
As I like a challenge, I checked her marriage certificate for her father’s name, given as George Nelson Rivett – Occupation Wheelwright, and searched for him – nothing.
So I looked again and found 3 siblings as witnesses – Great – I thought – I’ll definitely find them all now even with the possible miss-transcriptions…. Nope.

So, I just searched for Snowflake as a first name and nothing else, and a Snowflake Roberts living in Erith, Kent, in 1891 came up.
I clicked onto the census, and found Snowflake, with a father George (and mother Clara), all the sibling’s names matched… except of course their last name wasn’t Rivett!
I found them all as Roberts again in the 1901 census here.
When I looked for the youngest children’s births, Nellie and John, and could not find them as Roberts, so tried Rivett and found Nellie as Nellie Ethel Rivett.
I searched for Nellie in the 1911 census, as I now had her middle name, and she came up as Nellie Ethel Rivett, with her widowed mother Clara Rivett and older brother PETER John Rivett (I subsequently found a birth record for Peter John Rivett).

I had tried in vain to find a marriage for a George Rivett to a Clara, the only one being in 1867 in Leicester. However there was a marriage for a Clara Jane Roberts to an Alfred Rivett in 1880.

I could find Alfred Rivett up until his marriage in 1880, but he ‘disappeared’ after then, or as I now knew, became George Roberts. I also contacted a few people who popped up with Alfred and Clara in their trees all up until the marriage in 1880 then nothing, so hopefully I’ve broken a couple of brick walls!

So, some time in between Snowflake’s older brother William’s birth in 1884 and her sister Eva’s birth in 1887 (yes – Snowflake is yet again someone with an unusual name whose siblings all have much more common ones) something happened that caused her parents to move and assume her Mother’s maiden name.

My first thought was bigamy, especially as Clara is half his age and pregnant when they marry, suggesting some hasty decisions, but I could not find another marriage (in his real name anyway) or any newspaper reports for this. His name didn’t come up connected to any other crimes either, although of course it could be escaping being caught that caused them to move in the first place.
Perhaps it was just an early case of a man taking his wife’s name…. but as Clara reverts to Rivett once he has died I’m guessing that probably isn’t the case. This is one that’s going to bug me for a long long while, and I know I will revisit it until I find out the answer!

So, back to Snowflake. The most likely scenario is that she was named for, or because of, the ‘Great Blizzard of 1881’ – anyone else reminded of this Vicar of Dibley clip? (30 seconds in) – but anyway, I digress.
After a very mild December, in the second half of January huge swathes of snow settled over England, particularly the South.
I mean, that’s a LOT of snow.
Perhaps Snowflake was born as the first flurry settled, or perhaps Clara’s labour pains happen to start just after sticking out her tongue to catch a snowflake… perhaps it was just the whim of a young Mother naming her first daughter.

Snowflake gets married on Boxing Day 1907, to Ernest Henry Essex, a shop assistant. In 1911 she gives her name as Celia, suggesting she didn’t go by Snowflake, and she has a 6 month old baby called Joyce Olive.

They are living in Woolwich in 1939, and although there is an additional ‘closed’ record on the 1939 register that could be another child, the record evidence would suggest Joyce was her only child.

Snowflake passes away at the relatively young age of 69, still in Woolwich, and as I can’t find a marriage or children for Joyce, it would seem there was no one inclined or indeed able to pass on the name.

““Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection.)”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Ice Worker b.1895

Ice is another person with an unusual name whose siblings all have much more traditional ones (Arthur, Albert, Phyllis etc.). Her parents were John Joseph Worker, a coal miner and Ann Marsh, who is never listed with an occupation but who we can assume, with 10 children (3 sadly die) was a very busy housewife.

In the 1911 census aged 15, her occupation is given as ‘Assists at home.’ She later marries a man named Harry Mallatratt Bradder in 1924, he is a Colliery worker 10 years her senior and the Mallatratt middle name is his Mother’s maiden name. There is an interesting website on the Mallatratt family here – just click on the small ‘George Mallatratt’ at the top of the page for a great photo of Harry’s Grandfather.
They spend their whole lives in Mansfield, appearing in electoral registers at the same address Harry is living in 1911:
Register of Electors 1928\9 – North Ward District No.1
67 Union Street  Harry and Ice Bradder, Alexander and Annie Quarrell.
Register of Electors 1929\30 – North Ward District No.1
67 Union Street – Harry Bradder, Ice Bradder, Annie Quarrell.

Harry dies in 1964, leaving Ice around £5,500 in today’s money. She lives for another 14 years, they do not have any surviving children.

So… why Ice?
Ice’s birth date is shown most places as 1896, however her school admission record shows the exact date – Boxing Day 26th December 1895. There are plenty of Christmases about so it seems she missed being called something actually relatively common by one day!

ice worker

At first I thought that it was perhaps the winter when the Thames last froze over – however that was 1894-5. The Met weather report of December 1895 was actually seemingly quite mild, although some ‘inland Northern territories’ did experience temperatures between -6 to -12 degrees celcius. Whether Langfield near Chesterfield was one of those places I can’t be certain!.

Without any obvious widespread ice and snow around the UK, it seems that Ice’s name either came from more localised weather, or perhaps a specific incident which we will sadly never find out about. Or perhaps they just wanted something winter themed that was a little different from Christmas!

Cycle Ward b.1875

The original reason why I wanted Cycle to appear on my blog is because of the occupation of the man she marries, however when I came across her family in the course of my own family research as I too have a Henry and Susan Ward (her parents) in Croydon in 1881, only unfortunately not these ones,  I knew the family would be a very interesting bunch.

Unlike most of the people who appear on my blog, Cycle has siblings with unusual names too. Although the eldest started off with the fairly innocuous Annie and Henry after their paternal Grandparents, we later have Paris, Omega, Lorraine (a boy), Clematis, a slightly-ahead-of-it’s-time Zoe and one more common name of Ivy. It didn’t really come as a surprisewhen I saw their Father’s occupation varied between Photographer and Artist. 😀

Many of the children became photographers too, and it was whilst looking up Lorraine’s photography that I came across this quote from a comment on an old photograph used by the Reading Chronicle, showing a local ‘dad’s Army’ which was started by Henry himself;

“Henry Ward started it – he was an avid cyclist who kept a diary showing he rode around 8,000 miles a year. His studios were at 43 London Street, Reading.”

So, much like another person who appears on this blog – Photo Scales – Cycle was named after one of her Father’s passions!

After 1881 I struggled to find Cycle on the censuses. This is because I found a marriage for her, marrying an Edwin F Hubbard, but could not find either of them under that surname. When I looked into Edwin’s family however, I realised they all had the same middle name – Fortescue. In fact in 1891 Edwin, his brother and his Mother are all using the surname Fortescue, even though he marries using Hubbard, and his Mother’s maiden name is Greey (not a typo, it’s with two e’s). Amelia also goes back to using Hubbard in 1911. Oddly, some of Edwin’s siblings emigrate to the USA, but continue to use Hubbard. I did wonder if they did this to escape some kind of scandal, but I couldn’t find any records of crimes committed by any of the family, and Edwin’s father’s absences are explained by his occupation as a travelling salesman, confirmed by finding him staying in hotels and the varying birthplaces of the children. Despite going back a few generations either side I couldn’t find any Fortescue’s and that aspect may have to remain a mystery… Unless anyone reading knows the answer of course! *Update – a comment below from a descendant explains there really was no reason behind it other than Fortescue sounding a bit posher!*

And so I found Cycle and Edwin Fortescue, living in Caversham, Oxford, in a recently built house called ‘Tally Ho!‘. They have two children (Their first sadly dies aged 2), who are registered with the surname Fortescue-Hubbard.

Edwin’s occupation is… a Cycle manufacturer and repairer.

Coincidentally Edwin and Cycle were born and lived a few streets away from each other in Croydon in their childhood, as well as both families moving within a few miles of each other to Caversham and Reading. Although the most likely scenario is that they met because of Cycle’s Father – I imagine he would have frequented Edwin’s cycle repair shop if he was cycling 8,000 miles a year – it’s nice to think the connection between her name and his profession had a hand in ‘breaking the ice’ when they met.

I don’t have a photo of Edwin and Cycle together, but here is Cycle at her brother’s wedding 


And here is a photo of all the family (Cycle 2nd from the left in the white blouse)


Sexey Butt – b.1803

** I  am aware from my site stats that there are many disappointed people searching for ‘Sexy Butts’ (and in one bewildering instance ‘sexey ass julry’) being directed to this post. If you are one of those people I do apologise. Also – brush up on your spelling. **

So… This is one of those names where the evolution of language really becomes quite apparent.

Think of meeting someone with this name now – someone who hadn’t changed it by deed poll for their own personal(ity) reasons – you would assume that their parents were perhaps a bit unusual to say the least.

However our Sexey Butt was born in 1803 in Somerset. She was born Sexey Pool, also her Mother’s name, and marries a Mr Thomas Butt on 02 Feb 1828 in St. James Parish, Bristol, Gloucester. However by the 1841 census she is living in Northwick with 5 sons, already a widow as Thomas sadly dies of Tuberculosis, and listing her occupation as ‘Farmeress’, which sounds rather nice, but I imagine was actually very hard work.

By 1851 she is back closer to Bristol, her place of marriage, in a house called Westfield in Hanham, now on Domestic Duties whilst her sons are farming. 1861 finds her down as a visitor to William and Nancy Ford, with occupation housekeeper, in a small village called Queen Charlton.
In 1871 she is living with her son Joseph, in Brentry cottages – not far from Blaise Castle of Austen’s Northanger Abbey fame – although she wrote it as Blaize;

“Blaize Castle!” cried Catherine. “What is that’?”

“The finest place in England–
worth going fifty miles at any time to see.”

“What, is it really a castle, an old castle?”

‘Truth is it’s not an old castle – well, it is now – but it was built in 1766 for a wealthy Bristol merchant, and remodeled in 1796, making it at most 51 years old when the Novel was published, which is of course Austen’s joke. Despite it often being referred to as a ‘Folly’, it was inhabited into the 20th century and ‘sumptuously furnished’ to boot, and John Harford, the wealthy merchant in question, was wealthy enough to build Blaise Hamlet specifically to house his servants and tenants.

Her son’s occupation is down as “Coachman and Domestic servant”  and although Blaise was seemingly the largest estate in the immediate area, there are many ‘annuitants’ in the village, meaning that as he was living in his own home he may have been coachman to more than one household. Finding out who owned Brentry cottages would make it clearer who he may have been working for.

Unfortunately Sexey dies in 1877, and although I would hope she continued to live with family, it’s a possibility she died in the Clifton workhouse, as the death is registered in Clifton, on the west side of Bristol, and as far as I know she did not have family there..

So, why ‘Sexey’?

There is  a Sexey’s School in Bruton, Somerset, named after Hugh Sexey, baptised on 18th November 1556, the son of poor parents living in the Bruton area, he rose to an important government position when in 1599 he was appointed as a Royal auditor to Elizabeth I and later James I, becoming a rich man in the process. Although the school wasn’t around until 1891, it was built on the site of ‘Sexey’s hospital’ –  Hugh Sexey established a Trust in his Will to establish a place, Almshouses, to care for impoverished elderly people.

Yet Bruton is some 30 miles from Dundry, the place Sexey gives as her birthplace and where her Mother is still living in 1841.

All I am left with is guesswork, as her Mother’s baptism doesn’t seem to be anywhere under any spelling (although as Sexey Butt is down as Lucy Bull on one census it’s not hard to imagine I may have missed it) and she is a widow in 1841, and I can’t find any of her children’s baptisms, despite one having the rather unusual name of Marmaduke, and their marriages are not available online – only the index which doesn’t give a Father’s name. This means I can’t find a marriage for Sexey Pool senior and therefore any other possible leads.

So, all things considered, I would have to hazard a guess that her Mother was named after a maternal line’s surname, perhaps a descendant of  Hugh Sexey himself! But whatever the reason, it’s not something I think many people would choose to name their children these days, no matter what their family history might be.