Exploring Anglo-American genealogy

Tagged with:

Now that the days are shorter I find myself spending more time indoors and able to devour the newspapers in their entirety. While browsing through the obituaries recently one entry caught my eye simply because of the occupation.

Peter Wilson Coldham died on 2 September 2012. His obituary describes him as an "indefatigable genealogist". There can’t be many people in the world who have earned such a description.

According to Wikipedia Peter Coldham was born in 1926 and during his career as a British genealogist he was awarded the Bickersteth Medal in 1991. He was also a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and Fellow of the Society of Genealogists.

He wrote over 26 books and multiple monographs and magazine articles, including many standard works on Anglo-American genealogy.

The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage 1607-1775 focused on a time when more than 50,000 English men, women, and children were deported to the American colonies.  

People were deported for crimes ranging from the theft of a handkerchief, to bigamy or highway robbery and sold as indentured servants for between seven and 14 years, depending upon the crime against the crown.

Mr Coldham’s passion for cataloguing this information was to run over the course of 40 years. He produced the most comprehensive published list of the men, women and children transported to the colonies, the charges against them, the dates and places of sentencing, the ship names, and the places of arrival in the colonies to America between 1607 and 1776.

This is truly a remarkable and invaluable reference source for North Americans, enabling them to trace their European roots by providing them with a genealogical bridge via which they can trace their family history over the Atlantic.

Copies of Coldham’s various books are still available via the main bookselling websites but they are also in CD format and you should be able to access it at your main library. However, you can also look at digitised versions thanks to Ancestry and Google. Which is of course what I did.

And this has left me wondering quite how the lives of these people turned out.

What became of Richard Traverse, was a vagrant brought in from Leadenhall, born in Bridewell, Montgomeryshire and sent to Virginia on 12 September 1618? Presumably his only crime was being a vagrant.

And what happened to "Thomas Markham, a lewd boy that will not be ruled by his parents but continually cometh away, to be sent to Virginia on June 2nd 1621"?

But if you’ve lost an Abraham Smith from your tree I’ve just found him buried in November 1640 in the Ragged Islands after travelling onboard the Master of the Rebecca from London to Virginia.

Rather helpfully Coldham decided to include the details from assorted notes lodged in amongst the lists of those transported and these provide a cultural and historical flavour of the time.

22 April 1624 -  Sir Thomas Smythe appeals for the clamorous tongue of John Bargrave to be stopped.

26 July 1624 - John Bargrave is to refrain from vexing Sir Thomas Smythe by suits in the Star Chamber.

28 April 1624 - A letter to John Harrison explaining that his brother George Harrison has died after a duel with Richard Stephens and could he please send instructions on how to distribute his estates in Virginia and the West Indies.

Emily Baker celebrates her 100th birthday

On a different note altogether, another newspaper article that caught my eye was the story of Emily Baker who celebrated her 100th birthday as normal with a card from the Queen. However, Emily was very surprised when the card arrived four days early (or so she thought).

After obtaining a copy of her full birth certificate it turned out that the Queen was indeed correct. Emily was in fact born on 24 September but had always celebrated four days later on the 28 of the month.

Staff at the care home where she lives said: "No one is sure how it happened, but we think it might be because she was born at home in a remote Lancashire village and it took her parents a few days to walk into the nearest town to register the birth."

This often happens when researching family history, but more frequently it occurs on the death certificate once a person has died, rather than when they are alive. Emily has decided to keep up the 100 year tradition of celebrating her birthday on the 28th.

Tagged with:


More Posts