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28 October 2014

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Martin's historic journey - Part Three
A register
Last updated: 21 December 2004 1612 GMT
lineBBC Gloucestershire's Martin Evans was set a challenge to research his roots as part of the Learning Centre Family History Festival. Here he continues his "detective diary"...

Day 13
My family tree is starting to get quite wide, and new branches are popping out everywhere. I’ve noticed a pattern emerging as well. In the late 1700s, Thomas was a popular name and was passed down over at least four generations. William as a second name also seemed quite widespread.

Tim Telling from the website team suggested that a quick pursuit on an Internet search engine might be a good idea. I was sceptical but gave it a go and got a result on my first search. I put my great-great-great-great-grandfather's name, Thomas Camm, as the subject and a web page for Coaley was listed. It had all of the memorial inscriptions for St Bartholomew's Churchyard down, and my descendants were listed. It not only opened new doors by telling me where they were buried, but it also told me the year they were born and their exact date of death.

I needed to visit the graves so I went to Coaley and found them. It was one of the biggest and most lavish tombs in the Churchyard, so the family obviously had some wealth. In the one crypt lay the bodies of Thomas, his wife Anne, his daughter Anne and his son John, next to it was the resting place for a further six family members.

This is the furthest that I’ve managed to go back, so it was quite a find and will help with further research.

Whilst I was in the village I also got talking to some of the locals, and they told me about Dr Ray Wilson, an expert in local history. I met up with him and he told me about the tithe map from 1839. It contained the information about who lived, what property they owned and how much land they were farming. Back then, before income tax, the locals had to give ten percent of their produce to the church and the landowner. That’s where the term tithe barn comes from, where ten percent was collected. My Internet research told me that my great-great-great-great-grandmother Anne Camm died in 1940 in Coaly so she should be on the map, but that would involve a trip to Gloucester records office.

Day 14
I popped along early to the Records Office and James Turtle was there to greet me. He managed to find the right map in the huge vaults and it also came with an apportionment. This was a large old book that contained all the details. The map was huge at over eight feet long and not in the best condition but we found what we wanted. Anne was listed as occupying over eighteen acres in the south of Coaly, which was owned by her son Samuel.
This gave me a further insight into my families past, with farming being a major link throughout the generations, and still going on to this day.

Day 15
The Internet search engine went blank for the rest of the family, that is, until I put in the name of my great-great-grandfather's nephew, Sydney Camm. Dozens of references came up for him as being a famous aircraft designer, who was responsible for creating the Hawker Hurricane. I remembered that my Nan used to talk about an old uncle of hers that used to design planes. I needed to prove a connection, so I phoned the Berkshire record office as the websites said he was born in Windsor. The team there were very helpful, and found out that Sydney’s father was Fredrick William Camm, Thomas William Camm’s brother!

We got it. I was really proud of my family's past, but now I was connected to a man who made a huge contribution to World!

I’ve still got lots of research to do, and I must admit that for someone who didn’t really want to start in the first place, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been an amazing adventure, and a valuable and wise investment of my time. I’ve learnt so much about my family's past, and feel richer for it.

I’d advise everyone to start their family tree as it’s great fun and you just never know what you might find.

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