Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Trove Tuesday: William John Plowright (1859-1914)

William John Plowright (1859-1914) was my husband's great grand uncle, the oldest son of John Plowright (1831-1910) and Margaret Plowright née Smyth (1834-1897).

The Avoca Mail reported on a mining accident where William Plowright dislocated his ankle and broke the extreme end of the small bone of the leg. He was nearly killed.

No title (1884, March 28). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 - 1900; 1915 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201529669

William married Harriet Hosking in 1881. At the time of the accident, they had two children, both born at Homebush near Avoca in central Victoria. They had another child, also born at Homebush in 1885, when their fourth child was born in 1886 they had moved to Melbourne.

It appears after the accident William Plowright gave up mining and joined the police.

The Geelong Advertiser reported the recruitment of a number of new constables in October 1885.

TOWN TALK. (1885, October 2). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149010584

On 6 October 1885 William John Plowright was appointed a constable with the Victorian Police Force. Constable Plowright was 26 years old.

Fifteen years later, in 1901, he still held that position. His name appeared in the Police Gazettes for 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1904.

Victoria, Australia, Police Gazette 14 October 1885 page 284 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
The first mention I found in the newspapers of Constable Plowright was in December 1885, on duty at Princes Bridge on the Yarra in Melbourne when a young man jumped off.

CASUALTIES AND OFFENCES. (1885, December 21). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197028844

In 1888 Constable Plowright gave evidence in court about a fight in Clarendon Street. In 1889 he pursued and arrested three burglars in South Melbourne, apparently with the help of just one man, who was not a member of the police force.

In March 1889, with another constable he arrested three boys who had escaped from a reformatory.

Constable Plowright was regularly involved in various prosecutions under the liquor act, in particular Sunday trading offences.

WILLIAMSTOWN POLICE COURT. (1890, August 9). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68594039

In 1891 Constable Plowright was working in a plainclothes position, still helping to enforce Sunday closing laws. He was also preventing young men from playing football in the street.

FOOTBALL PLAYING IN PUBLIC THOROUGHFARES. (1891, June 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8637481
In his work as a plainclothes constable, Plowright helped to arrest a gang of harness thieves.

PARS PITHILY PUT. (1893, January 28). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144497711

In early 1894 Constable Plowright applied to rejoin the uniformed branch.

In 1902 Constable Plowright was assaulted by a drunk. This required several stitches to his wound.

A VIOLENT RUFFIAN (1902, December 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9070007

POLICE INTELLIGENCE. (1902, December 18). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187636294

STONE THROWING AND ASSAULT. (1902, December 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89512971

The Police Gazette of 3 March 1904, page 122, records that Constable William John, Plowright, number 3607, Melbourne District, was discharged 29 February 1904. This was shortly after his 45th birthday.

The electoral roll of 1903 shows him living at 69 Argyle Street, St Kilda, with his occupation constable. The roll of 1905 shows that he moved to 27 Hannover Street Prahran and his occupation is given as home duties. By the 1908 roll he was still living in Hannover Street, working as a wood merchant. It appears after he was he discharged from the police force he took a while to establish a new career.

William John Plowright died on 29 May 1914 at the age of 55.

Additional sources
  • Ancestry.com. Victoria, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1855, 1864-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. 
  • Ancestry.com. Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Australian Electoral Commission.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Richard Henry Crespigny (1891-1894) a workhouse inmate

Last month ancestry.com announced that it had added to its collection of London records, including new material from  the London Metropolitan Archives. This included poor law records for London. Browsing these, I noticed that the surname Crespigny came up eleven times in the London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930.

All were for an infant called Richard Henry Crespigny (1891-1894). I had never heard of this child before and thought I would investigate. I ordered his birth and death certificates.

Richard Henry Crespigny was born 1 November 1891 at 3 Smith Street, South Chelsea, the son of Richard Crespigny and Matilda Crespigny née Garland. His father's occupation was given as commercial traveller. The informant was his mother, registering the birth on 11 December 1891 in the district of Chelsea, sub district of South Chelsea. She she gave her address as 3 Smith Street South Chelsea.

Richard Crespigny junior died of diphtheria on 25 May 1894 a the South Western Hospital Stockwell. He was two years old. Under occupation it was stated he was of the Chelsea Infirmary, Cale Street S.W. , an institution associated with the Chelsea Workhouse.

The Chelsea infirmary was built in 1872, north of the workhouse. The London City Council took over the workhouse in 1930. The buildings have since been demolished.

Richard Henry Crespigny, six months old, was first admitted to the Fulham Road workhouse on 23 May 1892 from the Parish of St Margaret. The name of his relative or friend was Ruth Glazebrook and her address was Corner House Henfield Shermanbury, a village in Sussex forty miles south of London.

Fulham workhouse and infirmary (left) about 1905. Image from http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Fulham/

On 7 November 1892 Richard Henry Crespigny was readmitted to the workhouse from the infirmary. On 3 December 1892 he was discharged to hospital.

On 28 January 1893 he was readmitted to the Fulham Road workhouse from the hospital. On 1 June 1893 he was again discharged from the workhouse to the infirmary. He was readmitted to the Fulham Road Workhouse on 30 November 1893. His admission record note that he was deserted.

On 3 March 1894 Richard Crespigny was discharged from Fulham Road Workhouse to Chelsea (Britten Street). The next day,  4 March, he was discharged from the Britten Street Workhouse to the infirmary. He returned to the workhouse from the infirmary on 22 March.

On 25 April he was again discharged to the infirmary. He died a month later.

I have been unable to find any record of his parents Richard Crespigny or Matilda Crespigny née Garland in the 1891 census, marriage or death records, or any other online databases. I have no knowledge of anyone with the Champion de Crespigny surname having the first name Richard who was born in the nineteenth century and a potential father of this child.

I looked at the census record for 3 Smith Street for 1891. The census was held on 5 April 1891. On the 1891 census George Toplas is recorded as living at 3 Smith Street with his wife, five children and 6 boarders, none of them Richard or Matilda. It may be that Richard Crespigny and his wife became boarders there five months later. 3 Smith Street is just off the Kings Road and not far from the Chelsea Workhouse.

Ruth Glazebrook appears on the 1891 census living at the Corner House cottage Shermanbury. She was 33, single, living with her widowed mother and two small boys described as boarders: Henry Pitchard age 4 and Henry Bathe age 2. Her occupation is given as baby farmer.

Baby farming was the practice of placing infants with foster women for a fee. It came to an end after the passing of legislation in the UK parliament in 1897 and 1908 which regulated the change of custody of children and defined the improper care of infants.

It appears that Richard Henry Crespigny was placed in the care of a baby farmer, abandoned by his parents, and once the money that paid for his care had been used up, he was placed in a workhouse. He appears to have been ill a number of times before succumbing to diphtheria.


  1. 23 May 1892 WEBG/SG/122/001 Westminster 
  2. 23 May 1892 WEBG/SG/118/045 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1892 
  3. 7 November 1892 WEBG/SG/118/047 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1892 
  4. 3 December 1892 WEBG/SG/118/047 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1892 
  5. 28 January 1893 WEBG/SG/118/050 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1893 
  6. 1 June 1893 WEBG/SG/118/050 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1893 
  7. 30 November 1893 WEBG/SG/118/051 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1893 
  8. 3 March 1894 WEBG/SG/118/052 Fulham Road Workhouse Register, 1894
  9. 3 March 1894 CHBG/188/031 Britten Street, Old and New Workhouses, 1893-1894 
  10. 4 March 1894 CHBG/188/031 Britten Street, Old and New Workhouses, 1893-1894
  11. 22 March 1894 CHBG/188/031 Britten Street, Old and New Workhouses, 1893-1894
  12. 25 April 1894 CHBG/188/032 Britten Street, Old and New Workhouses, 1893-1894
  • 1891 census retrieved from ancestry.com
  1. George Toplas: Class: RG12; Piece: 63; Folio: 45; Page: 15; GSU roll: 6095173
  2. Ruth Glazebrook Class: RG12; Piece: 825; Folio: 139; Page: 3; GSU roll: 6095935

Sunday, 5 February 2017

DNA analysis: matching the DNA results to the"paper tree"

My first DNA results from AncestryDNA were a surprise to me.I could find no matches to my family tree. How was I going to break the news to my parents that I had been swapped at birth?

I had DNA matches to other people's DNA results but no links to my tree. This seemed odd for I have been researching my tree for many years. I can identify all my 3rd great grandparents and a large number of my more remote forebears.

At present I have 98 pages of matches on AncestryDNA. At 50 matches per page this is just under 4,900 people who seem to share DNA with me and have tested with ancestry.com. Of these, 21 are estimated to be 4th cousins or closer, the closest being an estimated 3rd cousin who shares 127 centimorgans of genetic linkage across 8 segments; statistically, there is a high confidence we are related. The most distant match shares 6.0 centimorgans across 1 segment. (That match is linked to a private tree. I don't know how we might be related.)

AncestryDNA summary as at 4 February 2017, as of 5 February I have 21 matches calculated to be at the 4th cousin level or closer.

On my ancestryDNA summary page I now have 6 green leaves, which in the AncestryDNA system indicates shared DNA together with a connection in our trees. I can see our connection in 5 of these. The sixth has a private tree, so I cannot see the link. When my DNA matches were first made there were only two green leaves and both these were to my 7th great grandparents, Daniel Dana (1663-1749) and Naomi Cresswell (1670-1751), a connection too remote to be reliable. (We may connect differently on an as yet undocumented part of our tree.) Without a chromosome browser, which shows shared segments with other matches who have the same ancestry, I cannot be sure I have correctly identified our most recent common ancestors.

a shared DNA match where both our trees include common ancestors
My 6th great grandfather Richard Dana (1700-1772), portrait by John Singleton Copely painted about 1770. Portrait now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It is not surprising that the matches were to the Dana branch of my tree. The Dana were early emigrants to the United States. As the Dana family is well-documented I would expect members of it to show up in people's trees and to find connections on that branch. A chromosome browser would give me more confidence that the connections have been made reliably.

Of my top 21 matches, that is, matches predicted to be 4th cousins and closer, I have managed to identify the most common recent ancestor in four cases. Only one of my AncestryDNA green leaf hints is estimated to be a 4th cousin and it would appear she is actually a 7th cousin once removed. Even when there are only small trees that do not connect with my family tree I have had some success in working out the connections with my DNA matches .

Spreadsheet analysis of my matches who are estimated to be 4th cousins or closer (click to enlarge)

AY, whose kit is administered by JB, is estimated to be my 4th cousin with 40 centimorgans shared across 3 segments. The match shows there is no family tree linked to the kit. However, when viewing the match, although a family tree has not yet been linked to the DNA results there are trees created by JB that can be previewed. In this case there were 3 trees,  
  • one with 27 people and no surnames I recognised and no apparent link to AY whose DNA was tested
  • The second was similar, with only 5 names
  • The third, although it had only 6 people, had a name I thought I recognised and seemed to have AY as the initial person. I searched my tree for the surname Yeates and found that in 1857 my 3rd great aunt, Dymphna Maria Cudmore (1836-1899) married Sydney van Butchell Yeates (1831-1918). 
screenshot of my DNA match with AY showing public but unlinked trees in the bottom left of the screen

AY and I are 3rd cousins once removed. Our most recent common ancestors are Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811-1891) and his wife Mary Cudmore née Nihill (1811-1893).

More recently I had a shared match with AY. TH was estimated to be a 4th cousin and we share 20.7 centimorgans across 2 DNA segments. TH had no tree. However, because of the shared match I speculated that we might be connected on the Cudmore or Nihill lines.

shared matches are shown when you click on the middle tab; the green contact button is on the top-right of the screen but is not always effective as there is no email notification that a message has been sent

profile page showing brown contact button in top-right-hand of screen

In September 2016 I contacted TH using the green button on the top right hand side of  the DNA match screen but did not hear back. After reading that communication with DNA matches using the brown contact button on the top-right-hand side of a person's profile page, was likely to be more successful, I tried contacting TH by that method and providing my email address in the message. He replied by email almost immediately and confirmed a connection to the Nihill or Niall or Nihell family. We are 4th cousins once removed.

Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811-1891), my 4th great grandfather, about 1865. Image from the State Library of South Australia reference B30912
Mrs Mary Cudmore née Nihill (1811-1893), my 4th great grandmother, about 1865. Image from the State Library of South Australia reference B 30913

If your research is like mine I have a few suggestions:
  • Although a DNA match may show as having no tree, check if there is an unlinked public tree available to view. In my top 21 matches, 8 apparently had no tree, but in 4 cases there was an unconnected tree.
  • A connection can be made with a tree of very few people. (I found two connections by following the descendants of a 3rd great aunt.)
  • Shared matches give hints as to how other DNA matches might be connected.
  • DNA matches might not be ancestry subscribers and, even if they are they might not log in often. Consider contacting them by using the brown contact button on their profile page, providing your own email address. Contacting by the brown button provides an email alert. There is no similar alert for contacts made by the green button.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Aunt Rose's teapot

My family has an old silver teapot said to have belonged to Aunt Rose, my grandfather's great aunt, Helen Rosalie Beggs née Champion de Crespigny (1858-1937).

Aunt Rose's teapot

The pot has 5 hallmarks.

The first mark, a lion passant guardant- a lion walking with one paw raised from the ground and head turned to full face - indicates the teapot is sterling silver, an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, most often copper. Pure silver is too soft to be used for teapots. Between 1720 and 1822 lion passant guardant appears on all silver wrought in England. After 1822 the lion the lion passant ceased to be guardant and faced to the left, that is the lion's face was no longer turned to the viewer but looked forward.

The second mark is a crowned leopard's head. This was used on silver made in London made between 1478 and 1822. The town mark was the hallmark of the assay office that tested the purity of the piece, in this case the Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office in London.

It is thought that the marks were changed in 1822, without public announcement, with the hope of catching out forgers.
The third mark, a lower case e, identifies the year the piece was made. Legislation prescribed that there should be a mark "to denote the year in which such plate is made". Each assay office used a different system. The letters were used in a cycle, and for the London office, this e was used in 1740, 1780, 1820, and 1900.

The fourth mark is a duty mark. From 1784 a duty was imposed on all manufactured silver articles. An image of the head of the sovereign was stamped on all plate to show that the requisite tax had been paid to the Crown. The tax was discontinued in 1890 and the mark was no longer used. On this teapot the sovereign's head is poorly formed and worn, but I think this mark is the head of George III which appeared on silver from 1786 to 1821.

The fifth mark is the maker's mark. I think it is the mark of Richard Pearce, a London silversmith, used from 1817 to 1824. See http://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Makers/London-RJ-RQ.html#RP and for an example identified as his work: http://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique/georgian_silver_toast_rack_1823_-_fish_handle/as530a709 .

Since the the first mark the lion appears to be guarding, looking towards the viewer, it dates before 1822. The second mark is definitely crowned, thus I am sure the the pot was made before 1822. Because there is a duty mark, the pot was made after 1784. I believe the teapot was made in 1820, as that is the only possible year indicated by a lower case e between 1784 and 1822.

We do not know how the teapot was acquired or came to be in the family's possession.


    A George IV silver teapot by Richard Pearce, London 1821, Of oval form, with flowerhead, leaf scroll and shell borders and bands of curved lobes and flutes, raised on flowerhead, leaf scroll and claw feet, engraved with a crest and monogram, height 17cm.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2017

    DNA analysis: taking the tree back two generations

    DNA: SNP model from Wikimedia Commons
    Progress on our family tree using DNA evidence has been slow. Cousin matches are either with people where we have no idea how they fit into our tree, or with cousins whose place in the tree we already know. The second kind of matches are useful, however, because they help to predict where on our  tree those otherwise unlinked matches might belong.

    When we received our first DNA results in July 2016 one of the first matches I contacted was A B. She was predicted to be Greg's 4th cousin with AncestryDNA stating Greg and AB shared 21.6 centimorgans across 2 DNA segments. She had a private tree, so I was unable to view what links there might be between our tree and hers. Her member profile gave no hint as to where in the world she was.
    Later in the month AB replied and shared her private tree with me. Neither of us could see where the link was. We both uploaded our DNA kits to GedMatch.com, which confirmed the link, giving slightly more information than AncestryDNA had provided:

    Comparing Kit A828918 (*G C Y) and Axxx (*AB)
    Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 500 SNPsMismatch-bunching Limit = 250 SNPsMinimum segment cM to be included in total = 7.0 cM

    Chr Start LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs 
    Largest segment = 13.3 cMTotal of segments > 7 cM = 25.9 cM2 matching segmentsEstimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.6
    441334 SNPs used for this comparison.

    At the time no other kits uploaded to GedMatch matched AB and Greg. AncestryDNA also showed no shared matches.

    AncestryDNA offers a view of surnames and places of birth that two trees have in common. We noticed early on that there were a large number of places in Lincolnshire from AB's tree and some close to those on our family tree.

    The orange markers are birthplaces on AB's tree. The blue from our tree, and the green are birthplaces appearing on both trees.

    Because of the Lincolnshire birthplaces we looked at both Dawson and Plowright lines as possible connections but came to no conclusions.

    In September AB looked again at her tree, focusing on her great grandfather John William Gibbons. AB had noticed that she and her father shared DNA with an AncestryDNA match, To2, and that Greg also shared DNA with To2, although not the same segments (hence not showing as a shared match).  AB found that her shared ancestors with her father and To2 were John Gibbons and Frances. Frances was possibly the daughter of Robert Atkin and Frances Smith.

    Greg had no forebears with the surname Gibbons in his tree but looking at his DNA matches there were some matches who had Gibbons in their tree, in particular several had Rebecca Gibbons (1843-1897).

    Rebecca was born in Moulton, Lincolnshire, the daughter of Thomas Gibbons. In 1866 she first married William  Noble Waite (1845-1879). They had five children and emigrated to the United States in the 1870s. William Waite died in Utah. Rebecca's second marriage was to Lemuel Sturtevant Leavitt (1827 - 1916) in 1882 in Utah, USA. I had noticed that several of Greg's DNA matches had Leavitt as one of the surnames.

    Lemuel Leavitt was a Mormon pioneer who travelled overland to Utah at the age of 21 in 1849.

    I used Wikitree to document some of my research on the branch and connect the branch to the wider single tree. Lemuel Leavitt was on the tree but I needed to create a profile for his wife Rebecca. Several ancestry trees included Rebecca but she was not well researched and facts were sometimes factually wrong, for example on one tree she was shown as being married to Lemuel Leavitt in 1850.

    I found a possible Gibbons link to our tree, an 1826 marriage record in Horbling in Lincolnshire for Thomas Dawson. The spouse was Ann Gibbons, who lived there.

    Greg's 4th great grandfather was Thomas Dawson (1775 Gunby, Lincolnshire - 1861 Bennington, Lincolnshire). He was married to an Ann.  I wondered if this was Ann Gibbons of Horbling.

    AB identified Rebecca Gibbons Waite Leavitt in her tree, confirming a link to the trees for the descendants of Lemuel Leavitt and Rebecca Leavitt formerly Waite nee Gibbons with whom we shared DNA. These descendants had apparently not yet researched Rebecca's parents or origins.

    In early November the  General Register  Office of the United Kingdom launched a new index of birth registrations. This revised index included mother's maiden names. From this, AB discovered the record of Betsy Dawson's birth in 1838. Bestsey was the youngest child of Thomas Dawson and Ann. The birth index showed the mother's maiden name Gibbons. Bestsey appeared n the 1841 census with her parents Thomas and Ann and sibling Isaac (1831-1872). Isaac was Greg's great great grandfather. There were two other siblings, Eliza and William. This gave us confidence that we had correctly identified the 1826 marriage of Thomas Dawson to Ann Gibbons as being the marriage of Isaac Dawson's parents.

    Thomas Dawson married Ann Gibbons at Horbling which is 5 miles from Aslackby, where AB's Gibbons forebears lived.

    We started to speculate. AB gave a surname to the wife of John Gibbons. She wrote:
    I have added a surname to Frances (Atkin/s), wife of John Gibbons at the top of my tree. This is what is in many other people’s tree, and its true that the marriage dates seem to fit. HOWEVER - the reason why I am not sure is that the records for the parish of Aslackby for this time period have not yet been fully digitised, but are at the archives. I need to look at them anyway for my mum’s tree.

    So having added the surname ATKINS it has thrown up some hints from other trees and in a couple there is a daughter ANN born 1801 Spalding, sister of my George and of Thomas - the ancestor of the LDS’s. I do feel that this would be about the right generational distance between our families.

    I am not convinced about the accuracy of the online trees but it is worthy of further investigation. 

    The next day on the lincstothepast website AB found a baptism for Ann on 16 December 1801, daughter of John and Frances Gibbonds, at St Mary and St Nicholas Church, in Spalding, 15 miles from Horbling .

    This was the only ( I think) church in Spalding at this time, as st Pauls was built by my Quinton ancestors ( as labourers)  in mid / late 19thC. St Mary and St Nicholas was the church where John Gibbons and Frances Atkin were married.

    The date seems to fit the age Ann Dawson when she died. In identifying a forebear I would not normally rely on such a slim connection but the DNA seems to be another piece of evidence, in particular the additional DNA matches to several descendants of Rebecca Gibbons.

    In conclusion, DNA is really just additional evidence, to be reviewed with documents and indexes. Given the DNA evidence I am reasonably confident we have identified the maiden name of Greg's great grandmother Ann Dawson (1801-1842) and we no know who her parents were: John Gibbons (1780-1840) and Frances Atkins (1772-1856). This means that Greg and AB are 5th cousins, within the range predicted by AncestryDNA and GedMatch.

    simplified tree, click to enlarge