Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Grandma Fibbins

In yesterday's post I mentioned that the daughters of Jane Clifton and Frederick Charles Brown were were raised by their father's relatives on his maternal side, including someone known as 'Grandma Fibbins.'

I'm not sure exactly who Grandma Fibbins is. Well, I know what she looks like. This is Gran Fibbins and Ethel Brown/Clifton.

And this is Gran Fibbins and Dorothy May Brown/Clifton.

But who exactly is Gran Fibbins?

Frederick Charles Brown (b. 1861 d. 1936) was the son of John Brown (b. c1814 d. 1881) and Mary Ann Fibbins (b. c1835 d. 1901). The daughters depicted in these photos were born in 1890 and 1897 respectively. So Gran Fibbins is not Mary Ann, likewise Mary Ann's mother Sarah Ann Watkins (b. c1814 d. 1890) is ruled out.

A postcard sent to Ethel from her sister Lola (b. 1893) shows that Ethel at least was living with David Fibbins, either her great uncle or his son. (Lola is marked with the x)

If only we could make out a date on the postcard, my best guess from the clothing is somewhere before 1910. So perhaps Gran Fibbins is David Fibbins' (b. 1844 d. 1927) is second wife Ellen Gloucester Bell (b. 1871 d. 1945)?  Maybe I will get lucky and someone will recognise her!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Trove Tuesday: "They weren't married, you know"

I've mentioned before what a great resource Trove is for fleshing out those little anecdotes my family is so fond of dropping into random conversation. The not married couple in this case was my paternal grandmother's grandparents Jane Clifton and Frederick Charles Brown.

Now it was Nana who told me they weren't married but she didn't know the whole story - and it's a good'un.

Frederick Brown and Jane Clifton never married because Frederick Brown was already married to Jane Hollege. A rather shotgun affair in 1878, which resulted in 4 children and desertion within the next 5 years. The divorce takes just a little longer.

"47 YEARS." Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) 26 Mar 1930: 10. Web. 22 Sep 2015 <>.

Jane Clifton meanwhile had had two children (father unknown - son registered to her parents as she was only 15, daughter born 3 years later died the same year) prior to her taking up with Frederick Brown. Five daughters would follow.

Jane dies in 1900 and from what I can gather, although the girls were aware of who their father was and had some sort of relationship with him - more than that of their older half-siblings - they were raised it seems by relations of their father, his maternal Uncle David Fibbins and whoever the elusive 'Grandmother Fibbins' is.

Friday, 18 September 2015

More DNA Mapping

After I got my AncestryDNA results my mother was so excited that she ordered her kit straight away.

Well her results are in and SURPRISE I wasn't switched at birth (no chance of that really with how much we look like each other but it does ruin my dreams of being a fairy princess) and her DNA mapping is really interesting. It makes me want to bail up my grandpa and make him spit into a tube, so without further ado - AncestryDNA:


I really do want to know more about my grandfather's side of the family now other than a vague mention of his mother having Romany heritage. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

DNA mapping

My AncestryDNA results are in and one of the things I have been looking forward to is comparing what my DNA map looks like compared to my genea-map.

My genea map, plotted using google maps and the earliest ancestors I have been able to trace looks like this:

My AncestryDNA map:

And not being satisfied with that I transferred the raw data to FamilyTreeDNA to have a squizz:

So overwhelmingly European is the not unexpected results then.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Dear Aunt Jane...

My first introduction to you was a baptism record from Wellingham, Norfolk in 1806.

I was rather excited as I had just found your parents marriage and finding you, the sister of my first Muffett in Australia was an added bonus. I was a little confused when I later ran into you in East Dereham, Norfolk being baptised again six years later.

But researching what 'publicbly baptized' could mean I decided that yes, this was your christening - the one with family and friends - and being around 20 kms from your original appearance was happy with my reasoning. But last night, last night you threw me a doozy.

Another baptism, 6 November 1808 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square in Westminster of a Jane daughter of Robert & Sarah M*ffet also born the 6th of November 1806? Is this you as well?

Your brother does claim to have been born in London and when he informed the registry of your younger brother's death he stated that he too was London born. Their convict records however indicate a Norfolk lineage and your parents certainly were married in that little church in Wellingham. But I wonder also if this is not your younger brother at St Margaret's Westminster.

You can see, my dear Jane why I am a little confused. I do so hope you will help me clear up this matter.

Much love,
Your 3rd great grand niece.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Curse of Common Names

I am trying to pin down my 4th great grandparents, Mary Clifford and John Green. They are ongoing vexations and I've written a little about my searches previously.  Right now I am trying to track down Mary's death which I am assuming occurs sometime after her arrival in the colony in 1833 and John's death in 1868.

Thirty-nine Mary Green's died in the colony between those years. Some can be immediately crossed out given their age listings but that still leaves a lot of Mary's to seek out and discount. She's not listed in the family bible, on John's death certificate or Louisa's marriage certificate. I'm waiting on Louisa's death certificate and trying to track down the death of the other daughter Ann. Their son Thomas died in Tassie as a convict so he is no help in this instance. This may take awhile.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The natural son of Napoleon Bonaparte?

If every there was a reason to not ignore the non-related associates when researching your family history... In my research they serve up the juiciest stories.

A few weeks ago I was following a lead on my maternal side for my 5th great grandmother Mary Ann Gunther (b. 1815 d.1903), the baptisms of her and her siblings in the Wesleyan Church in 1821, when I noticed an seemingly associated record and as I am want to do, followed the breadcrumbs.

It seems that Mary Ann's father Ebenezer Brown Gunther's (b. 1785 d. 1827) second wife - Charlotte von Escher - was a widow. Nothing terribly unusual, but google, fabulous google, threw up this fabulous tidbit for her first husband from the Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser:

INSOLVENT DEBTORS' COURT, April 23. EXTRAORDINARY CASE. General John Maximilian Von Escher was opposed by Mr. ANDREWS and Mr. ADOLPHUS, for three creditors. The prisoner, examined by Mr. Andrews, staled, that he had come to England in February, 1816. He had lodged at first with Mr. King, at the White Bear, in Basinghall- street. He had lodged with a Mr. Cottle, in Windmill- street, and he also lived with a Mr. Arundel. There were some papers of his buried in Mr. Arundel's kitchen. He believed what was buried there consisted of old music. He buried this papers in the kitchen on the solicitation of Mr. Arundel, for his own security. He had had a valuable case with three locks on it. He had never told Mr. Arundel that he had any valuable effects whatever. He had made a hole in a chest of drawers, from the top to the bottom, and put a wire through it. He had money when he came to England, and was in expectation of considerable remittances from abroad. He had mentioned the house of Perigeaux, in Paris, to those with whom he lodged, but he never had a farthing of money in their hands. When he came to England he had references to Sir Joseph Banks and to the Right Hon. George Neville. He had no doubt but the Learned Council might hear of him if he should in- quire of Sir Joseph Banks. He had been recommended to Sir Joseph by Mr. Mendoza and a Mr. Solly. He had also had a letter from the Duchess of Saxe Coburg. He had never said that the Prince of Saxe Coburg had served in a regiment which he had commanded. He had seen the Prince of Saxe Coburg, but was not per- sonally acquainted with him. As far as he recollected; it was in October last that he went to prison. The duplicates which he had in his possession at the time lie went to prison were sold he believed for £ 6. Sir W. Achard was the name under which he had signed a bill of exchange 6n the 6th of April. The paper signed General the Count de Ferrari was never given to any person by him. His debts amounted to about „£ 323. He had bor- rowed money of Mr. Cottle. Mr. Cottle lent him money to buy the marriage certificate, he did not know how many dresses his wife had from Mrs. Pearson after the marriage. He had requested Mrs. Pearson to come to the Court, but had never persuaded her to stay away. He had been iu the service of Murat, and it was in cousequence of the change of affairs in the French Go vernment that he had come to England. It was to secure his personal liberty that he had come to this country. He had signed a Treaty which was conclud- ed for the protection of the Neapolitan Government; his name might be found on it. Mr. John King called by Mr. Andrews — Remember, cd prisoner coming to lodge with him in February 1815, he thought the 7th or 8th. He lived very frugally when he was at his house, which was in Basinghall- street.— He remembered his saying, that the Prince of Saxe Coburg had served under him, and he would bring him some day to dine with him at his house. - Mr. M'Lawin, an American merchant, had come with him to his house. He knew Mr. M'Lawin, but he had been informed by that gentleman that prisoner was a stranger to him when he came in his company to the White Bear. Mr. Cottle, called by Mr. Andrews, deposed, that prisoner had brought a case with three locks with him to his lodgings, and informed him that it contained a number of valuable papers, which were worth £ 1000. lie had given him a watch as security for the re- payment of money, which he had borrowed of him. On witness's getting the watch examined, he understood it was not worth more than three pounds, seals and all, whereas it had been represented to him to be worth 40/. Prisoner had stated to him, that he had a great sum of money iu Messrs. Perigeaux's hands, at Paris, but lie could not recollect how much. Mr. Andrews submitted, that from all the circum- stances which had been stated, the Court ought to remand the prisoner. After some observations from Mr. Serjeant Running- ton, the four creditors, Messrs Pearson, King, Cottle, and Arundel, were excepted, and prisoner of course remanded till he should be able to pay their debts. [ Report states this prisoner to be a natural son of Napoleon Buonaparte. The only evidence in favour of the report is his countenance, which has all the tire snd expression of the Ex- Emperor, and possesses a great general resemblance.]

Now having found her marriage record on ancestry I knew this was the right man, and really when faced with something like this who could possibly resist a further dig? That further dig turned up this:

Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 29 July 1819

So not the natural son of Napolean then, but an imposter. Even better! Alas, this is as far as my search has taken me so far but rather than sating my curiosity it has whetted it.

The moral of the story being: Never ignore the collaterals that appear in your research they add so much colour to the narrative.