29 July 2010

my own Midsomer Murder

This is Cairn Cottage, on Market Square, in Hanslope Buckinghamshire.
Hanslope is in The Domesday Book.
My ancestor was the cottage tenant in 1779, leasing it from the Lord of the Manor Edward Watts, who owned everything in Hanslope, except the two houses opposite this one, owned by my ancestor's brother - the local butcher.

The Hanslope church of St. James The Great has a huge spire and my lot William Law and Frances were married there in 1728,
their son Richard was married there in 1777 to another Frances and those two were the cottage tenants.
They had a daughter named Frances and her wild sons Elijah and Eli were swinging machinery smashers in the Aylesbury Swing Riots of 1830.
So Eli, my grandfather's grandfather got a free cruise to Tasmania for that one (his brother got 2 months in the local slammer).
After his pardon he came to Victoria, where his daughter married in 1859 and had my great grandmother named ... Frances.
(Clearly my ancestor's had a names issue. My other side had this guy Robert Lyon Milne b.1854 Adelaide, who had used several variations of it and is well-documented. I must discuss this with Bwca Brownie and Marshall Stacks.)

The Lord Of Hanslope Manor's grandson fared a lot worse than our above tenants - his was a mid-summer murder in 1912, walking home from church with his wife when he was murdered in front of her. Maybe C.I. Barnaby's grandfather investigated it.
The victim had the same name as his father and grandfather. You could do that when one's circle was only the immediate village and they all knew who was who; and this was a snip in the days before credit cards connected Debt to ID and made it more meaningful.

Here's a photo of my great-grandmother Frances with her husband William Brown and his brother George Brown.
They were all born in far western Victoria in the 1860's. Frances never set foot in a pub, and nobody ever mentioned the ex-con.


  1. Had to guugle Swing Riots. Your post was fifth in the list. I expect nothing less of you than having an interesting past.

  2. We have an ex-convict as well, my husband's great great grandfather who arrived in Bathurst NSW in 1822.

    He stole a suit of clothes, some silver cutlery and coins and was tried in the assizes in Melbourn, without the 'e', near Cambridge.

    My husband's family were once ashamed of their convict origins and it is only in recent years that they are able to consider their past.

    In the fifties it was not fashionable to come from such stock. These days it has some kudos.

    I love the picture of your great gran in the car between her two fellas. How quickly things change.

  3. Swingers, rioters and free cruisers - nice lineage :)

  4. I have a naming issue to top that! Slightly distant relatives had a father, son and grandson, all called Cancel Thomas Docter.

    Yes, in that order (reading the third ones military record - he was killed in World War 1 - makes it clear). Apparently when the war office in London issued the memorial plaque they issued it in the name of Thomas Cancel Docter - the father confirms that the correct order is Cancel Thomas Docter.

    That has to be the most unusual first name I've ever seen.

  5. That cottage is magnificent. Interesting in comparison to here in Melbourne where a Victorian house is considered venerable. Great story of the journey from West Country to Western District.

  6. i'm loving all this.

    my folks flew to ireland to see the cottage where most of us "come from". it was in shambles, the thick walls decorated with bits of sea shell, a piece of which i now have on my own window ledge.

    also enjoyed rob's post about cancel. now there's a name, huh?

  7. Thanks AOF, Rob, Sherry and LadLitter. The two bad brothers really had it in for the farmer whose modernisation, they felt, threatened their employment. There was more than one appearance at the Aylesbury Assizes and I am indebted to Farmer Ballard's descendants for documenting it all and leading me to the cottage. My convict was assigned to a farmer in Longford Tasmania, and as well as ploughing, spent his sentence building St.Johns Church in Launceston, where he was married in 1842.
    That 'Cancel' name is rivetting. What were they thinking?

  8. I'm wondering if it was a genteel 'Victorian' way of saying 'you were a mistake'?

  9. but you must know he was named after his father?
    and he had 2 brothers who survived WW1, so not a mistake in any way. Families are fascinating.

  10. Looks just like my cottage that.

    And then I woke up.

  11. I decided to get going on the German side of my family, so picked up the form for a death certificate only to find in the small print that I needed a special one which I could find online at their site. Another instance where stupid bint at PO pointed me in the wrong direction when I asked specifically if this was the right form. My own incompetance I can deal with, other's are getting on my wick.

  12. It is something else to actually see a home where your ancestors once called home - I have a photo of Glendalough Church in Avoca, Wicklow where my great great grandparents married in 1841 before emmigrating and its been kept in its original state - well as close to as possible - I imagine them comming out of the door and heading out into a risky new life - a long sea voyage - and a baby born in Australia as they landed...not all that long ago really but such a different world