Showing posts with label Benn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benn. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2016

Setting the Scene- Ellen Freed Benn


    This is Ellen Freed Benn, the matriarch of our particularly large branch of the Tapply family tree. There is no date on the picture, but it's bound to be early. She had12 children in all, 11 living. Her ancestry is a knot still to be totally unraveled. I've been working on that for a while now.

     Sometimes it's worth sending off for vital records, even if they cost a bit. This was once of those times. The family Bible said that Ellen Benn was born in Sutton Valence, but her records didn't turn up there. Oh, I found a christening entry, but no birth record. When London turned up on the hints in Ancestry, I had to know more.
    From this record we have an exact birth date, a place, her father's occupation and some information about her mother. By March, when this certificate and the christening entry were filed, her mother  Mary Ann Frid (Freed) was recorded as "deceased".  Perhaps this was in childbirth, birth complications, or illness. Life was tough back then in the poor neighborhoods of London. A little research into Somers Town has told me that.
     Crawley Mews doesn't exist anymore. At some point when roads were straightened and reorganized, the road and the mews disappeared.
    This is the corner of Eversholt Road where Crawley used to be. The mews would have been behind the houses on the left. If you look at the cross street of Lidlington, behind these houses, you can see a wide garden space that must have been the mews at one time.
    This all looks very leafy now, but the descriptions online of Somers Town at the time are of real poverty. Charles Dickens' childhood home is only a block away.
This is from a book about the mews of London. Imagine now that John Benn kept his "rig" and his horse in the stable and mews below. He and his wife and child lived above. 
    The neighborhood of SomersTown is near Old St. Pancras Hospital, St. Pancras Station and King's Cross Station (of Harry Potter fame). Today it's a very mixed bag of working people and immigrants. Even then, the police blotter that  cousin Holly found describes some blocks as very affluent and some as quite poor. To give you some context, I found an antique map where you can just read "Crawley" inside the red circle. I suspect the three horizontal buildings there are the mews. The modern map below shows how changed it all is.
    For Americans unfamiliar with London, I'm including a wider map too.
     After her mother's death, Ellen went to live with her Freed relatives in Kent. First she lived with her aunt, then an uncle. I believe this aunt is the "mother" who presented her with the family Bible. My research leads me to think that her father may not have survived long after her mother.  I don't find anything that's certain, but he seems to disappear. The police notes Holly found come from the London School of Economics and they chronicle an officer walking his "beat" in 1898. He makes note of a "cab master who is a considerable proprietor" living on Crawley Mews. So Crawley Mews continued to be home to London cabbies for a time.
     The police blotter also records that "the gardens of Oakley Square remain private". I was trolling around the internet trying to find some very early pictures of Somers Town. I found a few pictures of Old St. Pancras church and the railway stations, but the picture that made me smile was this one.
This picture from that very time is of the hippo in Regents Park Zoo. Somers Town is right on the edge of Regents Park. With the local green space closed to them, I like to think that maybe John and Mary Ann Benn took a stroll through Regents Park and perhaps enjoyed a look at the animals in the zoo. It's a nice thought, since their happiness was so brief.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What's My Line?


If you are of a certain age, you probably remember the game show What's My Line?  Watching Downtown Abbey has made me even more curious about the occupations of my ancestors...particularly the English branches, but the American family is fascinating as well.  So I've been going through the tree and doing a little digging.

Of course I found farmers..lots and lots and lots of farmers. Farmer in Maine in the Smith, Lowell and Richardson families. Farmers in Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia in the Dunn, Johnson, Archer families. And of course farmers in Massachusetts in the Rogers family. What I found was the some families farmed the same land or the same area for many generations, but as the United States went through the industrial revolution I found lots of tradespeople as well: coopers, grocers, salesmen of farm equipment, a few blacksmiths, mechanics and factory workers. In the mill towns of Massachusetts I found a LOT of boot makers. Holden had a shoe factory that employed many members of the Rogers family.

The next generation became professionals: Isaac Johnson was a lawyer (although he maintained farm land as well). Samuel Milton Archer was a doctor in the Salinas Valley of California.  

And some professions became a family affair: George Smith, Reuben Lowell Smith, and Edward Rogers were all firemen/ conductors for the railroad. The Tapply family has been in the building trades for several generations. James Henry Tapply worked at various times as a carpenter and bricklayer. Two of his sons are listed as builders: James Henry Tapply Jr. and Harry Tapply. His son Charles, my great grandfather, was a paper hanger and painter after he left the police force. Charles Earnest Tapply Sr. (his son) was a lumberman. And even today we have Mark Tapply who does fine woodwork and cabinetry and did his father Chuck Tapply before him. Charles Earnest's other son William R. and his son were lumberman.  William's grandson Billy Tapply deals in fine wood flooring. Amazing how many members of this branch have "builder" or  "carpenter" in the census records.

Even though there were farmers and people "in service" on the Freed branch of the family, it appears that the Tapplys were merchant/craftspeople. This is where the research got interesting. Of course I've talked about James Henry Tapply's father John who was a master cordswainer. You can read more about them here.  I found a wonderful description of the cordwainer's art on this website along with a reference to a district in London where they once practiced their art.
The professionals all had guilds dating back to medieval times. They persist today with elaborate guild halls in London. It seems many of them do charitable work these days,  but the buildings maintain records which could really be useful for genealogists. Edward Lansdell Tapply was listed as a master linen draper which appears to be a dealer in dry goods, but another source said that in the mid-1800's he may have been a bespoke dealer of fine goods for shirting.
The Draper's Shop
This same branch of the family had a number of family members in the coffee, tea and spice business. Edward Lansdell's brother William Tapply and his sons dealt in these goods as well as pickles. Perhaps they were members of the grocer's guild. I love that part of their coat-of-arms includes a clove harking back to the days when people traveled to the Far East to bring back spices.
William's son, Richard Tapply, is listed as a brewery director. Of course the brewers had their guild as well. It was Richard's son Allan who penned the Tapply family history.

On the other side of this family we have John Benn, father of Ellen Freed Benn Tapply. He was a hansom cabbie in London. He is still a cypher in my research so perhaps a visit to the hackney and cab driver's guild will reveal records of his license.
So while my relatives were never the "lords of the manor" like the Crawleys, they all seemed to do pretty well for themselves; truly the "butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker".  Records of their apprenticeships, records of their businesses, land purchases and agricultural census records can all inform your family research. I look forward to finding even more clues in these records.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Still Another Mappy Monday- the Freeds of Sutton Valence

This charming map is the result of a search online for a neglected branch of my family; the Freeds.
Charles Tapply was married to Ellen Freed Benn. For years, we thought she was born in Kent, but actually she was born in London. However, her mother died in childbirth or shortly thereafter and she went to live with her aunt. Elizabeth Freed Boorman  lived with her husband, who was a wheelwright, in the small village of Sutton Valence. Ellen was christened there, as I discovered in the FamilySearch records.
Ellen Benn
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 22 Mar 1857
Christening Place: Sutton-Valence, Kent, England
Father's Name: John Benn
Mother's Name: Mary Benn
For those not familiar with Kentish geography, here is a modern map showing Sutton Valence.
Personally, I love the first map with the tiny depictions of churches and farmsteads and forests. All the Freeds lived in the immediate area and sorting them out will be yet another challenge!