Showing posts with label Kent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kent. Show all posts

Monday, October 3, 2016

Some Recent Discoveries....The Tapply Immigration Mystery Partly Resolved

As you know, I've been teasing out the puzzle of great-grandfather Charles Tapply's immigration. Family stories had him "stowing away" to come to America. Professional genealogists tell us that story is right up there with "grandma was an indian princess".  Seldom true. But I have recently found a few more clues from records that are now available online.

Ellen Tapply appears as Mrs. Tapply along with Annie and Daisy on the manifest for the steamship Bolivia in June 1881. The Bolivia was on the Anchor line and this journey took them in steerage from London to Castle Garden Immigration Station  in New York. (Ellis Island wasn't opened yet) The two pictures above are of sister ships on that line. I'm thinking the one on the left is the closest image.
Ellen Tapply was only 26 years old and Daisy was an infant. The passenger list doesn't reveal much more about them besides age, gender and country of origin. I looked for someone of the right age to be an incognito Charles, but haven't found that yet. I will go over the list more carefully, but what I mostly see are family groups.
This is a period photo of Castle Garden. I'm thinking Charles had already arrived and was there to meet them. The evidence for this is what I found next.
The newest piece of information to go digital was immigration documents. Jon had already gotten this one, but I had been convinced that immigrants filled in a much more extensive question document. Apparently, NOT.  One thing I've learned doing indexing for Family Search (data entry for files they've photographed to make them searchable) is that they wrote down as much or as little as the immigrant volunteered. So if you gave the city, county and country or origin, they often wrote it all down. Charles is very specific here. He arrived "on or about the 10th of March 1881". So now to find a boat arriving in New York around that time. Well, so far nothing. But I will continue to look.
I've tried using just his age, just his first name, just his last name, and variations on that. I also tried using Ellen's maiden name and her mother's surname. I figure at the very least he was traveling under an alias.

This is the type of record I'm looking for. We have Charles Freed. The age is correct, his occupation is given as carpenter which isn't too much of a stretch. The problem is that the Nederland arrived in New York in August of 1881. If Charles were going to lie to immigration, I suspect he would have just been vague and given the year. So this isn't Charles.

I also found the documents for his father James Henry Tapply and his brother-in-law Stephen Hodge. Nothing so far for Thomas. In those days wives and children were grandfathered in when the man took his citizenship. That's a shame, because there's always interesting information.

At least with this latest information we know that he didn't sail back and forth. It settles the question of the timing of Daisy's birth. (when I thought he has arrived earlier, I wondered about that) I still think about that young woman traveling with a tiny infant and a 3-year-old in steerage for a long ocean voyage. The motivation for a new start must have been strong. This doesn't completely discount the story Charles told his children and there is still a bit of mystery there for me to pursue.
Good. I like a good mystery.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Common and Uncommon Surnames

                          TAPPLY                                                                                                      TAPLEY
As I've mentioned before, I get a lot of inspiration for my searching from listening to podcasts about genealogy. Two of the best are from Lisa Louise Cooke. Her Genealogy Gems podcast has lots of good ideas. She also has a podcast through Family Tree magazine. In the February podcast she talked with several experts about how having an unusual surname can be an asset in genealogical research. I wouldn't strictly call the Tapply surname unusual, but the spelling with two P's seems to have been a variant that developed in a particular area of Kent. In early census and birth records, all my Tapply relatives were actually Tapley. So if you are a two-P Tapply we are most certainly related somehow. What's even more exciting is that there are all sorts of resources online to explore the popularity of your surname. The map on the left is the incidence of the Tapply surname in modern England. The right is the Tapley surname. You can see that southeastern England and Kent are hotbeds for Tapply and Tapleys. My cousin Sue tells me that her brother (living in Kent) runs into other Tapplys and Tapleys all the time wanting to know his village of origin or which family line he belongs to.

Why would this matter? Well, let's say you're having trouble pinning down where your relatives with the unusual surname emigrated from or immigrated to; this map might give you a start deciding where to look. It also tells you whether the name has remained "active" or is dying out.
This map tells me where in the world I am most likely to find Tapply with my particular spelling. You can see that the highest incidences are in the United States, England, Australia and Canada. Change the spelling to Tapley and you can add in New Zealand.
Going one step further you can see that most of the Tapplys in the United States are people I know are directly related to me. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Colorado would be where they are. Since Charles Tapply Senior had only 3 sons and mostly daughters this map reflects the children and grandchildren of Bob and Charlie Tapply. The only outliers are Tennessee and New Jersey. That might be interesting to explore. (There are some Tapplys in the U. S. descended from Charles's brother Thomas J. Tapply. ) Since the highest incidence of the Tapply surname on the first map was in the United States and on the second map it appears to be direct relatives, I think we can say that the name is declining. 
You can see where this would be useful in tracking down relatives and determining where they fit in the tree. Be sure to click on the two links I've included and see if you can track down an unusual name in your family tree.  I think this is lots of fun.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A New Resource on YouTube- British Pathé


YouTube has just added another wonderful resource for family historians. The entire British Pathé
film archive now has its own channel here. I did a quick search for the little village where the Tapply relatives came from and came up with this newsreel footage from 1935 for a cricket match involving the Wittersham team. Nothing came up on a name search, but if you had someone notable in your British family something just might. And further searches for Maidstone and Isle of Oxney came up with other interesting footage. If you have British relatives in your tree, this is worth a look.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Geography and Genealogy

 Once I found that my Tapply grandmother's family came from Wittersham in Kent and not from Whitstable, I set out to learn a bit about this place. Right away I read descriptions only of Wittersham sitting on the Isle of Oxney. I was intrigued. What was this about?

The early coastline of England was much further inland. The Rother river ran out to the coast at Romney and there was a large delta with many little islands right at the mouth of the river. Wittersham sat, in those days, right on one of those islands. But more and more silt built up at the mouth of the river. Violent storms in 1287 changed the coastline. Finally the river itself changed direction. From Romney it moved to Rye. Pretty soon the entire coast became salt marsh. Sheep were raised on the marshlands and this became the main source of income. The present coastline looks more like what you see in the map below.
The marshland is clearly still there, but the sea is far away from the Isle of Oxney. When you see photographs of the countryside, it's clear that this former island sits higher than the land around it. And the identification is clearly still on the map. The "family history" written by Alan Tapply puts various branches of the family in the area as far back as the 1600's. This would be long after the coast changed, but I can't help but wonder how different the land might have looked back then. Were there sailors and fishermen in the family? Smugglers? Sea captains?  Or were the Tapleys (old spelling) always the tradespeople?

Another thing that excited me was the identification of Romney Marsh. I was brought up on Disney and some of you may remember "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" starring Patrick McGoohan.
The scarecrow was a tale invented by Russell Thorndike. The story goes that Dr. Christopher Syn retired from a life of piracy to become the vicar of Dymchurch on Romney Marsh. He soon realized that his parishioners were smuggling goods from France to avoid high customs taxes. He took up the scarecrow disguise to ride to their rescue and protect them from the authorities. His adventures became so popular that some people still believe he was a real person.

Oast House Archive [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I leave you with a view of the English countryside looking out toward the Isle of Oxney.
Nigel Chadwick, Wikipedia

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!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

John Tappley- Master Cordswainer

I am always intrigued by the job descriptions on the old census records. I have found that the English records use more formal terms like "agricultural laborer" while the American census will just say "farmer". Every once in a while there is a term that completely confounds me. I was reminded again of this when I watched Crista Cowan's Barefoot Genealogist on YouTube. This is a GREAT resource, by the way and you can see the episode on your ancestors' professions here.

As I traveled up the Tapply tree, I found that my ancestors in that line were solidly tradespeople. There were grocers, butchers, a spice merchant, a linen draper and a cordswainer. A what? Well that's where this resource supplied by Crista is a great resource. But I noticed a few things as I examined the old census records for John Tappley. John was my 3X great grandfather who lived in Wittersham, Kent, England. In the 1841 census we see this:
So here is John Tappley living with Sally and it lists his occupation as shoemaker.  I went through the census pages and found that he had a fair amount of competition in the village; three or four other men were listed as shoemakers.

The 1851 Kent Directory of Occupations lists him the same way:
However, by 1851 there are only two other men listed in Wittersham doing this job. Shoemaking as a handcraft was a dying profession. I looked up information on the Industrial Revolution and found this:
"Lyman Reed Blake was an American inventor who invented a sewing machine for sewing the soles of shoes to the uppers. In 1858, he received a patent for his specialized sewing machine." 
So the hand-sewing of shoes was probably on the wain by this time. The 1851 census shows the Tapply family like this:

And this is where I first ran into the term master cordwainer. He had become experienced enough to earn this extra title and had one apprentice and one journeyman working with him. I was still curious about what separated a shoemaker from a cordwainer. 

A little more searching on the internet gave me this distinction:
"The English term cordwainer first appears in 1100. Since this date the term cordouan, or cordovan leather, has been applied to several varieties of leather. Today cordovan leather is a vegetable tanned horse "shell," and like the Medieval cordwain is used only for the highest quality shoes. A distinction preserved by cordwainers since the earliest times is, that a cordwainer works only with new leather, whereas a cobbler works with old. Cobblers have always been repairers, frequently prohibited by law from making shoes. Going so far as to collect worn-out footwear, cut it apart, and remanufacture cheap shoes entirely form salvaged leather, cobblers have contended with cordwainers since the Middle Ages. In 16th-century London, the cordwainers solved their conflicts with the cobblers of that city by placing them under the authority of the cordwainers’ guild, thus merging with them."

A cobbler or shoemaker might make the simple clogs and everyday shoes or perhaps do repairs; only the cordwainer could handle the fine leather.

John Tapply would most probably have belonged to a local guild centered out of Maidstone or Canterbury that regulated the men of his trade. I haven't found those records yet. But I found the contemporary counterparts still making fine shoes in London.

The Worshipful Company of Cordswainers is still making the very finest high end shoes. Should you find that your cordwainer ancestor lived in London, they might have those records in their archives.
I love this photo of the contemporary cordswainers in all their ceremonial regalia.
This is why you should always take the time to look carefully at census records. You never know what new things you can learn about your ancestor.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Tapplys of Wittersham

Charles and Ellen Tapply-Whitehorse Beach, Cape Cod abt 1931
No download or reproduction without express permission
Family myths and family stories are a funny thing. They tend to take on a life of their own. My mother wrote a letter to England during the Blitz of WWII because her grandfather's brother George Tapply
was living in Kent, in the path of the bombers. He wrote back from a little village called Whitstable,
which is right on the coast on the Thames estuary. Apparently it's known for oyster farming. Ever
after that my mother reported to various family members that the Tapplys came from Whitstable. Or
at least by the time she was grown and people became curious that was the family story. When I began
looking into the Tapply family I had this reported to me as absolute fact by various members of the Tapply family. Courtesy of mom as I soon discovered.....

I began by looking for census records for Charles and Ellen somewhere in Kent. When I found them and their various family members a family myth fell to pieces. As it turned out, the family of Charles'
generation and his father James Henry lived in the tiny village of Wittersham near Tenterden. I found them there on multiple census records along with James Henry and various brothers and sisters. Later, when the family was almost grown, they moved to the small city of Maidstone. This is where the story of Charles and Ellen really begins, just before their emmigration to America.

The picture above shows Ellen and Charles on what I am told was a yearly trip to stay at the beach. I love the "driving" duster on Ellen and the bathing costume hanging behind them. To compound the  family story, my mother reported that the Tapply clan made this yearly trip to the area around Hampton Beach and Rye Beach, New Hampshire. When mom finally made it to England and to Whitstable she reported that she now understood why they liked Hampton Beach. Whitstable looked like Hampton Beach and it must have "reminded them of home". Perhaps it did. In it's way... The truth is that Charles' brother George worked for the British postal service for many years and when he retired he lived in Whitstable. For George, this little seaside town was a slice of "home". His job for the postal service had been in Brighton- another somewhat larger and more touristy beach spot. I'm sure he found Whitstable restful.

All of this reminds me to keep in mind the first advice for every amateur genealogist. Use the family stories as clues, but don't become wedded to them as fact. I still like the story of the whole Tapply clan decamping from Fitchburg for a vacation at the shore. I like to think at least that part is true....