Follow on from April 2011 – Finding Fanny Richards – Fanny Richards of Melksham (born 1865)

Fanny Richards of Melksham (born 1865)


Several family trees on Family Search and Ancestry have connected Fanny Peapell nee Richards born in Newport, Wales (Fanny Richards of Newport) incorrectly with Fanny Richards born in Melksham in 1865 (Fanny Richards of Melksham). This is understandable as Melksham is only 25 miles away from Swindon where the marriage of Fanny Richards to John Crook Peapell took place.  However, linking these two different people with the same name can be shown to be incorrect as Fanny Richards of Melksham was born, lived, was married, and had a family in Melksham.


From the GRO Fanny Richards of Melksham, Wiltshire (born 1865 Q2) had a mother’s maiden name  of “Townsend”.

Searching the 1851 Census shows  Thomas and Mary Richards who have a “Mother” who is widowed. Thomas Richards is a gardener and their family of Eliza, Sarah and Jane live in King Street Melksham, Wiltshire.

In 1861 the census shows that Thomas and Mary are still living in King Street, Melksham with their family of Eliza Jane and Fred. Thomas is a Domestic Gardener


In the June quarter of 1865 Fanny Richards was born in Melksham (mother maiden name  “Townsend” from the GRO Website)

In the 1871 census Fanny Richards is living with her parents Thomas and Mary Richards and their family are still living in King Street, Melksham with their family. Thomas’s occupation is “Gardener”

In the 1881 Census Fanny Richards is still  living with her parents Thomas and Mary Richards at King Street, Melksham. Thomas’s occupation is still “Gardener”

No other Richards families have been found living in King Street, Melksham in the Census’s


On 27th December 1884 the marriage of Henry Baker Harvey to Agnes Fanny Richards took place in the Wesley Chapel in Melksham. From the GRO copy of the marriage certificate Agnes Fanny Richards is aged 19 and therefore born in 1865. She is living in King Street Melksham. Her Father is Thomas Richards “Gardener”.

So is Agnes Fanny Richards the same person as Fanny Richards just using a different first name. . A search of the GRO records and FreeBMD shows that there is no Agnes Richards born in Melksham at the right time. A search on both FindMyPast and Ancestry shows there are no census or other records of  Agnes Richards born in Melksham at the right time either.


It is very likely from this that Agnes Fanny Richards the same person as Fanny Richards. So qhat happened to Agnes Fanny (or Just Fanny) Richards after her Marriage?


In the 1891 Census she is now known as Fanny Harvey (her married name) living with her husband Henry Harvey a Railway Porter and children Charles Mary and Daisy, in Old Broughton Road, Melksham,   In 1901  she gives her name as Agnes F Harvey living with her husband Henry Harvey and children back in King  Street Melksham. in the 1911 census she is still living with her husband Henry Harvey in King Street.


From this it is clear that Fanny Richards of Melksham is not the same as Fanny Richards of Newport.


If anyone wants the links to the documents to see copies please contact me or leave a comment

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1900′s Smannell School Photograph

This is a photograph in an album from the Hampshire People family. The picture is probably taken at Smannell School around 1900.

If you can identify anyone in this picture or the date it was taken please contact mepage 014 1024x801 1900s Smannell School Photograph






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April 2013 Using the Internet to learn how to do a one name study

April  2013  Using the Internet to  learn how to do a one name study

Last Tuesday (16th April) I did a talk for Wiltshire Family History Society – Devizes Branch on “Using the Internet to learn how to do a one name study” I talked about what I had decided I needed to do and how much help I had found on the Internet. Some has to be paid for but much is freely available.

I have recognized ten things I need to learn how to do better. These are

  • How to run a one name study
  • Using family tree (and other) programme
  • Reading documents
  • Technology -  Website, Social Media/Networking, Hangouts
  • Presenting and Publishing the Study
  • Mapping and migrations
  • Origins of surname
  • DNA usefulness
  • Finding new sources of information for the study
  • Look at pre parish register (medieval sources)

The learning and support tools I covered was mainly by showing the relevant websites during the talk are ones I have found useful including

  •          Pharos On-Line Course – How to run a one name study
  •          Pharos On-Line Course – Medieval Documents
  •          On-Line One Name study Guild Wiki
  •          Webinars from Roots Magic (Family tree software)
  •          You-Tube Videos on genealogy and software
  •          National Archive site for Palaeography particularly the interactive transcribing exercise
  •          Forums
  •          Facebook (ONS Guild and several other genealogy pages)
  •          Twitter feeds on Genealogy
  •          National Archives Podcasts
  •          Genealogy websites and blogs including “The Genealogy Guys” which I listen to in the car or on the train, and “Dear Myrtle”.
  •           Videos from Roots Tech Conference
  •           Historical Sites such as Internet Archive for out of copyright documents

The list seemed to go on. I also talked about other things I have not yet really started to use to advantage such as Google Hangouts

Most of the people there did not realise how much was available. And it was quite an eye opener for them.


At the end I was asked about progress on finding Fanny Richards my Great Grandmother.  I gave a little update and said I should know more in the Autumn.



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The Hive Worcester Archives and Wiltshire Family History Website

March  2013  The Hive Worcester Archives and Wiltshire Family History Website

Last Monday (5th March) I had my first visit to the new Worcester History Centre at The Hive in the centre of Worcester. Eileen went shopping while I spent a couple of hours on the history floor (the second floor).  I have very little need for Worcestershire records but it was interesting finding my way around and looking at the books and records that are available. There is more open access than others I have been to anyway.

On Wednesday evening I met David Chilcott to talk about how I might help with the Wiltshire Family History Website. I quickly realised that not only is there quite a lot to do but that I could be taking on more responsibility than I expected.  On Thursday on the way back from the Wiltshire History Centre I called into the Wiltshire Family History Society Resource Centre in Devizes and met the Finance Committee, they expected that I would be taking over the website at some stage.  It would be a big challenge and particularly the need to move more into social media.



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William Peopell of Castle Eaton 1554

March  2013  William Peopell of Castle Eaton 1554

At the end of my session at the Wiltshire History Centre I looked at the books on parishes on the shelves. There was a slim volume by Audrey Tomlin on Castle Eaton Church (1992). The church is St Mary the Virgin. The booklet indicated that in 1550 Humprey Galimore was appointed Rector. He was new Church of England rector. After Queen Mary brought back Catholicism he was replaced in 1554 by Gilbert Bursley. There was an inquisition in 1555 at Cricklade for John Cryppe the elderwhen the Goddard’s (of de la Zouche descent) who had been landowners and decided who was rector were replaced by Anthony  Hungerford and John Cryppe of Meysey Hampton.

In 1558 Queen Mary died and Elizabeth came to the throne. Humprey Galimore was reinstated as the Rector and the Goddards returned.

I know that the Goddards were also the land owners in Latton. William Peopell was married 5 November 1554 in castle Eaton. It was clearly a tumultuous period.

So did William Peopell  get married before or after the catholic rector arrived.   Did the family move to Latton (and then to Hannington) with the Goddard’s or for some other reason?  These are all interesting questions to be explored by looking at the dates, the Goddard family. I need to look at the inquisition as well. Did William Peopell arrive with the Hungerfords or Cryppes or leave for Latton because of them?  Is this a red herring?

The book also gave me some pointers to other places to look for information including  a book on Hannington by Claude B Fry limited edition published 1935 and the Wiltshire Tax list D A Crawley.

I also found out that Castle Eaton was known as Eton Meysi or Eaton Meysy and Water Eaton was known as Eaton Mynchan or West Eaton.



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Poll Taxes of Wiltshire in 14th Century

March  2013  Poll Taxes of Wiltshire in 14th Century

On  Thursday and Friday (7th and 8th March)  I spent time at the Wiltshire History Centre at Chippenham in doing some “Peapell”  Research room. My father John Hurley runs the team of  volunteers who are transcribing Wiltshire parish records. They do a great job and make the records on baptisms and Burials and other records available through the sale of  CDs and sites such as Findmypast.

I wanted to look at Carolyn Fenwick’s book  “Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381 Part 3 Wiltshire – Yorkshire”  looking for “Peapell”.   I found many uncommon and even some odd names.  These included “Cruchman”, “Baylemound”, “Totobold” and “Bongy”. They are very rare on census and parish records from mid 1500’s onwards so I am sure these are nick names or by-names.

Carolyn Fenwick has collated all the information from the National Archives on Poll Taxes (series 179) into three books with up to 200 people on a page.  The information is different for different periods and areas but for Wiltshire in 1379 it is fairly comprehensive so I could see the payers name including surname or by-name where recorded, amount paid and even sometimes the occupation.  The Poll taxes applied to all adults over the age of 14 who were not beggars although it has been said that evasion was widespread. The poll tax payments were mostly 4d (there being 12 d to a shilling and 20 shillings to pound)

I did not find any remotely possible “Peapell” references even allowing for wild variations in spelling.   I can infer that either (i) “Peapell” had not been adopted by this time as the surname or (ii) “Peapell” were living in another part of the country or (iii) they evaded the poll tax.

I did however find a few “Howes” surnames. Ii sent an e-mail to Paul Howes who is studying the name to let him know that I would send through details. He was very interested.

The poll taxes lists were interesting not only for the unusual names but also that some names were missing or rare. For example there were a relative low number of “Smiths” in Wiltshire at most three opn a page of 200 names and in many pages none at all. There were far more “miller” derived names such as Miller, Milner, Mullward etc.  Smith is now a much more common name now that Miller even though it wasn’t then.



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One Name Guild Gloucestershire Regional Meeting at National Ullenwood February 2013

One Name Guild Regional Meeting at National Ullenwood February 2013

On Saturday 16th February Gerald Cooke organised another Gloucestershire Regional One Name Guild meeting at the National Star College, Ullenwood, Cheltenham.

There was a packed agenda which started at ten o’clock in the manor house. It was organised by Gerald and Alan Moorhouse.

We started with a round table introduction about each study which provoked questions. What surprised me was how many were “stuck” around the civil war and inter-regnum.

The second  item was Probate Indexes. The guild is building up an index of Probates to include all names identified the most is 60. It replies on One Name Guild Members sending information on Wills Probates and admons etc for surnames (other than the testator’s) that are referenced in the documents. These may be beneficiaries, witnesses, relations, trustees etc,

The third item was FamilySearch & Family Tree. This provoked some discussion about the merits of family trees on line and allowed us to see the different approaches and views of guild members present. Linking to others trees and information can be problematic if not checked carefully.

We broke for a great lunch (which we all brought for ourselves) and the opportunity to purchase some of Alan’s Marmalade proceeds to the National Star College.

After Lunch we reviewed software we used and then looked at archiving our studies.

There was a free format session so I raised two items. I looked for help with finding Fanny Richards and then I asked about medieval records and ideas. Everyone wanted to know about Fanny Richards so I prepared some information and sent it out. I had useful comments and pojnters from Richard Scantlebury, Derek Allen  and Polly Rubery so I am hopeful that I may be able to find her finally



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Earliest Peapell and Medieval Documents

February 2013  Earliest Peapell and Medieval Documents

I have just finished a five week course on Medieval Documents run by Gillian Waters of Pharos. This is my second Pharos course the first was Helen Osborn’s Introduction to One Name Studies in the Autumn. I have also been using the on-line Palaeography (Handwriting) course on the National Archives site to improve my understanding of documents and allow me to read them.

During the five week course we were introduced to lots of on-line resources and sites covering many different record types. I particularly wanted to find older references to “Peapell”. The first record that I can be certain is a “Peapell” variant is the marriage of William Peopall on 5 November 1554 in Castle Eaton Wiltshire. There are no other Peapell references in Castle Eaton Parish Records but there is a marriage of a John Peopell in Latton the next parish to the west in 1584 and another marriage of a different John Peopoll in 1620 in Hannington the next parish to the east of Castle Eaton.

It is likely that these Peapell are related but the definitive relationships are not clear. After this date Peapell can be traced forward relatively easily. The questions I wanted to answer were

  • Where can I find for earlier references to Peapell
  • Where did William (and the two Johns) come from
  • How reliable are information in medieval documents when I find them

I started off by looking at all the known information about the people and their spouses and gathering any background information I could on wills, landowners and parish details etc. The wills and landowners suggested areas to look as did the later marriages and occupations. The Peapell were not wealthy but did make wills disposing of land etc, had occupations like milners (miller), carpenters etc and were marrying the local clergy, merchants and traders.  Extending the search to relatives by marriage helped identify an initial research strategy.

The obvious first step was to look at where the landowners in the parishes had come from to see if that sheds light on the origins of Peapell. This was a time of religious upheaval. In 1554 Mary had just become Queen and the religion was changing again. There was much movement and buying of monastic lands. Examination of  the available “Pedigrees” of the local landowners did not help much and the information on the Goddards and Frekes has to be treated with a pinch of salt

The next step was to identify potential church, military and taxation records. Although No on-line references were found to Peapell there are other sources to look at Wiltshire History Centre probably during March.






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January 2013 A new year, A new beginning

January 2013  A new year, A new beginning

A happy new year for 2013.

What now. Well two things

I have made good use of the Wiltshire Parish Marriages CDs for all parishes (published jointly by Wiltshire Family History Society and Nimrod Marriage Index) and added to the Peapell family marriages. I have also been steadily capturing more sources where I have had gaps.

I completed the  Family History Course. It was a five week “Introduction to One Name Studies” by Pharos  run on-line in October. It was very useful and I have rethought my approach to the “Peapell” study as a result.

I have now started the  Family History Course. “Medieval Documents” again by Pharos on-line and is run on-line. At the end I be able to gfind more documents to help me explore the Peapell family back before 1550. .

I am also using the National Archive website Interactive tutorial on Palaeography to learn to read old documents. I thought I would complete that in December but its taking longer than I expected as there is more there to do. That was suggested to me from the earlier “Introduction to One Name Studies” course

Sadly my Great Aunt Deannie died on 1 January this year at the age of 106. She provided me with lots of background information from first hand knowledge on both South Marston and John Crook Peapell and his wife Fanny Richards from when she knew them before and during the first world war.  I have to transcribe the video recording I made of her talking and put it on here


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September 2012 – Back at Last

September 2012 – Back at Last 

I have had a very busy spring and summer but now autumn is here I can get down to the Family History again. Since Last April we have had an eight week break from work including four weeks on the Outer Hebrides, our son’s marriage, the usual canoeing and lots of other things to do. Excuses excuses.

The only real Family History I have to report was at the West Midlands Family History Fair at Worcester. I helped my father, John Hurley, run the Wiltshire Stall at Worcester Warriors Rugby Ground is conveniently not far away and he can stay over night with us.  We had some interest in Wiltshire families and met some old friends including the son of our old minister in the 1960’s from the Baptist Tabernacle in Swindon. The One Name Guild stand was next to ours and I met Kirsty Gray the One Name Guild chairman who was helping out on their stall. She has known my father and my late mother Beryl Hurley for a long time.

What now. Well two things

I have the Wiltshire Parish Marriages on three CDs for all parishes to go through (published jointly by Wiltshire Family History Society and Nimrod Marriage Index)

This week I start a Family History Course. It a five week “Introduction to One Name Studies” by Pharos and is run on-line. At the end I should understand what I should be doing and be better able to respond to queries about the Peapell family.

So watch this space…



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