Tuesday, 30 April 2013

NPM #6 ~ In their soft footprints ... Leah


She sat in one of the thickest branches 
and called to me in a voice like spun sugar
able to calm a frost edged nightmare 
or smooth away a fearful cry

She knew the soil,
as it fell in between her fingers 
as if it told her the secrets of what it once grew
She sat with me 
and we looked down 
this green and aged tree

An artist with his sweet watercolours  
a politician that stood for the workers
a family far from home toiling in the fields
working till the sun skipped behind the horizon
to make this land their home

There were children crying,
playing, laughing and singing heartfelt songs
down every branch, 
with mothers beside them strong in heart and soul
She gave me a wicked smile,
her skirts snapping like flags in a breeze
and jumped feet first,
beckoning me to follow

This is the very last poem for National Poetry Month! *sad face* I have really enjoyed this, it has been so much fun and a really creative little project. This very last poem is about my 6 x great Grandmother Leah Lawton.

Leah Lawton was born 8th July 1771 in High Hoyland, Yorkshire - This is the furthest back we (My Mum and me) have gotten that has this much information, we have gotten back further in date but beyond this point it is just names, births, marriages and deaths. I also wanted to save Leah for the last post as we have traced her family line a lot and have even come down to living descendants of hers. I love the fact that she was born before such events like the American War of Independence or the French Revolution!

Cadney Church
She married William Kinsley on 11th of April 1790 in Emley, Yorkshire and went on to have 10 children, nine boys and just one girl, all born and christened in Cadney, Lincolnshire. I am descended through her 3rd son Anthony.

I wanted to get across in the poem that she was a matriarch of a huge family because she really was the great mother of the Kinsleys of Cadney! From her 10 children she had 43 grandchildren! She had even more great grandchildren, she had 84 and I don't think they have all been found and named yet! The number could be even higher. Two of her sons Henry and John and their families emigrated to Orangeville, Ontario, Canada to work as farmers (I've seen around Orangeville on Google Maps and it is just in the middle of nowhere!) At least 21 of Leah's great grandchildren where born in Ontario. My Mum has even been in touch with a Canadian cousin of ours :)

Other descendants of Leah Lawton include the artist Albert Kinsley (hence the watercolour artist mentioned in the poem) and Baron Quibell - who was a Labour Party politician and later an MP for Brigg in Lincolnshire.

I thought it would be good to end the series with the great matriarch Leah Lawton and her vast family tree. I would also like to thank the members of the ancestry.co.uk Facebook page who have loved this series and have been really encouraging. 

Today also marks by blog-anniversary! A whole year I have been wittering on about poetry and stuff - thank you all for your patience lol 

Happy Tuesday 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

NPM#5 ~ In their soft footprints ... John


There also sat a man
with a merry tune on his lips,
singing in his soft, musical accent
His hair was as black as a raven's heart,
confident in its natural curl

He spoke to me of being far
from the house of his birth
of his deep love, his young grief
of his children, 
some by his side and others in heaven
His ancestral need to be by the sea
that life is to be lived
with the smells of sea salt and deep currents
and every time he clapped his hands
to a beat only he could hear, he left a dusting of flour.

This is about my great, great, great grandfather John Thomas. 

I chose John Thomas because he is the great mystery of the family tree, I'm sure every family researcher has one - the one you just can't seem to pin down but the facts we do know make him a very interesting character. His life starts out very hard and ends in a Victorian love story!

(We think) John Thomas was born on 14th March 1851 in Liverpool, he was christened age 6 on 16th August 1857 in St Peter's Church, Liverpool. He was the son of the baker Robert Thomas (hence flour in the poem) The next part of his life is where he becomes a man of mystery! The very common name of John Thomas does not help! lol 

On the 2nd of January 1872 he is in Hull, East Yorkshire getting married to Virginia Selina Allan, on the marriage certificate it states that is father is deceased and there is a mix up with his age saying he is a year younger then he really is! - We have wondered if he just didn't know how old he was since we think he was orphaned at just 11. So in 1872 he is on the other side of the country and there is a family rumour that someone was part of a travelling fair!? - It could well have been him. There has been a huge Fair in Hull every October since the 18th century.

There is also a rumour that John and Virginia married for love and she was 'thrown out' of her family for marring beneath her - Virginia was the daughter of a professor of music, and you could imagine their attitude when she said, at just 19, that she was going to marry an orphan from the travelling fair! (if this is all true) 

Winifred Thomas in the 1920's
Virginia and John had 13 children! Only 6 of these survived though and I am descended through their daughter Ethel. Ethel was a bit of a wild child and in 1904 had my great grandmother Winifred, we never found out who my great grandmother's father was as Ethel took the secret to her grave. Sadly Ethel didn't want to keep Winifred, married a German man and went to live in Dresden (another interesting story!). For Winifred, it was her grandparents John and Virginia that stepped in and took her on as their own. My great grandmother used to say that John was lovely man with thick dark curly hair and she loved him dearly - I have really curly hair (it's not black though) and I like to believe I have inherited this from him, I sometimes joke that when my hair has just dried it look like a caviler's wig! lol

Happy Wednesday :)

Monday, 15 April 2013

NPM #4 ~ In their soft footprints ... Mary


There sat a woman
holding a small baby to her heart
softly singing lullabies,
giving him all her love,
She told me of his birth,
his lips had turned blue
A frightening pain, the metallic sting of blood
still under her fingernails

Her other children gathered around her
knowing he was the last,
Somehow knowing
this image
was fading, drifting apart
Far from all these voices,
streets, smoke and hardship
she felt very alone

This is about my great great great grandmother Mary Ellerington (from the opposite side of the tree to Phoebe in NPM #3). Their children Lydia Eley and George Bacon married in 1907.

Mary Ellerington's life story has always struck me as a very sad one. I don't know if I am alone in feeling this but sometimes when researching your family tree you get feelings about certain names, you sympathise with some or some you just dislike for no reason other then an inkling! lol I would love to know if any other family tree researchers have felt this? 

Mary Ellerington was married to George Eley on 16th of April 1870, St Paul's Church, Hull, East Yorkshire (143 years ago tomorrow!) - She was just 15, a couple of months off 16. She had 8 children (5 daughters and 3 sons) and I am related through her 4th daughter Lydia. The reason I have included a child in the poem is because of the sad facts we found out about her last child Arthur Eley. He was born in 1890 and it was written down on the 1911 census that he was 'feeble minded since birth' - I have no idea what this means by today's terms, maybe Down's Syndrome or some sort of learning difficulty, I just don't know but the word 'feeble minded' is very harsh and I know the Victorians used this as a by-word for a lot of different illnesses. If anyone can clear this up for me that would be great :)

Mary Ellerington died in 1898 at 44 years old, just 8 years after Arthur's birth, I think maybe his birth was hard on her too, but I like to think that she treasured him. It's strange though that stories about Arthur have never been passed down through the family. I wonder sometimes if there was some shame there and a need to cover it all up. 

George Eley married again just a year after Mary's death to Emily Broadbent,  a widow with 3 children of her own - she was 15 years younger. They had 4 daughters together. Arthur lived with his father and step-mother until his death at just 22 years old in 1913.

On a happier note,  I have to mention (and which is un-related to my family history) that 'Silver Threads' has received another great review by the lovely Darlene on her book blog Peeking between the pages. She asked to review 'Silver Threads' before all the mess that happened with my publisher. She has saved her review as part of a National Poetry Month book blog tour and I am very honored to be a part of it. 

Hope you all have a lovely week :)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

NPM #3 ~ In their soft footprints ... Phoebe



On the other side 
was a branch
That swayed with pale gold wheat
with an aura of an August day
A woman came walking through
these hazy royal fields
and showed me the landscape she once called home

Vast bronze and deep green planes,
unbroken horizons and a simple church
its stones warmed by the blush of heat
She spoke to me of travel, a deep yearning
to walk and move to where the money flowed
She was without fear
as she journeyed with others,
her hands falling on the bowed heads of the crops
towards the north. 

This is about my great, great Grandmother Phoebe Brett who was born 5th November 1847 in Swaffham, Norfolk. Phoebe Brett and her husband Richard Bacon are very special to me since they were the first names I found on my journey into genealogy. They were both part of the great movement to look for work at the time and came to Hull, East Yorkshire - Hull was then an expanding port and had lots of job opportunities, they came here with other members of their family and made this their new home. 

Phoebe and Richard had six children (all in Hull) and I am descended from their fifth child; George Cain Bacon. Phoebe, and all her 10 brothers and sisters were christened at St Peter and St Paul church in Swaffham (the picture on the left), she was christened 12th December 1847. The town of Swaffham and the church of St Peter and St Paul in particular have a lovely myth connected to them of the Pedlar of Swaffham - a man in the 1600's who had a dream that brought him to London, it really is a great story.

Also a fascinating fact about the Brett family is about Phoebe's uncle, Thomas Brett, who left England for America with all his family in June 1854 - They ended up in Illinois. Just over 10 years later Thomas's son, James Brett (Phoebe's cousin) was dead, after fighting in the American Civil War in company K88 he was taken to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia where he died on 25th July 1864 of scurvy, he is buried in The National Cemetery. 

I hope you are all enjoying reading this as much as I love writing it :)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

NPM #2 ~ In their soft footprints ... Ada


In a higher branch,
sat a girl of just 14
she beckoned to speak to me
and held the aroma of black chimneys,
polish and turbulent weather
She said her world was changing
That the past was slowly
slipping through her hands
and what did this all mean to her

Bible quotes lay thick and heavy on her soul
She knelt with me,
closed her eyes in prayer
and whispered a loving word for all she held dear
The tolling of many clocks
and distant church bells
floated by on dreamlike currents
and she was gone without a goodbye.

This is about my Great Great Grandmother Ada Attersall who later became Ada Coggrave and Tom's Mum (NPM #1) 

The small bible in the picture was one of my Nana's favourite possessions, she would call it 'Mrs Ticklepenny's Bible' as sadly she never knew that Ada Attersall was her Grandmother! It was obviously passed down through the family but she never knew why, and when years later when me and Mum researched the family tree we discovered the mysterious Ada was Tom's Mum and it all fell into place. It is amazing to touch something that my G,G Grandmother so treasured and it was given to her 137 years ago today! (I had to save this for today didn't I?)

The inscription reads; 

'Ada Attersall Presented by Mrs Ticklepenny April 6th 1876' 

For some years we wondered why she had been presented with this bible. We had theories that she could have been Catholic and this was given to her by a family friend on her confirmation, since she was 14 in 1876, but it didn't seem right. Then only last year I was watching a program on the Victorian era and saw an identical copy of this tiny bible and it said it was given by the lady of the house to girls when entering domestic service and we have actually found a 'Ticklepenny' family living in Hull in 1881.

The bible was exactly the same with the same style of inscription. This is why I have included the smells of polish in the poem, along with the religious theme. Also I hope I have gotten across a sense of feeling lost since she was just 14, leaving her family to live in a strange house and her father had died just two years earlier. She was the youngest of eight and also lost her older sister (by four years) in 1871 - she has a lot of grief to deal with. Her mother Hannah was from Thornton-by-Bradford and her father William came from Fiskerton in Lincolnshire. They were both part of that movement towards the big cities and towards work.

I've added this picture to show how small it actually is next to a tea-light! By the way isn't the name 'Mrs Ticklepenny' a fantastic name, it's really Dickensian lol  

Monday, 1 April 2013

New Poem of the Month for April - NPM #1 - 'In their soft footprints ...'


I walked a short distance
and found my tree,
so dusted and hung with soft chiming bells
draped with memories of souls who came before.
I met a man shrouded in dirty smoke
He spoke to me of life
No god could bear to walk this churning earth
or cast a smile on this bloodshed
He was a flickering soul,
and brought with him gun smoke, sweat and brotherhood.

He took my hands 
and dirt fell away from his fingers
He said
'There is no-one who should rule over the very lives of others'
His cooling blue eyes, enraptured in fear
needed no words to express
that death was just a quiet footstep behind
That the reasons once held tight,
never came with him to these shores
He is so bitter and young
and will come home a man of a different hue

It's National Poetry Month!! Woohoo *cheers, trumpets and all that jazz!* I thought I would do something very special and personal. The picture above is of my Great Grandfather Thomas Coggrave on the day he joined the army in WW1. For the whole of the month of April I'm going to take a walk down my family tree and write a poem about some specific ancestors. There will be 6-8 in all and they will all connect to make a series of poems. 

Tom is one of my favourites in the family tree (I hope none of my other ancestors mind). The poem is based around a conversation with him and I have set the area (loosely) as France/Belgium. When he first signed up he was sent to Egypt, I have no idea what he did there but his main role in the War was to lay communications which was an extremely dangerous job as he would have been in the line of fire for most of the work. We think towards the end of the War he came back to Europe and (so the family story goes) was shot out of a tree by a German sniper. The Germans then took him to a hospital where he had to have his right hand and part of his arm removed because of shrapnel damage. I have a very sweet memory from my Nana (his daughter) - she told me of him cleaning her face with a flannel wrapped around his 'stump', he was a determined man and had to learn to write with his left hand. My Nana loved him dearly and I think she was always saddened that she didn't get to know him more, he died 22nd February 1941 when she was 12 - he was just 44. 

He came back from WW1 an atheist and with beliefs in communism and socialism - I have mentioned this in the poem with his loss of faith in God and authority. He even refused to go near a church again and didn't attend my Nana's christening.

If no one else finds my NPM series of poems interesting at least my Mum, me and my future children will. I'm sure this will be a personal project I will treasure :)

I hope Tom Coggrave would have enjoyed this small tribute poem to him (great last name isn't it and it only comes from Yorkshire! - first recorded in the 1500's in Howden, East Yorkshire) and a big thank you to Mum for the idea. Happy Monday.