A Victorian Invention

Many of us are aware that the Victorians had the sharpest of minds and the most creative thoughts.  The 19th century was a time of innovation, new discoveries, and, of course, the new electric light bulb, successfully exhibited by Mr. Thomas Edison in 1879, three years after Mr. Alexander Graham Bell had patented his idea for the telephone.

But what else did the Victorians offer the world?  And how many of these inventions and amazing discoveries were lost in the midst of time?  The answer is…. too many to possibly imagine!  But thankfully Ancestry by Heir Line has acquired a series of long lost papers that were originally published during the late Victorian era, describing in amazing detail the inventions that were being thought up, and the discoveries that were being made, as they actually happened.

The accompanying image offers a sneak peak of an idea from 1887, directly from the overactive mind of a Victorian inventor.

But what could it be for?

Visit Ancestry by Heir Line to discover all about your Victorian ancestors.

The Georgian ‘Ghost’ of Wakefield Parish Church

Peter Priestley in Wakefield CathedralWhilst researching a Wakefield-based family for a local client – who ordered our Everyone Package – our astute genealogist noticed an interesting piece of information on a marriage entry from a parish register dated 1784.  28-year-old William Cooling was marrying his sweetheart, Rose Atkinson, in the beautiful Wakefield Parish Church, now Wakefield Cathedral.  A witness to the marriage was one Peter Priestley, the noted Wakefield Parish Clerk of All Saints Church.  A little-known story exists about Priestley, which can be found in a quaint book about Wakefield life, Memories of Merry Wakefield by Henry Clarkson, (1st ed. 1887).

Clarkson explained that Priestley lived in one of the small houses opening into the north side of the All Saints churchyard.

‘He was a square built man, of very sombre look; and he wore a bob-wig, as it was called.’

As well as giving out hymns and leading the responses at church, Priestley was also responsible for ‘gravestone cutting’, which he carried out in the church, ‘on the ground floor of the tower.’

One evening, working by candle light and whistling one of his favourite psalms, he heard a ‘sharp and spiteful noise’.  Feeling somewhat shaken, Priestley looked around in the darkness hoping to make out some shape or other so he might identify an intruder.  But he could see nothing and nobody.  Dismissing the incident, he continued with his work, singing the One Hundredth Psalm as he did so.  But only moments later he heard the same noise again.  ‘A sort of Sh-h-h-h prolonged with an ominous rustle, sounding most unearthly in the silent church.’

Priestley was too disturbed to continue, so he extinguished the flame of his candle, downed his tools and ran the short distance home to his wife, where he collapsed in his chair and demanded, in a ‘tragic voice’, that she bring him his pipe.  When Mrs. Priestley saw the state of her spooked husband she enquired as to whether he had soon a ghost.

‘Nay, lass, but I’ve heard one,’ came the fretful reply.

It didn’t take long for the unconvinced wife to discover that, in fact, her careless husband’s bob-wig had been half burnt off by the flame of his candle, the effect of the singeing causing the mournful hum that was neither ghostly nor other worldly after all!

What were your ancestors up to in 1784?  Want to trace your family tree?  Visit Ancestry by Heir Line and send us an email!

A Novel Sneak Peak!

“Some years earlier…

Although she was only a young girl, Woonda had heard the story so many times that she could recite it by heart.  As the sun began its slow descent beyond the river, the sound of Umina’s voice flowed with the steady rhythm of the water.  It was as if Woonda was hearing the story again for the first time.  The twists and turns still held her in awe, and the dark journey of the narrative captivated her.  She could listen to this story over and over again, night after night, and it would still leave her with a thirst for more.”

To be continued!

In the meantime, visit Ancestry by Heir Line to learn the forgotten stories of your family’s past.

A Criminal Past

When Mr. H. snuck into that poultry farm, late one cold, windy evening in 1857 and hid a poor, confused goose under his coat, he expected to be tucking into a juicy bird that same evening, not to be eating porridge.  But that’s exactly what happened just a few months later at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions for the West Riding, which were held at Leeds.  It was the most expensive goose Mr. H. would ever pay for, costing him three months liberty and a spell in a drafty, damp, stinking cell, whilst his poor wife had to struggle to feed their children without a wage.

Mr. H. should have known better, for a year earlier, his good lady wife was herself sent to prison for six months when she duped poor Mr. Thomas Tennant out of the princely sum of eight English pounds, claiming she was going to invest the fortune in a scheme that would make the pair of them rich beyond their wildest dreams.  In return, Mr. Tennant agreed to take Mrs. H. away from her fool of a husband!

As for Mr. H., he never shook the large chip from his shoulder.  In 1877, the weaver was indicted having feloniously wounded his neighbour, Mr. Cockcroft Halstead, with intent to murder him!  Once great friends, the pair had a famous quarrel on the evening of 10th February when a drunken Mr. H. tried beat his neighbour in a fight.  However, Cockcroft, sober, and a much bigger man, had the best of the fracas and sent Mr. H. away.  Later that night, having dwelt on the unsuccessful confrontation, Mr. H. took a knife from his kitchen and went banging on Cockcroft’s front door.  Tired, but not frightened, Cockcroft once again dismissed his neighbour and turned to go back into his house.  As he ventured back into the warmth of his kitchen, Cockcroft felt the excruciating pain of a sharp blade being plunged into his back, then his neck, and finally his head.  The wounds did not kill him but he lost much blood and was gravely ill for some time afterwards.  Another neighbour raised the alarm and a crazed, ranting Mr. H. was taken away.  At the Spring Assizes at Leeds Town Hall, he was sent to prison for 18 months.

Do you think one of your ancestors had a criminal record?  Drop us a line and we’ll research the particulars and report back with the facts!  Perhaps you had a Mr. H. in your family…

Visit Ancestry by Heir Line’s official website to find out!

Needles in Haystacks

Like looking for a needle in a haystack – was the doom-laden prediction by a solicitor from a leading London-based firm when he contacted Ancestry by Heir Line, the Yorkshire-based probate and genealogical research company.

The solicitor had been ordered by the Court of Protection to hire the services of a genealogy company to try to find the missing male heir to a large estate.  But to tenacious married couple, Michael and Caroline Rochford, owners of Heir Line, this was typical of the requests they receive every week.

And within days they had found the heir.

Director Michael, of Wakefield, says: ‘To begin with, the solicitors weren’t even sure that the heir existed.  The only information they could give us was his father’s name and a possible first name of the potential heir, who they said might have been born in Leeds between 1956 and 1963.

‘But within hours, we had found the heir’s birth record and discovered that his father was married to the heir’s mother when he was born.  The parents subsequently divorced – all of which was news to the solicitors’ client, the heir’s younger half-sister, who shares the same father as the heir.’

The challenge then facing Heir Line was to find the heir.  Caroline, also a director, reveals: `It was likely that the heir’s mother had remarried and possibly moved to a new city, or even a different country, in the mid 60s or early 70s, meaning that the heir could have one of 3 surnames – his father’s surname, his mother’s married name or his mother’s maiden name.’

Through painstaking research, Heir Line discovered a nickname for the heir and was able to build up a profile of him.  They discovered that the man had used the same nickname when posting on an internet forum about rescue dogs.  This led to Heir Line discovering an up-to-date email address for him.

Subsequently a profile page on a popular social networking site was discovered for a man with the same first name and a surname which matched the heir’s mother’s maiden name.  Heir Line then found a postal address for the heir.

‘The solicitors were delighted to be put in touch with the heir.  It was a very satisfying result, made all the better when the heir rang and thanked us for our hard work.  Amazingly, he had only just decided three days earlier to try to discover what happened to his father.  So he was especially pleased that our information meant he finally knew his father’s whereabouts for the first time since he was a small child.  The heir is now planning to make contact with his newly discovered half-siblings,’ says Michael.

Michael and Caroline have six years of experience between them and work for people and companies all across the globe, specializing in probate research and solving genealogical mysteries.

For a legal company, Heir Line Ltd can make life easier by tracing those elusive individuals, perhaps missing beneficiaries, or business associates who a client has lost touch with.

Individuals contact Heir Line for a variety of reasons, often wishing to trace their family tree or a long lost relative or school friend.

If you think Heir Line can help you then please contact:

Michael or Caroline Rochford at mike@heir-line.co.uk or visit www.heir-line.co.uk

Welcome to Ancestry by Heir Line’s brand new blog!

Welcome to Ancestry by Heir Line’s new blog!  Updated regularly, this site will offer family history stories, Heir Line’s latest news and general office gossip for those interested in our history.

What does Heir Line do, and what can we offer you?  As well as tracing family trees for our customers, there seems to be one particular side of our business that is growing faster than we anticipated – our tracing service, i.e. finding long lost relatives, or locating individuals who solicitors need to make contact with.

It is really quite amazing what Michael Rochford – Heir Line’s chief people-finder – can do.  There is one particular on-going case that we have been working on for a client for some time, compiling more and more genealogical information to add to a very complicated family tree from Western Australia.  This client grew up never having known very much about his family history, and one day he decided it was about time he hired a genealogist to answer the many unanswered questions he had about his mysterious past.

During an incredible Heir Line roller-coaster ride, we began to piece together his ancestors’ lives one by one, but there was one elusive relative, who passed away in Western Australia in the 1970s at the age of just 31, who our client wanted to find out more about.  This young man was called John.

So, Heir Line rolled their sleeves up and got to work.

The police report into the death stated that the body was identified by a “friend” called, for the sake of this story, Barry Brown.  No other information was provided.  John had no immediate family members who were still living, so it appeared as if Barry – if he was still alive – was the only person who could tell us anything at all about him.  But where to start?  We knew nothing at all about Mr. Brown, except his name, and that he was in Western Australia in the 1970s.  It didn’t help that he had a fairly common name.

Having checked the Western Australian electoral roll for the years surrounding John’s death, Heir Line discovered a gentleman called Barry Brown living very close to the house where the body was found.  This had to be our man.  All the other Barry Browns in Western Australia lived a fair drive away from John’s home, and as the young man was found dead at 6 o’clock in the morning, his friend had to have lived fairly close by.

Luckily for us, the electoral roll also revealed the name of Mr. Brown’s wife… who was called Persephone.  We had struck gold!  It would be a doddle to track down a Mrs. Persephone Brown.

Or would it?

Unfortunately for us, there was no trace of a Barry and Persephone Brown still living in Western Australia – or anywhere in Australia, for that matter – in 2012, nor were there any obvious death records.  They had emigrated!  But where could they have gone?

After working our Heir Line magic, we tracked the Browns to New Zealand, and eventually learned an email address for Barry.  After confirming that yes, he is the Barry Brown who knew John all those years ago, Heir Line knew that this was another job well done!

Visit www.heir-line.co.uk for more information.