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Topics - Watson

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United States of America / New York census, 1870
« on: Wednesday 08 September 21 12:10 BST (UK)  »
The occupation of a young man in the 1870 census of New York is entered as "vender".

What kind of work is it likely to mean?  Is it someone who sold things in the street, such as newspapers?

Thanks and regards,


Immigrants & Emigrants - General / Alien entry books (1794-1921)
« on: Wednesday 01 September 21 12:01 BST (UK)  »
TNA's website says that Alien entry books (1794-1921) have been digitised and are available on  I don't see them from a search of the Card Catalogue on Ancestry (Library Edition).  Are they on

Thanks and regards,


Armed Forces / Royal Navy: Midshipmen
« on: Thursday 15 July 21 11:24 BST (UK)  »
I see the National Archives have some service records for Royal Navy officers and ratings, but how are midshipmen classified?  Are there similar records for them?  I'm thinking particularly of the Napoleonic era.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Occupation Interests / John Stanton, theatre manager
« on: Wednesday 07 July 21 11:49 BST (UK)  »
I'm trying to piece together the married life of John Stanton, a theatre manager in northern towns, including Lancaster, Bury and Huddersfield.

Born into a theatrical family in 1758 at Nantwich in Cheshire, he had (at least) three wives, as follows:

1. Helen.  I believe she died in 1804 at Huddersfield.  Is theirs the marriage at Birmingham in                                    1783?

2. Mrs. Francis.  His marriage to her is reported in the Annual Register, 1806, p. 475.  What was her forename?  Did she bring any children with her?  Did they have any?

3.  In 1810 at Manchester Cathedral, he married Frances Maria Timbrell, a widow, of Bury.  Did she bring any children with her?  Did they have any?

Frances Maria was still alive in 1824, when John died at Bath, and she was the main legatee in his will, which was proved in P.C.C..

I would welcome any help in adding details to this picture.

The Common Room / Online Probate Service
« on: Monday 05 July 21 20:15 BST (UK)  »
Has anyone had experience of ordering wills from the online Probate Service?

Last week I ordered two wills.  One has been delivered today (well ahead of estimated date), but there is no sign of the other.

The accompanying e-mail says "Order delivered" and mentions only one will.  When I click to access the wills, only one is available, and the original estimated date appears in connection with the other.

Are the wills delivered in bits and bobs?  Or has something happened to the other will?

In the original "Order Confirmation" e-mail, the first name of the first testator had been run into the surname of the second, so I had wondered then if all was well.  However, on the "My Wills" page, the two wills are clearly distinguished.

London and Middlesex / Sextons' books
« on: Tuesday 27 October 20 17:19 GMT (UK)  »
For the parish of St. Martin in the Fields there are sextons' books which can give additional information about burials, such as age and cause of death.  I am interested in a burial there in 1804.  Does anyone know if a book covering that year has been digitized, or if it is on the cards soon?

Armed Forces / Royal Artillery driver
« on: Friday 09 November 18 09:38 GMT (UK)  »
I am interested in a driver in the Royal Artillery.  He was only 15 when recruited near Belfast in 1814, but was discharged three years later in Ireland.

Is it possible to say, in general terms, what part of society this young man is likely to have come from?  What is the most likely reason for the early discharge?

The Common Room / National Archives
« on: Sunday 04 March 18 10:28 GMT (UK)  »
The National Archives at Kew want to introduce parking charges.  The suggested charge of 7 for over 4 hours, in particular, is a big jump up from nothing.  It's easy to exceed 4 hours, especially if there are document production delays.

I suppose cost management has become the dominant theme at Kew.  Still, the proposals would inevitably inhibit visits at a time when use of this important national resource is already declining.  Useful as on-line material may be, it is only by visiting archives that the greatest educational benefits can be had, through use of actual original documents, by handling and enjoying archives, and extending our knowledge of them.  This enriches our lives and should be encouraged, and it seems a pity that it is precisely this aspect that would be made to suffer.  It is unfortunate for the visitors if deterring them results in the biggest cost savings.

Cheshire / Samuel DOWNING, 1787-1864
« on: Saturday 14 October 17 15:58 BST (UK)  »
I'm interested in Samuel DOWNING, who was baptised at Tibshelf, Derbyshire, in 1787.

By 1817, he was a game-keeper at Ditchley Lodge, Oxfordshire.  He and his wife, Amy, had several children baptised at Spelsbury, 1817-1824.

Two of these, Samuel George and Joseph Godfrey, became apprenticed to masters in Astbury, near Congleton, Cheshire, to a surgeon and a chemist, respectively.

I now have a gap in Samuel's life until 1838, when he was a publican at the Black Horse, Bedfordbury (Covent Garden).  The 1841 census finds Samuel and Amy at 76 Snow Hill, London, which seems to have been the address of the "Cock" (run by George Clay in 1839).  Later Samuel ran the "Red Lion" in Rosoman Street, Clerkenwell, but by the 1851 census he was a retired publican.

Amy died in 1863 in the West Ham reg. district, and Samuel died in 1864 at Gislingham, Suffolk, neither leaving a will.

I would like to fill in the gap in Samuel DOWNING's life between 1824 and 1838, especially information about any further children.  Was he perhaps in Astbury some of that time, where two sons were apprenticed?

Details of his marriage to Amy would also be of interest.

Thanks and regards.

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