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I am hoping that somebody familiar with 18th c. people and sources in the Newborough area may have noticed mentions of the above man (and any others bearing his rather unusual surname) in the course of their local researches -- and so be able to tell me of sightings beyond those very few already known to me.

Despite having only a very time-limited opportunity to assist me,  recently someone most kindly hunted for and discovered the following relevant entries in Newborough PR (there may of course be more):

1755  BAPT.  William ye son of Rotherick Meylor,  Exciseman,  & Jonett his wife,  December 17th

1758  BAPT.  Hugh,  son of Rotherick Meylor,  exciseman & Jonet his wife,  June 22nd

1760  BAPT.  Elizabeth,  daughter  [&c as above],  January 31st

1762  BAPT.  Thomas,  son  [&c as above],  August 1st

Aside from the location of other references in general,  I would be particularly grateful if anyone were able to discover when and where Meyler married.  I have found no Anglesey hits whatever in the genealogical databases accessible to me.  Those indicate that the surname,  almost invariably spelt "Meyler",  originates in Pembrokeshire;  virtually all references lead back to that county.

There is some interesting background.  William Meyler (b.1755) went on to become the leading bookseller at Bath in Jane Austen's time.  He ran a circulating library in the town from the 1770s and was the founding editor and later sole proprietor of the Bath Herald.  He was also a minor poet -- an anthology of his work was published in 1806.

"Spenserians",  the excellent online database about UK poets established by the Department of English at Virginia Tech University,  reproduces a detailed memoir of Meyler's life published by his friend Joseph Hunter, which originally appeared in a Sherborne newspaper shortly after Meyler's death:  see this link.  The piece includes a remarkably precise statement that Meyler was a native of Anglesey,  and proud of the fact:

William Meyler was born at Newburg, in the Isle of Anglesea, December 13, 1755. His family was respectable; and, with the customary genealogical predilections of the Cambrian character, traced their pedigree to a period early in British History. Valiant warriors and enraptured minstrels were among their ancestors; but, as Mr. Meyler himself used to remark, it was the latter alone whose dispositions were hereditary in the family, and to which his own could claim affinity In the island of his birth, the ancient Mona of the Druids, whose dark groves, and immense mounds of earth, remain as relics of their worship, it is probable the mind of the future poet became impressed with the associations of fancy. At length in his 9th year, at which period he was utterly unacquainted with any language except his native Welch, it was thought high time that some attention should be paid to his education. His uncle, the Rev. Thomas Meyler, was at that period the highly respected master of the Free-Grammar school at Marlborough, and thither it was determined he should be sent. Accordingly, mounted on a little Welch poney, and escorted by a relative, he quitted his home, — which he saw but once afterwards.

Yet this uncle was clearly a Pembrokeshire man born and bred,  as confirmed by the record of his matriculation at Oxford (Alum. Oxon.).  So were those ancient Anglesey roots really those of William's mother Jonet?

I would be most appreciative if someone can identify any useful clues about these people.


Armed Forces / Question about WO 22 pension payment returns
« on: Sunday 27 February 11 05:19 GMT (UK)  »

I would be most grateful for the advice of any Kew regular(s) familiar with the mid-19thc. pension payment records for Chelsea out-pensioners contained in class WO 22.  The information is needed to help discover a sufficiently precise reference to facilitate a lookup request.

I have information strongly suggesting that in the late 1840s a certain Thomas Davies collected his money at Ruthin Payment Office in Denbighshire.  I understand from TNA's website that such offices were grouped into "Payment Districts" for administrative purposes,  and that the monthly returns from the individual offices were bound into volumes by Payment District.

My problem is that I can see no comprehensive online listing to show which offices came within the purview of which district.  Some public-spirited person seems to have started with the intention of creating such a finding-aid in the Your Archives user-generated section of TNA's site;  but to date only a few districts have been covered in this useful way.

The obvious district for the Payment Office at Ruthin would seem to be the one known as East Wales (the ?only other Welsh one being called West Wales).  But there may be a risk that nearby places over the border in Wales could have been allocated to Chester District (following ancient practice in such matters),  and I am keen not to have to ask any lookup benefactor to inspect the volumes for both districts.

So,  short of physically searching both volumes,  does anyone with experience in such matters know of some means whereby one can ascertain the correct district in advance?  Or happen to know from personal research which district covered Ruthin?  (I was wondering whether there might be a hand-list on the open shelves at Kew,  or MS guidance written into the hard copy of the Catalogue;  the generalist TNA adviser who tried to assist me over the phone seemed fairly uncertain about the matter,  but rather doubted that such information was available.)

If this enquiry sounds at all familiar,  that is likely to be because a related topic was active a week or so ago on the Common Room board about the meaning in 1847 of the unqualified description "pensioner".  Should any reader of this post wish to refer to that thread for fuller details of the specifics of Davies's case (including an onward link to a thread on the Denbighshire board),  here is a link.



This "news in brief" paragraph appeared in the North Wales Chronicle of Tuesday, 19 January 1847:
RUTHIN.-- A pensioner, named Thomas Davies, met his death last week, under the following circumstances. It appeared that he had been at Ruthin, to receive his pension, and afterwards proceeded to Efnuchtyd [sic -- recte Efenechtyd] to see a relative, and started from thence for Clawdd Newydd.  By some mischance he missed his way, and was found next day quite dead in a ditch.

How would the average reader of the newspaper have been likely to understand that prominent reference,  right at the start of the piece,  to the man being a pensioner?

The question has arisen in a thread on one of the Welsh boards -- here (from Reply 36 halfway down the page),  in case anyone wishes to see more details.  It seems fairly likely that the report related to the Thomas Davies,  67 year old miller-turned-labourer,  who has been our main focus of interest in the thread -- the details in his death certificate appear to match well (date,  inquest,  death by exposure,  etc.).

My rough guess was that the chances were about 70% in favour of the writer of the piece having meant "out-pensioner of Chelsea or Greenwich Hospital".  But it would be helpful to have the benefit of the wisdom of a broader circle on the point.  Can anyone come up with a likely alternative explanation?

Back in the 1840s they were seventy years before the launch of anything approaching a general state-sponsored retirement pension;  and Davies seems unlikely to have been "grand" enough to benefit from one of those fairly rare state pensions granted as a matter of royal favour or government discretion.  But were there bodies such as the Post Office that already supported superannuation schemes for the generality of their employees -- with a local payment network of the type apparently implied by the news item?  I suspect not;  but I would be very interested to learn to the contrary.

As discussed in the thread,  the soldiers' attestation and discharge indexes to WO 97 have suggested some possible candidates;  but they offer nothing conclusive.  It seems that the only sure way of discovering whether the Chelsea/Greenwich theory is correct would be to go to TNA and look at the pension payment returns for Jan/Feb 1847 in WO 22/116 (possibly WO 22/19).  But first it would be a great advance to have some consensus that Davies's name really is likely to be there.

(Then may come the equally challenging question of finding some kind person within range of Kew who might be able to use an upcoming visit to check whether the documents actually include a page worth photocopying ;) -- offers gratefully received,  but that is a quite separate matter.)


London and Middlesex / Emanuel Goodhart of Limehouse, sugar refiner
« on: Tuesday 30 November 10 21:04 GMT (UK)  »

For some time I have had a thread running (see here -- esp. Reply 27 et seq.) on the Devon Lookup Requests board about one Cleopatra Cecilia Burgoyne (1844-1911).  Her second husband was called Augustus Joseph Enever,  who was a corn merchant in the City until the couple emigrated to the USA in 1885.

Recently attention in that thread has been directed towards a man called George Imson Goodhart,  because he was for a time Enever's business partner on the Corn Exchange.  He turns out to have quite an interesting family background of his own,  and as a result I have allowed myself to take the thread rather off-topic for a few posts to explore the Goodhart byway.  On reflection I have decided that it would make sense to post the key information that has so far come to light into a new thread on a more appropriate RootsChat board,  where anyone interested would be more likely to see what has been written on the subject to date and can conveniently pursue Goodhart matters further if they so wish.

The following initial material has been partly re-edited.


Ireland / Harry Beasley, Jockey and Trainer
« on: Friday 16 July 10 03:38 BST (UK)  »

I have been having a look round the web for information on the great Irish trainer and amateur jockey Harry Beasley (the Elder, b. ca. 1852).  There is a fair bit available online,  but I am wondering whether anybody can help with one particular point that has so far eluded me:  when and where did he die?  (I have fallen at the same fence with his second wife/widow May*,  formerly wife of the Harry Peard who ran Phoenix Park race course).

Beasley certainly lived to a good age,  because several sources record that he last rode competitively aged 83,  in 1935.  A paragraph in The Times (11 June 1935) had it thus:

Mr Harry Beasley, the father of Harry and Pat Beasley, well known as riders in this country, yesterday won the Corinthian Plate at the Baldoyle Meeting.  Mr. Beasley is more than 80 years of age and was a famous rider 50 years ago.  He won the Grand National on Come Away in 1891.

The article might have added that Harry had also been runner-up in the National in 1884,  1885 and 1886;  and in the same decade he and two of his brothers competed against each other in that race on no less than four occasions -- his brother Tommy coming home first three times.  The Beasley brothers ran Eyrefield House stud and training stables on the Curragh.  Harry (as Henry) can easily be spotted thereabouts in the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

I had hoped that the LDS RecordSearch version of the GRO indexes would find me the death details;  but no luck,  whether under the name Harry or his full forenames Henry Herbert (as disclosed in The Times report of a libel action he brought in the mid-1920s about false race-fixing insinuations).  Same problem with finding his wife/widow May,  whose middle name was -- I think -- Margaret.

The annual series of printed probate calendars would likely provide the answer,  but there seems to be no set outside Ireland these days,  let alone online (barring PRONI's partial and ongoing project for the Ulster registries).  I would love to hear if anyone happens to know better -- that would be a great resource for long-range Irish research.  I have identified nothing plausible-looking between 1930 and 1960 via the Anc** version of the London GRO indexes,  nor on ScotlandsPeople,  though I suppose I could quite easily have missed something.

I believe that I have seen it said that the LDS RecordSearch index does incorporate the overseas deaths of Irish residents.  But in case the relevant events were still notified to British embassies I have tried the consular deaths via FindMyPast.  Nothing.  Ditto with passenger lists and online family trees.  Maybe fresh eyes would do better.

I had also hoped to find an obituary or at least a death notice in one of the online London newspaper archives.  If anyone has access to the Dublin papers,  I would guess that the odds of finding an obit ought to be even better.

Would be most grateful for help with this.


* CORRECTION (17.07.10, 16:02 hrs. BST):    May was in fact his daughter-in-law,  wife of his son the jockey Harry Beasley the Younger -- whose birth was registered in the name Henry Herbert Edward Beasley,  Naas RD,  Q1 1899,  per LDS RecordSearch.  (But I still can't trace any record of her death,  despite her being born as early as 1887 and being described as "the late Mrs M. M. Beasley" when a daughter's engagement was announced in 1950.)


I am posting a series of messages about Lachlan Mackay as part of my broader effort to discover more about the Scottish activities and family connections of Thomas Davies of Inverness.  Davies was one of the contractors and engineers who came north from the Welsh Marches at the behest of Thomas Telford to work on the construction of the Caledonian Canal.  This is a link to the main RootsChat thread about him,  which is also on the Inverness Board:,431053.0.html

As explained there (Reply 5),  I was fortunate enough to locate an 1822 legal agreement in the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) which dealt with the rights of Thomas Davies's children under the will of a brother of theirs -- a young man who had been killed as a sapper officer in the service of the East India Company.  This document most helpfully sets out all their names,  plus for most of them addresses and occupations (and spouses' names where applicable).  I have been using it as a basis for further enquiries about the siblings' descendants,  in the hope of enabling other researchers to find links with them,  or to throw new light on the topic as a whole.

Having uncovered a fair bit about Lachlan Mackay,  who was revealed in the 1822 document to be the husband of Thomas Davies's daughter Margaret,  I thought that it would make sense to discuss their part of the family via what will be both literally and figuratively a "daughter thread",  rather than within the original Davies topic.

So,  here goes -- split into several successive messages so as to keep well within the forum's characters-per-post limit,  and with section headings to make navigation a bit easier . . .   A cursory reading of the main thread (especially Reply 5) may be found helpful as background,  but is certainly not essential.

Part  1


I found an OPR marriage at the parish church of Petty, Inverness-shire,  in the year 1812,  recorded as follows:
...  Nov 17  Lachlan Mackay & Margt. Davis both from Invss. were mar.

There seem to be no alternative surviving marriage entries,  and the church chosen for the ceremony fits in with Lachlan Mackay's description in the 1822 NAS agreement,  i.e. "sometime Tacksman of Milltown of Conage presently residing at Culloden" -- and so lends greater credence to my speculation that the Milto[w]n of Con[n]age on the coast just north of the airport was the one meant in that document.  (Does anybody know who his landlord there would likely have been -- or at least how best to research that question?)  As background,  this is how the place is described in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846):
CONNAGE, a village, in the parish of Petty, county of Inverness, a few miles (N. E.) from Inverness; containing 97 inhabitants. This is a small fishing place on the east side of the Moray Firth, and on the road from Inverness to Ardersier.

All this -- and more -- becomes much better established thanks to a very full family record in the OPR for Boleskine and Abertarff / Fort Augustus (GROS ref. 92 / 0010 0186, frame 163).  I think that the entry is worth quoting in its entirety (the added emphasis being mine):
MacKay and Davis         1812

That Lieutenant Lachlan McKay of the 42nd Regiment of Foot was Married by the Revd Mr Smith of Petty,  Presbytery of Inverness,  on the 17th of November 1812, to Margaret Davis Daughter of Thomas Davis Esqr Engineer -- had issue,  Margret Eldest Daughter Born 29th September 1815,  2nd Daughter Ann born 6th Decr 1816 -- 3rd Thomas 30th January 1819 -- 4th John 17th Octr 1820 -- 5th Huntly 20[th] November 1822 -- 6th Sophia 17th April 1825 and 7th Lachlan 30th April 1827.

This single composite record is cited in the IGI for each child's birth,  yielding the following more convenient tabulation (which I shall dub "the IGI list"):

1.  Margret da. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  bapt [?error for born] 29 Sept 1815

2.  Ann da. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 6 Dec 1816

3.  Thomas s. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 30 Jan 1819

4.  John s. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 17 Oct 1820

5.  Huntly s. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 20 Nov 1822

6.  Sophia d. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 17 Apr 1825

7.  Lachlan s. Lachlan Mckay & Margaret Davis,  Boleskine,  born 30 Apr 1827

The IGI only shows one individual entry of baptism,  i.e. Huntly's.  It is interesting that this christening took place at his mother's home parish -- Inverness -- rather than at Boleskine-and-Abertarff,  and the entry gave him an additional forename (raising the possibility that the Boleskine-and-Abertarff register may have deprived some of the other children of middle names as well):

   Huntly Brodie s. Lauchlan Mackay & Margaret Davies, Inverness,  bapt 6 Jan 1823 (born 20 Nov 1822)

I have not sought baptisms in the OPR index for any of the others except Lachlan jnr. -- and for him found nothing beyond the Boleskine-and-Abertarff birth record.


I have come across a newspaper announcement for the wedding at Preston, Lancs.,  on 2 April 1832,  of
Mr. Roger Owen, formerly of the Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth, to Anne, daughter of Thomas Davies, Esq. of Davies Place, Inverness

I am curious about who this Thomas Davies really was and what he was doing in Inverness.  I can find no reference to a "Davies Place" in the one contemporary local directory to which I have access,  and I am beginning to wonder whether it was one of those aggrandised addresses intended to look good in the BMD columns.  Google and the archives of RootsChat and RootsWeb seem to offer little reliable assistance.

Nor is it yet clear to me why a woman whose father was based at Inverness (and likely a native of Wales) decided to celebrate her marriage at Preston.  I have failed to spot any Roger Owen(s) in the Preston section of Pigot's National Commercial Directory for 1828-29.

I harbour a faint suspicion,  based on very little evidence,  that Thomas Davies may have been one of the team of engineers who came north to work on the Caledonian Canal project.

He seems to have had a son working as a doctor in Notts.

I would be most grateful to hear,  should anyone know or discover any hard evidence about his activities or origins.


ADDED 15 May 2010:  Thanks to the PR transcription programme run by excellent Lancashire Online Parish Clerks,  it is now possible to confirm that the Owen-Davies wedding was indeed duly solemnised.  The only significant new evidence that seems to emerge is that the groom was a widower,  but for the record this is the entry (currently to be found in the "What's New" section of the Lancs. OPC website):

Marriage: 2 Apr 1832 St John, Preston, Lancashire, England
Roger Owen - Widower of this Parish
Ann Davies - Spinster of this Parish
    Witness: Rd. ? Burnet; Jane Kennedy
    Married by Banns by: Roger Carus Wilson. Vicar
    Register: Marriages 1829 - 1833, Page 18, Entry 52
    Source: LDS Film 94014


Can anybody help check for a burial,  will or other record for this man?  See Reply 25 in this thread on the Denbighshire Board -- any help much appreciated,  ideally via that parent thread.


Wales / Welsh Wills Going Online
« on: Thursday 17 September 09 05:33 BST (UK)  »
As most will know,  the National Library of Wales is the custodian of wills proved and administrations granted by the church courts in Wales pre-1858.  The library has been engaged in a long term project to digitise the entire collection,  and the work is virtually complete.  For the last few months the documents have been available online to readers within the library,  and full availability on the web has been thought imminent for some weeks.

Well . . . I have just managed to get two randomly selected wills up on-screen remotely.  They may still be doing occasional pre-release testing,  or planning a soft launch.  But D-Day seems pretty imminent -- and,  just maybe, "we have lift-off!" and full worldwide accessibility has gone live.  Fingers crossed,  anyway . . .

I was told that looking at the images was intended to be free (it was),  but the software would block screen-shots (didn't try);  and so copies would,  initially at least,  have to be ordered from the library in the usual way.

With the current money squeeze,  I do wonder whether some variant on the pay-per-view theme will be far behind.


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