general

THE MAYFLOWER 

     The Mayflower is one of the most important ships in American history. This cargo ship brought the pilgrims to Massachusetts during the Great Puritan Migration in the 17th century. These pilgrims were some of the first settlers to America after they established the Plymouth colony. This journey made the Mayflower an icon of European colonization.
     The captain of the Mayflower was a businessman named Christopher Jones and he was born in Harwich, England around 1570 and was the son of a mariner and ship owner, also named Christopher Jones. Around 1608, Jones purchased the Mayflower and became its Master, what we would call a captain today, but he was only a quarter owner of the ship. The other owners were Robert Childe, Thomas Short and Christopher Nichols. The Mayflower was a European cargo ship in the years before its voyage to the New World with the pilgrims. Jones’ first voyage on the Mayflower was to Norway in 1609 where the ship transported fish, lumber and tar. The ship began leaking during a storm on the way back to England and the crew had to dump some of its cargo overboard to save it. Jones never ventured into the North Sea with the Mayflower again and instead went back and forth between France and Spain delivering wine, cognac and vinegar.
     In May of 1620, religious separatists known as pilgrims hired Jones and his ship to take them to the mouth of the Hudson River in North America where they had been granted permission to build a colony. The Mayflower set sail from England along with another ship, the Speedwell, on August 15, 1620. The Speedwell leaked so badly that both ships had to return to England. A few weeks later, the pilgrims all boarded the Mayflower and it set sail alone from Plymouth, England on September 16, 1620.

     Although the Mayflower was a large ship measuring about 80 feet in length and 24 feet wide, the 102 passengers on board led to cramped conditions. The Mayflower had three decks, an upper deck, a gun deck below it and the cargo hold at the bottom.
The passengers sighted shore on November 9. Although the pilgrims had intended to land in northern Virginia, when they reached the shore they realized they were in New England. Nonetheless, after 66 days at sea, the pilgrims were relieved to see land, according to Bradford in his manuscript Of Plymouth Plantation: With winter approaching and a short supply of food and beer, they decided to go no further and dropped anchor off the coast of Cape Cod in Provincetown harbour.
     While the ship was anchored in the harbour, the passengers drew up a social contract known as the Compact  that established a set of rules and laws for the colony. In December, after some skirmishes on land with the local natives, the pilgrims decided to pick up anchor and sail to nearby Plymouth harbor where they reportedly landed near Plymouth rock in mid-December.
The Mayflower crew spent the winter with the pilgrims in Massachusetts, living on the ship, and sailed back to England on April 5, 1621 and arrived on May 6, 1621. Christopher Jones passed away the following year, on March 5, 1622, and his widow, Josian, inherited the Mayflower. In May of 1624, the ship was appraised for the purpose of probate and was described by the appraisers as being “in ruinis.” As a result, it is believed that the Mayflower was eventually broken up and sold off as scrap.

 

HMS ROYAL GEORGE

      HMS Royal George was a ship of the line of the Royal Navy. A first-rate with 100 guns on three decks, she was the largest warship in the world at the time of her launch on 18 February 1756. Construction at  Woolwich Dockyard  had taken ten years. 
     The ship saw immediate service during the Seven Years‘ War, including the Rain on Rochefort in 1757 and was the flagship of the fleet at the Battle of Quiberon Bay  in 1759. The ship was laid up following the conclusion of the war in 1763, but was reactivated in 1777 for the  American Revolutionary War. She then served as Rear Admiral Robert Digby’s  flagship at the  Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780. 
     Royal George sank on 29 August 1782 whilst anchored at Spithead off Portsmouth. The ship was intentionally rolled so maintenance could be performed on the hull, but the roll became unstable and out of control; the ship took on water and sank. More than 800 lives were lost, making it one of the most deadly maritime disasters in British territorial waters.
Several attempts were made to raise the vessel, both for salvage and because she was a major hazard to navigation in the Solent. In 1782,      Charles Spalding recovered fifteen 12-pounder guns using a diving bell of his own design. From 1834–1836, Charles and John Deane recovered more guns using a diving helmet they had invented. In 1839 Charles Pasley of the Royal Engineers commenced operations to break up the wreck using barrels of gunpowder. Pasley's team recovered more guns and other items between 1839 and 1842. In 1840, they destroyed the remaining structure of the wreck in an explosion, which shattered windows several miles away in Portsmouth and Gosport.
     The impact of the sinking of the “Royal George” upon the parishioners of the parish of Portsea was considerable, even a hundred years later when the present church was to be built, the Great West window was to be dedicated to the victims of the tragedy. When W.H. Smith died suddenly just after the present church was completed, it was decided that this window be dedicated to his memory, he having given over £28.000 of the £44.000 it cost to build this church.

     Of the survivors, Lt. Hollingsbury became a Captain and Lt. Philip Durham later became Rear Admiral Sir Philip Durham, Commander in Chief of Portsmouth 1836-1839. He married Ann Henderson who inherited Eastney Farm and part of Milton. In 1858-60 the Henderson – Durham’s sold 50 acres of their estate to the War Dept. and Eastney Barracks was built. They also gave the land on which the 1st. Church of St. James was built.

 

     

 

 

PARISHES

SEARCHING PARISH REGISTERS ONLINE

     There are many websites offering online records, but the one that stands out above the rest is TheGenealogist. This is a vast online research site, holding complete BMD and census records, along with Parish Registers, military records, directories, non-conformist records, and much more.
     Parish records are available in two formats - transcripts/database records and searchable printed books. The database records consist of easily searched transcripts of the original records which allow you to search on various fields and may also have linked images of the original registers. The searchable books consist of indexed books that were transcribed and published many years ago, many over 110 years old. These transcript books have then been OCR'd (Optical Character Recognition) to turn the pages into searchable text.

 

ANCESTRY HAS BEEN BUSY

     Ancestry has updated its collection of WW! Pension Ledgers and Index Cards for 1914-1923. The collection already holds the records of pensions applications from military personnel who were injured during the war, and the next of kin of those killed. These new additions are records for injured Army, Navy and Royal Air Force officers; women who served, such as nurses; and officers’ widows. The records are indexed on Ancestry, while images of the originals are available on fold3.com.

 

PORTSMOUTH RECORD OFFICE

      New records just added include Description Substantial oral history collections (over 1100 recordings) relating to Portsmouth history and to D-Day, subjects including Portsmouth dockyard, the Home Front in WW2, Leisure, the Chinese, Bangladeshi and Caribbean communities, corset making, ferry workers, local rock musicians, D-Day and the Battle for Normandy.

 

LEE-ON-THE-SOLENT

     Lee-on-Solent, often referred to as Lee-on-Solent, is a small seaside Ward of the Borough of Gosport in Hampshire, England, about five miles (8 km) west of Portsmouth. The area is located on the coast of the Solent. It is primarily a residential area, with an upsurge of mostly local visitors in summer, but is well known as the former home to the Royal Naval Air Station HMS Daedalus.
     The district gained its name in the 19th century, during attempts to develop the area into a seaside resort. The area had been referenced long before this, referred to as Lee and numerous variations, including Lebritan. Early impetus for the district's development came from Charles Edmund Newton Robinson  who persuaded his father, John Charles Robinson, art curator and collector, to fund the buying of land. Over the period 1884 to 1894 the district was established with the setting out of Marine Parade, a pier, railway connection along with a number of impressive red brick villas. The railway service was discontinued in the 1930s and the pier, unrepaired after breaching in aid of Coastal defence in World War II and was demolished in 1958.
     Lee-on-the Solent has had a long association with aviation. Seaplane trials took place at Lee-on-the-Solent as early as 1915. A base for seaplane training was established in 1917 on the former RNAS Lee-on-Solent, formerly HMS Daedalus, 
     In 1935 the Lee Tower complex was built on the seafront next to the old pier and railway station. It was designed by architects Yates, Cook & Derbyshire, and comprised a white v-shaped Art Deco building with a 120-foot (37 m) tower. The complex housed a cinema, ballroom and restaurant, as well as a viewing platform at the tower's peak. The complex was demolished in 1971 by Gosport Borough Council, with its land now used for the promenade, remembrance gardens and a car park

 

PORTSMOUTH, THE NAVY AND THE DOCKYARD

      Portsmouth is world famous for its harbour and naval Dockyard. In 12495 the first dry dock anywhere was built near the site of No. 2 Dock, where Victory now rests, and this was the beginning of the present-day Dockyard.

HMS VICTORY, the best-known and best-loved ship in Britain is the longest-serving ship in the world and is still commissioned as the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command.
     Victory, the fifth ship in the Royal Navy to bear that name, was built in Chatham and launched in 1765. At the outbreak of war with France in 1778, she became the flagship of Admiral Keppel in command of the Channel Fleet. Victory was a first-rate ship of the line was the home of Nelson for two years without setting a foot ashore. At Trafalgar her complement was 850 officers and men. On 15th September 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson left Portsmouth and resumed command of the fleet blocking Cadiz. On 21st October the English, under Nelson’s command defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain off Cape Trafalgar. Nelson was killed at the height of the battle.
     In 1922 Victory was placed in dry dock and restored to the state she had been in at Trafalgar. Since then she has been visited by millions of sightseers.

 

HILSEA LINES AND FORT CUMBERLAND

     In the eighteenth century a line of fortifications was built to protect Portsea Island from the mainland - in case an enemy landed on a nearby beach and approached from the north. The Lines were reconstructed in 1858-60 and a moat was dug out parallel to Portscreek. This was almost immediately reduced to being a second line of defence by the building of the forts on Portsdown Hill. Large sections of the Lines can still be seen.
Fort Cumberland was built in the 1740s to protect the entrance to Langstone Harbour. It was built around Cumberland Farm House which had been used as a shooting lodge by the Duke of Cumberland. The fort was reconstructed later in the century using convict labour; the convicts were accommodated on old hulks moored in Langstone Harbour. It is now recognised to be the finest example of an eighteenth-century bastioned fort in the British Isles. It was used by the Royal Marines Artillery and then the Royal Marines until 1973. 

 

 

 

 

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THE DREADED PANDEMIC

     Following the rules set by parliament, we have been closed since March and although we come under the heading of Museums and Research Centres, with the rules seemingly changing almost daily, we have decided to stay closed until we feel that things are perfectly safe for researching. We could stay open and only use the records on our network, but we would possibly hit the spacing rules in some ways. Sad, very sad, but there it is, we would rather be safe than sorryI 
     I can add some news in a financial way and that is that we have had four National Lottery wins in the past three months. There were not huge financially but will help a lot in paying for the telephone line we need for our network which we can’t use at the moment. The downside of those wins is that this is a constant drain on our finances ich could lead to things that we don’t want to think about at the moment. 
     Our web sites receive about 10,000 hit’s a week which is very high and even the first week result for September rocketed to 10,589 which is wonderful, but even this costs us money. It proves that our web sites are  very much appreciated but unless we have some CD sales, our only income is what we can get with luck!  One way also, of course, is to become a member where you will be helping many other people besides yourself.
Sorry to be so downcast, but we do have to face the reality and any help will be always gratefully received. Thank you for reading this.

 

CREMATORIA ESTABLISHED

     Private cremations had been taking place sporadically since the 1880s. In 1902 the Cremation Act came into force, extending the rights of burial authorities to allow them to establish crematoria from 1st April, 1903. No crematorium could be closer than 50 yards to any public highway, or within 200 yards of any dwelling house without the written consent of the owner. Private cremation on an open-air pyre was subject to a penalty of up to £50.

 

FIRST LICENCE ISSUED

     From 1st January, 1904 the Motor Car Act decreed that all motor vehicles must carry a licence plate so that they could be traced. They were to carry a one- or two-letter code, and a number from 1 to 999. The letters were allocated by location, so London was A, Lancashire B, Hampshire AB etc. Earl Russell camped out all night to be first in the queue to receive the distinctive plate A1.

 

THE GRAND THEATRE

     Southampton’s old Grand Theatre, which at one time stood almost opposite the Civic Centre, attracted some of the biggest names in acting. Among those to appear on the stage were Henry Irving, Lily Langtree, Ellen Terry and Julia Neilson. The Grand survived the bombing of the Second World War and re-opened after peace returned, remaining so until the curtain was brought down for he last time in 1959.

 

 

THE 1939 REGISTER

     Many websites covering this period feature memories and oral histories, but when it comes to hard evidence, the 1939 Register is the nearest we have to a census. It records the 40 million-plus people alive in England and Wales on 29th September, 1939, just weeks after Operation Pied Piper began. The register reveals more about your ancestors’ war-time experience than just a census. It includes Home Front roles such as the ARP Warden, special constable or St John’s Ambulance volunteer. The register is available on Findmypast at findmypast.co.uk/1939register.

 

OCCUPATIONS 

astronomer - Weatherman who assisted mariners here were going on long voyages to try and predict what weather conditions they might encounter.
broom seller - A street salesman with his own distinctive cry, ‘Buy and broom, old shoes buy a broom’. He would accept a pair of old shoes in exchange for a broom, due to the resale value of the leather.
couple beggar - Travelling priest who performed ‘instant’ weddings up to 1754. Also known as a ‘hedge priest’.
crab boiler - Worker associated with the sea fishing industry who boiled crabs and lobsters either for himself or others before selling them on to the public.
forester - A huntsman. In an abbey this was a uniformed position, not just a job. He would live outside the abbey with his own family and would have a range of staff under him. By law, foresters and huntsmen were the only persons allowed to carry bows and arrows in the King’s forests in medieval times.
Luddite - Originally one of a group of factory workers loosely joined in a movement to smash factory machinery which was taking away the jobs of manual workers. Later the term was applied to anyone who refused to take on new ideas or working methods.

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