26 September 2012

James Hunter, engraver of Chester

James Hunter was the father-in-law of my 4x great uncle Willoughby Gaspard Weiss, who was married to James' daughter Ann.

James was born about 1752, possibly in Chester, Cheshire, England. He was presumably married to Jane, the mother of his children, though I haven't yet found a marriage record. I have found records for the births of seven children, two boys and five girls. Ann, my 4x great aunt, was the sixth child and fourth daughter. There are large gaps in years between some of the children so I expect there may well have been more that I can't find records for.

James Hunter was an engraver who lived and worked in Chester, mostly around the Chester Cathedral - in Eastgate St, Northgate St, Werburghs Church-yard. Historical directories also list him as a carver, gilder and copperplate printer. In about 1815 Hunter had rooms with the miniature painter Albin R Burt, who made a coloured engraving of him (which apparently is dated 1830 - that this is after Hunter's death is interesting - perhaps the date is wrong, or perhaps it took Burt a while to get around to finishing it).

A couple of James Hunter's engravings are held in the Cheshire Archives, interestingly, both of them maps. One is a "1789 Survey of the Ancient & Loyal City of Chester", surveyed by Samuel Weston and engraved and published by Hunter. The archives record notes that Hunter "was a prominent local citizen and verger of the Cathedral. His premises, "Hunter Engravers", are marked on the plan at the top of Werburgh's Lane." The other engraving is a "Map of the estates of the Dean and Chapter in and around Chester" from 1812, which includes the previous item and an additional piece apparently drawn by Hunter.

As mentioned above, James Hunter was the verger of the Chester Cathedral for many years from at least as early as 1812 until his death on 18 December 1826. His death notice in the Liverpool Mercury (29 Dec 1826) records: "On Monday, the 18th instant, at Chester, Mr. Hunter, engraver; a man respected and beloved by an extensive circle of friends and relations."

It would appear that James Hunter did not have a son who worked in the family engraving business. Instead, his two spinster daughters Elizabeth (1778-1864) and Catherine (1803-1860) took over the business on his death. Later on they seem to have given up the engraving business and instead became librarians, Elizabeth being the City Librarian in Chester, and Catherine her assistant.

James Hunter gave his name to Hunter's Passage, which was later widened and has been known as Hunter Street since the 1890s. Quite something to be immortalised in a street name!

17 September 2012

The Grants of Margate, Kent

Rachel Wickham, matriarch of the Australian Wickhams from my family, was born Rachel Grant, in Margate, Kent, England in about 1813. She was baptised at St John the Baptist Margate on 7 Nov 1813. Her parents were Robert Grant and Rachel Solly.

Little is known about the Grant family. Certainly the surname Grant seems to be a long-standing one in Kent, and many members of the family seem to have been boat builders and mariners.

Robert Grant married Rachel Solly on 2 January 1806 by licence at St John the Baptist Margate, according to FamilySearch and the Kent, England, Tyler Index to Parish Registers, 1538-1874 on Ancestry. However, Ancestry also has a record in the Extracted Parish Records for Kent, England, based on the Canterbury Marriage Licences, 1781-1809, for a Robert Grant and Rachel Solly, dated 26 December 1805. It records "Rob Grant of St John Margate shipwright wid & Rachel Solley of the s sp." I suspect this is my Robert Grant and Rachel Solly, and discrepancy in the dates is due to the date of issue for the licence as opposed to the date of the actual marriage.

So this means that Robert Grant was a widower. I can find two contenders for Robert's first wife: Elizabeth Watler, married at St John the Baptist Margate on 29 April 1787, or Sarah Fagg married at St Peter Thanet on 9 Nov 1803 (Rob Grant of St John Thanet shipwright bach & Sarah Fagg of St Pet Thanet sp, at St Pet T. 09 Nov 1803). The marriage between Robert Grant and Elizabeth Watler produced a number of children, the last of which was born in 1807. Considering my Robert Grant was widowed and remarrying by 1806, I don't think this is the right Robert Grant. Which leaves us with Sarah Fagg being the likely first wife. There is a burial record for a Sarah Grant, wife of Robert, aged 23 years, on 27 June 1804. This fits well with the date of Robert remarrying.

Looking into Robert's job as a shipwright, there is a listing for "Robert Grant shipwright Fort Margate" in the 1824 Pigots Directory, and also in the 1839 Pigots Directory. Although I have not been able to work out when Robert Grant died (or in fact was born), it is possible that this is him. The 1840 Pigots Directory lists a Robert Grant, shipwright, in Paradise Street. This article mentions Grants and Solleys in relation to boat building in Margate.

Of Rachel's seven siblings, apart from the two who died very young, I can only trace Elizabeth, born in about 1815. In 1851 she was recorded in the English Census, living with Rachel, Rachel's husband Thomas, and their children. On a hunch I searched the NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages, to see if she had followed them out to Australia - yes! She died in Redfern, Sydney, in 1891, and was buried in Rookwood Independent Cemetery on 3 September 1891. I haven't found a shipping record for her emigrating to Australia, but she did get here somehow - perhaps she was a good swimmer!

This website has assisted me greatly in the research of the Grant family.

11 September 2012

Adelaide Weiss/White/Sheldon

I've been researching Charles and Benigna Weiss' son Egmont and decided to plug "Weiss" into the India Births/Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths/Burials collections of FamilySearch. I was surprised to find a record for Adelaide Martha Weiss, aged 17, daughter of Charles Nicholas Weiss, marrying Patrick White, aged 32, son of Patrick White, in Bombay on 12 Oct 1846.

Huh? Adelaide Weiss, firstborn child of Charles Nicholas and Benigna Catherine Weiss, was married to James Sheldon, a Church Missionary Society missionary, and they had at least five children together. And so she was, and so they did, but in fact she was married to Patrick White first.

And that explains why I have never been able to find a marriage record for Adelaide and James - because Adelaide's surname was not Weiss but White when she married him.

The family story goes that the family was in India and when the children of Charles and Benigna Weiss were orphaned, after their parents died in quick succession in 1845, the boys stayed in India and went to military school, and the girls returned home to England. That their firstborn daughter Adelaide married Patrick White in India, only a year after the death of her remaining parent, her mother, suggests that Adelaide may not have returned to England, but in fact stayed in India.

Adelaide married at 17 to a man almost twice her age. Although this was probably more common then than it is today it is tempting to wonder if it was a marriage of convenience, in order to provide her siblings with some stability and security in India. I have not found any evidence of children being produced by the marriage. When Patrick died on 26 April 1853 (information from FIBIS and the Glasgow Herald of 20 May 1853) at age 39 Adelaide was only 23. Adelaide's sister Caroline was definitely in India during this time - she married Henry Richard Hughes in Bombay in 1851. Her brother Frederick was definitely in India from 1850 until September 1853 when he returned to England - I have copies of some of his own notes which state this.

Perhaps after her husband Patrick died Adelaide did go back to England for a time, but she turned up again in Bombay, India, on 9 July 1861, marrying her second husband James Sheldon, who was a CMS missionary in Karachi. James and Adelaide were the same age, and I find it easier to imagine that they married for love rather than convenience.

07 September 2012

Joachim Heinrich Christian Friederichs

I recently received the naturalisation papers for Joachim Heinrich Christian Friederichs from the National Archives UK.

He was married to my 3x great aunt Carolina Helena Maria Von Holst and was born in Altona, Holstein, Germany in about 1786.

I've done quite a bit of searching on him and his wife, mainly to see if they ever had children - I can't find a record of any - but was intrigued to know more about him anyway.

Joachim Friederichs and Carolina Von Holst were married on 30 Jan 1834 at St Pancras, London. Friederichs was noted as a widower. I have not found any record of who his previous wife was, but I believe she was not English. I also have no knowledge of whether there were children from the previous marriage - certainly none have turned up in my research.

I was hoping that the naturalisation papers might give me more detailed information on where Friederichs was born in Altona - it seems that the official birth, death and marriage records for that time in Holstein are only found in the church records, which are not centralised anywhere, but you have to go to the individual parishes. Unfortunately, it didn't give me any more details. It did state that Friederichs arrived in England in April 1833, less than a year before he married Carolina.

I was surprised to find that Joachim Friederichs was the inventor of a series of maps called The Circuiteer, one of which can be accessed through the online gallery at the British Library. He drew a series of circles over the maps which allowed people to work out the proper fare for travelling in cabs, to stop the cabbies from swindling people. He published a number of editions - in 1849, 1850, 1851, and also an apparently revised edition in 1862. Interestingly, I have not been able to find record of Friederichs and his wife in England after 1851, and suspect that they may have spent time in Germany, but clearly they, or at least Joachim, must have returned long enough to update the map(s).

I also found that Friederichs had links to Count Lusi (somehow related to the Prussian Ambassador to London with the same title) - he travelled to the Port of London with Count Lusi in 1842, arriving on April 1. The naturalisation papers also state that he wanted to become a British citizen so that he could "prosecute his claims to property as administrator in England of the Late Count Lusi of Berlin."

As for when Joachim and his wife died, I have not found any records. I don't think they died in England, more likely in Germany, possibly Berlin.