Birthplace Pedigree Charts

You may have seen a lot birthplace pedigree charts posted online recently.

I created charts for my own and my husband’s family’s countries of birth knowing that it would visually represent something that I think is pretty rare.

My pedigree:

palmerbirthplacepedigreeMy husband’s pedigree:


Notice anything?

5 generations of English heritage on both the maternal and paternal sides, all the way through.

And this pattern has continued further back too.  In fact, the ONLY ancestor I’ve discovered not born in England (so far) was born in America (6th generation) to English parents, due to her father’s service in the British military.  Surely, she is considered English too?

Either way, I’d like to know anyone else who has this.  I’ve been led to believe it’s pretty rare due to a programme aired (ten years ago now) where people who thought they were completely English found out they were anything but.

Is it so rare?

If you would like to compile your own chart, head to AnceStories for a pre-made template.

Pedigree Chums

George Wreford of Gray’s Inn

I am fortunate enough that part of my family history – the WREFORDs – was already recorded years ago.  Long before I came along, George WREFORD of Gray’s Inn, Barrister at Law was the family historian.  He compiled a  ‘Pedigree and Sketch of the Wreford Family of Clannaborough and Morchard Bishop, Devonshire’ back in 1888 and a revised edition, ‘Records and Pedigree of the Wreford Family of Devonshire’ in 1909.

Genealogy was a completely different’ kettle of fish’ back then and I (as well as many of my Wreford cousins, I’m sure) am grateful that George took the time to do it.  But I can’t have him taking all my fun, so over the years I’ve fact-checked, evidenced and fleshed out the details pertaining to my direct line.

You can access physical copies at the West Country Studies Library in Exeter but I have chosen to include the pages pertaining to my line here.  You can access these via the top menu or click here to start.

Bombay Love Story Continued…

Obituary Notice for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD)
(Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 140, 15 June 1934, p3)

This obituary for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD) featured in my previous post stated that:

Mrs. Wills is survived by two children. Mr James Wills and Mrs. D. Evans, and 15 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

My searches of the NZ BDM showed me that Thomas & Drusilla had 3 children:

Richard Henry, Drusilla Howard and James Howard WILLS birth registrations
So you may presume (as I did) that:
a) their son Richard Henry died prior to 1934; and
b) the Mrs D Evans referred to is their daughter, Drusilla Howard.
However a search of Wills/Evans marriages from 1865 only came up with 2:
WILLS/EVANS marriage registration
This means that one of the surviving children was actually ANOTHER daughter called Charlotte (and the D being her husband’s initial).  However, there was no birth record of a Charlotte WILLS.  So, IS this Charlotte a daughter of Thomas & Drusilla?
I was able to find the marriage of Drusilla Howard WILLS (spelt Drucilla – one of the 3 births listed) to a William SHORT in 1899.
I checked the WREFORD pedigree compiled in 1908 (more on that another time) which notes Drusilla and Thomas had SIX children.  With only 3 of those listed in the online BDMs – is it possible to find these other children OR was the compiler mistaken?
Next Steps:
  • Check birth notices in newspapers (Papers Past)
  • Check BDM for WILLS deaths prior to 1934
  • Scour newspapers for any other references to the family

Celebrity Ancestor

For a change of ‘scene’, I decided to look a bit deeper at some of my English ancestors. 

Devonshire Wrestlers

An old family pedigree mentioned that my ancestor, William WREFORD “settled in Tiverton and was well known in the last century as a noted wrestler“.  I had searched for more information a few years back and was discovered a book which mentions him in this role – Devonshire Characters and Strange Events by S. Baring Gould.

I am very pleased that I am now able to read the entire book online (or download as various files) at the Internet Archive.  The section on William reads:

Next Steps:

William Wreford, at the age of eighteen, achieved reputation by throwing Jordan over his head with such force that Jordan came down with a “crash similar to that produced by felling an oak tree.” But Wreford met his match in a wrestle with “the little Elephant,” James Stone. Simultaneously the men grappled each other; and although Wreford had the advantage at the outset, he was hurled into the air, and fell with such violence on his back that for a time he was incapacitated from taking part in a similar contest. Eventually the return match came off at Southmolton, and Stone was again victorious. Nevertheless Wreford remained a prominent figure in the ring, and threw Francis Olver, a Cornishman, although he came out of the contest with several of his ribs crushed by the deadly “hug.” But a greater than Wreford and Jordan arose in the person of Abraham Cann… (p519)

Hoping to find more mention of William, I searched for James Stone – the ‘little elephant’.  This lead me to a page bursting with information about wrestling – in particular, the Abraham Cann mentioned above.  The Heard Family History site records:

In his history of Crediton, Venn (Venn, T.W., History of Crediton. Typescript. 1972) tells us that the activities of the Devonshire wrestlers in London were reported enthusiastically in the Society gossip columns. Dressed in the latest fashions they would promenade in the famous Vauxhall pleasure gardens, where much curiousity was shown to catch a sight of “these extraordinary Devonshire wrestlers”. Along with the bare-knuckle fighters, the wrestlers must have had the popular appeal of football stars of old, if not quite the overblown celebrity status accorded them in today’s tabloids. Certainly local papers reported their comings and goings, and we read of a triumphant return to Devon on the express coach Celerity in 1827, when the wrestlers were greeted by cheering crowds in Exeter (Heard Family History).

It’s funny to think of William, who is listed simply as ‘farmer’ and ‘labourer’ in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, as a celebrity.  Also found on the Heard Family History site was this image of the wrestlers’ vital statistics at a fair in Tavistock,1827:

Wrestler Vital Statistics – Tavistock Fair 1827
William is listed as 34 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds.  It is not often we get to know this much physical detail about our ancestors and I’m excited to have found this information. 
Next Steps:
  • Continue to research Devonshire Wrestling in and around the 1820s
  • Search newspapers for wrestling matches