Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Why did my Davidson ancestors move from London to Hull, East Yorkshire?

My great, great, great grandfather, John Davidson was born in Woolwich, Kent (to read more about their story see Chapter 7 & 8 of The Davidson Family) but at the age of about 35 years old, he moved to Hull, East Yorkshire with his young family. 

It has always been a mystery and a question in my mind, why? He was working as a boiler maker in Poplar. He had his wife had 6 children and had lost 2 young children, but all of his extended family lived close by. 

Well, a few days ago, I accidentally found a probate document dated 1869 for his brother-in-law, Joseph William Crout, who died in 1863. This document tells me that John's sister, Eliza Copeland (since remarried) was living at 7 Sutton Row, Hull. In the 1871 census, John and his family are living at 2 Sutton Row, Hull.

Probate Record for Joseph Crout (found at - accessed 30th October 2013)

It appears Eliza's time in Hull was short-lived because she was still in Canning Town, London when her son, Henry Copeland, was born in 1868. By the birth of her next son in 1872 she was back in London - Greenwich, but somewhere in between these dates she was living in Hull.

I wonder if this was the link that John had to Hull which caused him to up sticks and move with his young family? Did Eliza return with tales of a better life or jobs for John? Were there mutual friends of the family already residing in Hull? Did they move together?

One link formed opens another list of questions to ask!!

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 9 - Halloween

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

R2D2 pumpkin carving
Darth Vader pumpkin carving

A lit R2D2 pumpkin

Halloween has never been an event which has been celebrated by my own family. I grew up in a Christian family so we were not encouraged to celebrate darkness and death, but at my home church when I was perhaps about 8 or 9 years old they organised a Light Party for the children to celebrate "the Light of the World" (Matthew 5v14) instead. At the party, I wore a costume which my mother helped me make as a pumpkin. I took a pumpkin carved out with a nightlight in it and wore green clothes with sugar paper leaves attached to it. I thought I looked fab!!

Now, we get inundated with trick or treaters knocking at the door and if I am home alone, I hate it. After the first few it becomes very annoying so we either ignore them and pretend we're out or go out so we don't have to answer the door at all. A bit old and boring I know!!!

Darth Vader pumpkin carving lit

Two years ago, my husband carved some pumpkins (just because he's a really creative big kid at heart) and they were amazing (see photos).

This year we are going out with some friends and being mean, so as to avoid the constant knocks at the door.

Another one of R2D2 lit

2 little lit pumkins sitting on a bench

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 8 - Time Capsule

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 8 - Time Capsule

I have thought about this a lot this week, wondering whether to make one or not. My husband and his friends did one a few years ago, somewhere in a secret location! 

I think if I had someone in mind I wanted to put one together for, I would go to the effort and do one. I like the idea of making a time capsule type keep safe box for my children (when I have some), but for the moment I am going to miss this week's prompt and just consider it for the future.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Interesting Family History Blog Discoveries for October...

Niagara Falls
(Image link:,
Author: Helen Filatova, 27 Sept 2005

British Newspaper Archives - Annie Edson Taylor Goes Over Niagara Falls In A Barrel

An incredible story of a woman who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survived to tell the tale!!!

Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog - My Family Finder DNA Results Are In...

Interesting to see how Jana can figure out her ancestry though the use of DNA results, family tales and the good ol' fashioned research.

FindMyPast Blog - King Charles I's Execution In Our Parish Records

Have you ever found the parish records of royalty?

The British GENES Blog - London from 400 years ago...

A fantastic animated YouTube clip of how London may have looked 400 years ago before the Great Fire of London.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Surname Saturday - Presswood

Surname Saturday is a regular blog post in which I will discuss the origins and geography of the surnames which appear in my own family tree.

This weeks surname is PRESSWOOD.

Variants: Presswood, Prestwood, Preswood
George Henry Presswood, my great grandfather

The surname Presswood is probably derived from "a dweller by the Priest's wood". There is also a village in Buckinghamshire and a place in Sussex both named Prestwood in which the surname could have evolved from.

Presswood is a very rare surname and in the 1891 census there were only 72 families with this surname in England, 29 were found in Yorkshire and 20 in Lincolnshire. Although Prestwood, it's variant surname is more common, there are still only 195 families with this surname in England in the 1891 census. 42 of these families are found in Lincolnshire, 31 in Lancashire, 25 in Shropshire and Glamorganshire. 

My maternal grandmother was born into the Presswood family in north Lincolnshire, which is where her ancestors have dwelled for nearly two centuries working on the land as agricultural labourers. I suspect that most of the Lincolnshire Presswood families are probably distant cousins. The oldest Presswood ancestor to have been researched in my family line is William Presswood born 1806 in Lincolnshire. Sadly he committed suicide aged 35 years old, leaving his wife with seven young children. 

I am currently beginning to write the Presswood family story at The Presswood Story, which you will be able to discover much more about my rural agricultural Presswood ancestors in time.

If you have Presswood ancestors from Lincolnshire or Yorkshire in your family tree I would love to hear from you.

Information from:
Ancestry - Presswood Surname Distribution

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Thursday, 17 October 2013

ALWAYS cross check other people's research

A lesson I learnt from the research I was doing this week was to: ALWAYS cross check other people's research before you rely on it for definite evidence.

Occasionally when researching your family history, you may come across:

Duke of Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley
(Image link:,
Author: Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), 1814
  • A family tree which you great aunt Ethel put together proving that you are the great x8 grandchild of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. 
  • A family rumour saying you're related to King Henry VIII through an illegitimate line.
  • Or a family tree on Ancestry or GenesReunited etc which shows your great great grandmother was one of eight children.

These are all great resources available to aid and guide our research but until the facts are proven by yourself, you do not know how accurate they are, so ALWAYS double check research which has previously been done by others. 

I recently came across some research passed down to me in which my ancestor Sarah Presswood was described as being deceased c1861 when in actual fact she was living with her aunt's family in the 1871 census instead of her own, so had been presumed to have died c1861.

Another instance I have come across is in researching my ancestor John Davidson, a boiler maker who's father was a bandsman in the Royal Marines. I became a little stuck trying to find out more about John's parents and siblings so I viewed a few family trees on Ancestry to give me some clues. In the process of double checking their research I discovered it did not quite match up as his date of birth written in our family bible was after his baptism!!! But looking at their family tree did help me uncover some facts to solve the problem eventually.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 7 - My Grandparents

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 7 - My Grandparents

My grandparents were very important to me as I was fortunate to have a good relationship with all of them. One of my grandfathers is still living and the others died in fairly recent years so what I share on here is the shortened version.

I will begin with my paternal grandparents...
My grandfather was born in Hull, East Yorkshire where he lived with his immediate family. Most of his extended family were only a stones throw away as his ancestors had lived in Hull for many generations. In 1939, World War II broke out so he was evacuated to Lincolnshire with the thousands of other children across the land. He had fond memories of these days and would reminisce regularly. 

During the war Hull was bombed heavily and so his parents chose to move to north Leeds, possibly for work as well as safety, which is when grandad returned to the family. 

Low Mill Methodist Chapel, nr Rawdon -
where my grandmother was born
It was in north Leeds in which my grandmother was born and grew up. She was born in a caretakers house adjoined to a small Methodist chapel. Her family had lived in this area for generations so she knew a lot of people. It was through social gatherings at a Methodist church in this area in which she met my grandfather and married a few years later. 

My grandparents would live in this area of north Leeds until they were quite elderly and moved to be closer the family in North Yorkshire. My grandfather worked past retirement age until his work had to come to an end when they moved away. He was a freelance vacuum and washing machine repairer in latter years but had worked for Hoover as a salesman in his early career.

They were both from a staunch Methodist background but in latter years did not attend chapel. 

As children growing up we lived about 40  miles away so saw them about every 4-6 weeks. My grandmother loved reminiscing about her extended family and would tell lots of interesting stories which I enjoyed listening to. She inspired me to research about these people and I was hooked to researching my family history. 

My paternal grandparents
She was quite a large lady and was very cuddly. She had worked in a cake shop and in a school as a dinner lady. She was quite involved with Guides, especially the washing up badge apparently. I would often help her make tea in the kitchen if we were at her house. 

My grandfather had a nice boxed games compendium which often came out when we visited. I remember playing cards or dominos with him and making a dominoes run around the house. He loved gardening and had a lovely garden with lots of flowers, a small lawn and vegetable patch. He was quite a slight man who was quiet and reserved. He would often take us on a short walk to pick up the paper or to the local chippy.

I often wish I was still able to ask them questions about their background and family, but I have good memories of the time I spent with them.

Now, my maternal grandparents...
My grandfather was born in Leeds and lived in different areas of Leeds all of his life. He came from quite humble beginnings in a small terraced house with his grandparents residing next door. He would talk of the local church bringing round gifts of food and small presents for the children at Christmas. 

Unfortunately, he was just old enough to be called up when the war began and fought in the Normandy landings. He was also stationed in Kenya for some time. He did not particularly enjoy talking about his war years, but it played a role in meeting his wife. 

Holidays with my maternal grandparents
His younger sister was evacuated to a small village in Lincolnshire. After the war she returned to the village in Lincolnshire to marry her childhood sweetheart from her evacuation days. It was at their wedding where my grandfather found his wife, the groom's sister - his sister's new sister-in-law. Within 3 months my grandparents had married and my grandmother reluctantly moved to Leeds for this was where my grandfather had employment and the opportunity to rent out the house in which his parents were just moving out of, next door to his grandparents where he grew up.

My grandmother disagreed with the city dwellings and so they eventually moved out towards the suburbs of north Leeds, to the same town as my paternal grandparents. (Hence, how my parents met!).

My grandfather worked very hard as a building society clerk in the city and made a better way for his own family then he had had as a child. He had to retire early due to deteriorating eye sight, but it allowed my grandparents to spend more time with us as children. We saw them nearly weekly when we were young, stayed with them for holidays and they came on family holidays with us as well. 

I had a very close relationship with them especially my grandad who had all the time in the world to listen to us read, sing with us, play with us and ride our bikes. My grandmother was slightly more stern but we were still close. 

A family gathering with my maternal grandparents
Before I was born I am told they were both quite plump (probably because grandma was an amazing cook!) but they chose to lose weight so I remember them both being quite slight and short. 

They were both born again Christians who were very involved with the baptist church in every area. My grandmother would cook meals and lay out buffets, my grandfather would preach and he also led the church's retirement work in his latter years, in which I was asked to speak at after my travels on my gap year. 

They joined a number of different clubs and societies when they retired, from sewing groups at church to learning German and watercolour painting classes. They led a very social life.

I also wish they were here to ask questions about their past and childhood but again I cannot complain about the amazing relationship I had with both sets of my grandparents growing up and all the ways in which they have inspired me, my interests, hobbies and life. I miss them dearly.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Surname Saturday - Holmes

Surname Saturday is a regular blog post in which I will discuss the origins and geography of the surnames which appear in my own family tree.

This weeks surname is HOLMES.

Variant spellings: Holmes, Holme, Hulme, Holm, Holms, Home, Homes

Holmes is both a locational and topographical surname. It is derived from the Old Norse holmr meaning small island or a piece of low lying meadows land surrounded by water and also from the Old English "holegn" meaning holly woods or a person who lived near a holly wood or tree.

The surname is most commonly found in Yorkshire but is a fairly widespread and common surname.

My maternal great, great grandmother was Sarah Ann Holmes and although she settled in Leeds, West Yorkshire she was born in Nottingham, where her father was also born but her grandfather, Joseph Holmes was born in Wittick, Leicestershire. The family were framework knitters until they moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Information from:
Surname database - Holmes
Wikipedia - Holm
Ancestry - Holmes

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 6 - Journals and Diaries

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 6 - Journals and Diaries

As a child, I remember being given diaries as presents for Christmas. For a few years in a row it was a Winnie-the-Pooh diary. I would write in it with great pride for a few weeks until I got fed up and then it would be empty for the rest of the year. Even when I did write in it, it was pretty dull "got up, went to school - English, Maths and Art, came home and played out with Amy and Ben, went to bed".

An empty page
My grandmother always encouraged me to keep a diary, in fact it was probably my grandmother who bought them for me. She used to tell me she kept diaries although I wonder where they are now? My mum encouraged us to keep scrap books as children as well, recording all the places we visited and the holidays we went on. I still have all of these somewhere (probably still in a cupboard at my parents house) and still keep semi-regular scrap books of holidays and days out - weddings, museums, concerts etc. As my husband and I are rapidly running out of storage space I wonder why I still have these, as I very rarely look back through them but yet they hold memories which I do not want to discard.

In 2001, when I first became a Christian a good friend of my mum's bought me a 5-year diary to record things I was praying for so that I could look back and see the answers to prayers. I kept up with this for about 2 years but have rarely looked back at it.

In 2004, I travelled to Brazil for my gap year and we were again encouraged to keep a diary of our time there. I did stick with this and kept a diary for the whole time I was there, recording details of what we did each day and what we ate and drank but not many about my thoughts or feelings. Since, I have read this diary a number of times and been reminded of what we did and enjoyed and the food etc, which has been lovely.

Since travelling to Brazil, I have done a few other big trips to Egypt, Malawi, New Zealand and for each trip I kept a diary. My last trip was to New Zealand and instead of a diary we wrote a blog with photos each day so that our family's and friends could keep up to date with our travels, but it is also a fantastic resource to look back on (you'll find it on my other blog Ruth's Favourite Things). For the older diaries there are often no photos but I did keep a chronological photo album in which you could find the photos from these trips as well as scrap books of the travel adventures.

My current "pretty" journal
A few years ago, I started journalling with God after doing a course called How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Virkler (Google books) with my home group from church. The course encouraged emptying your mind to focus on God and journalling your conversation with Him, which I still do (may be not quite as regularly as previously). I like to tell God about how I'm feeling and my thoughts about life and He responds, so there are some great depths of feelings and emotions in these journals. It is great to look back over these journals though for it shows how much you've progressed through life and the answers to your petitions to God as well as answers to prophecies people may have had for you. God speaks to me through my dreams so it is common I record those in my journals and attempt to interpret them. These journals are very deep and private, but record my Spiritual and emotional journey through life.

I often buy journals which are "pretty" but often write in them in a standard biro pen, whatever is lying about and often have multiple pieces of paper stuck in between the pages and a few drawings if I feel particularly artistic some days.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Surname Saturday - Davidson

Surname Saturday is a regular blog post in which I will discuss the origins and geography of the surnames which appear in my own family tree.

This is the first Surname Saturday post so I am going to start with my maiden surname DAVIDSON

Davidson Crest
(Image link:,
Author: Celtus,  6 Sept 2008
The surname "Davidson" is a patronymic name and comes from "son of David" or "David's son". The forename David is biblical and means "beloved" so Davidson equals "son of the beloved".

I always assumed I would be a descendant of the Scottish Davidson clan but have not yet found a link to the clan.

Davidson is also known to be a common anglicised Jewish name from "son of King David" from the Bible, so instead of being Scottish perhaps we're Jewish.

The family crest generally used for the surname Davidson is the  Scottish Davidson clan crest and motto "Sapienter si sincere" meaning "Wisely if sincerely".

The surname is much more common in Northern England, Scotland and London than other areas of the UK.

The history of my own Davidson family can be read on The Davidson Family, but I have research back to John Davidson c1800 in London who was a bandsman in the Royal Marines, his descendants were boiler makers working in the ship building industries. The family eventually moved to Hull, East Yorkshire in the late 1870s where they have remained until the present day.

Information from:

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 5 - My Childhood Home

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 5 - My Childhood Home

My childhood home
I grew up in a 1930s 3 bedroomed semi-detached house, which my parents extended when I was about 11 years old making it into a 4 bedroomed semi-detached house with a living room, dining room, kitchen and study downstairs.

I lived there from birth until I was 18 years old when I ventured on my gap year to Brazil. During the next 3 or 4 years I was quite nomadic returning to this home during university holidays.

I lived there with my parents and younger brother.

Throughout the house the decor was quite plain with cream or white walls and darker patterned carpets of different colours in each of the rooms.

The dining room had a lovely old dining room suite in it which now sit in my own home. It had belonged to my grandparents and had been one of their wedding presents in 1950. Today it is rather creeky and wobbly but it still does the job for which it was intended.

Living room painting of where my grandmother was born
Low Mill Chapel, Rawdon
In the study resided the computer and mum's piano alongside lots and lots of books, but this was always the coldest room of the house.

The living room walls were lined with watercolour paintings some of which my grandfather had painted. There was also an oil painting of the chapel in which my grandmother was born. The living room was south facing which meant it got the majority of the sun and it also had amazing views over the Pennine foothills (see last picture).

My bedroom was originally cream with brown curtains and carpet until I rebelled in my teenage years and persuaded my dad to paint it lilac. Unfortunately the colour we chose was more of a pale blue than lilac but I still had purple curtains and bedding. There were lots of posters and paintings on the walls and a hammock with my cuddly toys in it. The window looked out into the back garden which I would gaze out of watching the birds and my dad gardening when I should have been doing my homework.

The back garden in the snow which my bedroom looked out over
The house was a short street of 8 houses which were set back from the main road. They were built in the old grounds of a mansion house which still remains at the end of the back drive, the access road to the backs of the houses. The back drive was wooded and you drove off the main road through big stone gate posts which made the street look quite posh although it wasn't really.

The adjoining semi was occupied by an old lady who died just after I had left university, she was a lovely lady who we used to cut the lawn for. She became a surrogate grandmother to me and to this day she never understood why I chose not to move back home after university. Across the gap the other next door neighbours were a family of 4 similarly to us which meant we had play pals to play outside with.

There was a large garden both to the front and rear, with a large garage to the rear of the house, so lots of play space for hide and seek or cricket and football on the back drive and to run around. My father was quite a gardener and grew lots of vegetables so we would always enjoy a good harvest every autumn.

I have lots of very happy memories of this home, but unfortunately so few photos.

The view from the living room and front of the house

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan