Saturday, September 30, 2006

Historical Records

Two new contacts over the last few days, as well as continued correspondence with three others. One of the new contacts has family in Monmouthshire which is already traced back to an Edward Parry born around 1806, so I am not sure how much help I will be able to be at the moment, although I have been able to find some relevant census details.

But it is always good to account for a few more Parrys from one of my three main counties.

The other new contact is even further back in their research, having traced the family back to the mid 1600s. This is a family I recognise – the Aston Somerville Parrys – who, from the coat of arms on the monument in the church there, could possibly connect to the Henry Parry who was Bishop of Worcester in the early 1600s, and also to the Parrys of the Golden Valley, Herefordshire.

Which reminds me that I still have some photographs relating to Henry, and to the Aston Somerville memorials, which I haven’t yet sorted out to put on the web site.

I’d love to be able to find the links between all of the families who used this coat of arms – but will I ever know enough to do so?

It’s not just the simple “data processing” task, of gathering more information in order to connect up all of the, currently unconnected, individuals or partial pedigrees (and to correct the discrepancies in some of the accounts already published). It’s also about having the skill to understand what some of the information gathered actually means - I needed a lesson on the background and language of marriage settlements recently, having misunderstood which of the parties actually had the “use” of the property.

Sometimes the thought of amateurs such as myself tackling historical records is quite frightening!

Perhaps that’s just one of the difficulties of carrying out a One-Name Study – we collect everything, from any place and any time. So, whereas a “normal” genealogist would be tackling things gradually, working back a step at a time, we might suddenly find ourselves delving into medieval records (or even earlier) without having had the opportunity to build up the background knowledge necessary for their correct interpretation.

A cue for a reminder to myself – to constantly ask, “Am I understanding this correctly?” and to be prepared for alternative explanations, rather than assuming things really are as they first appear.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Matching references

Thanks to a comment by another Guild member, John Dods, I spent some time yesterday extracting references to Parrys from the National Archives of South Africa. There were 828 occurrences of the name so I have a lot of work to do in identifying exactly what is there but, whilst looking through them, I just happened to notice some references to “Leon Parry and Hayhoe Ltd”. It stuck out to me because Leon is not a name I have come across for a Parry.

Later, I happened to be looking at the new British Phone Books database on Ancestry – and what should I find but entries for “Parry Leon & Hayhoe, Travel Agnts (South Africa) Ltd, 219 Regent st W.1”

I then checked that address in a 1934 Trade Directory, but they weren’t there. However, they were listed under the Commercial section - “PARRY, LEON & HAYHOE (SOUTH AFRICA) LIMITED (Representing Parry, Leon & Hayhoe Ltd. The South African steamship, shipping, forwarding & insurance agents, bonded warehousemen &c.; marine surveyors & adjustors; agents for brokers at Lloyds), 19 & 20 Northumberland avenue WC2- Telegrams, “Parlehay, London”; Phone, Whitehall 3387 & 3388.

I wasn’t sure where to find them within the Trade section but a look under Shipping revealed that “Agents-Shipping” was the most likely grouping and, yes, there they were, as well as under the Northumberland Avenue address in the street directory.

Repeating the process with a 1938 directory, I found from the Commercial listing that the company was now at 2 Conduit St. And again, they appeared under that address in the Street Index and also under the Agents-Shipping group in the trade directory.

Of course, “Leon” wasn’t the first name of a Parry, it was the surname of someone else in the company, as indicated by a message now found on one of the mailing lists.

But, if I had realised that at the time, I might not have remembered the name later so would not have spotting the matching references!

Friday, September 22, 2006

An afternoon's search

Well, I was right – another two weeks before I posted an entry. But I can’t blame the mailing list transfer. Everything went smoothly with that and the Parry list has now migrated to the new mailing list software being used by Rootsweb.

No, it has just turned out to be a busy couple of weeks. Again, correspondance has taken up a fair amount of my time – fourteen Parry related emails received, leading to eleven replies being sent. A couple of the responses involved following families through all of the censuses, which can be quite time consuming but is also fascinating – seeing how fortunes change and a child in the workhouse can become someone famous, or how some families "die out", because branches all end with daughters, so there are no sons to carry on the family name.

Amongst the information sent to me recently was another obituary. As I’ve mentioned before, these can be very useful sources of information, as they often list the relatives attending the funeral. But one thing I noticed about this one was the separation of men and women – the men attending the funeral and the women being at the house. Was this a particular social practice of the time (or the area), I wonder?

There’s more to family history than just the story of a family – it prompts enquiry into many areas of social history that I, for one, might never have considered.

Other interesting reading I received were two articles relating to a Parry family from Machynlleth, where a researcher has traced the family, largely through property deeds and probate entries, back into the 1600s. At this time, the patronymic system was still in operation and the family is a good illustration of how the "Harry/Parry" name can re-occur through several generations, whilst not actually being their "surname".

It is an interesting thought that, for many Parry families, by the time the line has been traced back about six generations from someone alive in 1901, they might no longer have the surname. Unfortunately many of the surviving parish registers in Wales don’t start until the 1700s but, where they do begin earlier, or where the surname settled slightly later, there would seem to be great potential for researchers to be able to establish exactly when their family became Parrys.

If only there weren’t so many of them that it is often impossible to get back beyond 1800!

The Guild forum has again been a useful source of information. Amongst the sites posted have been some relating to modern references, such as UK company directors, or US "people look up" sites, such as the My Family people finder which found 26,466 Parrys! Clearly such sites produce a large number of results for the surname, sometimes with too many occurrences of even just one first name, to allow the data to be fully searched. Not that I’m in a position to do a great deal with such current data even if I could collect it all, since I still have the 20th century BMDs for UK to extract.

A recent addition to the Ancestry databases shows more promise, although again will tend to produce a large number of results. Their "British Phone Books 1880-1984 Release 1" contains 5120 Parry entries – somehow I think it will be a long time before I can do much with those but certainly the ones for the early 20th century will be useful.

Another "Guild" reference was a site for the town of Burton Latimer, in Northamptonshire. I wasn’t expecting much, since it’s not really a "Parry" area but I did find one family in the 1901 transcriptions. The household was headed by an unmarried Catherine M Parry, with "Head" crossed out and "sister" entered instead. With her were six children described as daughters and sons, but I guessed they were probably not her’s. In the course of trying to identify them in the earlier censuses, I found a couple of errors on Ancestry - someone transcribed as aged 2 when they should be 23, and as Parry when they were actually a married daughter and should have been Webb. Then there was another person transcribed as a son called Catherine Parry but who was actually a servant called Catherine Griffith.

I was going to say, after all that, that I never did find the original family that I was looking for – but I did (eventually). The 1891 searches were proving unsuccessful so I tried earlier and found a possible entry for the Catherine Parry in 1881, in Llanasa, Flintshire, with parents, Alexander and Margaret, and siblings Joseph aged 18, and Emma aged 12. At 15, the Catherine was recorded as a pupil teacher, so she seemed a good candidate for someone who is later a described as Governess.

Next I found the oldest children, in the 1891 census, with Frances as Francis, Margaret as Margaretc and the birthplace of Canonbury as Cannonbury. Obvious really. Good job Mary F was just Mary F!

This time the children were with their mother Louisa Flora Parry, visiting their grandmother, Emma M Draper. A quick look on Ancestry’s listing from FreeBMD, and there’s Louisa Flora Draper getting married in Kensington, June qtr of 1886 to a John Parry. Quick look forward to 1901, Louisa Flora (transcribed as "Floy") Parry is with her husband at the Vicarage in Bromley. John, her husband, is a Church of England clergyman. Staying with them is his brother Joshua Powell Parry, an undergraduate from Jesus College Cambridge. No children there – they’re obviously all with their aunt, Catherine, in Burton Latimer.

Back to 1891, where’s John? No sign of him at the moment so let’s look for Joshua. He also seems to have absented himself, so I’ll try the 1881. There’s Joshua P Parry, aged 9, staying with his brother William 22, another brother Edward G, also 22, and a sister Josephine aged 20. They’re in Liverpool and it looks as if John is also nearby - a 24 year old lodger, Clerk in Holy orders, Curate of St Chrysostom, with a B.A from Cambridge.

Looking further back, in 1871, there’s Alexander Parry again, with his wife, Margaret, this time with children John 14, William and Edward G., both 12 and described as twins, Josephine 10, Joseph 8, Catherine M 5, and Emma 2. Joshua would not yet have been born.

So I was right with my identification of Catherine in 1881.

Nice when things match up like that. And of course, that isn’t the end of the story. With a name such as Alexander, which is not a common Parry first name, and his birth place in both 1871 and 1881 consistently being Ysceifiog, it isn’t that difficult to find the family in the 1861 census, with the four oldest children, and then to find him in both the 1851 and 1841 censuses. In those, he was living with his mother, another Margaret, and his brothers, William, Thomas, Edward, and Joseph. The boys all seem to be in the building trade so Alexander must have changed direction, becoming (according to the census entries) a farmer and then later, a brewer, and earned sufficient to give his children the opportunity to gain an education and, for three of them, the chance to go to Cambridge University.

Those three sons, John, Joseph and Joshua, all appear in the Cambridge University Alumni. Interestingly, the entry for Joshua describes his father as the Rev. A. But I’ll leave that for a descendant to investigate!

So, from a site reference where I wasn’t expecting much, I have had a pleasant afternoon putting together a four generation family tree, matching up several disparate census entries in the process and been able to identify some of the Cambridge Alumni!

Not bad for an afternoon's search.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Update to the web pages – Probate index

I seem to have been composing this entry for a week. One day I shall learn how to write the blog so that it actually achieves what I intended – to keep people informed of all the ”daily” happenings, which rarely get attention on the web site. But I’m sure there must be one of those “laws” in operation for genealogical research – you know the sort, about how the time taken to carry out a particular task is inversely related to the time you expect it to take, combined with some obscure relationship to the complexity of the task!

Anyway, a brief summary of the events since I last posted:
Received nine Parry related emails (including two from new contacts), and an updated tree by post. Sent twelve Parry related emails, plus posted some census information in response to the tree.

Several useful sites have been mentioned on the Guild forum. Some haven’t actually contained any Parry entries (but I’m sure they were useful for someone). However, I did find a Henry Parry listed as a Navy coastguard on the Isle of Wight in 1841 through Ann's page. He was 50 and was not born in the county whereas his wife, Jane aged 45, was. No sign of them in 1851 at the moment though.

Exploring the rather gruesome subject of judicial executions, I discovered that two Parry ladies had been the victims of murders. No Parrys listed amongst those executed for murder (on that site - found one later) but the subsequent postings of related web sites did show up the case of Albert Parry, a private in the West Yorks Regiment, who was amongst those soldiers executed by their own side during WW1. (One of indexes at

Some of the sites have many individual pages, which can make them time-consuming to search. So sometimes one has to decide whether the likelihood of results justifies the time taken to search. One useful feature of Google is their “site search” facility, which does speed things up. It also helps in finding people or information which might not otherwise be found, e.g. a Dr Edward Parry who attended one of the victims on the Judicial Executions site, or the fact that another victim’s maiden name would have been Parry, since her father was named in the article.

Unfortunately the "site search" doesn’t seem to work on some sites, such as lycos/tripod. It also doesn’t help when a site exceeds its data limit (too many of the Guild accessing one of the execution sites, no doubt!)

Another site mentioned was the 1901 Canadian census, which currently contains 242 Parry entries. But I shall leave extracting those until I’m ready to tackle Canada more systematically.

Carole, a new subscriber on the Parry list, wrote a good message to the list to introduce herself. I thought I’d look up her family on the censuses but, in common with the way things seem to be going at the moment, the task extended. First, I came across a family who were mistranscribred as Parry when they should have been Evans (that lost me 6 Parrys). Then, after finding a possible partial family for Carole in the 1851 census, when I looked for them in the 1841, the only likely family all appear to have been mistranscribed as Perry (so that gains me 10 Parrys). I guess I gained overall, but notifying Ancestry of all the errors will take time.

(And whether it is the “right” family still remains to be seen, since some of the children differ from the list Carole gave.)

The problem when things all take longer than expected is that they end up only getting half done before something else crops up. [Mental note to self – still need to tell Ancestry about the Perrys. And still need to remove/add all the mistranscribed entries in my own census files].

And other things that crop up don’t always get dealt with. Anne posted a message on the Forum asking for views concerning the issue I'd commented on in my very first posting here – mentioning living people in blogs. Almost two weeks later and my views are still sitting in my drafts folder!

Found a “classic” on Family search – “2d. Gt. Gd. Father Perry”, born about 1727 in Stafford, England, who died about 1780. I wonder if that was really his name!

And, finally, I managed to upload some of my transcriptions of the National Probate Index entries onto my web site. They aren’t fully transcribed but the list has been “hanging around” for so long (one of those “half done” jobs) that I thought I ought to put them where they might help other researchers.

Not that anyone on the Parry list commented when I told them. With five of the 3877 entries relating to my own direct line (most of whom didn’t have much to leave anyone) I would have hoped that others might also find a few. Perhaps there just isn’t sufficient detail there yet for people to recognise their own family.

Or perhaps the list is keeping quiet prior to its migration onto the new Rootsweb mail system tomorrow. Will it be another two weeks before I post anything?