Friday, June 13, 2008

Probate Abstracts update

One of the (free!) books I picked up at the WDYTYA event was a catalogue from “Personalia”, who are dealers in all sorts of historical artifacts. It is fascinating to browse through something like this, since it gives an insight into the past, as well as containing many names (no Parrys though). One of the sections I found particularly interesting was about Momentos – predominently mourning brooches and rings. I have come across many references to mourning rings whilst transcribing the probate abstracts book but had never realised what forms they could take. You can see examples on their web site - Mourning Jewellery and Momentos

With regard to the probate abstracts, the basic transcription of the book was finished in March and I am in the process of converting the information into a suitable form to paste it into a spreadsheet or database. Having it in an electronic form will make it easier to search, but a spreadsheet format will also mean information can be rearranged easily which should make it more convenient for spotting connections between the various abstracts. At the moment, the conversion is what I call a “mindless task” – adding in tabs between information such as names and the key terms of “executor,” ”witness,” etc., so that the information will paste easily into a table. It doesn’t take a lot of thought but, every so often, something catches my attention. One such moment was when I spotted “Thomas Luckman, of Coventry, printer” in the abstract for a Mary Parry, spinster of Warwick, whose Will was written in 1783 and proved 1791. It wasn’t just the place name, but also the surname which caught my attention – and an article that appeared in the local newspaper a few years ago came to mind. It concerned the loss of some gravestones, amongst which was one belonging to a former Lord Mayor of Coventry, Thomas Luckman, and his wife Mary, who were buried in St Mary’s in 1784 and 1813 respectively. The gravestones had been moved during excavations at Coventry’s first Cathedral and had later disappeared. You can read the newspaper report here.

According to the newspaper, Thomas Luckman’s wife, Mary, had formerly been a Parry and, when I first saw it, I just noted it as “a Parry, to be followed up ‘as and when’,” since I had no further information on her. But now I have the abstract information, which links her in to a family, since it describes Mary Luckman as the niece of the testator (although it doesn’t actually mention that she was a Parry).

And it’s possibly not just any family – but one of those families who may eventually be shown to belong amongst the “fess families”. One of the other beneficiaries is a cousin, Martha Parry of Barcheston Mill, and there has been a suggestion by other researchers that the Barcheston Mill family connect to those of Aston Somerville, who did use that coat of arms. So there is a picture building up of interconnecting families – I just need to prove that there were definite relationships between them, rather than just associations. But it does seem like it’s time to stop bemoaning the fact that I have no family locally to research – they may not be my own family, but, as Parrys, they’re close enough.

As a final note along those lines, as I rechecked the Segar Parry information today, I discovered that some of the records for that family are held at Warwick record office – yet more relevant information just about on my doorstep!

It’s a good job that I have finally caught up with recording the last few months activities and can now start to look forward to the ongoing projects.

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