Month: September 2014

Ellicott progress update

After a few hours sifting through the lists of results from Find My Past and sorting them into trees, I’ve managed to link up the Honeychurch, Winkleigh and Ashreigney lists. There’s still a question mark over some of Richard and Joanna’s later children; whether it’s still the same family as there’s 21 years between the oldest and youngest on the list with parents “Richard and Joan[na]” – not impossible, obviously, but questionable. I’ve put some of the info into Ancestry and got plenty of reassuring green leaf hints, so that’s some sort of confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction.

There’s no obvious link yet to the list of Ellacotts in nearby Hatherleigh, which is the next one to tackle, and there’s still a biggish gap in data for the mid 18th Century making the Sampford Courtenay list still a bit detached.

And they really weren’t very imaginative with names either; Richard, Mary, Elizabeth, Thomas, William and James in abundance.



Excitement and frustration

record entryThe beauty of the internet age for the genealogist is that new stuff gets digitised all the time. Find my Past recently (I think it was recently) released a whole tranche of Devon parish records and I thought it would be useful to have a poke around them looking for more Ellicotts. Because there seems to have been a substantial period of time when the family, or the name at least, centred around Sampford Courtenay in North Devon, I ran a search for Ellicott* and Sampford with no time restriction and got about 50 results. It was clear from these results that there were four distinct Ellacot family groups in the area at different times; all very good, except they don’t really connect with each other and there’s a noticeable gap in data between 1700-1780.

So I expanded the search to include the communities around Sampford Courtenay, places like Bondleigh, Ashreighney and North Tawton, and got a further 40 results. Some of these tie in with what is already known plus there seems to be a big Ellacott family in Winkleigh in the 1820s but there is still a lot of work to do. This is when genealogy becomes a jigsaw puzzle; I have lots of data but no clear picture. Now is when the fun begins; matching dates, places and people – wish me luck.

*including Ellacott and Ellacot

Tommy Currie

Tommie and Steve

That’s him on the left with one time partner Steve “Nobby” Smith. Tommy was a music hall artiste in the 1930s and 40s and ended up marrying fellow performer, singer Roma Ellis although she was known as Roma Currie long before they officially tied the knot. Although we know a fair amount about his private life, we have very little information about his career; just a couple of reviews mentioning him and Roma in the Smeddle Brothers’ “Blue Pencil Revue” of 1941. On which tour, incidentally, they had a lucky escape when playing the Alexandra Theatre in Hull, the show had not long finished when it got flattened by a German air raid.

There is a story that he toured German cabaret clubs in the 1930s but it might just be a story – there has been a sorry dearth of information so far. So this post is also something of an appeal; if you know anything, or know where we might find out more, please get in touch!

Interesting aside

It’s now almost certain that my dad’s grandfather and my mum’s grandfather were both involved in the Relief of Ladysmith during the Boer War. It’s also true that mum’s same grandfather and dad’s other grandfather were both involved in South Africa’s WW1 campaign in what is now Namibia.

We know they never met in a family setting, perhaps they did in wartime.


Leith portraitI moved to Portsmouth in 1981 and was pretty sure that I was the first member of the family to live in the city, which when I started the family history lark ultimately rendered the city’s record office as ‘not much use’ in the grand scheme of things. However, I now discover that my great grandfather was posted here in the 1890s – possibly for as long as six years. Having joined up in 1890 in Belfast, the 1891 census shows the 1st battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers resident at the Victoria Barracks, Portsea and regimental records show that he may well have lived in Portsmouth until he was posted to India in 1896.

What remains of the Victoria Barracks now houses the city museum, which until recently included the records office. Irony?

Uncle Stan

stanWhen I was a child we spent several summer holidays at my uncle Stan’s farm at Farlecombe on the edge of Dartmoor. It was an idyllic time, even the boredom of the stupidly long journey down there would evaporate as we turned into Devon’s narrow lanes – although this may have been due to the adrenalin rush as the possibility of tractor-based calamity increased.

Uncle Stan (actually my great uncle; Alfred Stanley Ellicott) was, to me, the archetypal farmer with his heavy corduroy trousers and wellington boots, he seemed completely at one with his surroundings as his thick Devon burr coaxed his cattle down the lanes through this beautiful landscape. He could have been there forever.

stan 2

Many years later I’m busy tracing my grandfather’s globe-trotting for Cable and Wireless and I start to notice another Ellicott appearing in the passenger list searches and it transpires that his brother, far from being a lifelong son of the soil, spent many years as a civil engineer in Sierra Leone, something no doubt other members of the family already knew but, at the time, was quite a surprise to me!

I suppose the moral of this post is never to assume you already know a person’s story: ask (about) your relatives, and even if you never find someone famous in your tree, there are always interesting tales to tell.