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Loses something

Google Translate can sometimes be very useful in working with Danish census records.

And sometimes not.



Well, no wonder I could never find Benjamin Franklin Currier and his family in the 1875 New York State census! Here they are, right in Nassau, Rensselaer, New York where they belong:The census taker apparently completely misunderstood that “Franklin” was the guy’s middle name and not his and his family’s surname. I like how No Name is 2/365 years old though.

But this record clears up (kind of) a bit of confusion. All the records from his son the young Benjamin Franklin Currier’s adulthood say he was born in New Jersey, yet his siblings all were said to have been born in New York and in the 1880 census it says young Benjamin was born in New York too. So I thought maybe he’d somehow gotten the idea into his own head he’d been born in New Jersey, but was wrong.

This census, though, says he was born in New Jersey with his immediate siblings born in Rensselaer County, New York. So it appears the 1880 census is wrong and the later documents are right.

Of course it’d help to check the 1870 census. If the family could be found in it. I can’t find it. I’ve tried searching from every angle I can think of, Currier or Courier or Franklin or no surname at all and just look for families with a Loella and a Benjamin, in New York and New Jersey and New Hampshire, and they just don’t come to light.

Nor can I find them in the 1865 New York census. But maybe they were in New Jersey then.

In the 1860 census they’re in Pittstown, Rensselaer, New York, and the elder Benjamin is indexed as Benjamin F. C. Currin; looks like the name actually written was Benjamin F. C. Currier. The C initial is another mistake.

I had found the family already in 1880, indexed under the surname “Courier”.

Good effort, guys. Participation trophies for everyone.


Old footsteps in Essex, UK

Two years ago, during the American Travelling Morrice’s Cape Ann (Massachusetts) tour, I took an afternoon to visit Plymouth, adopted home of John Holmes and birthplace of Nathaniel, Elisha, Elisha, and Samuel; coming home from that tour I swung through Montville, CT, where Samuel settled and presumably where Nathan and Hiram were born.

This year’s ATM was in Derbyshire, UK, and by delaying my return a few days I was able to extend the list of ancestral Holmes home towns I’ve visited.

Sunday I rode trains on my first class rail pass from Hathersage to Manchester to London Euston, took the Underground and walked to Liverpool Road, and took the train to Colchester, adopted home of one ancestral Thomas Holmes (the tailor) and birthplace of two more plus John.

Once established in my room I walked into Colchester’s city center. Dinner at the Victoria pub, then I pressed on to Colchester Castle, the twelfth century edifice which for many years was used as the Essex County gaol (jail, for us Americans). Gaolkeeper from 1624 until his death in 1637: the third Thomas Holmes, the maltster, father of John, my ancestor. The castle is now a museum. It was closed by that time of day, of course, but I walked around it, then went back to my room.

A Holmes returns to Colchester Castle

Monday was quite a day of walking. I logged just under 14 miles on the pedometer.

I walked into town, getting a convenience store breakfast on the way. First destination was St. James’s church, though not neglecting to inspect the Roman wall along the way.

Roman wall, Colchester

Roman wall, Colchester

Roman wall, Colchester

St James’s is where John Holmes was baptized in 1603 and I’d hoped to get inside it. Not only did I not, I didn’t even get into the churchyard; the gate was closed and locked. Oh well.

St James, Colchester

St James, Colchester

St James, Colchester

Next the castle.

Colchester Castle

Foundations, Colchester Castle

Door, Colchester Castle

Window (showing wall thickness), Colchester Castle

Model of Colchester Castle circa 1086

Colchester Castle, hall interior

Colchester Castle, pigeon in a garderobe

I was in it about three hours including a tour of the Roman vaults (the castle was built on the foundations of a Roman temple dating to about 40 AD)

Roman vaults, Colchester Castle

Roman vaults, Colchester Castle

and the roof.

Tree, planted early 19th century, on Colchester Castle roof

View from Colchester Castle roof

Tower, an 18th century addition, Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle roof, northeast corner

View from Colchester Castle roof

The prison exhibition was in a part added in the 1700s so unknown to Thomas Holmes,

Colchester Castle, prison display

Colchester Castle, prison display

Colchester Castle, prison display

Colchester Castle, prison display

but a nearby room was called out as having been used as gaol space in the 1600s.

Colchester Castle, Lucas Vault

Colchester Castle, Lucas Vault

Also this quote was displayed:

Colchester Castle quote

Sheesh. Never meet your ancestors. 1631 was, as indicated above, right in the middle of Thomas Holmes’s tenure. I was unfamiliar with this report but it’s in the Essex Records Office (T/A 418/108/10). Evidently its recommendations (including putting the gaol in the middle of the county and appointing an “honest gaoler”) were not implemented in full, if at all.

I hit the shop and bought a booklet on the castle, a coaster depicting it, and a set of “dungeon keys”. The latter I would guess are mass produced generic decor items which you can probably find on Amazon or eBay at half the price but I couldn’t resist.

Souvenirs, Colchester Castle

I had lunch (McD’s, worst meal of the trip) and walked back to the train station to begin the next adventure. Took trains to Wickford. Walked to Ramsden Bellhouse, about 2.6 miles.

View toward farms south of Ramsden Bellhouse from the road to Wickford

Welcome to Ramsden Bellhouse

Ramsden Bellhouse was the birthplace of John’s great grandfather Thomas, the tailor, who moved to Colchester, and home of Thomas’s likely father John Holme(s). William Holme, possibly that John’s father, bought property there in 1499.

The old church there, St. Mary’s, like St. James’s in Colchester, was closed, but it was not fenced in. (Had I done more homework I’d’ve known the church is open for visitors on Saturdays, but getting there on a Saturday would not have fit with my travel schedule anyway.) I hardly expected any of the gravestones to date from the 16th century but was surprised to discover most of them, even ones that by style and decrepitude I expected to be a couple hundred years old, were 20th century. In fact most of the visible stones are in an expansion of the cemetery that was made in 1913. The older section is estimated to have been used for more than 5000 burials over the centuries but there are few stones. About five older stones are close to the church and the one least illegible seemed to date to 1720. Anyway, no Holmeses I noticed.

There was a church here in 1281 and probably in 1066. The west end of the church including the tower and west door date from the 15th century, the nave and chancel roofs are 15th and 16th century, and the south porch is 14th or 15th century with 20th century restorations. (See British Listed Buildings page.) So much of what’s seen here would be familiar to Thomas the tailor.

St Mary’s, Ramsden Bellhouse

West door, St Mary’s, Ramsden Bellhouse

St Mary’s, Ramsden Bellhouse

Aside from St. Mary’s I didn’t see anything of obvious antiquity along the main road. Maybe some houses had old bones but most were clearly modern. The village site doesn’t seem to indicate there is much else of note from pre 20th century, other than an Elizabethan manor.

I walked on past the Fox and Hounds pub, which didn’t seem very promising as a resting place, and pushed on to Ramsden Heath, about 1.3 miles north of Ramsden Bellhouse. The White Horse looked better but turned out to have nothing of interest on tap.

The plan had been to retrace my steps to Wickford, but the plan hadn’t been to go as far as Ramsden Heath, and I realized from there the walk to Billiricay was shorter, about 3 miles. Theoretically I could have taken a bus to one or the other (and from, for that matter) but I felt like walking and not like coping with that mystery, so I headed west. I got there about 6:00, had dinner at the Blue Boar,

Dinner, Blue Boar, Billiricay

and then rode the trains back to Colchester and walked to my room for the night. Next day I went to Manchester, and on Wednesday flew home.

Thanks EU

While writing the last post I discovered this:

Ysearch, the free, public genetic-genealogy database, is no longer accessible as a result of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect on May 25th 2018.



Letter of Administration

Rather abruptly, I find I’ve become the (sole) administrator for the Holmes DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

Last month, the person who’s long been the administrator and who maintained a website for the project on his own server sent out a letter explaining that, due to policy changes at ftdna, that web site had been closed down and would be replaced by one at ftdna. He also asked if anyone would be interested in becoming an administrator for the project. I responded asking for more information, under the impression he was talking about adding administrators, not replacing himself.

However, he left the position last weekend. I wrote to ftdna offering to become the new administrator and was accepted.

So there I am.

There’s a bit of a learning curve. Working on that. I’ve put the anonymized test results back online. Other than that, maintaining the status quo for now.

I’ve let it be known I’d welcome additional administrators for the project; no takers yet.

The project has 201 members now. I’d like to see more. Holmes is a pretty common name; we should have more people testing and willing to share results than that.

Nathan Holmes of Hamilton, New York

I’ve finally gotten around to turning my web pages about Nathan Holmes into an actual document, with source citations. Nothing that would ever be mistaken for a professional article or anything, but at least it’s something that can be printed, handed off to Luddites, stuck in a safety deposit box for five hundred years, whatever, and it has some indication where to find the evidence supporting the story (though, perhaps, you’ll have to check different repositories five hundred years from now). I expect to continue tweaking this document until I’m too dead to work on it any more but it’s available in its current form, in PDF format, at, which should redirect to

Lawyers and Gentlemen

Hm. I got the idea of doing some searching for Ham[m]ond[e] in the AALT indexes and found a couple sort of interesting entries:

From 1510:

Side Image County Pleas Plaintiffs Defendants
f 887 Essex common recovery Meyny, John, gent; Strangman, John, senior; Hern, John; Edmond, John; Purfotte, Thomas; Baker, Thomas Hamond, Reginald, gent

That’s presumably our man Reggie right there in the Defendants column. “Common recovery” is the term for a hilariously underhanded way to get around an entail on a property (that is, its automatic passing by operation of law to an heir pre-determined by the settlement deed). As explained on Wikipedia:

As a preliminary, there needed to be a conveyance of the land. The owner (in tail) of the land A conveyed it to someone else B (known as the tenant in precipe) to the intent that a third person C (known as the demandant) might sue for it. C accordingly issued a writ against B. In court, B defended his right saying (correctly) that he had acquired it from A. A (now called the vouchee) was called upon to vouch for his right to the land. He alleged that he had acquired it from D (a person known as the common vouchee). D asked for time and failed to appear subsequently; alternatively, he dashed out of the court. In either case, the judgment was that C should recover the land, and that D should compensate B with land of equal value. However, D was chosen because he was a ‘man of straw‘ with no property at all, so that the judgment against him was valueless, and it was never enforced. The result was thus that C recovered land in fee simple, which A had owned in only fee tail; thus, the entail was barred.

And from 1536:

Side Image County Pleas Plaintiffs Defendants
f 2643 London debt de Vere, Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford Hamond, Brisingham, of Parva Regn, Essex, gent

Plaintiff Elizabeth here would have been the former Elizabeth Trussell, wife (second wife, of course!) of John de Vere, the 15th Earl of Oxford, and mother of John de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford — hence the mother in law of Margery Golding. Defendant Brisingham Hamond? No clue, except he’s mentioned as being from Colchester in a property transaction from the same year. Selling, maybe to pay off the Countess? Anyway, I’m guessing he was related to Reggie. And what and where is Parva Regn? Also no clue.