Israel Benjamin of Kurnik and Kieferstaedtel, d. 1874 Breslau

I’m going to write a few posts for the record on the various points in my family tree where the trail runs dry.

The first level with gaps is the level of 32 – that is, my great great great (3G) grandparents.

On my father’s side, there’s amazingly just one gap at this level:

Israel Benjamin (b. abt 1816, prob in Kurnik/Kórnik, Posen) married someone, apparently called Rebekka, some time in the late 1840s or early 1850s. They settled in Kieferstädtel, Germany (now Sosnicowice, Poland) where they had sons Joseph and Isaac (my 2G grandfather). I don’t have Rebekka’s last name.

The legend says that Israel’s father was Benjamin Dolziger, shot dead in a forest in Posen, after which time his family took his first name as their family name. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t ever been able to find evidence of this.

My grandfather’s brother Wolfgang Perl wrote a history of our family in which he describes the Jakubowski family as cousins of Israel’s son Isaac Benjamin.  I was able to consult the rather wonderful census of the province of Posen and pick up quite a few details.  They all seem to have moved from Kurnik to Breslau.  Ewald was a chemist. He had a brother called Gustav (whose funeral Wolfgang remembers), and sisters called (if my understanding of the German handwriting is correct) Bertha, Marie and Flora.  Flora married Jakob Schottlaender, and her parents are given on her wedding certificate as Louis Jakubowski and Amelie Goeczlig.

The rather amazing Poznan project has a record that seems to add credence to this – Bertha’s marriage record reveals her parents as Ludwig (rather than Louis) Jakubowski, and her mother as Amalie Benjamin.

The strong implication is that Amelie Goeczlig is therefore Israel’s sister.  From the birth years of her children, she’s likely to have been born around 1825.  If anyone out there knows any more, don’t hesitate to get in touch, as I obviously need more evidence. But it appears that ‘Goeczlig’ had simply evolved in stories told down the line into ‘Dolziger’.

To complicate matters more, when Israel died on 21st September 1874 (it was Yom Kippur, as Wolfgang had recorded), the hebrew documentation seemed to denote his father as being called August (or possibly Abraham/Aron).  But it’s hard to interpret! (I’m not a Hebrew reader myself – apparently the person who wrote the note used Yiddish spelling).  My next step is to try and get any record of Israel’s father’s name via a death record. Was it Auguste or Abraham or Benjamin? I might also be able to get this via an LDS film if sister Amalie died in Kornik.

As an aside, it’s wonderful to find some ephemera online from your actual family. This is the letterhead of my GG grandmother (Isaac Benjamin’s wife Josefine, nee Wischnitz).

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A famous actress from the 1880s

Katie Putnam is an example of someone who was once very famous but now almost completely forgotten. Mary Catherine “Katie” Putnam, born in Chicago, was a revered comedienne, playwright and actress who lived from 1854 to 1924.

Katie was the daughter of a musician, Samuel Porter Putnam, and an actress, Mary McWilliams.  She seems to have taken to the stage at quite an early age and toured first the midwest, and then the world (I have records of her performing in Sydney, Australia and also evidence that she visited London, England).

Young Putnam

1872 Katie Putnam arrival in London

putnam and press

Amazingly, since I started researching Katie just a few months ago, someone else has written a book containing a few pages devoted to her. At the time I was surprised that while scouring contemporary newspapers, I wasn’t able to find any in-depth features on her in spite of how obviously well known and loved she was. Perhaps this has to do with journalistic trends of the time, with LIFE magazine style features not being feasible in the 1880s.

The author describes Katie as “A Ray of Sunshine” to frontier audiences, and certainly almost every review and mention in contemporary newspapers is glowing in its praise.

1891 glowing putnam article

It’s a shame her active years came just before the era of film. Although she did continue to act intermittently later in her life, I don’t believe she was ever committed to celluloid. That would have been interesting!

Katie Obituary picture

Katie Putnam caricature

Katie was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a group founded in 1890 for patriotic American women to trace their roots back to America’s founding settlers.  Her connection here was via her father, S.P. Putnam.

This article claims that Katie Putnam was catholic, but as I’ll explain, she was of protestant stock on her mother’s side at least.

1886 irish article says Putnam is a catholic

Katie’s mother, Mary McWilliams, was born in Bethnal Green, London in 1829 to mother Catherine Knight and father John McWilliams.  While I’ve long known McWilliams to be a family name, I discovered my connection to this family by chance. It turns out that Katie Putnam was my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.

Progress on my Irish side had been so glacial that I thought I’d take a new tack. A few months ago I thought about any names in my tree that could potentially be unique or close to unique to my family.  If I could find some of these, then it might provide a refreshing antidote to the forlorn searches I’d been making for McBrides, Marshalls, Johnstons and Hills.

One day I had the idea of trying to identify all the ‘Rebecca Rea XXXXX’ people in the database.  My mother’s grandmother was Rebecca Rea Marshall (b. 1866), and I knew of half a dozen or so other ‘Rebecca Rea’ daughters in the family.  Using the interface, I was able to search for people with exactly these first names, leaving the last name field blank.

One record immediately jumped out at me: a Rebecca Rea McWilliams was born in Bethnal Green, London (not far from where I am now!) on 23rd February 1831.  This seemed likely to be relevant to me, but what were my people doing in London?

Rebecca Rea Bethnal birth

My 3G Grandmother Rebecca Rea McWilliams (b. 1800 in Glencull, Tyrone) was the daughter of John McWilliams and Mary Wilson. Mary had inherited money from her brother (more on him another time), and her will was processed by the prerogative court of Canterbury, and I was therefore able to get a copy of this invaluable source.

Returning to the will (from 1845), I realized that the John McWilliams in Bethnal Green was likely to have been the person referred to in the will as ‘My late son John McWilliams deceased of London’ and that the Rebecca Rea McWilliams I’d found was therefore the niece of my 3G grandmother Rebecca Rea McWilliams.

1845 John McWilliams in will

Now with the relative luxury of well-preserved English records to consult, I was able to put together the story of this new Rebecca Rea’s family:

John married Catherine Knight at St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch (which I frequently walk past!) on 13th January 1816.  John was a weaver in the Globe town area of Bethnal Green/Whitechapel, but interestingly later became a police officer.  Catherine bore him no fewer than 10 children, seven of whom survived to adulthood.

Sadly John died at the age of 45 in 1837 (since civil registrations had just started, I will be able to order his death certificate) and was buried at Globe Fields Burial Ground (Wesleyan) on 1st Jan 1838 (a tiny patch of this is still there, but with no legible graves)

His children were as follows:

  • John McWilliams (b. 1816; d. 1818)
  • James McWilliams (b. 1818; d. 1893)
  • Mary McWilliams (b. 1819; d. 1822)
  • Sarah McWilliams (b. 1821; d. 1822)
  • Catherine McWilliams (b. 1822; d. 1866)
  • John McWilliams (b. 1825; d. c. 1870s)
  • Jane Wilson McWilliams (b. 1827; d. 1912)
  • Mary McWilliams (b. 1829; d. 1907)
  • Rebecca Rea McWilliams (b. 1831; d. ????)
  • George Isaac McWilliams (b. 1836; d. 1879)

A few things to note here. The middle names ‘Isaac’ and ‘Wilson’ further cement the connection to my McWilliams family in Tyrone – John’s uncle was Sir Isaac Wilson, a renowned doctor and friend of the royal family.  And ironically, in spite of many hours of research, Rebecca Rea McWilliams is the only one of the siblings that I was unable to track! It’s possible that she married a John Shepherd in Washington, OH on July 25th 1847, but I have not so far been able to prove or disprove this.

Putting together the lives of Catherine (John’s widow) and the other siblings was a lot more fun than I expected.

In 1841, Catherine and family are still in the east end (Stepney).  Her profession is given as ‘Chandler’, and conveniently we also learn that James is a Cabinet Maker, Catherine is a Silk Weaver and John is a blacksmith. The only puzzle here is that Jane is missing (there’s another 65-year old Jane McWilliams here, but definitely doesn’t look like a mistake so this may be another sibling of John). Also Rebecca is missing, but seems to turn up as a servant in another house just south of the river.

The next clue is in 1842 when James McWilliams and his sister Catherine leave for America, arriving in Philadelphia on April 18th, 1842.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 23.14.59

The rest of the family travelled to New York, arriving on 16th October 1845, the only mystery at this point was brother John (b. 1825), who is not on the list.

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This was the first time I’d actually been able to use a shipping manifest to discover an instance of emigration. So I had a family arriving on the east coast in the early 1840s.  The obvious source of information was then the census. This proved harder than it should have done for a few reasons:

  • Early US censuses sometimes omitted the first name (e.g. ‘Mrs McWilliams’), or were sufficiently illegible that accurate transciption has not been possible, making it hard to find people in searches.
  • Many of the female McWilliams children married quite early on and acquired different names
  • The youngest son, George, liked to have fun. One of his census returns says he was born in France; another Illinois. He also seems to have gone by George W. McWilliams (Wilson?) rather than George Isaac McWilliams.

But overall, as someone researching family history, the USA is an amazing place! Although there’s no central index for civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths, in instances where they are recorded, there’s often a superb amount of detail, including the full names of both the mother and father of the deceased person. This was the first record I found that started to tie things together:

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This not only helped me to find census records (Mary lived with her mother in 1850), but also definitively confirmed for the first time that the marriage between John McWilliams and Catherine Knight was the correct one.

Another helpful source is city directories, which tended to give the names of the deceased husbands of widows, as well as listing street addresses.

1864 mcwilliams in chicago

Making sure I had the correct people was difficult but ultimately possible, thanks to census records and the phenomenon of ‘local gossip’ in newspapers. It also helped that they all had a famous niece in Katie Putnam.

James McWilliams (b. 1818; d. 1893) worked as a printer and news dealer in Chicago and Oak Park, IL, and definitely liked to let people know what he was doing!

1888 Mary Mcwilliams putname visiting James.1889 James McWilliams is visited by Genevra Ross and Will S Felton


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Catherine the daughter married Enos Flanders and had several children, but sadly died quite early in 1866 at the age of 44.

I hadn’t been sure whether or not John (b. 1825) had ever made it to the USA until I saw this article showing he lived in Kansas. I was then able to find some census records tying this Jack McWilliams with Mary’s brother John.

1877 Jack McWilliams Katie Putnam mention - burlington, ks

Jane McWilliams married Timothy Stubbs (they were living with the Putnams and her mother in 1870), was widowed quite early and lived in Lincoln, Michigan.

Katie’s mother Mary was also an actress, as well as a promoter and theatre manager. Early on, she was in a troupe that also included her younger brother George.  It doesn’t seem that she remained with S. P. Putnam for long; he appears alongside her on the census only once, in 1850 one year after their  marriage.

We have quite a detailed biography of George McWilliams, who it turns out ran for congress as a Democrat.  His wife Sue Ingersoll Scott (she was married before and widowed) was a composer whose songs were sung by her niece Katie Putnam. Amazingly some of these songs are available – here’s Pass Under the Rod [PDF file of the sheet music].

George McWilliams Lafayette Sunday Leader September 7, 1879 - could be him
1879 Indianapolis News, 30 August 1879 George Mcwilliams

Terre Haute Daily Gazette, Volume 2, Number 122,Terre Haute, Vigo County, 21 October 1871

The only ongoing mystery in the family is then Rebecca Rea, where I started. I hope she made it to New York and made a life for herself.

To recap on the family connection:

  • My grandmother’s mother was Rebecca Rea Marshall (b. 1866 in Mullaghmore, Dyan, County Tyrone, Ireland)
  • Rebecca’s mother was Mary Jane Johnston (b. circa 1834 in Mulintor, Dyan, Caledon, County Tyrone)
  • Mary Jane’s mother was Rebecca Rea McWilliams (b. circa 1800 in Glencull near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone)
  • Rebecca Rea’s brother John (b. circa 1792 in Glencull, County Tyrone) married Catherine Knight in London. After John died, his surviving family emigrated and made their way in the USA.
  • Mary then married S.P.Putnam and had Katie Putnam
  • Katie was married twice (latterly to Harry B. Emery) but had no children.


The Whitmores of Ludstone

Fresh from identifying the ancestors of Charles Francis Heighington, I moved across to revisit those of his wife, Anne Maria Whitmore.

All I knew of Anne Maria was that her father was John Whitmore, her mother was Margaret Leake, and that her birth might have been illegitimate (unusually, the last name of the mother is given on her baptism).

Charles and Anne Maria were married in the Church of Creeting All Saints, Suffolk in 1790 (not long before the church collapsed about 10 years later).  By consulting a microfilmed transcription of the parish records at the Church of Latter Day Saints family history centre at the National Archives in Kew, London, I had been able to confirm John’s death in 1795, with his grandson who had died aged 2 buried in the same tomb.

Alas, that was as far as I could get. I could find no birth record for John, and while there were many sets of Whitmore in England at the time, some quite well researched, I had nothing to tie him definitively to any of them.

All I really had was a Shropshire connection. In spite of the wedding and burial in Suffolk, Ann Maria had been born in Wellington, Shropshire.

Buoyed by my recent success, I did a Google search for “John Whitmore” “Creeting”. I reasoned that any page with this combination of exact phrases was likely to be relevant (although in practice this argument is negated slightly by the presence of many ‘catch-all’ sites on the internet that are set up by spammers expressly to intercept any search).

This time I got lucky. Within the first few results was an article about the Whitmores of Ludston, Salop that was published around 1900.  This is a thorough history of this particular family of Whitmores, piecing together information from parish records and other sources.  It was not long before I came upon the relevant passage:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 16.53.17

This was definitely my John, so this pointed to a few things:

  • John might have been born in London (previously I hadn’t known whether to look in Shropshire or Suffolk)
  • His father was George, of Saint Bartholomew the Less.

Some research quickly brought up a will, from 1754, in which both John and his sister Henrietta were named.  It also confirmed George as a Chemist by trade. Armed with this information, I was able to do some more searches that brought up some other interesting documents:

The upshot of all this is that I was able to figure out that George Whitmore’s wife, John’s mother, was Mabell Eyton.  This opens out another set of ancestors going back quite some time, long documented.

I was even able to get an original copy of the Parish record showing John’s birth, and those of three siblings, two of whom died young.  One of these also revealed that George and Mabell resided at Little Britain in the City of London.

1727 John Whitmore Baptism

1731 Mabel Whitmore Little Britain

And as for John, it would appear that he had a daughter Henrietta with his wife Anne, who then died. He then started another family with Margaret, but may not have married her (perhaps for reasons to do with inheritance). This is from a letter dated 1795 not long after John’s death:

“… if you would not think it a strange question I long to enquire whether or not you suppose my Uncle and the person now stiled Mrs. Whitmore were ever married, I have forborn asking the question during his Life least it sho’d be supposed it might have affected him with respect to the payment of his annuity…” H. is to assure Mr. Pennington that F. will be happy to settle his demands upon her on H’s account and asks for a copy of her mother’s settlement beforehand. Is Mrs. W. so called H’s guest at present? and is her daughter in such a situation as to be able to receive her or afford her any assistance? There is not a family in the village where the children are not ill of measles or chickenpox – she hopes H’s children have escaped.
1. It appears from this letter that H’s father John Whitmore (F’s only uncle on her mother’s side) had after the death of his wife Anne produced a second family by an irregular union. Presumably “Mr T.Whitmore” is a son of this union. The annuity paid to H’s father for life has been mentioned before (665/5953) and will be again (665/5963). In the next letter “my Uncle’s poor children” have been kindly remembered by Mr Boone (665/5959). Mr T.Whitmore’s visit to F. in Dec ember 1796 is described (665/5962). His mother and sister are then in distress and not on good terms with H. See also 665/5963. By 1802, they are “well situated, however (665/5973)
From the whole tone of this letter, it does not seem as though Uncle Whitmore were greatly mourned, either by F. or by his daughter (unless a letter of condolence should have been sent between April and June, and not survived). H. is said to have “recovered”, from any shock.

To be continued!  In the meantime we have three or four new generations of Whitmore. To trace it back:

  • My grandmother’s father was John Victor Charles Jones (b. 1874)
  • John’s father was Charles Richard Jones (b. 1828)
  • Charles’s father was Richard Jones (b. circa 1798), who married Ann Maria Heighington (b. 1798)
  • Ann Maria Heighington’s mother was Ann Maria Whitmore (b. circa 1769)
  • Ann Maria’s parents were John Whitmore (b. circa 1727) and Margaret Leake (b. circa 1730)
  • John Whitmore’s parents were George Whitmore (b. circa 1700) and Mabell Eyton (1703-1771)
  • At this point, both George and Mabell’s families can be traced back a few generations via 18th/19th century pedigree charts

Eyton Pedigree

The one above indicates that Mabell was the daughter of Rachel Acton and the reverend John Eyton, vicar of Wellington, who in turn was the son of Thomas Eyton.  A Sarah Acton was George Whitmore’s grandmother, so I’m guessing there was some intermarrying within families.

George’s father was John Whitmore, son of the Reverend John Whitmore (who served in Stockton), who was in turn the son of John Whitmore who built Ludstone Hall at Claverley, which still stands today (I’ll have to try and make it up there for the next open day!)

Ludstone Hall 1913 postcard

Ludstone Hall

I should also record here that the Shropshire archive letters (written by John Whitmore’s niece Frances Mabel Sparrow) seem to indicate that Margaret, John’s second ‘wife’ and the mother of my ancestor, was a known figure in Wellington, Shropshire – there’s a passage referring to her son Thomas’s possible likeness to her. This therefore points to her being born in or near there. There’s a likely baptism for a Margaret Leake, the daughter of Joshua Leake (who was a Maltster) and wife Margaret, on 27 Sept 1745.  I await evidence that this is really her.  There was another more aristocratic family called ‘Leeke’ nearby, but given the spelling for Margaret is consistently ‘Leake’ or ‘Leak’, and there’s no Margaret in that family of the right age, the baptism above seems more likely.

In addition, I was able to find John’s son Thomas’s wedding, featuring the signature of none other than Anne Maria Heighington (nee Whitmore), who was a witness. Maybe it’s time to start an autograph book!

Heighington Postcard

Finding Nicholas Crispe

I was casually browsing the ‘treetops’ of my family tree when I came to Alice Grey (my 5G Grandmother).

Initially I’d known nothing more about Alice than that she married my 5G Grandfather Valentine Heighington in Stoke Newington, London in 1756.

However, thanks to an old piece of paper preserved and shown to me by my dad’s cousin, I had been able to ascertain that Alice had been born in Lambourn near Wantage, Berkshire, and that her father had been an attorney. Initial attempts to discover anything based on this had failed, and I’d left it at that.

Alice Grey in old family doc

A few days ago I searched again and suddenly found a baptism for an Alice Grey, born in Lambourn and baptised in 1729. It seemed likely that this was her, the birth coming at about the right time, and in view of Lambourn being quite small.  This gave her father as Isaac Grey and her mother as ‘Alice’.  Searching on Isaac’s name revealed that there was indeed an attorney there with that name and at that time, as the old family record had stated.  The same set of parish records had a baptism for Isaac in 1696, revealing his father to be another Isaac, and his mother to be Sarah.

At this point these connections were probable rather than proved.  Isaac’s profession as an attorney led me to think he might have been quite well off, so I searched in the database of wills of the prerogative court of Canterbury. Amazingly, wills existed for both Isaacs and also for Alice Grey, the mother of the Alice Grey I’d already known about. The names of sons mentioned in the wills also corresponded with baptisms for the different sets, so I felt sure of my two Isaacs as 6th and 7th G Grandfathers.  There are also records of Isaac the younger’s apprenticeship, as arranged by his father Isaac.

Alice senior’s will then named her daughter Alice as the wife of Valentine Heighington, confirming definitively that I had the right family.

1669 Alice wife of Valentine H

I then did a Google search for “isaac grey” “lambourn” (note that even single words now have to be in quotes if you want to ensure they appear in the results). By some miracle, a detailed history of Lambourn church, including memorial inscriptions, had been published back in 1898 and digitised at

Here I found the following inscription for the younger Isaac Grey (who died 1744 aged 48; I was able to cross-reference this death year with both the probate date of his will and his baptism):

On the east wall of St. Mary’s chapel:

Memory of
Isaac Grey, Gent.
who departed this life
Dec the 3rd 1744
Aged 48 Years

He has left a Widow
and four children
Inconsolable for his loss
having been a tender Husband
and the Most Indulgent Parent.

He was ever ready to Assist
The Needy, and to defend
the cause of the Poor
from Oppression and wrong.

He was the great Grand-son of Sr Nicholas Crisp
by his daughr Elizabeth, who lyes bury’d
in St. Mildred, Bread St, London.

1744 isaac grey inscription copy

I’d never heard of Sir Nicholas Crisp, but I thought that sounded interesting.

At this point I had to be wary – suddenly jumping back 3 generations from a starting point of 1696, a lot could be lost in confusion.  Indeed, there were several different Sir Nicholas Crisps, with different spellings of the last name as you might expect.  One was clearly more famous and notorious than the others (one of whom was actually his grandson). If it hadn’t been for the very last line of the memorial inscription, I would have had no way of being sure which Sir Nicholas Crisp was being referred to, but as it turned out, the famous, notorious Sir Nicholas also had a strong association with the church of St. Mildred, Bread St, London, and was indeed buried there in 1665, the year before the great fire of London.


More on Nicholas Crispe’s notoriety:

  • He was an extremely wealthy capitalist – one of the first to exploit African gold trade
  • He had an enormous mansion in Hammersmith built for himself
  • He was an extreme royalist. So loyal to Charles I that he had a monument made to him and then when he died, had his heart encased and placed at Charles’s feet and left money so his heart could be ‘refreshed’ with a glass of wine every year on the anniversary of his death. This was apparently done for 100 years!
  • He was an MP for Winchelsea. He was then expelled and fled to France after Cromwell took control.  He bankrolled the King while he was in exile, and came back to England after the restoration and was again an MP.
  • Apparently he was not only a slave trader, but for a period, was also granted a patent for slavery itself [this is amazing – I wouldn’t have believed it was possible to make the worst thing in the world somehow worse]


This all blew my mind a bit.

So to recap, the memorial inscription had told me that Isaac’s grandmother was Sir Nicholas’s daughter Elizabeth. I didn’t yet know the path between Isaac and his supposed grandmother. I knew his father was another Isaac Grey, but annoyingly hadn’t been able to identify the last name of his mother, Sarah.

To try and validate and investigate, I first went to Nicholas’s will. This restated Sir Nicholas’s association with St Mildred, Bread Street, and confirmed a daughter called Elizabeth. However, at the time the will was written, Elizabeth was not yet married, so this didn’t give me a last name to go on. Sir Nicholas died in February 1665 aged 66.

So I had to proceed based on the following hypotheses:

  • Elizabeth Crisp b. c. 1620-40 married ???? and had UNKNOWN [son or daughter]
  • Isaac Grey married Sarah around 1695 and had
  • Isaac Grey born 1696 whose great grandfather was Sir Nicholas.

This meant that UNKNOWN child was either Isaac Grey OR his wife Sarah XXXX, and the person Elizabeth Crisp married was either the father of Isaac Grey or the father of Sarah XXXX.

I didn’t manage to uncover any marriages, but I did find a useful book online of the parish records of St. Mildred’s, Bread Street. No relevant ‘Elizabeth Crispe’ was mentioned, so I scanned through the pages looking for Elizabeths mentioned around the 1650s-1680s (I knew son Isaac’s father had to have been born by 1680 in order to have had his son Isaac in 1696).  One thing leapt out at me: In 1679 there was a record of the death of Elizabeth, wife of Isaack Gray.  Yes, the spelling was slightly weird, but the name certainly jumped out at me having just uncovered the other two Isaacs.  It could be a coincidence, but perhaps it could be that simple! Nicholas’s daughter Elizabeth married Isaac Grey who had Isaac Grey who had Isaac Grey!

Elizabeth Wife of Isaack Gray

Feeling quite smug, I turned my attention back to wills in order to prove the link.

Again, since these people seem to have been extremely wealthy, I expected to find some Canterbury wills, and I was not disappointed. The key document was the will of Anne Crisp (née Prescott, the wife of Sir Nicholas). Anne’s will was dated 1669, and is very detailed about her offspring and other relatives.

But at first, my heart sank. There was only one mention of her daughter Elizabeth, and her last name given not as Grey, but with another name that I couldn’t read properly beginning with L. It didn’t mention her husband’s name or any children [for her many other children, all these details were given]

Elizabeth Leicester fragment from Anne Prescott Crispe's will

I sighed, sad that the Isaac Grey thing had turned out to be potentially a red herring, but nevertheless pleased to have found her actual married name.  After going through the name letter by letter I realised it had to be “Leicester”. Alas “Elizabeth Leicester” is quite a hard name to research, since there are a lot of Elizabeths in Leicester!

I also looked for ‘Leicester’ people at St Mildreds but found nothing.

Then it happened.  I did a Google search for “elizabeth leicester” “crispe” and instantly knew I was onto something. From a book from 1897 called Collections relating to the family of Crispe (Volume 4) [I’d searched the first volume but hadn’t known about the others!], I found this text:

ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT indented, tripartite, made 25 June 1670, between (i) Isaac Gray of of London, citizen, (ii) Elizabeth Leicester of I.ondon, widow (relict and admix of Robert Leicester dec”) and (iii) John Crispe of London, esq, and Richard Kinge of London, merchant, a marriage being intended to be had shortly after, between the said Isaac and Elizabeth.

Signatures of Elizabeth Leicester, John Crispe, and Ric : King on fold, (ii)

1670 Articles of Agreement Elizabeth Leicester and Isaac Grey

I knew via Anne’s will that Richard King was a brother-in-law and John Crispe was a brother of Elizabeth.  So I had finally found the connection. Note that I wasn’t able to find an actual marriage record, although I did find a possible birth record for Isaac son of the first Isaac, in Stepney, not far from St. Mildreds.

Now I was sure of the connection, I had landed in a ‘gentry’ situation, finding that my ancestors were sufficiently famous/revered/rich that their lineage going back well into the middle ages is recorded in numerous books and publications that are miraculously available to me to read in a few mouse clicks.

Sir Nicholas (alongside his wife, my 9G Grandmother was Anne Prescott; there’s even an original church record for the marriage) features in this tree towards the bottom on the left as ‘Captaine Nicholas Crispe':

crispe tree

Sir Nicholas’s father was Ellis Crispe, apparently a wealthy businessman from Marshfield near Bath, Gloucestershire who became Alderman of London. His wife was Hester Crispe, of whom a rather amazing portrait exists:


And it goes on  – Hester was the son of John Ireland (who left a will) and Anne Elizabeth Hill, taking me neatly back to another dominant family name!

So to recap:

  • My grandmother’s father was John Victor Charles Jones (b. 1874)
  • John’s father was Charles Richard Jones (b. 1828)
  • Charles’s father was Richard Jones (b. circa 1798), who married Ann Maria Heighington (b. 1798 – it was her 218th birthday on the 6th Feb!)
  • Ann Maria Heighington’s father was Charles Francis Heighington (b circa 1760)
  • Charles Francis’s parents were Valentine Heighington (b. circa 1724) and Alice Grey (b. circa 1728)
  • Alice Grey’s parents were Isaac Grey (b. circa 1696) and Alice
  • Isaac’s parents were Isaac Grey (b. circa 1672) and Sarah (Isaac later married a Martha)
  • Isaac the elder’s parents were Isaac Grey and Elizabeth Leicester (nee Crispe)
  • Elizabeth’s parents were Sir Nicholas Crispe and Anne Prescott,  making Nicholas and Anne my 9G Grandparents.

Having uncovered all this, I’m finding I can go back further in a few places on and near this line (details to come!)

Of course, Sir Nicholas the slave trader is just one of 2,048 grandparents at that level, which makes me a feel a bit better…