Friday, 27 January 2017


I was checking over a burial record at Walton Cemetary, Liverpool, regarding one of our relatives and noticed this entry on the opposite page.

Princes Dock - place of death

It seems that on 18 December 1872, a person recorded as '---- Callaghan', approx 24 years of age, was buried in Walton Cemetary in a public grave, plot 693B. The burial was recorded as entry 53 in the ledger. On the line underneath, numbered 54, the burial of 'a woman unknown' was also registered.

The fact that the identities of the individuals appeared not to have been fully established is one thing, but the fact that both of them are said to have died in 'Princes Dock' seemed really unusual! 

I wondered what the backstory of this couple was? An accident perhaps, or maybe a suicide pact between lovers? I was intrigued and wanted to look into it a bit further.

Princes Dock, around 1835 (source: Chester Walls)

I ran a quick search to see if I could find any further information online on the deaths, from a newspaper or other source of that time perhaps, and instead found references to there being a 'deadhouse' in Princes Dock. In the crypt of St Nicholas' church near the dock site, there was a 'deadhouse' - a place where the bodies of people who had died from drowning were laid out; until they were claimed either by relatives, or were simply buried by the authorities.

In the end, this is exactly what happened to our couple. Buried by the council, in a public grave in Walton Cemetary. 

So maybe there was no real connection between the couple at all? All they had in common was the river where they died and the public grave where their bodies were eventually laid out to rest....

Out of the Deadhouse... near Princes Dock, Liverpool.  

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

SODOMY & MURDER IN A NORFOLK MARKET TOWN - The Murder of Mary Frost (1741)

I came across this parish record while researching the baptism of one of my great-grandparents (Elizabeth DOWNING b.1742 d.1787). The records were written out manually at that time, and often had lists of burials, baptisms and births handwritten across the two pages of the register. While I was checking out the record of my relative, this entry on the opposite page caught my eye.

Register of Burials - Diss, Norfolk (1741)

The text reads: 'November 19 - Mary FROST, who was poyson'd by Robert CARLTON, tailor of Diss, for which crime for sodomy he was condemned at the assizes at Thetford, viz: 20th of March 1741. He was executed the 5th of April 1742 at Diss, and afterwards hanged in chains on a gibbet upon Diss Common.' Such a grim end indeed for a heinous crime. 

I considered the highlighted word on the graphic for some time, as the handwriting was not too easy to make out, but after consideration came to the conclusion that Carlton had 'poisoned' the unfortunate girl, and also committed sodomy somewhere along the way. The sentence he received, therefore would obviously have been suitably severe.

Digging a little further into this on the Interweb, I discovered a detailed article about this very crime. 'The Tailor of Diss: Sodomy and Murder in a Norfolk Market Town', describes the events which led up to the unfortunate girl's murder and Carlton's eventual execution by hanging. The event was reported to have drawn a considerable crowd to witness the hanging, (considered to be quite a popular public entertainment at the time), and it gives intriguing details of a series of events connected to the execution which had taken place over three days prior to the execution.

I personally have a rule I observe that whenever I search records such as these, I always try to look beyond the data connected to my own relatives, to see what else I can find. Sometimes it will lead me to discovering other relations of mine, or previously unknown details of one of our own ancestors might open up another avenue of research, or break down a brick wall. But at other times, an unexpected and entirely fascinating story such as this is revealed.

My motto for this would have to be: 'Just look sideways - sometimes it might pay off!'


The full article, published in March 1990 by David Stoker 
(Aberystwyth) can be found at the link below.

Other historic sources listed in the article itself. 


Thursday, 12 January 2017


I updated my records yesterday with respect to my wife's great-grandmother, Bridget SEARY, and processed the two documents which I'm including here for the use of other researchers. 

Bridget's married name was SMITH, after marrying her husband Michael SMITH in 1890 in St Albans Church in Liverpool.

Bridget was born in Celbridge, a small town in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1873. Her husband was a Scouser, born in Liverpool in 1870, and after considering the birthdates and birthplaces associated with her siblings, it would appear that the SEARY family had emigrated and settled permanently in Liverpool between 1875 and 1876. 

Following their marriage, Micheal and Bridget had at least nine children between 1891 to 1909.

As can be seen by the information on the certificate above, Bridget died on 5 March 1928 in Walton Hospital, Rice Lane, Liverpool. She was said to be 53 years old on the death certificate and had died of a cerebral haemorrhage - otherwise known as a stroke.

Bridget was buried in Ford Cemetery, Liverpool - one of the main Catholic cemeteries in the district - on the 9 March 1928 in grave number 654. Above is a copy of the burial register for that period. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


The photograph below was discovered in a selection of photo's which were in the possession of my aunt, Ellen Elizabeth WELSH (aka. Betty), when she passed away.
They obviously depict a wedding group, but only a few of the people on it have been identified. The actual location of the wedding is also a mystery, but it is assumed that the church was located somewhere in Liverpool.

The gentleman second from the left is my grandfather, William John WELSH. The lady on the back row next to him is his wife, my grandmother, Elizabeth ENGLEBRETSEN. She is the lady wearing the glasses and the flower on her hat. On the front row, the young girl on the left is their niece, Marion Erlis.

The rest of the people have not as yet been identified.

I have shared this photo with family members and we still have not been able to identify the others in the group. It is a bit of a mystery... and there is no way of telling if the photograph shows some of our relations, or perhaps friends or neighbours.

Only time will tell... although possibly with the help of some kind soul on the Internet who may recognise them!

Monday, 9 January 2017


One of the more useful features of Google is the ability to use its Mapping facility to keep track of your genealogical data. For the 'Mapping Monday' article, I thought I’d cover a few of the features available which I use.

Above is the shared version of my Seaman Family Burial Site data. This is the default view which I have chosen to share with the general public, but the view - like the levels of security which you can build into the page - can be tailored exactly as you wish. For example, the base image can reflect Earth data as it is here, or configured to show a more simple map graphic. A selection of different colours can be chosen for this as you prefer.
As you can see, each of the cemetaries listed has been given its own layer on the image. These can be turned on and off using the checkboxes to the left of the menu. Selecting either the name of the relative on the left hand menu or on the icon itself on the map, displays an image and other details of the grave site which have been recorded (see below).

Editing the maps is great fun and can be achieved using the ‘Edit’ option, (which is only accessible to the map owner and any defined collaborators), to access the Google ‘My Maps’ view (below).

The styles and format of each of the layers is configurable separately… allowing features such as the icons, icon colour, text, grouping of labels, level naming conventions etc. to be changed as required. All changes made are saved to Drive, so unwanted changes can be undone if required. Additional items such as new icons, line drawing on the map, and also distance measurement are also available. New layers can also be easily added as required.

As can be seen above, there is also a direction facility which allows you to include this information on a separate layer on the map if required. This information will feed through to the shared map view (so you could include directions to the grave location from the nearest railway station for example), but this data is not configurable to view only users.

Finally, as can be seen in the example above, if images are captured using a smartphone or digital camera with built in GPS, then the exact location of the graves are recorded against the images. When these are placed into the software, the grave locations can be recorded almost exactly, allowing subsequent researchers to the site the best chance of finding the graves for themselves. 

One final example of how these maps can be most useful is to track the migration of families around the country at various times. The example above shows graphically how my LAIT family relations originated in Norfolk with my 5x great-grandfather, Timothy Lait, and finally ended up in Liverpool with my grandmother Margaret Eleanor Graham LAIT, who I am named after. They made a total journey of 409 kms, which took in excess of 159 years, and crossed six generations (eight if you include myself and my father).

So next time you get a little disheartened trying to break down those brick walls in your core data, open up Google, grab yourself an account, and start mapping those ancestors! 
I guarantee that you’ll enjoy it!

Saturday, 7 January 2017


Another of the documents I discovered in my TTDL folder was this, the marriage certificate for my wife's great-grandparents, James and Mary DUNN.

They were married on 3rd November 1895 in the so-called 'seaman's' church in Liverpool - St Nicholas... the original parish church of Liverpool. The church is located at the bottom of Chapel Street, close to the Pier Head and Princes Dock, and for many years would perhaps have been the first ecclesiastical building to be seen by the crewmen as they disembarked from the ships.

The couple themselves lived in separate addresses in Vernon Street in the city centre, and although they had the same surname it does not appear that they were related - although a distant connection may still be discovered at some point. Jame's father, also called James, was born in 1853 in Liverpool. Mary's father Edward Dunn however, was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1852.

Marriage Certificate - James and Mary DUNN - Liverpool, 1895


SATURDAY DATA SHAREDAY - Thomas LAIT (b.1781 Diss, Suffolk; d.1859 Palgrave, Suffolk)

Today I found this copy of my g-grandfather's (x4) death certificate in my TTDL folder. I'd entered the data up from it, but just hadn't put it away after I'd finished with it! That's one sure way of losing an important document such as this... note to self to smack on wrist!

Of course I took this as some kind of an omen and decided to post it up here as well! Hopefully there will be less chance of it getting mislaid from this point on!

Thomas died when he was 80 years old of certified old age. He had been a coach builder by trade, as were at least four of his sons who had followed him into the profession. The death was informed by his son Charles, who had been 49 years old at the time of his father's death.

A notice was also found to have been printed in one of the local newspapers about his death.

Thomas LAIT - Death Certificate

Death Notice

Thursday, 5 January 2017



For Treasure Chest Thursday I give you a photo of my grandad - William John WELSH, pictured in the backyard of his home in Hughson Street, Toxteth in the mid 1950's.

Near his elbows on each arm, you can just see the folds caused by the elastic suspenders he was wearing, to keep his shirt cuffs clear of his hands which hopefully will keep them a little cleaner.

The shirt suspenders themselves are pictured on the right, and consist of a circle of elastic ribbon covered by thin flexible steel wire. These were left to me by my aunt Betty, Ellen Elizabeth WELSH, prior to her death.

I still keep them in the box with my other jewelry, and wear them sometimes when the occasion arises.

#familyheirlooms #treasurechestthursday #williamjohnwelsh #toxteth #shirtsuspenders 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


For the 'Wordless Wednesday' blog prompt today I submit this beauty from the early 1960's. Hughson Street, Toxteth... the row of neat two-up two-down houses where we lived... Mum, little bro and I on the step in dubious socks and short trousers... and a Hillman Minx from around 1964.

And of course, the cobbles. 

It was just murder trying to ride your bike on those!

Hughson Street, Toxteth,  Liverpool 8