Brenda's Genealogy Page

Now I have finally found most of my genealogy stuff and I'm busy figuring how to file it. When I have completed that then my next goal will be to figure out how to display all the information that I have here. Between my family and Ian's I now have around 30,000 people recorded. So call back here again sometime to see if we are related.

When I was just a young girl I can remember Dad telling me a story about a Pension which was available in England for anyone who could prove that they were related to a couple who set up the pensions in 1710. Well, because I questioned Dad about it, he wrote to his mother who wrote the story down for us and also the list of people showing how I was related. I quote from that letter here.

The WEST Pedigree

The mother of Mrs Francis WEST had a bother named Alexander COX.

The story of WEST's Charity

To obtain benefit a relationship to the family tree descending from John WEST and his wife had to be proved. John WEST, a Governor of Christ's Hospital (a school), and his wife, founded the WEST's Charity in the year 1710, by the gift of property in the City of London, then yielding 60 a year, with a view to providing poor people of the founders kin with a pension of 5 a year each. Since those days the value of the property and amount of pension have, of course, increased.

The story is that Miss Francis SYKES, being young, rich and beautiful, fell in love with an unknown young man, who was handsome but poor. She appeared before him, masked, and told him he would either have to marry her, without him seeing her face or knowing her, or fight a duel with her, as she considered he had injured her by stealing her heart from her. After considering the matter, he decides to marry the unknown lady, and of course they live happily ever after.

The story is told in 206 lines of verse , which my grandmother thought was too much to copy out. If my grandmother had a copy of the verse herself then it was lost when a lot of papers were destroyed when she died. Indeed I wouldn't know anything at all if it wasn't for the letter my father kept. So far I haven't found anyone else in the family who knows anything about it either.

Here is the list of descendants as written out by my grandmother. The mother (Mrs SYKES) of Mrs Francis WEST had a brother named Alexander COX.

Pension #
Alexander Coxm Dorothy
Bridget COXm William CROBLE
John MORRELLm Elizabeth
William MORRELLm Ann
92a William MARSHm Sarah MILLER
92a Sarah MARSHm Charles Stepney GATTON
9732 Helena Marie GATTONm Joseph MANNING
9733 Alexander Herbert MANNINGm Cordelia Kinsey CASKIE
9734 Brenda Anne MANNINGm 1Stephen Wayne CARGILL

This seemed to be a good starting place for tracing my ancestors but how do you find out about something that is in England and started nearly 300 years ago?

Well, I started by joining the local Genealogy Branch in New Plymouth and then the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. This led me to entering some of the family names I am researching into the Society's magazine, in the hope it would lead me to other family members (hopefully people who already had a lot of information I could get a copy of!). A few months later I received a letter from Brenda Hawkins in England wanting to know if her Marsh's and ours were the same. I didn't think so and finally got around to writing back to say so. In that letter I also added the quote from Granny's letter, just in case! Well Brenda wrote back promptly saying that her family don't seem to have anything to do with the West Pedigree but by chance her local Genealogy Branch Newsletter had an article in it all about it with a contact address in London! You could have knocked me over with a feather. The story was true after all.

I wrote to Stella Bond in London, with my quote again, (thank goodness for the wonders of a word processor or I would have got tired of typing it all out all the time) and in no time at all a reply came back with the information that I was now a member of the John and Frances WEST Family Group. She also sent a pamphlet about the group, a copy of the missing poem (but says it isn't true!) and copies of family trees showing our family from William Marsh back.

One of those trees was a lot of very small squares showing the family and how we are related to John and Frances West and also Oliver Cromwell. (We are not related to Oliver Cromwell but we are related to his Aunt Elizabeth's husband William Hampden). I was carrying a copy of this tree around in my handbag and one night at a meeting of genealogists at the local Mormon Family History Centre, I fished it out and showed it to Midge Williams the Family History Director. She was the first person I had shown it to other than my husband or my parents. Well, blow me over with that feather again, Midge says "What are you doing with my family tree???" Yes, perfectly true, Midge is descended from Jane Cox, our Alexander Cox's youngest sister. This makes her my eleventh cousin once removed.

So, to recap on 'it's a small world', the first person I asked in England gave me contact to write to and the first person I showed the tree to turns out to be a cousin. Information I have from England shows that there are other consanguine's in New Zealand but they are related to John West not Frances West as we are. There could be a lot more out there though as after all there was only three people in our family who knew about this.

Well, if you had the patience to read this far then you might be interested in reading about three women in our family and the stories of their lives in New Zealand. These stories were written as a reminded of who we are descended from.

I am not the only member of my family tracing our history. My father (Alex Manning) has also been busy in the in the past and has researched extensive information on folk we are related to from around 1700 back to before 1066. If you are interested in finding out about any of that then feel free to email me as I have his files now that he is gone.

Here are some other places to look for resources and genealogy pages by other people:

I use Brothers Keeper genealogy program for keeping track of all my research. It is a shareware program so you can try it out first before registering.

Some other places for programs or advice are:

Family Tree Maker
For research in England
Irish Archives

Our Genealogy and Leisure Time Index

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Updated Wednesday 19 April 2006