As I stated in a previous post, when I set out my genealogy goals for 2011, I thought it would be relatively simple to write up the biographies for the two people I had significant information about in my Ansted line. In December, I had information on my great-great-great grandmother Dionysia Ansted and her father John. It was limited information in both cases so I thought it would be an easy task to get things written up and move on to the next branch in my list.
My original plan in starting this blog was to fairly quickly work my way through the various branches of my family tree. I didn’t intend to be comprehensive but to simply get enough information ‘out there’ that any distant relations could find me. The plan was to then go back and keep digging for additional information and update branches as necessary.
That’s not how it is working out, however. When I found my great-great-great-grandfather John’s marriage notice in the Times of London I didn’t realize it would lead me in all sorts of different directions. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it is slowing my overall progress down somewhat!
In the course of digging up information on John, I have found information on both his wives - Jane Anne Mary Sharpe and Dionysia Northeast. John was visiting Dionysia’s brother, Thomas Barnes Northeast, at the time of one census following her death and that interested me. So I now have a considerable amount of information on him. And I just turned up a lead on Dionysia’s father so I’m not done with the Northeasts yet!
I now also have enough information to write a brief biography on John’s father, Thomas Ansted. Until recently all I had on Thomas was his name and the fact he had married an Esther Barrass. I had found her death and burial record but not much else. I managed to find Thomas’ will at the United Kingdom’s National Archives and then I located his and Esther’s marriage record. In his will, he mentioned his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Silvester. I found that confusing until I noted that the marriage document stated that Esther was a widow. A little more digging turned up Esther Carruthers’ marriage to John Barrass. And their daugher Elizabeth Barrass’ birth. And John Barrass’ death. (But I still haven’t found Esther’s birth information.)
I couldn’t initially find a record for Elizabeth Barrass’ marriage and was about to give up when Thomas Ansted’s death certificate arrived in the mail. The informant was listed as Robert Silvester. I guessed that might be Elizabeth’s husband so I searched for him and found a record of his marriage to Sarah Ansted, Thomas’ daughter, a year after Thomas’ death. That was curious. A little more digging turned up his prior marriage to Elizabeth Gillespie – with Sarah Ansted listed as a witness. I dug further and finally found Elizabeth Barrass’ marriage to Henry Gillespie in1808.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sort everything out and write it all up! (And don’t get me started on how my great-great-great grandmother Dionysia Ansted married Thomas Burton, while her brother, John, married Thomas’ sister Harriet! That’s a story for another day entirely!)
I am also working on a very brief history of the family’s fruit brokerage, Clark, Ansted & Co. Consequently, I have about four different posts on the go and I feel like I’m never going to get everything written up.
It amazes me how one little three line notice in a newspaper can set off such as cascade of discovery! It also amazes me that it’s only February and I’ve already fallen behind in my goals for the year. The best laid plans…