Collecting old documents

What is the point of collecting old documents? Apart from discovering & matching names to known family trees, they often contain details of wives, siblings & associates. Some mention property & land being sold or leased. Old Wills are the best source of information for the family historian. An indenture will have a wavy cut along the top where two identical documents have been created & signed by each party. The lawyer’s clerk would cut them so that in case of a future dispute over land or money, they could be checked to ensure that each indenture was original. For me, the best thing about owning these (I have too many) is the fact that they have the signatures of long dead ancestors and they bring to life the people & places mentioned.

I have recently come into possession of some old documents which need to be transcribed and some will be a challenge. This is a job for a wet day (coffee simmering in the kitchen) or a winters evening (glass of wine nearby); a labour of love.

The earliest document is dated 4th January 1633 & is an indenture between John Whitfield of Roundleholme & Robert Teasdale.  Here are some facts to get the document into historical perspective – In 1633 Charles I had been on the throne for 8 years with another 16 years before he was executed; 9 years before the English Civil War, 27 years after the Guy Fawkes was executed for the Gunpowder Plot; 13 years after the Mayflower set sail in 1620 from Plymouth & I believe there were about 2500 settlers in Virginia (names after the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I). Other documents name William Teasdall & Isaac Vipond dated 1717; another Robert Teasdale dated 1647; Indenture between Jonathan Lee & James Teasdale in Kirkhaugh dated 1789; Indenture between James Teasdale & Charles Langhorn in Ayle dated 1776; Indenture for James Teasdale in Ayle dated 1776; Indenture between James Teasdale & Cuthbert Harlamb dated 1762; Legal copy of a Will in 1694 for Ralph Teasdale dated 1769; Articles of Agreement between James Teasdale & Jonathan Lee dated 1788; Bond between James Teasdale & John Harrison dated 1785.

A review of 30 years research

At home with old newspapers

One of the situations that arise during family history research is not fulfilling the expectations of those whom you come into contact with. I can look back at several incidents when I have been unable to confirm family stories passed down through their ancestors. I remember one Teasdale who travelled through Europe and the UK where he thought his ancestors originated. After we corresponded, many years later, I was able to take one of his family members to the original buildings where his ancestors lived; the churches where they were baptised and married and the church-yards where they lie to this day. We became great friends despite the distance between us. I can sense the disappointment, through correspondence with others, when a key piece of evidence does not materialise after many hours of research and what was written in their family histories does not match the evidence. I read that a long since deceased originator of a particular story was renowned for making up names and places to suit family trees and justify his fees. I cannot tell people that their family stories don’t match the evidence; I just say that new evidence may come to light as more information & transcriptions become available; this after all is what has been happening in genealogy for the past 30 years as a revolution in technology has been and is taking place. During the 30 years that I have been researching the Teasdale & variant names I have experienced a wide range of family history knowledge & expertise from my correspondents, some of whom have  visited me when I lived in the north-east of England. I accept that there are different levels of interest and not everyone has the time or resources to do much. There is a group of dedicated correspondents who have shared their knowledge and worked towards a better understanding of their ancestors and the times that they lived in. It is only natural for me to have a high regard for these individuals but offers of help & information is welcome from any source and I try to help anyone who contacts me. I’m not really an expert in genealogy; just someone who has made a small effort to collect names, has a bit of interest in history & topology and who has made a small contribution to the understanding of family history. The past 30 years has been an interesting journey, it has allowed me to have a better understanding of their lives and times, their sorrow at high infant & life mortality, their plagues and epidemics, their hopes for a better life.

A Tisdale family in Norfolk and a potential link to Ireland

Tisdale research

I have recorded all the Tisdale’s who lived in the village of Shouldham Thorpe in Norfolk which is a few miles south of King’s Lynn. I picked this location as two brothers, John & William were baptised together in 1773 and could have been the same pair who showed up in County Cavan, Ireland on an 1821 census. I searched every available record and these two brothers were the only match. I made up a family diagram and then matched some parents with children and finally made a record of names that had no obvious links to families in the village. As far as I am aware, Tisdale’s have never been recorded as a family in this location. I have been able to view the original parish records and Archdeacons Transcripts and am confident with the family trees.  The table & graph show the total number of inhabitants and the effect on the population, possibly due to economic factors and various incidents of epidemics. Did I make a connection? No. The circumstantial evidence is that the Tisdale family disappears from the village after 1777 and, as yet, I can find no record of them. I’m keeping in mind that the Enclosure Acts could explain why families and communities apparently left their farms and homes as common land & small holdings were swallowed up by the bigger farmers. The two brother’s ages match the families in Ireland but this is no basis for continuity. Speculation is another matter. The relevant Irish census returns and other important documents were destroyed by a fire in Dublin as all Irish researchers know. I am intending to post what I have found, relating to the Irish Tisdale’s in Co. Cavan as this may be of interest to some members in the Teasdale Family History Facebook group who have Tisdale descendants.

Settlement & colonisation of Ireland

In 1605, Lord Deputy Chichester proposed the establishment of English & Scottish settlements at strategic points throughout the province of Ulster, which included Cavan. In 1606 he proposed a scheme for the whole county of Cavan where land was to be found for new colonists. This was not to prejudice the indigenous Roman Catholic inhabitants. Events overshadowed his plans and schemes were developed to cover most of the province of Ulster. One of the many reasons that the English government wanted English & Scottish so called ‘undertakers’ to reside in Ireland, was to counter threats from the French & Spanish.

Rural conditions & famine

The Great Famine of 1845-9 had major political, economic & social implications for Ireland. Despite earlier famines in 1727-30 & 1740-1 agriculture was still dangerously unbalanced. A large section of the population was practically destitute for 2 to 3 months of each year and 1817 and 1822 were particularly bad years for famine. There were around 8 million inhabitants in the 1840s with four fifths living on the land. The potato blight first arose in August 1845 in the south of England and spread to Ireland. Potatoes looked perfectly healthy when dug up, only to putrefy later.

Immigration from Ireland

We know that up to a fifth of the population of County Cavan emigrated to England, Scotland, Canada, the United States & Australia. English ships to Canada & the US had standards well below that of other countries with fares as low as £3 per person which was around a third of the normal price. These were the infamous ‘Coffin Ships’ which departed from the cheapest English port of Liverpool.

The Tisdales were not Catholics but protestant migrants from Scotland & England. They would have taken advantage of English favourable terms to settle in Ireland. It is not known how long the two particular families above had lived in Ireland; some came to colonise the country at the invitation of the Elizabethan authorities in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Families would sometime travel to Ireland from Scotland or England, then decide to sell their farms or holdings after a period and travel on to the United States & Canada for better prospects. Between 1841 & 1844 the average emigration was 50,000/year. In 1846 106,000 left, and in 1847 215,000 left, rising to 250,000 the following year. There are Tisdale records going back to the early 17th century, in County Meath for example. I’m not sure how much research has been carried out with respect to Tisdales in Ireland and I think much more needs to be done.