Posts Tagged ‘Chillesford’

Who was Henry William Crossby?

October 4, 2013

When I started doing genealogy, all the books said that you should start from the known and work methodically from there.

To both my wife and I, this seemed like a silly idea. We decided that, if we visited a records library, we’d harvest data and then see what could be fitted together. Of course, there had to be some knowledge to start with. You couldn’t harvest everything.

So, when we visited the Ipswich records library for Suffolk, we were armed with the fact that I had ancestors called Crosby and they had lived in and around Butley. We already knew that spellings were interchangeable – Crosby or Crossby

Our harvesting method was to sit at film or fiche reader and, as appropriate, take photos of the screen. So a marriage of a Crosby, at Butley church, we felt, had to be relevant. But this one has never quite provided me with certainty.


Filming a fiche reader works well enough for reading it but the words tend to fade away at the edges. Regulars will realise that I have negative the image. The film you see has white writing on a black background.


This wedding took place on Christmas day in 1867. This was a common day for weddings since workers couldn’t afford extra days off. The marriage was between Henry William Crossby, aged 20 and Mary Ann Carter aged 18.


Henry, we see, was a labourer who lived in Butley. His father was also Henry and a gardener. Mary lived in neighbouring Chillesford and her father is listed as John Ship. Mary must have been base born, as they say.

The witnesses were Henry Meadows, Sarah Crosby and Mary Ann Crossby.

And do you know what, as I write this I reckon I have worked out the answer to my title question. I often find writing helps to clarify thoughts.

So now I’ll answer the ‘who was Henry?’ question.

On my tree I have a Great Great Great grandfather called James Crosby. Amongst his children was a Henry Crosby born in 1817. Censuses tell me that this Henry was a gardener. Henry married in 1846 and his first born son arrived in 1847. He appears to have been known as William but I now feel convinced he was Henry William. The next two children were girls. One was called Sarah and the other was Mary Ann. They must be the witnesses. I could add here that Sarah, fully, was Sarah Ann Crosby and she was born in 1849. My great granny had the identical name and was born in 1850. Oh, confusion!

Later censuses show me Henry W Crossby and Mary together and it all fits correctly. A minor problem I have puzzled over for years has been solved.

And as it happens, I think this vindicates the data harvesting method when in records libraries.


Meet the Relative

August 13, 2013

Charles Mann

Charles Mann was actually an in-law. My Great Granny was Sarah Ann Crosby and she had a sister called Eliza who was born in 1854. These two were born in Butley in Suffolk. Great Granny, like nearly all of the Crosby family moved away and she made her home in Sussex, at Isfield, but Eliza married Charles Mann in Butley on 24th December 1885.

Charles came from Yoxford and was born in 1856. Yoxford is a few miles north of Butley and we can find young Charles there in 1861 with his parents – father was a farm worker – and younger siblings. By 1871, teenaged Charles was a shoemaker’s apprentice. He was learning the trade that supported him through his life. He was still living with his parents in Yoxford. Ten years on, in 1881, Charles was still with his parents, but by now, as a fully-fledged shoemaker, he’d have been adding to the family economy.

Quite why or when Charles moved to the Butley area, we don’t know – but we have the wedding date and from then on we find Charles, Eliza and a growing family in Butley. Actually, their first two children were born in Chillesford. Charles remained a shoemaker or bootmaker according to 1891, 1901 and 1911 census.

I have a photo of Charles working outside as he approached old age.


I think Charles died in 1931 and Eliza in 1932.

The little extra in the story came in 1887 when my great grandparents, living in Isfield Sussex, had a baby boy they called Charles Mann Stevens. He surely must have been named in honour of his uncle and it suggests that despite distance and poverty, the two families certainly maintained contact. Sadly, Charles Mann Stevens died in 1888, the year his cousin, Charles Mann was born in Butley to Charles and Eliza. What a shame these cousins never had a chance to meet.