Saturday, January 2, 2016

John Parker Gourd

John Parker Gourd was first christened at home on 15 August 1788. Perhaps he was a sickly baby and his parents, Matthew and Betsey weren't sure he would survive. By the time of his public christening on 2 January 1789, it appears they were satisfied he was going to be a healthy boy. His middle name was taken from his mother's maiden name of Parker. He was the fifth of a family of eight children, and only one did not survive. They lived at Liskeard, Cornwall, England (A), which was mentioned in earlier Cornwall posts.

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On 3 May 1810, John married Ann Pyne in her home town of Topsham, Devonshire, England, which is located near the cathedral town of Exeter (B) on the east side of the River Exe estuary. Topsham was made a town by royal charter in 1300, and is the location of an earlier Celtic settlement. It was a port city during Roman times, and is noted for its sheltered harbor. Topsham is 63 miles NE of Liskeard and across what is now the Dartmoor National Park. John was a blacksmith by trade, and the family moved around a bit, though never far.

By 1819, they settled in Chudleigh, Devonshire, where they raised their family. Our ancestor is their son William Soper Gourd, the youngest of seven children. John was enumerated on the 1841 and 1851 census records in Chudleigh. Chudleigh (C) is about twelve miles SW of Topsham, closer to Dartmoor National Park. Earlier Devonshire posts can give more information about Chudleigh and its "great" fire.

In 1858, Ann died, and on the 1861 census, John was living with his daughter, Emma and her husband Thomas Duke at Torquay, just 13 miles south of Chudleigh. Like all of these small places, Torquay has an interesting history. He lived with them for the most of the rest of his life. John died on 24 February 1878 at Combe Lane, West Teignmouth, Devonshire, England. He was 89 years old, and his son, John, was present at his death.

It strikes me that John Parker Gourd was surrounded by beauty his entire life. If you look at these pictures, you can see nature's loveliness everywhere you look. I think of his work as a blacksmith and wonder how often his smithing took him to ships rather than to horses and wagons.

Friday, January 1, 2016

England 1066

You can read up on the Bayeux Tapestry before watching the video. I think it's an amazing piece of history that changed the lives of everyone, including our ancestors. And the stitchery is pretty amazing as well!

The Domesday Book

I could write something about the Domesday Book, but it would be redundant since there is wonderful information available about it. It was commissioned in 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066 and became its king. He rewarded his supporters, who were French, with land and power, leaving only a few of the resident Anglo-Saxon nobility with holdings. There were 13,418 settlements in the English counties, and he needed to know what was there. The book recorded the value of land and who held what. It provides a picture of what life was like in the 11th century. The original Domesday Book is held by the National Archives in London. Here are a couple of good sources if you would like to know more. Genealogically speaking, the book is a treasure.
They call the book "Britain's finest treasure" and "the foundation document of the National Archives." This site has wonderful photos of the book, 11th century tapestries, and other artifacts; also a Domesday glossary, bibliography, and Latin tutorials for beginners and advanced level. There are two exhibitions, "Discover Domesday" and "World of Domesday." They offer several different searches, including by place and name. They even note that the name may have a Biblical context referring to Doomsday when Christ has the final word of judgment. In its time, the Domesday Book had the final word. The logo you see is theirs. Everything else is for sale, such as books, photos, etc.
They also tell about life in the 11th century. There is a nice picture of William and a time line of his life. There is a list of landowners with short descriptions, which is very interesting if your family history extends back to nobility. For instance, the Count of Mortain, who is mentioned in Radigan's little history is listed. He was half-brother to William, and the largest landholder in the country after the king. There is also a glossary. You can find a nice interactive map with links to listings of the places found in the book. Another great feature is the origin of place names from the Roman, Celtic, Saxon, and Viking. A timeline tells about world events during this time. It appears that this is still a work in progress and there will be even more.