Saturday, September 24, 2011

Falling satellites, statistics (yawn) and Shrek – what?

Bonkers cat
Did anyone find an old satellite in their garden this morning? No, me neither, but I was interested in the BBC story about how a NASA six tonne satellite was dropping to Earth and going to land… somewhere, sometime yesterday, probably, we think. The news site also said that the chances of being hit by one of the pieces of this thing were one in 3,200 so that’s ok.

Or is it? The seating capacity of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is 2,188 and not far away you have the Cambridge Theatre which seats 1,253, both owned by the Really Useful Group Ltd. (I just happen to know these things.) So, last night, if you were leaving a performance of Shrek, The Musical or Matilda, The Musical, happily whistling the scenery and reflecting on how your intellect had been so challenged, the chances are you might have been slapped on the head by a piece of hurtling debris. But it’s ok, because NASA said that they could tell where the things were going to fall a couple of minutes before they impacted. Very helpful. And the US Space Agency said that “Potentially, you could get out of the way. But if you're going to spend all the time looking up then you're at greater risk of an accident bumping into something than something coming down on you.” How many years at MIT?

Anyway, fascinating though statistics are (yawn), we on Symi were not hit by falling satellites, scenery, or even box office receipts. (Matilda the musical? What’s going on over there?) But we have been hit with warmer temperatures and clearer skies, so that’s all well and good. We will be able to go about the day safely, looking up to a clear sky while avoiding bumping in to anything, and see a piece of H34sk-07D battery pack hurting down towards us as we answer the phone to a NASA official desperately yelling ‘get out of the w…’

Enough Saturday morning silliness. I have washing to do and a book to write.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thoughts on looking at parish registers

As the hunt for the missing (family) link continues, I find myself ever more delving into parish registers for Essex. Checking my list I realise I have now looked through at least 35 books, some of which have over 100 pages, or images, to squint at and try and decipher. This image is from a parish register for Quendon and possibly has half teh detail about my great x 5 grandfather and his father.

What’s really interesting about this exercise is seeing the variations in record keeping. Some vicars clearly took their record keeping responsibilities more seriously than others. Some pages are very easy to read, while others are just scribbles. Some have great detail, like where a baptism record also lists the name of the parents in full and gives father’s occupation, or other little glimpses into the past. And other records are just the most basic names and dates.

And you find stories behind the stories too, I mean I find more than just my ancestors, though I’ve not had much luck in finding them recently. You can see, for example, when a new vicar or cleric arrives at a parish. There’s a line ruled, and an announcement in the book. The handwriting is neat and tidy and the pages well looked after, clear of doodles and notes. And then, as the years go on, the handwriting gets worse, more shaky, clearly the vicar is becoming infirm, until it looks like he can no longer see but he is determined to keep going. Then, you turn a page and there is his own burial entry, and the announcement of a new vicar and the process starts again.

A slightly neater entry in the Harlow records
And every now and then you find a real gem of writing: “Mary So-and-so, sometime wife of Henry So-an-so.” Sometime wife? Was that a common expression? Some vicars call illegitimate children ‘illegitimate’ or ‘base born’ and some really go for it with ‘bastard’ and then write that the father fessed up.

So it’s not just about trying to find the Collin family of Essex, but it’s about having some fun and seeing some real history along the way.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Collin family of Harlow, Essex, a missing link

William Collin marriage 1717
In the continuing hunt for my missing ancestral link, I am now skirting around various areas of Essex, trying to find out which Mr Collin was a wheelwright where and when. I guess many, if not most, villages had a wheelwright in the 18th and 19th centuries, it just seems too much of a coincidence that the Collin families of Quendon, Chickney, Clavering and some of them in Saffron Walden had Wheelwright-ing as a business, as did my Great x 4 grandfather Harvey Collin in Harlow.

Harvey is the one we are trying to find. I've got no images of him, though the image in the recent post was of his descendants when they had the Harlow Cycle shop, and very little information. All I really know is:

Harvey Collin was buried in Harlow in 1831 aged 84, so born around 1747. Unfortunately the Harlow registers of his time were stolen at some point and the info in them was lost. An attempt was made to make up the register again using local knowledge and some other records, and some of Harvey’s family are noted in it, but not his birth. And that’s what I am trying to find.

I am actually trying to find a connection between him and a William Collin born 1719. This William married a Sarah Harvey in 1744, in Saffron Walden, which is where my Grandfather the Rev Hugh George Collins said our family hailed from. Just seems a bit of a coincidence that William should marry a Harvey two years before a Harvey Collin is born, and that they were both wheelwrights, though some distant apart.

Anyhow, this morning’s free time will be used to search through more, probably unrelated, Collin families in Essex, to see if there are any more clues to the birth of Harvey Collin 1747.

A transcript of the Harlow parish register, or part of it, concerning Collins.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Collin families of Essex, Family History research

My exciting news from over the weekend is that I had a breakthrough on part of my family history research. I’m not going at it 100% like before, not now that I've done the big part of the project, but I am concentrating on one line, the Collin families of Essex. I have wheelwrights and manor houses, Saffron Walden and Quendon, Chickney Collins families and wills. 

I’m trying to find the father of a Great-times-three or four grandfather, a Harvey Collin of Harlow in Essex. I have a strong suspicion that it is a William Collin a wheelwright of Quendon, who married a Sarah Harvey a couple of years before Harvey was born, my Harvey then went on the become a wheelwright and the family carried on the trade turning it into coach building then bicycles and then car repairs, and now there is a Collins bicycle collection in the Harlow museum. (From where this photo comes.)

But that’s another story. I’d been spending a lot of time looking at a collection of Collin families in Saffron Walden in the 18th century. For some reason I was convinced that my William of Quendon and his son, also called William, were related to this group and yesterday on Family Search I found a reference to a third brother. I had Joseph 1682 and a brother Nicholas Collin, sons of Joseph Collin 1647, son of William Collin 1620, son of Nicholas Collin of Chickney 1558 and so on… but I’d not found the Joseph and Nicholas siblings as having a third brother. Yet the clues were all there: wheelwright as a profession, the names, the nearby places, my grandfather said we were descended from the Collin family of Saffron Walden, which is another clue and which set me no the local area hunt in the first place.

Anyhow, on the Family Search site, someone had made an entry putting William as a third brother. It doesn’t say that this is the same William as lived in Quendon, but that’s for me to prove, or not.

Last year I’d some hours’ worth of work going through some online parish registers for Essex, actual scans of the books so you’re left to read the handwriting for yourself and make up your own mind. I’d done Saffron Walden, looking for Collins (note how the name changes over time due to the use of plurals) and made a list. I now need to go and check it again in case I missed this William’s birth.

If you’re also looking for Collin or Collins or Collen families in Essex, then take a look at my Collins Family History page which is the start of a list of 27 parishes in Essex that I have looked at trying to find Collin ancestors. These pages are part of my bigger site, and there are also links off to ‘The Great Scott Hunt’ if you want to get involved in that mystery. Am I related to Scott of the Antarctic as my great-grandfather said I was, or is that just myth?

But, as they say, that really is another story.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Thoughts

This new venture is going to be about things I am thinking of that I feel I want to share.

My daily ‘life on a Greek Island’ blog is at but here you've got my random likes and dislikes about everything, as and when I feel like posting them.

Not promising to be here every day, every week, or even every month, but when I have something to think about that’s not on my Symi Dream blog then I will post it here. Probably.

By the way: Symi Dream is all about the experiences of two expats (my partner and I) living and working on a Greek island. We've been there since 2002, and we're still living it and loving it. The site has got all kinds of information about Greece, the Greek islands and Symi in particular. There are also hundreds of quality photos, video links and news. Try it: Symi Dream and live your dream - or at least live ours.