I was delighted to receive in the post at the weekend a bumper package of information from Vanessa Goodwin. When I first began my Cruwys research in 2002 Vanessa was the first researcher I contacted, and it seems rather fitting that I was the recipient of her first ever e-mail last week. Vanessa has been researching her family tree for some 25 years and has amassed a considerable amount of information in that time. Her family originated in Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon. They moved to Oakford, and then crossed the border into Somerset and settled for some considerable time in Wiveliscombe. The Cruwys Farm House still stands in Wiveliscombe and is now a Grade II listed building. In 1794 John Cruwys of Wiveliscombe brought a Bill of Complaint in Chancery against Henry Shortrudge Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard claiming descent from the "Cruwys of Cheriton Fitzpaine in the County of Devon Shoemaker mentioned in the Settlement of Samuel Cruwys Esquire" who was mentioned in the will of John Cruwys, Clerk of Cruwys Morchard. Although John's ancestors can indeed be traced back to Cheriton Fitzpaine his case was not successful but the documents nevertheless provide us with some valuable genealogical information.
It's going to take me some time to incorporate all of Vanessa's new information into my files but I've already been able to solve two long-standing mysteries. Back in March 2004 I was contacted by Heather McCulloch in British Columbia, Canada. Heather asked if I knew anything about a Nellie Stirling, born in 1887 in Forfar, Angus, Scotland, who married an unknown Cruwys and settled in South Africa. At the time I had no reference to such a marriage in my files but, on working my way through Vanessa's tree, I came across a James Cruwys who married a Nellie Stirling in South Africa. The name began to ring a bell and fortunately I was able to locate Heather's original e-mail and re-establish contact with her to tell her the good news. James Cruwys, born in 1881 in Newport, Monmouthshire, was the son of William Benjamin Farmer Cruwys and Elizabeth Brankley. James and Nellie married in 1912 in South Africa and had three daughters, Helen Betty, Margaret Elaine and Joan Megan. Margaret married Harold Bierman who went on to become Head of the South African Navy. The National Archives of South Africa have three files relating to James's family, including his estate papers from which we can deduce that he died in 1930.
The other breakthrough came quite by chance when looking through the online transcriptions of the Chipstable parish registers which have kindly been provided by David Cheek. Another of my contacts, Pauline Steadman, has traced her family back to James Cruwys and Sarah Allen who married on 26th March 1837 in Wiveliscombe. On all of the censuses James claimed that he was born in Wiveliscombe around 1815-1816 but we'd been unable to find any record of James's baptism in Wiveliscombe. I was looking at the Chipstable transcriptions to get confirmation of the baptism of John Cruwys, the eldest son of Isaac Cruwys and Ann Burton, who was baptised on 29th July 1810 in Chipstable, as this family were included in Vanessa's tree. I duly found John's baptism but I was very excited to discover in addition a cluster of other Cruwys baptisms including that of James Crews, the son of John and Sarah, who was baptised on 5th February 1815. Chipstable is only a few miles away from Wiveliscombe so I feel sure that we have finally found the elusive baptism. As a bonus I've also been able to link Pauline's James in with the rest of the Wiveliscombe/Fitzhead tree. James's parents were John Cruze and Sarah Curry who married on 25th March 1814 in Chipstable.