Friday 18 April 2008

A DNA breakthrough

We have another interesting match from the DNA Project. The results are now through for the tester who is descended from the Berkshire/Wiltshire Cruse tree. He matches on 36 out of 37 markers with the tester from the South African Cruse tree. According to the Family Tree DNA Tip calculator the probability that the two men share a common ancestor within eight generations is 88.06%. Within 12 generations the probability increases to 97.1%. This result is particularly exciting because so far all attempts to find the origins of the South African tree have proved fruitless. I wrote about the search for Henry Cruse in one of my first blog postings entitled Shipwrecked in South Africa. Since that time countless records have been searched, particularly in London. A number of potential candidates have been identified but all the Henrys found so far have had to be eliminated as we have been able to track them through the English censuses and civil registration records. The DNA match is particularly welcome as it gives us a much more specific focus for the research. It was stated on Henry's death certificate that he was born in Great Britain. We will now be able to narrow the focus of the research and look specifically at the Wiltshire and Berkshire records in the hope that one day we will find the elusive baptism.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Exeter marriages

I have received a bumper selection of marriage certificates from fellow Guild member Des Gander following his hard work on the recent Exeter Marriage Challenge. Des searched through all the parish registers at the Devon Record Office in the Exeter Registration District from 1837 to 1911 and was able to extract the full certificate details for the following marriages:

- 1839 Robert Cruse (son of Samuel Cruse) and Sarah Cockwill

- 1842 James Cruse (father's details blank) and Elizabeth Cruse (daughter of Edward Cruse)

- 1849 Anna Maria Cruse (daughter of Robert Cruse) and Thomas Hicks

- 1850 Robert Cruse (son of Robert Cruse) and Martha Conway

- 1855 John Pester Cruse (son of John Cruse) and Fanny Sheppard

- 1869 Daniel Richard Cruse (son of John Cruse) Mary Jane Scanes

- 1872 Catharine Fanny Cruse (daughter of Samuel Cruse) and George Tayler

- 1875 Albert Cruse (son of William Cruse) and Eva Bartlett

- 1875 Joseph Cruse (son of John Cruse) and Grace Snell Mellow

If you are researching any of these families please get in touch.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

The execution of Thomas Cruwys

In my research over the last few years I have come across a number of cases of Cruwyses who have been imprisoned for their crimes, often for very trivial offences, such as drunkenness or indebtedness. In my trawl through the digital newspaper collections I have now found a Cruwys who was executed for his crime. The story was first reported in St James's Chronicle or the British Evening Post on 21st February 1778:
Bristol, Feb. 18. Monday last was committed to Newgate, Thomas Cruwys, for forging, counterfeiting, and publishing a Bill of Exchange for 15l. [£15] purporting it to be drawn by Atwood, Paul and Co. of Exeter, payable to the said Thomas Cruwys, and drawn on Sir George Cornwall and Co. Bankers, in London; and with Intent to defraud Mr. Samuel Worrall, of this City.
A brief account of Thomas's execution was reported in Adam's Weekly Courant on 26th May 1778:
Friday was executed at St. Michael's hill Gallows, pursuant to his Sentence, Thomas Cruwys, for Forgery, with intent to defraud Mr. Worrall: - His Behaviour in Newgate and at the Place of Execution, was by no means becoming his unhappy Situation, as he appeared to be entirely indifferent concerning his approaching Fate, and persisted to the last in his Innocence of the Crime for which he suffered.
The sum of £15 in 1778 was probably more than the average labourer would receive in wages for a whole year, but even so the punishment appears very harsh by today's standards. It probably did not help that Thomas Cruwys's accuser, Mr. Samuel Worrall of Bristol, was an attorney and therefore a man of considerable influence.

From the scant detail in the newspaper reports it is difficult to ascertain which Thomas Cruwys was sent to the gallows. I suspect however that it was the Thomas Cruwys who married Mary Trump on 20th May 1755 at St Thomas the Apostle, Exeter. Thomas and Mary had eight children, five of whom died in infancy. Further research is required in the Exeter records to find the answers.

Update 4th June 2015
The following two references to Thomas Cruwys have been found on the Exeter Working Papers in Book History website:

1778. The LAST dying speech and confession of T.Crewys, of Exeter. - [Exeter?] : [s.n.] , 1778. - Plymouth Institution p.32. - The same as the following?

1778. The LIFE, birth, parentage, education, and dying-speech, confession, and behaviour of Thomas Crewys, who was executed on St. Michael's Hill for forgery, on Friday the 15th of May, 1778. - Totnes : [s.n.] , [1778?]. - 1 sheet ; 1/2°. - Davidson supp. p.29 (P, Secktor Lib.).

Monday 7 April 2008

Newspaper transcriptions

I have taken advantage of an opportunity to access a free trial of the Gale Digital Collections, which includes a large collection of digitised British newspapers from the 16th to the 19th century. The digital newspaper archive is a brilliant resource but sadly access in the UK is restricted to institutes of higher education. I hope that funds will eventually be made available to make this important resource accessible to the general public, though the response from my local library was not very encouraging.

I have now downloaded a large collection of newspaper articles from the collection and am slowly updating my records. I have transcribed some of the more interesting Devon-related articles for the pages of Genuki Devon. There is an interesting story about a "supernatural piggery" which was found at Cruwys Morchard in 1789 which is now included in a selection of newspaper extracts on the Cruwys Morchard page. I have also transcribed accounts of four Cruwys Morchard ploughing matches from the 1860s. The final contribution is an account of a fire at George Cruwys's house in Witheridge.

I have saved some of the most interesting accounts for last, so watch this space if you want to find out about the Cruse who was sent to prison for five years in 1868 and the Cruwys who was executed in 1778!

Friday 4 April 2008

Cruwys of Prince Edward Island

Stan Cruwys in Canada has sent me some lovely photographs of his family which I am delighted to be able to share. Stan is descended from William George Cruwys and Sarah Burrows, who emigrated to Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the late 1840s from the small North Devon village of Burrington. William and Sarah settled in a place called New Wiltshire which is now part of Kingston in Lot 31 seven miles west of the island's capital Charlottetown. William had a farm of some 150 acres, which was split between his three sons upon his death in 1873.

The first photograph is of William and Sarah's second son George William Cruwys, who was born on 10th June 1850 in Lot 31, Queens, PEI. George died on 28th November 1938 in Brookfield, Queens.The second photograph is of George's wife Hannah J Howard. Hannah was the daughter of Samuel Howard and Mary Anne Pye. She was born on 5th July 1867 in Lot 31, Queens, PEI. She died on 8th February 1929 in Cornwall (Lot 32), Queens. Both William and Hannah are buried in the Cornwall United Cemetery in Queens.William and Hannah had four children, three daughters, Zella Maud, Leila Bessie, and Emma Pearl, and one son Kaymond William Cruwys. The final photograph is of the wedding of Kaymond and his bride Vera Priscilla Hardy in November 1922 in Union Road (Lot 33), Queens. Vera, the daughter of Bartholomew Cromwell Hardy and May Maria Ayers, was born on 13th February 1902 in Union Road (Lot 33).Vera tragically died at the age of 32 on 11th September 1934 in Charlottetown. The following obituary, which was found in the Cruwys family file at the Prince Edward Island Archives, was published in one of the local newspapers:

In Memoriam

Mrs. Kaymond W. Crewys

On Sunday, Sept. 16th [1934], as the Church of Jesus Christ had again called his people to worship, reminding them of the Eternal Verities, and of the fact that we are creatures of two worlds, this fact was irrevocably borne in upon the people of Brookfield and vicinity, when it was learned that one of its citizens, in the person of Mrs. Kaymond Crewys, had gone to her eternal reward.

Mrs. Crewys had entered the P.E.I. hospital a few days before, but from the first little hope was held for her recovery. Although the deceased refused to abandon hope, while to her physician and relatives it was obvious that the end was fast approaching.

Her passing so early in life, at the age of 32, when she was so much needed in the home, is hard to understand. But we shall not murmur nor complain, realising as we do that our destiny is in the hands of a wise and loving Father. The deceased leaves to mourn her passing, besides her sorrowing husband, seven children: Lloyd G., Avis M., Ralph S., Hollis K, Stanley H., Gerald W., and Vera L., her mother and father, Mrs and Mrs. Bart Hardy, of Union Road, where the deceased was born, three sisters, Mrs. Fulton Moreside, North River; Mrs. Chester Ward, Charlottetown; and Mrs. Fred Henderson, Charlottetown; also one brother, Wilfred at home.

The funeral was held on Tuesday, Sept. 18th, beginning with a short service at the home, after which the remains were taken to Cornwall United Church, where the deceased formerly worshipped, being a member of the choir and for a time organist there. The Church was crowded to capacity, scores standing throughout the service in the aisles of the church. It was one of the largest funerals ever held in that community, scores of sympathisers being unable to get inside the church.

The service, which was reverent and simple, was conducted by her pastor, Rev. Thos. Palethorpe, who was assisted in church and at the grave by Rev. D. K. Ross, Rev. Henry Pierce, Rev. T. W. Wilson and Rev. George Ayers, an uncle of the deceased. The deceased was tenderly laid to rest in the family plot in the cemetery which surrounds the Church, the grave being covered with a bank of flowers, of which the deceased was very fond.

The funeral arrangements was [sic] in the capable hands of McLean's Undertaking Parlors. The pall bearers were: Wilfred McLean, Golden Dollar, Sherman MacDuff, John Wood, Borden McLeod and Robert Andrews. "Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee away."
I am very grateful to Miriam Neill for all her help with the PEI research.