Saturday, 10 May 2008

Cruwys of Bristol

Last Saturday I had an enjoyable day out at the "Who do you think you are" show at Olympia in London. I came home with a number of new resources which I am only just starting to explore. One of my purchases was a CD from the Bristol and Avon Family History Society containing transcriptions of all the baptisms in the Bristol Diocese from 1813 to 1837. I was hoping to find the baptism of my great-great-grandmother Anne Cruwys née Wall. She emigrated to America in around 1901 when she was about 65 or 66 to join her son William and daughter Emily, both of whom never married. She spent the rest of her life in America living with William and Emily and died in Richmond Hill, Queens County, New York, in 1915 at the age of 79. I have her death certificate from America and her date of birth is given as 2nd October 1835. I know from the censuses that she was born in Bristol and in some of the censuses her place of birth is given as St Paul's, Bristol. Unfortunately there is no likely baptism on the CD so I can only conclude either that she was not born in Bristol after all or that she was baptised in one of the non-conformist churches. I know from her marriage certificate that her father was James Wall, a labourer, but I have also been unable to find any conclusive matches for Anne in the 1841 or 1851 censuses.

However, as always seems to be the case with family history research, sometimes new information arrives when you are least expecting it which allows pieces of another part of the jigsaw to fall into place. I found some baptisms on the CD which have now enabled me to add another branch to the Wiveliscombe/Oakford Cruwys tree. This branch begins with John Cruwys and Mary Weeks who married in 1834 at St Mary Le Port, Bristol. John was the son of Isaac Cruwys and Ann Burton. He was baptised on 29th July 1810 in Chipstable, Somerset. Like many other Cruwyses, he was a tailor. John Cruwys and Mary Weeks had two children: Selina and Alfred. Selina died at the age of 32, but Alfred married and had a family. Alfred died in a tragic accident and a report of the inquest was published in the Bristol Mercury on 24th and 28th July 1894:
Inquests in Bristol
Yesterday afternoon Mr. H. G. Dogget, the city Coroner, held the following inquests in Bristol,

Strange death of a shipwright
At the Redland police station, on the body of Alfred Cruwys, aged about 54 years, who was found dead in the Floating Harbour, on Friday, 20th. William Cruwys, of 11. Gloucester street, St. Philip's, identified the body as that of his father, a shipwright, who lived at 2, Brook cottages, Southville. Witness last saw him alive about a fortnight ago. During the last few months he had been subject to giddiness, and a short time back he had a bad cold. William Tanner stated that he knew deceased, who was working with him on the barque Liberty, alongside the New Quay, Hotwell road. On Friday morning deceased was engaged on a particular job, and witness was fastening a rail down. After breakfast they both started work, and witness noticed his companion picking his tools up, as if to leave the ship. Witness than lost sight of him. Subsequently the tools were found lying together on the deck. Thomas Bawn stated that on Friday, the 20th inst., he was engaged in ballasting the barque Liberty. He did not see Cruwys at work that day, as he was busy in other parts of the ship. At about midday a man named Tanner told witness that deceased was missing. On witness's return from dinner he found that the man was still missing, and so he got his creeps and began to drag for him, In about eight minutes he discovered his body on the port side of the bow of the ship. The vessel was lying broad side on the quay. He was in his working dress, and there were no marks of violence on the body. A verdict was returned to the effect, "That the deceased was found dead in the Floating Harbour, having probably fallen in accidentally and been drowned."

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