Monday 30 March 2009

Edward Thomas Cruse in World War I

David Cruse has been having a sort out of some old files and has sent me copies of the correspondence he had back in 1999 with a lady called Rita Thyer in New Zealand. Rita is the granddaughter of Edward Thomas Cruse (b. 1880 in Bermondsey, London) and Edith Louisa Carswell. Edward is descended from the John Cruse and Mary Rook line of London and Cambridgeshire. When researching this family previously I had not been able to find any trace of Edward Thomas Cruse after the 1891 census. Edward would have been 21 in 1901 and I suspect he might have been away from home serving in the Boer War. Fortunately however Ancestry now have the World War I army service records available online and luckily Edward's records were amongst those which have survived and are included in the collection.

Edward would have been 34 years old at the outbreak of the First World War. From his service records I've discovered that he enlisted on 5th September 1914 at which time he was described as a printer. He began his service career as a private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was promoted to Corporal on 21st December 1915 and to Lieutenant Sergeant on 31st December 1915. He was then promoted to Sergeant on 16th April 1916. On 1st April 1916 he was transferred to the Training Reserves. In a reorganisation he was posted to the Hampshire Regiment on 1st November 1917, and finally on 26th November 1918 he was transferred to the Labour Corps. He was discharged on 1st June 1919. His medical report on discharge shows that he was suffering from hallus valgus (bunions) on his left foot. He had had an operation to remove the head of a metatarsal bone. He had also had an attack of influenza in January 1919 following which he suffered from a cardiac irregularity, though no irregularity was found at the time of the examination. He was classified as being 20% disabled.

The service papers also most helpfully provide information about Edward's wife and children. Edward claimed to have married Edith Louisa Carswell on 4th February 1905, though the marriage is recorded in the GRO indexes in the first quarter of 1906 in the West Ham Registration District. Edward had seven children:

- Arthur Edward Cruse, born 10th November 1901
- Grace Edna Elizabeth Cruse, born 15th Feb 1903
- Edith Lilian Cruse, born 20th July 1906 in Upton Park, London
- George Thomas Cruse, born on 22nd August 1907 in Stratford, London
- Rose Louisa Cruse, born on 30th November 1911 in Stratford
- Louisa Elsie Cruse, born on 14th November 1914 in Stratford
- Ernest Alfred Cruse, born on 19th Feb 1916 in Stratford

Edward's eldest two children, Arthur and Grace, were from his first marriage to Janet Frances Amelia Gillard. Edward and Janet married in 1901. Janet sadly died in 1904 when Grace was only around a year old.

At the time of Edward's discharge from the army the family address was 2 Hotham Street, Bridge Road, Stratford, London E15. Edward apparently left his family after World War I and never returned for reasons which are unclear. I wonder if anyone has any further information on Edward and his family. I would be particularly interested to hear from any of his descendants in New Zealand. © Debbie Kennett 2009-2012

Monday 2 March 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2009

I spent two enjoyable days on Friday and Saturday at the "Who Do You Think You Are?" show at Olympia in London. This year's show was much smaller in scale than last year, with fewer exhibitors and less of the razzmatazz. The absence of the military vehicles, the wargaming societies and the archaeologists meant that there was more space for the traditional genealogy suppliers to display their wares, and it was easier to move around the hall and visit the stands, as can be seen in the photo below which was taken late in the day on Saturday when the crowds had subsided. A new feature of this year's show was the DNA workshop, sponsored by Family Tree DNA. There were so many interesting talks that the only way I could fit them all in was by attending on two consecutive days!The first DNA talk on Friday was given by Max Blankfeld, Vice-President of Family Tree DNA. The company was set up in April 2000, and now has the largest genetic genealogy database in the world. On 9th February the company announced that they had reached an historic milestone having received their 500,000th order for a DNA testing kit. The database is now so large that male adoptees taking a Y-DNA test apparently have a 30% to 40% chance of matching someone bearing the surname of their biological father. FTDNA also carry out the testing for The Genographic Project, a ground-breaking study which has enabled scientists to track the migratory path of mankind around the world over thousands of years. The project launched in April 2005 after 18 months of planning. It was originally conceived as a five-year project, but has been so successful that it will now continue indefinitely. For those of you in the UK, DNA kits for the Genographic Project can be purchased over the counter at the National Geographic store in Regent Street, London. Kits can also be purchased online in the UK from their online store. The Genographic Project provides an excellent introduction to DNA testing for those people who are interested in their deep ancestry but whose surname is not yet represented in a DNA project. There is an option to add your results to the FTDNA database so that you can be notified of any subsequent matches.

Dr Michael Hammer, the chief Y-DNA scientist at Family Tree DNA, gave a very interesting and visual presentation about our deep ancestral origins. Scientists have now discovered over 600 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, known as SNPs (pronounced snips), in the Y-chromosome. A SNP is a change in a base in the DNA sequence which occurs over time. These SNPs can be used to identify population groups known as haplogroups. The tree of mankind is now divided into 20 major haplogroups which are designated by letters of the alphabet from A through to T.

Dr Doron Behar, the chief mtDNA scientist at Family Tree DNA, gave an equally interesting talk on mitochondrial DNA and the female line. His enthusiasm for mtDNA was infectious, and he has persuaded me to save up my money to upgrade to the full genome sequence mtDNA test!

Katherine Borges, the Director of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), gave an informative talk about British DNA. She explained how we know Prince Philip's mitochondrial genetic signature, and warned of the limitations of autosomal testing as used for Colin Jackson on Who do you think you are? The DNA haplotypes (genetic signatures) of Prince Philip and other famous people can be found on the ISOGG website.

On Saturday I had the privilege to attend Megan Smolenyak's talk on DNA testing. Megan provided the big story of this year's WDYTYA. DNA testing has now revealed that Chris Haley, the nephew of the African-American writer Alex Haley, author of the historical novel Roots, is of Scottish ancestry. Chris met June Baff-Black, the daughter of his newly found DNA match, at WDYTYA on Saturday. The story has been widely reported elsewhere, and was also featured on the BBC news at breakfast time on Saturday. The best accounts can be found on Dick Eastman's blog, and in The Daily Telegraph.

Family Tree DNA were doing a roaring trade throughout the two days of the show that I attended. The stall always seemed to be crowded with people. There was so much interest that the supply of kits ran out and more had to be drafted in from elsewhere. I was surprised to see so many people swabbing their cheeks to provide the samples on the spot. The show went so well that FTDNA have already decided they will be back next year, and they are hoping to have a bigger area for the DNA talks.

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