Article on David Ramsay published

Our article on the clockmaker David Ramsay has been published in Antiquarian Horology. It provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of his origins and eventful life. He was born at the farmstead of Langraw near St Andrews and apprenticed there to the gunsmith Henry SMITH in 1594. He is next found in Paris in 1610, helping the Fife nobleman John CARNEGIE to choose clocks for his brother, and he is mentioned as ‘Langraw’s son’ in a letter from John.

In 1613, he was invited to London where he joined a large expatriate Scots community, taking positions in King James’s bedchamber and becoming keeper of the King’s clocks in 1618 after the death of the previous incumbent Randolph BULL. He was also made Master of the Clockmakers’ Company in 1632 when it was established by King Charles.

When King Charles became embroiled in the Civil War, Ramsay was put in the Gatehouse Prison in Westminster for debt, where he remained for 4 years. He was finally released after agreeing to work for the Commonwealth. He died in relative obscurity in St Martins in the Fields in April 1659 and was buried there on the 3rd May 1659.

Finch et al 2019 Antiquarian Horology, Vol 40, 177-199.


Percy Dawson Medal 2018

My Dad and I went down to the Antiquarian Horological Society Annual Meeting at Greenwich last weekend to collect the Percy Dawson medal for 2018. The medal is awarded by the Antiquarian Horological Society “annually for the best article in [the AHS journal] Antiquarian Horology”. It was good to collect the medal on behalf of all of us as authors, but it was poignant particularly to remember my Mum who was lead author on the article. It was also good to catch up on some old friends in the horological community.

The conference was on the life and works of Alexander Cummings (1732-1814), who, in addition to designing and building clocks and watches (including inventing the barometric clock), is credited with the invention of the flushing toilet.

Will of Joseph CHILWELL 1843

Joseph CHILWELL is my great, great, great, great grandfather, born 1763 in Sheldon and who died at Fillongley on the 30 May 1843. He was buried at Exhall in Warwickshire. He is one of the few of my ancestors who had sufficient estate to leave a substantial will. His gravestone is still also present at Exhall churchyard. His gravestone reads:

Erected to The Memory of JOSEPH CHILWELL who changed time for eternity May 30th 1843 aged 80 years. SARAH wife of JOSEPH CHILWELL who died February 20th 1837 aged 75 years.

I am adding a transcript of his will below since it contains a significant volume of information about Joseph’s extensive family. All of his surviving children were girls and so the estate was devolved to many people who did not share Joseph’s surname. I am descended through his daughter Harriet EAVES.


Will of Joseph CHILWELL of Fillongley, Warwickshire

Court of Lichfield B/C/11 6 Oct 1843

This is the last will and testament of me Joseph CHILWELL of Fillongley in the County of Warwick yeoman. In the first place I direct my executors hereinafter named to pay and discharge as soon as conveniently can be after my decease all my just debts and my funeral and testamentary expenses And I give and Bequeath unto my Executors all my Household Furniture Plate Linen China Books and all my money Securities for Money and other my personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever Upon Trust as soon as conveniently can be after my decease to sell and dispose to sell and dispose of and convert unto money all such parts of my said personal estate as shall not consist of money or securities for money and to call in collect and receive all such part thereof as shall consist of Money or securities for money And I give and Bequeath the clear proceeds thereof in manner following (that is to say) One tenth part or share thereof unto and equally to be divided between and amongst all and every the child and children of my late daughter Ann PARKER who shall be living at the time of my decease to be paid to him her or them on their respectively attaining the age of Twenty one years but in case one or more of them shall die before attaining that age then the part or share of him her or them so dying shall be divided in among the survivors or survivor of them And it shall be lawful for my executors during the respective minorities of such children to apply the yearly income of their expectant shares for the benefit of such a children in such manner as they shall think advisable One other tenth part of share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth the wife of Anthony SMITH. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Frances the wife of John CARPENTER. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto and equally divided between and amongst all an every the Child and children of my late daughter Mary the wife of George CHILWELL who shall be living at the time of my decease to be paid to him her or them on their respectively attaining the age of Twenty one years but in case one of more of them shall die before attaining that age then the part or share of him her or them so dying shall be divided amongst the survivors or survivor of them And it shall be lawful of my executors during the respective minorities of such children to apply the yearly income of their expectant share for the benefit of such children in such manner as they shall think advisable. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Martha the wife of George BENTLEY of Exhall Farmer. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Harriet the wife of William EAVES. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Abigail the wife of Thomas MOON. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Jane the wife of James TURNER. One other tenth part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my daughter Penelope the wife of James CHILWELL. And the remaining part of share thereof I give and Bequeath unto and equally to be divided between and amongst all and every the child and children of my late daughter Emily formerly the wife of John CRANER who shall be living at the time of my decease to be paid to him her or them on their respectively attaining the age of Twenty one years but in case one or more of them shall die before attaining that age then the part or share of him, her or them so dying shall be divided amongst the survivors or survivor of them. And it shall be lawful for my executors during the respective minorities of such children to apply the yearly income of their expectant shares for the benefit of such children in such manner as they shall think advisable. And whereas I have advanced the sum of thirty pounds to my daughter Elizabeth SMITH or her husband fifty pounds to my daughter Harriet EAVES or her husband Fifty pounds to my daughter Jane TURNER or her husband and sixty pounds during the lifetime of my daughter Emily CRANER to her or her husband. Now I do hereby declare that the said Elizabeth SMITH, Harriet EAVES and Jane TURNER shall not be entitled to any part or the share of the money before intended for them without they shall bring such respective sums into Hotchpot and accounting for the same as part of their respective shares And that my executors shall also bring the said sum of sixty pounds advanced to the said Elizabeth Emily CRANER or her husband unto Hotchpot and account for the same as part of the share of the children of the said Emily CRANER And in case any of my daughters now living shall depart this life in my lifetime leaving children then I give and bequeath the part or share of he or them so dying unto and equally to be divided between and amongst all and every her or their child or children who shall be living at the time of my decease to be paid to him or her or them on their respective attaining the Age of Twenty one years but in case one or more of them shall die before attaining that age then the part of share of him her or them so dying shall be divided among the survivors or survivor of the such child or children nevertheless only taking the part or share of his her or their deceased parent And it shall be lawful for my executors during the respective minorities of such children to apply the yearly income of their respective minorities of such children in such manner as they shall think advisable And in case any of my daughters now living shall depart this life in my lifetime without leaving any children or leaving such no such [sic] children shall survive me then I give and bequeath the share or shares of her or them so dying  to be equally divided amongst such of my daughters as shall survive me and the children of such as are now dead or shall depart this life in my lifetime such children to take only the share to which their parents would have been entitled to if living And I declare that my executors shall be charged only with such sum or sums of money as they shall respectively actually receive and that one or more of them shall not be charged with the other of others of them notwithstanding his or their having joined in any receipt of receipts for the sake of conformity nor for the Acts or deeds of the other or others of them and that they shall not be accountable for involuntary losses and it shall be lawful for them to reimburse themselves all such costs charges and expenses as they shall be put unto by reason of the trusts of this my will. [handwriting changes from here on] And I nominate constitute and appoint Thomas NEELE of Exhall in the County and the City of Coventry Farmer and the said George BENTLEY executors of this my will And I give unto the said Thomas NEELE and George BENTLEY their heirs and assigns All such real estates as are rested in me as Mortgage or trustee upon the trusts for which the same are respectively holden by me And I further give and bequeath unto each of my Executors the sum of five pounds if he shall accept the office and duty of an executor of this my will And I bequeath unto the children who shall be living at my decease of my deceased granddaughter Anne late the wife of Willoughby TRILBY and same of the children of my said daughter Ann PARKER the share of which the said Anne TRILBY would have been entitled to if she had survived me both principal and interest to be paid and applied as the same time and in the same manner as that given to my grandchildren. And hereby revoking all other wills I declare this only to be my last contained and written upon four sheets of paper to the three first of which I have put my hand and to this last my hand and seal this twenty fourth day of June One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Two.

Signed and declared by the above named testator as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto set our names as witnesses thereto

John GADSBY                                                               The mark of X Joseph CHILLWELL [sic]

Edward CARTHEW solicitor Coventry

At Coventry 6th October 1843


Let a probate of this Will and Codicil be granted to Thomas NEALE and George BENTLEY two of the executors named in the Codicil to the last will and Testament of the said deceased reserving a power for George CHILWELL and James CHILWELL the other Executors to prove n like manner. – They being also duly sworn that the personal estate of the said deceased will not amount in value to £1500. Before me



This is a codicil to be added to and taken as part of the last will and testament of me Joseph CHILWELL of Fillongley in the County of Warwick yeoman which will bears date the twenty fourth day of June 1842. Whereas I have thereby appointed Thomas NEALE of Exhall in the County of Warwick Farmer and George BENTLEY also of Exhall Farmer Executors thereof And I am desirous of appointing two more executors to my said will. Now I do hereby appoint my brother George CHILWELL of Sheldon in County of Warwick Farmer and my son-in-law James CHILWELL of Freefut [?] in the County of Stafford to be executors of my said will jointly with the said Thomas NEALE and George BENTLEY. And I hereby revoke the bequest of the sum of five pounds by my said will given to the said George BENTLEY as Executor. And whereas the said George BENTLEY is indebted to me in the sum of £50 or thereabouts Now I hereby declare that the share by my said will given to my daughter Martha the wife of the said George BENTLEY shall not be paid to her unless the said George BENTLEY shall bring the said sum of £50 or whatever he shall owe me at the time of my decease into Hotchpot and account for the same as part of the share given to the said Martha BENTLEY And whereas I also advanced to my late daughter Elizabeth [Ann overwritten] PARKER or her husband the sum of thirty pounds Now I declare that my executors shall bring the same into Hotchpot and account for the same as part of the share given by my said Will to the children of the said Elizabeth [Ann overwritten] PARKER And I hereby confirm my will in all other respects. Dated this sixth day of September One thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Two.


Signed and declared by the named Joseph CHILWELL as and for a codicil to his last Will in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses

Joseph DORMER     John LINNEY

The mark of [X] Joseph CHILWELL


[Proforma bond of administration from the Court of Lichfield, parts entered by hand in italics]

WILL In the Bishop’s Court of Lichfield to the goods of Joseph CHILWELL deceased. Appeared personally Thomas NEALE Farmer and George BENTLEY farmer both of Exhall in the County of Warwick two of the executors named in the last will and testament of the said Joseph CHILWELL late of Fillongley in the County of Warwick yeoman deceased; who died on or about the thirtieth day of May One thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Three and made oath that the Estate and Effects of the said deceased, for, in respect of which, a Probate of the said will and one codicil is to be granted, exclusive of what the said deceased may have been possessed of or entitled to as a trustee for any other person or persons and not beneficially but including the Leasehold estate or estates for Years of the Deceased, if any, whether absolute or determinable on Lives, and without any deducting any thin one account of Debts, due and owing from the said Deceased, and under the value of Fifteen Hundred Pounds to the best of these Deponent’s knowledge information and belief.

Sworn on the 6th day of October 1843 before me F.J. BLACKBURNE surrogate.

Thomas NEALE     George BENTLEY


The Wedding of Norman Ward and Gladys Honeyman-Bull

The wedding photo of my grandparents, Norman Charles Frederick WARD and Gladys Adelaide HONEYMAN-BULL, represents a cross section of the family at the start of the Second World War. The wedding took place on the 26th February 1939 on a cold crisp February Sunday and the group photograph seems to have been taken in the back garden on someone’s house, possibly that of the bride’s mother, Mary Ellen HONEYMAN-BULL nee AMISSON.


I have annotated the photograph identifying everyone in the family grouping using notes that my mother left. The grouping is entirely a family gathering from both sides of the family. The bridesmaids were Sophia Emily WARD (known as Cissy) and my Nan’s god-daughter Gladys Amelia Elizabeth PARKER with whom she shared a birthday. There is a woman’s face lost behind the groom and a big woman’s hat behind the groom’s mother that cannot be identified, but I would imagine they are also relations. David DALLAS’s wife, my Nan’s sister Ellen Jane (Nellie) is not in the picture, so I suspect she is the big hat. Someone is cut off to the left of the photo – perhaps a neighbour or someone who hadn’t attended the wedding and didn’t think they should be in shot. My Grandad’s best man was his brother Ben who is not in the photo – it is possible he may have had to go back to work after the ceremony.

Norman Charles Frederick WARD = Gladys Adelaide HONEYMANBULL 1939
Marriage certificate issued on the wedding day. Witnessed by Ben Ward, Grandad’s brother (and best man) and William Thomas Bull, Nan’s eldest brother.

Nan’s family in the photo are:

My great grandmother Mary Ellen AMISSON is next to my Nan. My Nan’s brother William Thomas BULL is on the far right. Ellen Jane HONEYMAN-BULL is probably the lady in the big hat that we cannot see, since her husband David DALLAS is behind my Nan. My Nan’s sister Nellie (Annie Louisa HONEYMAN-BULL) is present with her daughter Gladys PARKER (who is a bridesmaid). My Nan’s brother Harry HONEYMAN-BULL is there with his wife (Nelly PARMENTER, on the far left). My Nan’s sister Ivy HONEYMAN-BULL is there with her husband Bill CHAPMAN (rear centre left) and children Ivy and June CHAPMAN.

Grandad’s stepmother Sophia is next to my Grandad – his sister is Cissy (Sophia Emily WARD) with her husband Ron CONLEY. His brother Ben was at the ceremony but not in this picture.


Tracing Robert Ward’s House and Workshop

Amongst family papers and documents, we have a photograph that is understood to be Robert WARD’s house and workshop. It presumably dates from the 1870s at the height of Robert’s business. The photograph shows an end-tenement house built alongside a wide thoroughfare with a garden, two waggons parked on the left of the view and a lean-to extension on the side of the house. The house has two storeys and a hint of a skylight in the roof indicating that this space was also used within the house.

Robert Ward's House Marfleet

Robert WARD’s House and Workshop in the 1870s.

We know from the 1861 and 1871 censuses that Robert lived and worked on the Hedon Road, the main thoroughfare from Hull towards Hedon. It was an important route in the 19th century as ships that were docked at Marfleet along the Humber estuary could be offloaded and the goods delivered to Hull by road. Sailors would get shore leave as the goods were landed and there was a brisk trade in catering for shoes and other leather goods needed by the sailors, which needed to be provided in time for them to sail on the next tide.

By using the census and contemporary maps, we have tried to identify specifically where this photograph was taken and therefore where Robert’s house lay.

Marfleet map 1853 cropped
Excerpt from an Ordnance Survey map of Marfleet from 1853. The map shows that the houses on the Hedon Road in Marfleet were all on the South side. The map also shows the location of the Wheelwrights’ Arms.

The photograph gives some clues. All the houses along the Hedon Road lie on the south side, indicating that the photograph was taken across the road from the North. Furthermore, from the census we know that the house lay near the Wheelwrights’ Arms, which is indicated on the map. The photograph shows that the house is an end-tenement with a lean-to on what we must now infer in the Eastern side. Of the houses along the Hedon Road, the one annotated in the map enlargement has both an extension on the eastern side, is shown with a garden, lies along the Hedon Road and lies close to the Wheelwrights Arms. We therefore infer that this is Robert’s house.

Marfleet close up annotated and cropped
Enlargement of the 1853 map of Marfleet. The Wheelwrights’ Arms is the building on the E side of the collection of houses, rather further right than the text would initially suggest.

The photograph must have been taken from the north side of the road from the point at the crest of the ellipse that circles the building.


Death Registers, Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouses 1836-1840

The earliest surviving death registers for the Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouse date from 1866 but it is clear from reading the board of guardian’s minutes (National Archives: MH12/12689 and 12690) that a suite of registers were kept from the earliest establishment of the workhouse. There are references to admissions registers and registers of ‘sickness and mortality’. However, amongst the Board of Guardians’ Minutes for 1841 is a transcript of death entries reportedly taken from the latter set of registers. These were copied in response to a query by the Poor Law Commissioners in London to provide information on mortality rates and were delivered to them on the 14th of August 1841.  These entries are of particular value since the originals are now lost. The Poor Law Union, which included the six parishes of Wandsworth, Clapham, Putney, Battersea, Tooting Graveney and Streatham, was founded in 1836. Its purpose was to centralise the provision of poor relief into a single authority, providing more consistent management (which could be monitored more effectively by the Poor Law Commissioners) and in anticipation of cost savings through economies of scale. However in the earliest years covered by this document, the Union had inherited and still managed a workhouse in each parish. The account presented must therefore be an amalgamation of returns from five workhouses – Putney workhouse had closed in 1836, presumably transferring its paupers to another institution (although which is unclear). By 1840, plans were advanced to build a single Union Workhouse on land purchased on East Hill, Battersea but that institution was not yet open.

The following document is a pdf listing the deaths in the Union workhouse in those years: Register of Deaths Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouse 1836-1840.


Missing Baptisms from Blurton, Staffordshire

The parish of Trentham in Staffordshire was divided into two halves with a main church at Trentham and a chapel of ease at Blurton. From the 1730s, services at Blurton are entered into the register distinctly generating what are, effectively, two parallel series of entries. This suggests that a separate record was being kept at Blurton and then added to entries from the main church at the end of the year. However, for 1752-1780, baptisms at Blurton are not explicitly identified. A separate marriage register for Blurton 1754-1770 was copied into the Trentham registers but the baptisms were never transcribed. There are no marriages explicitly performed at Blurton between 1770 and 1842. In contrast to both baptisms and marriages, burials are entered in a single series, suggesting that all burials were being performed at Trentham and monumental inscriptions from Blurton do not suggest that burials were carried out there before a separate burials register starting in 1828. From 1813, Blurton kept separate registers for baptisms and, in 1842, it became a separate parish with a separate marriage register.

The gap due to the lost Blurton entries can be partly compensated by bishops transcripts. Between 1771 and 1776, these include the baptisms at Blurton which are absent from the main (Trentham) register. These entries are transcribed here since they do not occur in transcripts of Trentham registers and indexes generated from them, such as


Sampson BARKER                                                                                   Feb 7th

Richard son of John CLARK                                                                  July 20th

William son of William TUNSTALL                                                     August 25th



William PROCTER                                                                                   March 20th

Hugh son of Samuel MAN                                                                     August 25th

John son of William JONES                                                                   October 4th

James son of John BROWN                                                                    October 10th

Sarah daughter of John TUNSTALL                                                     October 19th

John son of William ADAMS                                                                 October 25th

Ellen daughter of William ASTBURY                                                   October 25th

Thomas son of Thomas COOK                                                              November 15th

Frances daughter of Isaac ANDERSON                                               November 15th

Nancy daughter of Thomas KEMP                                                       November 22nd

Nancy daughter of Thomas BRAMMER Stoke                                    September [sic] 6th

William son of Thomas ADAMS                                                           December 13th

Jemima daughter of George LOCKETT Stoke parish                        December 20th

Sarah daughter of John MARE                                                              December 27th



Elizabeth daughter of Samuel WRIGHT                                              January 3rd

Mary daughter of Thomas BARKER                                                     January 17th

Matthew son of Edward AMISON                                                        March 2nd

Richard son of Thomas WALTERS                                                       March 7th

Thomas son of Thomas BADKIN                                                          April 4th

Ann daughter of James STEVSON                                                        April 9th

James son of Richard ORAM                                                                 May 8th

William son of John CLARK                                                                  May 13th

George son of John ANDERSON                                                           May 15th

Edward daughter [sic] of Noah MILLS (Stone Parish)                     July 13th

Robert son of Mary EDWARDS                                                             July 18th

Peter son of James HURDASS                                                                July 25th

William son of William TABERNOR                                                    August 9th

Isaac MORETON curate of Blurton and Trentham

John BRINDLEY Churchwarding


1773 [continued]

Ralph son of Thomas ROMER of Stoke Parish                                   September 12th

Thomas son of William RIDGE                                                             October 2nd

Thomas son of William BROUGH                                                        November 14th



William son of Thomas BALL                                                               January 29th

Joseph son of John SWIFT                                                                     January 30th

George son of Edward DAWSON                                                          January 30th

John son of William TUNSTALL                                                           January [sic] 9th

Elizabeth daughter of William PROCTER                                           February 13th

Sarah daughter of William ADAMS                                                     August 25th

Thomas son of Thomas ADAMS                                                           December 24th



Ruth HOWLEY daughter of Ann JONES                                              April 23rd

Elizabeth daughter of Richard ORAM                                                 June 6th

Sarah daughter of Thomas WOOD                                                      December 27th

Richard son of William BROUGH                                                         January [sic] 9th

Thomas son of William WARD                                                             December 31st

Sampson son of Thomas BARKER                                                        April 10th

Fanny daughter of Thomas WALTERS                                                April 17th

Frances daughter of Isaac ANDERSON                                               July 20th



Susannah daughter of Thomas SHAW                                                January 9th

Elizabeth daughter of John SWIFT                                                       January 22nd

Frances daughter of Moses EDWARDS                                               February 6th

Richard son of Samuel WRIGHT                                                          February 13th

George son of Arthur LOCKETT                                                           May 6th

Susannah daughter of William PROCTOR                                          May 26th

John son of Richard BRYON                                                                   July 14th

Joseph and Mary son and daughter of John LOCKETT                    July 28th

Samuel son of Thomas BALL                                                                 July 28th

William son of John DENNIS                                                                 August 23rd

Sarah and Mary daughters of John GREEN                                        September 9th



Ward Graves in Hedon Road Cemetery, Hull

Gravestone 1: Robert, Ellen and James WARD

2016-09-18 12.24.49

In affectionate remembrance of JAMES son of Robert and Ellen WARD who departed this life June 7th 1876 aged 23 years

Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord

Also Robert WARD father of the above who died 21st May 1878 aged 61 years

They miss him most that knew him best. He sleeps in Jesus.

Also of the above named Ellen WARD who died April 17th 1891 aged 74 yers

Gone but not forgotten.


Grave 2: Joseph and Eliza Rebecca WARD

2016-09-18 12.30.04

In affectionate remembrance of Joseph WARD who departed this life November 12th 1882 aged 74 years.

The winter of trouble is past, the storms of affliction are o’er, the struggle is ended at last, and sorrow and death are no more.

Also of Eliza Rebecca WARD wife of the above Joseph WARD who entered into rest May 28th 1900 aged 75 years.

Gravestone 3: William and Herbert WARD

2016-09-18 14.29.04

In memory of William WARD cab proprietor of this town who died 14 March 1882 aged 41.

And of Herbert WARD son of the above born Oct 14th 1866 died Oct 14th 1906 aged 40 years.


Valerie Janet FINCH

It is with the deepest sadness that I have to let everyone know about the death of my mum, Valerie Janet Finch. She had Christmas 2018 with her family in Scotland but returned home in Lincolnshire on the night of the 28th. She died at home with her husband Tony at her side on the morning of the 29th December 2018.

Her funeral was on the 24th of January at 10.30 am at the Parish church of St Michael and all Angels in Billinghay, followed by a short cremation ceremony at the Crematorium at Alford in Lincolnshire at noon. We did not expect flowers and several mourners preferred to give donations to the Stroke Association via the direct link here that allows donations to be made in her name. The service and committal was followed by a reception at the The Ship Inn in Billinghay, Lincolnshire.

Below I have placed the eulogy read by Adrian, the poem read by Tony and a copy of the photo gallery that was presented at the reception.


Val was born as Valerie Janet WARD in 1945 during the final months of the Second World War. Val’s Mum, Gladys, was evacuated from the family home in Brockley in South London and Val was born away from the bombing at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Val’s father, Norman, was an engineer and he bought a family home in Rosenthal Road in Catford when she was about 11. She was successful at school, looking to take A-levels but there was little enthusiasm at that time for a woman to follow an academic career and so she left school aged 17. She met Tony in the same year in a Butcher’s shop in Camberwell in South London. The cashier, Flossie, was Val’s friend and Tony who worked there said ‘I will take her out one day’. Floss didn’t let Tony forget his promise and Val and Tony were together from then on. In their early years, Val would ask Tony what he saw in her and his reply was always ‘I see a decent, respectable person who I feel is a class above me with a heart of gold’. Tony says that Val didn’t drink, swear or have any vices until she met him.

Tony and Val married in 1965. A year later Adrian was born, a son of whom she was always very proud. She worked at the Imperial War Museum but quickly moved on to the Royal Greenwich Observatory where her office was in the iconic tower with a time-ball on the top, falling every day at 1 pm. Her work at Greenwich involved indexing original manuscripts and she learned to read the scribbled handwriting of the 17th Century. She also became aware of how much research needed to be done to understand fully early British Science and acquired a lifelong interest in clockmakers such as John HARRISON and Thomas MUDGE.

Val was fiercely loyal to friends and family, as on the occasion when Adrian and his cousins were refused entry to Adrian’s School disco. When she found out, Val had her coat on in an instant and at School encountered a condescending teacher with an unfortunate name. The teacher tried to explain the situation but made the mistake of appearing superior and so triggered the wrong end of Val’s formidable temper. Adrian’s relationship with Mr Pratt was never the same again.

Val had learned German at School but had had little chance to practice it. In 1986 at the age of 41 she decided to travel abroad for the first time and she chose Germany as the destination. Added to that, she had always wanted to see a famous timepiece by Thomas Mudge and this became the excuse for a driving holiday across Europe. But the destination was Dresden, which was, at the time, in communist East Germany behind the iron curtain – not your average holiday destination. It reflected Val’s determination that, once she had focussed on the idea, she would not be deflected from it. Whilst in Dresden, a note was attached to the car saying they wanted to know more about the West. Val was insistent that she would write back and thus was born one of the most remarkable friendships across the biggest political chasm of the age – Val, Tony and Adrian in London with Lutz, Margitta and Dirk in Dresden – a friendship that has in time outlived the Berlin Wall itself.

Val used her skills in reading old script to research her own Family History, a pastime that became her life-long leisure activity. What attracted her was the sense of discovery and the human stories that lay waiting to be uncovered. One example that she talked about often was the life of her great-grandfather, James Honeyman Bull, who worked as a Merchant’s Clerk in Coventry before he stole £21 from his employer – equivalent to nearly his annual wage. When he was caught, he expressed his remorse and offered his apologies to his erstwhile employer. James completed his sentence – a year with hard labour in Coventry Gaol – but was then reemployed by the same man he had embezzled and he also married the girl next door to where he had worked. Val was fascinated by what this told us about the characters not just of James’s employer, but also that of James himself.

After leaving the Royal Greenwich Observatory, she worked for the Wellcome Foundation in Beckenham in Kent where she became Quality Controller. Much of her work was confidential but she said that she had to handle the cases of several profoundly ill people, many of whom were children. She described afterwards how upsetting but important her work at Wellcome’s had been.

After retirement, she tried working as a Professional Genealogist but this was a financial failure because she became personally interested in all of her cases and then did extra research for which she was too embarrassed to charge. Val and Tony travelled in Italy and Germany and she met John Reavy, Adrian’s friend, when John’s Dad died in London. Val was there helping John during that sad time and John then became like a second son to her. From times with John, Val liked Ireland to such a degree that she bought a house in Ballynoe, Co Cork. She had 15 wonderful years there with her neighbours Catherine, Seamus, Bernie, Mike, Eileen and Billy, who welcomed her and made her one of the family.

In 2003, Tony took early retirement and Val and Tony sold their house in London. They came here to Billinghay because they found a lovely house in a quiet peaceful setting. Val felt they were lucky to find such a house with such wonderful neighbours. In 2004 and 2006 her grandchildren, Louis and Eleanor, were born and, proud as she was of Adrian, she was even more devoted to them.

In June 2014, Val had a stroke which left her with difficulties in communication. But as her stroke restricted her speech, so did it liberate her to say things as she saw them. After you have faced death, everyday situations are no challenge at all. When the prices in shops are outrageous, you and I might look slightly embarrassed and turn away but, Val simply said ‘How much? I don’t think so’. And when the food in a restaurant is substandard and the waiter formulaically asks how the meal was, Val would say ‘it was terrible’. Val saw no reason to pretend or stand on ceremony.

Her stroke did not stop her research into family history and clockmakers of the past. Over the years Val accumulated a significant volume of important new material, with the plan to write a book. After her stroke, she realised the book was too big a project, so instead, Val, Adrian and Tony started writing individual articles from key parts of the research. A two-part article about the clockmaker Edward EAST was published in 2017 and another was accepted the following year. The East article won an Award for the best article of the Year from the Antiquarian Horological Society, but sadly, due to Tony’s ill health, she was unable to collect her award. Adrian and Tony will collect it for her in May, aptly at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, where her interest in History of Science was kindled.

Val was a generous person who would help anybody who needed it. Many of you here will have had your family history researched by Val, such was her enthusiasm for the roots that make us who we are. You will remember her tenacity, her sincerity, her empathy and support; her willingness to help and guide those around her and her love. But however you remember her, as a friend, aunt, sister-in-law, nanny, mum or wife, Val will have influenced and touched all of you. She will be remembered and missed by all of us who knew her.


The Rose Beyond The Wall – A. L. Frink

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding it’s sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before,
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing it’s fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive–
The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will forever-more.

Photo Gallery

anthony william finch=valerie janet ward 1965 photo 2

Francis Robert HONEYMAN and his family

Francis Robert HONEYMAN was the son of David HONEYMAN and Ann WYNN and was born in St George’s Southwark on the 18 Nov 1782. He was the third of eleven children growing up in a family of well-to-do curriers. He was reasonably well educated (he could read and write well in later years) although one of his letters suggests he “in early life, instead of being at school, was floating over the blue waters“. This has been taken to suggest he was in the Navy but it might also indicate that he was, like many of his family, working as a Thames waterman. He was married around 1802 to Sarah whose last name we cannot identify. They had a family of eleven children born in St George the Martyr in Southwark, on the south side of the River Thames.

On 20 Oct 1808 Francis was assaulted by a Robert BRADBURY (who was later acquitted at the Quarter Sessions) and by 1810, the family were living in Barron’s Buildings, along the Blackfriars Road. An entry in the London Directory for 1811 refers to him as ‘Robert Honeyman Leather Dresser of 19 Barron’s Buildings, Westminster Road’, indicating that he had trained as a Leather Dresser; he is described as a ‘Leather stainer of Barron’s Buildings’ in the will of John Branscombe in 1815 and he appears similarly as a ‘kid-leather manufacturer of Barron’s Buildings in the Quarter Sessions in 1819. Francis was the victim in a robbery in 1819 by John GLIDE and Thomas WEST who stole 30 skins from Honeyman and tried to sell them to his brother.

The Royal Circus had been a place of entertainment along Blackfriars Road since 1782 owned by the theatre manager and playwright Charles Dibdin the elder. When Honeyman was born and during his formative years, equestrian events and circus acts performed regularly. In 1815, the decision was made to convert the Circus into the ‘Surrey Theatre’. The circus rink itself was made into a standing area for spectators and the stables next door were converted into a saloon bar adjacent to the Theatre itself. The management was taken over by a group of three men including John BRANSCOMBE, who was a theatre engineer who made machines and engines to allow theatrical displays to take place. In 8 Apr 1815, Branscombe died and his executor was his friend Francis Robert Honeyman. Branscombe owned the lease on the ‘Royal Circus Refectory‘ which was an establishment akin to a pub with two billiard tables and a licence to serve alcohol and spirits. The lease expired soon after Branscombe’s death and Francis took over the new lease, appearing in the list of licensed victuallers alongside Charles DIBDIN in that same year, demonstrating that he moved into a licensed establishment from 1815. One of Branscombe’s debtors, a surgeon called James COOKE, took Mary Ann BRANSCOMBE and Francis Robert HONEYMAN to Chancery in late 1815, claiming that a medical bill of over £67 in medicines was unpaid at the time of his death. In 1821, at the birth of his son Walter, we learn his establishment was called “Evans Coffee Shop” along the Blackfriars Road. Francis named his daughter Charlotte Dibdin Honeyman, presumably after his business partner.

By 1822, Francis’s coffee shop known in Branscombe’s day as the ‘Royal Circus Refectory’ was known as ‘Honeyman’s Coffee Shop adjoining the Surrey Theatre‘ and the ‘Circus Coffee Shop‘ showing that he now managed the saloon next to the Theatre which would become, in later years, the ‘Surrey Coal Hole’. Honeyman was also taking an interest in the activities within the Theatre itself. In 1822, the uncle of his stepchildren, Richard Branscombe, took Francis to court claiming that he has misappropriated the funds that John Branscombe had left for his children. Honeyman in reply accounted for all the money and asserted that he earned upwards of £20,000 per annum by virtue of his business as a leather stainer – a phenomenal sum at a time when the Governor of the Bank of England earned £400 per year. He claimed to have no need to take money from Branscombe’s fund.

The Surrey Theatre was the site of the first London performance of John Baldwin Buckstone on the 30th Jan 1823 as David Ramsay in the play of Scott’s book, ‘The Fortunes of Nigel’. We know that by late 1824, Francis was treasurer of the Theatre when there was a scandal involving embezzlement of the door takings by one of the employees and this event seems to have precipitated the decision of one of the lessees, Llewellyn Watkins WILLIAMS, to sell his interests in the Surrey Theatre to Francis Honeyman in early 1825.


By mid 1825, having taken over the Theatre, Honeyman made the decision to refurbish it, and it was reopened on 26th December 1825. At the same time, Honeyman was taken to court by a firm of bankers, Whitmore, Wells and Whitmore of Lombard Street, for failing to repay a loan of £700. Honeyman owned two tenements at no 29 and 30 New Street Cloth Fair in the parish of St Bartholomew the Great in London, and he had attempted to sell them to pay the bankers.  However the bankers claimed that Honeyman had attempted to defraud them by selling property to realise the assets and then refusing to provide title to the new buyers, thereby retaining the ability to claim the rents. It is clear that Honeyman was investing substantial amounts in property and becoming indebted with substantial loans to do so.

Honeyman tried to employ his friend Thomas DIBDIN, and wrote to him offering him the position of manager. However Thomas was also being offered the running of Sadler’s Wells Theatre and so he suggested his brother Charles in his stead. On the 27th Feb 1826 Francis tried to enrol Thomas and his brother together to manage and provide entertainment at the Surrey Theatre.

Surrey Theatre, 27th Feb. 1826

Dear Sir,
Understanding Messrs. Terry and Yates are in treaty for Sadler’s Wells, and that, should such treaty take effect they will bring their own establishment ; and wishing to attach as much talent to my own theatre as I can, I should be happy to make you an offer, (which was a very liberal one) as coadjutor with my present acting manager, your brother, with whom I shall never part, while he will, as he has done, exert himself for me ; leaving it to yourself, whether you would prefer being styled stage manager,—or, doing that duty, call it by any other name. My only motive in mentioning this punctilio arises from my anxiety not to offend talent, and apprehensive you may think the denomination of stage manager subservient to that of acting manager ; but you and your brother Charles Dibdin would understand each other, I am certain. Feeling this offer is one pound per week less than mentioned in our former treaty, I would willingly make it up by every comfort I could afford, every attention I could show you, or courtesy as to privilege of admissions ; and by throwing you off an equivalent in the scale of your benefit charges. Should I be wrong in making this offer, your usual urbanity of manners, and gentlemanly feelings, will excuse the roughness of a man, who, in early life, instead of being at school, was floating over the blue waters.

Sincerely yours,

The manager was Charles DIBDIN the younger and the opening night included several plays and vignettes written by Dibdin. A summary of Dibdin’s reminiscences of Honeyman and the Surrey Theatre appeared in the Memoirs of Charles DIBDIN – References to Honeyman. Honeyman employed several key stage names of his day including Buckstone and the celebrated actor George Holland in 1826. Honeyman had to run the gauntlet of a draconian law that allowed only Theatres with Royal Patent to stage ‘drama’ and this was restricted to the Drury Lane, Covent Garden and Haymarket theatres. Honeyman could get around the law by including substantial amounts of musical accompaniment which meant that the house was staging ‘mimes and ballets’ rather than drama. Honeyman was a celebrated figure of his time – when misfortune came to his son (who was kicked by a horse and nearly lost an eye in 1826) and daughter (who was attacked in the street in 1827), the reports omitted the names of the children but stated that they were the children of  ‘Mr Honeyman of the Surrey Theatre‘.


Honeyman kept the Theatre until late 1826 when the lease came for renewal. The owners presented such a steep hike in the rent that Honeyman had not choice but to refuse to renew the lease and he returned to managing the Circus Tavern, and by 1827 he is already being described as ‘late proprietor’ of the Surrey Theatre. On the 28th Mar 1828, Honeyman witnessed the marriage of his daughter Annie Marie Honeyman to the actor John Baldwin Buckstone; the marriage was also witnessed by her sister Mary Ann and (probably her sister) Sarah. Charles Dibdin wrote to him a few days later to congratulate the family:


My dear H, I received your kind note late on Thursday night, and was too much taken up yesterday to answer it. In regard to dining with you tomorrow, I cannot at this moment say yes, or no – if I can conveniently (for my time is now more my son’s than my own) I will. That Ann is married, I wish her joy, simply but sincerely expressed, and my feelings are concerned in this wish infinitively beyond what the simple word may seem to convey; but you will all give me credit, I am sure, for intent the most cordial and family. Give Mrs — (You did not mention her new name) my very best regards. Excuse a short letter; if I can’t see you tomorrow, I will, please heaven, soon; in the meantime, accept my sincere regards, you, Mrs. H and all your children, and believe me to be, Yours most cordially, C. DIBDIN.

PS My son is better, but still in a precarious state. On the back of the above letter are the following lines: Then come to my home, ’tis the home of a friend, In the green woods of Fruagh thou art safe from thy foes; Six sons of McKenna thy steps shall attend, And their six sheathless spears shall protect thy repose. Then partake of the cheer those green woods can spare, While I pledge thee a bumper of generous wine; And bold is the hand and the heart that will dare To harm but a hair of a ringlet of thine !

FR Honeyman signature 1822
Signature of Francis Robert Honeyman from a chancery case in 1828.

In the 1831 rates, he appears in 27-29 Dukes Street and Watton Place in Southwark. In 1833, Sarah died from Mason Street, Southwark, and Francis left Southwark. In 1838 his son Francis William was married and Francis Robert was then described as a ‘currier’. In 1839, Francis took Henry YOUNG, the manager of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, to the Surrey Sheriff’s Court asking for payment for silk bills that he had had given to Young. The case gives an interesting snapshot of Honeyman’s family life. His daughter Maria was described as Maria CROSBY and his daughter Sarah was living in Lewisham, presumably with his daughter and son-in-law, John Baldwin and Annie Maria BUCKSTONE. Francis was living in a room upstairs in a boarding house in Oakley Street, Chelsea where he had entertained Young three years earlier in 1836. By the 1841 census, Honeyman is described as a ‘Composer’ in St Sepulchre without Newgate parish in London. The census does not allow us to determine precisely where but the large numbers of single men in the establishment suggests that it is some form of boarding house. A few years later when Francis died, his address was given as 18, West Street, West Smithfield, which is consistent with this address in 1841, but his burial in 1843 indicates that this was the ‘Union Workhouse, West Street’ suggesting that he had been in the West London Union workhouse since before 1841.

In July 1842, Francis was caught stealing 6 glasses from the Sir Hugh Myddleton Inn next to Sadler’s Wells Theatre, then convicted and sentenced at the Old Bailey to imprisonment in Newgate Prison. He appears in the gaol calendar with a one month sentence. He called himself ‘Robert FRANCIS’ when arrested but he was known to the staff as HONEYMAN, hinting he had used a false name to hide his identity when caught.

Robert Honeyman [sic], some years since proprietor of the Surrey Theatre, and in affluent circumstances, was committed for trial on Saturday from Clerkenwell Police Court for stealing six tumblers from the parlour of the Sir Hugh Myddleton Tavern, adjacent to Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Several glasses having been missed, and the six immediately after prisoner’s departure, he was followed, and the property found on him. He pleaded poverty, and said that since the death of his wife and daughter, coupled with peculiar misfortunes, his mind was affected, and he must have taken the tumblers in a moment of aberration of intellect. The poor fellow shed tears, and was deeply affected at his degrading position. The Magistrate regretted that any person who bad been in a higher sphere of life should be reduced to such extremity. He had, however, no alternative but to commit him, and he was conveyed to Newgate.

He died on the 8 May 1843 and he wrote the codicil to his own will. He left his estate to his fourth daughter Maria Matilda Honeyman, who was described variously as a ‘spinster’ and as the wife of George CROSBY, Chelsea Pensioner. The documents indicate that Maria was not married to Crosby, even if they lived as man and wife.

Francis Robert Honeyman’s Children

Francis and Sarah had upwards of 11 children, most of whom grew to adulthood. Only one of the surviving children was a son – Francis William HONEYMAN – who was transported to New South Wales for theft (see below). Hence most of Honeyman’s lineage comes from his daughters. Honeyman’s family appear to have dissipated around 1836, each moving away from the family home. When John Branscombe died in 1815, the care of his children passed to Francis who became stepfather to Eleanor Ann, Emma (Emily Sophia), Clara Elizabeth, John Stephen and William Samuel Branscombe. Unfortunately all but Clara died in infancy, but Clara survived and was married in 1832.

Many of of his daughters lived with or married people linked to the stage. However we cannot find marriages for many of his daughters. Maria CROSBY is variously described as a wife and a spinster, and we infer that she lived with, but was not married to, George Crosby. Eleanor Emily Honeyman clearly lived as a married couple with Christopher John SMITH having three children, but did not marry him until 1859, some 23 years after the birth of their first child. It may be that the reason we cannot trace some daughters is that they entered into what appeared externally to be married relationships but without formal marriages that we can now trace.

Clara Elizabeth BRANSCOMBE (1811-?) was born 8 Jan 1811 in St George the Martyr, Southwark, the daughter of John BRANSCOMBE and his wife Mary Ann LAMBERTH. John died on the 8 Apr 1815 leaving the care to his widow Mary Ann, but she ‘abandoned’ the children and their care was taken over by Francis Robert. Clara and her brothers and sisters then became stepchildren of Francis. She married 16 Feb 1832 to Jonathon RIDGEWAY and Francis Robert Honeyman and his daughter Eliza were the witnesses. A year later in 1833, she travelled with her husband’s family to New York. He died there in 1849 of cholera, but Clara has not been traced.

Mary Ann Susannah HONEYMAN (1803-?) was born 17 Dec 1803 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She may have been the ‘daughter of Mr Honeyman of Surrey Theatre’ who was followed and attacked in 1827. We know she was alive when she witnessed her sister’s marriage in 1828. It may be that she is Mary Ann who married James BULL and had a son James Honeyman BULL born in 1829.

Francis Robert Honeyman's daughter attacked
Incident which happened to one of Francis Robert Honeyman’s daughters (probably Mary Ann or Sarah) in 1827, reported in the local news. 26 Jul 1827 in the London Courier and Evening Gazette.

Sarah HONEYMAN (1805-?) was born 29 May 1805 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She is probably the Sarah Honeyman who witnessed the marriage of her sister Anne Maria in 1828. She was a witness to the case between her father Francis Robert HONEYMAN and Henry YOUNG in 1839. She stated that she had moved out to Lewisham in 1836, presumably living with her sister Anne Marie who had married John Baldwin BUCKSTONE and was living there at the time.

Anne Marie HONEYMAN (1807-1844) was born 21 Jan 1807 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She married the celebrated comedian and actor John Baldwin BUCKSTONE at St John Waterloo on the 28 Mar 1828. She had five children with him but died 3 Jul 1844 at 6 Brompton Square, Kensington, London. Buckstone married a second time and had a further six children.

Catherine Elizabeth HONEYMAN (1808-1810) was born 25 Jul 1808 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. Buried from Barron’s Buildings in Jul 1810.

Francis Thomas HONEYMAN (1810-1810) was born 26 Mar 1810 and died 5 Oct 1810 in St George the Martyr, Southwark.

Maria Matilda HONEYMAN (1812-?) was born 10 Sep 1812 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She was a witness in the case between her father and Henry YOUNG when she was described as ‘Maria CROSBY’. She was the primary recipient of her father’s estate in 1843, at which time she was described as of Old Pye Street, Westminster. The documentation associated with her father’s estate make it clear that she is not formally married to Crosby, who is probably the George CROSBY who witnesses Honeyman’s will and is described as a ‘Chelsea Pensioner’.

Eliza HONEYMAN (1814-?) was born 27 Apr 1814 in Barons Buildings, St George the Martyr, Southwark. She was witness to her stepsister Clara Elizabeth Branscombe’s marriage in 1832. On 14 Aug 1838, she married George Thomas OAKLEY at St Margaret’s Westminster and had at least three children. In the 1841 census, she is in Birch Street, Lambeth with her family. She is the recipient of the estate of her brother Walter, which she received in 1859, 15 years after his death. At that time she was described as of ‘11 Lucretia Street, New Cut, Blackfriars Road, Surrey’. On the 1861 census, she is found in 15 Ferry Street, Lambeth. 

Francis William alias William HONEYMAN (1815-1893) was born in Barrons Buildings, St George the Martyr, Southwark 12 Dec 1816. In 1826, he was involved in an incident when a horse kicked him and he nearly lost his right eye. In 1837, he was arrested and tried at the Old Bailey for theft and given 6 months imprisonment. He was married in 20 Mar 1838 to Elizabeth JONES in St George Bloomsbury – he signed his name with a flourish, indicating that he was educated and he was described as an office clerk of Vauxhall Bridge Road. A few months later he was arrested for the theft of a clock and one of the constables recognised him from his previous conviction. As a result, Francis William was sentenced to 14 years transportation. He was conveyed on the ship called the ‘John Barry’ and the description of the convicts makes comment of the damage and scar around his right eye. He is now described as being unmarried, but I infer that the marriage with Elizabeth Jones was ignored through mutual consent. Honeyman appeared in the records of New South Wales from his arrival on the 22 Mar 1839. He described himself normally as ‘William HONEYMAN’ and appears to have had a casual relationship with Catherine SULLIVAN by whom he had at least two daughters and lived in North Parramatta, New South Wales. In 1851, after he was formally pardoned, he married Eliza Jane MOORE in Sydney and his signature is identical to that in 1838. They had six children. He died in New South Wales in 20 Oct 1893.

Incident re Francis William HONEYMAN 1826 cropped
Newspaper entry from 1826 describing the injury of Francis William Honeyman. The scars around his right eye would be mentioned as part of his description when he was transported on the John Barry to New South Wales. 13 Apr 1826 in the London Morning Advertiser.

Eleanor Emily HONEYMAN (1818-1878) was born in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She entered into a relationship with the comedian and actor, Christopher John SMITH around 1836 and they had three children together. They finally married in Norbiton 15 Nov 1859 after they had been together for around 24 years. Eleanor died about 1878 and her husband lived for a further ten years.

Charlotte Dibdin HONEYMAN (1820-1821) was born 15 Apr 1820 in St George the Martyr, Southwark. She was most likely named after her father’s business partner, Charles Dibdin the younger. She died in Jan 1821 and was buried in St George the Martyr churchyard.

Walter Evans HONEYMAN (1821-1844) was born 31 Oct 1821 in Evans Coffee House, Blackfriars Road, Southwark. A brief unreferenced comment in the ‘History of the Honeyman family‘ refers to Walter Honeyman, son of the proprietor of the Surrey Theatre, as ‘stolen in London as a child‘. In 1837 he was admitted to Southwark workhouse because of illness. He died 25 Nov 1844 in Westminster Hospital and was buried in St Margaret, Westminster. His estate was finally released to his sister Eliza in 1859.