Friday, 29 October 2010

Mentions in The Times

I gained time limited free access to ‘The Times Digital Archive 1785 – 1985’. Searching on the name ‘Gunnee’ brought up 19 references. After my initial excitement this was effectively reduced to 7 entries when I discounted articles which mentioned gunner, both the profession and name, and "Guineas".

Monday 20 August 1934

‘News in Brief’

When entering a train at Turnham Green station on Saturday John William Gunnee, aged about 70, of Davidville Road, Shepherd’s Bush, slipped and was dragged along the platform. He suffered serious injuries and died after admission to West London Hospital.
John William was one of the brothers of Samuel, Thomas and James Gunnee. He was born in Doncaster in 1864. In the 1881 census he was staying with George Gunnee in Thorne and by 1925 he was living in Hammersmith and was a ‘Foreman of works (mansions)’. Although he was married twice, his first wife dying of ‘Tubercular Softening of Brain three weeks’ (apparently this may have been due to a stroke or haemorrhage) according to her death certificate in 1888, I have yet to confirm any children.

There were two entries in The Times for the RHS Chelsea:

5th June 1957 ‘Wide Range Of Pelargoniums At R.H.S. Show’ From Our Horticultural Correspondent.

Geranium Society – cup for the best ivy-leafed variety – Mrs E H Gunnee

30 June, 1954 ‘Bigger Delphiniums On The Way Fine London Display’ by our horticultural correspondent.

The leading winners in the Geranium Society were ... One ivy-leafed pelargonium – E Gunnee, Gillingham.
9 July 1981, The Times University Results Service, entry for Rachel E Gunnee

Two of the remaining entries concerned a divorce:

The initial entry was 13 July 1878 and carried on in an entry on 15 July 1878. The entries were for the case of Teulon v Teulon and Gunnee. The gist of the case was that Mr Teulon had met his future wife in Hull and in 1871 while they were both under age (she was ‘a little over 16 and leading an immoral life’) they moved to Stepney and married. He was a sailor and he returned to sea leaving his wife to return to her parents. While he was at sea she ‘returned to her old life’, formed a ‘connexion’ with ‘Gunnee’ and passed as his wife. The divorce was granted on the basis of adultery.

The article doesn’t make it clear if Gunnee was in London or Hull, although I would assume Hull. Not sure how I will be able to narrow this down to an individual Gunnee though.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Gunnees at work - Local Trade Directories

I've had some luck in finding information about the Gunnee family using copies of old trade directories. Sometime ago we stayed in Hull (which is actually where I was born) to look at the local archives. One of the surprising things that we came across were facsimile copies of trade directories, which we found in the local history section of a bookshop in Hull. Having checked all their copies for Gunnee entries I ended up buying 4 which had the most interesting information in, and which covered a good period of time. One of the useful things about trade directories in general is that they can often give you information which pre-dates census and GRO records (ie birth certificates etc.). At the least you can get the street and occupation of the person and in the later ones the street number as well. The disadvantage of later directories, though, is that if they are only available with listings by trade, unless you know the occupation you are looking for, the search can be very lengthy.

The copies I bought were:
  • 1803 General Directory of Kingston upon Hull
  • Battle’s Hull Directory 1814-15
  • Battle’s Hull Directory 1817
  • White’s Directory of Hull 1895

I also have references from Directories for Hull in 1826 and 1828/9 and for Thorne in 1822 and 1828/9.
In order of their appearance the Gunnee entries are:

1803 Wm Gunne cordwainer Waterworks St
1814/5 William Gunny shoemaker 4 Carr Lane
1817 Samuel Gunnee druggist, paint and colour manufacturer 35 Chariot St
1817 William Gunnee shoe-maker and shop keeper, 15 Princess-street
1822 George Gunnee house , ship and sign painter (Thorne)
1826 William Gunney shoemaker 49 Carr Lane
1828/9 Samuel Gunnee chymist, 35 Chariot Street
1828/9 George Gunnee Painter – House, Sign King St (this is the Thorne entry)
1895 Samuel Gunnee Chemist & Druggist 40 Chariot St

From what I can piece together from other records William the shoemaker is the William at the very top of the Gunnee tree. He was father to at least 9 children including another William, George, from whom most us are descended, and Samuel who is the chemist in this list. If you are thinking that 1817 – 1895 is a long time to be a chemist, that’s because at some point Samuel’s son, also Samuel, took over.

Monday, 11 October 2010

On-line sources of information

The number of searchable on-line records has grown considerably since I started my research and they continue to grow.

Many birth, marriage and death records can be found on the FreeBMD. The online records aren't yet complete- but a good proportion of Gunnee entries can be found and the list continues to grow. The website is particularly useful in narrowing down potential marriage partners. A marriage record for an individual includes the reference to the location in the original register. Clicking on the page number will show all the other entries for the same page. From a search for a groom a list of three potential bride's can be found. Assuming there are subsequent census records it's often straightforward to confirm the bride.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, or the Mormon Church) have invested much time and money in developing the database on FamilySearch. Whether or not you  agree with the reasons for the database, it remains an enormously valuable resource for family historians. The searchable records include UK and overseas records, British UK 1881 census records, births, marriages and deaths and some parish records. Again this is a resource which is constantly expanding.

These on-line resource do need to be treated with some caution. Where records have been transcribed, you are relying on the accuracy of the person transcribing the records and their ability to read the original source. And of course a perennial problem with the Gunnee study is the variations / errors which have been transcribed eg. Gunnie, Gunnce, so it is important to use the searches to refer back to original records.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Main Sources of Information

So where have I got all the information from?

I started with the indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths which used to be kept at the Family Records Centre in Clerkenwell. That involved a number of Saturdays when we went up to the FRC and went through every index for entries beginning "GUN" and noted down all the Gunnee entries (and any obvious variations). The indexes start in 1837 when they were written by hand and had very little information other than full name and location. They're all organised by quarters - which is why I might have a birth "about December 1851" which means the entry was in the index for Oct/Nov/Dec 1851. Later indexes started to include more info - so births would include the mother's maiden name, and deaths would have the age of the person when they died. I still have the spreadsheet we used to record all of the Gunnee entries & it has been the basis of the trees I have constructed.
It is possible to order copies of the original birth, marriage or death certificate - and these will hold a lot more information on the event but there is a charge, so I have only been able to do this where I've had no other option.
For entries before 1837 and other more detailed records I have used parish records, but often these are still held locally and although we've managed a few trips around the UK there are still some gaps to fill.
The next really good source of info are the census records. They go back to 1841 and are recorded every 10 years. Once you have tracked an entry down you get all the family members - ad in the later years their address, occupation place of birth etc etc. So a great tool for putting the individuals into families. Since I started the study the records for both 1910 and 1911 have been made available which has been a great boost to the families in the 20th century.