Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - March 2013

Monday 31st March 2013 - Black Sheep 2

As promised here is an update on my black sheep John Freestone born 1796.

Holmes and Watson have been hard at work solving the mystery and have discovered that John Freestone's wife Mary Huttley died in 1843 and it's after her death that John gets into trouble with the law. John & Mary had several sons, including two of my great great grandfathers, and also Israel Freestone, John & Mary's youngest son, who went to Tasmania to be with his father in 1856 aboard the vessel Alice Walton.

How come I have two Freestone great great grandfathers? Well, I already knew of two female Freestones in my forbears: Emily Kate Freestone and Annie Freestone, but I have not spent much time researching my family history and I only now realise that they were first cousins, they shared the same grandfather, none other than John Freestone 1796. These two women were the mothers of my paternal grandparents. Emily Kate was my grandfather Sidney's mother and Annie was my grandmother May's, and their fathers were Israel's brothers.

Who knew I had such strong ties to my emailer from Tasmania? AC is descended from the Israel Freestone who emigrated to be with his father, so we share the same great great great grandfather. It seems that my Tasmanian relative, like me has not moved very far from her roots. She still lives in the township where John and Israel Freestone settled, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Israel Freestone married twice in Australia. With his first wife Ellen or Helen Gloag he had one daughter Hannah. His second wife was Mary Webster and its from this pairing that AC is descended. Just to make matters more confusing Israel changed his name to John after his second marriage, and this is the name AC uses although she was aware he was previously called Israel. The photo is purportedly one of Israel/John Freestone and his wife Mary Webster. The second photo for comparison is my great grandfather James Freestone, Israel's brother, and his wife Martha Brown with their youngest son Walter. They were my great grandmother Annie Freestone's parents (Annie is the lone female in the photo below, last blog). I think the two brothers are alike, at least, they sport the same style whiskers! (to be continued...)

Monday 18th March 2013 - Black Sheep

I am so excited I can hardly contain myself, why? Well, I've only just heard that amongst my ancestors lurks a black sheep. Everyone needs a black sheep or two in their family to keep everything in balance and John Freestone born 1796, my great great great grandfather is my first. It's a little surprising, because I remember my great aunt Kath drawing the Freestone family tree and speaking of her Freestone forbears with a great deal of pride. I guess she had no idea about John Freestone, her great grandfather, who was deported to Australia for stealing spuds. Amazing!

Without my good friends Holmes & Watson I too would still be in the dark. Following an internet request from Australia asking if Israel Freestone was one of mine, it took H & W less that two minutes to uncover the truth about Israel's father John and pass on this exciting piece of news. Just think, perhaps I have a whole raft of Australian Freestone relations! I shall keep you all posted of any developments. In the meantime take a peek at my Freestones below, posing suavely on the best dining chairs in their three-piece-suits!

Monday 11th March 2013 - Rook Shooting

The reference to rook shooting in my previous blog reminded me that I have, in my 'Ernie's Stuff' folder, an account and a drawing by the late Ernie George of a rook shooting party in the 1920s and I thought now was a good moment to pass them on so here they are:

Rook Shooting

Back along, when I was a boy, the rook-shooting season was the one I remember as the most upsetting cruel.

The slaughter of rats, by boys with cudgels and terrier dogs, as they tried to escape from the bedding of a corn-rick that was being threshed, did not seem cruel to us, but, shooting rooks when, most likely, they had lit-luns in the nest did, but I suppose the farmers thought it was good sport. “Killing two birds with one stone” was the saying at the time, knocking off the parent birds ensured the young-uns would die in their nests, so helping to safeguard their crops.

The two main shoots, when I was a boy, were ‘Claypits Clump’ and ‘Gasson Trees’; that was when ‘Claypits’ had a large standing of beech trees, and a very big rookery in its high branches. Gasson (Garston) had a long line of horse chestnuts, which ran from Bighouses (Coach House) to Manor Farm, and from Bighouses across to St Marys Churchyard, the top branches being black with rooks nests. Gasson field had a line of big elm trees, along the top wire, and two long crossed avenues of lime trees, which were also much favoured by rooks and jackdaws for their nests.

The young boys of my age used to gather at these two shoots to carry the farmer’s cartridge bags, in the hope of a few coppers, and to collect up the dead birds and take the youngest off home to mother, to make skinned-rook pie.

I am not sure what good all this blasting and flying feathers did, for the following year the rookeries were once again full of nests and cawing rooks.

Sunday 3rd March 2013 - Poolmans in the News

What happened to February? Lost in a fug of colds and coughs, but hey its Spring now and we should be feeling better, so here goes.

There has been little to report of late, just as well really. ME has sent me these two reports from the Salisbury and Winchester Journal in 1861, and I thought they were worth passing on. More and more old newspapers are being digitised and made available online.

The first report from Saturday the 12th January 1861, concerns a Mr Poolman who was the bandmaster of the Wiltshire Friendly Society band at Warminster. We don't have his first name and as there were many Poolmans in the village in 1861 I have made a guess that it might have been George Poolman, a widower, who lived with one of his two daughters at Townsend.

The second report from Saturday 18th May 1861, tells of the collections made in Chitterne for famine relief in India and the sad tale of Frederick Poolman who fell from a tree during a rook shooting party.

Comment: Right, this never occurred to me till now, but could this be the man? Here he is from the lists:

Poolman, James: bap. 7 Jun 1840, Chitterne SM, son of Robert Poolman & Martha Mead. 1841 census. Parish Records. 1851 census.
Woodman. 1861 census.
Married: Hannah Shorney in 1865 (b. c1837, Huish Champflower, Somerset).
Children: Albert H.

Why him, you might ask – well, I suddenly remembered the stuff I got with a past issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine, the one with the Wiltshire stuff, and in there I found this entry from the Wiltshire Friendly Society enrolments (page 234):

7 Jun 1840

He’s the only Poolman noted there as actually in the Society from Chitterne, so I think it must be him – what do you think? J&RR

I think you are most probably right, as usual!! SR

Comment: You spent most of Feb taking pictures with me! ;) Hmm, I wonder if they'll get around to digitising the Wiltshire Times and Jottings by Jarge at any point..JAR

Good point! I enjoyed your photographic challenge a lot. As for Jottings by Jarge I have no idea! SR

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