Saturday, 4 February 2012

Beyond the Internet Week 3: Houses wrapped in red tape.

I stood in the archives building, in the days of when Surrey Archives were divided between Guildford and Kingston. I had called for a document - I can't even recall what it was. I waited, not exactly patiently. You know how it is, you get a thought flowing and the document has to be NOW! While I was waiting, I went over to the huge index cabinet. A lovely wooden unit, within each draw a metal rod which held the index cards.

I flicked through to the surname of Butcher and meandered through the forenames. I got to John and read the card. I am sure my heart stopped beating. On the card in front of me read "John Butcher 1877 house documents". The archivist returned with my request. I saw the look of irritation as I said, do you think I could order this please? and presented him with a request slip. He placed the archive I had originally requested on the table and took the slip from me. 

I read through the document in front of me and made various notes. When he returned with my new found treasure I ordered a copy of the original document and started looking and absorbing the new document. In front of me was the details of my 3 x Great Grandfather John Butcher (1795 - 1877). 

The document was actually a series of papers. Held together by a dark pink ribbon. The ribbon and documents had a musty smell and were faintly dusty, but I didn't care. I undid the ribbon and read the note that accompanied the documents. The details it revealed was that the documents had been found at Wonersh post office and had been submitted to the museum for general keeping. Interesting. I wonder why?

The documents revealed John's will including the original envelope. 
Envelope containing the will of John Butcher
Surrey Archives PSH/WON/20/19

It identified that the house that had been left to him by his father would in turn pass to son Henry. I descended from John's son Charles. It also revealed what I had already established. John had been illegitimate. Born to James Butcher and Sarah Woolgar in 1795. In 1801 James and Sarah would marry and in 1802 they had another son Thomas. Thomas was recognised as James legitimate heir to his father's estate. John inherited a cottage in Wonersh Street and a few hundred pounds. 

There were a series of other documents -  I ordered copies of the lot. There was a strange sentence within the documents - "A son born of blood". An indication that John was indeed the son of James Butcher. His birth is recorded as John Woolgar, but he spent the rest of his life, as was indeed his right as John Butcher. It does seems sad, that until the end, despite his parents marrying he was in fact illegitimate.

1 comment:

  1. You were certainly meant to find that musty parcel of docu.ments wrapped in pink ribbon! I'd imagine that time stood still around you for a while. How many coincidences led you to that parcel and confirmation of his heritage.


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