12 January 2016

Kitty (Catherine) ASHTON and Peter MATTHEW

Briefly...  Kitty ASHTON was born in Yorkshire, England (probably late 1770s). She married Peter MATTHEW in 1803, and died sometime after the 1861 census. Associated surnames include HUDSON and LEAPER, and perhaps BOWER, HARWOOD and MOUNTAIN. If you think we are related, please contact me as explained below.

So far the earliest record I've found for my great-great-great-grandmother Kitty (or Catherine) ASHTON is her marriage in 1803; but 1851 and 1861 census records suggest that she was born at Swinton, Yorkshire, England, about 1777 or 1778. The question is... which Swinton?!

CuriousFox lists four places named Swinton in Yorkshire:  Swinton near Malton (North Yorkshire);  Swinton near Masham (North Yorkshire);  Swinton (West Yorkshire); and Swinton Bridge (West Yorkshire). The most likely of these, based on the location of other events for the family, is the Swinton near Malton, which is in the parish of Appleton le Street.

On 6 Feb 1803, at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, England, Kitty ASHTON of the parish of Kirby Misperton was married (by banns) to Peter MATTHEW of the parish of Crambe. Both signed. Witnesses were Mary MATTHEW, John HARWOOD and Isabella BOWER. (Names of the last two witnesses are rather difficult to read, but they both appear as witnesses to other marriages in this register.)

Parish register of marriages, Kirby Misperton, held by North Yorkshire County Record Office

When a volunteer searched Crambe parish records for me, she said that 'between 18 Dec 1802 and 23 May 1803, banns of marriage were read for Peter MATTHEW of this parish and Cathne ...TIN (difficult to read)'. I have yet to personally inspect the original register.

The National Burial Index says that on 3 Apr 1832 a 'Peter MATTHEWS aged 74' was buried at Crambe, North Yorkshire. I have not yet inspected the original burial register to confirm those details, and I have not used other sources to test my theory that he was Kitty's husband.

Census enumerator's returns for Barton-le-Willows, North Yorkshire, 30 Mar 1851, list Kitty MATTHEW as the head of the household, 'widow aged 73, grocer, born Swinton, Yorkshire'. The household included her son-in-law William LEAPER, his wife Jane and their children.

1851 census entry for Kitty Matthew at Barton-le-Willows
Part of the 1851 census return for Barton-le-Willows (re Kitty MATTHEW, born Swinton)

Census enumerator's returns for Barton-le-Willows, 7 Apr 1861, list Kitty MATHEW (only one 'T' here) as 'mother-in-law, widow aged 83, born Swinton, Yorkshire, deaf', living with William LEAPER and his wife Jane, four children and two grandchildren.

I suspect that she may be the Kitty MATTHEWS (with an 'S') whose death was registered in the June quarter of 1862 in Malton district, which includes Barton-le-Willows and Crambe. I found the entry via FindMyPast, but FreeBMD had indexed it as 'Kelly' instead of 'Kitty'.

FreeBMD indexed the given name as Kelly instead of Kitty. The envelope icon shows that there is a Postem for this entry. Postems are explained on http://bit.ly/UkApostm.

When I saw the handwriting in the General Register Office index, I could understand that mistake.

'Kitty' looks a bit like 'Kelly' in this GRO index entry

Questions and 'To Do' List
  1. Investigate the Kitty MATTHEWS for whom there is a death index entry for Malton district, June quarter 1862.

  2. Search for any ASHTON references (especially a baptism for Kitty or Catherine ASHTON in the late 1770s) in parish registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Kirby Misperton, Appleton-le-Street, Malton and nearby parishes. ParLoc (parish locator programme) lists these parishes within a 5 mile radius of Appleton-le-Street (North Yorkshire):  Barton-le-Street;  Bulmer;  Hovingham;  Huttons Ambo;  Kirby Misperton;  New Malton;  New Malton, St Leonard;  New Malton, St Michael;  Normanby;  Norton;  Old Malton;  Parnham (?);  Salton;  Slingsby;  Terrington.

  3. If searches in North Yorkshire are negative, try parishes around Swinton in West Yorkshire. ParLoc lists these parishes within a 2 mile radius of Swinton in West Yorkshire: Adwick upon Dearne; Bolton upon Dearne; Mexborough; Wath upon Dearne. My HUDSON and BARBER families had Bolton upon Dearne connections, but I will investigate North Yorkshire first.

  4. How many children did Peter and Kitty MATTHEW have? I already know of three - Elizabeth, Christiana (who married William HUDSON) and Jane (who married William LEAPER). Are there any clues in their records or records of their descendants?

  5. Was Kitty related to James ASHTON and Thomas ASHTON who witnessed marriages at Kirby Misperton in 1804-1807?

  6. Hannah ASHTON witnessed the marriage of a Mary MATTHEW and Joseph MOUNTAIN in 1804 at Kirby Misperton. Was this Mary MATTHEW the same one who witnessed the marriage of Peter MATTHEW and Kitty ASHTON in 1803?

  7. Try to contact anyone researching ASHTON or MATTHEW in the Swinton or Kirby Misperton area. Use the suggestions in my talk Who Else is Researching Your Family?

  8. Personally repeat the parish register and Bishop's Transcript searches previously done by a volunteer using microfilm at the Borthwick Institute in York.

  9. Look for Kitty or Catherine MATTHEW/variants in the 1841 census. She was definitely not listed with Jane and William LEAPER or Christiana and William HUDSON, who were then at Barton-le-Willows. Where was her other daughter (Elizabeth) in 1841?

  10. Investigate the National Burial Index entry re Peter MATTHEWS aged 74 buried at Crambe on 3 Apr 1832. Look for other sources such as wills to check whether he was Kitty's husband.

  11. Thoroughly search Crambe parish records. This includes looking for marriage banns for Peter MATTHEW between December 1802 and May 1803

  12. Do separate searches in each record set in the Yorkshire collection on FindMyPast. Repeat the search when more records are added later this year. Periodically repeat any searches with negative results in case database errors are corrected.

  13. Pay attention to FamilyTreeDNA's matches on the X-chromosome. They could be through Kitty ASHTON or her parents or Peter MATTHEW or his mother.

  14. Look for wills and probate records for all family members.

  15. Check that I've added postems to all relevant entries in FreeBMD.

  16. Check that I've added all relevant people to LostCousins.

  17. Update this list as my research progresses!

Sources used in this research include

How to contact me

If you think we are related, please contact me by email at genieblogs@gmail.com or by post as explained here. I also welcome comments (including suggestions for research strategies or sources).

(This post first appeared on http://judy-webster.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/kitty-catherine-ashton-1-of-52-ancestors.html.)

05 September 2014

Ten Books

A friend challenged me to name ten books that have had an impact on my life. I didn't want to 'over-think' this, so here are some that quickly sprang to mind. (Yes, I know I have cheated by listing a trilogy as one item!)

  1. Christy (Catherine Marshall)
  2. Mila 18 (Leon Uris)
  3. The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment (trilogy by Mary Stewart)
  4. Weevils in the Flour: an Oral Record of the 1930s Depression in Australia (Wendy Lowenstein)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  6. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  7. On the Beach (Neville Shute)
  8. You Can Heal Your Life (Louise L. Hay)
  9. Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)
  10. Professional Genealogy: a manual for researchers, writers, editors, lecturers and librarians (Elizabeth Shown Mills)
Number 10 is certainly not 'light reading', but it needs to be on this list because it changed the course of my life. If family history is your hobby, have a look at 'Suggested Reading (Genealogy and History)'.

Although I try to support local bookshops, sometimes it is both cheaper and more convenient to order a particular title via The Book Depository, whose excellent service includes free shipping worldwide.

What books have had an impact on your life?

17 November 2013

Rain Lilies

Eighteen weeks without any water... then just two days after rain, these beautiful lilies (Zephyranthes) burst into bloom! They are very low maintenance, and the bulbs multiply rapidly.

Rain lilies (Zephyranthes)
Rain lilies (Zephyranthes)

28 April 2013

Australian Meal Panel

The Australian Meal Panel (by DBY Research) has some interesting new questions this month. I have been taking part in this paid online survey for several years, and if you live in Australia, you can too.

Once a month you will receive an email inviting you to do a short survey about food. If you complete the survey, you are rewarded with $5 cash (plus an extra $3 if you send in one week's supermarket receipts).

DBY Research is a consumer research group specialising in food and food retailing. They need people of all ages across Australia to tell them what foods they buy and what they eat. The information sought is not sensitive or private, and it is strictly confidential. By completing the survey, you help to establish important facts and trends about the eating habits of Australians.

To join, go to www.dbyresearch.com, and when asked for the 5-digit pin, enter 86127.

I am also on several other paid survey panels, including My Opinions and Rewards Central. Some of the money I earn goes towards the cost of certificates for family history research, and some goes to Kiva via the Genealogists for Families project.
~ ~ ~

11 December 2012

Recipe for White Christmas

In a comment on Our Family Christmas - Then and Now, Donna asked, "What is White Christmas?" and I explained that it is a type of confectionery. This is the recipe I use, but there are many variations.

White Christmas

2 cups 'Rice Bubbles' cereal (overseas readers may know it as 'Rice Krispies')
1.5 cups mixed dried fruit including glace cherries
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup icing sugar
250gms white vegetable shortening ('Copha')
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Melt the shortening. Add vanilla. Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add melted shortening (not too hot) and mix till well combined. Press into a shallow tin and allow to set in refrigerator. Cut into squares.

10 December 2012

Our Family Christmas - Then and Now

My Christmas candle

In 'Family History Across the Seas', Pauleen invited us to take part in the 2012 Christmas GeneaMeme by describing how we celebrate Christmas in our part of the world. I will answer these questions from both a historical and a modern Australian perspective.
  1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions in your family?  The answers below cover most of them, apart from my father's pre-Christmas tradition, which I wrote about in GenFamilies. On Boxing Day we have a special family lunch with a large selection of cold meats and salads. The highlight is my sister Margaret's potato salad (the best I've ever tasted).

  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Christmas Day?  No, because I have almost always been a long way from a town at Christmas. On one of the few occasions when we spent Christmas in Brisbane, we went to a midnight service. It was a small suburban Anglican church, but the incense was so overpowering that we felt quite ill.

  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?  My sisters and I believed in Santa. We hung a pillow case at the foot of the bed, and we left a note saying that there was a snack in the fridge.

  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?  No. It doesn't happen in the places where I've spent Christmas.

  5. What's your favourite Christmas music?  Michael Crawford's Christmas album.

  6. What's your favourite Christmas carol?  We Three Kings.

  7. Do you have a special Christmas movie/book you like to watch/read?  No, but if Carols from Kings College Cambridge is on TV I always watch that.

  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  With no children or nieces or nephews, it is not an issue. We give individual gifts (lots of small things rather than something expensive). Even the dog gets a Christmas present - usually a new toy to keep him occupied while we eat!

  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?  Indoors at home, but we sometimes have drinks and nibbles outside at sundown, and occasionally a barbecue on the evening of Boxing Day.

  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?  Dad's mother was born in England and always cooked a traditional dinner, even in this hot climate, so we did the same. In the middle of the day we have roast chicken and roast vegetables - potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, onion, parsnip and beetroot (try it; it's good!) - with mushy peas and a slice of top quality leg ham. (Do other people have cold ham with a hot meal, or are we odd?!) Several hours later we tuck into plum pudding with or without icecream, custard, cream, and fresh homemade fruit salad.

  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Christmas?  Yes, my mother's recipe for plum pudding. I will be making it this week. I need to chose a day with no risk of thunderstorms to cause a blackout!

  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Christmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?  The pudding is the highlight of our Christmas meals, so there is a lot of pressure on the cook! I use my mother's recipe. She was a domestic science teacher, and I recently found her rough notes from the first time she made the pudding, when she was experimenting with quantities.

  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?  In recent years I have made Rum Balls or White Christmas. For a historical perspective, see question 16 below.

  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  I often bake ginger biscuits (Mum's recipe) for my sisters, and sometimes I print personalised calendars using my own photos, or bookmarks with paper that I made myself (a hobby that I rarely have time for now).

  15. Do you return to your family for Christmas or vice versa?  While my parents were alive, I always spent Christmas with them and at least one of my two sisters. Robyn missed a couple of family Christmases when she was nursing in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. We usually went to Mum and Dad (which, before 1990, meant our childhood home out in the bush). When we were kids we spent one Christmas at a motel in Brisbane, because Mum had just come out of hospital after major surgery. I was old enough to appreciate the effort Mum and Dad made to stick to our traditions even in that strange environment.

  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?  Many things are still the same. We are older on the outside but just the same inside! But nowadays, with shops close by, some things are very different from my childhood. We grew up on a grazing property in outback Queensland, almost fifty miles (on unsealed roads) from town, so we had to be somewhat self-sufficient. Mum made the icecream and custard herself. Christmas dinner was a rooster we'd fattened, plus wild duck. Things that are commonplace now (such as mixed nuts) were a treat that we only had at Christmas.

  17. How do you celebrate Christmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Christmas outings? Drop-ins?  Maybe lunch or dinner a week or two before Christmas. Some of my friends are so busy (have we lost the plot?!) that it is easier to get together after Christmas when things feel a bit flat.

  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?  No lights - just a candle in a festive lead-light holder (the photograph above).

  19. Is your neighbourhood a 'Christmas lights' tour venue?  Some houses in my suburb in Brisbane take part, but the numbers have decreased since a massive hail storm wiped them out a few years ago.

  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?  Rarely, because we've usually been a long way from a town.

  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?  No.

  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  With family at one or other of our homes.

  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?  No chance of that here in Queensland!

  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year?  Yes, always (even the year we spent Christmas in a motel room). When we were kids, Dad took us to sandhills on a friend's property where we chose a small pine tree. Occasionally, if it was unbearably hot or if roads were boggy, we chose a different type of tree from closer to home.

  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  Always live, even if it is just a few small branches cut from a gum tree in the garden and bundled together. That's what it will be this year.

  26. Do you have special Christmas tree decorations?  Nothing elaborate or expensive - just lots of tinsel (red, green, silver, gold and blue) and coloured balls, and a star on top.

  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?  There is no Thanksgiving in Australia - but writing this has reminded me of how much I have, so before Christmas I will make a special effort to share it with those less fortunate (via Kiva).
When I see my sisters I will ask whether they want to add a comment with their own special memories. I enjoying reading about other people's Christmas traditions (especially those in other parts of the world), so I hope you will write your own story and put a link to it here and on Family History Across the Seas.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
~ ~ ~

17 September 2012


Early Spring is a beautiful time of year at 'Taminga' (our late father's home on 32 acres an hour's drive west of Brisbane). We are having glorious sunny days with temperatures in the mid-20s (Celsius) and nights that are 5-10 degrees C. (cool enough to enjoy snuggling under a doona). On a more worrying note, we have not had a drop of rain here for two months and a bushfire came a bit close for comfort recently.

I enjoy taking photographs that capture the beauty of Nature, and I will share some of them with you. Today's photo shows an orchid (attached to a tree) that was almost invisible until it burst into bloom yesterday.


Stay tuned for more glimpses of the Australian countryside!

03 June 2012

To Citizens of the USA (Humour for the Queen's Jubilee)

This was originally posted some time ago by Diana Christova. I couldn't resist sharing it during the Jubilee celebrations. (No offence to my American friends or President Obama...)
To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.'Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (Look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of '-ize.'

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

14. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

God Save the Queen!
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