Monday, 31 August 2015

My Kisby/ee/ey website has had a revamp, relocation and a rename. This was forced on me when my previous webhost, Madasafish, took it upon themselves to close down my free hosting account. In July I noticed had disappeared along with its email account.

By fortunate coincidence the Guild of One-name Studies (GOONS) launched a website hosting project in June 2015. As a member of GOONS I have been able to move my Kisby/ee/ey website to their servers - and the advantage will be, if the project is successful, my webpages will be preserved there is something happens to me (or I leave the GOONS). I've taken the opportunity to smarten and simplify the website, adding the most important pages from the previous site, while designing a few new ones.

The url is

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

In for a Tweet

To complicate matters further (and save me having to think up more than 140 characters at a time) I'm now tweeting Kisby/ee thoughts, musings and announcements on Twitter.


Of course, I'll continue my blog mutterings as well, when I can think of something interesting requiring more than eighteen or so words...

Website in the usual place...

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Scales of Gray

One mystery solved and another mystery raised, this time involving Kisby ancestors of mine. My Great-times-four Uncle William KISBY died in 1897 leaving a last will and testament, in which he named two of his daughters Susan and Eliza GRAY. This was strange because I couldn't find any record of a GRAY/KISBY marriage, let alone two. I put the mystery to one side and only came back to tackle it recently.

As luck would have it, Susan and Eliza GRAY were living next door to one another in Peterborough in the 1881 and 1891 Censuses, with their husbands George GRAY and David GRAY. Fortunately both couples were around in 1911, when the census asks for detail about how long husbands and wives have been married.

It transpires that Eliza KISBY married in 1870 age 17 to David Gray CODD, in the area of his family's home village of Long Sutton, Lincolnshire. Susan KISBY had also married age 17 in 1866 to a George CODD, though this was in London (shortly before her sister Martha married in nearby Stepney).

Why the CODD brothers became GRAY is the new mystery to be solved. Their mother was born Ann Milson GRAY, so it was a family name but not the birth name (or marriage name) of George and David. George and Susan returned to live in her home village of Coates, Cambridgeshire, where their first child was born Martha Ellen CODD, but their subsequent children were GRAY's. Something ...erm ...fishy happened in the late 1860's in the Fenland area that I've yet to discover...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Cathedral Kisby Caretaker

Peterborough Family History Society have done a marvellous job in transcribing the registers of the Cathedral in Peterborough, from the 1600's to the 2000's. This 400 years of history is all available on CD for the very reasonable sum of £10 (of which £1 goes to the Cathedral funds). Peterborough is the major city in the Kisby heartlands, so I couldn't resist investing some of my savings in this purchase.
Peterboro' Cathedral, West Front (1600's)
The Cathedral was of very major importance. It is known for its imposing (and unique) west facade, built in the 1200's. Henry VIII's first wife Katharine was buried at the Cathedral. Mary Queen of Scots was also interred here. Despite its size, christenings, marriages and burials were not common because, until the 1530's, the building was used as a monastry. It didn't have a font until 1615. Marriages and burials were often of people with a link to the Cathedral contrast, the nearby parish church of St John seems to have been incredibly busy!! But to my delight I found there were a small number of Kisby's who appear in the Cathedral registers. 

Most prominent is one Clement KISBY. Clement, it turns out, was the Sexton for the Cathedral. As far as I understand, a sexton is a glorified caretaker with a key role in running and maintaining the building and its grounds. Clement lived a long and honourable life, it seems. His first wife, Faith, dies in 1668. Later the same year Clement gains a new wife, Ann, at a Cathedral marriage. Clement's son (also called Clement)  marries at the Cathedral too. In 1699 Clement "Sexton of this Church above 50 years"dies in his 80th year and, more impressively still, is "Buryed in the body of the church near the west door." It will be interesting to know whether there is a marker of any kind!

Ann, his widow, seems to have been given a place in an almshouse and dies in 1719.

Well, maybe the parish registers of St John's will reveal where Clement and Faith came from. Clement KISBY isn't a name I've come across until now. But nice to find a KISBY playing such a long and prominent role in city life!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Tha passing of Charles VI

Sad news has arrived of the unexpected death of my cousin, Phil Kisby, who will no doubt be much missed by his wife, children, step-children and his mother. He was christened Philip Charles, so may well be the last in a long line of Charles Kisby's in the family, going back to our great-times-four grandfather, Charles Kisby (d. 1829). There have been Charleses in every generation, with the exception of our respective fathers. Our great-uncle Charles Horace didn't get the opportunity to fill in the missing generation, having had all daughters.

Mind you, Phil's daughter-in-law is a 'Charlie', so maybe we can at least live in hope of some 21st century Charlottes to continue the tradition!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

East Anglia meets Eastenders?

For years I've wondered what happened to my great-great-great-great aunt, Sarah Kisby (b. 1815). After convincing myself she died in south London with her illegitimate daughter, I've now solved the mystery. She died in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, only 3 miles from where she was born.

Chatteris Workhouse
Sarah's life reads like a story line in a soap opera. In 1834 she had an illegitimate daughter, Mary Ann, with a local man, Thomas Corby. In 1837 she gave birth to another baby, a son Charles, in Chatteris Workshouse - maybe she had gone to Chatteris to avoid the scandal?

In 1838 she married local farm labourer, Jonathan Catling. Charles and Mary Ann appear as Catling's in the 1841 census. Sarah and Jonathan had several children together. Then Sarah has probably the worst year of her life, when in 1848 her baby daughter Alice died, followed at Christmas by her husband Jonathan.

At this point the trail ran dry. I imagined Sarah may have left the Whittlesey area to make a new life. I found a Sarah Catling of the correct age (born March, Cambridgeshire) living in London with an anonymously named Miss M. A. Watts. I convinced myself this was the embarassed bastard daughter, Mary Ann, who had assumed a pseudonym!

But the real story was closer to home. Very close. Next door, in fact. In the 1851 Census Sarah Catling, a widow, was living next door to a Robert Haylock, his wife and young children. Robert is a full ten years younger than Sarah. Robert's wife Mary dies before she is 30 and, in 1857, he marries Sarah Catling. Mind you, they marry several weeks after the baptism of their new son John, thereby keeping up the disregard for timeous birth control and moral values! In fact Robert had accepted an illegitimate daughter, Mary Jane, into his first marriage. And to top this all, Sarah has a mystery daughter (another Alice) who is born several years after her first husband dies and a couple of years before her next door neighbour in widowed. I hope you're keeping up!

Well, for good or ill, Sarah's second marriage lasted for over 30 years. She ended her days as Sarah Haylock living in the middle of Whittlesey and finally expiring in 1898, at almost 83 years old. What a very long and productive life!!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

In the News since 1783...

The British Newspaper Archives have recently made available images of newspapers going back to the 1700's. I couldn't resist paying my £6.95 to see which Kisby's and Kisbee's had hit the headlines. Fortunately they were few and far between because generally, when they did surface, it was because of an involvement in an unfortunate accident, or a crime.

The earliest mention of the surname seemed to be in 1783, when the intriguingly named Thomas Kisby Twelvetree escaped from Bedford gaol while awaiting hanging for horse-stealing. A five guinea reward was offered for his capture, (though there's no subsequent report about whether the reward was paid out).

John Kisbee (see previous 'Kisby Crims' post) appears numerous times in the Stamford Mercury during the 1830's and 1840's, charged with various crimes from vandalism to theft. He was often living on poor relief so probably driven to crime by poverty ...or possibly sheer opportunism - in 1847 he "appropriated" £5 6s and a cheque for £11 14s which had been dropped by a wealthy gentleman. John caught a train to Peterborough and changed two £5 notes at a pub, raising suspicions somewhat. He was arrested at Stamford railway station on his return. Interestingly he was bailed from gaol by his father, George.

In the same year Elizabeth Kisby, a cook for the Duke of Brunswick, testifies in court on behalf of her master after a claim was made against the Duke by his chimney sweep. Elizabeth blamed the chimney sweep for a fire (causing £5 damage) while the sweep blamed the cook. The sweep claimed he had not been properly paid for three years, while the Duke wanted to offset the damage against the debt. Surprisingly the Duke was found at fault and had to cough-up!

Elsewhere 9 year old George Kisbee, 22 year old George Kisby and 34 year old William Kisby met tragic deaths: young George poisoned himself by inadvertently drinking carbolic acid in 1878; George Kisby was crushed to death by a coal wagon in 1890 after working, without training, in a coal mine for less than a week; William Kisby reached national attention when he and two women employees were killed by a train in October 1943, while driving across a railway level-crossing.

I've been intrigued for a while by "Edward" Kisby and "Helen" Kisby, his wife, a couple of actors who appear in the 1891 Census. The story unfolds somewhat in The Era, a theatrical newspaper of the 1890's, where E. T. Kisby performs across Britain in a variety of secondary roles. More intriguingly his young daughter seems to be a child acting prodigy, known as "Little Vera" and receiving positive reviews on each occasion. Unfortunately being a child prodigy has a time limit and the reports die out after 1897 (when she would have been 14 years old).

All-in-all a very well spent seven quid!!