Thank you to everyone who has replied to my email. I have a kit of reading ahead.
Happy New Year from sunny Canberra
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2010 10:25:30 -0800
Subject: Re: [DEV] Migration from Devon to London
Congratulations! - you have now reached the most fascinating part of family history - the
I think most of us begin with the intent of connecting the dots, but eventually we are
drawn into questions of why did they move?? My experience was similar to yours, I had
Austin's in Clyst Honiton for generations then suddenly all but one family vanished in
the early part of the 1800's, most of them reappearing in London And this is where
the really fun part is because it draws us into the social history of the time that we
will feel closer to because it was something our ancestors lived through. In my case and
yours, the huge event of the time was the end of the war with the French in 1815.
England had been bled white for many years with the cost of the war and the conscription
of the working men into the armed forces - and economic depressions invariably follow the
end of war even for the victors. Add to this the effect of releasing thousands of men
from the army and navy back into civilian life and you have another destabilizing effect.
We can't begin to comprehend the conditions of those days if we try to look at the
past through the eyes of today. Much has been written and is available on the web but in
order to get a balanced view of the England then, it is useful to read accounts from as
many different backgrounds as possible, because each brings its own bias. For the bulk of
us with working class ancestors we not likely to find anything written by people of that
background, only about them if we are lucky. Take a look for example at this article in
the New York Times of October 30 1881
that quotes from somewhere "To statesmen, the State as a unit, was all in all, and
it is really difficult to find any evidence that people were thought of at all, except in
relation to obedience" and "The Government regarded the people with little
other view than as a taxable and soldier-yielding mass." The whole article is well
worth reading, and worth reading slowly to savour and grasp the appalling conditions being
There is an interesting book on a lighter vein titled "England in 1815 as seen by a
young Boston merchant."
who mixes with the business class and gives some indication of his more puritan views.
And there is a more academic, almost vitriolic, treatise at
called "Class and conflict in nineteenth-century England, 1815-1850".
These are just a sampling of the myriad of sources available to us on the internet, and
once you start delving into it you will likely find, as I did, that it begins to put the
flesh on the bones of your ancestors that previously you referred to by dates. And as you
keep reading you may find your ancestors begin to gather clothes too. Continue to read
and you may arrive at the day when you hear them talking to you.
Helen Kevan wrote:
I am in Australia and a novice at family history research. Angela's recent email
reminded me of a question in my family search.
James and Agnes Cole were married in Bishops Nympton in 1800 and he is listed as a
I am looking for any clue as to why James and Agnes Cole's last child [Mary Bale Cole]
was born in Tooting ca 1818? I know gypsies supposedly moved about a lot, but the Coles
seem to have been very settled in the Bishops Nympton area. The previous child, Eleanor,
was born in 1813, the largest gap in the birth pattern. Charles Cole doesn't list
anyone after Eleanor, and there is no apparent connection with any other family event that
would take them so far from Devon. Ann married Edward Eales in London in 1828, but most of
the children married from 1834 onwards in Devon, and Agnes died at BN in 1837, so
they'd obviously gone back there. Maybe there are school or other records to show if
the Coles left Devon for a while - might also explain why Ann went to London.
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