Friday, February 17, 2012

Trefusis part 1

We're heading out to Who Do You Think You Are Live this week and we are so excited to try out this huge conference. But even more than that, I'm excited to see if I can find something else. Trefusis. My grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter wrote about Trefusis in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine in July of 1924. It is written in that wonderful flowery early 1900's prose. Part of his article goes thus:

Some unique or peculiar name appearing in families in various generations is often an index to their relationship, and is a link with the past, and many interesting facts can be told along this line of research, and which the writer has found invaluable to him on several occasions. A few concrete examples may be of interest....

The following will show how one word, Trefusis, was the key to unlock the door of the archives of my ancestry, who had reposed in silence for many generations, and, as it were, completely lost: and in looking back, and realizing what an inspiration it has been to me in further research, it is now communicated with the hope that it may be an incentive to others who are placed in a similar condition, and feel their case almost hopeless, as I did mine.

Living in London until 25 years of age, one would naturally think that I would have gathered some family history, but I must confess that, like the majority of those with whom I mingled, I had no inclination in that direction, and when my uncles and aunts, living today, cannot tell me the name of their grandmother, or where she was born, or have an inclination to find out the facts, it shows at least a great dearth of interest in ancestral research. However I remembered one name, vis., Trefusis, I had heard my father mention, as the name of the estate where his forbears lived for many generations in Somersetshire. He died when I was a boy of 10 years, and his help in after years was not available.

While attending the funeral of an uncle, Edwin Carpenter in 1884, at Wimbledon, Surrey, two years before leaving England, I noticed his home was named Trefusis. It is a prevailing custom in England, especially among the middle class, to name their homes or villas after some name to their fancy or liking; so in this case my uncle perpetuated the family residence name of Trefusis, though on a smaller scale.

To find in what parish in Somerset Trefusis was located was the dream of my first 20 years' residence in Utah. I thought it must be near Taunton, as my father was born in the latter city in 1831 and my grandfather, Robert Gibbs Carpenter, was married there in 1829 to Maria Wright of Hull, Yorks...

I called in one evening, as was my custom now and again to visit and chat with Mrs. Clara Bench, widow of John L Bench, an old resident of Manti. She was born in County Devon, as was I and we had many things in common. She was accustomed to have sent her the Exeter Times, which kept her posted on the news of the old home county. In glancing it over to glean the news, my gaze became riveted on a certain advertisement, inserted by C.R. Morris Sons and Peard, of Taunton, land surveyors, etc.. and the same inspiration came over me, and the same voice appealed to my soul as I had listened to in the bank in May 1902: "Why not write these people, and ask them in what parish Trefusis is located?"

On January 9th, 1908, I wrote them, and February 6 their answer came, worded in a very kind and courteous letter: "Trefusis Farm is in the Parish of Bradford-on-Tone, about four miles west of Taunton." I now had something definite to go on. I accordingly wrote the postmaster, there, enclosing $1 greenback to pave the way, and soliciting his aid in copying for me the records of my forefathers to be found in the Parish Registers of Bradford. He turned the mater over to the Vicar, the Rev. W. T. Reeder: A kinder, more obliging and courteous clergy man could not be found than he. This worthy Vicar, during a correspondence of three or four letters, extending over a year, gave me a complete copy of all the Carpenter names on record in his parish, back to 1630, when they first appeared.

A most fascinating and pleasing pastime followed in arranging the names as they appeared in the christenings, marriages and burials, which he sent me, and they fitted in like a puzzle, when solved, down to the year 1880, showing three branches of the Carpenter family, who today, the Vicar stated, do not claim relationship. The records show that these three lines, whose common ancestor must be in the dim past before 1630, as previous to that date no Carpenters are found there.

The postmaster of Bradford sent me several views of the village of Bradford on Tone, had special photos taken of the old Trefusis farm house and an ancient and unique barn still standing on the premises, all of which are greatly treasured, thus giving me an idea of where my ancestors lived, and how their former home looks today. This made the record complete.

The joy in obtaining this long-wished-for line of my ancestors cannot be told in words...
In reciting the above facts my aim has been to show the value of persistent effort in following up clues that are often to be found in a peculiar name: and, above all, the great part our dead kindred can and do play in putting records into the hands of their heirs in the flesh, who are earnestly seeking for them.

I trust the above account of my efforts my encourage others similarly situated.
So I have to go looking for this source of serendipity in my family's genealogy don't you think? And then---we need to take the kids.

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