This week we have had Josh, a work experience student with us, who has written this post on what he discovered about one of his ancestors by using the resources we have here…Barum Athena.
This past week, I have been studying my families’ past, and I have come across some things I have found fascinating. As I searched back through the Hill family line, came across different relatives and found out new things about them. An ancestor I found quite interesting was a man called Thomas Lock Hill, who was a fishmonger in 18 Butchers Row, Barnstaple, in around 1923. The reason I found Thomas so important in my family was because he appeared in the North Devon Journal, and other newspapers which gave me stories and clues about his life and some of his achievements.
Thomas Lock Hill was born on the 1st October, 1873 in 63 Green Lane Barnstaple. His father, James Hill, was a Pilot, and his mother, Mary Jane Hill, was a dressmaker. I first looked at the Birth, Marriage and Death indexes too find out when and where they were born, and along with any relatives! I looked through the Birth records to find my Grandfather, and from that I could see his parent’s names, Thomas Walter and Doris May. I then looked through the Marriage records, to find Doris and Thomas’s marriage, and stumbled upon their fathers’ names, who were both called Thomas. Thomas Walter’s father was named Thomas Lock Hill.
I started to do some in depth research on the life of Thomas Lock Hill, I found out more information such as his wife, Ellen and his three daughters and one son, who were called Rosina, Ellen, Pollie and Thomas. I then looked at the 1901 census where I could see Thomas Lock, Ellen, and their first born child Rosina were boarding with the Knill family, who lived in one of the poorer areas of Barnstaple, called Azes Lane, with Thomas listed as a fisherman. I then looked at the 1911 census, which showed they had moved on, and now lived in 17 Kingsley Avenue. Because the census shows all the children had been born in Azes Lane, I can infer they moved with in the 3 years of the 1901 census, as Thomas the youngest child was 3 years old, and he had been born in Azes Lane. I looked deeper into their move, and discovered they had moved from a poor area to a more affluent one in a short time. This suggested that he was actually a very good fishmonger at that time!
Looking through the North Devon Journal newspaper surname index and I found some references to some articles with the name Thomas Hill in them which I then looked at on microfilm. There were several different articles which included a story about Thomas Hill who was assaulted by a man who also assaulted a police officer, and another article about Thomas Hill transporting live fish to South Molton by train to sell at the market there. He was the first ever person from Barnstaple to do this!
I also looked at the timeline of Thomas Lock’s life fishmonger business by looking through the Trade Directories to find out when he started up his shop. I started with 1923 but I could just not find him, and when I nearly gave up but then I went to the trades section of the book and found his name under Fishmonger! I went back again by three years to the Directory of 1919, and his name was nowhere to be seen, apart from the private residents entry which showed him living in Kingsley Avenue as a fisherman. So I then went forwards, and carried on finding his name until 1939 and 1941, where it showed that a Thomas W. Hill was living in 22 Kingsley Avenue as a fishmonger, and a Mrs. Hill was living in 17 Kingsley Avenue as the head of the house. This appears to show that Thomas Lock must have died between 1935 and 1939, and Thomas Walter (his son) took over the business.
Finally, to finish off, I looked at maps of the areas they lived in, and plotted where their houses were. I also looked at Butchers Row or Market as it was called and found 18 Butchers row, which was site of Thomas Lock’s fishmongers shop!
You can now find a copy of what Josh discovered in our collection of family history notes and pedigrees…Barum Athena.