Nancy Drew: An Investigation

We have had Indigo on work experience with us this week and she has been using both Ancestry and Find My Past, which can be accessed via our partner department (the North Devon Record Office) to find out about her ancestors in other parts of England, starting with her Great Grandmother Nancy Drew…

This week I have been looking into my family history, we started with the basic information that I already knew and tried to delve into my heritage.

We started with my Great-Grand parents, Nancy Drew (born in the Wandsworth area) and John W Woolston (born in St Albans) they married in 1941 in the Bishops Stortford area. Having three children Jennifer Woolston, Carol Ann Woolston and Anthony John Woolston (twins).

Nancy’s parents were Marian Milburn and William H F Drew, Marian was born in the June qrt of 1892 in st. Saviour, Southwark and William was born in the September qtr of 1881 in Greenwich, they got married in 1913 in Lambeth.

St Albans Abbey (2)
St. Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire

John’s parents, Arthur Stanley Woolston (born 23rd November 1889 in Harpenden) and Daisy Wright (born 18th May 1888 in Watford), were not as easy to find. Despite their best efforts to elude us we did find out that they lived right next door to each other! Although we couldn’t find a marriage certificate for them we think this is how the two met, Arthur living at 141 Queen’s road (Watford) and Daisy living at 139 Queen’s road, Arthur was a grocer’s assistant and Daisy was a cash desk clerk in possibly the same grocer, falling in love over the counter!

Using the General Register of births, deaths and marriages we found out Arthur’s parents were Henry John Woolston, 1863 – 1931, and Kate Jordan, 1865 – 1960, who were married in 1887 in London. Arthur was one of five children we found using the census; Daisy Kate, John Douglas born 13th April 1892, Walter Lionel born 30th January 1897, George Leslie born 14th August 1899. Daisy Kate and John Douglas were both born in Middlesex whereas Walter Lionel, George Leslie and Arthur were born in Hertfordshire.

Daisy’s Parents were Charles Wright born 1846 in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire and Sarah Matilda Crawly born 1849 in Tring, Hertfordshire. Charles was a carpenter by trade, and was already a carpenter’s assistant by the age of 15! Charles and Sarah had nine children including Daisy, Min(n)ie Louisa (1882), Lilly Bertha (1885), Hilda May (1893), Annie Eliza (1870), Frances Sparkes (1876), Charles H (1876), Harry (1878) and Maud J (1880) and Daisy. All the children were born in Watford, Hertfordshire.

We also found out that Annie Eliza must have married a man with the surname Ellison as she had a least two children: Violet (Voielet) Edith Ellison (1896) and Charles Herbert (1899), while she was with her parents in the 1901 census who had both been born in Middlesex.

Charles parents were Thomas Wright (1822), born in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire and Eliza Wright (1824) also born in Aston Clinton, Charles was one of five (again) children these included: Henry Wright (1849), Rebekah (Rebecca) Wright (1851), George Wright (1853) and Ann C Wright (1858). Henry and Charles were born in Aston Clinton, Rebekah, George and Ann were all born in New Mill Tring Hertfordshire.

Berkhamsted (2)
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire near Tring, where some of my Drew ancestors lived

Sarah’s, (who we think was known as Matilda when she was younger), parents were James (1815) born in Tring, Hertfordshire and Ann Crawley (1825) born in Awnes, Buckinghamshire. Sarah was one of  five children we found using the 1871 England and Wales census, Eliza (1843), Emma (1844), Charlotte (1846) and Jane (1850) all the children were born in Tring, Hertfordshire except for Eliza who was born in Luton, Buckinghamshire.

Having found out that many of my ancestors were from Hertfordshire I used some of the many books the Athenaeum has to find out some interesting facts about the area, one of which being William the Conqueror was crowned there by Fretheric, Abbot of St. Albans in 1066! I also found out that there is a possibility that Caesar may have been to the area and surrounds in B.C. 54. The area around Tring used to be one of the centres of the straw-plait industry, the plated straw was sent from Tring to Luton where it was used to make hats – this is why the Luton football team is called the Luton Hatters. The area of Watford had a population exceeding 20,000 by the time of the 1901 census, one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) town at the time. The third printing-press in England was set up in St. Albans which like Barnstaple has laid claim to being the oldest borough in England.

Books (2)
Some of the books I used to find out more about where my family lived

To find out more about the resources available through both the North Devon Athenaeum and North Devon Record Offices visit our website and follow the links to the South West Heritage Trust and our catalogues

…Barum Athena

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