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


Discover the War of the Roses…On Our Shelves!

St. Albans; From The Beauties of England and Wales [914.2/ENG/BEA Vol VII]

St. Albans; From The Beauties of England and Wales [914.2/ENG/BEA Vol VII]

Today marks the 560th Anniversary of the start of the War of the Roses which saw the country descend into civil war until, the recently reinterred, Richard III lost his life at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The first battle was fought on this day in 1455 in the town of St. Albans, Hertfordshire. However, as the books from our shelves show this was one of two battles fought there. In William Camden’s Chronicle of Britain published in 1637 (D900/CAM o/s) he describes how St. Albans was

… the very plot of bloudie battaile; For, to let other particulars goe by, when England under the two houses of Lancaster and York bereft, as it were, of vitall breath was ready through Civill Warre to sinke downe and fall in a sound, the chiefe Captaines of both sides joyned battaile twise with reciprocall variety of fortune in the very Towne. First, Richard Duke of Yorke gave the Lancastrians heere a sore overthrow, tooke King Henry the Sixth captive, and slew many honourable personages. Foure yeeres after the Lancastrians under the conduct of Queene Margaret wonne heere the field, put the house of Yorke to flight, and restored the King to his former liberty.

Camden's Chronicle 1637

Camden’s Chronicle 1637

There is also another account of the battle on our shelves in the 6th Volume of The Beauties of England and Wales by Edward Wedlake Blake published in 1808 (914.2/ENG/BEA)

The first battle of St. Alban’s was fought on the twenty-third [actually the 22nd] of May, 1455: the King himself, the meek-spirited Henry the Sixth, being present. This ill-fated Prince, who, from the recesses of his heart, could exclaim, ‘that he had fallen upon evil days,’ had set out from the Metropolis with about 2000 men, apparently with the design of impeding the progress of the Duke of York, who was marching from the north, accompanied by the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury, and a body of about 3000 hardy soldiers. The Duke, who had not yet advanced his claim to the Throne, encamped on the east side of the town, in Key-field; while the King occupied the town itself, and fixed his standard at a spot called Goselow, in St. Peter’s Street. The avowed purpose of the Yorkists, was to seize, and bring to trial, Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who had been impeached of treason by the House of Commons, and committed to the Tower, but was afterwards released in despite of the impeachment, by the influence of the Queen, Margaret of Anjou.

When the King, as appears from Hollinshed [another item available on our shelves] heard of the Dukes’s approach, he sent the Duke of Buckingham, with some other noblemen, to inquire the reason of his coming in that hostile manner. The Duke answered that, ‘he and his army were the King’s faithful liege subjects, and intended no harm to his Majesty; but only desired that he would deliver up the Duke of Somerset, who had lost Normandy, taken up no care to preserve Gascoigne, and had brought the realm into its present miserable condition: they would then return to their countries, without trouble or breach of peace; otherwise they would rather die in the field, than suffer a continuance of this grievance.’

As the Duke of Somerset was then with the King, and was himself at the head of the Royal councils, this demand was not acceded to; and both parties prepared to try their strength in battle. The barriers of the town were well defended by the Royalists; and the assault made on the side next St.Peter’s Street, by the Duke of York, proved unsuccessful; till the Earl of Warwick, with a chosen band, forced an entrance on the garden side, in Holywell Street; and, by the terror of his name, his soldiers shouting, ‘A Warwick! a Warwick!’ and the vigor of his onset, obliged his opponents to give way. Thus aided, the Duke was enabled to overpower the force opposed to him at the barriers; and, after a short, but sanguinary, conflict in the streets of the town, the Royal army was defeated. The King himself, being entirely deserted, and wounded in the neck with an arrow, took refuge in a small house, or cottage, where he was afterwards discovered by the Duke of York, and by him conducted to the Abbey. The slain on the King’s part amounted to about 800: among them were the Duke of Somerset, the Earls of Stafford and Northumberland…[among others]. About 600 of the Yorkists were killed: not any person of distinction, however, is recorded to have fallen on this side. The bodies of the slain were mostly interred at St. Peter’s; but those of the principal nobles were, at the intercession of Whethampstead[the Abbot of St. Albans Abbey], received into the Abbey Church; and, after their obsequies had been solemnly performed, they were interred in the Chapel of the Virgin.

Rock Image of Clock House

The Clock Tower, St. Albans by Rock and Co from England Under Victoria

These items and other gems can be found in our Library Collection for more details about the collections visit the Library Collection page on our website and search our Library CatalogueBarum Athena