Home Page for Walter ("Taffy") V. & Jill A.E.


Welcome to this page of our family history.

Click here to identify this family group

Although we show our present family in this happy group picture on the occasion of Jill's 80th. birthday in October 2007, the prime reason for this Internet page is to register our interest in genealogy in general and our family history in particular and to describe our twenty seven years of research into our wider family of families. We do this with the following aims.

  • To maintain interest in genealogy and to add to our present knowledge of our ancestry.
  • To share our findings with people who may be linked to our families.
  • To describe some of our interesting discoveries.
  • To assist other people with their genealogy research, whether they are members of our family or not.

    How it all started.

    When asking ourselves why we started this quest for the history of our families, the simple answer is 'to satisfy our curiosity'. One of the best examples of that curiosity is illustrated in my notes regarding an old Great Aunt, whom I knew as a small boy, but could never work out who she was. By clicking here and diverting to those notes, you will see how that curiosity got the better of me.

    To maintain our interest in genealogy.

    After twenty years of painstaking, dogged research, we have had several disappointments, but we always learn something from them. Sometimes we might stumble on gaps in documentation or never enough detail to corroborate other knowledge or we go following an incorrect path. One of our maxims has always been to seek corroborative information before going firm on an ancestral or family line. We have used most of the tools available to us, including the Internet, which, ofcourse, is another reason why this Home Page is available for all to see. Another maxim is never to give up and by looking at our chart of root names and where we came from, it can be seen that, with one line, we have got as far back as 1300 through marriage links (*admittedly with some reservations), but with a fair degree of certainty to 1550, with another ancestral line. We have uncovered murders, bigamy, illegitimacy (not many families in this land can honestly claim that they have a perfectly pure pedigree), honours, longevity and infant mortality, tragic disasters from fire, plague, storm, military action and all such events which make family history immensely interesting. It could be said that family history is a disease in itself, for which there is no doctor’s cure, the main symptom being that it is never ending. Even when you think you have reached the end of research, going back into time, there is always the procreation of more families, going forward in time. In our own family our first great grandchild Ella Beth Rostron arrived in July 2004 and was soon added to our family tree at the age of 5 hours. She is now approaching her 4th. birthday and is shown here as a very important member of our family, even although she is not now our only great grand child. So, read on.

    Sharing our findings.

    It is not our intention to fill pages with our ancestral lines, or lines of relatives, through marriage links, but those of you who may have that interest will always be able to see them them by clicking here. or by calling our address. However, to see who we are, the following root name chart will help or invite you to help us. Several of our ancestors and relatives emigrated to Australia, United States of America, Canada and New Zealand and we have made contact with a number of their descendants who are still living, many were eager to hear of their distant ancestral background in Great Britain and we have been happy and able to help them. In return, they have been of considerable help to us. We do not stick to paternal lines alone; where a maternal line may take us further back, we will follow it to add to the fascination of our hobby. A good example of such help came from a fouth cousin of Jill living in British Columbia, Canada who made contact with us in June 2006. An exchange of family information was of immense, mutual help in the weeks and months that followed.


    Root names Ancestral Surnames Counties of Origin Earliest Dates
    HOLDEN HOLDEN Lancashire 1745 & *pre 1300
    FAIRBAIRN Berwickshire, E.Lothian 1675
    MARTIN Berwickshire 1774
    HENNEY Lancashire 1788
    MCGOWAN Kirkudbrightshire 1785
    BAIRD Kirkudbrightshire 1817
    SPOUSE Berwickshire 1814
    BECKLEY BECKLEY Oxfordshire 1622
    (of my wife) FILBEE Oxfordshire 1555
    FIELD Berkshire, Oxfordshire 1550
    LEE Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire 1600
    MORRIS Buckinghamshire 1764
    HAYNES Oxfordshire, Worcestershire 1771
    BENBOW Worcestershire 1690

    Some of our more interesting discoveries.

    Fishing Rights granted by Oliver Cromwell.

    Early in our research and due to much work done by a cousin of my wife, we found that their 7G-GF William Beckley was granted the monopoly of fishing rights on the River Cherwell at Islip in Oxfordshire, by the Protector Cromwell in 1645. Apparently William assisted in ferrying Cromwell’s troops at the Battle of Islip Bridge, during the siege of Oxford. Although we have found plenty of documentary reference to this event, we have yet to find a copy of the document conferring those fishing rights. Perhaps a reader of this page might assist and show us where to find it.

    Religious Murder by Cromwell's Troops 1648.

    As if to compete with my wife’s ancestry and her connection with Cromwell, one of my cousins suggested that in our Lancashire family folklore there was legend that, at Chapel House Farm on the Chaigely Manor estate in 1648, we had a relative who was beheaded by Cromwell’s troops on their way to Preston for battles on Ribbleton Moor and Walton Bridge. When I learnt this, family history became an all consuming passion to find out more about the beheading and I have succeeded in tracing back through many Holden families, the story as it was handed on. What is more, the skull still exists and together with several altar relics, collected at the scene of the religious murder, it now lies in a small shrine at St. Robert's RC church at Catforth in Lancashire. I found many references to this event and to the skull story, from the Lancashire Archives at Preston and from first hand discussion with a neighbour of the family, who knew about the skull, before it was enshrined at Catforth. In July 2006, the cousin who first made me aware of the skull’s existence, accompanied me to view it at Catforth and then to the scene of the beheading at Chapel House Farm, near Hurst Green in Lancashire. This was a humbling experience for us, because it’s significance to our wider Holden family. The peaceful picture on the left, belies the true story of the scene and act in 1648. Despite all that I have learnt about this religious murder, I want to know more and this is another compelling reason why I am inviting discussion on the subject from any reader of this article.A more detailed account of my researches into this significant event in our family history can be found by diverting from here.

    Disaster in the North Sea.

    I wanted to find more about an event in 1881, which might have affected my maternal ancestry from Berwickshire in Scotland. On the 14th. October 1881, fishermen from Cove, Eyemouth and Burnmouth on the Berwickshire coast, set out on a day's fishing from their respective harbours, but many never returned due to the suddenness of a storm of enormous strength, depicted here in the sketch below. As a young boy I had heard about "the storm", but knew little of why there had been such large loss of life. 129 fathers, husbands, brothers, sons and nephews perished from Eyemouth alone.In total they left 93 widows and 267 children bereft of a breadwinner. I was curious to know how many were lost from the village of Burnmouth, where I was born. I learnt that a total of 24 had been lost from that small village and I wanted to know if I would have been related to any of them. My extensive researches established that I had lost at least seven 2nd. or 3rd. cousins. Such losses from whatever village, altered the lives of many as my later researches revealed. Elsewhere I have written more fully about that 1881 sea disaster and more recently I learned that a local historian, also uncovered much more about the disaster and possibly why it should never have happened or could have been avoided.

    Surprising Connections via Marriage Links.

    Resulting from some chance research in Aug2004 about the Holden family who had care of the skull mentioned above and some follow on correspondence with an Oxford University Doctor who had specialised in the study of Recusant History, I re-examined notes about the marriage of a Mary Holden, the daughter of John Holden (1590 - 1637), the Lord of the Manor of Chaigely. Mary married a Thomas Brockholes of Claughton Manor near Garstang and her grand-daughter Katharine married a Charles Howard. Nothing particularly noteworthy about this marriage until my Oxford correspondent confirmed that Charles Howard was the 10th. Duke of Norfolk. With much historical fact about the dukedoms of Norfolk in our British history and by using the Internet, it was fairly straightforward to trace back to Catharine Howard, who was the grand-daughter of Thomas Howard 2nd. Duke of Norfolk. Catharine was Henry VIII's 5th. wife after Anne of Cleaves and she met the same fate as her cousin Anne Boleyn by being beheaded in the Tower of London for unfaithfulness. Such a remarkable discovery may give rise to some derisory laughter, but the revelation that I can connect my family, through subtle marriage links, to a King of England, makes family history even more interesting and rewarding, albeit, without having any "blue blood" in my veins!

    To assist other family historians.

    Naturally, we have used all the normal and available methods of research, to find what we have so far. With some 13024 individual names, within 9825 families, 110 wills, (a portion of a 1641 family will is shown here), many hundreds of photographs with a vast amount of fascinating detail and 14 large note books of scribbled, untidy notes, we have plenty material to work on. The original family history computer program which I used,became known as "Generations" and marshals so much of the detail into tidy descendent, pedigree and family charts and makes working with records, such a satisfying and rewarding pleasure. With much genealogical data available in County Record Offices, within the journals of Family History Societies, the Family Records Centre in London, the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh (and its electronic link to London), the Public Record Office at Kew, the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints and from grave headstones, there is always plenty of source material. Much more information, such as census records and parish records are becoming available on the Internet and can provide valuable verification of other research detail. Time and patience are two qualities essential in family history research, but for new researchers, it is never too soon to start quizzing relatives. So many of us say to ourselves, "if only we had asked Uncle Henry before he died" or to wait until someone’s memory becomes too unreliable for dependability . However, our research has reached the stage where we can willingly extend our expertise, especially with the family names of our main concern, to other family historians, whether they are likely to be linked to us or not. It is a nice, rewarding experience, to make contact with people and find they are second cousins once removed, or even 4th. cousins, it is then a joy to share the information and so it becomes an enjoyable, two way process.

    Return to the top.

    Our family picture shown above and at right (Numbered L to R)

    1. Joshua Royle (GGSon held by his father Simon Royle)
    2. Samantha Royle (eldest granddaughter)
    3. Emma Chamberlain (next eldest GDau)
    4. Shirley Howe (eldest Dau kneeling in front)
    5. Walter (Taffy) Holden
    6. Siobhan Holden (GDau and Dau. of son Nigel
    7.Joyce Holden (wife of son Nigel and holding GGson Archie
    8. Jill Holden (on lounge chair)
    9. Nigel Holden (Son - half hidden rear)
    10. Wendy Rostron (youngest Dau.
    11.Kieran Holden (GSon standing front)
    12. Gemma Rostron (youngest GDau.)
    13. Daniel Rostron (GSon.)


    Borders Family History Society. Click here for family connections in the Berwickshire area.

    This page was placed on the Internet 28Mar98 and last updated 30May2011
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