Monday, October 31, 2016

Benjamin Boam 1864-1887 and the Tragedy of the Mill Close Mine

I hope to be lucky enough in mid 2017 to visit the village of Winster where many many of my fathers ancestors once lived. The Boam family have a long history in Winster and many of them were Lead Miners.
In starting some pre-trip research I discovered the story of Benjamin Boam who died in an explosion at the nearby Mill Close Lead Mine .
I hope to photograph his headstone myself in the Winster Churchyard but in the mean time I found the wonderful work of Michael Greatorex who has photographed many if not all the gravestones there including that of Benjamin which you can see here

Benjamin was born  in 1864 in Winster. I have yet to find his baptism record but he was the second son and 5th child of Thomas Boam  and Mary Wilson. Thomas was also a Lead Miner, as was his father also named Thomas.
Benjamins 2 younger siblings, Lucy and Harriet both had died in childhood, so Benjamin was the youngest child of Thomas and Mary at the time of his death.

I created a simple layout for this sad story which is directly taken from a newspaper account of the day.

Benjamin Boam was the 2nd son, and 5th child of Thomas Boam and his wife Mary Wilson. He was the younger brother of my GG Grandmother Mary Jane Boam.  Benjamin was a Lead miner, like is father, and his grandfather and many many of the men in the village of Winster, Derbyshire  where he was born. He was employed at the Mill Close Mine, in nearby Darley, where a shaft had been sunk in 1860 and was one of numerous men who worked below ground in shifts around the clock.
On November 3 1887 the mine would take the lives of 5 of the men of Winster including that of Benjamin Boam

Shocking Accident at Mill Close Lead Mine  Five Men Killed

From  what  can  be  ascertained  it  appears  that  a  shift  was  commenced  at  midnight  on  Wednesday.  There  would  be  twenty-one  or  twenty-two  men  on  duty.  Before  they  began  work  the  mine  had  been  officially  examined  by  the  deputy,  William  Webster.  He  found  a  quantity  of  gas  in  the  heading,  and  duly  reported  the  occurrence  to  the  company  who  took  the  particular  route in which the explosion happened. The men were in charge of Job Stone, and the company was known as Stones's. They were warned of the presence of gas on going down. It seems they were  engaged  on  the  top  level,  or  84  yards  from  the  surface.  The  distance  they  had  to  travel  underground  was  between  500  and  600  yards  before  reaching  the  face  of  the  rock.  Upon  a  portion  of  the  road  they  would  be  able  to  use naked  lights,  but  were  compelled  to  have  safety  lamps  whilst  at  their  work.  There  were  for  getters  and  two  waggoners  working  in  the  stall  or  heading,  and,  unfortunately,  all  the  six  were  within  measurable  distance  of  the  force  of  the  explosion. Had it happened a few minutes earlier or later the waggoners would have been away from the spot conveying the ore to the exit from the mine. There was nothing perceptible of the approaching  danger  when  the  men  began  their usual  occupation.  Several  shots  of  dynamite charges had been fired. This powerful explosive is regularly used at the mine to blow down the rock, with which the ore is mixed. The heading is about six yards high, and a charge of dynamite
is inserted into a hole which is drilled for it. The charge is fired with "touch", and the men retire out  of  danger,  as  they  consider.  They  would  move  away  to  a  distance  of  about  40  yards.  The  shot went off in the usual manner, and was immediately followed by a terrific explosion of gas. The force of the concussion was felt all over the mine, the head trees, forks, and scores of tons of rock being removed. The fall of bind killed the men, debris covering them.
The shock was not felt on the surface, and it was not until one of the men, Marsden, who is injured, made his way
in the dark to the bottom of the shaft, that the disaster was known. He was the only one spared to  tell  of  the  sad  accident  which  befell  his comrades.  The  men  engaged  in  the  heading  were  Robert  Marsden,  Birchover;  Job  Stone,  Elton; George  Stone,  Elton;  George  Allen,  Winster;  Benjamin  Boam,  Winster;  and  George  Needham,  Wensley.  Boam  and  Needham  were  the  waggoners.  They,  as  we  have  previously  said,  were  unfortunately  along  with  the  other  group  when  the  gas  was  ignited.  The  lights  were  all  blown  out  with  the  force  of  the  explosion,  but  Marsden, though injured, made his way in the darkness to the bottom of the shaft. He signalled
to be drawn out, and then the intelligence became known. He displayed conspicuous bravery by going down the shaft again along with a stoker named George Boam. These two men were thefirst to venture down the mine. They were stated to have felt the effects of the after-damp, but not  to  any  serious  extent.  The  explosion  took  place  a  few  minutes  before  three  o'clock.  It  was some  time  before  any  of  the  bodies  were  discovered.  Lights  were  procured  and  a  search  party  was quickly formed, under the leadership of John Heathcote. He arrived on the premises about five  o'clock,  and,  being  one  of  the  deputies,  organised  the  relief  party.  Messengers  were 
despatched  as  quickly  as  possible  to  Mr.  Joseph  Greatorex,  of  Winster,  the  agent,  who  was  speedily  at  the  mine.  A  verbal  message  was  also  sent  to  Mr.  A.M.  Alsop,  of  Wirksworth,  the  manager.  When  Mr.  Greatorex  arrived  he  took charge  of  the  search  party,  and  went  down, finding  the  deputy  there.  It  was  discovered  that  the  men  were  almost  entirely  buried  in  the debris.  The  bodies  were  fearfully  crushed.  After  the  bind  had  been  removed  the  remains  were  brought  out.  The  first  person  to  be  conveyed  up  the  shaft  was  Job  Stone,  who  could  be  seen  under  the  refuse,  but  was  quite  dead.  In  the  meantime  Dr.  Stubbs,  of  Darley  Bridge,  and  Dr. Cantrell,  of  Winster,  were  summoned,  but  their  services  were  of  no  avail  except  in  the  case  of Marsden,  who  was  bruised  about  the  head.  He  was  taken  to  the  Warren  Carr  Farm,  and,  after  attention,  conveyed  home.  The  men  were  sent  up  as  speedily  as  possible,  and  taken  to  the office.  There  they  were  stripped  and  laid  on  stretchers.  The  bodies  presented  a  shocking  spectacle, being fearfully crushed. It took until seven o'clock to recover all the deceased miners.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

DNA Verified Ancestor Update

Ive had quite a few DNA matches in the last few weeks and several who have verified branches of my tree. As you can see from the chart above I have had much more success with my mothers side than my fathers, and I put this down to having had my mother and several of her cousins tests done as well.
I have now verified all my grandparents, 7 out of 8 of my Great Grandparents , and 9 out of 16  of my GG Grandparents which I think is remarkable given DNA testing is quite new in New Zealand.
I am almost certain seeing that I have confirmed Samuel Middlebrook as my GG Grandfather that would also mean that I am descended from his wife Mary Jane Rea, but as yet havent had a confirmed DNA match to the Rea family to prove it completely.

A second cousin on my Dads side has just tested and another 2nd cousin on that side has also promised to test so that could help confirm more branches on my fathers side.
I hope that in a few more months, and as DNA testing becomes more popular both here and in the UK I will see more matches either confirming or disproving my research.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Boyt-Mathias Branch - Deciphering the DNA

Todays post is a visual account of the research I have done on the various DNA connections my family have to the Boyt family tree. - All names of living people  have been replaced with initials for public viewing but I have a version with full names for family to view privately.

The various DNA connections relating to my 3xG Grandmother Jane Boyt and her parents William Boyt and Mary Mathias are one of the best examples I have of how important it is to test as many people in your family as possible, and how valuable each and every test is in determining the validity of the researched relationships.
My paper research had formed the basis  of my family tree with a confirmed birth  certificate for my Great Grandfather Phillip Goodwin whose parents were James Goodwin and Mary Ann Gleeson. James birth was slightly more difficult to prove as there was no registered birth in the correct time frame for  James Goodwin, and his marriage certificate was from a year before the time when parents names must be provided. Family lore said James father was William Henry Goodwin who had been a soldier in the 58th Regiment. There was in fact a gravestone in Ngaruawahia for W.H. Goodwin ex the 58th regiment along with his wife Jane. Before long it was established that W.H Goodwin was infact Henry Goodrum and had married Jane Boyt, the eldest daughter of William Boyt (who was a Fencible living in Onehunga) and his wife Mary Mathias.  I did in fact then easily find the birth for their son James who was registered as James Goodrum.
The first DNA proof I was on the right track was a match to R.G who was a Grandaughter of James’ younger brother Samuel Henry Goodrum/Goodwin. She matches me with 46cM . This is a low result for our relationship of 2nd Cousins 2x removed, where the average match is more than double at 84cM. My mother matches her with 63cM, again around half of what you would expect for the relationship. However JG and LG match her with 188cM and 183cM respectively - quite a bit higher than the average.  The matches between RG and the rest of us confirmed  a common ancestor - and the most recent would be W.H Goodwin and/or his wife Jane Boyt. The next Boyt family match came soon after - V.M. is a Great Granddaughter of Susannah Boyt, Jane’s younger sister. Both JG and LG match VM, but RG, my mother and I do not appear to have any match at all.  Without JG and LG’s tests we would not be able to confirm the link which took the DNA proof of relationship back one generation to Janes parents William Boyt and Mary Mathias. Subsequently 3 more matches appeared, to J.F, a GG Granddaughter of Jane’s youngest brother Henry. JF matches all 5 descendants of Jane at varying amounts from  7.1cM with myself to 38.7cM with LG.  Next came a match to a JVP- GG Grandson of Henry Boyt. He matches with only LG, JG and RG but not with my mother nor I . Then most recently a match with CH and his daughter MH, who matches with RG, JG and LG but again not with my mother and me.
Combining the results of all the tests proves beyond any reasonable doubt that we all descend from either of William Boyt and Mary Mathias or both of them - the parents of all 3 of the Boyt Children.

My Mother is first cousin to both JG and LG who are sisters. She matches LG at 1023cM and JG at 866cM which confirms their relationship as 1st cousins and I match my mother as expected as with a parent child relationship.
It is clear to me that the Boyt portion of DNA that was passed down to J.G and LG was recombined differently with my mother who did not inherit nearly as much, and therefore I received very little.  My children may have no DNA connection tto the Boyts at all which is why its so important to me to reasearch my tree using tools of genetic genealogy as well as traditional paper research now.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Secombe Brothers

Todays post continues with the research on the newly confirmed branch of my tree. That of the Secombe family. You will remember from previous posts, based on DNA connections we have finally confirmed that my 2x G Grandfather William McClellan was in fact William McClellan Secombe. He came from a family rich with Coastguard and Navy history.
Thomas Seacombe lived a life firmly based around the Sea. He was from a very young man, employed by the CoastGuard, and before that the Maritime Revenue Service.  There are many with the name Secombe to be found in the records of the Coastguard and the Navy, including Thomas’ own grandfather Mark who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar on the HMS Tonnant.  Thomas clearly loved the life, and passed the love onto his sons who each appear to have a history of  seafaring adventures.
In a letter of application for the youngest son Lewis, Thomas’ wife Isabella states that she wishes nothing but a life for Lewis on the sea as it was the life of his father and all his brothers. While I have yet to find records for all the sons, most indeed appear to have spent a good part of their life with the British Coastguard or Navy.

William McClelland Secombe
William appears to be the first child of Thomas and Isabella and was born on the Isle of Whithorn on 17 March 1833 and was baptised a month later. His first maritime record appears to be entering Naval Service when he signed up for 10 years service, on the 1st November 1860. He was posted to the HMS Ajax. Little more is known of the next 10 years except that he was involved in a disasterous storm which took place in Kingstown harbour during which the Captain of the Ajax drowned. Later records find him as crew on coastal traders in Australia, one of which was the Fairy Queen, which in 1873 wrecked in Timaru harbour. It is at this time it appears William gave up his life on the sea and it was probably at this point he changed his name to William McClellan. He settled first in Pleasant
 Point,and later in Woodville and married Elizabeth Brodie and had one son, William McClellan.

Alexander Secombe
There has been no record of Alexanders birth, His parentage and place of birth comes from his later records. Alexander states he was born in 1840 on the Isle of Whithorn Scotland, like his elder brother William. The first we officially know of him is in Australia. His arrival date and method of arrival in Austrlia is unknown but members of the family suspect he jumped ship from a Naval vessel. By 1860 though, aged just 20 he is the proprieter of the Miners Arms Hotel in Georgetown, Queensland Australia, so it can be certain he didnt complete his naval service if he did in fact sign up. In 1864 Alexander married Melvina Rachel Vincent and they had 9 children . He died not long after the birth of his last daughter Georgeana, the cause of which was apparently suicide aged only 45.

Mark Secombe
The Naval records of Mark Secombe are more complete than those of his older brothers .Also born on the Isle of Whithorn, he signed on as a boy, 1st Class on 15 Dec 1859 when he joined the Ajax. Initially volunteering for a term of 10 years he re engaged in 1870 in order to serve long enough to obtain a pension. He served on many ships including the HMS Ajax, HMS Edgar, HMS Blenheim and Excellent, HMS Pearl and Duke of Wellington and HMS Penelope, which appears to be his last posting before retiring from the Navy. Mark married Elizabeth Mulholland in 1875 and they went on to have 11 children in the next 14 years, before Mark died in 1889, the same year his youngest daugther was born. In 1881 Mark is listed as a Naval Pensioner and hsi wife Lizzie as a GreenGrocer. They are living in Walton Suffolk. Mark died aged only 47 in Aug 1889.

Andrew Secombe
The records for Andrew Secombe state he was born in Portaferry, County Down, Ireland. This ties in with his fathers posting to Ireland after he joined the Coastguard.  Andrew volunteered as a Boy 2nd Class in June 1861 for a period of 10 years ( from the age of 18)and then like is elder brother Mark, he also extended for a further 10 years from October 1874.
Like William and Mark, Andrew started his service on the HMS Ajax and also served on the HMS Defense, Excellent, Victory,HMS Terrible, Duke of Wellington, Euphrates, Lord Warden and HMS Favourite.
Andrew married Emma Chaston in Duffus Scotland in 1875 and they had 2 children, Edgar and Daisy .
In the 1881 Scotland census he is living in Aberdour, Aberdeenshire and is listed as a Coastguard and he dies in Suffolk in 1884 aged just 38.

Lewis Secombe
Lewis Secombe was the youngest child of Thomas and Isabella. He was only a child when his father died in 1864 and Isabella was instrumental in his life on the sea. In support of his application as a Boy 2nd Class ( aged just 15) Isabella wrote “ Newtonwards, Ireland, 9th October 1867. I am writing, Sir, that my son is joining the Navy, as it is the only life I wish for him. His father and all his brothers were in the same too, and as I am alone, Sir, I trust the Lord will teach him his way and make him a good boy. Your humbled servant, Isabella Seacombe. Lewis was born in Ballywater County Down, Ireland and served on many ships including HMS Scout, Chameleon, Pembroke, Fox and Royal Adelaide .The last record for him I have confirmed is as an inmate in HMS Wakefield Prison where he is serving 7 days hard labour for drunkenness and states he has also been in Bodman prison. It is not know if he married.