Day 3: Family Roots


May 13, 2019

After today I’m convinced my dad could have been a distinguished professor of history (and possibly even a nascar driver)! The roads are crazy narrow here and there are so many round-abouts!! For many years my dad has been visiting the UK and walking throughout the countryside. He has also been researching our family history, most of which can be traced back to England. On our first full day in England he took me on a grand tour.

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The roads leading to the hamlets were often single-lane, winding and with tall hedgerows that were scraping the car as we moved along. There were a few spots to pull over if you should meet another car. A few times, my dad had to drive backwards to a pullout spot and let someone pass. I was a nervous wreck.

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We visited many villages where the Green family has roots. Remarkably, each tiny village has its own church. The Green men were carpenters, and going back even further, road builders. Today, I thought a lot about what life would have been like. The landscape is astonishingly beautiful but from what we can infer from historical records, life wasn’t easy here. Moving to Canada must have inspired dreams of a better life. I can only imagine the amount of courage it required to move, and many leaps of faith. It would seem that faith was a big part of their lives.

Speaking of faith, I think we visited eight Somerset area churches today! It is important to note that all these churches are in close proximity to each other. Churches are important because historical records often mention them as sites of marriage and burials and therefore a great way to ‘find’ ancestors. Because my relatives were not wealthy folk, their wooden grave markers have long rotted away. But we walked the cemeteries nonetheless. Knowing they were here somewhere was extremely moving. All the decisions of my forefathers and mothers made brought me to this point. To existing. And that, when you really think about it, is rather overwhelming. The culmination of life decisions we make, has a long-term effect. Studying ancestry makes me aware of this and this brings greater meaning to my own life. It’s a strange kind of gratitude. I wanted to thank them for their hard work, their sacrifices and their courage.

**WARNING** You may want to stop reading here! This information is likely only of interest to my family. I know family histories can be tedious! But I also feel that documenting this is my way of honouring their lives. Listed below are the villages we visited today and why they were important.

1.) Chew Stoke– Home of William Green~ my 5x Great Grandfather. He was a carpenter. There is a beautiful church here where he is buried. His gravestone is long gone, but we did see the grave of Chris Veale. He is a cousin whom my father recently connected with. He passed away a few years ago.

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Chew Magna– Elizabeth Priscilla Grey Veale was born in 1839 in Compton Martin. She was born in the Blue Bowl Pub (which her father John Veale ran). My dad and I went for tea at the Blue Bowl Pub which is still in operation today! Priscilla went on to marry Edwin Green of Redhill. And this is when the Veales and the Greens unite! (sidetone: When John Veale’s father died he inherited Starve Lark- high on the hill, whilst operating the Blue Bowl)

Elizabeth Priscilla (born in the Blue Bowl Pub), after the death of her third child and the disappearance of her husband Edwin, followed her two oldest children to Canada. She had a total of 3 kids; the youngest child, Ernest John died in 1879 at nine years old. It was around this time, that her husband Edwin Green, disappeared. It is possible that he moved to the United States and remarried and had more children. There are no death records for Edwin Green.

The census of 1871 shows Elizabeth living alone in London with her 10 year old son Edwin, a daughter (Edith Elizabeth) and her brand new baby (the one who died in 1879). She was still calling herself married but not living with Edwin. Early in 1880’s she emigrated alone to Winnipeg. In the census of 1881, she calls herself a widow (a ‘bible-woman’) at 42 years old- and shows no children with her because her two now grown children had already moved to Canada.

In Winnipeg in 1885, Elizabeth remarried Aaron Smith (a MUCH younger man!). Her eldest son, Edwin William Green also lived in Winnipeg. Elizabeth died at 80 on November 23rd, 1919. My dad recently visited her grave at the Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

Why we visited this church today is because many Veales are buried here but also, Elizabeth gave birth to my great-great grandfather Edwin William Green who immigrated to Canada here in Chew Magna. (Note: *The Veale family is a maternal line of the Greens and therefore very important in the story! Another maternal name is: Salmon. ).

Redhill– The home of William and Mary Green (she was a Salmon originally). William is my 4x great grandfather. He was the son of William Green (the one born in Chew Stoke). He was born in Chew Stoke but at some point moved to Redhill. He was a carpenter and wheelwright. Mary (Salmon) Green was born in Winford (close by). They had five children: Charles, Marina, Prudence, Edwin and Patience. Patience died in infancy. Census record shows he always had other people living with him such as grandkids, nieces and nephews. This suggests his home was stable and the family hub. He died in Redhill and is buried in the church (we visited). Gravestone not marked anymore. He died in 1883. His wife Mary died there in 1879. He was living next to his son Charles (a carpenter). He had a son named Francis Charles (*more to come later).

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Burrington– John Vane lived in Burrington House next to the church. He had seven servants.

Rington– We visited the church in the hamlet of Rington because my dad wanted to introduce me to the Vane name, who many years later would be part of our family tree via the Robertsons (maternal side). An ancestry foreshadowing in a sense. John Vane was the well respected Rector at a few churches in the region. (Coles Notes: *The Vanes are the Robertsons. The two families were living in the same area and later on in 1940 when my grandfather, Donald Green and my grand-mother, Marguerite Robertson married.)

Regil– We visited Regil because in this hamlet, there is still standing the old house and workshop that our relatives lived and worked in. My father has framed in his office, the official document showing the indenture which discusses the house and transference of ownership. George Salmon lived here and he died in 1843. The indenture explains how he left his house to his daughter Mary, Anna and Martha. As Martha (unmarried) had predeceased him, the house was bequeathed to Anna Salmon (married to Thomas Batt). Mary was married to William Green. As George and his brother John were partners in the woodworking business, he took sole possession of the house. He had to buy Mary and Anna out. The house and workshop are still standing and faces the village green. The property is still worth a great deal of money. It is currently owned by an old pioneer Weaver family who has been land owners and farmers in this village for hundreds of years.

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Butcombe/Ubley– The small villages nestled in the nearby hills of Nempnett. The site of the marriage of one of the Williams (*father is checking on the details!)

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Nempnett Thrubwell– Was the birthplace of Issac Green (6x great grandfather) in 1735 (he’s the only non-William.) His father before him was also born there. Green family has records going back in Nempnett in the 1600’s. Issac and his son were road builders (quarried and rock by hand and repaired holes in the turnpike. Paid by the ton.

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