Wiltshire roots

My relative Caroline has been incredibly helpful with my quest to discover my ancestors, and the other day she spotted something very obvious that I’d missed. Back in August I solved the mystery of my great x3 grandmother – this had been tricky because there was no record of her marriage to Henry Clinch or of the birth of James Clinch (my great x2 grandfather). Henry, born in 1819, was quite a challenge because he didn’t appear on the 1841 census and his birth was before the official birth / marriage / death records started. So although a couple of other Clinch ancestors provided some information on his lineage, I wanted the proof for myself.

Caroline’s find was just so obvious – Henry Clinch took a second wife, seven years after his first wife Sarah died in 1855. This marriage was on record, I knew about it, but never thought it was that important. But of course it was… it revealed his father’s name. As luck would have it, my mum’s cousin Susan already had the certificate. And there was the name of my great x4 grandfather, Charles Clinch. According to the parish records, he was born in Chiseldon, Wiltshire in 1785. This was rather spooky – I found out this information on Friday, the same day I drove past Chiseldon on the way to Swindon.

Although I have yet to confirm it, the information about Charles allowed me to trace back a couple more generations (but I stress, this needs more research) – Charles was the son of Thomas Clinch and Ann Arman, and Ann was the daughter of Richard Arman and Elizabeth Savoury. Richard was born in (wait for it) 1718 and was my great x6 grandfather. Confirming this is going to require a visit to the Berkshire archives to double-check the Charles Clinch information and also see if I can confirm the name of Henry’s mother (Charles apparently had four wives), and then a visit to the Wiltshire archives in Swindon. Realistically it’ll probably be next year by the time I get a chance.


  1. Interesting..my brother has done some research into out ancestry too, with more to be done by my mother when she retires at the end of the month.

    I bought her the “who do you think you are book” to get her started but thinking about it what would be useful are some straightforward tips about the process and how your tackling it – tracking it.

    So how about a good tips for tracing your past based on your experience?


  2. Could be tricky Spence, most of your ancestors were shipped abroad in irons 😉

    But seriously… first thing I would do is get yerself a program to start logging the info, even if you just start with you and your siblings and parents. I’d recommend MyHeritage Family Tree Builder, basically because it’s free…


    And it supports the all-important GED standard for genealogical databases.

    Next, and this seems an obvious thing to say, get as much info as you can from relatives. Names, places, dates, occupations are all important even if some of the details don’t appear so at first. Don’t ignore the names of relatives not directly in your tree, they can turn up important clues.

    Be aware that this will cost you money to get back through several generations. Web sites like ancestry.co.uk have the censuses from 1841 to 1901 transcribed, but they charge (although I have a subscription and I can look up stuff for you). They also have full birth / marriage / death indexes from 1837 to 2005 on-line.

    There are some free sources on-line – FreeBMD…


    And free parish records, although these are far from complete (but some counties like Norfolk are)…


    Also, when you come to order certificates they’re £7 a pop. Birth and marriage certificates are extremely useful for getting the parents’ names. Mothers’ maiden names can often be difficult as it wasn’t until 1911 that the birth index started showing the child’s mother’s maiden name. And then in 1912 the marriage index started listing who married who (up until it was a case of a group of people getting married during that quarter in that district, and you had to work out who married who).

    Anyway, let me know if you need any help searching. You might be quite lucky with your surname being fairly unusual.

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