Skyrme family and one-name study website Guild of One Name Studies :: One-Name Study Reg. No. 6232

News on developments in the research underpinning this website. See also snippets, for other interesting facts on the Skyrmes. Go the About page for updates on the study and of structural changes to this website.

November 2023


One of the things that intrigues me is finding Skyrme from different family trees living in the same place. A good example is Cardiff at the turn of the 20th century. Within a few miles of each other at the same time in the Grangetown area, were Skyrmes from the two Pembrokeshire branches (Manorbier and Llangwm) and also Herefordshire. At the U3A Genealogy group I go to, our topic this month was migration. This led me to look at my greatx2 grandfather’s family living in Monkton in the 1860s. There were 8 boys, 7 of them shipwrights at Pembroke Royal Dockyard. Over time they migrated to other dockyards such as Sheerness, Chatham, Jarrow and Portsmouth. But the youngest son, my great grandfather Thomas, was briefly in Barrow-in-Furness in the early 1880s. But I remembered other Skyrmes who had lived there, so thus began my quest to see who was there when.


Barrow 1890s

1881: Thomas was a lodger in Barrow. He married a Pembroke girl (Ellen Morgan) later that year and my father wrote

“Ellen my grandmother and baby George went to Barrow on 3/11/1882 where Grandad had gone to get a job in the Shipyards"

At the time iron ships we coming into vogue and Pembroke along with Chatham were the first two royal Shipyards to be equipped to built them. As one historian of Pembroke Dockyard wrote:

“The shipwrights of Pembroke did not know much about iron”.

However, he was back in Pembroke in 1884, so maybe things at Pembroke weren’t too bad after all. (Photo: Barrow-in-Furness Dockyard 1890s, public domain).

1881-1922: Three siblings - Mary and Ellen Skyrme, and Benjamin Reynish Skyrme were all born in Haverfordwest and became teachers. Mary and Ellen were initially pupil teachers at Prendegast Girls School (Mary in 1881, Ellen who was 10 years younger in 1891). Mary had moved to Thwaite Street Girls School in Barrow in 1897 and had become headmistress of Barrow Island Girls School in 1895, a post she held until 1922.

Sister Ellen and youngest brother Benjamin had moved up to live with sometime in the mid-1890s. Ellen taught at an elementary school, and Benjamin was a teacher at St James’s school Barrow from 1901-2. Their father William, a solicitor’s cashier moved up to join them after his retirement and was there at the 1921 census.

After his job in Barrow, Benjamin moved around a bit (Northfleet, Foulness, Wisbech, Petersham and Gravesend) in various teaching jobs including headmaster. Will must have joined him sometime in the early 1920s since he died at Gravesend in 1925.

1900-1977: My database shows 17 Skyrmes being born in Barrow-in-Furness, and there are probably children of some of these not yet recorded. It all started with John Dixon Skyrme a descendent of the Vowchurch Skyrmes, born in in Credenhill, Herefordshire. A labourer, he had moved up to Barrow in the late 1890s where he married local girl Mary Richardson in 1900. They had seven children, four of them boys, though one died as an infant. I’ve found 9 Skyrme children for the other three, and so far 11 for their Skyrme children. And many of these descendants still live in Barrow.

So there you are – several Skyrme migrants to Barrow-in-Furness. Some of them (my ancestors) did not stay long, but others, and their offspring, made careers there, while others continued migrating to other parts of the country.

Reasons for Migration

When we looked at the case studies in our U3A group, there were four main reasons for migration:

So although there are some similarities for today, there are also stark differences. These days you usually emigrate to Australia of your own accord!

July 2023

Fact or Fiction?

As you can see from earlier posts (e.g. 150 years ago, 100 years ago – April News), I regular check to see what newspaper articles that mention Skyrme have recently been uploaded. Even though I use my FindMyPast Pro subscription to read newspaper articles, I start by using the British Newspaper Archive website for much of my search. It has a very good 'advanced search' feature where you can search not only by publication date but by date added. Its content continues to grow at a rapid pace. When I started using it four years ago there were 11,000 Skyrme results. Now there are over 25,000 articles, i.e. about 40 are added every week. Currently the archive has nearly 70 million pages. Here are three stories that I've uncovered during my research.

Ned Skyrme – Witness to Murder

It was while doing a search a few weeks ago for recent updates that I came across an intriguing search result which mentioned a Ned Skyrme who with his poaching pal "Tom the Snowdropper" witnessed a murder. Now, although I have a few Edward Skyrmes in my database, I don't have a Ned. Further reading revealed that the article was Chapter XXVII 'The Poacher Tramp', published in a supplement to the Hampshire Post and Southsea Observer of 5th June 1896. The chapter was from the story 'Alan Cottingham' by R.T.Casson (author of Bonnie Mary and other stories).

Who was R.T.Casson? He doesn't appear in any of the usual book catalogues, nor on lists of authors. However, using genealogy websites, I'm fairly confident that he was Robert T Masson, born in 1861 in Keith, Banffshire, now Aberdeenshire. Censuses show that he was a newspaper reporter who lived with his wife Annie in Govan. Obviously his work was syndicated to newspapers across the country.

book cover

The Story of Ragged Robyn

The above discovery reminded me, that a year or so ago, while doing a similar exercise I came across references to Robyn Skyrme. Again I don't have a Robyn in my database, and the stories I found were all dated 1945 and were reviews of this novel by Oliver Onions. Unlike Casson, Oliver Onions is much better known. T here is a Wikipedia entry for him and a list of some 40 novels he had written, most in the period 1900-1934 after which there was a gap. One reviewer wrote:

"It is a long time since we heard from that rare and sensitive writer, Mr Oliver Onions, but the craftsman of 'Little Devil Doubt' and 'Good Boy Seldom' can still write most of us clean off the bookstalls. His hand has lost none of its cunning."

My namesake is mentioned in the first sentence of the book:

"Young Robyn Skyrme, trudging along by the side of the sea-wall with his pack of tarred cloth on his back, was secretly glad of the feel of his pistol in his pocket."

The novel is set in the Lincolnshire Fens in the late 17th century, where Robyn got into a feud with smugglers. We learn that he lived with his parents, John and Margaret.

Who was Oliver Onions? Again genealogy sites to the rescue. In fact he was born on 13th November 1873 in Bradford as George Oliver Onions. He moved to Fulham London in his late teens or early 20s where he married writer Berta (Amy Roberta) Ruck in 1909. She too has a Wikipedia page. The couple lived at Hampstead in 1911 and at 53 Queens Gate Gardens, Kensington in 1921. In 1918, George legally changed his name to George Oliver, but continued to publish under the name Oliver Onions. In later life the couple lived at Aberdovey, Merionethshire which is where he died on 9th April 1961.

From High Society to Convicted Criminal

Another story, though this time based on fact is the 2011 book 'Whatever Happened to Trixie Skyrme?' by Jennifer Green. There are many newspaper articles about one of Trixie's aliases, Josephine O'Dare, in the 1920s. For example the Phildelphia Enquirer has a headline on 26 September 1926 "Mystery of the Racing Queen who went Broke". Josephine moved in high society circles in London and was a frequent visitor to racecourses and the tables at Monte Carlo. She lived in style with George Davies at Barton Court near Hereford.

However, she faced several charges of conspiracy to defraud and after a lengthy trial at the Old Bailey in 1927 was sentenced to 4½ years in prison. It became apparent that her real name was Trixie Skyrme, born as Theresa Agnes Skyrme at Wellington, Herefordshire in 1899, the daughter of labourer John Skyrme from Canon Pyon and his wife Mary né Riley. She was described as "the most dangerous and unscrupulous adventuress that Scotland Yard had ever had on their books". On being sentenced the judge pronounced:

"The world in general and London in particular, is rid of one of the most remarkable and dangerous women of this or any other century."

"Trixie's life is brought to life by Jennifer Green’s docudrama. Although she puts words into the characters' mouths her background material is true to the many facts. Unfortunately "Jen the Pen" as she was affectionately known died in February 2018.

Interestingly there is a serendipitous connection with one of my other activities. I volunteer as a guide and walk leader at Greenham Common Control Tower. Jen's last book before she died was 'A Small Nuclear Fallout' about three Greenham Common Peace Women.

You can find a bit more about Trixie Skyrme on pages 26-8 of The Herefordshire Skyrmes. However, there is a wealth of material about her online.

From Fact to Fiction

The bottom line of these stories, or at least the first two, is why do authors choose my name for their characters? It's not a common name, and I'm intrigued to find the connection:

Since neither author is around to ask, I'm still bemused as to how our family name ends up as characters in novels. This is an unusual slant on family history research.

April 2023

It's a while since I've posted. My main excuse is that I've been working on my own and my wife's family trees. So rather than Skyrmes, it's been surnames like Yardy, Shinkins, Sedgwick in Norfolk, and Perret, Brawn and Dawkes in Somerset and Northamptonshire. Also I upgraded my FindMyPast subscription to premium so I have unlimited access to the 1921 census. It was an entry here that prompted my first story below. With now over 20,000 newspaper articles online mentioning a Skyrme, the following articles are two stories that caught my eye from 150 and 100 years ago.

pocket Watch

A Jeweller in Cornwall

It was while adding more 1921 census entries that I found the entry for Daniel Rowland Skyrme (1892-1945). In earlier censuses he had been listed as a watchmaker. In 1921 he was listed as a jeweller working for Mr James Keir in the Castle Arcade, Cardiff. He is a distant relative of mine having descended (as I do) from the Skyrmes of Manorbier in Pembrokeshire.

It was this mention of "jeweller" that caught my attention since I recalled that of over 6,000 Skyrmes in my database I could think of finding only one other jeweller. This was John Skyrme (1823-1862) who also came from Pembrokeshire and whose father was a mason in Haverfordwest, but that's as far back as I can trace him with certainty. Although John was born in Haverfordwest, both his parents had died by the time he was 5 and in the 1841 census when he was 17 we find him living in Truro, Cornwall. He was one of very few Skyrmes to have lived in that county in the 19th century. He was obviously versatile since in different documents he was listed as a watchmaker, clockmaker, jeweller and even a silversmith. He lived in Kenwyn Street, Truro.

He made the news in September 1854 when his premises caught fire. The fire had started in the adjacent premises of Barrett's grocers in West Bridge and in one and a half hours had completely burnt down three shop's including John's. The newspaper report says: "He was helped to move stock away from the blaze, and although he was not insured his losses were slight." Anyway, six years later he was declared insolvent. He died in January 1862 age 38 and was buried in Kenwyn.

The intriguing think to me, is how did he finish up in Cornwall, when still a teenager, and at the time when most Skyrmes who moved from Pembrokeshire finished up elsewhere in South Wales (such as Cardiff like Daniel) or in neighbouring counties of England, especially Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

150 Years Ago: A Farm Fire at Bodenham

The Ross Gazette of 27th Feb 1873 reported a fire at Holbach Farm, Bodenham (Herefordshire), where Joseph Skyrme was tenant. Joseph (1839-1923) was the youngest of 9 children of farmer Richard Skyrme from Norton Canon. Most of his elder brothers were also farmers (at places like Sarnesfield, Canon Pyon, Almeley, Kinnersley). At the time of the fire Joseph had been married (to Harriet Evans) for nearly three year. At the time they had one son, Richard, who later became a farmer at Norton Canon and then Sarnesfield. So very much a family steeped in farming.

Fire was always a hazard on farms. This one started late on the previous Thursday night and just before 1am on the Friday "a mounted messenger brought the news to the Hereford Police Station". Two powerful engines were dispatched and on arrival "they found the whole of the farm buildings adjacent to the dwelling-house on fire, and the roof of the house ignited." After five or six hours, all the firemen could save outside were some hay ricks. All the contents of the buildings and granary were destroyed. The house suffered less damage but some furniture was damaged while being removed to safety. All in all a traumatic experience.

100 Years Ago: Schoolboy Leaves Too Early

This was a case heard at Bromyard Petty Session on Monday 12th February 1923. The case was brought by the school attendance officer against Thomas Skyrme of Acton Beauchamp, Herefordshire, for non-attendance of his son at achhol. The father was Thomas Herbert Skyrme, born in 1874 at Pudlestone and a descendant of the Richard Skyrmes of Weboley and Norton Canon. His son, not named in the article, was Thomas William Skyrme, born 1911 at The Whyle, Pudlestone. The family had moved from there about 1915.

The essence of the case was that the school had been open 50 times that term and that Thomas's son had not attended. He was age 14 and his father admitted keeping him from school once he reached the age of 14. The attendance officer had explained that since he turned 14 after the start of the term that he could not leave school until the end of that term. Thomas senior admitted the offence and was fined 5/-.

As Wikipedia notes: "Compulsory education was initially introduced for 5- to 10-year-olds in 1880. The leaving age was increased to 11 in 1893, 12 in 1899, 14 in 1918, 15 in 1947 and 16 in 1972. In England, this was increased to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015 though that does not apply in Wales."

October 2022

A Change of Name

We all probably know someone who has changed their name, and not a female who married. In my own family one of my daughters changed her surname by deed pool to keep the Skyrme name going by hyphenating it with her husband's surname. Other reasons are divorce (e.g. reverting to maiden name) or for young step-children to adopt their step-father's name, and so on.

It was an article earlier in the year in Who Do You Think You Are magazine that caused me consult this useful index on the Deed Poll Office website. A search for 'Skyrme' found that William Henry Skyrme (b.1872) changed his name by deed poll in 1893 to William Henry Powell. He was the only son of 'The Infamous Solicitor of Ross' (see my Herefordiensis article). Powell was the name of his uncle with whom he lived after his parents died. In fact the 1891 census lists him as Powell. In 1890 he went up to Cambridge University and was later a librarian in Hampshire. Was the stigma of living with the name Skyrme of his infamous father too much?

I've found several other examples in my family history research such as:

These examples will appear in an article that I have submitted to Herefordiensis. It was published in the January 2023 edition and can be found in our library.

Another useful resource is the ‘Changes of Name’ guide at the National Archives website - ‘Changes of Name’ guide at the National Archives website.

Writing to a Theme

I belong to a U3A Genealogy Group. At our monthly meetings we compare notes, update each other on useful new resources, share family history society news and tell of progress on our own research. A year ago, we changed the format of alternate meetings to replace our own research update with a theme. We then look through the research of our own ancestors to illustrate the theme. This may be research already done, but usually it prompts us to do more research to find out more about our ancestors from a given perspective. Themes we have covered to date include:

This latter one proved the most challenging. I chose a day in the life of George Skyrme (1819-1878), my great great grandfather, on Saturday 13th May 1854. He was a shipwright at Pembroke Royal Dockyard and they were working flat out building ships for the Crimean War. Things I hadn't previously considered were - how did they wake up early in the morning to walk the 3 miles from Monkton and use the ferry to reach the dockyard by 7am? What did they eat for lunch and dinner? Where were their (valuable) tools of the trade kept? How did his heavily pregnant wife cope with looking after 5 young boys? And all this before Monkton got a running water supply.

Doing this is something you might consider yourself. I might share some of my output in our library, since it is all 'work in progress' for future publications.

March 2022

USA Miner Mystery Solved!

In the news items of Feb 2019 and Mar 2019 I reported that hiers of William Skyrme were being sought to share in his fortune, whose value in 1926 was estimated to be between £20,000 and £500,000. To remind you, he had died in California, after emigrating to the USA and amassing his fortune through being a mine supervisor in places such as Montana, Nevada, Utah and South America. The first newspaper report I saw suggested that he was born in Portsmouth or Swansea. I had found quite a bit about his time in the USA from both genealogical and mining resources, from which I created the timeline shown in the Mar 2019 posting.

However, despite knowing his approximate birth date (1833-6) I could not trace his Welsh ancestry.


One of the tasks I do every week or so is to check what new Skyrme articles have appeared on the British Newspaper Archive. Its advanced search has a useful feature in that you can filter by the date content is uploaded, so I just enter the dates since I last checked. Lo and behold, I have just struck gold! One of the February uploads was from the Welsh Gazette of 27 May 1926.

It even gives William’s birthdate -18th October 1835. It goes on to mention sisters Sarah and Anne. Sarah married a John James and Anne married a Richard Sutton. It says that enquiries have identified a Samuel Sutton, a farm servant at the Old Castle, Cardigan. It gives information about what has been found about the Sutton and James descendants concluding:

“The name Sutton is therefore peculiar to the district, and has probably become lost in recent years by marriage. There are good chances of Anne Sutton, who might have married a Davies, Jones, Williams or Evans, being still in the district.”

Knowing William’s birthdate and names of his sisters, I found him in my database where he had been recorded about seven years ago. He was baptised in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire on 25th October 1835, the son of William Skyrme of Llangwm and Elizabeth Jones from Burton. He is descended from mariners, ferrymen and watermen. In fact in 1849, aged 14, he became a merchant seaman apprentice. He is described as “growing with a fair complexion and can write. Indentured to Hugh Taylor, Tower Hill London on vessel Thomas Kanion”. The next reference I found for him was as the father of Elizabeth, born in Lynn, Massachussetts in 1884 whose mother was Adelia Higgins. It’s just that I had not mined my database deep enough to connect my Californian William to the one in Massachusetts! What the Welsh Gazette article misses is that William was one of eight children. As well as the two sisters mentioned (and I had already identified their spouses) he had three more sisters as well as two brothers. His younger brother Peter married Frances Mason and they had 8 children, some of whose descendants are living today. So there could have been many more heirs than originally conjectured.

So I feel that I have struck gold. I now know that William, the miner who made his fortune, was not from Swansea or Portsmouth, but Llangwm by the River Cleddau. But this isn't yet the end of the story (is it ever in geneaology research?!). What was the end result? Did the heir hunters in California find William’s descendants? All of them or just the descendants of sisters Sarah and Anne? And how much was the final fortune?

Possibly one of the readers of this article knows the answer, having inherited a share of William's fortune from one of their 20th century ancestors.

January 2022

Apologies for the delays in posting. One of my 2022 new year resolutions is to do better this year! Using the approach I did last january I have been searching out stories from old newspapers 50, 100, 150, 200 years ago. Here are two that caught my eye.

200 Years Ago: A Desirable Small Compact Farm

This was an advert in the Hereford Journal of 2nd Jan 1822. It was "To Bet Let And Entered at Candlemas 1822". Candlemas is 2nd February. The compact small tillage farm was Abbey Sheepcott in Clehonger, 4 miles SW of the city of Hereford. The advert explains: "Buildings in excellent repair, and comprising Abbey Sheepcott Mill and Sharkhouse Lands, in all about 150 acres .. well stocked with Fruit and Plantation Trees."

And what is the Skyrme connection? Well other than the auctioneer, the other person to contact is T. Skyrme, Esq. of Widemarsh Street, Hereford. He is most likely the owner since an 1810 advert refers to "adjoining lands of T. Skyrme" of Clehonger. Also, after listing his name the advert concludes "The present Tenant will show the Premises." Thomas was born in 1758 the son of Isaac and his wife Jane (neé) Symonds. Isaac was born in Clehonger in 1724 and in 1772 Isaac was Mayor of Hereford. Land tax returns of 1798 shows that Isaac Skyrme, Esq. owned three properties.

There is today a 'Shark House' in the SW of the village. Although the mill at Abbey Sheepcott is listed in mid 19th century directories, there is no reference to it today. Maps of a similar era show the Cagebrook Corn Mill north of Clehonger near the Madley Road. When the Abbey Sheepcott estate was auctioned in 1845, it is described as "adjoining the Turnpike road leading from Hereford to Madley". So was there another mill or did the Abbey Sheepcott Mill change its name to Cagebrook Mill? Herefordshire Archives have papers relating to Abbey Sheepcott Mill but I have no plans to visit in the near future. In the meantime perhaps a reader with local knowledge could identify where it was.

100 Years Ago: Primo Skyrme

When searching the newspaper archive for Skyrme in January 1922 I found this reference strange "Primo Skyrme proposed 'The Visitors'". Who was Primo? Closer reading (Brecon County Times 12th Jan) showed that it was a report of an RAOB Dinner in Talgarth. On further research it transpires that RAOB is 'Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes' a fraternal lodge. The order had started 100 years earlier in London. The lodge was called 'The Pride of Talgarth' and succeeded an earlier lodge founded in 1910. The newspaper article describes how 70 people attended this dinner at the New Inn. There is a hierarchy within an RAOB lodge which goes 1. Brother 2. Primo 3. Knight and 4. Right Honourable.

So Primo was a title, not a first name! Searching my database for Skyrmes who lived in the area at the time, I came across several candidates. But an article a few years later mentioned Primo J. Skyrme. So it was James Henry Skyrme(s). He was born in 1865 in Monkton, Pembroke, where my ancestors are from. He is my third cousin twice removed and was the son of Thomas Skyrme who worked on the Corston estate and came to an untimely death (see news June 2021 below). Some time in the late 1880s James moved to Llandefalle, about 4 miles west of Talgarth. He married Monkton girl Margaret Reynolds in 1891 in 1891 and they had six children, all born in Llandefalle. By trade James was a gardener and domestic servant, but reading the various reports he had an interesting social life and clearly rubbed shoulders with others of a higher standing than himself. After he retired he moved into Talgarth itself and lived around another 20 years. He died in 1955 aged 89.

August 2021

As noted before I am spending more time on my own family tree rather than on the Skyrme One-Name Study. With ever more records coming online (especially images of parish records and newspapers) I've managed to break quite a few brick walls. However, I do keep tabs on most new updates on the main geneaology websites. For my contribution this month, I am reverting to what I did before, checking newspapers of 150 and 100 years ago. They do say that your ancestors appear in the newspapers only if they were famous or infamous. This month's selection covers the latter.

Who Was Archibald?

My first result for a search of 1871 newspapers mystifies me. It reported Archibald Skyrme of Treherbert in Glamorgan being drunk and disorderly on 17th March 1871. He was fined 20s, twice that of his companion William Jones. But who was Archibald? Of over 3,000 Skyrmes in my database there were only three Archies - one born in 1906 in Blaenavon, and father and son Archie Godfrey Skyrme born in Queensland in 1891 and 1927 respectively. Searches in the normal genealogy sites found none that would fit. Also, there were only a handful of Skyrmes who I could locate in Treherbert, only one who was born before 1871. This was James Skyrme (b1847) originally from Tenby and from the mid-1870s a collier in Treherbert. There were only three Archibalds of any surname around Treherbert at the time. So my theories are: 1) An adopted name; 2) An alias to avoid detection; 3) A middle name. I'm therefore stumped, unless any reader can shed light on who this Archibald was.

Mr and Mrs Houghton

What has this got to do with Skyrmes you ask? Well if Archibald was possibly disguising his real name, then Josephine Ray Skyrme certainly was. This article from 100 years ago says that's what she and her partner in crime a Mr Davies called themselves when they lived together. However, they used yet another alias - Mr and Mrs Maitland - when they stayed in the expensive Lancaster Court Hotel the day after they stole £270 from an office of the father of the third party to the crime, 18-year old mechanic Arthur Marriott of Hereford. Josephine is described as "a smartly dressed single woman of Barton Manor".

Like Archibald, if you look up Josephine Skyrme on genealogy sites, you won't find her. She was the infamous Trixie Skyrme who for most of the 1920s masqueraded as high society girl Josephine O'Dare. In reality she was Theresa Agnes Skyrme, born in 1899, the daughter of agricultural labourer John Skyrme and his wife Mary Riley of Canon Pyon in Herefordshire. Her exploits came to an end in 1927 when she was arrested and sentenced to 4½ years in prison. You can read about her on pages 26-8 of The Herefordshire Skyrmes. There is also a book by Jen Green: Whatever happened to Trixie Skyrme?

June 2021

Another bit of a gap since my last update. The main reason is that I have been working on the maternal line of my own family tree. But the Skyrmes have not been entirely neglected.

Ag Lab Ancestors

Like most of you I have many 'Ag labs' (agricultural labourers) in my family tree. Although my 5xgreat grandfather was one his son apprenticed as a shipwright and our family bible says that "he wanted all his sons to have a trade". So six out of seven also became shipwrights (in Pembroke Royal Dockyard) while the seventh became a tailor.

However, an inspiring course by Pharos Tutors delivered by Janet Few taught me a lot about the life and context of our ag lab ancestors:


We often think of them as 'unskilled', but when you consider the tasks they did - such as sowing seeds evenly over a given area - both skill and stamina were required. One thing the course forced you to do was to find the farms they worked on and who they worked for. There is a distinct hierarchy of landowner > tenant farmer > farm bailiff (foreman) > ag lab and my family tree has examples of all of them.

One farm I concentrated on was Corston farm just outside Pembroke. I have mentioned this before where a Thomas Skyrme was killed by an overturned threshing maching and died an agonising death (scroll down to January 2018 news). The person I focussed on was one of his sons - George Skyrme - and his employer the Leach family. Some of the things I know now, but did not before the course, include:

My sources included tithe maps and apportionments, newspaper articles, trade directories, details of farm sales, and more general books such as The General View of Agriculture of Pembrokeshire (1794) and The Book of the Farm, Henry Stephens (1844), both freely available at Google books.

All in all, an eye-opening exercise. So don't just dismiss your ancestors as a single line in a census, but find out more about how they lived and worked.

A Tale of Two Counties

norfolk ancestor

Many of my maternal ancestors come from Norfolk, but doing research on my paternal Pembrokeshire ancestors I found that my great grandfather Shadrach Harrison was born in Barford in Norfolk. This is not far from where some of my maternal ancestors lived in places like Shipdham, Cringleford and East Carleton. Shadrach married a Pembroke girl Ellen Thomas in 1882. The reason for this long distance coupling is not hard to find. Although he started life as an ag lab Shadrach obviously thought there were better things to do in life so he joined the Metropolitan Police in 1878 and moved to London. The Met had responsbility for policing royal dockyards wherever they were located, and that's what brought him to Pembroke where he met his future wife.

However, in my family tree there is another long distance connection much more recent. It was that between my father, a Pembrokeshire boy, and my mother, a Norwich girl. I still haven't worked out how they came to meet each other. Aren't there some things you wish you had asked your parents before they died?

You can download the article that I wrote on these connections and that was published in The Norfolk Ancestor (June 2021) here from my library (0.32Mb PDF).

January 2021

My Gap Year

Apologies for a long gap in updating news of my study. I have two excuses: 1) Unlike previous years in 2020 I had so few queries that led me to research and make new and interesting discoveries; and 2) With a lot of parish registers for Norfolk and Northampton coming online for the first time, I've spent most of the last year pursuing my own and wife's non-Skyrme ancestors. Nevertheless my New Year resolution is to update this website at least once a quarter. So here is my first contribution.

2020 A Year Like No Other?

2020 was a year we would all like to put behind us. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted day-to-day activities, travel plans (I was in Portugal in March and came back to lockdown), and last but not least closed county archives. The one bright light was that if National Archives records were digitized you could download them for free.

But was it really different to pandemics of the past? This question got me looking into the cholera pandemics of Victorian times and the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918-1919. I wrote two articles for the family history magazines where Skyrmes were mostly located, viz. Pembrokeshire (DyfedFHS Journal) and Herefordshire (Herefordiensis). Although we now live is a more connected world and the virus spreads globally quickly, there were several interesting parallels:

The articles are to be found in our library but for convenience you can click the links below:

The library also contains several new articles that have been published during the last year.

The Huddersfield Journalist and Publisher

The biggest boost to to my Skyrme research during the past year has been the increasing number of newspaper articles coming online, from publications such as The Bromyard News, The Kingston Times and The Merthyr Express. But this is the story of a Skyrme not in the news but who made the news. He was newspaper proprietor John Jame Skyrme, born in 1825 at Cotheridge, just west of Worcester. He was the second of seven children of John Skyrme and Elizabeth James whose ancestors were from other parts of Worcestershire and thence of the Herefordshire branch of Skyrmes.

After serving as a printer's apprenticeship in Birmingham with the Midlands County Herald, we next find him in Yorkshire launching the Hudderfield Chronicle in April 1850 in partnership with Robert Micklethwaite. They cheekily advertised the launch in neighbouring newspapers but an advert just prior to launch was rejected by the Leeds Mercury due to some confusion over payment. The proprietor wrote in response to John's complaint "My wish is always to be on friendly terms with our contemproaries” adding that they would print it the following week.

The Chronicle seems to have been relatively successful though in 1852 the partnership dissolved, but John carried on as “proprieter, publisher and editor" until 1855. Although the Chronicle was published up to 1916, John who had married in the summer of 1850 lived for only a few more years. He had moved to Exeter where he was a sub-editor and reporter of the Exeter Gazette. That newpapper reports on 16 Aug 1858 "Died At His Post". He had been writing a report but a friend who had been called "saw that blood was issuing from Mr Skyrme's mouth. He exclaimed – 'I am dying', fell into his firend's arms, and immediately expired." At least his was a swift and merciful death, unlike to prolonged agony of many COVID-19 sufferers.

Incidentally, he was not the only Skyrme who was a journalist. Percival Vernon Skyrme, born in Hereford 1875 was first a journalist on the Barry Dock News, then the Woking Observer and the Merthyr Times, after which he moved up north to Widnes where he was a frelance journalist.

200 and 100 Years Ago

200 Years Ago This Month

Well almost. On 2nd February 1821 the Carmarthen Journal carried this advert “The Willliam Skyrme, David John, Master, now lies at Carpenter Smith’s Wharf, London, taking in goods for Carmarthen and will sail in a week or ten days”. The William Skyrme is a sloop that I wrote about last year - see the two articles in our library.

100 Years Ago This Month

There is an advert for an auction on Friday 21st January 1921 in which Mrs Skyrme of Upper Cwm, Bredwardine is selling the following livestock: 22 sheep, 3 cows, 1 horse and many implements amongst which are 4 hogsheads, a turnip scuffle, 10 cider hairs, and a Bamford chaffcutter (almost new). I'll let you figure out what these implements are. Also part of the auction is household furniture including a bed stead and chest of drawers.

The person in question was Julia Skyrme (née Price). Her husband Richard who had been born in Almeley, Herefordshire had died in 1910 and she had taken over the farm. The 1911 census shows she was helped by two sons Charles and Arthur. However, in WW1 Arthur who was serving in the machine gun corps was captured at Villers in France in November 1917. After the war he returned to the farm, but perhaps it was getting too much for Julia. After selling up she died just a year later at around the same time that Arthur emigrated to Australia.

If any readers have information about this branch of the Skyrmes I would be delighted to hear from them.

October 2019

A Visit to Laugharne

Apologies for the lapse in posting an update, but it's been a busy summer. I've also spent time away from the Skyrme ONS while researching my own and wife's non-Skyrme ancestors. In late July I went on a geology course in Pembrokeshire and stopped at Laugharne in Carmarthonshire on the way. I reported on William Skyrme of Laugharne and the sloop named after him exactly a year ago (News, Oct 2018). During my visit I walked along the shoreline to find the place where it would have been laid down.

Laugharne shoreline  Laugharne corporation

It is to the right of the main car park (see photo), a tidal part of the River Taf. Dylan Thomas's boathouse is around the promintory on the left. While there I did the town's heritage walk looking out for other Skyrme associated buildings and objects, with varying success:

Less than a month later, I received two emails out of the blue - how lucky I am to have knowledgeable people to correspond with me. Both were from local residents. The first attached a photo of William Skyrme's grave. It was in an overgrown part of the churchyard, and this was followed up with another photograph taken a few days later after some heavy rain which made the inscription more (but not completely) legible. It says something like "In memory of William Skyrme Son of William Skyrme xxxx in the County of Pembroke Esquire and Jane Abra his Wife only Daughter of and Sole Heiress to XXXX Hughes of this Town ---".

The second email alerted me to the fact that there was a new intiative "Save Island House". This was announced at the end of August and a public meeting was held at the beginning of September - see BBC News item. The building is a Grade II listed building dating back to Tudor times. It had been left to decay since its last owner died. And guess what - it's the building at the corner of The Grist and Wogan Street which looked so dilapidated that I did not bother to photograph it!

Thanks again to my correspondents for your valuable inputs to the Skyrme One-Name Study.

100, 150 and 200 Years Ago

A selection of newspaper articles and adverts from the summer months

200 Years Ago - Sale of "Truly Valuable Farming Stock"

This advert in the Hereford Journal of 13 Oct 1819 announced an auction "upon the premises, at Wootton Farm, in the Parish of Wellington, Six Miles from Hereford, on Thursday the Twenty First of October, 1819 (Being the Morrow after the Great Cattle Fair at Hereford)." The stock was the property of Humphrey Moore who was quitting the farm. Now this farm in the mid-1800s was in the hands of Richard Skyrme and family. It lists the various stock - Heifers, Calves, Bullocks etc - "also, about Twenty Cider Hogsheads and Pipes, in Good Condition". The link to Skyrmes in this advert is the following: "The Auctioneer begs leave to assure Gentlemen, Farmers, and Breeders of Cattle, that the above Stock will be found highly deserving their particular attention, the whole being descended (exclusively) from the Stocks of the late Mr B. Tomkins and the late Mr. Skyrme, of Stretton - too well known in various parts of the Kingdom to require any comment".

I commented on the contribution of John Skyrme of Stretton Sugwas to developing the Hereford cattle breed on page 13 of The Skyrmes of Herefordshire. Although I've done research into Richard's ancestors, I've yet to investigate the Stretton Skyrmes, so have yet to find the relationship between Richard and John. Either way, this advert highlights Wootton Farm as a common point of reference.

150 Years Ago - Town Sewage Fertilizes Wurtzels!

The Ross Gazette of 28 October 1869 contains a report of the Ross Agricultural Show and Dinner. After describing some wheat "upwards of six feet high" and "six swedes, the average weight of each being 10lbs" it continues: "Mr Wall, being anxious to show the fertilizing effect of town sewage, induced Mr Skyrme to show a few plants of mangold wurtzel off ground which had been treated with the sewage matter three years since, and which bore a favourable comparison with any in the showyard." The Mr Skyrme was in fact the infamous solicitor John Henry Skyrme (1836-1873), also featured in The Skyrmes of Herefordshire (page 22). Spelt today mangold wurzel (or mangelwurzel) this is a variety of beet of the species containing sugar beet. It is mainly used as a cattle feed.

100 Years Ago - Charles Skyrme's Fine Furniture Sale

What caught my eye in 1919 was an advert in the Norwood News of 5th September. Sale by Auction, Messrs Knight, Frank & Rutley (still in business today) "by direction of Charles G Skyrme, Eaq., 6 Grange Road, Upper Norwood. The sale was for "the remaining Contents of the Residence" and included a carved cherrywood escritoire, a set of Hepplewhite chairs, Turkish rugs etc.

Now Charles was a descendant of the Skyrmes of Dewsall in Hereford and had several well known siblings (a surgeon, a pharmacist, a rector etc.). He himself started life as a pharmacist and like his younger pharmacist brother lived in Hastings or St. Leonards (Sussex) in the early 1900s up to at least 1909. After his first wife died he married Katherine Meta Smith from Maryland and there are many passenger records of this couple travelling the world. Now I have never found them in the 1911 census (probably they were in the USA) but knew that their only son William Thomas (later to become Sir Thomas Skyrme) was born in Norwood in 1909, but by 1924 the couple were living in Baltimore. So this auction of furniture gives a good indication of the time when they moved to the States. However, by the 1930s they were back in England living at a fashionable address in Kensington.

An interesting coincidence is that Charles died a month after I was born at the Chequers Hotel in Newbury (just a few miles from where I live) and is buried locally.

May 2019

Welcome and Unwelcome News

It is often said that people only get into newspaper articles if a) they are eminent or b) they are criminals, ie. they are famour or infamous. The classic Skyrme that fits both situations is that of John Henry Skyrme (1836-1873) the solicitor from Ross-on-Wye. He featured in our March news (The Property Developer). However, during some recent searches of old newspapers, I came across another example of unwelcome news (first item below), plus many of the welcome sort (second item below).

The Cornet Player's Wife

I featured Fred Skyrm in my January news. I had found him in just one census after he left the family home in Pembroke. This was the 1891 census which shows that he lived in Hadden Street, Aberdeen with two lodgers, one of whom was Ellen Skyrm. It did not say she was Fred's wife. Search as I did I could not find any marriage or any other census featuring either of them. However, earlier this week I was searching for newspaper articles on my grandmother Ellen Skyrme, and came across Ellen Skyrm under the headline "A Living Skeleton - Shocking Case of Neglect". This was in the Manchester Courier in July 1899. The living skeleton was not Ellen but her 18-month old baby. The article confirms Ellen as a married woman "whose husband is a bandmaster in Scotland, and makes her a regular allowance." It also gives her address as 9 Firth Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, the same address that lists Fred as occupier in an 1899 Manchester Rate Book.

The newspaper article is about a prosecution by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It accuses her of neglecting her four children, ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years. It states that Ellen was addicted to drink. When an inspector visited the house, he found the children in appalling condition: "They were swarming with vermin, filthy beyond description and badly nourished".

Since Fred was my 2nd cousin, 3 times removed, this was definitely a case of a skeleton in the family cupboard.

Lots of New Herefordshire Information

cottages, Weobley

I've mentioned before that every week or so I search to see new Skyrm(e) references on the British Newspaper Archive. Normally my searches result in less than 100 newly uploaded items, but a search earlier this week for items since 1st May listed many many more. Most were from the Kington Times which covers a wide area of Herefordshire including Leominster, the Pyons, Vowchurch and Weobley (photo right). If you restrict your Skyrme newspaper search to this title you get 713 items, dating from 1915 to 1959. The British Newspaper Archive blog of 7th May reports that over 100,000 new pages were added to the archive that week and that the Kington Times was one of three new publications. It highlighted several stories about the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic, that across Europe killed off more people than the First World War.

I am working systemcatically through the 713 articles, which will obviously take some time. I tend to skip over Whist Drives and cricket results, to focus on anything that provides useful genealogical information. In this regard I have found funeral reports most useful. As well as giving exact date and often cause of death, they list mourners and generally their relationship to the deceased. For example, the report of the funeral of 89-year old Elizabeth Skyrme of Kingsland, lists amongst the mourners Mrs. Butt of Stroud (daughter) and Mr. Barrie Maund (nephew).

Clearly this is a very useful resource for those researching their Herefordshire Skyrme ancestry. I'm sure I'll find some interesting stories to share with you in future, but if you come across any sooner, then please share them via this website.

April 2019

This Month - 50, 100, 150 Years Ago

When I started this feature last November a search of Skyrm(e) in the British Newspaper Archive resulted in just over 11,000 items. Today it is 13,025 and rising. Many recent editions are more modern newspapers and Skyrmes feature in sporting and horse racing results, and also in adverts (see first item below). Our 1919 item reminds us of the aftermath of World War I. I notice that I have been inconsistent in whether I go forwards or backwards in time, but from now on I shall put the newest entries first.

pharmacy sign

50 Years Ago - The Emergency Chemist

Local papers generally have a list of 'emergency chemists', i.e. pharmacies in an area work that open outside normal shop hours on a rota basis. The only newspaper item turning up from my April 1969 search was on such a list in the Harrow Observer. It lists a Mrs B W E Skyrme of 39 High Street, Pinner (Middlesex) as being open from noon-1pm on Sunday. This rung a bell with me since I was received an email last June that read:

"I've no idea whether you are interested in this, but my brother and I did a delivery round for a chemist called Skyrme in Pinner Middlesex in the late 1970s. It was an old style shop... opposite the church that seems to be in every picture of Pinner."

You can see it in this postcard from the Francis Frith collection.

Not many Skyrmes are found in this part of Middlesex and a search soon found several electoral register records. The Mrs Skyrme was Beryl Winifred Emily Skyrme neé Marshman (1903-2004 - yes she achieved her century!) who married Herbert John Skyrme (1899-1979) in Suffolk in 1930. Herbert was born in Port Talbot (South Wales) and was for many years a headmaster in Highbridge, Somerset before the family moved to Pinner, living at 77 Paines Lane, Hatch End. Herbert was one of the Skyrmes whose ancestors were from Penally/Manorbier in Pembrokeshire, and turns out to be my 4th cousin, once removed.

100 Years Ago - The Aftermath of World War I

Three out of the four search results for April 1919 are about the Rev. Anthony Taylor Skyrme, a Wesleyan Minister who featured in last month's news. The reports (all in the Boston Guardian) covered the anniversary celebration of the Brothertoft Road Wesleyan Sunday School, his presiding over a meeting of the Boston Temperance League, and attending as Chaplain a parade of the Boston Boys Brigade which included some soldiers demobilised after WW1.

The 4th Skyrme reference was a reference in the Western Gazette of 11th April 1919 about the Colliton Hospital, Dorchester: "A popular whist drive was held at the hospital on Friday, for which acceptable prizes were provided by Messrs. E Riglar, W. Skyrme..." [and 4 others]. A quick search of my database shows only three Skyrmes living in Dorchester at the time - William Skyrme (1873-1926), his wife Emily (b1875) and their son John (1900-1981). William was an ironmonger, born in Pentre, Glamorgan and who had moved to Dorchester (Duffryn, Prince of Wales Road) in the late 1890s. His ancestors were from Dewsall in Herefordshire.

The interesting aspect of this story, though is the Colliton Hospital. It was a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Hospital. These units were initially set up by the Red Cross and comprised of nurses who looked after war wounded. Their hospitals were quite often stately homes converted for hospital use. Highclere Castle, near where I live, was one such hospital, set up by Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon (see the book by the current Countess of Carnarvon Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle). There is a list of WW1 VAD hospitals (over 3,000 in total) on the Red Cross website. Colliton hospital was set up at Colliton House (near the site of today's county hall) and was in operation from November 1914 to May 1919 (a month after the whist drive). It had 200 beds and treated 2,000 service people wounded in France.


150 Years Ago - The Skyrme Kernel

This item is not about a person, but an apple. An advert in the Gloucester Journal of 3rd April 1869 advertises a sale by auction of "5,500 gallons of very prime Ansel Apple, Cowarne Red, Skyrme and Captain's Kernel cider". Herefordshire (just over the border) is renowned for its apples and several 19th century documents list Skyrme farmers having orchards while one specifically refers to a cider making mill. What is known is that there is an apple variety known as Skyrme's Kernel mentioned as long ago as 1810 and believed to have been developed at the Skyrme's Brockhampton-by-Ross estate. It is described by William Forsyth (an eminent horticulturist) as "an attractive, late, conical culinary apple and also a cider variety, very highly reputed at the time". You can read more about it on the list of apple varieties at the Bernwode Fruit Trees website. It is one of the many varieties that they grow for sale. (The photo by the way is a generic one, courtesy of Bruno Scramgnon).

Poet Diane Jackman wrote a poem about this apple variety at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2014, calling the 'skyrmion'(nuclear physics) the second Skyrme kernel - see A second poem about it (though not as specific) is by Jane Burn near the bottom of the page.

March 2019

This Month - 200, 150, 100 Years Ago

More newspaper extracts that include Skyrmes from 100, 150 and 200 years ago. They indicate a variety of occupations - hosier and glover, solicitor and property developer, and Wesleyan minister.

200 Years Ago - Thomas Skyrme advertises his wares

I mentioned Thomas in our post about the Worcestershire Skyrmes (News Oct 2018). An advert in The Hereford Journal, 3 March 1819, shows that he opened a warehouse in Hereford. The advert starts: "London Hat, Hosiery, and Glove Warehouse, HIgh Street, Hereford, Adjoining the City and County Bank". Thomas then "most respectfully informs the Inhabitants of Hereford and its vicinity, that he has opened a warehouse... where he begs to solicit their attention to an extensive Assortment of LONDON HATS, HOSIERY, and GLOVES from the first Manufactories in the kingdom, which he purposes vending upon equally advantageous terms to the Public, as any House in the London Trade." It carries on in similar vein and concludes "N.B. Cottons for Sewing and Embroidery Work of every description".

The advert was repeated a week later.

150 Years Ago - The Property Developer

In The Skyrmes of Herefordshire, there is a section on "The Infamous Solicitor" of Ross. This was John Henry Skyrme, supposedly a pillar of the establishment, but who turned out to defraud people of their money. Before he was rumbled, he appears quite regularly in newspaper reports. There is a report in the Ross Gazette of 18th March 1869 on the Vestry Meeting at Ross Church. After electing overseers (they oversaw administration of Poor Rate relief) and parish constables their attention shifted to assessing the value of new properties. The article goes on: "There being no new property to assess in the parish, except the recently-formed allotments of land for building site, belonging to Mr. Skyrme, it was unanimously resolved to defer the valuation thereof until a new poor-rate be required."

Later records do indicate that Henry did own quite a bit of property around the town.

Wesleyan mininster

200 Years Ago - The Wesleyan Minister

The Lincolnshire paper The Boston Guardian of 22nd March 1919 has a report of the Wesleyan Circuit Quarterly Meeting. From other records we know that many Skyrmes in Pembrokeshire were Wesleyan, including the minister John Brown Skyrme at Llangwm at the end of the 19th century. This report, though, includes a short note about his son: "The circuit stewards proposed a vote of thanks to the Rev. A. T. Skyrme, with an invitation [to serve] for a third year." This was Anthony Taylor Skyrme who in 1927 went with his sister Norah (who acted as his housekeeper) as a missionary in Jamaica for about 6 years. He had moved from Llangwm some time in the early 1900s to Lincolnshire. You can read more about "The Missionary on the Coke Circuit" on page 18 of The Skyrmes of Llangwm and the Cleddau.

March 2019

William Skyrme: Millionaire Miner - Fact or Fiction?

If you search for the name Skyrm(e) in the British Newspaper Archive, you get over 12,000 results. So I tend to use it 1) when researching a specific individual or family; 2) for posts on this page of 100, 150, 200 years ago; and 3) for a monthly check on what new items have been added. It was doing the latter about 6 weeks ago that I came across an article in The People (a Sunday tabloid) of 13th June 1926 headed "Hunt for Heirs to Fortune - Chief Constable's Quest for Skyrmes". The article reported that a William Skyrme had died in California leaving a large fortune but no obvious heirs. He was supposedly born in Portsmouth but lived his early life in Swansea. He then emigrated to America moving from place to place. The amount he left could be anything from £20,000 to half a million.

I did some initial searches of my databases for William with Portsmouth and Swansea connections but found no obvious candidate. I reported yesterday to a U3A geneaology group of which I am a member that I had not made any progress. Last night I felt I should try harder, so went into my downloaded but unprocessed newspaper articles to refresh my memory. There, a few entries above The People article (and it had been there since 2014!) was an article from The Nevada State Journal of 16th August 1925 headed "Millionaire Maker Dies at Advanced Age of 92". The article is quite effusive about William's exploits. During his lifetime he was a foreman and superintendent of some 20 mines from Butte (Montana) to others in Nevada, Utah, California and South America (he is said to have spent 4 years there). He is described as at one time the right hand man of Marcus Daly who made his first millions by exploiting copper seams in the silver mines at Butte, to take advantage of growing demand for electric cables. It is said that William made millionaires of mine owners in four states.

virginia city

Virginia City 1867-7. US National Archives and Records Administration Ref: NAID 519492.

As for his character. 'Bill' is decribed as a big Welshman "fearless, independent and fair, but always demanding a full day's work from his workers." And later in the article: "Good-natured, shrewd, strong, with an average man's body but the strength of iron", it then described an incident where he was stabbed in the stomach but held his wound in one hand while breaking his stabber's jaw with the other.

By searching various online sources (mining history websites and the US Geological Survey reports as well as the usual geneaology sources), I have been able to put together something of a timeline of his time in the USA:

I still have work to do, since I have not yet found him in censuses after 1880. Also, previously I had not searched early enough in UK sources, since I did not appreciate how old he was when he died. Working from his age at death gives a birth date around 1832-3, but his ages at the 1870 and 1880 censuses of 34 and 44 indicate his birth as around 1835-6. The Skyrmes from Pembrokeshire did not move to Swansea or Portsmouth until much later in the 19th century, so perhaps William emigrated directly from Wales rather than Swansea as suggested by the article in The People.

So there are some definite facts, but what about some some of his exploits and claims to fame? The Nevada newspaper article does note that some of its information came from his Reno friends to whom he recounted his "adventures" on a visit six months before his death. Also, how about his fortune? It simply says: "While Willliam Skyrme was always on the outskirts of the big money from the mines, Reno friends last night said that in the early days of his career he made a small fortune and it is believed retained a portion of it."

Clearly William was a fascinating character and I may have more to report in a future news item.

February 2019

This Month - 100, 150 Years Ago

This month, I found nothing for Skyrme 200 years ago, other than yet another repeat of the advert for a "commodious dwelling" mentioned last month.

150 Years Ago - Edward's Energetic Exertions

I write something about the Skyrmes of Worcester in my post of last October. Among them was Edward Skyrme (1832-1892) who ran the inn at the racecourse. He, like his son, was very involved with horse racing. The Worcester Chronicle of 24th February 1869 reports on the inaugural meet of the Norton-Juxta-Kempsey Races which "was in every respect successful, especially if the comparatively short notice of the event is taken into account". It notes that for those less interested in the racing "other sports were available", including roulette tables and a 'Punch and Judy Show'. Before publishing the results it noted:

We must not omit to mention the name of one gentleman to whom is in a great measure due the success of the meeting: Mr. E. Skyrme of the Bird-in-Hand, Worcester, exerted himself most energetically, both in obtaining a good entry and making efficient arrangements, and the pleasant way in which the meeting passed off must be highly gratifying to him."

100 Years Ago - The Doctor Gives Evidence

A Dr Skyrme is reported to have given evidence at a worker's compensation hearing at Hasting County Court in February 1919. It concerns a man who worked at Bexhill Munitions Works and who made a claim under the Workers Compensation Act. He contracted blood poisoning after an accident and had one eye removed. The works had been producing munitions under contract during WW1. He had gone to Dr Skyrme with sores on his hands. Several witnesses were called to ascertain whether it was conditions in the works that caused his problems. The article goes into possible causes of the problems. The judge deferred his judgement until he could confer with the local Medical Assessor. The Dr Skyrme was presumably Harold Edgar Skyrme (1877-1930), who ran a successful pharmacy and whose details can be found in The Skyrmes of Herefordshire. Over 50,000 tins of his 'Shurzine Antiseptic Healing Ointment' were sent to the Navy and Army as a healing ointment during WW1.

Hopla - Riddle Solved

In my last post I said I still had not worked out the relationship betwen Jane Hoplow (Hopla) who married Charles Skyrme (179301937) and Elizabeth Hopla who married Charles's grandson Charles (1840-1908). I recently bought the marriage certificate of Charles and Elizabeth that revealed Elizabeth's father was a William Hopla, shoemaker. Now a 'sounds like' search for William found nothing. I then resorted to working down the generations from Jane's parents Stephen and Elizabeth. I found a Thomas Hopla, a James Hoply, a George Hopler as their children. It was only when I went page by page through the images of the Pembroke St Michael baptisms on FindMyPast that I found William Hoplar, another child. So the 'sounds like' found Hopler and Hoply but not Hoplar - strange!

The net result is that Charles junior married the niece of his maternal grandmother.

February 2019

Having spent quite a bit of time on my One-Name Study in recent weeks I have gone back to focus on my own ancestors. This is partly because a correspondent highlighted an error in a date of death in The Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally (PDF). This publication is now some 8 years old and my master database has corrected many of the errors. So if you have Manorbier / Penally descendants, by all means read the above document to get the local context, but do ask me for a print-out of the relevant section of the database.

Manrobier church

Hoplow or Hopla?

Those of you who have traced back your Penally/Manorbier ancestors will find that the earliest known ancestor is John Skyrme (1749-1845) who married Elizabeth Maurice (or Morris). Their son Charles (1793-1837) married a Jane Hoplow on 7th September 1817 at St James Church in Manorbier (photo). Now Hoplow sounds very English but I never could find her ancestors. It was a tree on Ancestry that gave me a pointer that her parents were Stephen and Elizabeth (née Coscar) Hopla. Now I am quite dismissive of Ancestry user-contributed trees that do not give sources. For this Pembrokeshire branch of Skyrmes some trees will show births after the death of mothers, wrong children and wrong family groups. However, I was able by looking at parish records myself to trace Jane Hoplow's Hopla ancestors back three generations. She had a brother Thomas spelt Hopla and a brother James spelt Hoply!

The above spelling variants got me looking at how this name appears in Surname Atlas which lists all surnames in the 1881 census and the surname database which looks at surname frequency in England and Wales (and the Isle of Man) for 2002. The results are as follows:


For comparison, I also entered the name Skyrme. Now the 2002 database must have some errors since there was a zero result for Skyrm (no 'e'). 40 of the 45 Hoplas in 1881 are in Pembrokeshire - the others are individuals elsewhere. There are 8 Hoplys in 1881 (Shropshire) and 932 Hopleys (mostly Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Shropshire) but none in Pembrokeshire. So although it sounds more likely than Hopla, the name Hoplow for Jane Hoplow we call a deviant, since it was just a mis-spelling of the Hopla name, as was that of her brother James. Another resource, public profiler uses more recent electoral rolls. It shows 'heat maps' of surname concentration but not numbers. As expected the 'hottest' place for Skyrmes is Herefordshire. For Hoplow and Hoply there is no data. But for Hopla the biggest concentration is now in East Anglia followed by Birmingham, London and South Wales but nothing in Pembrokshire! However, FindMyPast gives 5 Hoplas born in Pembrokeshire between 1986 and 2005, but seems to place other Hoplas in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire but not up in Norfolk or Suffolk. Incidentally, I recently found that a grandson of Charles and Jane, the eldest son of their son George, also named Charles, married an Elizabeth Hopla. I've yet to confirm the Jane Hoplow, Elizabeth relationship. And in similar vein a son of John Skyrm and Elizabeth Maurice, namely another John Skyrm, also married a Maurice (Mary). All very fascinating.

Lost Heirs of William

The growing number of online newspapers helps to give context to family histories. The British Newspaper Archive has recently reached the milestone of 30 million pages online, which could mean over 300 million individual articles. If you search "Skyrm(e)" you get over 12,000 references (articles, family notices, adverts). I do look up stories on given individuals, but I also take advantage of the advanced search which lets you look for articles digitised within a given time window. I typically do this about once a month to check what's recently been added.

One story that caught my attention this month was from The People - a Sunday tabloid - of 13th June 1926. 'Hunt for Heirs of Fortune' is the headline. It says that a William Skyrme, a Welshman, died in California leaving a large fortune. Apparently born in Portsmouth, he had several jobs in Swansea before emigrating to the USA. After wandering around different states he finally settled in California. Over time he became wealthy - it doesn't say how. But the fortune could be worth anything from £20,000 to half a million.

With little known of his family, it is said that claims to his estate were being made by families in both Swansea and Portsmouth. This story has so intrigued me that I am keen to find out more about William and find out what ultimately happened. I haven't really started my hunt for gold yet - there is no William born in Portsmouth or Swansea in my database - and it would help if we got to know his age. My family did live in Portsmouth at the time, but if they made a successful claim it didn't get passed down to me! So if any of you know about this William, please let me know.

January 2019

This Month - 100, 150, 200 Years Ago

More newspaper extracts that include Skyrmes from 100, 150 and 200 years ago. All of the interesting ones this month are in adverts.


100 years ago: Fred Skyrm, The Cornet Player.

An advert in The Stage of 30th January 1919 reads:

"WANTED, by Exp. Cornet Player, Engt. Can open Feb 3, or later. Any bus. - FRED SKYRM, Empress Playhouse, Glasgow."

Fred was in my branch of the family from Pembrokeshire. His parents were James Skyrm, a farmer, and his wife Dorothy née Ferris from Penally but who later moved to Abergavenny. Fred left home in the 1870s and appears in the 1891 census as a musician in Aberdeen living with an Ellen Skyrm, presumably his wife but for whom I have found no other records. Notices appear in various newspapers about his performances, e.g. as a member of a 7-piece orchestra in "Pantomime Babes in the Wood - One Night Only at Burgh Hall, Montrose" in Feb 1899. He appears to have moved around quite a bit. For several years in the 1890s he was band master of Whitehaven Rifle Volunteer Corps Band and later lived in Manchester and then Durham before his death at Gateshead in 1937. (Photo: Wikipedia, public domain)

150 Years Ago: Dispensing Liver Pills Without Mercury.

An advert in the Worcestershire Chronicle of 6th January 1869: "Only two Medicines really act upon the Liver; one is Mercury or Blue pill, the other Dandelion. Thousands of Constitutions have been broken down by Mercury, Blue Pill, or Calomel. The only safe remedy is


Which act very gently and efficaciously upon the Liver liberate Bile, disperse Wind and strengthen the whole frame."

The advert goes on to list chemists who sell them including a G.E.Skyrme of Worcester. This is undoubtedly Edward Skyrme (1832-1892) who started life as a Chemist but by 1873 had become a publican at Worcester Race Course (he features in our news of October 2018. Presumably at the time of the advert he preferred being called George, since that was the name of his son born in November 1869. His ancestors were well respected glovers of Worcester.

200 Years Ago: That Commodious Dwelling Advertised Again

Not quite in January but close enough, another advert, this time in the Cheltenham Chronicle of 4th Feb 1819. This is an exact re-run of the advert featured in our November 200 years ago news:

"Hereford City - To Be Let and entered upon immediately. A commodious DWELLING-HOUSE, fit for the rection of a genteel Family... For particulars apply to Thomas Skyrme, Esq., Widemarsh Street."

Obviously, the earlier more local advert in the Hereford Journal of 2nd September 1818 failed to find a tenant. Gloucestershire is one of the neighbouring counties to Herefordshire and quite a few Herefordshire Skyrmes later migrated to parts of Gloucester but not as far as Cheltenham.

Mea Culpa

Incidentally when looking for articles of 1869 I realise that in the December news articles my 150 year ago articles were from 1858 - some 160 years ago - arrgh!

January 2019

Richard Skyrme - Archer of Arques

Over the Christmas break I was catching up on my family magazine reading (Who Do You Think You Are?) when I came across a reference to a relatively new database of medieval soliders - Medieval Soldiers. The database consists of the name of soldiers and their captains who served for England in the 100 years War from 1369 to 1453. And surprise, surprise up came three Skyrme references in mid-15th century muster rolls:

Now the first entry Skirmot may or may not be a variant of Skyrme. Certainly this spelling seems to be obsolete by the 17th century but in other medieval records there are several are references to William Skirmeston (sometimes spelt Skyrmeston) and Thomas Skirmestone e.g. 1401 William Skyrmeston, the King's Coroner in Shropshire, and we do know that there was an early cluster of Skyrmes in Shropshire.

We are on much more certain ground with Richard Skyrme, since there is a succession of Richard Skirmes from 1530 onwards in Lugwardine, Herefordshire and Richard Skyrmes from 1683 in Ludlow, Shropshire. It is likely that the second and third entry above are the same person - perhaps 8 years on from the first he was struggling to mount a horse! And perhaps the modern spelling of his surname might indicate Shropshire, although Walter Devereux came from Bodenham in Herefordshire, and would probably have recruited from that area.


Normandy Garrisons and Their Captains

One of the researchers on the medieval solider's project Anne Curry has written some interesting articles and there are also several in-depth books published about this period. Anne writes in English War Captains in the Hundred Years War:

"The English garrisoned about 45 major towns and castles in Normandy, although there was fluctuation in this number as places were lost to the French or recovered by the English. Harfleur provides a good example of this. It surrendered on 22 September 1415. It remained in English hands until recaptured by the French in January 1436 along with several other places in the pays de Caux such as Dieppe. Harfleur was retaken by the English in October 1440 and held by them until the final surrender of 1 January 1450".

She notes that the names of 381 captains and lieutenants, serving in the Norman garrisons between 1417 and 1450, are known, and gives a table of their ranks. Henry Beaufort was one of just two bishops (there were 4 dukes, 13 earls, 11 barons and 115 knights). She continues:

"The role of Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, in supporting the funding of war after the crises of 1429, his presence with the young king on the coronation expedition and his diplomatic activities, explain his appointment to the captaincies of Caen (1429-30), Honfleur (1430-1) and Cherbourg (1431-2, 1437-8), although he also had to rely on series of lieutenants for the safekeeping of all these places."

There are quite good biographies of the other two captains on Wikipedia. In summary:

John Talbot - Known as "Old Talbot" he was the "terror of the French". Tough, cruel and troublesome he distinguished himself militarily, for example taking the town of Pontoise in 1437 and threatening Paris.

Sir Walter Devereux - history indicates that he probably accompanied King Henry VI for his coronation in France in December 1429. He later helped raise funds for an expedition by Richard, Duke of York, to defend England's possessions in France and was captain of the garrion at Arques in 1442.

Finally, a word about the archers of England - of which our Richard (or Richards) was one (or two). They used long bows, a bow originally developed in Wales in the 12th century. Compared with cross-bows, as used by the French, they had greater range (over 200 yards), good accuracy and a good archer could shoot over 10 arrows a minute. They did require greater training and skill, but it was the superiority of English archers and their long bows that helped secure victories at Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415).

All fascinating stuff - and though we can't prove the link to modern day Skyrmes, it is interesting to know that our namesakes played their part for King and country in the 100 years war.

Photo: Longbow Archers - The Reference Site for the longbow.

December 2018

Christmas Baptisms and Marriages

Having noted some significant events happening around Christmas in my Skyrme database, I thought it would be interesting to check the number of baptisms, marriages etc. in my database. Here are the results:

 Date   Births    Baptisms    Marriages    Deaths    Burials  
24 Dec 21-31
25 Dec 12221
26 Dec -3221
31 Dec 1133-
1 Jan 4223-

Now you cannot help when you are born or die, but you or your parents do have some choice as to when you are baptised, married or buried. As the table shows, there were a reasonable number of births and deaths but only three burials. Grave diggers obviously wanted their Christmas holidays as much as anyone else! The Christmas Day burial was that of Sarah Hill (née Skyrme), buried in Hereford cemetery after a service at St Peters. She had died on 23rd.

St Johns

It's a different story when it comes to baptisms and marriages. There are two reasons why they were popular at Christmas time. First was that most working people worked 6 days a week, and that Christmas Day and Boxing Day were the only two days in the year that they and their families could guarantee would be a holiday. Second, many churches did not charge on Christmas Day and other religious holidays. In fact, many churches, especially those in cities held 'festival nuptuals' where several couples would marry at the same event. I'll just highlight a few of the Skyrme baptisms and weddings that took place over this period. The photo is of St John in Pembroke Dock, which features in the first event below.



December 2018

Background work still continues on the Manorbier and Penally Skyrmes. This week I have been updating the family of Edwin Rowlands Skyrme and Laura Vaughan. Edwin sounds as if he was quite a character. He was a tenant farmer of Lamphrey Farm and had several disputes with his landlord Charles Mathias Esquire from whom he rented the 43 acre Lamphey Farm at an annual rent of £146. I have copies of about 20 pages of court records relating to his disputes. I am now working through facts for his 9 children. The eldest Beatrice (born 1906) died aged 12 while her sister Edith (probably a twin) married a master cooper from Tunstall in Staffordshire when in her 50s. Quite how she came to be there is a mystery.

I am continuing the theme of looking for references to Skyrmes in newspapers 50,100 etc. years ago. Here are this month's selections.


200 years ago: Dancing through the Night

The Cambrian of 19th December 1818 reports the inaugural meeting of the Laugharne Assembly at The Globe Inn. "It was attended by a numerous assemblage of fashionables, of that place and its vicinity. Among other distinguished persons were Admiral Sir Henry Trollope, Knight Banneret .....Mr. and Mrs. Skyrme...." This would have been William and Mary (née Lewis) Skyrme - who featured in our October News about the sloop 'William Skyrme'. The article cites a ball starting a 9 o'clock and continues: "Dancing was kept up with the greatest spirit till past four o'clock the next morning, when the company separated, highly gratified with the amusement of which they had partaken, and the unceasing attention and politeness of the galiant Steward."

150 years ago: A Marriage and a Commissioner

The Worcester Journal has notice of the marriage between Jane Skyrme and John Morris at Ledbury Wesleyan Chapel on 2nd December 1858. Jane was the daughter of John Skyrme, a mason from Vowchurch and Elizabeth Seal. The couple went on to have at least five children.

The Ross Gazette of 3rd December reports a meeting of the Town Commissioners. Topics discussed included an improved design for a pillar fire hydrant and whether a lamplighter should be employed to better maintain the town's lamps. One of the commissioners was J.H.Skyrme Esq. This was 22-year old John Henry Skyrme a local solicitor who after his death aged only 36 he was found to have committed a series of frauds. You can read a bit about him on page 22 of The Skyrmes of Herefordshire.

100 years ago: The Bexhill Chemist

Harold Edgar Skyrme (born 1877) features in several articles in the month. One about the Bexhill Ambulance Brigade starts "A pleasing presentation took place Monday night at the Town Hall after a lecture by Dr Skyrme who presided." It was also the month of a general election which was announced after the signing of the WW1 armistice. Harold is listed as one of the people who nominated existing MP for Hastings Laurence Lyon to stand again. The wartime government was a coalition of Conservatives and Liberals. Laurence was a coalition Conservative and was re-elected.

November 2018


This Month - 100, 150, 200 Years Ago

The digitization of the British Newspaper Archive continues apace, and it is proving difficult to keep up with the various Skyrme stories. When I last did a search there were over 11,000 articles that featured a Skyrme, though quite a few are duplicates since many were syndicated to regional titles in the 19th and early 20th centuries. So I thought I would try each month to pick the main articles on the anniversary of each month. Here we go...

100 Years Ago - Is Hastings Ready?

This was a letter in The Hasting and St Leonards Observer of 9th November 1918 by Harold Edgar Skyrme, the chemist who features on page 20 of The Skyrmes of Herefordshire. Another correspondent had asked whether Hastings employers were ready to help find work for soliders returning home from the Great War. Responding to "Are men who have fought wanted in Hastings" Harold wrote that he had received only one reply from an advert for help in his shop that explicitly aked for a "discharged solder, sailor or ineligible with first class dispensing and retailing experience." He noted that other employers were equally anxious to employ returing servicement.

150 Years Ago - A Fowl Deed

This was a report in The Worcester Journal of 28th November 1868 on the proceedings of the Petty Sessions held at Bromyard. Mr Richard Skyrme, a farmer of Winslow, summoned Thomas Summers of Winslow for "maliciously killing a fowl on 12th inst. The case was settled by consent of the magistrate, defendent to pay 4s 6d costs." This referred to Richard Skyrme (1833-1895) who had a 135 acre farm at the time. He was the eldest of 10 children of Thomas Skyrme and Ann Grosvenor. His ancestors lived in Weobley, Norton Canon and Canon Pyon. See the news of Jan 2017 for a bit more about this farming dynasty.

200 Years Ago - A Desirable Property

There were no Skyrme articles for November but an advert was placed by Thomas Skyrme in The Hereford Journal of 2nd September. It offered to be let, furnished or unfurnished, "a commodious dwelling house fit for the reception of a genteel Family; together with a Small Garden, Three Stalled Stable, with a Coach House (if required), a good Brew House, Laundry, Cellaring and every other necessary convenience." The property was in Widemarsh Street. At various times, different Skyrmes had properties, a tannery and other premises in Widemarsh Street, Hereford. The Thomas here is most probably the son of Isaac and Jane Skyrme. Isaac was one time alderman and mayor of Hereford and Thomas died in Widemarsh Street in 1831.

November 2018

Lest We Forget - Monday 11th November 1918

war graves

Today (Sunday) we commemmorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It was on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" that a ceasefire came into force, although the formal peace treaty (Treaty of Versailles) was not signed until 28 June 1919. Over 15 million service people across the world lost their lives and over 20 million were wounded. As I systematically work through the pedigrees of the Manorbier Skyrmes, just yesterday I recorded details of a distant cousin killed in France (James Hubert Skyrme). So this post is devoted to those whose deaths are recorded on memorials by the Commonwealth War Graves Commmission. We must also not forget the many more Skyrmes who served in the forces of Britain, Australia, Canada and the USA, several of whom were wounded - see also 'Skyrmes in WW1' in September news. There may be missing deaths from this list (e.g. the USA) so if you can add to this list - or provide any related WW1 stories (I am considering a document just on Skyrmes in WW1), then please let me know.

James Henry Skyrmes (died 6th August 1914)

A stoker on HMS Amphion, the first British warship to be sunk in the war. See September news for more details of the event. James (born 1880 in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire) was one of six children of William Skyrme, a dockyard labourer, and Jane Jones, who lived at Williamston Terrace, Guildford, Llangwm at the time of his death. He is commemmorated at Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Mark Skyrme (12th April 1916)

Mark (born 1886 in Vowchurch, Herefordshire) was serving in the Herefordshire regiment. He was wounded and died of his wound in Chester Hospital. He is buried at the cemetery in Cwmbran, South Wales where his parents Stephen and Emily lived at the time. His Army record has not been found (probably destroyed as many were in a WW2 fire) so we do not know about where and how he was wounded.

Robert James Skyrme (31st May 1916)

Another stoker in the Royal Navy which he had joined in 1906. A distant relative of James Henry above, he was born in Prtsmouth in 1884, one of 10 children of James Skyrme (a Manorbier descendant) and Ann Every. He was one of over 700 killed in the Battle of Jutland when his ship HMS Black Prince was sunk by enemy action. His body was not recovered. He is commemmorated at Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

George Henry Skyrme (15th September 1916)

A private in the Canadian infantry, 102nd battalion. He was killed in Flanders, aged 22. George (born in 1889 in Kyre, Worcestershire) was one of nine children of Thomas Skyrme and Elizabeth Yapp of Little Hereford. Their ancestors were the Norton Canon Skyrmes (see news Jan 2017). Like two of his elder brothers he had emigrated to Grindrod, British Columbia, arriving in Vancouver in 1913. As well as a Commonwealth War Grave at Reninghelst New Military Cemetery, he is commemmorated on a plaque to the local war dead with one other person in Thornbury Church, Herefordshire. He is listed as George Harry Skyrme.

Richard Edward Elcho Skyrme (6th February 1917)

A Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, Richard was killed in action, aged 21, at Ploegsteert in the Battle of the Somme, while seconded to A company, 1st Battlaion. He was described as a "brave and valiant officer". Son of the clergyman of Winterbourne Earls, Wiltshire, Frank Elcho Skyrme and Catherine Price, he was a clerk at Lloyds Bank in Gillingham Wiltshire, before obtaining his Army commission in June 1915. His brother Frank went on to become a Royal Navy Commander serving in both WW1 and WW2. His ancestors were from Dewsall in Hereford (including William Gwatkin Skyrme featured in May 2018 news).

Leonard Matthew Skyrme (5th Aptil 1917)

A private in the 1/1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment. The only information about his war service comes from a record of soldier's effects which shows a war gratuity paid to his father William, a bricklayer. It simply says "wounds, Egypt". This was the time when the Egypt Expeditionary Force attempted to invade Palestine in the First Battle of Gaza. Although some WW! war diaries for the regiment are now online, they do not include this period. The family lived in Millbrook Street, Hereford and had ancestors from Vowchurch. Leonard is buried in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, near the Suez Canal, 50km south of Port Said.

James Hubert Skyrme (6th October 1917)

Listed as Herbert James Skyrme on the CWGC. Hubert (born in Combe St Nicholas, Somerset in 1898 and a descendant of the Manorbier Skyrmes) was serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed in action, aged only 19 in Flanders (Belgium). He is buried in Cement House Cemetery at Langemark, north of Ypres in Belgium. His mother's and grandmother's maiden names were Hilton and Royle, names that carried on in the middle name of his nephew Professor Tony HIlton Royle Skyrme, an eminent nuclear physicist whose name is reflected in the Skyrmion nuclear particle.

John Skyrme (25th November 1917)

John was a 19 year old rifleman in the 1st Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment who was killed in action in France. His army record shows that he enlisted in May 1916 and left for France on 8th August 1917. He was born in Vowchurch but later moved to Cwmbran, the baker son of Stephen and Emily Skyrme. He is commemmorated at the Loos Memorial in the Pas de Calais region.

Charles Skyrme (29th March 1918)

Another 19-year old from Vowchurch. He served in the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His effects record says that he was wounded in Belgium, but he is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France. Boulogne was the site of one the main military hospitals. However his unit in March 1918 were at the Battles of Bapaume and St Quentin, both in France, so more research is needed to resolve this conundrum. Charles is also remembered on the roll of honour at Vowchurch church.He was the son of Charles and his second wife Matilda Jenkins. They lived at Slade Cottage, Vowchurch at the time of his death.

Edwin Skyrme (26th September 1918)

The last of the Skyrmes to be killed in action and at sea, just as the first Skyrme casualty of the war. He was a shipwright serving on USS Tampa when it was sunk in the Bristol Channel. He was the son of Peter and Frances Skyrme of Pembroke Dock whose ancestors were from Llangwm in Pembrokeshire. See September 2018 news for more detailed information.

William Henry Skyrme (17th January 1920)

Although this was over a year since the cease of hostilities, William died of wounds he received during the war at Duke of Connaught's Military hospital in Aldershot. He was a private in the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers which saw many battles on the Western Front in 1918, including the third battle of Ypres. William's war record is not available, so we do not know where he was wounded. He is buried at Birkenhead Flaybrick Hill Cemetery where his grandfather is also buried. The family of bakers and grocers moved to Birkenhead from Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire in the 1860s. You can read more on William's ancestors in The Skyrmes of Llangwm and the Cleddau pages 13-16.


October 2018

The Worcestershire Skyrmes

hat, gloves, jockey

In the 19th century there were pockets of Skyrmes around England. One group I have not featured before is that of the Skyrmes who lived in and around the city of Worcester. Partly this is because I still have to determine how they relate to the Herefordshire Skyrmes, which they undoubtedly do as it is the neighbouring county.

Hatters, Hosiers and Glovers

These are related trades based on textiles and clothing. One of the earliest Worcester Skyrmes was Samuel born around 1756 in the city. He died in Hereford. His pedigree is still to be worked out but the name Samuel features heavily in the Skyrmes of Vowchurch.

A more certain link to Herefordshire is a Thomas Skyrme who was born in 1758 in Bromyard, just 15 miles from Worcester. He was a glover in Worcester in 1792 when he married Sarah Barwell from Leicester. While most market towns had a few glove makers, Worcester was a major centre. Thomas died in 1814 but an 1820 trade directory lists his widow Sarah as a hatter and hosier at 66 Broad Street in Worcester. Leicester, where Sarah came from, was a major centre for hosiery. They had three children - Edward, Thomas and William.

Thomas (born 1788) is listed as hatter and hosier at the time of his marriage to Lydia Westrup in Worcester n 1820. The couple appear in the 1841 census in London. Thomas died in Shoreditch in 1849 and later censuses show Lydia moving back to where her family came from in Suffolk. Brother William (born 1793) married a Jane Bolton in May 1826 and placed an advert in the Worcester Journal that November. In it he declared himself as a hatter, glover &c. of 66 Broad Street: and gives "gratitude thanks to those friends whose kind support he has met with since entering upon the business carried out by his mother...". He goes on to offer "an extensive assortment of fashionable hats" and "funerals furnished". However, his business was not successful since he was declared bankrupt a year later in 1827. With the help of some Correspondents from both England and the USA, I have been able to trace the descendants of the only son of William and Jane - Edward Skyrme (1832-1892).

Racing and Inn-Keeping

It was Edward and his marriage to Emily Williams that led to the significant growth of the number of Worcester Skyrmes. Altogether they had seven children, four of them boys. Edward was initially a chemist but then took on the trade of Emily's father, that of an innkeeper. His inn was the Bird in Hand at The Cross in Worcester. Eldest son Edward "Ted", initially an ironmonger also entered the trade as a licensed victualler and ran the nearby Grand Stand Hotel at Worcester racecourse at Pitchcroft. At each census different members of the family were at either one or the other of the two inns. There are many newspaper articles about Ted's activities at the racecourse and his proprietorship of the inn. For instance in 1899 the council let 67 acres of Pitchcroft, the inn and racing rights etc. for £600 per annum. An announcement of his death noted that he "was well known in racing circles for he acted as Clerk of the Course under Jockey Club and National Hunt Rules at Worcester, and in addition he frequently officiated as starter". In 1947 and 1948 there was a 'Skyrme Amateur Rider's Handicap' at the races. Interestingly Ted's younger brother William followed the trade of his grandfather, being a hatter in 1914.

There is still much to do to "connect the dots" on the Worcestershire Skyrmes and to confirm their Herefordshire ancestors, but this gives a flavour of some of the facts discovered so far. Incidentally, while on the subject of horse racing, in more modern times there have been Skyrme jockeys - a Barrie Skyrme and his son my namesake David Skyrme, b1966 - but nowhere near Worcester!

The Sloop 'William Skyrme'

sloop auction

I was aware of a ship called 'William Skyrme', since when searching newspaper archives for William Skyrme, a person, many entries came back from sections labelled 'Shipping Intelligence'. However, my interest in the ship of that name was piqued when I recently received an email from researcher Anne Rees whose research (see her Wikitree) has mentioned William Skyrme, a Portreeve of Laugharne. She also reminded me of a ship of the same name and indicating that it was one of a number of ships that were based in Laugharne at the start of the 19th century.

For the last couple of weeks I have been finding as much as I can about the ship 'William Skyrme'. I have found some 105 entries in newspaper shipping reports from 1811-1844. This is probably a quarter or third of the total she did in her lifetime. She first appears in Lloyds Shipping Register in an addendum to the 1818 edition where she is listed as 7 years old and built in Carmarthen. She is described as 65-ton sloop, i.e. a vessel with one mast. Notice of an auction in 1821, gives the more precise location of her build as Laugharne.

In the 1810s the 'William Skyrme' often plied the Carmarthen-London taking tin plates outwards and bringing back sundries. In later times she did many crossings to Ireland, most often from Liverpool or Cardiff. Just before her demise she ventured at least three times to France, to Rouen and Le Havre. Overall the ports she most visited (from these reports) were Carmerthen (27 instances), London (26), Cardiff (17), Milford (15) and Llanelly and Liverpool (9 each).

The Lloyds Register gives details of repairs, e.g. 1826 large repair, 1834 new deck and top sides. Some newspaper reports add flesh to these:

Unfortunately the 'William Skyrme' came to a sad end. She sunk off Tralee on 4th April 1844 but was refloated and after repairs sailed on to Dublin. Although she made a few more voyages there are no further reports of her after September 1844, and the entry in the 1884 Lloyds Register says "MISSING" alongside her details. So how she actually ended her life is unclear.

At the time of her build, a William Skyrme (a descendant of the Llawhaden Skyrmes) married Mary Lewis. At the time he lived in Island House not far from where it was built. It is tempting to think that it might have been a dowry, but perhaps we shall never know how the sloop came to be called the 'William Skyrme'.

I have written a more detailed article, which also includes a spreadsheet of her reported sailings. You can download it here.

September 2018

This Day in History - 26th September 1918


US Coast Guard Cutter TAMPA
Image source: US Naval History and Heritage Command; Public domain

It was an email asking about how to pronounce Skyrme (rhymes with term, firm) that has promoted this article. The correspondent was going to read out the names of the casualties of USCGC Tampa on the 100th anniversary of its sinking, at a US Coast Guard ceremony. One of the 131 who died in its sinking was Edwin Skyrme born in Pembroke Dock in 1874. He was the son of Peter Skyrme of Llangwm, and like four of his brothers, became a shipwright (see pages 35-38 of The Skyrmes of Llangwm). By 1900 he had moved from working at Pembroke Dockyard to Portsmouth Dockyard.

September 1918 saw Edwin serving on the USS Tampa. This coast guard cutter, originally christened the Miami, was involved in escorting convoys between its base in Gilbraltar and the South of England. In its 11 months of war service it accompanied 350 ships in 18 convoys. On the evening of 26th September 1918 she had left a convoy in the Irish Sea and proceeded independently towards Milford Haven. It was spotted in the Bristol Channel by U-boat UB-91 which launched the fateful torpedo. It exploded mid-ship and the cutter sunk so quickly that there were no survivors among the 111 Coast Guardsmen, 4 U.S. Navy personnel, and 16 passengers consisting of 11 British Navy personnel and 5 civilians.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

You can read a bit about its history and the commemmoration ceremony on the US Coast Guard website and also that of the Tampa Post 5 of the American Legion. The loss of the USS Tampa was the largest single loss of life in the US Coast Guard Service.

Edwin's name is inscribed on the Portsmouth Naval memorial (photo left).

Skyrmes in WW1

As we are approaching the anniversary of the end of World War I, it is worthy of recording what has been found over the last few years about the Skyrmes who served. Edwin (above) was the last Skyrme casualty of the war, some six weeks before the end. At the beginning of the war the first Skyrme casualty occurred only a week into the war when another Llangwm Skyrme - James Henry Skyrme (born 1880 and a distant cousin of Edwin) - was killed in the first British warship to be sunk in the war. This was HMS Amphion, an 'Active Class' Light Cruiser built in Pembroke Dockyard (no doubt with the help of other Skyrme shipwrights) and launched on 4th December 1911. At 9am on 5th August she was doing a search in the Thames estuary when she found a German mine-laying ship. The latter was chased towards Harwich and sunk but on its return HMS Amphion struck a mine and sunk. Some 150 sailors lost their lives. You can read about this episode on p29 of The Skyrmes of Llangwm.

Altogether the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 11 Skyrmes who were killed in military service in WW1. Most were from Herefordshire. During the last few years, many WW1 records have come online at the main genealogy websites. These provide interesting reading and often fill in family details not readily available from other sources. Altogether I have found records for about 50 individuals - mostly army, a few navy and one air force - comprising over 200 pages that I have yet to process. One, already mentioned below (news May 2015) was Frank Skyrme, a Herefordshire Skyrme, who served in the same ambulance unit in Salonica in 1916 as did the famous British artist Stanley Spencer. Another was Second Lieutenant Richard Edward Elcho Skyrme, son of the Revd. Frank Elcho Skyrme, who served in the Wiltshire Regiment. He was killed, when only aged 22, at Ploegsteert in the battle of the Somme and is buried in the Rifle House Military cemetry there. He is described as a "brave and valiant officer".

These records, and also associated newspaper reports and war diaries, bring home some thought-provoking insights into how our ancestors served and coped during the conflict. There is a story waiting to be told behind each of the 50 or so Skyrme combatants, which could perhaps make a publication of its own.

August 2018

Work is nearing completion on family tree construction of the Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally. I will then have no excuse for not writing it up and updating this document that was first published in 2011. Also the latest edition of Dyfed Damily History Journal contains an article I wrote "Tales Out of School", a more detailed look at school records that I discussed in the January 2018 news. You can download this article from our library.

This month's news focusses on 'lost and found', the story of two interesting Skyrme characters who went missing (deliberately), but were later found. Both happen to be of Herefordshire descent. And another common feature - they both married again (bigamously) after going AWOL!

The Disappearing Tanner

I've mentioned him before (news September 2015) and he features in The Skyrmes of Herefordshire but since then with the help of fellow researcher David Hurford, we've found him again. The person I am referring to is Amos Jones Skyrme (b. 1788). He was one of at least ten children of William Gwatkin Skyrme and Mary (née Jones) of Dewsall Court. William was one of the Skyrmes noted for their herds of Herefordshire cattle.


Amos initially trained as a surgeon in Alcester Warwickshire, and was listed as such in the 1818 Hereford poll book. But by 1830 he appears in Pigot's Directory as a tanner and glue manufacturer at the family tannery in Widemarsh Street, Hereford. He was declared bankrupt in March 1830 and the auction of his stock in trade in July 1830 included many items including "upwards of 200 English Crop and Buffalo Hides, dry and well finished, 165 Horse-Hide Butts and Pieces, Calf Skins &c. &c" and not unexpectedly "two hogsheads of cider".

Whereas several of Amos's siblings appear in the 1841 census, mostly away from Herefordshire in Monmouthshire, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire, Amos is nowhere to be found. In England the next we hear of him comes from a notice in the Hereford Journal of 30th August 1854:

"Whereas Amos Jones Skyrme, in or about the year 1830, being then about 47 years of age, left the City of Hereford for America; and was last heard of there in 1839; and whereas his wife Frances Anne Skyrme, late of Wear-End in the parish of Bridstow, died July 29th 1851, having made her Will in which she has named her said Husband a Legatee...And any person who will give any satisfactory information to the said solicitors as to where the said Amos Jones Skyrme is now, or, if dead, when and where he died, shall be rewarded."

He had married Frances (née Jones) at Ross-on-Wye in April 1827. However, when in the USA it seems he married again (bigamously), this time to a Lucinda Johnson in July 1834 in Warren County, Ohio. They had a son George, born in 1835 and were living at Turtle Creek in Warren County at the time of the 1840 census. Their son George went on to become a shoemaker, living initially in Norwalk, Ohio and later in Pasadena, California.

No other records for Amos and Lucinda have yet been found after the 1840 US Census - so it looks as if he has disappeared again!

Deserter and Bigamist


Our second 'lost and found' individual is Mark Skyrme of Madley. He was the only child of Joseph Skyrme, a labourer from Vowchurch, and his wife Harriet Preedy of Little Birch. Born in 1850 in Madley. in 1871 he married Emma Sheward of that town, daughter of a hurdle maker. All seemed to start well, with them having three children born betweem 1869 and 1874. The middle child William died in 1874. However, the 1881 census finds one of the two suriving children (Alice) living with her paternal grandmother Harriet and her second husband John Jones (Joseph had died in 1854) and the other (Harriet) with her maternal grandparents William and Ann Sheward. Emma is not found while Mark languishes in Hereford jail. What has happened?

Newspaper stories reveal all. A long article in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 25th February 1881 tells how he was a private in the 11th Devonshire Regiment and deserted from his post at Exeter Barracks. Investigation into his background revealed that he had been an agricultural labourer who had deserted Emma and his two children around 1877 and came to Exeter to enlist. In December 1879 he married (bigamously) Eliza Mitchell at St Sidwells, then a small village just east of Exeter. He deserted the Army on 9th August 1880, from which time the Exeter police had been trying to track him down. After his desertion the couple had moved to Warwickshire "where he behaved so brutally to her that she had to seek the protection of the police". So he was then in trouble with the Warwickshire police and spent a spell in prison.

After coming out of prison he seemed to lead a life of crime, with charges of three housebreaking cases against him. These occured in Vowchurch, Abbey Dore and Little Kyre, the latter where he was alleged to have stolen a silver watch. He eluded capture for some months. On trying to track him down the police were told he had gone to America. The newspaper report continues:

"Within the past week the chief constable was urged to increase his vigilance, and to push his inquiries more zealously, as it was believed that the prisoner was in Devonshire, if not Exeter."

After missing him by 4 days in Monmouthshire, the police finally caught up with elusive Mark on the 18th February. Subsequent newspaper articles report him being acquitted on housebreaking charges at Hereford in April 1881, while being sentenced to 3 months imprisonment at Worcester midsummer sessions in June for the theft at Little Kyre.

After these tumultuous timed, it looks as if he settled down, since the next two censuses (1891 and 1901) showing him living back in Madley as a labourer with his mother Harriet (now widowed a second time). Finally the 1911 census lists him as a pauper in the Abbey Dore Workshouse where he died later that year.

July 2018

Alongside doing my geneaology research, I've also been doing an interesting online course Researching Your Welsh Ancestors run by Pharos Tutors and led by genealogist Eilir Daniels. I mentioned other courses I did with Pharos in the news updates of June and October 2104 below. Already this course has uncovered new ground for me as shown in the two examples below.

Dead or Alive?


Many Welsh agricultural ancestors were lured to the South Wales coalfields during the latter part of the 19th century. The Skyrmes were no exception with some of my distant cousins from Penally moving to the Rhondda (photo shows the colliery wheels at The Big Pit Museum, Blaenavon). Several then emigrated to Pennsylvania. But mining, as we know, is a hazardous occupation and the second worst mining disaster ever in the UK occurred at the Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd on 23rd June 1894 killing 290 miners. One of the resources we were asked to look at in our course was the Welsh Coal Mines website which has good historical notes of colliers across Wales (including those at Hook in Pembrokeshire mentioned in my Llangym publication). This website list the dead in the Albion disaster, and down the page is this entry:

So I searched my data base and found Benjamin Skyrme, born 1870 in Manorbier. He happened to be a 3rd cousin twice removed. But he was a policeman and alive in 1901, living in Pontypridd (he died in 1950 in Gloucestershire). So I checked Welsh Newspapers Online and found this article headed "Sympathetic Policemen at Penarth". It mentions "policemen who have been on special duty on the colliery premises since the occurrence of the disaster". The article lists the policemen involved (including Benjamin) and says that they contributed to the Western Mail disaster fund. So had I missed something or was the entry in the list of dead wrong?

I then found newspaper reports published just a day or so after the disaster that also list the names of the dead. No Benjamin Skyrme aged 23, but it does list a Benjamin Skym (no 'r' or 'e') age 29 whose occupation is a fitter. Checking censuses and birth registrations, there are no 29 year old Benjamin Skyms, but there is one born in Q3 1870, who would be 23. He was the 3rd son of collier Archibald Skym from Llanon, Carmarthenshire.

So one transcript had the name wrong and the other his age wrong! All of which goes to show that if you cannot find an official record of the time, you need to check as many transcribed sources as possible. The name Skym has intrigued me for some years. It is very localised in Carmarthenshire and I wonder if it is a variant of Skyrme, or has a completely separate origin. Perhaps something for the future. Before that there's still a lot of research still to do on Skyrm(e)(s)!

A Predecessor of a Trade Unionist?

Another set of records we were encouraged to look at on the course were the various collections at The National Library of Wales, including this Crime and Punishment database. There is only one Skyrme entry but it is nevertheless intriguing:

Unfortunately the Welsh Newspapers Online website only has newspapers after 1804, so only a visit to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will tell me more about this case. It makes me interested to learn how the guilds and craftsmen of the 18th century regulated their trade, and what law this was an offence against. Was John an early example of behaving like trade union members almost a hundred years later? Perhaps there is a reader of this website who is knowledgeable on such social history can enlighten me.

June 2018

I subscribe to Who Do You Think You Are Magazine and always keep a look out for new sources or ones that I may have overlooked. A recent issue triggered me to search Skyrmes in various Australian state records. I found two interesting entries.

The Vigneron from Victoria


In my document of the Herefordshire Skyrmes I featured George Skyrme, who went to Great Western, Victoria during the gold rush of the 1850s. As the gold petered out he bought land at Concongella Creek and set up a vineyard. He was a successful grower and vigneron and won prizes in various competitions including a silver medal from the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria for his 1893 vintage red wine. The record that I found was at Public Record Office Victoria. It is the grant of probate to his wife Charlotte on 4th September 1912 (he died on 3rd June). Attached to it was his will of July 1907. This simply bequeathed "all my real and personal property" to Charlotte and after her death to their daughter Edith. Edith died a spinster at Hawthorn in 1944. Her grant of probate and will are also at Public Record Office Victoria, but have not been digitized, and I live too far away to access them!

The inventory attached to George's probate showed that he had seven parcels of land in the township of Great Western parish of Concongella and an "8-roomed weather-board dwelling house" valued in total at £160. Against many other listed assets (rents, farm implements, carriages etc.) the value was written as nil. But he had £400 as deposits in Stawell Bank with accrued interest of £7 making his total estate worth £567. Today his financial assets would be worth around A$50,000 but his vineyard worth closer to A$1,000,000.

Tasmania Beckons - or Not?

Tasmania is well known as a place to which felons from England were transported. But sometimes individuals wanted to emigrate there of their own accord. One such was Frederick Skyrme (1894-1984). Descended from the Skyrmes of Llangwm, Pembrokeshire, his father was a Metropolitan police constable and he started life as a sorting clerk and telegraphist with the Post Office. He served in the first World War and continued in the Army until 1925. He then became a civil servant in Sudan (then under Anglo-Egyptian administration) living at Malakal, now in Southern Sudan. You can read more about him and his family in The Skyrmes of Llangwm page 27.


The record I have discovered since that piece was written was a 2-page typewritten letter found at Tasmania Archives Online (TAO) (click on the image to read the letter at TAO). The letter was from his Yorkshire address to the Tasmanian office in London (he had moved back to England in 1941 to serve with the Brisith Army in World War II). Dated December 1951 he was enquiring about settling in Tasmania. He describes himself as "57 years of age, and my wife is 45 (no children), both extremely fit and able. He summarises his career saying that he was District Engineer Posts & Telegraphs in Sudan and was receiving a pension from the Anglo-Egyptian Government of £400. He mentions his extensive travels, including Europe and two holidays in Australia, but "Under present conditions in England I find life rather difficult". He asks for suggestions as where he should settle (preferring a small township), and prices of property and second-hand furniture. He summarises: "I have in mind, a picture whereby I could settle and run a self supporting garden with seasonal employment to augment my pension."

The reply from Hobart in February 1952 answered these questions, e.g. a suitable property might be had for between £50 and £300 (the Australian Dollar was not introduced until 1966). It added: "The district in which you would settle must be decided upon after arrival as there is such a diversity of types offering" and "Prices at the present times are particularly unstable".

Well, that's it - at least for now, unless you know different. Frederick apparently stayed in England, since the only later records relating to him that I have found are an electoral register entry for Leventhorpe near Bradford, Yorkshire in 1952 and his death at Harrogate, Yorkshire in April 1984, aged 90. He left an estate worth £49,825.

May 2018

The Skyrme database grows ever larger. The rate at which new datasets appear on Ancestry and FindMyPast means that quite a lot of my time is spent adding new information and probably less than I should on writing up. When I search "Skyrme" on these dataset I often get a few hits where Skyrme is not the surname. Hence this month's feature is on middle names.

Skyrme as a Middle Name

Multiple given names were fairly rare until the mid-19th century. The earliest in my database is that of William Gwatkin Skyrme (1740-1804) - more of him later. After William there was a smattering of Skyrmes with middle names in the early 19th century (e.g. Mary Abra Hughes Skyrme of Llawhaden) but only after about 1870 was it more common than not.

These days we are so used to having middle names that can also be used a first names. Quite often someone will generally be known by their middle name rather than the first name they were baptised with. For example, Daniel James Skyrme of Cardiff (1877-1941) mostly was known as James, while his son registered as James Stanley Skyrme (1904-1966) was listed as Stanley in other records. A tip to break brick walls is to also search using a peron's middle name.


Surnames as Middle Names

Less frequent, but not uncommon is the use of surnames as middle names. My own father's middle name was Harrison, which starts to make sense once you know that his mother's maiden name was Harrison. Some other Skyrme examples are David Beddoe Skyrme, James Vaughan Skyrme and John Brown Skyrme. Sometimes you need to go a further generation back. Thus although the mother of Margaret Morris Skyrme (1841-1923) was Frances Margaret Beddoe, it was Frances's mother that had the surname Morris. Others where the maternal grandmother's name features are five Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire brothers - Nathaniel, James, Francis, Thomas and Daniel who all had the middle name Rowland. The name Rowland was highly regarded since a couple of generations further back was Nathaniel Rowland (1749-1831) described in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography as "secretary of the Calvanistic Methodist Association" and "for years the mainstay of Methodism in Pembrokeshire".

Taking it a stage further, sometimes two middle names reflect ancestor's surnames. Thus the father of eminent nuclear physicist Tony Hilton Royle Skyrme (1922-1987), (whose name is reflected in the Skyrmion) was John Hilton Royle Skyrme whose mother was Minnie Hilton and maternal grandmother (Minnie's mother) Mary Royle.

Less frequent is the following of surnames in the the paternal line. Thus the Reynish in Thomas Reynish Skyrme (1873-5) and Benjamin Reynish Skyrme (1880-1953) is the surname of their paternal grandmother. It was also not unusual to use the surname of a friend. Thus my mother's middle name was Bales, the surname of a family friend. So although a middle name may be clues to ancestor's surnames, it is not a given. Was there a Beresford in the family line of John Beresford Skyrme, born in 1881 in Tooting? So far, I haven't found one, nor have I found a Morgan which is the middle name of his brother Edward.

Hyphenated Names

Another variation is to retain an ancestor's surname as part of a hyphenated surname. My own daughter, who married a Blyth has done this by changing her name by deed poll to Blyth-Skyrme. I've come acorss a few examples, the most common being Skyrme-Jones, some of them doctors specialising in cardiology. Interestingly only the youngest son, Thomas, of five sons of Thomas Jones and Emily Skyrme (born in 1889, Llangan, Carmarthenshire) called himself Skyrme-Jones. Other Skyrme-Jones include several born in South Africa. Another hypenated Skyrme name is that of Skyrme-Mason, a Devonshire family. The name started as a middle name in Peter Skyrme Mason (1872-1959) son of Thomas Mason and Mary Skyrme of Pembroke Dock, but in Peter's children the Skyrme is moved from the middle to become part of the hyphenated surname.

William Gwatkin Skyrme (1740-1804)

For some time I had in my database details of William Gwatkin Skyrme (1740-1804). He had married Mary Jones of Sellack and they were quite a wealthy family at Dewsall Court. His estate when he died approached £3,500, quite a sum in those days, and they have a monument in the churchyard. Williams father was John Skyrme, and all I had as his wife was Joyce Unknown.

Joyce was recorded as surname Unknown until two other researchers got in contact with me at around the same time. One was researching his family in the Cardiff area, who had Skyrme ancestors. Between us we put a lot of flesh on William and Mary's descendants, included the elusive Amos Jones Skyrme (b1783), who absconded to America, and the infamous solicitor John Henry Skyrme (1836-1873). You can read about them on pages 22 and 25 in The Skyrmes of Herefordshire.

Hereford Cathedral

The other researcher was investigating the Gwatkin family of Dewsall and Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire for the Gwatkin One-Name Study. She asked: "I would like to know the name of the Skyrme family member that Joyce Gwatkin married, but have not been able to find the marriage on Ancestry." My brain cells were stimulated. Joyce was not a common name and I also had a Joyce Unknown with links to Dewsall. A more thorough search of Herefordshire marriage transcripts listed a marriage at Hereford Cathedral (see photo) on 1st September 1734 between John Skyme and Joyce Gwatkin. So the Gwatkin in William Skyrme's name was that of his mother. If only I had considered this before. Incidentally, the first son of William Gwatkin Skyrme and his wife Elizabeth Jones, was also called William Gwatkin Skyrme. He died in childhood in 1891 being only 10 years old. Interestingly the pattern was repeated two generations later in that the eldest son of Edward Skyrme and Ann Watkins (the English equivalent of Gwatkin) was William Watkins Skyrme (1825-1888).

March 2018

Work is nearly completed on developing family trees for the descendants of the Skyrmes of Penally and Manorbier. Most recently this has uncovered another emigration to the USA, this time of a William Skyrme to Michigan. More on that in a future news update. In the meantime here is an interesting story I stumbled across while researching a Mary Skyrme from Manorbier.

The Redoubtable Mrs Grimes of Lydstep House

Lydstep House 1910

Photo: Lydstep House c1910. Drawing by Geoff Scott, reproduced with kind permission by PLANED from

In the 19th century many of our female ancestors were domestic servants, and I always find it fascinating to find out more about where they lived and who they worked for. One Mary Ann Skyrme, born 1840 in Penally, was recorded in the 1861 census at Lydstep House as cook to Mrs Grimes, wife of Major Grimes. On trying to find out more about the Grimes family I came across a report of an attempted burglary in 1860, at a time when Mary was undoubtedly there. The Pembrokeshire Herald and Advertiser of 25th April 1860 reported that on the previous Saturday night Mrs Grimes "was alarmed by a crashing noise" and "perceived the point of a crow bar under the front door". Since there were no males in the house "her gallant husband being on service in India", she loaded a pistol with powder and shot into the passage. The report continues: "the villains decamped for a time, but later returned .. she was quite prepared for them and discharged another load, which again put them to flight". They even returned the following evening. The report concludes:

"But that for the heroic conduct of Mrs Grimes, they would have effected an entrance, and it is impossible to conjecture what violence would have been done to the inmates, some of whom were hysterical while their mistress defied the scoundrels. Mrs Grimes, nothing daunted, has, we understand, provided herself with a supply of ammunition, which will give them cause to remember how they tamper with a woman, should they pay another visit to Lydstep House."

So there we have an interesting description of my distant cousin as a "hysterical inmate". Thank goodness for having such a formidable lady as her boss.

January 2018

I keep saying it - I am trawling through records of the Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally, but it's a long trawl and will take several more months yet, so please bear with me. In the meantime, here are a couple of things I have found along the way.

School Records

The growing number of school admission records and log books at FindMyPast have proved very helpful. First, they give the pupil's date of birth and name and address of father. Since there are many Skyrme trascription errors (e.g. Shyrne, Skyrome) in the 1939 Register, it can be difficult to locate particular individuals. But doing a wildcard search, e.g. S*e and date of birth has found many a mis-transcribed record, and thus enabled location of individuals in 1939.

Admission Registers

The admissions pages also give interesting information on the pupils' previous school and where they went to after leaving. For example, from some Pembroke Dock school registers:

All of the above were children of shipwright William Skyrme (1867-1944) who married Elizabeth Wilkins (1868-1924). Analysis of the dates show the family's movements between the 1901 and 1911 censuses. We conclude that from about 1903-1906 that William worked in the Royal Naval Dockyard at Haulbowline in Cork Bay, Ireland.

School Log Books

What I find, fascinating, though, are entries in school log books. Almost every day there is some entry and your ancestor may appear for several reasons: 1) They were a teacher so are mentioned quite frequently; 2) They were ill or had particular problems; or 3) They were naughty. Here are a few entries that give a glimpse of school life in Pembrokeshire:

For those of you interested in Herefordshire Skyrmes, you will find many Skyrme entries in the school admission records of Vowhcurch at FindMyPast.

I have written an expanded article on school records which was published in the Dyfed FHS Journal (Aug 2018). You can donwload it from our library here (PDF: 2.2Mb).


Farming and WW1

In going through some papers of the Corston Estate near Monkton, I came across a plea from owner Mrs M Leach to exempt one of my ancestors Gilbert Skyrmes from WW1 military service. Gilbert's father suffered the unfortunate fate of being killed by a threshing machine on the estate in 1910 - see snippets.

It highlights the plight of estates trying to keep farms going while able-bodied men were called up for war. I have written a short article about this - download here (PDF)

October 2017

Recent Publications and Observations

Work continues on the Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally. In addition, as new sources come online, more data is being collected on the Herefordshire Skyrmes and also on Skyrmes who were baptised, married or died in London (mostly descendants of the Llawhaden Skyrmes).

Skyrmes of Manorbier

Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally (2nd Edition - 1st Instalment)

Since it will be some months before a complete revision the the November 2011 document will be available, I have decided to publish this document a bit at a time. This first instalment includes information on the earliest generations and also those who worked for the Great Western Railway (on ships as well as trains!). You can download it from our library here (PDF 1.1Mb).

Article on the Vowchurch Skyrmes

I mentioned below ((July news) about an article I had written on the Skyrmes of Vowchurch. This has now been published in the Newsletter of The Golden Valley Study Group. It is available here as a 10 page PDF download (1.1Mb).

Skirme sign

What Is This?

During a recent walk in the Hambleden Valley near Marlow in Buckinghamshire I came accross this sign at the side of the road as we were entering a small hamlet. Is it an instruction or the name of the hamlet?

Click on the image and all will be revealed!

Incidentally. Hambleden is one of the locations where scenes for the TV series 'Midsomer Murders' were filmed.

September 2017

From Railways to Real Estate

In a One-Name study, unlike a family history, in when you stumble on other namesakes outside of the pedigree you are studying, you can't but help but collect more information, and possibly get side-tracked into further analysis. Although I'm currently focussing on updating The Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally, one of side tracks that keeps intruding is information relating to the Skyrmes of Llawhaden.

Llawhaden House

I've recently returned from a 3G (3 generations, myself and wife, 3 children and spouses, 6 grandchildren) family holiday at the Bluestone resort in South Pembrokeshire. Just a few miles away is Llawhaden, the location of the family seat of the branch of the Skyrmes who came from Lugwardine (Herefordshire) via Ludlow (Shropshire). This was a family, initially of wealthy lawyers, who held prominent positions in Pembrokeshire (including the Sheriff of the County) and who also married into landed gentry (the Phillips's of Picton Castle).

While this branch of the Skyrmes is believed to have died out in the early 19th century, the family seat, Llawhaden House, lived on - at least until May 2000. Unfortunately, it was then gutted by a fire. There is an aerial photograph showing the extent of the house and damage in The Western Mail of 27 September 2006, where it was suggested that it might be rebuilt into holiday accommodation. This did not materialise and it was sold a few years later. Today, it is still a ruins, though there are signs that something may be about to happen.

Llawhaden House

Over the last few years, I've collected a lot of information on this branch of the family, including copies of wills, work by other (now deceased) researchers, but it is not a priority to write up, since it is quite well covered in The Llawhaden Book by Mary Houseman. But just looking at what I have there are some interesting gems such as an original print of the six pages of an Act of Parliament 1774. The image shows the heading of this text.

1774 Act

Some Skyrmes of Pennsylvania (Munhall)

Back on the main track - the Skyrmes of Manorbier, the most recent branch I have been tracking are the descendants of William Skyrme (1838-1914) and Margaret Griffiths. William was born in Penally and Margaret in Manobier. They moved to Castlemartin between 1861 and 1862. But the spelling of their surname in records varies. In 1861 it was Skyrm, in 1871 Skyrms and 1881 Skyrmes. My own ancestor in a collateral branch spelt his name Skyrmes in the mid 19th century before dropping the s. One of their seven children was Alfred Skyrmes born in Oct 1862 in Castlemartin. Like many Pembrokeshire Skyrmes he moved east to the coalfields of the South Wales Valleys. In 1886 he was a railway fireman in Blaenllechau, Glamorgan when he married Jane Griffiths of Merthyr Tydfil. I've yet to find a blood relationship between Jane and mother-in-law Margaret. From USA arrival cards, we know that Jane's mother was Elizabeth Oram (presumably renamed after a second or third marriage) and that she had emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1891. Alfred and Jane had four children (3 boys and a girl) born between 1888 and 1894 after which they emigrated to the USA in August 1895, initially staying with Jane's mother at Edwardsville, Luzerne County. They then had five more children (1 boy and 4 girls) born in Pennsylvania. The family settled in Homestead, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

After they moved to the USA, they changed the spelling of their name to Skyrmes. During the first half of the 20th century various family members moved around Homestead and the adjacent township Munhall quite a bit (addresses include Doyle Avenue, McWhinney Avenue, Marion Street, 13th Avenue). Alfred's eldest son Albert was initially a salesman for a rubber plant but in the 1920s turned to real estate. The name Griffiths recurred (without the s) in the middle name of Albert and Selina Llewelyn's second son William Griffith Skyrmes. William had a brief marriage to Dorothy Brown but married Eleanor (Betty) Matson of Swedish descent in 1949, after which they had two children Signe and Robert.

If you look at Google maps for Munhall today, what jumps out at you is Skyrmes Insurance Agency Inc at 3909 Main Street, not far from 3121 Main Street where Albert, Selena and their sons William and Stanley lived in 1940. The insurance business was obviously a spin-off and part of the real estate business, carried on by descendants of William and Margaret Griffiths who remained in Castlemartin. Robert (1941-2010) was the third generation in the business. The company website boasts "a fourth generation insurance agency, has provided the personal and business insurance needs of Pittsburgh and all of Pennsylvania since it was founded in 1933." As an aside, it's good that our two branches of descendants (from John Skyrm and Elizabeth Maurice of Ludchurch) spelt their names differently so that we can each have our surnames as top level domain names ( and

Other family members worked in the steel industry around Pittsburgh, and were in the area at the same time that Skyrm families, descendants of the Vowchurch, Hereford Skyrmes were also there. So Pennsylvania was a pull for several distinct branches of the Skyrmes of England and Wales.

July 2017

I've been working on two fronts during the last two months. First I've been updating the trees for the Pembrokeshire Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally to inform the new edition of this publication which is currently being updated. Secondly, I am still working through the Vowchurch Skyrmes, using information sent by informants as well as tapping into newer online resources.

The Vowchurch Skyrmes

As part of my ongoing work I have done some analyses as well as constructing 'trees'. If you look for Skyrmes in 19th century censuses you find several clusters in different localities - Norton Canon, Sarnesfield etc. However, in sheer numbers, no single place can match the number of Skyrme families and individuals in Vowchurch. Throughout the century it had at least twice the number of Skyrme households as any other locality.

Almost all of the Vowchurch Skyrmes descend from two families - Samuel Skyrme (1752-1822) m. Margaret Seaborne (1754-1830) and that of James Skyrme (1757-1829) m. Eleanor Seabourne (1759-1809). Their brother Benjamin Skyrme (b1844), like them was born in Vowchurch but moved to Madley. Some of his descendants later moved back to Vowchurch. Over the next four generations I have found 43 descendants of Samuel and 151 of James.

But where did the Vowchurch Skyrme's come from? That's a question that I address in an article I have just written, which is due to be published shortly in the Newsletter of The Golden Valley Study Group and which is now available as 10 page PDF download). Below is a chart from the article that analyses Herefordshire baptisms, covering localities where there were the most Skyrme baptisms in any 25 year period (1525-49 and so on).

HEF Skyrme baptisms

Connecting the Clusters

One of the challenges of a One-Name Study is to build family trees from all the many instances of the name that are found. What starts as a cluster of individuals in one locality, can ultimately be formed into a branch of a tree. With a bit of investigation, and often luck, clusters at two localities can sometimes be joined. Thus what started as two clusters in Norton Canon is now one, and in turn what was a separate cluster in Kinnersley and Sarnesfield is now part of the Norton Canon cluster. Censuses are the easiest way to join separate clusters, since a census in one locality may well record an individual as being born in another. Where censuses cannot help (e.g. pre-1851) sometimes marriage records give an indication of movement from one village to another. For example, the marriage record of Thomas Skyrme of Pencombe says "Thomas of Brimfield".

But taking a wider geographic perspective there are several important clusters that have not yet been connected:

Perhaps the most intriguing cluster is that of the Skirmes of Lincolnshire. There are references to over 80 Skirm(e)s from 1563 to 1745. Yet where did they come from and where did they go to? An intriguing possibility is that some were early settlers in the USA since there are references in the late 18th century to Skirm families in Trenton, New Jersey. As to where they came from. there are no obvious clues. They could have come from Lugwardine where there were Skirmes at the same time. But we must not overlook the possibility that the surname had multiple places of origin, and that Lincolnshire was one of thise.

So, there's still a lot of detective work to do. With these earlier clusters, we may never get definitive answers, but just have to infer connections based on the balance of probabilities.

1942 news

May 2017

Yet more Herefordshire contributions. Since my last post, I've received yet more useful inputs on the Skyrmes of Herefordshire. The work of several different contributors now overlaps so it provides a useful cross-check of information in the master database. The contributions have moved me away from the Skyrmes of Vowchurch, but still on the descendants of Richard Skyrme of Norton Canon. More on our findings in the next post.

A Spring Clean Surprise

I've been going through old file boxes and folders and scanning what I think would be useful to pass down to my descendants. While going through one folder, I came across my father RAF discharge booklet. Elsewhere I had a copy of his official RAF record. I had ordered this a few years ago direct from the RAF at a cost of £30, but now find it on Ancestry free to subscribers! But as I was scanning a newspaper cutting fell out (top part of it shown on the right).

It was about a talk my father had given to the Kiwanis Club of Kingston, Ontario (still going strong) at one of their monthly luncheon meetings. It describes his talk on the situation in India, where he had served from 1936-1938 at places like Lahore (now in Pakistan).

It was quite a timely discovery since we had already booked to see the recently released film The Last Viceroy about the events leading to independence and partition.

But what was truly amazing, is that my father left 10 thick hand-written diaries, over 300 pages in total, and in his coverage of his two years in Canada (1941-2) there was not a single mention of this talk.

So get Spring cleaning - you might find some fascinating surprises lurking in your old family box files?

Demolishing Brick Walls

Dyfed Journal cover

I mentioned in the Nov 2016 news some useful new ways which help to overcome 'brick walls' - the new GRO indexes, the 1939 Register etc. Using examples from my Pembrokeshire study, I developed these examples into a full 7-page article for the Dyfed Family History Journal. Source covered included school admission books, monumental inscriptions, newspapers, passenger and immigration records, and different ways of searching censuses.

One example I used was a search of the GRO Probate calendar. I was searching for Thomas Nicholas, the shipwright husband of Anne Skyrme of Manorbier (1867-1929). This is what I found:

Probate calendar

The name Sedia is unusual and struck a chord. I knew that my database had a Sedia Skyrme. She was in fact a sister-in-law of Thomas. So this was a quick way to find her spouse, first from BMD records, and then the 1939 Register to identify the right Thomas Clemens, another shipwright.

You can read the full article here (PDF: 1.05Mb). It is in our document library where you can see all the other articles on this study, including ones published in 2016-17 that have just been uploaded.

Family Sheet

March 2017

Apologies to the Pembrokeshire Skyrmes, but in the last few months I have been concentrating on the Herefordshire Skyrmes. The main reason is that only 3 out 15 substantive enquiries over the last year have concerned the Pembrokeshire branch of the family, and that I have received several significant contributions for the Herefordshire families (see below).

Contributions and Collaboration

Some of the contributions I have received about the Herefordshire Skyrmes over the last 9 months include:

I thank all these contributors for sharing their information. It is a painstaking process to cross-check contributions with what I have in my master database, and often there are discrepancies. So, although I have worked on the Herefordshire Skyrmes on average 10 hours a week so far this year, I am barely a third of the way through processing what I have.

One positive thing that has come out of these contributions is that it quickly becomes a collaborative exercise. Between us, we add new information, raise questions and share our new discoveries.

So although it is too early to update the Skyrmes of Herefordshire publication (PDF), the database is evolving and I am in a position to respond to queries by providing output charts, family sheets and individual overviews.

Arthur: The Man Who Changed His Name

It is somewhat disconcerting when you have a family of Skyrmes and you cannot trace back. Sometimes I just do a census search using first name, birthdate and place. This often throws up bad mistranscriptions such as Skyome, Skynne and Shyrme. But in one case we sometimes see Williams and sometimes Skyrme:

1851 census

The children of Arthur and his wife Annie (neé Jauncey) continued to use the name Skyrme (though five of the eight were registered as Williams). They included well known local architect Herbert William Skyrme who restored Hereford's 14th century Booth Hall Inn in 1921.

Arthur was a tailor as was James Skyrme listed as his father in the 1851 census. His baptism at St Owen Hereford in 1839 lists his mother as Mary Williams. No father's name was given.

Now it happens that James Skyrme was married to Mary's sister Jane. So we could square the circle that Arthur was indeed both the son and nephew of James if he was the result of a liaison between James and Mary. Or it could be, that his father was someone else, and that James and Jane 'adopted' him by taking him under their wing as a favour to Jane's sister Mary. DNA tests of the true Skyrmes and Williams/Skyrmes may resolve this conundrum.

This is but one example of the results of a collaborative toing and froing and sharing information.

Update 2017 - I wrote a short article based on this for Herefordiensis. You can download the article from our library here (PDF: 0.35Mb).

January 2017

Canon Pyon

While many of our ancestors were 'ag labs', others were higher up the income scale as farmers. We know that many of the Herefordshire Skyrmes were farmers (see Oct 2014 news on their contribution to the Hereford cattle breed), and I thought it instructive to compare the relative wealth of the branch mentioned in November (below) with a Pembrokeshire branch.

The Richard Skyrmes from Norton Canon

This branch had many large families (8-12 children) but the eldest son was always called Richard. We find a reference in a baptism certificate that Richard (1718-1798) was a farmer at Norton Canon. The will of his eldest son Richard (1764-1838) shows how his estate is to be divided between his ten living children, giving the names of specific fields and hopyards. All six of his sons became farmers. Below is a table of the size of holdings and the value of estates at time of death (where known from probate records) of eldest son Richard (1791-1876), whose wife was Ann Jones and four of their sons (great grandsons of our earliest known farmer Richard).

Kinnersley &
308 acres
250 acres employing 3 men/2 boys
Canon Pyon20 acres£24
Logaston, Almeley36 acres
Thomas Jenkins
Kinnersley140 acres, 3 labourers£1,624
Kings Pyon182 acres£1,755

So the eldest son was not always the wealthiest! Two things struck me as I researched this branch of farming Skyrmes: 1) Most of the girls married farmers, sometimes in neighbouring counties, e.g. in Radnorshire; and 2) There were several Skyrme-Skyrme marriages, of first or second cousins.

Skyrmes of Manorbier

In my History of the The Skyrmes of Manorbier I noted that while my branch were mostly shipwrights, that at least three of the four sons of John Skyrm (born around 1749 and probably in Herefordshire) and Elizabeth Maurice were farmers. The table below shows information about second son John and his son Joseph and three of Joseph's sons (another of Joseph's sons, John, became a shipwright).

Manorbier, Green Grove*27 acres
Manorbier3 acres
then inherited Greengrove 27 acres
Manorbierbriefly a farmer, then a haulier and salesman in Pontypool
Later Lower Sapey, Worcs
95 acres

* Greengrove is still a working farm today (see July 2013 news)

Cynefin link

Joseph's elder sister Elizabeth (b1803) married farmer Lewis Griffiths who farmed 40 acres at Eastmoor, Manorbier. His younger brother John remained single and worked on the farm at Greengrove. Joseph married into the Beddow (Beddoe) family, some of whom were farmers. Joseph had five sons, but only the three shown above were farmers.

Tithe Map

When I visited Pembrokeshire Archives in 2015, I pored over the Manorbier and Penally tithe maps, looking for references to Skyrme. Today, such a visit is unnecessary, thanks to the Cynefin project (click on the image above to visit). With over 1,100 volunteers it is in the process of repairing and digitising around 1,200 tithe maps and transcribing over 30,000 pages of index documents. Most of the maps and associated schedules have been scanned and indexing is well under way. Browsing through the Manorbier schedule I came across six entries for John as an occupier including Shipping Park, Water Park and Cousins Breadth. In total the acreage was nearly 54 acres. The landowner was Thomas Cadwallader Esq. Several Skyrmes married into the Cadwallader family, including John himself who married Ann Cadwallader. In Penally I noticed several plots with the name David Beddoe, another farmer, and the father-in-law of James. There were several other locations in Skyrme occupation, including a house and three fields/meadows by Mary Skyrme, amounting to 11 acres. I have yet to place Mary.

So as with every new source that comes online, some new facts and answers come to the fore, but more questions are posed.

November 2016

Useful New Resources for Family Historians

Bush Bank

OK - I said I was updating my work on the Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally in Pembrokeshire. But we One-Namers often receive enquiries or useful new information that causes diversions. This last month, and probably for another month, I've been researching one branch of the Skyrmes of Canon Pyon and area. This includes Skyrmes in Kings Pyon (e.g. Bush Bank, Wooton), Almeley (Logaston), Sarnesfield, Hurstley Court and so on. Almost all of the Skyrmes in these villages can be traced back to a Richard Skyrme (born about 1777 in Norton Canon) and his wife Marjery. The photo is of Bush Bank, a hamlet in Kings Pyon, the location of one of the Skyrme families.

In unravelling their stories, several sources beyond parish records and censuses have proved pauseful, some of them new this year. I give details below with some individual stories:

GRO Probate Calendar

Although the main geneaology websites have this resource, they are usually incomplete. For instance, there is a big gap in Ancestry's index for the preiod 1967-1972. If you go to the government's GRO website at there is now a new facility that lets you search the probate calendar and order wills. As well as Skyrme as the main entry you also find Skyrmes in other entries, such as this interesting one:


Although the Skyrmes mentioned are from the Pembrokeshire branch I have found the probate calendars useful as one tool in unravelling the Albert Skyrmes of Herefordshire.

New GRO Indexes and Albert Skyrme

While building the trees for the Pyon Skyrmes, I came across several Alberts. Sometimes a middle name was given in the census, sometimes not. And there were three marriages of Albert Edward Skyrmes in 1919, 1920 and 1933 all in Herefordshire, so who were their parents? Since they were mostly farm labourers or tradesmen, they were absent in newspaper reports. Would I have to order marriage certificates at £9.25 each? Well, here the new GRO index came to the rescue. You have to open a (free) account at but the index now includes the mother's maiden name right back to the start of registration in 1837. Previously, on sites such as FreeBMD this was only available from September 1911. The GRO index only includes births up to 1915. During November the GRO ran a trial period where PDF copies of online indexed records could be purchased for £6. As for the Albert Skyrmes, the following are the highlights:

  1. Albert Edward Skyrme b 9 Jan 1884 Preston on Wye. Mother Olive (parent George Skyrme from Vowchurch). No father given. Moved to Glamorgan as coal miner. Married Lavinia Evans. Died 13 Jan 1940.
  2. Albert Edward Skyrme b 5 Jun 1889 Kings Pyon. Son of Joseph and Harriet Evans. Married Agnes Davies. Farmer, died 3 Dec 1968 Kinnersley. Estate worth £16,152.
  3. Albert Victor Skyrme b 8 Aug 1892. Son of Richard and Sarah Evans. Emigrated in 1911 to British Columbia as farm labourer. Married Sarah Clapperton (born in Perthshire before emigrating). Worked in a (lumber?) mill. Died Port Alberni 9 Oct 1964.
  4. grave AlbertAlbert Edward Skyrme b 3 Nov 1895 Canon Pyon. Son of Isaac and Sarah James. Married Blanche Oldacre. Was disabled ex-Army. Died Burghill (Silver Birch, Portway) abt Aug 1941. (Photo of grave in Canon Pyon)
  5. Albert William Skyrme b 10 Nov 1895 in Almeley. Son of John and Mary (aka Elizabeth) Cartwright from Sarnesfield. Was gunner in artillery in WW1. Single. Farm labourer. Died abt Nov 1964.
  6. Albert Edward Skyrme b 1909 Hereford. Son of Arthur and Edith Godsall. Bricklayer. Married Gertrude Davies.

The four Alberts Nos. 2-5 are fairly closely related cousins, but their relationship to 1 and 6 has yet to be determined.

The 1939 Register

This is another relatively recent online resource which is available from FindMyPast. It gives details of the residence of many UK residents at the outbreak of the second world war. It was used until the 1980s by the National Health Service. Therefore, original entries often have remarks alongside with a woman's surname in 1939 crossed out, and replaced by the surname of her current husband with sometimes the exact date of marriage. Thus, the Skyrme in Blanche's records in no.4 above is crossed out and Morris added. After her husband Albert Skyrme died in 1943 she married another Albert, this one Albert Morris in 1945.

The 1939 Register also shed some light onto the wherabouts of (Florence) May Skyrme (born 16 May 1904 in Canon Pyon) in the mid-20th century. She had travelled to Canada in November 1928 as part of Canada's Empire Settlement Act, which paid the passage for immigrants to boost the supply of certain workers such as domestic servants. We can find no records of her in Canada, but it obviously didn't work out for her, since the 1939 register shows her as head housemaid at Boddington Manor in Gloucestershire. This was the home of John Skipworth Gibbons (born in Kidderminster 1852) whose portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery.

Other Thoughts

As noted previously, much of family research is joining the dots, and deciding what sources to take at face value and what to accept as not quite correct. Even in the cases mentioned above, ages on different censuses are slightly wrong, and even precise birthdates are often one year out. We have found this on some Vowchurch school records, Army records and death records that give identical birthdays but with the birth year date one year different from the 1939 register.

And in many of the cases noted above, when we have joined the dots, it often raises more questions than are answered - why, for example, did Albert Victor Skyrme migrate to Canada, and why did May Skyrme return to England? Unless some current descendants come forward with answers, such questions will continue to intrigue us.

Family Tree DNA

September 2016

DNA To The Rescue?

I've commented before that I still have not found conclusive evidence of how the Pembrokeshire Skyrmes were related to the Herefordshire Skyrmes and that ultimately DNA testing may provide the answer - or at least some strong clues. Well, in August, the Guild of One-Name Studies ran a DNA seminar which I attended. I was so enthralled by speakers' stories of breaking down "brick walls" that I came home with a yDNA testing kit!

yDNA is from the male chromosome and the yDNA of male descendants mutates relatively slowly over time, so that it is possible to discern connections between widely separate branches of people with the same or similar surnames. The keynote talk was about the use of DNA to ascertain whether a body dug up in a Leicester car park in 2012 really was that of King Richard III. Analysis of DNA samples from one of his 13th generation descendants was quite conclusive. Another side effect of DNA testing is that it can uncover 'non-paternity events'. Contrary to documentary evidence, DNA can show that a given person is indeed not a descendant of their supposed ancestor.

There is a whole field and a growing body of useful resources on the use of DNA in genealogy. Suffice to say, I am just a novice with this modern genealogical tool. I am still waiting for the results of my 37-marker yDNA test from based in Texas. In the meantime I have created a Skyrme DNA project at:

This gives details of the project, its objectives and the various DNA tests. For the project to achieve its objectives, it takes several people with the surname Skyrme (or its modern variants Skyrm, Skyrms, Skyrmes, Skirm and Skerm) from different branches to participate. If you are a male and would like to join me on this new and exciting journey of discovery to find how we and other Skyrm(e)(s), Skerm etc. are connected, then don't hesitate to order yourself a kit (you get a discount if you join the project first and order through the project site listed above). Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

So will DNA testing show how the Pembrokeshire and Herefordshire Skyrm(e)(s) are connected? We live in hope.

July 2016

Systems and Serendipity

Although it's been some 6 months since doing the last update, I've been actively working on the Skyrme ONS (One-Name Study) for 3-4 evenings most weeks. My systematic approach involves working on several of the 7 pillars at a time. With so many new sources coming on line, the number of unprocessed Skyrme records on my computer (images of census pages, parish register entries, wills, military records etc.) at 3,800 now exceeds the number of records (2,500) for which information has been extracted and entered into the master database.

But this systematic work is regularly interrupted by serendipidous discoveries and by emails from unexpected quarters. I am for ever grateful for the correpsondents who ask questions about their ancestors, leading me to research one branch in some depth, and those who make me aware of new information. I start with two examples of the latter, both involving accidents.

1. W. H. Skyrme's Humane Medal

bronze medal I received a phone call one Sunday evening from someone who had earlier that day bought a Humane Society Medal at a medal fair. He discovered me on the internet and thought I could help. The citation read "Skyrme, W.H. Post Office Clerk. Case 30385. On the 14th August 1899, R.H.Kaye and W.C.Lewis were bathing at Little Haven, Pembrokeshire, when Kaye became exhausted. Lewis tried to save him, but failed. Skyrme, at great risk, then swam out, and supported him till a boat came up, into which he was taken." This is the terse official citation at

As a result of this call, I worked through my database and decided it was William Henry Skyrme, born in Haverfordwest in 1869. A newspaper report (Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph, 16 Aug 1899) added confirmation and more detail: "Mr Skyrme, who is himself only a very indifferent swimmer, very pluckily came to the rescue, and taking Kay by one arm, while Mr Lewis held the other, they pulled the unfortunate man ashore, several times, however, going under water before they were finally landed with the aid of a boat, which had by this time come to their assistance."

2. Inquest of Two Skyrme Sisters

Just like the example above, my website was discovered by someone other than a family history researcher. This time it was a railway historian who had been researching railways in the Aberdare area and came across my unusual surname in the report of an inquest. It was about the of four people including two sisters, Elizabeth and Sarah Skyrm, aged 11 and 8 respectively. They were tragically killed as a runaway loaded iron truck on the track crashed into a level crossing gate and trapped beneath it these innocent watchers of a procession.

The newspaper report goes into gory detail. The girls turn out to be born in Spittal (Pembrokeshire) the children of shoemaker Thomas Skyrme (1809-1876) and Sarah Higgon. Thomas, incidentally was the great uncle of William from the story above. By the time of the 1861 census, he had changed from being a shoemaker to a railway porter - perhaps we wanted to help improve the safety of the railways?

3. More early Skyrmes

Once you start looking at alternative spellings of Skyrm(e), you discover families who are probably related in many places other than Herefordshire or Pembrokeshire. As well as Skirms in Lincolnshire (17th century), Skermes in Kent (16th century) and several other variants in Middlesex/London (15th-17th century) I have recently found records of 16th century Skyrmes in Northamptonshire and 17th century in Yorkshire and Devon. One correspondent has provided me with information of Skyrmeston's in Shrewsbury in the 14th century. This too could be a variant.

One also comes across Skirm's in early American books, such as the Journal of the Society of the Sons and Daughters of Pilgrims and The Early History of the Thorne Family of Long Island. But one story that caught my eye was in a more modern book Unwelcome Americans: Living on the Margin in Early New England. From historical records the author (Ruth Herndon) cites how "foot-dragging transients" were transported back to their home town. In July 1785, one John Skyrme, a blind man, was passed from constable to constable in adjoining townships to transfer him back from Eastchester, New York to his legal residence of Providence. On his 21 day journey he was handed over to neighbouring township officials 24 times.

4. Joining the Dots

One of the long-term challenges of the Skyrme ONS is to find the connections between the various clusters. For example, does the fact that early US family members spelt their name Skirm(e) (as some in the USA today still do), mean that they are most likely to have descended from the Skirmes of Lincolnshire, where that spelling was most prevalent in the late 1600s?

Likewise, there have been several suggestions as to how the Herefordshire and Pembrokeshire clusters are linked but no firm evidence. However, one recent discovery of mine was that the earliest known ancestor of the Manorbier cluster John Skyrm (born around 1749 but not in Pembrokeshire) was married in Ludchurch in 1774. Examining a book on the history of Ludchurch shows that a Thomas Skyrme of the Llawhaden Skyrme's (with ancestors from Ludlow) was a landowner there. So that strengthens the case for a family connection.

So that is the 'Holy Grail' of this study - to connect all the dots. Is it achievable? Time - and documentary evidence - will tell.

November 2015

From Wales to America and Russia

Although I had planned to revisit the Pembrokshire Skyrmes, two emails and a serendipidous find has taken me in different directions. All have a Welsh connection.

1. Edith's leg

ediths leg plot

The first email was from Annie Irving, a Friend of Cathays Cemetery in Cardiff. She informed me that the cemetery contains the burial plots of four amputated legs. One of the was that of Edith Fanny Skyrme (1830-1924). She was one of the 11 children of Edward and Frances Skyrme from Pentre, descendants of the Skyrmes of Bromyard, Herefordshire, whose family are featured on page 20 of 'The Skyrmes of Herefordshire'. Edith had lost this leg in a terrible accident when visiting the Gelli colliery in January 1883. I had read about this accident but since the newspaper report referred only to a 15-year old girl, had wrongly attributed the accident to her sister Kate. However, Annie put me right. It is not all that common to bury legs in cemeteries, and the rest of Edith's body was buried at St Mary's, Whitchurch, Cardiff. Annie has written a full feature article about Edith's leg on her blog at:

Photo credit: Annie Irving

Update 2017 - I wrote a short article about Edith's Leg for Herefordiensis. You can download it from our document library here (PDF: 0.35Mb).

2. The Skyrms of America

The publication of 'The Skyrmes of Herefordshire' prompted one of my earliest correspondents Scott Skyrm to get in touch. We had first emailed each other in 1996 and around that time he had done extensive research on his ancestors and the Skyrms of America. Although there were Skirm's in Henrico County Virginia in the late 17th century, the Skyrm branch originated with a William Skyrm from Vowchurch, Herefordshire, who migrated around 1857. In the decade or so before he emigrated, he and his wife Frances (née Reece), had lived in Blaenavon (Monmouthshire, Wales) where he worked in the iron works. Their descendants initially lived in Ohio and Pennsyvlania (also working in iron works) but spread out to New Jersey and then further west.

Since Scott did his early research many more documents have become available such as the US 1930 and 1940 censuses. So there quite a bit of work to do to update the analysis of the US Skyrms. More intriguing is who were William's ancestors. There is a baptism entry for a William Skyrm in Vowchurch in Nov 1817, though the US documents suggest a birth date of around 1814. Since there are several William Skyrm(e)s born around the same time, some more digging is needed to verify which branch of Vowchurch ancestors William descended from.

3. To Russia and back

One of the characteristics of a One-Name Study is that you collect all instances of the name that you find as you research. So as I was checking through some Skyrme records on (a useful source for US data where it has images of many birth, marriage and death records for certain states), I stumbled across a couple of girls born in Russia, the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Jones (née Skyrme). Further scrutiny showed:

So why would an English or Welsh girl move to Russia and where on earth is Hughesovka? The answer is that Hughesovka was the settlement founded by John Hughes which is now modern day Donetsk in the Urkraine, and has been in the news over the last year for all the wrong reasons. He created an iron works there in 1870, and over the next decade or so, brought over Welsh miners and iron and steel workers with their families, particularly from the Merthyr Tydfil area. You can read an overview at:

Donetsk founded by Welsh ironmaster John Hughes (BBC)

while Glamorgan Archives (in Cardiff) have a whole collection of Hughesovka papers:

From the Valleys to the Steppes: the Hughesovka Research Archive

The archive includes papers on specific families, and there is one named "The Skyrme family of Blaenavon 1883", which I can't wait to see. Before I found this archive I had worked out that Elizabeth was the daughter of Daniel Skyrme, born 1835 in Vowchurch. The family had moved to Blaenavon for work in the iron works - the same as that for the US immigrant William Skyrm (see 2 above), so perhaps they were related. I can find no record of Elizabeth's marriage to Thomas Jones, but we do find her back in Blaenavon at the time of the 1911 census, a widow living with daughter Harriet. So there's some more work to do to tidy up the loose ends about this family - unless, of course, you know different.

September 2015

Publication - The Skyrmes of Herefordshire

Herefordshire Skyrmes

It was about a year ago I started researching the Skyrmes of Herefordshire in earnest, but only after publishing The Skyrmes of Llangwm in May that I started writing it up. A project like this takes time to reach a meaningful end-point, and it will probably be another 1-2 years before this point is reached and I would normally publish. So for the Herefordshire Skyrmes, I have done an initial edition now based on key themes, and will expand on this with updated editions as the research continues. The contents of this edition are as follows:

  1. Where's that name from? Origins of the name and places around the world where it is found.
  2. Lugwardine - the earliest Skyrmes. Some early records that show the initial locations of Skyrmes in Herefordshire.
  3. Settling further afield - other places in Herefordshire with early clusters of Skyrme families.
  4. Vowchurch and the Goloden Valley - the most concentrated area of Skyrmes in the 19th century.
  5. Farmers of repute - the contribution of Skyrmes to the Hereford cattle breed, but also hop growing, orcharding and a prominent Australian vigneron.
  6. Servants at court - some of the manor houses around the county where Skyrmes served.
  7. Not every Skyrme was a farmer - some of the occupations pursued, especially in the larger towns, such as the glovers of Hereford and Worcester, and the pharmacists of Hastings (OK it's not Herefordshire but it's where their ancestors were from!)
  8. Emigration, by intent and otherwise - the Skyrmes who were deported to Australia (a significant punishment for the theft of two pigs!), but also those who emigrated of their own accord, to Australia, to USA (Iowa and Illinois) and British Columbia.
  9. Some colourful characters - most of whom had brushes with the law, including disappearing Amos, and Jospehine O'Dare, the society girl of the 1920s whose true identity was revealed as Trixie Skyrme, the daughter of a Canon Pyon farm labourer.
  10. Next steps - the next stages of research on the Herefordshire Skyrmes, the trickiest bit of which is contructing and joing the various branches and trees.
  11. Appendix - a tree of one of the main Vowchurch clusters.

Click on the image right or download the full 36-page document here (PDF: 2.0Mb).

August 2015

Exciting but Horrible Find

Herefordshire Archives

Towards the end of the month I made my first visit to Herefordshire Archives, recently reopened in a new purpose-built building on an industrial park at Rotherwas. I was able to expanded greatly the sources used for my current research - the Skyrmes of Herefordshire. This unearthed some useful findings, for example:

Perhaps the most exciting find came during the last half hour of my 2-day visit. By that time no more documents could be ordered so I was browsing through several volumes on the open shelves. One shelf was full of transcripts of old rolls. Searching the indexes of the first 7 or 8 volumes yielded nothing, but then I struck gold. This from the Patent Roll, Vol 1 of the 4th year of Edward II (1310):

Roll 1310

The transcript in the Herefordshire document had expanded on this (from another copy of the roll or editorial insight?) "Pardon to Roger le Yinge of Lugwardyn (on account of good service in Scotland) for the death of Roger Skrym of the same place". So there we have it, a Skyrme in Luwardine in the 14th century, but probably murdered!

On searching other mediaeval rolls online when I got home, I found two more Skyrme entries (one spelt Skryme, one Skirme). Both refered to a Richard Skyrme who was one of over 55 people (including two chaplains) who took part in an insurrection at Wrangle in Lincolnshire in 1404. They assaulted Robert Nenton, burnt his possessions to the value of £200 (worth over £100,000 today), and ill treated his servant. There are 17th century parish records of Skirm(e)s in Spalding and Wainfleet, just up the road from Wrangle - yet another early Skyrme cluster to investigate.

July 2015

Visit to Herefordshire & Pembroke

This month I took advantage of going on a photography course at Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire, to stop for a couple of days in Herefordshire on the way there, and at Pembrokeshire Archives on the way back.


In Herefordshire I visited over 20 towns and villages which were homes to various Skyrme families. Overnight I stayed at Vowchurch which had the largest concentration of Skyrme families in the 19th century. The photo shows St. Bartholomew's church where many Skyrmes were baptised and married. No doubt some of these ceremonies were carried out by the Revd Skeffington Dodgson, brother of Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), who was rector at Vowchurch from 1895-1910.


As well as getting a sense of place and photographing probable dwellings where Skyrmes lived, I also came across several gravestones. These can provide additional information that is not readily available on death indexes or burial record transcripts, such as date of death and where thye last lived.

On my return from my course I spent the Saturday at Pembrokehsire Archives in Haverfordwest. Mostly I was looking at leases which involved a Skyrme as one of the parties. Perhaps the most interesting find that day was the correspondence and court papers from 1910-12 regarding a dispute over unpaid rent by Edwin Skyrme, the tenant of Lower Farm Lamphey, due to Charles Mathias of Lamphey Court. In the end one of Edwin's relatives came to rescue and the case was dropped, each side agreeing to pick up the court costs already paid out.

I photographed about 50 documents, and adding together some 100 documents I photographed in 2013 but which I have still not analysed, there's still a lot of work to do!

June 2015

Emigrants - By Choice or Otherwise

This month I have pursued more of the international dimension with some interesting finds. This is due mainly to discovering more non-UK online sources. One particular gold mine (pun intended) is Trove - at the National Library of Australia website where I found many references to Skyrmes in Australia. Here is a round-up of some of the interesting finds (not just from Australia):

Richard Skyrme Harld Edgar Skyrme

All of the above are from the Herefordshire branch of the Skyrmes.

May 2015

Skyrmes of Llangwm

It's been 9 months since I updated this section but I promise to update more frequently in future. It's been heads down writing up the Skyrmes of Llangwm, but with some interesting excursions:

Skyrmes of Llangwm

1. The Skyrme's of Llangwm - finally published (download here: 3.1Mb PDF). Some of the new material added since last year includes:

What I've tried to do this time is to provide more interesting contextual background, so the publication includes sections on oyster fishing, shipwrights, service in World War I and the unidentified cluster of Skyrmes in Haverfordwest.

2. What do famous British artist Sir Stanley Spencer and Frank Skyrme have in common? They were both serving with the 68th Field Ambulance Unit in Salonica in 1916. Stanley Spencer's paintings of his experiences are on display at the Sandford Memorial Chapel in Burghclere (the next village to mine). Thanks to Paul Grey for his enquiry about his Skyrme ancestors in the Wirral. This branch of the family is probably descended from the Skyrmes of Abbey Dore, Herefordshire.

3. Another enquiry led me to research the Skyrmes of Worcester. One Edward Skyrme was the licensee of the pub at Pitchdroft, Worcester racecourse, in the late 1800s. Further investigation showed that he had another pub, the Bird-in-Hand at The Cross. On various census nights, he and some of the children would be at one, while his wife Emily was with the others at the other. We traced this branch back via Malvern to some hatters in Worcester, with a tentative link back to farmers in Herefordshire. Thanks also to one of the descendants of the Skyrmes of Worcester in the USA for filling in some of the blanks.

Now that the Skyrmes of Llangwm has been published, my attention will now turn to the Skyrmes of Vowchurch, Herefordshire, before updating The Skyrmes of Manorbier and Penally with new information and corrections from readers. Please keep your enquiries coming - these diversions from the main task are always interesting!

October 2014

A Start on the Herefordshire Skyrmes

OK - I am well behind where I had hoped to be on the writing of the 'Skyrmes of Llangwm'. However, a lot has happened since the last news in June:

1. I've taken advantage of limited time free access to major websites, particularly for overseas records to capture as many instances of Skyrme as I can. This includes US records and Australian records. In addition, more material is coming online all the time, including WW1 records, parish registers and fascinatingly school registers. For example George Ryland Skyrme, whose family moved from Pembroke when his father David got a job on the railways, left Chester School at the age of 14 in 1913 to work in a grocer's shop.

2. I've dealt with several interesting queries that have involved research. One was from a schoolteacher in Herefordshire whose children are doing a project trying to find out more about the soldiers from the village of Letton who fought in WW1. The ones I were challenged with were Albert Skyrme and Thomas G Skyrme. I could find no references on (Commonwealth War Graves website), but then things fell into place, when I found records that suggested they may have survived the war. The enquirer revisited the Letton memorial plaque which said "men from this parish who served [my emphasis] in the great war 1914-1919". Arthur's Army record partly survives and shows him serving in France in 1916 and 1917 with the Royal Field Artillery.

history of hereford cattle

3. I'm for ever grateful for little tid-bits that correspondents pass on. One, for example, wrote "did I know about the involvement of Skyrmes and Herefordshire cattle". I had found news articles about Skyrmes who migrated from Herefordshire, but a little gem I found that gives all the background is "The History of Herefordshire Cattle". It has quite a few sections on how John Skyrme furthered the pedigree. Another, William Skyrme of Dewsall (1739-1804) is described as a "distinguished pioneer". Another entry says:

"In April, 1805, the whole of the cattle belonging to Mr. Skyrme of Stretton were sold by auction when he retired from business...the stock is without exception some of the finest sorts of breeding cattle in the Kingdom."

The full book is available at the Internet archive at

4. Because I have started work on the Skyrmes of Herefordshire (initially the Vowchurch cluster), I have joined the Herefordshire Family History Society, and have already purchased one set of Monumnetal Inscriptions (for Vowchurch). This gives more precise details of individuals and dates of death. In this particular area, Samuel was a common boy's name of the Skyrmes.

5. I also did a follow-up Pharos course in July - a One Place Studies course. One place studies are part local history, part social, economic and demographic analysis, and part biographical. For my location I choose Llangwm, so the data I found on the course will help add context to the current work on the Skyrmes of Llangwm. It brings home to me the importance of the fishing to the community (most Skyrmes were fishermen, mariners or ferrymen). The most lucrative catch was oysters, though herrings and cockles were also fished. Llangwm's fisherwomen were renowned. They would carry baskets full of oysters on their head and walked the 5 miles to Pembroke via Burton Ferry to sell them to dealers from Kent for the London trade.

6. Finally, I still have many newspaper entries to process. There were several about Daniel Skyrme (1820-1904) of Llangwm. It seems he was quite a character often finding himself in brawls. However, he met an untimely death. "FARMER BREAKS HIS NECK: A Shocking Fatality near Haverfordwest" ran the headline reporting it. Apparently he was dismounting from his horse and fell and broke his neck, dying instantly. The report describes him as "a superannuated dockyard man, had latterly taken to farming, and was widely known and respected." The irony is that he was just returning from obtaining a death certificate for his sister (which one I have not yet ascertained).

June 2014

Three significant things have happened this month:

Pharos Tutors Logo

1. I signed up for an online course on Advanced One-Name Studies. This is a 6-week course run by Pharos Teaching and Tutoring which also includes an assignment to be completed by mid-August. This has broadened my perspective on the scope of this website. It has highlighted the need to understand more fully the origins of the surname, its distribution over time, and variants. For example, although Skirm was a common variant in England in the 1500 and 1600s, it is virtually non-existent now, yet it pervades in the USA. The challenge is to identify when and where it migrated. I have some clues that it was to early settlements in Virginia. If any of my US colleagues have better information, then I would like to hear from them.

Guild of One Name Studies

2. Ian Skyrm has passed over the registration of the Skyrm(e) One-Name Study. Although I have only within the last two years expanded the research of Skyrmes beyond my own family tree, Ian has been doing it for more than 10 years. However, he can devote less time to it than previously, so he has magnanimously asked me to take over the baton. I feel privileged to do this and am enormously thankful to him for sending a CD with all the research he has done to date. His excellent work is being amalgamated into my databases and research and updates included on this website. However, as is the case with all Guild registered studies, if you have a query on the study, or want further details of your Skyrme ancestors before they are published on this website, then please don't hesitate to contact me.

ships manifest

3. Canadian Records. To celebrate Canada Day (1st July) offered a few days free access to its Canadian records. Although I had already got some records from various sources, I took full advantage and plugged many gaps. One area of fascination was finding a family of Skyrmes in Port Alberni in British Columbia, a place I had passed through a few years ago. As well as census information I found outgoing passenger lists and immigration details (an example is shown in the thumbnail, right). Other Skyrme families were farmers near Revelstoke in BC. A One-name Study is truly world-wide and although the majority of Skyrme(s) are found in the UK, there have been reasonable numbers in the USA, Canada and Australia since the 19th century. See also the section on distribution and frequency.

May 2014

Headstone Elizabeth and Frances

Much of the recent work has been cross checking the Llangwm tree that I have been developing with those from other sources, such as contributors to Ancestry. This has helped uncover some individuals I have missed and also given spouses names where I had none. On then going back to find why I had missed them, it is the usual problem of mistranscribing (e.g. Skyrome). Also, quite often there were conflicting dates, or the wrong John Skyrme allocated to a family pair, which meant double-checking my sources, to ensure that I was right and the contributed tree wrong. Anyway, writing up is now well under way and hopefully this summer, the first release of The Skyrmes of Llangwm and the Cleddau will be published on this website.

One of the most fascinating stories that I uncovered is that Robert Randell Skyrme apparently married a bigamist! Robert was a descendent of John Skyrme of Llangwm. In 1870 he married a Mary Phillips in Haverfordwest, and they then moved to Cardiff. He died aged 44 only 5 years later. The story that broke the news of Mary's bigamy appeared in editions of the Cardiff Evening Express on 23rd and 30th December 1893. Having married again in Cardiff, she came to court seeking maintenance from her third husband Thomas Williams, a train driver who had moved away to Cowbridge. When Mary, described as "a woman of substantial proportions" first came before the court, the magistrate accused her of drinking and "in a disgraceful condition, unfit to give evidence". When the case resumed one week later, Thomas's lawyer in his defence, brought forward Mary's first husband Daniel, whom she married when 17. This proved that he was still alive when she married Robert, and that therefore her subsequent marriages were illegal. So was Robert Skyrme aware of Mary's situation, and that therefore his marriage was null and void, or did he die in ignorance?

I've also been processing records and photos that I took while in Pembrokeshire last year. One headstone in the black Tar cemetery at Llangwm, gives the names of two sisters Elizabeth (died 1973 aged 86) and Frances Beatrice (died 1989 aged 101). By working the family tree downwards I have found them to be two of the 11 children of John Nicholas Skyrme (1858-1937) and Sophia nee Bowen (1859-1935). They were both spinsters and Elizabeth was for many years a local schoolteacher.

March 2014

Burton Ferry notice

Work continues on the Skyrmes of Llangwm. However, with more collections coming online all the time, several sources, e.g. WW1 army records, have been searched to extract details of all Skyrmes. In particular the recently launched Welsh Newspapers online has many Skyrme stories which provide some valuable context for my research. I have also been working through steadily baptism and other records for some Skyrme clusters in Herefordshire, notably Vowchurch, Here are some of the highlights from recent months:

No doubt as more war diaries come on line we shall find details of places where Skyrmes fought and in some cases lost their lives during World War 1.

As always I am happy to answer questions or to generate narratives and charts of your ancestors from specific branches from my database as I did recently for a particular Albert Skyrme.

July 2013

Green Grove

I had booked a photography course for the end of the month at Dale Head, but it was cancelled. So instead, I substituted some days in Pembrokeshire to get a sense of place. I stayed at a farmhouse B&B in Jameston, which was actually Green Grove (photo), the farm of my great great great granduncle and his descendants for about 50 years in the 19th century. Highlights of the visit were:

The net result is a lot of additional material which a) will corroborate (or otherwise) other transcripts and my database; and b) provide useful context for my forthcoming publications. In addition I may add a photo gallery to this website and possibly expand the snippets section to include more detail of the stories such as those of Thomas.

March 2013

Llangwm Ferry

During the month the site was moved to a new server, and at the same time updated to be XHTML complaint and using CSS styles for layout. In addition migration has taken place from RootsMagic to Family Historian V5, which allows us to generate more customised reports. That's the technical stuff. On the genealogy front, new research is well under way on:

As each chunk of research is completed, data will be added to this website.

January 2013

Three activities are now in progress:

  1. A significant update of this website, including correcting the current tree, adding new branches and uploading source material to complement the publication of volume 1 of The Skyrmes of Pembrokeshire.
  2. Researching the Skyrmes of Llangwm and The Cleddau - this will be volume 2 of The Skyrmes of Pembrokeshire.
  3. Researching my maternal line, which has another uncommon name Yardy. Since this name is less common than Skyrme (this was a surprise to me), I am researching all Yardys (also spelt Yarday, Yardey and Yeardye ) and preparing a publication Yardys of The Fens (they were found in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Huntingdonshire and Lincolnshire).

November 2011

The main addition has been the uploading of The Skyrmes of Pembrokeshire - (1) Manorbier and Penally. This 48 page document provides good coverage of the descendants of John Skyrme (1749-1845).

Other minor additions to content based on research conducted during 2011, including: