Skyrme family and one-name study website Guild of One Name Studies

@skyrme.info :: 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.


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 (skyrme.com and skyrmes.com).

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.


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).

NameLocationFarmEstate
Richard
(1791-1876)
Kinnersley &
Sarnesfield
308 acres
250 acres employing 3 men/2 boys
£250-400
Richard
(1821-1894)
Canon Pyon20 acres£24
George
(1826-1889)
Logaston, Almeley36 acres
Thomas Jenkins
(1837-1907)
Kinnersley140 acres, 3 labourers£1,624
Joseph
(1839-1923)
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).

NameLocationFarmEstate
John
(1778-1856)
Manorbier, Green Grove*27 acres
Joseph
(1805-1882)
Manorbier3 acres
then inherited Greengrove 27 acres
£145
Thomas
(1841-1916)
Manorbierbriefly a farmer, then a haulier and salesman in Pontypool
James
(1847-1931)
Manorbier
Later Lower Sapey, Worcs
95 acres
Francis
(1850-1922)
Wolferlow,
Herefordshire

* 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 https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills 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:

probate

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 https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/Login.asp 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 FamilyTreeDNA.com based in Texas. In the meantime I have created a Skyrme DNA project at:

www.familytreedna.com/public/Skyrme

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 www.lsars.org.uk/bronz99s.htm.

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:

http://sconzani.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/grave-matters-limbs-lost-and-found-part_30.html

Photo credit: Annie Irving

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 FamilySearch.org (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.

Vowchurch

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.

grave

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 CWGC.org (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 https://archive.org/details/historyofherefor09macd.

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) Ancestry.ca 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: