Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Mid-Summer Journey Through Time...Friends, Family, and PORTAS Research

Well, it's been awhile since I last posted a story. Not because I didn't have one or many for that matter, but rather because I was on a month-long trip to Europe with my husband Bob and I decided I wouldn't do anything but take a vacation.

Early in the year, Bob made reservations for the bi-annual International Ernest Hemingway Society's conference which was being held this year in Venice, Italy. [In two years it will be in Oak Park!] The conference was the catalyst for the extended trip. Here's how it happened.

I said to Bob, as long as we are going to be in Venice, why not go to Berlin, too? He agreed right away. I tacked 10 days onto the beginning of the six-day conference. It was logical because we have German friends who live in Berlin who've been wanting us to visit them for sometime now, but we didn't have a chance before. Now we do and will.

Well? Then a little later, I added more days onto the end of the conference using this logic... as long as we were going to fly home from Venice...and would have to east...in the direction of England...why don't we go to Lincolnshire to meet some friends and relatives along with doing a little family history research and wandering around the parishes associated with my PORTAS families? Bob was reluctant to agree, but he did eventually after much more of my "logic." Another 10 days was added to the end of the six-day conference. All tolled -- 28 days we would be gone. This includes the two days of international flying time.

It was a wonderful trip. We did a lot. We were tired by the time we got to Lincolnshire, England. We enjoyed Berlin, Munich, Venice with my daughter joining us for the week in Venice. We actually met up with her in Munich and spent a couple days there before taking the train through the alps to Venice. 

And the last leg -- Lincolnshire, England (Lincs for short). This is where my family history research continues the story. [I lied about doing nothing but vacationing.]

We had booked a self-catering apartment a couple blocks from Lincoln Cathedral. This was the first time we stayed in Lincoln. It was an old red brick house in a quiet neighborhood and convenient to the Lincolnshire Archives and the Lincolnshire Family History Society's research room, but not necessarily for wandering or visiting folks most of which would be an hour away. 

East Gate road up a block from our road Langworthgate. You can see the Cathedral's tower in the background. The houses in front are part of the church grounds. This picture was taken by me 2014 as we were walking up to a restaurant for supper.

We rented a car at Heathrow airport and off we went to Lincolnshire. A missed turn-off on the M25 delayed our arrival to the St. Clement's Old Rectory -- our home for the next eight nights. This was on a Saturday. 

The next day we took our time getting up and ready for the day. We enjoyed hearing the Cathedral's bells chiming. We needed to have breakfast; the grocery store wouldn't open until 10 a.m. Not good to go shopping on an empty stomach. I forgot if we had anything until we went shopping. I had to do a little laundry before we could go to our 6 p.m. supper at cousin Alan's in Horncastle an hour away. We had to drive on the wrong side of the road. We had to find Alan's. It was a nice first-time meeting of him and his wife Ellen. Ellen had laid out all Lincolnshire goodies. We had stuffed chine, haslet, Lincolnshire poacher cheese, Myer's Lincolnshire plum bread, and more. We drank elderflower cordial - nonalcoholic. All was successful and we were home before 11 p.m. 

On Monday Bob and I drove over to Humberston to visit cousin Margaret. We had a wonderful "English" dinner of a salmon and haddock fish pie and veggies. She baked a cherry pie and made tea. I brought her an orchid for her birthday and a book about the famous people of Oak Park, Illinois. After dinner we drove to the Old Clee parish church and the Humberston parish church. Both of them are churches associated with the PORTAS family. Margaret and I believe this is where the PORTAS family had their early beginnings, but we have yet to prove our theory.

According to The Church of England website: "This ancient building is the oldest in Grimsby. Holy Trinity and St Mary served for many centuries as the parish church for the farming village of Clee and the fishing hamlet of Clee Thorpes. The Saxon tower dates from c1050. The nave was rebuilt and the transepts added in Norman times. St Hugh, the first Bishop of Lincoln, re-dedicated the church on 5th March 1192, during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart." Rod Collins' website is another to check out for a little history of this church.

Holy Trinity & St. Mary Old Clee (Cleethorpes) parish church. 
Picture taken by me 2014.
Humberston's parish church St. Peter's was open and we went in. I like to take pictures of the baptismal font because that is usually where the action was in my family history research. It was a lovely church. According to FamilySearch.org website: "Humberston (in some early record sources Humberstone) St Peter is an Ancient Parish. The Ice Age boulder Humber Stone deposited in the village gave the first name to the village but the original spelling is now archaic and to avoid confusion with Humberstone, Leicestershire was avoided." This church is the one where my 6th great grandparents William PORTAS and Isabel SALMON were married 4 Jun 1705.

St. Peter's Humberston's parish church.
Picture taken by me 2014.

St. Peter's Humberston's parish church baptismal font.
Picture taken by me 2014.
My main research objective in Lincs was to (1) look at one page of each original parish registers for Fulstow 1587 and Wold Newton 1679; (2) look at all the PORTAS Last Will & Testaments the Archives holds which is about 23 right now. I accomplished both. One of the regular researchers and transcribers helped me with the parish registers. I had found a Henry PORTAS in Fulstow on the PR when I was in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library cranking through the film. I wasn't sure if it was a marriage or a burial. I was pretty sure it was a marriage and I wanted to know who Henry's bride was also.

Anne called up the original book and the UV light. We paged to 1587; found the entry right away. Low and behold there was the entry, but it wasn't Henry – rather it was John. I had confused the 16th century writing of the first three letters as an "H" instead of "Joh" and thought it to be an abbreviation of Henry. Well that goes to show... This confirmed it was a marriage. John's bride is Ann LILBOW. I've never heard or seen a name like that; I'll check on it this October when I go to Salt Lake City again. Marriage date was 28 May 1587. John is the church warden and the spelling of surname is PORTASS. I couldn't take a picture of what we found because I didn't have camera privileges.

This Fulstow PORTAS bunch is prolific through out a couple centuries. I have been gathering film images of their events for several years and have put many families together, but haven't connected them to me. I'm sure it won't take long as I have a few clues for a connection. That will be for a later posting.

Wold Newton parish register was called up. I only wanted to know one thing on one page in that book. Last October in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found the marriage of my 7th great grandparents William PORTAS and Syllina "What's-Her-Name." Of all the words on that page, Syllina's maiden name was the most unreadable. I also wanted to know what some of the Latin words meant. Anne provided me with the results I wanted. Remember I wrote about Syllina "What's-Her-Name" back in the November 3 posting

This image was taken by me at Family History Library in Salt Lake City last October 2013 and used in my November 2013 blog post. I have shaded the marriage entry. It says: Wm Portas et Syllina _______ Solus nupt Nov 26 1679. Of course the pursuit of Syllina's maiden name was on. I couldn't leave it alone. (Solus = alone/single, Nupt = married)

I enlarged the image. I asked one of the LDS floor personnel for help. We checked on names being used in Wold Newton during that time. Nothing came of our efforts. Names we came up with were Colbert, Cuthbert and others similar to that. I decided to get a high resolution image from the Lincolnshire Archives. When it came, my heart was pounding for the thought of the answer. Nothing. That image wasn't any better. I made contact with one of the Lincolnshire mail listers and he said the use of a UV light might produce the results. So almost nine months later the name was revealed by UV light. BIRKET. Who would have thunk? [Image was taken by me and use in my November 2013 blog post.]

I wanted to hug Anne. BIRKET is what popped out as clear as a bell using the UV light. I wish I could have taken a picture but as I said before, I didn't have camera privileges. 

My other priority at the Archives was to look at as many PORTAS Wills as I could and I did. Most of the two days I booked at the archives, I read over 20 Last Wills & Testaments dated from the 1500s to the mid-1800s. I have written down the highlights, but didn't analyze any Will too closely. I ordered images of about 19 of them to be put on a CD and sent to me. I couldn't get all of them because of copyright laws. I should get the images in a couple weeks. Then I can go over them in more depth at my leisure from my computer.

I got home to Oak Park and settled at my main computer, with my internal clock finally ticking Chicago time after a month of Europe time, I searched Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org for Syllina BIRKET. Of course I came up with several spellings in the process, but each one of them had Syllina as being baptized in Ludborough, Lincs, 20 Dec 1648. That would have made her 31 when she married William PORTAS in Wold Newton 1679. To be 31 is a little old, but she may have been "in service" and didn't have a chance to marry until then. 

I also searched through Lincs To The Past website's images of the Ludborough register. There were many siblings for Syllina and her parents are named... John and Margaret. Bonus. I'll get images when I'm in Salt Lake City again.

Ludborough and Wold Newton aren't that far apart either...less than six miles according to Classic Google Maps. Because of the proximity, it is entirely possible Wold Newton is where Syllina was in service, met William, and married in that parish. They would eventually move to Tetney which isn't too far northeast of Ludborough.

The church can be see on the left side of this screen shot. To get to the church we had to walk on a public path through a horse pasture, up to a covered gate, then climb up a short ways more to the church. [Image is a screenshot from the satellite view on classic google maps.]

This is All Saints, Wold Newton parish church. It sits high on a hill overlooking the town below. When Bob and I were there, we didn't see any headstones of any PORTAS ancestors. Of course it wasn't until 2013 that I found out William Portas and Syllina Birket, my 7th great grandparents were married here. It was in 2012 when I connected my family with this family through the baptism I found for my 5th great grandfather Joseph. If it wasn't for that find, the Wold Newton PORTASes still would only be Margaret's. My 8th great grandfather Thomas was buried there 19 Dec 1679.

This picture was taken by me in 2005.

Ludborough's parish church St. Mary. 

This picture was taken by me in 2005.
I have only begun my search on the BIRKET family and must now decide how deep I want to go. When I'm in Salt Lake City again this October, I will certainly pay closer attention to the Ludborough and Wold Newton film again. I already have them on my "To-Do" list!

There is so much to tell about our trip and all we did, but it would be like those proverbial "home movies" everyone likes to show. I won't do that to you. I may do stories in capsule form periodically in future posts.

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