|About Edmonds and Balls Family
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It is easy to become obsessed with genealogy. I have. This manifests itself in different ways for different people. Some like to find as many connexions as possible, direct or lateral: head counting, as it were, and they get great satisfaction in finding as many hundreds of people as they can with whom they have any link at all. Some prefer to limit this excercise to a particular name: one name studies. They tend to be pretty thorough, but sometimes extend way beyond any demonstrable personal connexion. Other people are fascinated by finding co-descendants, seeking out as many living relatives as they can with whom they share a common ancestor. They may even organise get-togethers and make real and lasting personal connexions. My particular fixation has been in tracing each of my direct lines as far back as I can: discovering and writing up in hard copy and within this Tree what I have learned about the lives and contemporaries of each individual parent, grand-parent, great-grandparent etc. However, as every family historian knows, for each person identified there will be another two to find. Simply getting as far as 4 x great-grandparents would give 126 individuals to research and I have tried to set each individual in his/her historical and geographical context. In some lines I have traced beyond my 4 x great-grandparents, (although this has been slightly counter-balanced by other lines coming to an abrupt early halt ... for now). Given my predilection for pedantic precision, that's a lot of work, but I hope I have created reasonably coherent narratives. I have used reminiscences from relatives and received family knowledge, photographs, certificates and other evidence of birth, marriage, or death, as well as copies of wills and other documents. I have not included copies of documents here, but given references which can be followed up. Public documents such as census entries, maps, newspaper reports have been a great help. I was born in Colchester, Essex in 1944, the younger of the two daughters of Robert John William Edmonds from Harwich, Essex and Constance Amie Louise Balls, born in Islington. My maternal grandparents, Amy and James (Jim) Balls, lived just up the road from us in Walton-on-the-Naze. Amy had been born in Islington, where she married Jim, who was a Norwich boy. He had been sent to London to live with a cousin after his father's accidental death. On the wall of Amy and Jim's dining room were three large portraits: two photographs and an oil painting (the biggest) said to be of Amy's father, Thomas Lucas. It lives in my memory in shades of black and brown. Apparently, it was sent for cleaning after the deaths of Jim and Amy and was never seen again. However, the photographs came to me after our mother's death. One is of Thomas and the other is of his wife Louisa (Cooper). Thomas, I was told, was a Welshman. These two old photographs inspired my interest in my family tree. However, for some time Louisa and Thomas each provided me with a classic genealogist's brick wall and I had far greater success with my father's roots, mainly in North East Essex and Suffolk and the Norfolk family of my mother's father. The latter's family, one of many Balls families in Norfolk, provided a vast network of prolific kin from villages around Norwich, but eventually becoming concentrated in that lovely city. I had a meal in the pub at Mulbarton where I like to think that my great-great-grandfather, Matthew Brighton, once drank. Although I have made limited progress with his grandfathers, the Suffolk ancestry of both of my father's grandmothers was extensive and I have been lucky to receive a lot of help from Batho, Forsdike, Clover and Marchant co-descendants. Sarah Batho and her family provided many wonderful examples of familial support, detailed in one of the "Stories" in this Tree. (Click on "People" on the task bar and then "Stories". This one is called "Networking: not such a new idea"). As to my mother's maternal grandparents, at first I could not find either Thomas or Louisa before they appeared together as man and wife in the 1861 census and I still have found no record of their marriage. Eventually, I found Louisa in the 1851 census. Aged 13, she was in a London orphanage. I was soon able to trace her origins and family in Portsmouth, despite the red herring of the Isle of Wight, mentioned in some census entries. The Cooper family appear to have originated in Dorset and migrated Eastwards into Hampshire. I still have work to do there. I eventually identified Thomas as the Thomas Lucas who had been baptised in 1816 in the parish of Llangurig, Montgomeryshire. Tracing his family history, I discovered that my Lucas family had been part of the mid-Wales farming community for at least two centuries. During a trip in 2007 to the Powys County Archive in Llandrindod Wells in order to raid the Montgomeryshire parish records, my husband and I also ranged the countryside and eventually discovered the derelict remains of Gwerntyddyn, the house from which Thomas had been baptised. I have described in a separate "Story" my education about the nature of Welsh parishes and the fact that the Lucases did not actually come from the town of Llangurig, but from the far larger area of the Parish of that name. I have also rambled around Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, visiting the villages and city parishes of my East Anglian ancestors. Like mid-Wales, many of these locations have changed very little, despite the addition of occasional modern dormitory estates. Subsequent real and virtual visits to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth provided more parish records and a wealth of documentation about the Lucas family, mainly relating to the passing of property. Their will-making habit (which they took to England) has given me a great deal of original and corroborative genealogical information, although I have not traced a will for Thomas himself. The more modest East Anglian branches of my family rarely owned property and only a few of them seem to have made wills: usually a craftsman bestowing the precious tools of his trade. Here, I also learnt quite a lot about workhouses, but mainly in regard to their care for the sick and dying. (Many such places became hospitals in the twentieth century). Even when the word "pauper" appears on the record, it is clear that all my ancestors (male and female) were a hard working lot, only ever driven to reliance on the parish for their children, or when too sick to work. Again, I have written a "Story" on this subject. Once I had reached back to the 1660s with the Lucases, a new puzzle arose: where did they come from originally? They seem simply to have appeared in the area in about the seventeenth century, become fairly well established and then to have disappeared almost completely. Earlier records of the name are sparse. The name is not Welsh and a glance at the current telephone directory for the Llangurig area today reveals very few Lucas entries. Even granted the exodus of Thomas's immediate family to London in the 1830s, one would have expected other branches of the family, if they were established, to have remained there and multiplied. But were they that well established? Were they even Welsh? Contact in 2014 with Neil Brian Taylor, an American Lucas descendant, provided some new clues. It now seems likely that the Lucases were part of an implantation of English into mid-Wales that began during the reign of Elizabeth I. My Lucas family, who were immigrants from Wales into London in the early nineteenth century, may well have been descended from English immigrants into Wales in the sixteenth or early seventeenth centuries. Although some of them did marry native Welsh, with names like Lewis and Davies, the Lucases themselves were possibly actually English in origin, as may well have been some of their spouses. All this has fed my principal interest in my ancestry: its social history. The Lucases and all my East Anglian families provide a wealth of interest and insight. Most notably, I have seen the impact of the nineteenth century Industrial and Agrarian Revolutions upon the lives of ordinary people. In Wales, they seem to have had a negative impact on sheep farming, but in Norfolk, the proliferation of the silk mills offered increased potential for employment. In London, precipitate urbanisation also led to hitherto unknown opportunities. Thus, the Lucases became dairy owners in the English capital and James Balls, escaping poverty in Norfolk, eventually owned his own shoe shop in London. I do like problem solving and following clues and evidence and I have an obsession with accuracy. So, such pride as I have in my tree is not in the numbers of relatives found, nor in the length of historical distance traced, but in the care that I have taken and the results that I have achieved through reasoning, commitment and sheer persistence! I have researched amongst maps and parish and other records at many archive centres in England and Wales and there is a great thrill to be had after hours of staring goggled eyed at film and microfiche (or, even, the occasional original document) when you find that vital link you have been seeking. I sometimes feel that archive offices should provide a room into which you could rush to punch the air and yell "Yes! Found it!!". I have obtained some documents online from, for example, the National Archives and used practically all the genealogical websites at some time or other. Findmypast is a useful resource as it usually has originals available to view. For registration references from the Government Record Office (GRO), I use www.freeBMD.org, obtaining copy certificates from the GRO itself. I have sometimes made use of www.Ancestry.co.uk, although its transcriptions are sometimes quite bizarre and many of its family trees contain erratic and unverified information. Also occasionally used, but with much caution, is the current online International Genealogical Index (The IGI) compiled by the Church of the Latter Day Saints and available at https:// familysearch.org. This is no longer a reliable resource. Although we have not invariably reached the same conclusions, I have been greatly assisted in my Lucas research by the information contained in a study compiled by William V. H. Barker, an American researcher using (as far as I can tell) the Bishop's transcripts. His material has very kindly been made available to fellow researchers on a CD-rom: Introduction to Families of Montgomeryshire 1675 - 1825, lodged at the Powys County Archive. Thank you very much, Mr. Barker. I am also very grateful for information about all my families from various of my contemporary relatives and co-descendants in the U.K. and abroad, especially Dennis Bell's work on the Batho Family. Several individuals who, like myself, have created texts about their families have even been so kind as to email or post me relevant chapters, which have all been extremely helpful and the website Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (www.raogk.org) has further demonstrated what a supportive community is the world of family history. Local genealogical societies have always been helpful. I have named specific people who have helped me in the texts relating to the relevant ancestor(s). All history is probability, as very little can be 100% certain, but I have done my best to establish all my facts at least on the clear balance of probability and, wherever possible, beyond reasonable doubt. Where the web of history has become especially tangled, I have added yet another explanatory "Story" to this site (e.g. about Nathaniel Rozier and about the roots of the Batho family). Unfortunately, sometimes, when researching on the net, I have too frequently encountered examples of unverified information or of downright inaccuracy, creating trails that lead to false or, at best, questionable conclusions. I am too much of a pedant to accept that! So, although I cannot totally guarantee the accuracy of all the information contained here, I can promise that I have spent many hours doing the best I can to obtain verification. I have followed leads carefully and built links based on evidence and reasoning. I have tried to avoid including information from unverified sources, but I may sometimes have too readily accepted from living people unevidenced information as to their own families, which may turn out to be flawed. I have found (and corrected!) errors in my own memories, let alone those of others who have been kind enough to give the best information they can. As the only information appearing here about those still living is date of birth, any inaccuracies that have crept in there should not be too much of a problem, but if you recognize yourself as one of the LIVING entries and discover that I have misrepresented you or yours, please let me know and I will, with apologies, make the appropriate amendments. Please note that some of the commentary for this Tree is not mine, but is automatically generated by this excellent website. I am unable to change certain formulae. Thus, when an Ahnentafel Report tells you 'they had one child' of a couple you know had more, it will be because I have only entered that one child so far. I may - or may not - know of any others. Please feel free to tell me about any missing offspring.