In order to find an unusual name to meet this week’s challenge, I have had to go back to the 17th Century. All my ancestors seem to have very solid Anglo-Celtic names, with many first names handed down from generation to generation according to common family naming patterns. So who did I find to meet this challenge? My 6 x great grandmother, born in Bremhill, Wiltshire in 1658 and named Frizwith Crumpe. Her mother was also named Frizwith.
Record of Baptism. Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre; Chippenham, Wiltshire, England; Wiltshire Parish Registers; Reference Number: 1154/2
Frizwith is one of the variations on the name Frideswide. It is a form of the Old English name Friðuswīþ (Frithuswith), composed of the elements frið“peace, tranquillity, security, refuge,” and swið “strong, mighty, powerful.”
Having not heard this name before it needed a little research to find that they were named after Saint Frithuswith. The name became known thanks to St Frideswide (also known as Frithuswith, Frideswith, Frevisse and Fris) who was reputed to have been the daughter of a king of Mercia in the 8th century. Fleeing from an overzealous suitor, Frideswide founded a convent in Oxford. The church later became a cathedral — which we now know as Christ Church Cathedral, She is the patron saint of Oxford.
There are a number of stories about her life and she was well regarded and revered until the time of the Reformation. With Protestants discouraging the veneration of saints, St Frideswide disappeared from popular knowledge.
Maybe I should be thankful that this was one name that was not handed down through the family regardless of how saintly she was!
Week 2 and the word is “challenge”.
Researching any ancestor is challenging, and in nearly every one of their stories, there is that message of overcoming life’s challenges to succeed. I have to admit my own personal challenge when it comes to family history is much simpler, a cupboard full of photos and ephemera that need to be sorted, recorded and appropriately stored.
Instead of just thinking of them as just another job that needs to be done I need to remember how lucky I am to have these pictures and other pieces of family history that have been handed down over the years. The oldest pieces I have are a pair of Lithgow Pottery serving plates from the mid-1800s that belonged to my great grandmother. Now I think about it I can’t believe that not only have I not made a record of their history but I haven’t even photographed them!
My father and mother had many old family photos some that are deteriorating because of the glue and other storage methods that were used. I don’t even want to mention my own family photos that have just been bundled into shoe boxes without any thought. They all represent over a century of family memories, and they need to be treated with respect.
At least I can say I have started by looking up sites on how to store photos. The ones I found most useful are:
Time to face up to the challenge and get all the photos and memories safely stored and into a format that is easy to share and celebrate!
It looks as if this challenge is what I needed to start the ball rolling this year. The weekly prompts created by Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is proving a useful trigger to getting me writing rather than just researching. As you can see from the list below I have done a post for Week 1 and I am now pondering options for Week 2, better come up with something by tonight or I will be running late…. and I have only just started!
The January Prompts
Week 1 (January 1-7): First
Week 2 (January 8-14): Challenge
Week 3 (January 15-21): Unusual Name
Week 4 (January 22-28): I’d Like to Meet
Week 5 (January 29-February 4): At the Library
I have decided to take on the challenge of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks to encourage me to post regularly on my blog (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/). The first prompt is the word “first” and I scratched my head more than a little to come up with something appropriate. One of the first ancestors I researched was my grandmother Hazel Annie Chisholm. By clicking on her name you can see her story. What is interesting that after putting in months of work to find out about her relationship with her husband William Shute a DNA match has now appeared that shows I am closely related to the Doherty family. I always believed that Jack or “Pop” Doherty as I will always remember him was my grandfather. Legal documents show that William Shute is recorded as my mother’s father and I found it very difficult to reconcile that with how I felt about my Pop. Now I am just waiting for some more test results from a descendant of William to resolve the question and I am incredibly grateful to his great-granddaughter for agreeing to do this. Now I just have to be patient while we wait for the results to come in …. all my fingers are crossed!
Lydia was the 2nd child of Alfred Biggs, my 2 x great uncle, and the only one of his three children to live to adulthood. She went on to marry and have seven children. Here is her story.
My great uncle, Alfred Biggs, was certainly a colourful character. A butcher by trade he immigrated to Australia with his brother, my great grandfather Stephen Biggs. to read more about him click here to link to his page.
Family naming patterns are both a curse and a blessing when searching for ancestors. It was interesting though to find that after a long history of the name of James being handed down through the Biggs family line neither my great grandfather, Stephen, nor his brother Alfred named their sons after their father who was the last James in this line of the family. Was there a falling out or was it just that the name of James was no longer considered fashionable? Stephen did name one of his sons Francis Alfred, no doubt a nod to his brother, while Alfred called his first and only son, Stephen, obviously holding his older brother in high esteem.