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Family History - My maternal Grandmother's side

I am the offspring of the surnames Martyniuk, Head, Wood, Partleton, Bushnell, Stage, Blake…..

Who do you think you are?

I have researched my family tree extensively (sometimes a little obsessively) since 2008. I had two young children and a partner who worked night shifts at the time, staying up until 2.00am looking at census records started to become the norm for me.

Doing your own research is time consuming, exciting and takes a lot of patience. Thankfully, I find it very enjoyable and have managed to trace back a long way. However, it is easy to go off on a tangent and I’m pretty sure my family tree is full of mistakes, I am actually considering starting from scratch.

Last month we sent off a DNA swab to Living DNA and some time in early December the results should be in. I decided to use my brother’s DNA to help trace the paternal line, obviously being a girl, I don’t have the Y chromosome.

To see if the results tally up with my findings, I have decided to share what I know to be true so far.

This week I will be sharing my maternal grandmother’s side (my mum’s mum).

My grandmother was born - Sheila Margaret Bushnell in 1926 in Croydon, Surrey, and - at the age of 92 she still lives in the borough.

Her parents were Winifred Theodosia Blake and Charles Albert William Bushnell.

Winifred and Charles my great grandparents.

Both of my great-grandparents were born and lived in Croydon. I went on to work at the same newspaper that my great grandfather worked at, the Croydon Advertiser. He actually died at work, here is a snippet from the paper.

The Bushnell family have roots in Wiltshire and Berkshire but I have not researched as far back on that side.

Winifred Blake (My great grandmother) was born in 1889 a daughter to Albert Benjamin Blake and Agnes Stage. One of six children. Millicent, William, Charles, Margaret (Maggie), Winifred and Caroline (Carrie).

Sisters Carrie, Winnie and Maggie.

The family lived in Sanderstead as well as Titsey in Limspfield and then Croydon. Winnie married my great-grandfather Charles Bushnell in 1914 in Croydon. They had five children together. Leslie, William (Ivan), Cyril and twin girls Sheila and Vera.

That is my Nan on the right with her twin sister.

Albert Blake, Winifred's father, was born in Burgh Castle in Suffolk and it seems like his family were from Norfolk. I can't be certain but I believe the picture below is of Albert and Agnes. Albert was a carpenter.

Here are Albert's parents, Benjamin Blake (1826-1910) and Caroline Curtis (1826-1911) - they were both from Norfolk but came to live in Croydon. Benjamin was also a carpenter.

And, to head even further back this is Benjamin's father - William Blake. He is my 4 x great-grandfather and was born in 1799 in Ranworth, Norfolk and died in 1887. Wow!

I am going to focus on my 2 x great-grandmother Agnes Stage as I know more about her family and have photos too. Agnes was born in 1853 in Golspie, Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands to John Stage and Ann Gow.

Agnes married Albert Blake in Parish Church, Hampstead in London in 1881 from this photo it looks like they had a double wedding with somebody?

Her sisters has all moved down to London, perhaps this is why Agnes followed?

Agnes is sat to the left of the groom and I believe Albert is behind her. I expect the bride is one of her sisters. Her sister Jessie is on the far right of this picture possibly taken in 1881 in Camden, London.

Now to her parents, my 3 x great grandparents, John Stage and Ann Gow. John Stage was born in 1824 in Edinburgh and Ann Gow was born in 1824, also in Edinburgh, Scotland. They had 10 children. John Stage was a tin-smith.

Moving on to my 4 x great-grand parents John Stage and Jean Robertson – Daniel Gow and Jean Mearns. John Stage was born in 1790 in Berwickshire on the Scottish border as was his wife Jean. He was a carpenter. This is a painting of him that a relative shared with me.

One of John's daughters’ Elizabeth Stage (1831-1895) moved to London and married Ebenezer Edward Peron Hingston. E.P Hingston played a major role in managing and promoting 19th century magicians. He was also a friend of Mark Twain and manager of a rival humorist Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne).

Daniel Gow and Jean Mearns were both from Midlothian, Scotland and were born in 1796 and 1793. Although I have been told that the Gow's originate from Perthshire.

My 5 x great grandparents - William Mearns and Jean Tennant were both from Ayrshire, Scotland and born in 1752 and 1756.

Finally, my 6 x great grand parents were John “Auld Glen” Tennant born in 1725, a friend of the poet Robert Burns. John Tennant was married three times, his first wife was Jean McClure. Robert Burns wrote this about him:

“Auld comrade dear, and brither sinner, How's a' the folk about Glenconner? How do you this blae eastlin wind, That's like to blaw a body blind?”

John Tennant of Glenconner was described as: 'A worth, intelligent farmer, my father's friend and my own', was how Burns described the prolific John Tennant of Glenconner in a letter to Clarinda, dated 2nd March 1788. He accompanied the poet on an inspection of Ellisland, and somewhat injudiciously, as things turned out, advised him to take it from Miller. He was factor to the Countess of Glencairn at Ochiltree for eleven years, and rented the farm of Glenconner. Previously, he had been Willian Burne's neighbour, at which time he was renting the farm of Laigh Corton, near Bridgend. He was one of the witnesses at Rober's baptism and is the 'guid auld Glen, The ace an wale of honest men', of the 'Epistle to James Tennant', which Burns addressed to John Tennants eldest son.

So there you have it, half of my maternal side. I will expect the DNA results to show some Scottish ancestry, with roots in London, Norfolk and Wiltshire. Let’s see how it pans out.

Next week I will look into my maternal grandad’s side.

I am happy to hear from any distant relatives who may know more, or may tell me if I have gone wrong somewhere.

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