Tag Archives: Bombay

Lucky to be here

You know, it is actually mind boggling when one stops to consider how did they get to be here … exist, that is. I mean, when you really think about all the dots that had to connect to make it possible for each one of us to be here … and then for our descendants to be here, it is actually amazing to ponder.

We all come from ancestors, who thankfully, lived long enough to begat our grandparents, our great grandparents, our great great grandparents… well, you get the picture. And in those early days, that was no small feat.

CelindahCourtBrown_Death

Burial record for 4th great grandmother, Celindah Court Brown, 9 March 1843 at St. Thomas Cathedral, Bombay, India

I’ve been hunting for evidence of my 4th great grandmother, Celindah Court’s parents for years. She was born about 1805 in Calcutta, Bengal, India  and although I have found her marriage record, death records and records for all of her children, I have yet to be able to determine who her parents were or even an exact birthday for her.

I have been fortunate enough to find an 1813 baptism record for her that took place in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England and which lists her parents as Malay. Her father was English, of that I am certain, otherwise she would not have been able to marry as well and own property as she did, nor would she have been taken to England to be baptized. But, a Malay mother is certainly a possibility and my DNA does seem to back that up, showing that my genetic makeup consists of two percent of Asia East.

A couple of months ago, I came across a will for an Elizabeth Court, who recognizes my 4x great grandmother in her will as her goddaughter. Obviously, my grandmother was very much loved, as she was left money, jewels and all of Elizabeth’s property and goods that weren’t specifically given to someone else . At first I thought that perhaps Elizabeth was Celindah’s aunt, possibly a sister to her father and was quite excited that Elizabeth could be my missing link to breaking down my break wall. Turns out, I believe my hypothesis is half right… more extensive review of the will shows that Elizabeth was a widow, which means Court was her married name. I now believe Elizabeth is Celindah’s aunt but her father’s sister-in-law. The next step was to figure out who Elizabeth’s husband was and I found that out tonight. Thomas Court married Elizabeth Fisher in 1799 in Calcutta, Bengal, India. How do I know I have the right man? Thomas and Elizabeth Court had a son named Thomas Rowland Court… who happens to be mentioned in Elizabeth’s will, confirming I am on the right track.

But, that still hasn’t helped me yet identify Celindah’s father, but I feel I am getting closer and the closer I get, the more I am aware that it is by happenstance that I am here… breathing… able to write these words in the first place. Elizabeth died at 50. Her husband, Thomas died at 40. Their son died at 25 and his daughter at two and his wife at 26. My 4x great grandmother’s parents were missing from her life at her baptism and she was only about eight years old then. Celindah, in fact died at 38 after having nine children with only six of them living when she passed and another four of them died before they were 30 years of age. One daughter lived to be 73 and yet, another daughter, my 3rd great grandmother Celindah Elizabeth Jane Brown, in fact her first born, actually lived to be be 94 years old. How lucky is that?

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Birth/Baptism record of 3rd great grandmother, Celindah Elizabeth Jane Brown, 25 April 1828 in Bombay, India

That grandmother, Celindah Elizabeth Jane, who was born in Bombay, India, married Francis Clough and had 10 children by the time she was 33, with my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Audin Clough being their firstborn. Celindah Elizabeth Jane lost three of those children by age 29 and her husband, my 3rd great grandfather at 39.

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2nd great grandmother, Mary Audin Clough Panchaud (1846-1909)

My great great grandmother, Mary Audin, had been widowed twice and buried three children by age 30 when she met and married my 2nd great grandfather, Louis Panchaud in England. He was 23 years older than she was and also a widower. Their marriage would only last 12 months before he committed suicide. Mary had given birth six months after their marriage and was pregnant with my great grandfather, Louis Benoni Panchaud, when he killed himself. My great grandfather was born eight months later and it’s quite possible his father had no idea he was leaving his wife with child. After a life full of heartache and death, Mary Audin died alone at age 63 in Dimboola, Victoria, Australia. Mary’s two sons did live to reach adulthood. My Uncle Albert became a man of the cloth, thus having no children, and also died at age 63 in Cornwall, England, a beloved parish priest.

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Great Grandfather, Louis Benoni Panchaud (1878-1950) and family, including grandfather, Louis William Panchaud (1922-2006) in sailor suit

My great grandfather immigrated to Bermuda, where he met my great grandmother and begat four children of his own, including my grandfather, Louis

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself quite lucky that I even exist. I mean, each one of my grandparents was a child that outlived their siblings. For all but a couple, they had to grow up without their parents. While familial lines were ceasing to exist on collateral lines, mine continued. When you think about it that way… it’s pretty amazing that I, let alone my children, are even here. But here we are and here we continue… and now my children are bringing the next generation to life.

Although, I haven’t been able to find who begat the first Celindah, I’d like to think that she is smiling down at what she started and perhaps she plays a small part in my trouble at finding her parents … maybe this is her way of ensuring that her memory continues and a reminder that without her, there would be no me.


In awe of the past

I have been spending the past 10 days on a dream vacation…. a week of research at the world’s largest genealogical library – The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It’s been a week with no children, no husband, no work (well, almost… I still wrote a couple of stories for this week’s Leader), and almost no school (online classes ;-))

And even with that little bit of work and school I had to do, I have had an AMAZING week! Ten to 12 hours a day of researching, give or take an hour depending on if I remembered to stop to eat. I have scoured through books written in the mid-1800s, examined Internet resources which made available documents and newspapers from all over the world from the past four centuries and my favorite – microfilms documenting marriages, births, deaths, military service and censuses, some as early as 1712! This trip I have visited Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, India, Switzerland and England, all without leaving the warmth of the library.

There is something about being able to view an original document which exists as testament to the life of your ancestors. On my last trip in July, I located the 1827 marriage certificate of my 4th great-grandparents, William and Celinda Court Brown and the 1844 marriage certificate of my 3rd great-grandparents, Francis and Celinda Brown Clough from BOMBAY, INDIA… Talk about an amazing feeling! This time, I found banns (wedding announcements) and death notices written in French from my PANCHAUD line in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland from 1712… pouvez-vous dire merveilleux?

Death certificate of Jean Francois Panchaud

Death certificate of Mary Roberts

Death certificate of 11 month-old Mary Roberts

I also found the death records of my great-great-grandmother’s first husband and their daughter, my great-great-great-great auntie, who both died in Bombay, India in 1869, just five months apart from each other. Her husband of less than two years, Robert Clifton Roberts was 34 years old and died from an abscessed wound. He was thought of very highly in his community and the local newspaper, The Times of India, reported on Mar. 1, 1869 that his death was sincerely regretted. My 11-month-old auntie, Mary Roberts, died from convulsions. Finding their death notices helped explain why my great-great grandmother left her home and her family and traveled thousands of miles to England in the 1870s after spending her entire life in India. I can imagine how distraught she must have been to have lost her husband and baby within months of each other. She probably was trying to get away from the place that held so much pain for her, even though it was the place of her birth. But at the same time, even though I feel sadness at their passing and what could have been, when I look at those records I can’t help but think if they hadn’t died, I would not be here today. Because it was their deaths that drove my gggrandmother to England where she met my gggrandfather, and in turn, begat my line.

I also learned some American history this week. I located a census of the Indiana Territory for 1807 which listed every free white man living in the territory before it was a state. There was only 616 names on the list! I find that simply incredible that I have a document in my hands that list every single person living in the state of Indiana, before it was a state, and there’s just over 600 names on the list! My sixth-great grandfather, Alexander Guard and two of his sons, David (my 5th great grandfather) and Timothy were listed on the census. They had traveled from New Jersey with their families after the Revolutionary War by following the Ohio River, arriving at North Bend, Ohio in the spring of 1790 and moved to, what is now Dearborn County, Ind. in 1796.

There is so much history to be learned by digging up the past – The history of our ancestors and of our descendants. The reason we are here and the path we are taking. Genealogy is the map to discovering our history. Give it a try and learn the stories of your past.


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