How DNA helped me find a Webb relative

Considering how common the WEBB name is supposed to be I really don’t get many matches to them on DNA. SO therefore when one popped up the other day I was immediately interested.

The DNA match and I shared 75CM across 1 segment making us 3rd – 4th Cousins. Shared matches suggested it was a WEBB link between us so I set about the matches tree to find more info.

There was only one WEBB in the tree.

Mary Elizabeth WEBB b Abt 1866 d 1905 Hastings, Sussex, married to Frederick George BARTON in July 1904 Hastings, Sussex. Initial searches using FreeBDM and Ancestry could reveal no further information on how she fitted into my tree. Census records had her with an unrelated family in 1891 and working as a servant in 1901.

So it was time to order some certs, the Marriage Cert and the Birth Cert.

The Marriage Cert arrived first which had the father down as Edward WEBB deceased. This didn’t really help at all but considering the number of WEBB marriages and birth certs with fictitious fathers I was not giving up hope.

The birth cert backed up my thoughts, Mary Elizabeth was born to Hannah WEBB a singlewoman in the Union Workhouse at Lewes. She was baptised in Dec 1886 at St Andrew’s Beddingham with mother Hannah noted as a singlewoman living in South Malling.

Being baptised at Beddingham is a sure sign there is a major link to my WEBB families and further investigations revealed that Hannah WEBB was the daughter of Charles WEBB and Mary PILBEAM my great-great grandparents.

Hannah was in and out of the workhouse and met her future husband there Ernest SMITH.

Sadly there is no evidence that Hannah and her daughter Mary Elizabeth ever met again. Mary Elizabeth was placed with a family at some point before the the 1891 census and was working as a servant before her marriage in 1904.

War Memorial overlooking Cuckmere Haven

Found on a rather windy morning whilst out walking on a trip to Sussex.


This plaque commemorates the soldiers who died in this area and specifically in this field during World War II. Their numbers are unknown but their memory lives on.

The following is a personal testimony from Corporal LESLIE EDWARDS 1920-2004, a local man who served in the area and laid poppies on this spot every Remembrance Sunday until his death.

“I will never forget the day in 1940 when a Canadian Company came to Cuckmere and pitched their tents in this field. I was stationed here and knew that bombers regularly used this valley for navigation purposes. I tried to tell the commanding officer but he was not interested in what I had to say. Two mornings later the Messerschmitts arrived. Just as the sun was rising they came skimming over the water and up the valley. Around Alfriston they banked hard and came back. Bearing down on the tents they opened fire. Steam, soil and grass rose in front of them as bullets and bombs entered the ground. All the young men in the marquees and bell tents were killed. The commanding officer who was shaving at the time in the middle coastguard cottage, died instantly when a shell went through the wall that held his mirror.”

Remember me when I am gone away.
Gone far away into the silent land.
Christina Rossetti

United Benefice of All Saints, St Anne, St Michael & St Thomas – Lewes

Transcription of record inside St Michaels of Lewes.

1975John HABGOOD1975Peter WRIGHT
1984Peter WRIGHT1984Simon HOLLAND
1988Simon HOLLAND1988Andrew PIPER
1991Barry KEETON1993Paul BENFIELD
1998 Christopher CHANNER

United Benefice of All Saints, St Michael & St Thomas established to take effect from 1st June 2000


2000 Christopher CHANNER

Mini Book Review: Surnames, DNA, & Family History

This is a good explanation of how hereditary surnames came to be in the UK, focusing mainly on location rather than linguistic derivations of names. The use of DNA in tracing surnames is also written about with a number of case studies which are a little complex but nonetheless worthwhile to read.

Using surname mapping to find your ancestors

Sometimes when you have exhausted every avenue you are left wondering where to look next. When I first started doing my family history I had a notion like most others that families didn’t move much in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, that is not the case and many move much further than you can imagine.
This is where surname mapping might be a help to pin point areas where families with the surname you are researching may have moved to or even come from of course. You can do this using many different records like the census and land tax records but a good place to start is the 1837-1851 death registration indexes which you can access for free at . Deaths rather than births are used as they are more likely to have been in that area longer.
Go to FreeBMD, put in the date range and tick the deaths box and then you can either choose where you want to search be it a county/counties/country. You will then get your results and it is just a case of making a tally chart to record that information.
Once you have that information you can either use a program like GenMapUK or find a map with registration districts on it and start colouring. Work out a scale for your colours so you can see a difference between the districts and then sit back and admire your work!

Completed with GenMapUK

Using a blank map found online.

A timeline affecting the non-conformists (work not complete yet!)

This is part of a piece of work I am doing on Non-Conformists, those people who do not follow the Anglican Church. The timeline looks at various Acts that were passed which in the whole prevented Non-Conformity and therefore any records associated with it until the late 1700s, early 1800s. It is a working article so may change as I gather more information and iron our any mistakes that have been made. If you notice any or see anything I may have missed then please comment with them.


Before 1534 most English Christians were Catholics

1534 Henry VIII breaks away from Rome and declares himself head of the English Church

Some Protestant sects were formed before 1558 – mainly individuals with ideas so no organised beginning for non-conformity before 16th cent.

1559 Act of Supremacy – placed Elizabeth I as supreme Governor of all spiritual and ecclesiastical things.

1559 Act of Uniformity – all worship to follow the Book of Prayer fines of 12d to those absent from church on Sundays

1581 – Fine increased to £20 a month. Could be exacted from any land you owned. Loss of civil rights, unable to collect any rents or debts owed.

1587 – Act passed not allowing the sale or buying of land from Recusants

1593 – Recusants not allowed to travel more than 5 miles from their home.

1581-1591 – Cases were recorded in the Pipe Rolls

1592 – 1691 – Cases recorded in the Recusant Rolls

1606 – Act passed not allowing any Catholics to reside within 10 miles of London nor to practise in certain occupations or the military. Baptisms, marriages and burials only to be performed by Anglican clergy with severe penalties if not conformed to. Catholics on marriage forfeited the brides property to the crown. Men were responsible for their wifes recusancy.

1610 – Act requiring all Catholics 18+ to take an oath of allegiance, with penalties for refusal.

1611 – before this you could still be burnt at the stake.

1627-1642 – Commission for Compounding with Recusants set up to find concealed sources of revenue of recusants

1643 – Committee for the Sequestrian of Delinquents Estates – seize and confiscate land or levy fines on those described as papists and recusants

1643+ – Replaced by the Committee for Compounding for the Estates of Royalists and Delinquents

1643 New oath requiring denial of Catholics beliefs or loss of estate.

1649-1660 – Puritan Pariliament period of non-passivity towards non-conformists. Under Cromwell non-conformist minsters enjoyed greater freedoms many replacing Anglican clergy. Wills, baptisms, marriages and burials became a civil matter rather than a church one. This encouraged some non-conformists to keep their own registers.

1656 – Earliest Quaker Registers

1660 – Restoration – Started to get rid of nonconformist minsters who had replaced the Anglican ones.

19th May 1662 – Act of Uniformity – Every minster had to swear to follow the Book of Common Prayer in public. 3 months imprisonment for ministers still preaching non-conformism. This resulted in between 1600 – 2000 minsters to be ejected. Some continued to preach to like-minded congregations and some registers began to be made.

17th May 1664 – Conventicles Act – Any congregation of non-conformists greater than 5 would result in a fine of £5 or 3 months imprisonment for the 1st offence. 2nd offence it was doubled. 3rd offense resulted in Transportation to a foreign plantation but not New England.

1665 – The Five Mile Act – Non-conformist minsters or teachers could not come within 5 miles of a corporate town or parish they had previously ministered at unless just passing. £40 fine but many were imprisoned as they needed to work to live. May were imprisoned , about 8000.

1672 – Charles I Declaration of Indulgence allowed non-conformists to apply for licences for meeting houses about 1061 minsters did (Tracing your family history)

1673 – Act was repealed and the Test Act introduced which returned to fining and imprisoning recusants.

17th November 1676 – Compton Census – constables and church wardesn ordered to take names of every recusant over 16 and hand to the JPs, who then had to summon them to take oaths.

1687 – Declaration of Indulgence, suspended the Test Act.

1688 More anti Catholic legislation introduced under James II.

1689 – Toleration Act granted massive freedoms to the majority of non-conformists. This allowed the freedom of worship to all bar Catholics. There were still many barriers to non-conformist ministers but despite that 2418 places of dissenting worship were licensed between 1689-1700.

1689 – Attendance was compulsory at Anglican Church services until this point

Where are the Webbs hiding in 1851?

Using the 1851 Post Office Directory the following Webbs can be found:

Benjamin Webb – 7 Burlington Street, Brighton – Auctioneer
Richard M & Benjamin Webb – 50 Devonshire Place, Brighton & 1 Marine Parade, Brighton – Wine, spirit, ale and porter merchants, auctioneers, estate agents, undertakers and land surveyors
Mrs Emma Webb – 13 Kings Road, Brighton – Milliner
James Webb – 55 Kings Road, Brighton – Milliner
Mrs Sarah Webb – 84 Kings Road, Brighton – Lodging House
Richard Webb Esq – 75 Marine Parade, Brighton
Thomas Webb – 16 North Street, Brighton – Millinery Warehouse
James Webb – 9 Queen’s Road, Brighton – Estate Agent
Mr John Webb – 21 Richmond Place, Brighton
Mr Henry Webb – 29 West Street, Brighton – Brazier and Iron Monger
Mrs Webb – 38 Russell Square, Brighton
George Webb – Waterloo Street, Brighton – Coal Merchant
William Webb – Cocking – Wheelwright
David Webb – 8 Prospect Place, Hastings – Beer Retailer
John Webb – East Street, Hastings – Beer retailer & boot and shoe maker
Peter Webb – Ifield – Shoemaker
Mrs Susan Webb – Sedlescombe – Grocer & Draper

Where are the Webbs hiding in 1839?

Using Pigots Directory 1839 we can find the following Webbs:

Frederick Webb Esq – 41 Brunswick Square, Brighton
William Webb Esq – 38 Russell Square, Brighton
Richard & Benjamin Webb – 50 Devonshire Place, Brighton – House and Estate Agents and Wine/Spirit Merchants
George Webb – Waterloo Street, Brighton – Coal Merchant
Samuel Webb – 11 Lansdowne Place, Brighton – Cowkeeper & Dairyman
Richard & Benjamin Webb – 1 Marine Parade, Brighton, LONDON fire & Office Agents and Wine/Spirit Merchants
John Webb – 4 High Street, Brighton – Tailor
John Webb – Bourne Street, Hastings – Boot & Shoe Maker