Friday, April 11, 2014

Family History Research On The Bird Family

I've been doing family history research from my mothers side of the family. Her fathers side had the family names Bird (paternal) and Hurt (maternal) and her mother's side had the family names Thawley (paternal) and Baker (maternal).

The family name Bird comes from Middle English bird, brid ‘nestling’, ‘young bird’ (Old English bridd), applied as a nickname or perhaps occasionally as a metonymic occupational name for a bird catcher. The metathesized form is first found in the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English, but the surname is more common in central and southern England. It may possibly also be derived from Old English burde ‘maiden’, ‘girl’, applied as a derisory nickname. (
I traced back our roots to Samuel Bird born in 1650, whose wife I have not found. His daughter in law, Francis Biggs was christened in The Parish of St. Paul's in Shadwell in 1681.
 The Parish Church of St Paul's at Shadwel
Here's some history on the church:
The Parish Church of St Paul's in Shadwell is an Anglican church that was first built in 1657. The church had a number of well known members including Captain James Cook and Thomas Jefferson's mother. It became known as the Church of Sea Captains because of its links to the docks and maritime trade and there are over 70 sea captains buried in the grave yard surrounding the church. During this time, John Wesley preached here a number of times and indeed preached his last sermon from the church's pulpit before dying a few days later. The existing building was built in 1820, following the older church coming into disrepair. It was funded by a large grant from the fund given by parliament to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The church became one of the "Waterloo Churches".
A few generations down was a James Bird born in 1820. Who was quite the black sheep of the family. We know a lot about where he was living as he had a criminal record for larceny and assaulting a police officer for over a decade of two.
The twist however, is that he died young and his commendable wife Ann brought the family circumstances up. She learned to do accounts and her children had respectable occupations as a pension officer, a police officer (ironic) and our direct ancestor who joined the Navy and served on  HMS Royal Adelaide.
V574 - HMS Royal Adelaide
V575 - HMS Royal Adelaide
Some history on HMS The Royal Adelaide 
The Royal Adelaide was a First Rate ship of the line. Along with her sister, the Princess Charlotte, they were ordered in 1812 being an enlarged version of the Victory. The design was altered after being ordered, to include a round bow and stern. She was built at Plymouth Dockyard, the keel being laid in May 1819 and launched on 28 July 1828 by the Duchess Adelaide of Clarence. She measured 197.11feet x 53.11feet 2466 tons (4122 tons by displacement). The rated armament when built was 104 guns, on three decks, mainly 32 pounders but also 8in shell guns and carronades; she never actually carried this armament, as she never saw active service. After launch she went into reserve at Plymouth, not being commissioned until December 1835. She did not go far however, being employed as the local harbour guardship and flagship of the port Admiral, and was moored in the Hamoaze. In May 1839 she paid off back into reserve. She then lay quietly swinging around her anchor until April 1859 when she was again commissioned to serve as the local receiving ship (accomodation for new recruits) / depot ship / port Admiral's flagship at Plymouth. There she remained unitl 1891 when she went to sea for the first time in her life, when she was towed to Chatham. There she was used as a receiving ship (i.e. accomodation) and depot ship. She finally paid off in 1904 and she was sold for scrap in April 1905, being broken up in Dunkirk.
The tree goes down to my maternal granddad who was born in 1934 and whose parents were from the south of Wales. Sometime after they met they moved to Leicestershire, near where my maternal great grandmother's past ancestors lived. There's so much more I'm researching to find out more.
I must say, if your not already a member on, I highly recommend it. It's been fascinating to do and talk about with family.

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