The Jeal Mystery

A few years ago I received a photograph from my cousin and friend Bill Heasman, written on the back was the following :-

“This is my mother’s and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Jeal.  They lived in a cottage by the ‘Brewery Tap’ in Lakedale Road, Plumstead.  I used to go and see them and meet my mother there when I came from school and we would walk home together.  My mother died suddenly of a heart attach when I was 13.  I was in the Ext 7th and left school then. My sisters Dolly then 17 and Kate 14 were mother’s helps.”        Lizzie Heasman

You would think that would be enough to work out who the couple were, wouldn’t you? Wrong!!!

The Jeal family are not an easy one to track down – they need to be teased out rather than tracked down in 10 minutes (metaphorically speaking).

Their name can be spelt on a variety of ways Gel, Geal, Heal etc.  Add into this mix the name Jewiss and you’ve got a minefield – Huss, Jervis you get the picture [but that’s for later].

I don’t find the London aspect of my family history very easy to get my head around – I have never been to Plumstead or walked its streets and acquainted myself with its finer points – this connection I feel is important to us, ‘the seekers’.

To overcome this problem I consulted and then transcribed Charles Booth‘s poverty account of Plumstead.

His descriptions are frank and to the point with none of the rose-tinting that one might get from memories.

“… all the houses practically brothels, used by sailors, loafers, waterside labourers and by the lowest grade soldiers … “

“… All these roads are 2st [storey], clean, fairly broad, built about 40 years ago : poor : have the look of tenants who earn money but don’t spend it well.  Clyne gives them all a bad character for drink …”

A thought suddenly occurred to me and I went off at a tangent and posted an ‘APB’ on a RootsChat forum and lo and behold an angel answered my call and it transpired that perhaps this wasn’t Mr. and Mrs. Jeal after all.

To be honest try as I might I’ve never be able to slot this photo into the Jeal / Heasman timeline – they are either dead; not born; not old enough for school; or simply in the wrong part of town.

With Rog’s help (of RootsChat) I started to think perhaps Lizzie had got it slightly wrong yes, the couple were her mother’s aunt and uncle but could it be one of her mother’s married aunts instead of a married uncle?  Only one could fit the bill – Elizabeth born 1826, three years older than her sister Emma (Lizzie’s grandmother, my 4x grandmother).

Elizabeth and her husband John lived on Cage Lane/Lakedale Road for much of their married lives and they didn’t die before Lizzie reached school age – hurray!

All in all I think ‘Rog’ cracked it for me, a fresh pair of eyes – thanks Rog.

So here is the photo in all its glory, I give you Elizabeth and John Jewiss.


2 June, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Family History. Leave a comment.

An introduction

This is my first blog – something I thought I’d never do. I’ve watched my family dip their toes into the sea of blog and swim away, leaving me well, stranded in my blogless world.  Well I’ve taken the plunge and here I am.

My main reason for starting to blog is to record my family history triumphs and tribulations – I’m no expert, I’ve only been researching for 11 years – no time at all in the genealogy world and I seem to have amassed a whole range of paper documents, photos, certificates and memories that would keep anyone busy for a lifetime.  I’ve even  had time to do a full-time job, move twice, run the family home and edit a local family history society’s magazine.  At one time I even started to catalogue births, deaths and marriages from the local newspapers – I think these might become a feature!

I’m lucky, I’m only 40 – a relative spring chicken and caught the ‘bug’ before my grandmother passed away aged 99 and 8 months!  I was privileged to have the chance to share with her memories of a time long past how I wish I’d started 10 years before that!

Some of my lines of research are : Densham, Star, Downham, Dillon, Sutcliffe, Roadhouse, Gill, Allsop, Harrison, Hopkins, Morris(s), Heasman, Jeal, Labbett and Grubb.

Of course I could go for hours and hours but don’t you find its always so boring when someone only wants to talk about their family?  Well sharing is what I hope to do so please come and share.

I have also recently found that my family have a passion for cup cakes, so you never know cup cake disasters could also feature – well, family life is what its all about.


14 August, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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