creating trees in DNA Painter

Many tools have been developed to help users interpret the results of DNA tests.

DNA Painter maps segments of DNA to chromosomes. This helps to show which ancestors gave us which DNA segments, and how new matches are related.

DNA_Painter___Profile_-_Greg_Young 2019 07 18

On the basis of matches with his cousins, I have mapped 28% of Greg’s chromosomes, identifying the forebears from whom he inherited his DNA.

The company,,  has recently introduced a new feature: users can now upload a GEDCOM file directly.

My main tree is on and has 9,992 people, with 1,975 photos, 267 stories and 14,669 records. It contains most of my research about my own and my husband’s forebears.

I regularly download a GEDCOM file as a backup. GEDCOM is a data structure created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for storing and exchanging genealogical information. Many different different computer programs use it. GEDCOM files have
the file name suffix ‘.ged’. The GEDCOM file I downloaded today was 9.6 MB.

I uploaded the file quickly and easily to DNAPainter. I was asked whether I wanted to hide, as private, living people and who I wished to be the starting point. I used our son. His ancestors, of course, comprise my own and those of my husband. The direct ancestors of our son, 624 people that I have identified and documented, were uploaded.

DNA Painter produces a summary report on tree completeness, how many forebears have been identified, compared with the number of potential forebears. The reports highlights pedigree collapse by naming people who appear more than once in your tree.

DNA_Painter___Tree completedness

There are three ways to show the tree:

  • Tree with branches highlighted in different colours

DNA_Painter___Tree 01

  • Fan view. This is more compact, showing more generations but no names. Tree completeness is shown, with grey cells representing forebears that have not yet been identified. Hovering highlights the names and and shows where the person appears more than once in the tree when cousins have married.

DNA_Painter___Tree fan 01DNA Painter fn hover 1DNAPainter fan hover 02

  • Text view showing key dates and places

DNA_Painter___Tree text 01

You can mark people as genetic ancestors, and add notes and surname clues. You can also modify the imported data.

DNA_Painter___Tree DNA filter


I look forward to this functionality being further refined.

update : Frequently Asked Questions answered by Johnny Perl, the developer 

Q: How does it work?
A: You can build a tree manually by simply typing in the names of ancestors, or you can import a GEDCOM file exported from a genealogy site or desktop genealogy software:
– Browse your computer for your GEDCOM file
The site will extract all the people from it into an ‘autocomplete’ list
– Type some letters into the autocomplete box and select the person whose ancestors you want to extract
– At this point, the site builds a tree for the chosen person and saves it in the site’s database.
– The default option is to hide living people, replacing them with ‘Living’, so their details are never uploaded at all. You can optionally override this.
– Another default sets the import to a maximum of 10 generations beyond the home person. Unless you have lots of pedigree collapse, the site should be capable of importing more distant ancestors too. If you’d like to try this, just select ‘Import all available generations’

Q: How do I add new ancestors to my tree
A: Within the tree view, hover over a node and choose ‘add parents’ (or just ‘add mother’ or ‘add father’)

Q: Can I use my main GEDCOM file or should I extract just my direct line?
A: It’s up to you; unless you have a huge tree (e.g. more than 50,000 people), it should be fine to use your entire file.

Q: Why can’t I find myself in the list of people extracted from my tree?
A: When you created your GEDCOM file, it may be that it was privatised by your desktop family tree software. You might be listed under ‘Private’ or ‘Living’, for example.

Q: Do you store my GEDCOM file?
A: No, your GEDCOM file does not leave your computer; instead, the site extracts just the ancestors of the person you select.

Q: What is the maximum filesize?
A: The file can be reasonably big (since it’s not being uploaded anywhere!), but needs to be less than 60MB in order for your browser to be able to load the list of people. If you have an older or slower computer it may need to be smaller than this.

Q: Is my tree private?
A: Yes – just as with the chromosome maps, a tree is only ever viewable by you, the person who created it, *unless* you click on ‘share’, in which case a link will be created that allows others to view the tree if they have this link. This share status can be revoked by the owner at any point, at which time the share link will no longer work.

Q: What does ‘mark as a genetic ancestor’ mean?
A: This is intended to help users indicate which parts of their ancestral pedigree they’ve been able to verify via DNA (aka their ‘genetic family tree’). For example, if I have a confirmed DNA match with my 3rd cousin who descends from a sister of my great-grandfather David Heatherington, I might mark David as a genetic ancestor. I can then use the ‘show genetic ancestors’ filter to show just the ancestors where I’ve identified DNA connections.

Q: How can I get the help info to come up again?
A: Click the ‘?’ Icon at the top right of the toolbar on a tree page.

Q: Can I link ancestors in my chromosome map to my tree?
A: Not yet, but this is being developed at the moment for release later in 2019.

Q: Can I download a picture of my tree?
A: Not right now, but this feature will be added in future.


Related posts

Looking for George

My husband Greg’s great-great grandfather George Young (1826 – 1890) was from Liverpool. George probably arrived in Australia at the time of the gold discoveries in Victoria, perhaps lured by the chance of striking it rich, though it’s hard to be sure, for as yet I don’t know exactly when or why he emigrated, and I know nothing about his parents or his family.

Young George

This photo of George Young was passed to us by Noel Tunks of Maryborough

In any case, by 1853 George, following the rushes, was trying his luck on the  goldfields. He met his wife-to-be Caroline Clarke on the Ovens diggings, near the border with New South Wales. Their first child was a boy, George, who was born and died as an infant at Beechworth in 1854. George and Caroline had twelve more children. Greg is descended from their oldest surviving child John Young (1856 – 1928).

Greg has had his DNA analysed by I have uploaded the results to Family Tree DNA, My Heritage, and GedMatch. His aunt B S has also tested her DNA. Through the DNA results we have connected with cousins descended from George Young and Caroline Clarke. This confirms the documentary evidence for the Young family in Australia, such as it is. 

George Young descendants DNA matches July 2019

spreadsheet of DNA cousins who are descendants of George Young and Caroline Clarke and have tested at either AncestryDNA or MyHeritage

Greg and the cousins descended from George Young also share DNA with descendants of two men, James Young, born about 1838 in Liverpool, and Philip Young born about 1837 or a few years later in Liverpool. 

We don’t yet know how George, James, and Philip are related.

From the amount of the DNA they share we know that B S and her second cousin P L (both great granddaughters of George Young) can be estimated to be about fourth cousins of A A, who is descended from James, and of H S F, who is descended from Philip. H S F and A A can be estimated from the DNA evidence to be about second cousins. Fourth cousins share third great grandparents and second cousins share great grandparents.

extended Young cousins DNA matches July 2019

spreadsheet showing DNA matches with great grand daughters of George Young and descendants of John Young from Liverpool, plus some other matches that are related but we don’t yet know how.

H S F and A A are likely to share great grandparents, so it is possible that James Young born about 1838 and Philip Young born about 1840 were brothers.

If B S and P L are 4th cousins of H S F and A A, then it seems possible that George Young’s grandfather was also the grandfather of James and Philip Young. That is George was a first cousin of James and Philip.

I have traced the forebears of A A and I P. They are both grand daughters of Christopher Young (1875 – 1927),  the son of Philip Young (born about 1837-1840, died 1910). 

In 1862, when Philip Young married Mary Code (also spelt Coad)  he gave his father’s name as John Young. [Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Liverpool Catholic Parish Registers; Reference Number: 282 NIC/2/2 retrieved through]

I have traced the forebears of H S F. She is the daughter of Gerald Salter (1903 – 1986). Gerald was the son of Ellen Alice Young (1871 – 1962). She was the daughter of James Young born 1839, a seaman rigger. When James married Mary Martin in 1864 he stated he was a mariner living at Cropper Street Liverpool and his father was John Young, an engineer. [ Liverpool, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932 Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Reference Number: 283-PET-3-67 retrieved through]

Another researcher has suggested that James Young’s marriage record is in error and his father was in fact James Young, engineer/engine turner, who was born about 1810 in Dundee and died in 1859 (‘late of Monks Coppenhall in Cheshire’). James had a son named James who in 1859 was named as one of the executors in his estate. He was described in the will as an engine fitter of 46 Manchester Street Crewe in the Parish of Monks Coppenhall. [England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1860 for James Young retrieved through]

I have traced the family of James Young 1810 – 1859. In 1861 some of the children were living with their widowed mother, Mary Young nee Harrison, at Manchester Street, Crewe in the Parish of Monks Coppenhall. James, then twenty-three and unmarried was an engine fitter living with his mother. [1861 census viewed through Class: RG 9; Piece: 2616; Folio: 74; Page: 24; GSU roll: 543000]

I have not yet found the death of Mary Young nee Harrison. She does not seem to be on the 1871 census. A possible death is 
Name: Mary Young
Estimated birth year: abt 1813
Registration Year: 1869 Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar
Age at Death: 56
Registration district: Nantwich Inferred County: Cheshire
Volume: 8a Page: 224

It is possible that James Young, engine fitter, died before marrying and before the 1871 census.  I cannot find him on the 1871 census in Crewe, Cheshire. A possible death of James Young engine fitter is :

Name: James Young
Estimated birth year: abt 1838
Registration Year: 1868 Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
Age at Death: 30
Registration district: Nantwich Inferred County: Cheshire
Volume: 8a Page: 236
It seems unlikely that James Young engine fitter moved away from Crewe Cheshire and changed occupation to mariner, and it is also unlikely that his father’s name was wrongly recorded on the marriage document.

The family of James Young engineer does not include a Philip Young. The DNA evidence and the evidence of one Canadian shipping record supports the conclusion that James and Philip Young were probably brothers.

The Canada, Seafarers of the Atlantic Provinces, 1789-1935 records retrieved from have a James Young age 43 (born about 1845) on board the barque “Olive Mount” which departed Liverpool 19 March 1888 (discharged with mutual consent).  He was discharged 12 March 1888 at Penarth Wales. He was not literate, he signed his name with an x. He was related to another crew member aboard. James was crew number 12 and his rank was able-bodied seaman. Also on board was Philip Young, crew number 11 – I believe this is James’s brother. Although the age is young, I suspect there was pressure for the men to understate their age so as to appear fit for the job.

It is my guess that James Young, forebear of H S F and also A O and  P N is the son of a John Young engineer, not James Young (c 1811 – 1859).

Young hypothesis

Hypothesis: John Young is George Young’s uncle; John Young is father to Philip and James and George Young is their cousin -> A A and H S F are 3rd cousins. B S and P L 4th cousins to A A and H S F. As far as I know A O and P N have not tested their DNA.

Update: A O and P N have tested their DNA with AncestryDNA but neither shares DNA with Greg or his aunt B S. A O and P N are 1st cousins and share 1.104 centimorgans. P N shares 42 cM DNA with I P thus they are estimated 4th cousins. M F C, another descendant of Philip Young, also shares DNA with P N; they share 66 cM – also estimated 4th cousins. M F C shares a small amount of DNA with Greg but does not share DNA with Greg’s aunt B S.

It could be useful if A O and P N could upload their results to MyHeritage, or FTDNA or GedMatch so we could look at a chromosome browser and also see if they share DNA with other descendants of George Young, for example P L.

Kathleen Cudmore: a Memoir

Remembering my grandmother whose birthday it is today

Anne's Family History

Kathleen Cudmore: a Memoir

by Rafe de Crespigny

Kathleen CavenaghnéeCudmore was born on 27 June 1908, the second daughter and second child of Arthur Murray Cudmore (1870-1951) and his wife Kathleen Mary née Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1874-1951). Her sister Rosemary had been born in 1904.

Kathleen with her older sister Rosemary about 1910

Arthur Cudmore, second son of James Francis Cudmore (1837-1912) and his wife Margaret née Budge (1845-1912), was born on 11 June 1870 at Paringa Station on the Murray near Renmark in South Australia. Arthur’s grandfather, Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811-1891), had emigrated from Ireland in 1835 and after a period in Tasmania arrived in South Australia early in 1837, a few weeks after its proclamation on 28 December 1836. His wife Mary née Nihill came from Hobart to join him later that year, and James Francis was born at sea on the ship Siren off Kangaroo…

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Charlotte Constance James born 1840

My third great grandmother Charlotte Frances Dana (1820 – 1904) married John James (1808 – 1855), a solicitor from Newnham on Severn in west Gloucestershire, on 14 May 1839 at St Peters church, Worfield near Albrighton Shropshire.

They had three children, Charlotte Constance (1840 – 1935), John Henry (1841 – 1842), and a still-born son born 2 July 1842 .

In November 1847, discovering she was pregnant by her lover Philip Champion Crespigny, Charlotte deserted her husband and daughter Charlotte Constance and fled to France. Their daughter Ada Isadora was born at Paris on 15 May 1848. [At the time, France was in the throes of a violent revolution. Paris especially was greatly disturbed in June 1848 and it has been estimated that more than 10,000 people were killed or injured.]

Before 1857, when the Matrimonial Causes Act reformed divorce law, divorce in England was expensive and difficult to obtain. I have written previously on the Divorce of John James and Charlotte Frances née Dana.

Letters quoted in the Parliamentary debate make two mentions of their daughter. Charlotte wrote in her farewell letter to her husband: “I cannot live, John, and feel myself a blight upon you and our sweet innocent child…Oh, live to protect and guard our child. She will be a comfort and a blessing to you.” To her servant she wrote “Do not be frightened, Estcourt, at my going away. I know you will be kind and good to my darling child. Let her believe I am gone home – though it is to my long and last one. I leave you money (£5), which will pay all till your master comes again. I ask you to be kind and good to the child, and do not let her feel for her poor mother.

Letters from the Times report of the James Divorce

from the report in The Times, 21 March 1849, page 7 , on the debate before the House of Lords on the James’s divorce

Divorce law at the time required that there should be no evidence of joint collusion between husband and wife in organizing the divorce proceedings. At first sight, the divorce of John and Charlotte James is a model petition for divorce, fulfilling all the requirements: evidence of adultery, including the birth of a child which is not the husband’s; good – indeed excellent – marital relations right up to the time of separation; generous and most affectionate conduct by the husband, even acknowledged by Charlotte Frances’s parting letter; an attempt to pursue Philip Crespigny for criminal conversation damages.

It seems likely that for several weeks beforehand, John James, Charlotte Frances and Philip Crespigny were conspiring in the elopement and the divorce. John James would not have wanted to continue with an adulterous wife and someone else’s child, and everything that happened on the Isle of Wight (where Charlotte Frances James had been staying before her flight to France) and subsequently, must have been arranged in collusion. Whether the witnesses were suborned or simply deceived by the married couple acting a charade is impossible to tell, though we may suspect the number of people aware of the truth would have been kept to a minimum: bribery is one thing, blackmail an unwanted complication.

The weakest point was Charlotte Frances’s farewell letter. She may have intended to confirm the good conduct of her spouse and their mutual affection, but the exaggerated style fitted badly with the events that followed. One feels she should have taken some advice and guidance, though it must be acknowledged that the requirements for a successful petition of divorce – that the husband must have behaved well and there be mutual affection, but that adultery must be proved – are somewhat contradictory. On the
other hand, as Disraeli commented upon being told about J.S. Mill’s affair with Mrs Harriet Taylor, ‘The plan of having a husband and also a lover is not entirely without precedent’.

Charlotte Constance James was born 6 July 1840 at Newnham in Gloucestershire. She was seven years old when her mother abandoned her on the Isle of Wight in the care of a servant. The letter to the servant suggests that she be told that her mother had died. Mother and child never saw each other again.

On the 1841 census when she was an infant, she was listed as Charlotte. At the time of the 1851 census when she was ten years old she was listed as Constance. It may be that she had always been known by her middle name or it may be that after her mother left she was known by her middle name not her mother’s, now taboo.

In 1851 Constance James was living in her grandmother’s house in Clifton, a suburb of Bristol, with her father and uncle.

1851 census for John James

1851 English census Class: HO107; Piece: 1952; Folio: 383;Page: 33; GSU roll: 87352 retrieved through


24 The Mall Clifton


The Mall Gardens, Clifton , Gloucestershire opposite 24 The Mall where young Constance James probably played

Her grandfather, John James, a lawyer, had died on 20 March 1849 at Clifton. Her uncle Charles, also a lawyer, died in late August or early September 1851 at the age of 34 and was buried at St Peters, Newnham.

On 22 July 1852 Constance’s father remarried at Newland, Gloucestershire, to Arabella Veronica Deighton (1826 – 1923). On 3 June 1853, Vera Maria James, half-sister of Constance, was born.

On 23 March 1855 John James died, only 47. Constance was then 14 years old.

On 17 February 1858 Charlotte’s step-mother remarried in Bombay, India to Stanley Napier Raikes (1824 – 1891), a Captain of the 18th Regiment of Native Infantry.

On 27 January 1859 Charlotte Constance James married Francis Gamble Blood at St Andrews Church, Clifton, Gloucestershire. He was a captain in the 69th regiment. The marriage was performed by her step-mother’s brother, the Reverend Charles Dighton, Rector of Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire.

Blood James marriage Cheltenham Examiner 2 February 1859 page 8

Cheltenham Examiner 2 February 1859 page 8 from the British Newspaper Archive retrieved through FindMyPast

I will write separately about Charlotte Constance Blood née James’s adult life.

Charlotte Frances Dana married Philip Crespigny in Paris on 18 July 1849. They had five children between 1848 and 1858. They sailed for Australia on 3 December 1851 and never returned to England. When they emigrated, they left behind an infant son, Constantine Pulteney Trent Champion de Crespigny who had been born on 5 May 1851. It would appear that they considered he would not be strong enough to survive the voyage. He was brought up by his Crespigny grandparents in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and was reunited with his parents in 1875 at the age of 24.

Charlotte Frances Dana

Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana, photograph in the collection of my father Rafe de Crespigny

Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny died on 9 November 1904 at her son-in-law and daughter’s property at Eurumbeen East, near Beaufort, Victoria, Australia. Philip Champion Crespigny died at Brighton, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne, on 14 September 1889 from general paralysis, which had lasted nearly 13 years.


Visiting Manchester

On Thursday 9 May we set off from West Didsbury to explore Manchester proper.

We caught the train in, a frequent, fast, cheap, no-graffiti, light-rail, with free wifi, which took us into the very centre of the city. This was public transport far superior to ours in Ballarat, Melbourne, and the rest of Australia. It was easy for a visitor to buy a ticket.

The gritty north of England of our long-held prejudices was nowhere to be seen. To a casual visitor, the North seems prosperous, clean, and orderly or, in more fashionable language, young, vibrant, and inclusive.

We visited Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Cathedral, both magnificent.


“Balaclava” 1876 by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler

Who doesn’t enjoy whimsical misericord carvings? One seat in Manchester Cathedral has a gang of bunny-rabbits roasting a hunter over a spit.

20190509034810_IMG_2924 (1)


Travelling north with lunch at Whitmore

On Wednesday 8 May we drove north from Bath, calling in at the village of Whitmore in Staffordshire, near Stoke-on-Trent, to visit some of my cousins. On the way we stopped at Tewkesbury, near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, to look at the abbey there. From Whitmore we went on to West Didsbury near Manchester, our next base.

One of my fifteenth great grandfathers, William Vaux (1435 – 1471), who fought in the War of the Roses for the Red Rose of Lancaster, was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. He is said to have been buried at the Abbey, but I have been unable to find any record of this in the Abbey archives, and the list of inscriptions in the Tewkesbury Abbey church does not mention his name. This didn’t matter, for if you had an untraceable ancestor said to have been buried somewhere you couldn’t do better than not have him in Tewkesbury. It’s a lovely old church, said to be the one of the finest Norman abbeys in England.


We drove on to Whitmore and had lunch and an edifying chat with my cousins about Brexit, which turns out to be a plot to deprive England of its sovereignty, like 1066. At least one Australian present was reminded of the joke about a headline in an English newspaper that read, ‘Fog in Channel. Continent cut off’. On the other hand, the German car we had hired was showing unmistakable signs of having been designed and assembled by a committee of bureaucrats in Brussels, so who knows?


Eureka flag at Whitmore

The Eureka flag was flying, a present we had sent to England some time previously. There is a family connection other than cousins from Ballarat; a Cudmore cousin fought at Eureka (on the Government side).

Lunch was served on the family’s Minton china, commissioned by my great uncle Rafe Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1906 – 1995), a copy of a setting that his great great grandfather (my fourth great grandfather) Rowland Mainwaring (1783 – 1862) had ordered. Time moves slowly in the pottery towns, and Minton apparently still had the records from the first commission to run up a second one. When you got to the bottom of your plate, there was the family crest, an ass’s head on a crown. The motto is ‘Devant si je puis’ [Forward if I Can], a useful reminder to wait for the next course.


We had a tour of the house and stables and saw many family portraits. The house, now listed with Historic Houses, is open to the public. Our guide seemed very knowledgeable on the family history. In one or two places a section of the modern wall had been removed to expose the original structure. This had an interesting consequence. Breaching the wall had allowed a ghostly lady from an earlier era playing ghostly old music to wander into the present. There has been a house on the same site for over 900 years and it has belonged to the same family since the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, so I suppose you’d expect an apparition or two.




My fourth great grandfather Rowland Mainwaring kept a diary, now stored and displayed in an upstairs sitting room. Several volumes have been stolen unfortunately, probably souvenired by visitors. While we were at Whitmore my son Peter photographed some pages of the diary for me, including, sadly, the last entry, written by Rowland Mainwaring on the day he died.




Before we left we visited the churchyard and some family graves.



Related post

A walk in Bath

When you’re travelling and you’ve set up a comfortable base somewhere it is tempting to make short excursions from it, to go off exploring somewhere else. Of course the alternative is to look around you, where you are already. On Tuesday 7 May, still in Bath, we made an effort to explore the city where we were staying.

Charlotte and I first visited the Roman Baths and the museum associated with it. For no extra money we got the company of crowds of French schoolchildren. The Baths I’d seen before; the Museum, was new to me. It says much for how thoroughly I enjoyed it that I didn’t particularly mind the noisy school children.

We tried tasting the pump water. No good. Very healthy, I’m sure, but I think I’m quite healthy enough already without the added 43 minerals in my drinking water.

The New Assembly Rooms, our next destination, was a long walk up a steep hill. Some of my forebears had themselves carried there in sedan chairs. A fine idea, but my normal retinue doesn’t include a pair of chair men, so we had to foot it. Part of the reward for making the ascent was a look at a Gainsborough portrait of one of my relatives, Captain William Wade who, for a time, was the Bath Master of Ceremonies. He was put in the shade, so to speak, by a pair of magnificent chandeliers, said to be insured for many millions of pounds.

After lunch we went to Bath Abbey, where an organ concert was in progress. Listening to this gave me time to sit quietly and gaze about. The fan vaulting and the east window are particularly wonderful.

Then we walked back up the hill to the Circus, to the Crescent and to Portland Place, all marvellous examples of Georgian architecture. 5 Portland Place was built by my (appropriately) 5th great grandfather Philip Champion Crespigny in 1786. He died there in 1803. The steps in front of 5 Portland Place had – and it’s still there – a ramp for the sedan chairs.

Back down to the Assembly Rooms again to visit the Fashion Museum and then on to the Victoria Art Gallery.

We came home via Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon, designed by Robert Adam and built by William Pulteney né Johnstone (1729 – 1805), one of my 7th great uncles. I’m glad he put it there. After all my walking I didn’t want to have to swim.


We bought some Bath buns to have with tea.



20 June 1756 Black Hole of Calcutta

Remembering Patrick Johnstone, who died in the Black Hole of Calcutta on 20 June 1756. He was only eighteen years old.

Anne's Family History

On 20 June 1756 Patrick Johnston(e) (1737-1756), my 7th great uncle, died in the prison of the Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah, later known as the “Black Hole of Calcutta” in India.

Three years previously, at the age of sixteen, Patrick had joined the East India Company as an accountant. He was eighteen when he died.

Memorial to the victims, St John’s Church Calcutta
Photograph in 2011 by Pdr123 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Patrick’s name is listed on a memorial to victims.

One of the prisoners, J. Z. Holwell, wrote an account of the incident. He reported that 146 were imprisoned and in a room only 4.30m. x 5.50 m (14 feet x 18 feet) 123 died overnight from overcrowding. It is suggested that Howell exaggerated these numbers and that probably only 69 men were imprisoned. Howell listed P. [Patrick] Johnston in his account.

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The Salisbury Plain

On Monday 6 May we drove from Bath to Salisbury to look at the Cathedral. About ten miles west of Salisbury we passed the Fovant Badges, regimental badges and other images cut into a chalk hill there. One of these incised badges is the Rising Sun, the official insignia of the Australian Army. Australian units stationed near Fovant from 1917 dug the turf and created the badge. Greg’s great uncle John Percy Young (1896-1918) was stationed at various military camps on the Salisbury Plain during 1917; he was possibly one of these soldiers.


We enjoyed Salisbury Cathedral and the many monuments it contains.

The Cathedral has a copy of the Magna Carta, one of only four copies surviving from 1215; there had been thirteen copies. It took neat writing and small letters to fit all the Barons’ demands on a single sheet of vellum. If Bad King John had been Even Badder King John another stretch of sheepskin would have been required, I suppose.


We couldn’t take a picture of the Magna Carta at Salisbury – it is very fragile and housed in a small darkened room in the Chapter House. This is an image from the British Library of another copy.


We visited Mompesson House, a National Trust Queen Anne house in the Cathedral close.

After lunch in a pub at Cholderton we drove north to Avebury. The gardener at the pub didn’t seem to understand plain English. No matter how loud and slowly we spoke to him he couldn’t tell us where we were. Our car’s GPS gave us a clue, but even it was a bit off course.


Avebury – possibly the cause of these strange geographical phenomena – is the site of a neolithic stone circle, the world’s largest. Avebury has a museum and nearby there is a manor with its garden. We looked in the museum, wandered around the garden, and walked half-way around the stone circle.


West Kennet Long Barrow just south of Avebury

It was May Day and we saw some May Day festivities, with maypole dancing and Morris dancing.

Back in Bath we went for a walk along the Avon and Kennet canal below our house on Widcombe Hill. Greg and Peter helped with opening the locks for a boat making its way up the canal. The help was possibly more of a hindrance: Greg caught a line from one of the boats and with a very fine Lighterman’s Hitch made it fast to a bollard. The bloke on the boat had to drag himself over and cast off.


Related posts

A spa in Bath and visit to Clifton

We were staying in Bath. One of its attractions is the Thermae Bath Spa, built on the site of the Roman baths, and supplied, as were the Roman baths, by warm spring water.

On Sunday Charlotte and I walked down Widcombe Hill and across the River Avon to the Spa for what we expected would be a nice hot plunge. The spa opens at nine o’clock. We arrived at ten past. This meant a queue – the English queue for everything – and so we stood in line for an hour waiting for a change room.

Why hadn’t we booked? You can’t, except for special treatments. And we couldn’t leave the queue for a cup of coffee because we’d have lost our place.

At £40 each I expected something better, but perhaps the Sunday of a Bank holiday weekend in May was not a good time to go. Oh well, the rooftop pool was fun.


The rooftop pool at the Thermae Bath Spa photographed in 2010 from Bath Abbey – image from Wikipedia; photograph by user:Simple Bob CC by 2.0


The Cross Bath adjacent to the Thermal Bath Spa



Looking down Bath Street toward the South Colonnade entrance of the Grand Pump Room. Bath was almost deserted on the Sunday morning except for the queue at the Thermal Bath Spa.

In the afternoon we drove to look at the Clifton Suspension Bridge (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, completed after his death) near Bristol.


Nearby in Clifton, we found the house of John James (1808 – 1855), the first husband my 3rd great grandmother Charlotte Dana.

John James divorced Charlotte in 1849. At the time of the 1851 census he was living with his mother, brother, and daughter Constance aged 10, at 24 The Mall, Clifton. They had 4 live-in servants. The house overlooks a pretty garden, where I imagine Constance played.

1851 census for John James

1851 English census Class: HO107; Piece: 1952; Folio: 383;Page: 33; GSU roll: 87352 retrieved through


The Mall Gardens, Clifton , Gloucestershire