Saturday, 4 September 2010

Surname Saturday: Ley

This is the most maternal surname I had for many years: my mother's mother's mother's mother's.  And to my delight, the line stretched back from Devon to Mevagissey, Cornwall, where my own mother had spent a blissful holiday many years ago, not knowing that it was the place of her ancestors.  This is the line of coastguards I have already mentioned.  A happy line, I thought, where the only difficulty lay in that my great great grandmother was married to the largest brickwall ancestor in creation (or so I thought).

Amanda LEY appears in the censuses as Amanda and Aminta (and another relative names her Amanda Malvina), and doesn't appear in the 1881 census at all (which would be the most valuable, since she would be a young mother with a husband of only a few years).  On her marriage certificate, she is named Minda (a diminutive of Amanda, and a name given to babies occasionally in our family).   According to family legend (oh, how those stories get distorted sometimes!), Amanda's husband, Joseph BUCKINGHAM, was a well-to-do coal merchant, who was kicked in the head by his horse and ended up in hospital.  His brother (or brother-in-law, depending on who you spoke to) ruined the family business and the girls had to be taken out of convent school.  Except he was a chimney sweep, and went into hospital for something quite different, dying quite young; the children ended up in the workhouse, Amanda had two children by another man, then she ended up in hospital, died in her early 40s and the children were sent to Canada.  My ancestor, Annie Marian, was named Mary by Dr Barnardo's - this is more a subject for Madness Monday!

Back to the LEY family.  Amanda's father, Nicholas LEY, was a coastguard found in Pembrokeshire, Wales in the 1841 census, then Pevensey, Sussex, in the 1851 census.  I have posted his photo before (a Wordless Wednesday), but it bears re-showing here:
I was very excited to be given this picture.  Looking at his built-up shoe - was this because of an injury received whilst a coastguard? or was he born with a disability? in which case, why did the Coastguard Service accept him (I doubt they had discrimination law quotas in those days)?

This line, which started me off with the happiness of a traceable history of ancestors, has now added all sorts of questions to the mix.  And the genealogist in me groans at the thought of all those doubts, while the detective in me shouts for joy!

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