Histories


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1
'Dover Harbour' - a historical novel by Thomas Armstrong
'Dover Harbour' - a historical novel by Thomas Armstrong
Written in 1942 by author Thomas Armstrong, 'Dover Harbour' is a thrilling romance and a splendid piece of historical reconstruction giving a fascinating glimpse into life in Dover under threat of invasion by Napoleon. A little heavy at first, but as the story unfolds, it becomes difficult to put the book down. 
 
2
A Biography of my Great Grandfather, William NICHOLLS (1870-1932)
A Biography of my Great Grandfather, William NICHOLLS (1870-1932)
Born in South Devon in 1870, by the time my great grandfather William was 10 years old he had already spent most of his life in India, where his father was in the Royal Artillery. His father died when William was just 7 years old, and after his mother remarried they returned to England. This is his story. 
 
3
Alfred Hopper - publican in Temple Ewell from 1884-1901
Alfred Hopper - publican in Temple Ewell from 1884-1901
Alfred Hopper, born in Temple Ewell near Dover in 1857, was publican of 'The Donkey Inn' in the hamlet of Temple Ewell between 1884 to 1891, and publican of the 'George & Dragon' pub there from 1895 to 1901. 
 
4
Alfred KINGSNORTH's letter to daughter Susie, 10th March 1891
Alfred KINGSNORTH's letter to daughter Susie, 10th March 1891
Study of a letter written by my 2xGreat Grandfather, Alfred Kingsnorth, to his daughters on 10 March 1891 while he was staying with his son in Westbourne, Dorset. His son owned and ran the Beehive Stores on Seamoor Road - a 'Family Grocer and Provision Merchant'. 
 
5
Alfred Willis receives a school beating, 1842
Alfred Willis receives a school beating, 1842
This was an appeal from decision of a magistrate, who had imposed a fine of two dollars and costs on the defendant, for an alleged unreasonable punishment inflicted on Alfred Willis, a scholar in the district school, kept in West Newbury, during the last winter, by Mr Webster. The instructor is about eighteen years old, a student in Dartmouth… 
 
6
Archibald Willis and son - serving their country in two World Wars
Archibald Willis and son - serving their country in two World Wars
Archibald F Willis served in the 1st Life Guards in the Great War, his son, also called Archie, was a Gunner in the RAF and was killed in a tragic accident... 
 
7
DIAMOND JUBILEE – Wedding Celebrations – MR. and MRS. W. Fagg
DIAMOND JUBILEE – Wedding Celebrations – MR. and MRS. W. Fagg
Article from the Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) published on Friday 8 January 1932 
 
8
DREADFUL OCCURRENCE – Albert Benefield’s Fatal Rail Accident – April 1908
DREADFUL OCCURRENCE – Albert Benefield’s Fatal Rail Accident – April 1908
Albert Benefield was involved in fatal accident at Wanganui railway station in New Zealand in 1908.  
 
9
Edward WEST (1806-1869) - Inquest into Accidental Shooting, 2 Feb 1869
Edward WEST (1806-1869) - Inquest into Accidental Shooting, 2 Feb 1869
Edward was Head Gamekeeper on the estate of Sir Henry Oxenden in Barham, Kent for more than four decades. It was during a pigeon-shoot in February 1869 that Edward tragically lost his life, aged 63. 
 
10
Elizabeth NICHOLLS - letter home to her family, Christmas 1919
Elizabeth NICHOLLS - letter home to her family, Christmas 1919
In the Willis family archives there is a handwritten letter from my Great Aunt, Elizabeth Nicholls, to her parents. It\'s the document which sparked my interest in family history - when was the letter written, where from and who were the people mentioned in it? 
 
11
Ellen Pyne - Matriarch & Military Wife
Ellen Pyne - Matriarch & Military Wife
From rural Devon, Ellen Gorman went on to lead a remarkable life, demonstrating an indomitable strength of character and perseverance to push on through life despite the ‘slings and arrows’ that life threw at her. 
 
12
Eugene 'Shike' WILLIS (1933-2004) - US Police Chief for 24 years
Eugene 'Shike' WILLIS (1933-2004) - US Police Chief for 24 years
Eugene M. 'Shike' Willis Jr. of West Newbury, former West Newbury chief of police, died Nov. 20 2004 at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport. He was 71.  
 
13
George and Amy GURNSEY - 'Devoted to each other until the end'
George and Amy GURNSEY - 'Devoted to each other until the end'
George and Amy - my Great Grandparents - were both born in 1884 into a world that is so different from today that it is difficult for us to imagine. Married in 1909 they lived well into old age, and were devoted to each other until the end. 
 
14
Herlewin le Hoppere - our 13th Century ancestor?
Herlewin le Hoppere - our 13th Century ancestor?
There are monastic records of a 13th Century landowner named Herlewin le Hoppere living in the village of Ickham in Kent. As the present-day Hopper line has been traced back as far as 16th Century Ickham, it's quite likely that Herlewin is their ancestor...
 
 
15
Jacob Winter GREENLAND (Mariner) - Inquest into suspected Drowning, 26 Aug 1883
Jacob Winter GREENLAND (Mariner) - Inquest into suspected Drowning, 26 Aug 1883
My paternal grandfather, George Willis, used to tell the family legend of his grandfather, Jacob Greenland. The story was that he was "a Lighter Man on the boats. One night he was visiting a boat and on going down an iron ladder on a pier he slipped and was killed. He was doing someone else's shift at the time".

It's only since I began… 
 
16
James WILLIS (1875-1916) - Publican of the Red Lion (and photographer)
James WILLIS (1875-1916) - Publican of the Red Lion (and photographer)
James Willis was born in Dover in 1875, only child of George and Mary Elizabeth Willis (nee Dennis). By the time of his early death in 1916 he had been publican of The Red Lion Inn in Carlton, Dover for nearly twenty years. 
 
17
Jane GREENLAND's voyage to Australia (and back) - 1890
Jane GREENLAND's voyage to Australia (and back) - 1890
Jane Greenland was born in Dover in 1868, the eldest child of Jacob and Mary Ann Greenland. When she was 13 years old her mother died, and just two years later her father was tragically killed whilst working a night shift in Dover Harbour. By the age of twenty-two Jane was married and on board a ship bound for Australia. 
 
18
Jarvist ARNOLD (1815-1896) - the Kingsdown Lifeboatsman
Jarvist ARNOLD (1815-1896) - the Kingsdown Lifeboatsman
Jarvist Arnold (1815-1896) was skipper of the lifeboat in the village of Kingsdown on the East Kent coast and became a celebrated hero, due to the lives he and his crew saved from the treacherous seas. 
 
19
Joe and May HOPPER: 50 Wonderful Years
Joe and May HOPPER: 50 Wonderful Years
The following is an article originally printed in the Dover Express & East Kent News on Friday 16th July, 1976 to celebrate Joe and May\'s Golden wedding anniversary. 
 
20
John & Stephen HOPPER emigrate to Australia - 1856
John & Stephen HOPPER emigrate to Australia - 1856
There is an outer suberb of Melbourne, Australia called 'Hopper's Crossing' - it got its name from one of two Hopper bothers who emigrated from Kent in the 1850s. This is their story… 
 
21
Matthew Fagg (1822-1908) – transported to Tasmania for stealing a sheep
Matthew Fagg (1822-1908) – transported to Tasmania for stealing a sheep
Between 1804 and 1853 the British Government transported around 76,000 convicts to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (now called Tasmania).

One of those was Matthew Fagg, a farm labourer and hop grower from Barham in Kent. 
 
22
Mozart at Barham Races, 25 July 1765
Mozart at Barham Races, 25 July 1765
The 8-year old composer watched a horse race on Barham Downs at the end of July on his way back to Dover from London where the family had stayed for about a year. 
 
23
Mr E.B. Hopper Esquire: New Zealand pioneer
Mr E.B. Hopper Esquire: New Zealand pioneer
Edward Betts Hopper was born in about 1799 in Dover. Little is known of his early life, but we do know that by 1839 Edward was an influential member of the New Zealand Company, whose aim was the promotion of the systematic colonisation of New Zealand. 
 
24
My escape from the Japanese attack on Singapore, February 1942 - by Fred GURNSEY
My escape from the Japanese attack on Singapore, February 1942 - by Fred GURNSEY
Frederick Gurnsey was born on 17 February 1917 to George and Amy Gurnsey. He is currently 97 years of age and has kindly given his permission for the following account to be published here. 
 
25
My mother's grandparents: Thomas HOPPER (1873-1916) and Emily Harvey (1880-1957)
My mother's grandparents: Thomas HOPPER (1873-1916) and Emily Harvey (1880-1957)
Thomas Hopper, born in 1873, was my great grandfather. He died in 1916 from alcohol-related problems aged just 43; his wife, Emily, outlived him by forty-one years, struggling to raise their family of 8 children 
 
26
Norman Mayne – killed in a hit & run accident, August 1950
Norman Mayne – killed in a hit & run accident, August 1950
On 9 August 1950, Norman Mayne was knocked down by a car near his home, “Kenwyn” on Sandwich Road in Whitfield. The car did not stop, and Norman was killed instantaneously. He was 65 years old. This is the newspaper report of the coroner's inquest.  
 
27
Passing of Ray Willis, Principal of MHS 1992 - 2004
Passing of Ray Willis, Principal of MHS 1992 - 2004
The Principal of Melbourne High School, Ray Willis, passed away on 3rd July 2004, after a 3 year fight with cancer. His Funeral was held in the Memorial Hall, on Thursday 8th July, at 11:30am.

This obituary, written by school historian Alan Gregory, is written on behalf of Melbourne High School Old Boys' Association Inc 
 
28
SHOCKING MINING ACCIDENT! - Charles Whiteley and fellow miners killed.
SHOCKING MINING ACCIDENT! - Charles Whiteley and fellow miners killed.
Charles Whiteley married Phoebe Hopper in 1877 in Maryborough, Victoria. Charles worked in the local Duke Mine in Timor, and it was this occupation which was to lead to his accidental death in 1884. 
 
29
Smuggling in Dover in the 18th and 19th Centuries
Smuggling in Dover in the 18th and 19th Centuries
Smuggling was rife in Dover, and by 1745 there were reported to be 400 men involved in the business, with no other obvious source of income. There had been a Customs House in the town since the thirteenth century, and by 1822 a total of sixty two men were employed in the customs service 
 
30
SUICIDE - Labourer Found Drowned
SUICIDE - Labourer Found Drowned
William Dennis, aged 63 years, a farm labourer of Cherry Lane, Great Mongeham, was found dead in a water tank at Appleton Farm, Ripple on the afternoon of 29 January 1934. 
 
31
At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
 
 
32
The De Houghams - Norman ancestors, Crusader Knights and church rebuilders
The De Houghams - Norman ancestors, Crusader Knights and church rebuilders
My 22xGreat Grandfather, Robert de Hougham (1160-1230) was a descendant of Norman knights, and fought alongside King Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusades. On his return from the Holy Land he set about the rebuilding of Hougham church, which he found in a ruinous state... 
 
33
The Deal Boatmen - Heroes or Villains?
The Deal Boatmen - Heroes or Villains?
The Deal Boatmen carried out dangerous and valuable work, salvaging lives and property from shipwrecks in the English Channel. However, property from wrecks was not always lawfully disposed of, and smuggling, although on the decline, continued well into the nineteenth century. Contemporary accounts therefore varied widely in their assessment of… 
 
34
The Legend of Fred FISHER's Ghost
The Legend of Fred FISHER's Ghost
The legend of Fisher's ghost is a popular Australian story dating to the early 19th century. It arose from a series of historical events which occurred in Campbelltown, now a large urban population centre on the southwestern outskirts of Sydney, but at the time a remote rural outpost. 
 
35
The Pile brothers - showing bravery for King and Country
The Pile brothers - showing bravery for King and Country
A number of men in The Willis Tree fought 'for King and Country' during the Great War (1914-1918) and World War 2 (1939-1945). Two brothers - George and Edwin Pile - are recorded as showing exceptional bravery in the line of duty... 
 
36
The Swing Riots of Kent and the Willis Emigration to the USA - 1836
The Swing Riots of Kent and the Willis Emigration to the USA - 1836
So often in the past it was the case that national, political events impacted directly on our ancestors. This is particularly the case in the Willis family in Barham in Kent. Between 1835 and 1850 four families had emigrated to the United States of America. 
 
37
Tom Flight - Two Halves of a Life, by Brian Jenner
Tom Flight - Two Halves of a Life, by Brian Jenner
Imagine a pile of clothing on a sea shore. A middle-aged man enters the water and swims out to sea until he disappears. Alternatively, the same man is in a small boat being rowed from one ship to another and in poor visibility is somehow capsizes and occupants are presumed drowned. My grandfather, Will Jenner, however believed this man had… 
 
38
Whitfield within living memory - by Daphne Argent (1934-2014)
Whitfield within living memory - by Daphne Argent (1934-2014)
The following article was written by Daphne Argent, and was published in the January 1999 issue of the magazine Bygone Kent. 
 
39
WW2 Naval losses - Boatswain William Shepherd and Stoker John Hogben
WW2 Naval losses - Boatswain William Shepherd and Stoker John Hogben
At least two of the men who gave their lives in the service of 'King and Country' in World War 2 were killed at sea. This are their stories...