A Clerical Error

The boy who would be an estate agent and poultry farmer (Saturday’s post) cannot be found in the GRO Births Index. However, FamilySearch serves up his christening details in a Record Hint.


Curiously, the birth of a Nugent boy was registered in Bedford in the September quarter of 1867. His name…


Henry’s mother, Mary Susan Boyd, was the widow GOGERLY when she married Mariner John Venables NUGENT in Calcutta. Her maiden surname was BETTS. The GRO printed Index clearly shows “John Venables” so it isn’t a recent transcription or digitization error.

Less a mistake, more a case of several economies with the truth – on the Shared Tree Mary S B Betts was born in Calcutta on 26 July 1826. In 1871, the Bedford census enumerator noted her birthplace as the Channel Islands. In 1891, a widow again and living with recently married Henry and Hannah, she claimed to be 63 years old, born “At Sea”.

None of these errors and narrative inconsistencies matters much. I wonder if the families Betts, Gogerly AND Paliologus knew each other in Calcutta. And how does a Mariner gain an entrée into ex-pat Bengal society?

From a Distance

I jumped the gun with Yesterday’s Image. For several mornings the sky above the Bay had been wonderfully clean and free of scratches. This morning at 7.14 –


A Polar Air Cargo Boeing 747-45E(F), GT18521, heading from Frankfurt to Chicago. Playback on Flightradar 24 showed there was not much else up there.

Social Distance

Weatherwise, it has been a lovely weekend here and Brits have flocked to the nation’s beauty spots to have “we want to catch Coronavirus” picnics. Give it a week and happy wanderers may need to explain themselves to the police, or to one of the 20,000 or so military mustered to instil social discipline. Freedom to roam will soon be taken away from us if we don’t take the virus seriously.

How serious is Covid-19? Opinions differ wildly. It doesn’t help that the figures for infections and deaths from the disease cannot be trusted. But even discredited stats can produce charts, graphs and histograms that just might trigger a lightbulb moment.

Deaths from Covid-19 are under-reported in many countries – many being “hidden” behind the various comorbidities that afflicted the deceased or simply marked down to the winter ‘flu in the northern hemisphere.

Statistical models from various sources seem to be pointing to deaths in the millions globally. The virus prediction tool from Andology, primed with an “Rnought” of 2.5 and a mortality rate of 2% generates a UK death toll of about 600,000 by the end of June. I have summarily cut this down to 25,000 for this country and the other nine in the current Top Ten of most lethal nations. The histogram below shows how far along the road to 100 per cent of 25,000 deaths these nations are.


Italy will blow through 25,000 two or three weeks from now, and the UK around the middle of May. I’ll raise the “estimate” whenever necessary and keep an eye open for other countries breaking into the Top Ten. (Source: Worldometers.)

In the meantime, keep your distance.


Puzzling Pattie

St John Paliologus was something of a butterfly. Three sources give his occupation variously as business transfer agent, “formerly tea trade” and fine art dealer. Born in Calcutta but living in South East England in 1881, 1901 and 1911, it is not a stretch to imagine him briefly alighting in Wales to marry first wife, Martha Sarah HALL.

Without a church source or newspaper family notice, we can’t be sure of Martha’s origins. The marriage began and ended between the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Martha gave birth to Zoe and Irene in Reigate in 1895 and 1896 and died at Oak Cottage, South Nutfield just before Christmas 1900, aged 29. A family notice appeared in several newspapers. The Sussex Agricultural Press gave her name as Pattie, “the dearly-loved wife of St. John L. Paliologus”. Hmm.

The birth registrations of the girls give Hall as Martha’s maiden surname. In the three years, 1870 to 1872, the birth of only one Martha Sarah Hall was registered in England & Wales. What else could I do but accept her as the daughter of John Sanford Hall, a Leicester cotton manufacturer, and Elizabeth BUXTON?

Piecing together John and Elizabeth’s family was a harrowing experience. They brought eight children into the world and in short order the Reaper took six of them away. The first four, all boys, contracted scarlatina and in seven days from 29 October to 5 November 1870 they died. Their ages ranged from 2 to 6. A few weeks away from her first birthday, Hannah Elizabeth survived the bacterial infection.

Martha Sarah was born a year after the deaths of her brothers and was too young to remember the brief visits of sisters Mary Ellen and Susan Anne.

Hannah Elizabeth married estate agent Henry Walter John NUGENT in Hastings in 1891. The couple would have six children together, the last of them in utero when the Reaper called for Henry.

Spare a thought now for the parents who lost 75% of their children. Elizabeth didn’t make old bones, saying her last goodbyes in 1877 to Hannah, 7, and Martha, 5.


I have not been able to find John, or his two surviving daughters, in the 1881 census. He doesn’t appear to have been a notable manufacturer of cotton but in 1891 he was away on business in Europe and died “between Dresden and Cologne” that summer. (Perhaps one of his few happy days as a family man had been attendance at Hannah’s wedding a few months earlier.) He was 67 and his estate was valued at  £57 19s (about £5,300 today).


Martha was living at Lydford House with her father and unmarried aunt when the enumerator called in 1891. Hannah was only about five miles away in Battle but maybe that was far enough away to spare her the task of executrix.

Hannah’s husband, an estate agent in January, was now a poultry farmer and a couple of years later he moved to Gloucestershire to raise chickens – and more children. Two girls and a boy were born in Aylburton – in Chepstow Registration District. It now makes perfect sense for Martha to have married from her sister’s home. How the match with St John had been made and her re-invention as Pattie continues to puzzle.