A “Eureka!!!” Moment!!
Not sure how to explain this in the best way so you know just how much this particular thing is a “Eureka!!!” moment and why I am so very thrilled with it. And it is very possible that I might go off at other tangents, while trying to explain it, so please be patient with me.
Well here goes! In 2001 I received from an archive in America, a copy of a document concerning people and land in the UK, dated April 1753 which was just sort of entitled “Memorandum” and it is really about my 6 x great grandfather Cozens Read taking over some extra land for the next ten years. These extra acres were being leased from the Duke of Buckingham (or Earl Temple as he was then) by another gentleman who they referred to in this Memorandum as Dg (or Dy) Read.
It was very difficult to actually get what the shortened name was no matter how many times I looked at it or anyone else looked at it. Because of that difficulty, I nicknamed this gentleman “Digby” Read, so I would know who I was talking about if this particular document came up in conversation at any time.
The Memorandum makes it clear that ”Digby” Read had been ploughing up mounds, which it seems he shouldn’t have done, as this made his Agreement void. So, in effect, Cozens Read was taking over the 49 acres that “Digby” Read had, to add to his own acres that he was already renting for more than £300 a year. I think it is fairly safe to assume that “Digby” Read and Cozens Read were related to each other because the land was at a place that I now know was in my family’s occupation for at least 150 years, possibly longer. (And I have been there, been in the farm house and wandered around there, but that is another story to tell later in this blog)!
(Photo of the READ family home/farm for at least 150 years. Cozens Read there from 1735. House built before 1650 and still extant)
My own photograph taken in 2000 - Lower Winchendon copyright 2010
“Digby” Read does not sign this Memorandum at all but it is signed by Cozens Read and other representatives of the Earl Temple. It’s almost as if the whole deal is done without involving “Digby” Read in any way. They agree that Cozens Read will pay a total sum each year for the land he already holds together with what was “Digby” Read’s land. The Earl Temple will provide ‘ruff timber’ and Cozens Read will make sure that everything is kept in good repair. “Digby” Read will be allowed to plough certain hedge mounds that the Earl or his agents think is ok for him to do, and for this Cozens Read will be allowed ten pounds (sterling) per annum.
So, to me it is almost as if “Digby” Read is an older but very much respected gentleman, who has been ploughing things he shouldn’t have, but they will allow him to plough a certain part of the land which Cozens Read was now taking over from him, and for this Cozens Read was being given an allowance (possibly a reduction in the rent for all the land he paid for each year). As “Digby” Read does not appear to be involved in any way with this Memorandum I feel that Cozens Read and the others involved in this are just dealing with the situation without “Digby” Read’s knowledge, but letting him continue as he has been doing for a while.
Since I received this copy of the Memorandum in 2001, I haven’t been able to find out who “Digby” Read was or how he was related to Cozens Read. I have been stumped by the shortening of the first name, which was either Dg or Dy. I did wonder at some stage if it was Dr. which would maybe mean he was a Doctor of medicine or a Doctor of Divinity or maybe another kind of Doctor. I have hunted everywhere since discovering “Digby” Read to see if I can find anything that would show who he was.
I know all of Cozens Read’s children (well 20, maybe 21 of them) and I know who his siblings are, but maybe not all of them. I know who his parents are and his grandparents. I know who the siblings are of his father. “Digby” Read just does not fit in anywhere as any of these people. So, I am thinking maybe he is an Uncle, Great Uncle or cousin.
I have always wondered why Cozens Read went to Buckinghamshire when all his family were in Oxfordshire. I always had at the back of my mind that maybe he went to join another relative in Buckinghamshire or went to work for another relative there. So, if I am a little correct in that maybe “Digby” Read is an older gentleman, maybe the younger Cozens Read went to help him on his farm, which he gradually ended up taking over?
The Parish Registers for their village show that the only Reads in the register are the children and grandchildren (and their spouses) of Cozens Read along with him and his wife Elizabeth. There is no other Read that I can’t account for and certainly no-one that could be “Digby” Read. So, when he died, he must have been buried elsewhere. Having also checked the Oxfordshire and Berkshire Registers for all the family of Cozens Read, I haven’t come across anyone who could be “Digby” Read.
Now for the Eureka moment!!
Well, thanks to modern technology and advances in the internet and the things we can now do sitting at our PCs or laptops, I started entering all the documents, certificates, parish register entries, land tax assessments, census information, and many other things I have collected over more than twenty years of serious research into the family, into a filing system on the internet.
Then I came across my scanned copy of the April 1753 Memorandum on the computer (which I had looked at quite a number of times over the years since 2001, but just with my own eyesight as it wasn’t on the computer then) and started to copy the details of it into my new filing system in cyberspace. Because I now have this on my computer, for the first time, I zoomed in to make the writing clear to be able to copy it and also for the first time I properly noticed that the word Michaelmas was shortened to Michl. I had never really payed it any attention before, because I knew it was the word Michaelmas so didn’t need to really look at it hard to make it out. However, now that I had zoomed in on the document, I noticed with mounting excitement that the end letter of l (el) was exactly like the letter that was after the D which was given for “Digby” Read’s first name.
“Digby” was Dl Read and Dl is short for Daniel!! Eurekaaaaaaa!!!!!!!
I am so thrilled, because that now narrows down the field somewhat because through my experience of poring through hundreds of parish registers and noting all Reads I come across, there are really not that many called Daniel.
Now I am searching for a burial of a Daniel Read after 1753 and it is going to be so good to be able to find out exactly how he is related to Cozens Read and to maybe discover why he isn’t buried (nor seems to have any of his children, wife, grandchildren buried) in the village he was living in for maybe many years. Certainly Cozens Read was there from 1734 until he died in 1783 and if he went there to help “Digby” Read on the farm, I just wonder why “Digby” Read or his immediate family aren’t shown in the village parish registers at all? So the search goes on!!
I will update this when I make more discoveries of “Digby” Daniel Read!!!