Genealogy in England – A Hinde Family Adventure Part I

“Dad was a bobby in London in about 1905 and he met a guy in a pub– a scoundrel really – named Arthur Mamby who was murdered in Taos a few years later. This Mamby character said that Taos was a wonderful place in New Mexico where everyone would be settling. I guess dad was ready for a change or something. He packed all their things and came directly to Taos along with mom and Doris. When they got here, it was nothing but the pueblo and just a handful of people living in town.” This story from Thomas George Hinde about his parents’ trip from England was just the beginning of our search for our Hinde Family’s English roots.

The English have been migrating to the United States since 1607 when the first colony was established at Jamestown, Virginia. Additional colonies were established in the years following in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Salem, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; Maryland; and Pennsylvania. This relative trickle of migration increased until the period between 1820 and 1920 when 2.5 million people moved from England to the United States – among them William Thomas Hinde, our “Grandpa Hinde.” After generations in the US, these immigrants have turned into millions of people with roots extending back to England and other UK countries.

Our initial effort was to begin to understand the family tree in a factual way. So we completed interviews with relatives who knew Grandpa Hinde and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Steer – our “Grandma Hinde.” We also made some trips to Taos during vacations to see grandpa’s blacksmith shop, the house he built, the old jail on the square, and numerous other examples of his ironworking talents around town. We suspect that he was commissioned to build the iron fence around Kit Carson’s grave – just across the street from the Hinde home. On our last trip there we discovered Hinde Street named in honor of this early day Taos pioneer family. This effort produced some colorful stories about the trip from England and their life in Taos along with some important documentation showing that the Grandpa Hinde was born Kempston, Bedfordshire and Grandma Hinde was born in Risely, Bedfordshire.

Months turned into years as we gathered additional information about the Hinde family that stretched back to 1824 Olney in Buckinghamshire where the family was a stable member of the community for several generations. We found a distant relative through an Internet discussion group that tied directly to our oldest known relative in Olney – one of those happy occasions that we genealogists live for. We also spent $100 US to hire a professional genealogist in England to research William Thomas’ history as a bobby in London. As it turns out, he was not a bobby at all – but his brother, Ernest, was. This is a good example of how stories can get changed over time.

Both grandpa and grandma died before my wife and I were born. So, neither of us knew them except through family stories and the factual information that we have been able to find. At some time during our process we began to discuss a trip to England to see the places they had seen, to be in the places they had been, and to walk the places they had walked.

We decided on a combined tourist and genealogy trip that would include highlights of London along with a few days of tromping through old church cemeteries – my favorite part of any trip. We took the tube from the airport to a stop near our hotel – a real adventure in my mind. As we came up out of the station area into the bright light of London, a nice local man came up and said, “You look like you are lost. How can I help you?” He gave us precise directions to our stop and advice on a good local pub where we could lift a pint of bitter on the way. The British are friendly and fun with razer-sharp wits that will keep you on your toes.

After our time in London we took a train south to Maidstone where we picked up a car and toured Leeds Castle, a beautiful and relaxing spot not yet covered with tourists. Finally the genealogy portion of our trip was beginning! We continued to Dover where we took a wrong turn and very nearly entered the Chunnel under the strait to France. Thankfully, the tourist-friendly folks in England left a last-minute turn-around for us. We enjoyed a dock-side pub within walking distance from our hotel where I feasted on a fresh seafood platter in cream sauce. Margaret discovered her English roots with a plate of bangers and mash that was simply delicious. So much for the negative stories about English food; we found it different but quite nice everywhere we went. We slept with the window open to the channel where we peered through the fog watching the flickering lights in France – yet another world away from home…

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About the author: By Gene Hall