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A Kentish Huguenot Heritage

Richard Eldridge

Richard Eldridge, Associate Editor

Welcome to this, the fifth of our magazine’s colour supplements. Although we originated in Leicester, Brenda and I went our separate ways (she, west and then south; me to the north) after leaving the family home. The main focus of this section is around the South East corner of England, particularly the counties of Sussex and Kent. This is a land of farming, of orchards, of hops and oast houses. Although I have negligible knowledge of the area personally, even I can claim that my favourite libation is named after “an unusual finger-shaped signpost still found in Kent, which once pointed pilgrims on their way to Canterbury”. (Bishop’s Finger Ale; Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham)

We have been pottering with elements of our family history for nearly ten years. Recently Brenda’s husband Richard discovered essays and journals which had been kept by his mother and grandfather, containing information which spanned more than fifty years. Richard was also aware that his paternal grandmother’s line had a strong association with the Huguenot tradition in France and that the family had a long connection with Canterbury and Ashford.

The Curtis family: 1908

The Curtis Family (about 1908)

This supplement will concentrate mainly on the family names of Eldridge, Curtis, Cannings and Mannoch. In our preliminary internet searches we found a cousin of Richard who was also interested in the family line and who had also put together a web site. This uses a different format and software program (“GEDMill” from The Logic Mill). Alex Curtis and Richard did not know of each other prior to this introduction and an interchange of information has already proved quite fruitful.

It is not our intention to duplicate each other’s sites. We have indicated where information is shared and overlaps. We have placed convenient links to Alex’s site on this page and made reference where appropriate in the other articles. If you are seeking further knowledge of our families, be sure to pay him a visit too.


The twins

(Added December 10th 2016)

Twin girls: Evelyn Mya (6lb 12oz at 9:25pm) and Isla Neve (6lb 6oz at 9:50pm): were born on September 25th 2016. Twin sisters for Florence. Our heartiest congratulations to Lindsey and Rob.

On the trail of the Curtises

Alex Curtis

Alex Curtis, Associate Editor

With the advent of the Internet, and the popularity of the various magazines and television programmes, it is easy to think that researching one's family history is a new fad. It isn't of course. Some fifty years ago my grandfather, Thomas William CURTIS, was exploring his ties with the past, no doubt searching through whatever records he could find in the archives at the cathedral in his home town of Canterbury, seeking to fill in the gaps in the stories told to him by his parents and grandparents. In the days before the Internet such research was slow going, and what little we have from him is scribbled on a few pages in a couple of notebooks. Nevertheless, this was enough to make my father and myself curious to learn more, and some years ago my father set about building on the research he had done.

After moving to London a few years ago I decided it was my turn to do some research. My job was made easier by being just a tube journey away from the various record centres in the capital, particularly the Family History Centre, the National Archives at Kew, and the British Library. After several months I was able to align the facts we already had with new information gleaned from birth and marriage certificates, censuses and other records, and we now have a pretty good picture of the family history for most of the last two centuries.

The Curtis family hailed from Kent, mainly Canterbury, though there were some in Dover, some down near Tenterden, and another branch (the EWELLs) in the north east of the county around Herne Bay. While their roots were in Kent, it is not true to say that they never travelled.

My great grandmother Louise CURTIS (nee CANNINGS) worked for a while as a maid in Totnes, Devon, and her father, William CANNINGS, was a soldier posted in various places in Britain and Ireland. My great (x 3) grandfather Edmond CURTIS, was also a soldier, defending Queen Victoria's British Empire. He is known to have served as far away as India and Australia.

The family seem to have been well known in Canterbury. My great grandfather Thomas CURTIS was the manager of a coal yard, and he and his wife Jane (nee MANOUCH) raised a large family of twelve children. The family had connections to the King's School, Canterbury -- Jane worked in the household of the then headmaster, Doctor BLORE, and her son Henry CURTIS was the school Steward for a number of years, becoming the subject of a fond write-up in the school magazine on his retirement in 1968. My grandfather also spent a large part of his life in Canterbury, being a pupil at the Choristers' School at the cathedral, and a resident of the city until he and his family moved to Essex on his return from the Second World War.

The findings of my research are available on the web here: Family history of Alexander Curtis. Readers may be interested to note that I wrote the software used to create the site, being unable to find any existing software to create the sort of site I wanted. It is available as both a free version and an enhanced paid-for version, from The Logic Mill.

Alex Curtis: March 23rd 2006

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Feature articles

"For a little while we had thoughts of submarines especially when we were told to get our lifebelts on."

A poppy: Access the article THE STORY OF EDWARD BRETLAND "The war diary reads 'It was a splendid fight and good leadership was shown by the officer in Command.'"

Arras: Access the article and gallery A SOUVENIR FROM ARRAS “The destruction of Arras reinforced Allied propaganda comparing the Germans to barbarians.”

Winifred Curtis: Access for article WINIFRED MARY ELDRIDGE nee CURTIS (1912 - 2007) - MY MUM
No one could have wished for a more peaceful passing.

Jane Manooch: Access for article MY EARLY YEARS: PERSONAL MEMORIES OF KENT
"Don’t you know the red flag is up on the towers? Run home like blazes !"

Charing: Access the article FAMILY LIFE AFTER THE WAR
"I can still remember the joy I felt in going into a wood and found the ground covered in bluebells."

Bible inscription: Access the article MY MOTHER'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY
"A woman aged about 60 answered and we asked to buy two lettuces."

Wedding photograph: Access the article FAMILY LIFE
"The horse took about three slurps and the pailfull was gone!"

Mabel Curtis: Access the article MY FATHER – WILLIAM CURTIS
Be sorry for fathers home from the war and out of touch with their children!

Page added: March 18th 2006
Last updated December 10th 2016

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