I have been tracing my own family history for a long time. Many years ago, I discovered the burial of my 7 x great grandfather, Peter Griggs at Monks Horton, which was on the same day as another man, by the name Stephen Allin or Allen:
July 3 Stephen Allin
Extract from the parish records of Monks Horton
Of course, this burial record is vital in my research.
Recently, a great deal of local newspaper material has been put online – known as the British Newspaper Archive. In addition, the newspaper articles in its collection have been indexed. This has lead me to search for my ancestors. A few things that I have learned from searching…
Generally, first names have not been used. A lot of my ancestors have simply been known as ‘Griggs’. This makes it hard to ensure a newspaper article involves your ancestor or another with the same name.
Secondly, the OCR (optical character recognition) used to index the articles is quite poor – but still better than no index at all.
Thirdly, you never know what gems you are going to find!
Anyway, back to Peter Griggs. A search for the term ‘Griggs’ revealed many articles, but among them in the Kentish Gazette for Wednesday July 6th, 1768 includes the following shocking piece:-
On Thursday last, as four men were going to shop at Horton, near Brabourn, to fetch some bread, they were met by some young fellows, who took them to a neighbouring house where spirituous liquors are sold, and insisted on their drinking to so great an excess that two of them, named Griggs and Allen, both upwards of 70 years, are since dead. They were buried on Sunday; but their bodies have been since taken up, for the examination of the Coroner’s inquest.
It seems like then, as now, the press liked to sensationalize things as in the following edition published on July 9th, 1768 appeared the following:-
We have been informed by some of the company that were present, at Barbourn near Horton, with two men named Griggs and Allen, as mentioned in our last, and who are since dead thro’ excess of drinking; that they were not by any means compelled to drink the liquor, but drank of their own accord with the company then present. Neither have the bodies of the deceased been taken up, as was at first reported.
So it seems like Peter was left to rest in peace after all.
I actually wonder if this was all a bit of a cover up. “The company” are never named, and seem like they want to quash the whole thing. Smuggling was rife in the neighbourhood at this time. A few years earlier, the following appeared in the Monks Horton parish records (same source as above):
1753 Tho son of Tho: & Sarah Fisher baptised Nov: 21.
N:B: These persons left Horton sometime after Mich[aelmas] 1753 being apprehensive of his being taken as an outlawed person for smugling [sic].
By the way, Sarah, nee Griggs, was Peter’s daughter! Guess we will never know.