Sunday, June 2, 2013


Inspiration came from reading a blog by +James Tanner this morning,

The original Norman family story, as told by Ray Norman:
Thomas Norman was wealthy before he died it was reported. He owned a farm referred to as Myrtle Cottage, St. Michael's Apiary, a bee farm, which produced honey for sale. The youngest son William possibly owned it. Thomas Norman (father) was said to also own twenty tenement houses in Tiverton and had 20,000 British pounds at his death. The conversion ratio from 1800's to today would probably be several million USD. 

Thomas Norman
Myrtle Cottage

Sometime before his death, James Norman sued his father Thomas for some unknown reason. James brother Thomas was mad over the matter. Thomas was the oldest son and would ordinarily have been heir to the land which usually went to the oldest son. Before he passed on Thomas (father) wife died. 
Elizabeth Norman,  first wife of Thomas

Oral history has it that old Thomas married again and willed his property to the new wife. Some doubt that old Thomas could will the property to the new wife. This oral history also says that Thomas converted the holdings into cash and turned it all over to the wife at which time she left and never returned. There went the Normans millions legacy to some opportunistic trollop if true.

It is reported that some of the family went to Australia to become sheepherders but we have no information on those people. Since the writer has some expertise in golf we suggest that when the family emigrated in the 1800's the good golfers went to Canada and Mo Norman was one of the descendants. Greg Norman came from the Aussie branch and the hackers came from the following branch .

The following came from family historian Mary Norman Myers notes based on her biblical records and family oral history. She wrote this about 1980:
Sons of Thomas Norman in England-
Thomas Norman - who came to the US
John Henry Norman -who came to the US with Thomas. 

These two brothers lived in Ohio for a while and then moved to South Pittsburgh, TN.  John eventually moved to Birmingham, AL and Thomas as far as we know stayed in TN. 
The other Norman children were Sarah, Lucy and Priscilla who married and remained in England.
James Norman also remained in England and there was a William Norman who was blind and presumably remained in England also. 

Normans remaining in England

Thomas and John Henry had to work in the flax field for their father. One oral story is that the work was so strenuous and the household environment so bad that when the boys got to the end of a workday they laid down in the flax fields to sleep. There was no indication on how they were fed in the fields. 

The heavy work was one reason that they left home.  In 1853 they ran away from home and stowed away on a ship. The departure was to be a secret but when leaving they heard their mother crying.

On the voyage to the US they would have starved except some of the crew slipped scraps of food to them. We do not know where the ship arrived in the US but records may not have been kept for stow away.

Census records did indeed confirm John was from England, and we were able to trace back from Tennessee to Ohio.

The Ohio Genealogy Society provided the arrival of Thomas and John Henry who came from Liverpool to NYC arriving 11 March 1853 (hard to read the year, possibly 1852).Thomas, age 25, Male, Mechanic, from England and planned to become citizen of the US. John age 20, ditto.. (It doesn't seem like correct ages and may have been misstated, they would have been about five years younger.)

The ship is the Steamship Kangaroo, Capt. James Jeffrey.  Their accommodations appear to be the Fore Orlop Deck.
The Orlop deck was the lowest deck of a ship having at least four decks.

So much for the stowaway story.

Off to England: Kentisbeare baptisms
952 – Sep 24th 1837 John s. Thomas and Elisabeth from Aller wood Gate – a roper
Allerwood, Kentisbeare taken by Art Ames, 2008

Devon 1841
HO107/226/2 Folio4 Page3
Allerwood Gate

NORMAN Thomas 28 Y (yes born in the County) Rope Maker
NORMAN Elizabeth 30 Y
NORMAN Thomas 8 Y
NORMAN Sarah 5 Y
NORMAN James 1 Y

This is the 1851 census Tiverton, Devon
Thomas Norman abt 1809 Collumpton, Devon, England Head  rope manufacturer
Elizabeth Norman abt 1805 Bradnich, Devon, England Wife
John Norman abt 1838 Kentisbeer, Devon, England Son
James Norman abt 1840 Kentisbeer, Devon, England Son
William H Norman abt 1844 Kentisbeer, Devon, England Son
Priscilla R B Norman abt 1847 Cruwys Morchd, Devon, England Daughter
Lavera A M Norman abt 1850 Tiverton, Devon, England Daughter
Thomas Jr is not living with the family. He would have been about 19.
Sarah is working as a kitchen maid at Collipriest House for the widow Holway Carew, "Lady"

1861 Census      
Piece: RG9/1480 Place: Tiverton -Devon Enumeration District: 0
Civil Parish: Tiverton Ecclesiastical Parish: Clare Portrow
Folio: 64 Page: 1 Schedule: 4
Address: Quirkhill

Quirkhill Photo by David Smith   © Copyright David Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Surname   First name(s)   Rel   Status   Sex   Age   Occupation                      Where Born  
   NORMAN   Thomas   Head   M   M   52   Flax Scutcher Farmer Emp 2m    Devon - Cullompton      
   NORMAN   Elizth.       Wife   M    F   54                                                      Devon - Bradninch      
   NORMAN   Wm. H.     Son    U   M   17   Flax Scutcher                              Devon - Kentisbeare      
   NORMAN   Priscilla A  Dau    -     F    14                                                     Devon - Cruwys Morchard      
   NORMAN   Louisa A   Dau     -     F   11                                                      Devon - Tiverton    

Son James & his wife Sarah also at Quirkhill in 1861.
William is apparently not blind as he is employed as a flax scutcher (one who separated the husk from the flax fibers by holding it against rotating paddles)

Loders Dorset in 1871
Class RG10 Piece 2027 Folio 61 page 24
Civil parish Loders Dorset Reg District Bridport
Address Loders Street
Thomas Norman 62 head Flax merchant born Collumpton
Elizabeth 65 wife born Bradninch
Louisa A M 21 dau unmarried Born Tiverton

Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorset, 1875
Dorset Page 930
Norman Thomas, Mangerton Mill, Melplash, Bridport

Page 823 Melplash
Norman Thos. farmer, Mangerton mill
Mangerton Mill
The copyright on this image is owned by ANDY FISH and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

1881 England Census
Name: Thomas Norman
Age: 73
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1808
Relation: Head
Spouse's Name: Elizabeth
Gender: Male
Where born: Cullompon, Devon, England

Civil Parish: Loders
County/Island: Dorset
Country: England
Yondover Street
Condition as to marriage: Married
Occupation: Flax Scutch... Agriculture Machinery

Registration district: Bridport
Sub-registration district: Burton Bradstock
ED, institution, or vessel: 3
Household Members: Name Age
Elizabeth Norman 76
Thomas Norman 73

So far it looks like Thomas and Elizabeth were living to a ripe old age together. Thomas has progressed from  a rope maker. He was able to get in on the new technology of the steam powered threshing machine. He probably realized a nice income. The machines were rented out, complete with an engine driver (his son William), to thresh the flax directly in the fields. Elizabeth died October 31st 1882.

Then came the shocker: 23rd July 1883 Marriage of Thomas Norman

Thomas Norman full age  widower  machinist  Loders  father John Norman, Farmer
Elizabeth Sansome Pinkard widow Loders father Sydney Smith, Blacksmith
Both signed
Witnesses were William Brown and Charlotte Priscilla Norman {Charlotte is granddaughter of Thomas through his son James}

Could this be the second wife who ran off with all the money? You decide. In 1891 the second Elizabeth is nowhere to be found.
1891 Loders, Bridport, Burton Bradstock
Name: Thomas Norman
Age: 82
Estimated birth year: abt 1809
Relation: Visitor
Gender: Male
Where born: Devon, England

Civil parish: Loders
Ecclesiastical parish: Loders
Town: Loders
County/Island: Dorset
Country: England
Village Street

William Brown 27  (Possibly the same William Brown who witnessed 2nd marriage)
Julia Brown 35
Florence Adala Brown 6
Walter Stanley Brown 3
Jesse Brown 1
Thomas Norman 82

Kelly's Directory of Dorsetshire, 1889
Agricultural Machine Owners
Norman Thomas (implement), Lower Loders, Bridport

Death certificate for Thomas.  Thomas was 88 years old, died of Senile Decay 14 Feb 1897. He died in New Forest, Sub-District of Eling and in the County of Southampton. Informant was his son in law, Edward Peadell Mooreman.

Buried Loders churchyard, the position of the graves now unknown but the stones are against the churchwall.

Limestone headstone - round top
'In loving memory of Elizabeth the beloved wife of Thomas Norman who died October 31st 1882 aged 78 years. Also of the above Thoman Norman who died February 14th 1897 aged 88 years'.

Compare to the original story:
St Michael's Apiary does exist, but is a Benadictine monastery at Buckfast near Buckfastleigh, Devon
William was blind in the 1901 census, at age 67, although occupation is Agricultural Machinist, own account. In 1891 he was living at Myrtle Cottage.
To date no tenament houses owned by Thomas have been located.
So far no suit brought by James has been found.
We found an Australian connection, but no sheepherders. Thomas's granddaughter, Mabel Elizabeth Mary Bullock, went to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia as a governess. She married Walter James Wrigley and her descendants are still in Queensland.
No connection to Mo or Greg Norman

All in all the family story provided some great clues. 

Comments and cousin connections always welcome.