Saturday, June 17, 2017

Helmsley, North Yorkshire my Posh Ancestral Seat


View from Rye House, Rievaulx, where an ancestor, a Nesfield, once lived.


My Montreal-based genealogy writing group, GenealogyEnsemble, is about to publish a book of delicious, touching and occasionally mischievous  stories about our ancestors. We've chosen a title "Beads in a Necklace" that is also the title of a story within the book.

Right now, we're looking for a venue to have the autumn book launch. Luckily, Montreal has no shortage of heritage venues in which to hold such events.

Even the McCord Museum, on Sherbrooke West, where I researched so much of my story Furies Cross the Mersey, about the invasion of British suffragettes to Montreal in 1912, has a special room for events.

And, right now, the McCord is featuring a "Fashions of Expo67" show.

How perfect!  One of my stories in the up-coming volume is about my British Colonial grandmother, Dorothy Nixon, who visited us for the first and only time that beautiful Expo year.

At our team's meeting a few days ago, I was joking about how I wanted to visit my ancestral seat in the North of England, but I was finding the trip more expensive than anticipated.

How ironic is it, I lamented, that the town where my ancestors toiled as farm labourers, footmen, and delvers in a quarry, is now such a posh destination.

(Rumour has it my great grandfather Nixon also worked in a sawmill - maybe this one, Dunscombe Sawmill.)

The building where the Nixons lived is still there, an austere brick building, but much of Helmsley town is very lovely, no doubt about it.

I can see on Google Earth Abbot's Well cottage, in nearby Rievaulx, where my great grandmother, Mary-Ellen Richardson lived in the 1800's. An online website says the building is worth a million pounds!

Abbot's Well Cottage in Rievaulx, where my great grandmother lived.

And, what do you know? Today, on twitter came a story from the Yorkshire Life webite about How Hemsley has become a Tourist Destination, and how it was recently voted prettiest market town in the UK.

Yes, Helmsley, North Yorkshire has long been a destination for hunters from around the world, but now it is so much more.

No surprise, Abbot's Well Cottage in Rievaulx, where my great-great grandfather, a tailor, plied his trade, is now headquarters for a hunting-tourism company.

So, I guess I had better make those travel plans soon, before prices go even higher.

Alas, I'm not the only one whose ancestral haunt is now a very touristy place, just ask any Italian or Greek Canadian. Oh, I want to go to Italy, too, soon.


My grandfather, Robert, on the 1911 census. He was working as a footman, I'm not sure where. Maybe Dunscombe.

Robert would soon go to Malaya to work as a plantation worker, then Assistant-Manager. During WWI, he would return home to take a wife, Dorothy Forster, born in Middleton-on-Teesdale, Durham, whose dad, John, a Primitive Methodist Minister, had been stationed in Helmsley in 1912. John  was originally from Allendale, Northumberland. His wife, Emma Cowen, was from Crook and Billy Row, Durham.


I've done my DNA on Ancestry, but almost all my 'cousins' there are from the French Canadian side. Not much Yorkshire DNA on that particular platform. Northern Englanders didn't emigrate much, apparently, even if the Captain on Murdoch Mysteries claims to be from Yorkshire.