Saturday, 29 October 2011

What's That Name - Timmins Surname (Part 1)

For Surname Saturday I thought it was time to start investigating my surname.   I originally thought it would be easy to research my TIMMINS name - but how wrong can you be?

Firstly there are a large number of books and on-line articles speculating on the origin of the TIMMINS surname and the location it evolved from.  Not surprisingly they don't all agree!  There are also the variant spellings of TIMMONS and TIMMS (and others).  I think we will put this to one side for now, I can follow this up in a later blog.

Let us try to look at some concrete information on where the surname may have come from, the 1881 census of England and Wales  looks like a good place to start - or is it?    Doing an exact name search on FindMyPast produced 2,335 matches.  The same search on Ancestry gave 2,391 whilst on FamilySearch I got 2,337 matches.  I chose the 1881 census as I presumed that all the transcriptions would be identical as the data used has been provided by the fabulous guys at the LDS.

Ancestry actually gave a little more information as it also looks at the Scottish census - this added a further 62 Timmins' to the mix (Ancestry total 2453).
You would think that computer databases these days could come up with precisely the same answer to a simple query.  Perhaps someone out there in blogger land can explain the differences.

To find the origin of a surname you really have to understand where a person was born rather than where they lived when the census was taken.  Another factor is that you need to look at the older people in the census as this this will give a view of what was happening to the population prior to the mass migration caused by the Industrial Revolution.  This is now starting to look too complicated a search for the likes of the usual suspects i.e. FindMyPast, Ancestry and FamilySearch.
So come to the rescue .  This is an on-line paid for service that provides a map and data matching the criteria I mentioned above.  So here we have it, with the added bonus of Scotland.
An advantage of the web site is that it can also determine if there are any surname matches in Ireland; it uses the Griffith's Valuation 1847 -1864 to achieve the results.  Unfortunately my TIMMINS surname is not currently in their database.

I have other options to find out any Ireland/Eire Timmins':
FamilySearch - for Timmins born in Ireland between 1788 and 1860 there are 1031 matches.
Ancestry - for Timmins in the Griffiths Valuation gives 218 matches.
Ask About Ireland - the raw data for Timmins in Griffiths Valuation gives 263 matches; this search also includes the Landlord which skews the result, also it does not take into account one person renting more than one piece of land.
Irish Times - this gives a more precise figure of 121 matches, plus more valuable information on alternate names, also the households in each county and parish.

The Irish Times site is by far the best resource for searching any potential Irish surname connection.

So from the Irish Times:

The top 4 counties in Ireland for the Timmins surname are:
Carlow  37
Wicklow  21
Kildare  15
Cavan  10

Alternate surnames are:
Timmins 121
Timmons 67
Timmon 11
Timmin 4
Timmonds 1

Other alternative name given are: 
Timins, Timmans, Tymanns,  Ó Tiomáin (Wicklow), Mac Toimín (Mayo).

Leaving Ireland behind for a while I need to look at the more dense population of Timmins in the West Midlands (Staffordshire and Worcestershire) to see if I can narrow down the parishes they frequented.

I just happened to glance up at my CD genealogy collection and spotted a programme that I had forgotten about - Surname Atlas by Archer Software - I purchased it back in 2003, this is exactly what I need.  "The British 19th Century Surname Atlas is a fully interactive CD-Rom product that allows you to plot floodfill-style distribution maps for all of the surnames and forenames found in the 1881 census of England, Scotland and Wales."

So I run the software and get 2,414 matches, not quite as many matches as Ancestry?  But here we have the Counties that I am interested in together with the data.

Next I want to display the results by Parish, it can't achieve this but it can provide the Poor Law Union breakdown.
"Poor Law Unions were set up in England & Wales following the passing of the Poor Law amendment Act in 1834. The same areas were also used for civil registration and the collection of the 19th century census. They generally contain between 5 and 20 (civil) parishes. The system was less well developed in Scotland and the program only supports mapping by poor law union for England & Wales" 

The density of Timmins' in the Dudley Poor Law Union would appear to indicate that the surname could have established itself here at an early stage.  More investigation into this will follow in further blogs.

Just as I thought that I had finished another thought popped into my head "Google British Surnames".  Yet more information.................. rather than copy and paste it here I will let you click on the links and explore my surname further at these web sites.  In fact why not explore your own!

gbnames - the Great Britain Family Names Profiling website which presents the findings of a project based at University College London (UCL) that is investigating the distribution of surnames in Great Britain, both current and historic.

britishsurnames -  The British Surnames website. Here, you can find information on similar surnames, most common surnames, surname meanings and etymologies as well as discussing your name in the forum.  As the name suggests, this site primarily lists surnames commonly found in Britain, but many of these are found in other parts of the world as well - so even if you're not British, your name could well be in here! 

americansurnames - See how the name has spread.

canadasurnames - There is also a town named Timmins in Ontario Canada - the following is courtesy of wikitravel, also see wikipedia
Timmins is a city in Northern Ontario with a population of nearly 43,000 (2006 census). The City stretches over approximately 2,961.52 km2 (1,840.20 sq mi) of land, making Timmins one of the largest cities in Canada land wise. Timmins was founded January 1, 1912 and is named after Noah Timmins, founder of the Hollinger Gold Mine. The gold rush of 1909 earned Timmins the nickname of the “City with the Heart of Gold”. The city is located in one of the richest mineral producing areas in the Western Hemisphere. It is a leader in the production of gold and base metals. Main attractions are mining tours, outdoor recreation and the Shania Twain Centre.

Click on the images above to see them in more detail.  Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope you found it interesting.  Please leave comments below, or you can email me direct.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Girls With Hats

It is not that easy to be wordless, especially when posting old family photographs!  This photo is from the early 1940's, it is the "Williams Girls" outside what looks like Hoole All Saints Church, I don't know what the occasion is but most likely a family wedding.

If you have been following my blog you will know that my mother Hilda came from a large family, eleven in total, eight girls and three boys.  This is the only photo I know of that shows just the girls.

Gertie (born 1900) was the second child but the eldest daughter, Lorna (born 1924) was the youngest in the family.

One of things I like to do is list the married names of my female family members, this helps any cousins to find me if they Google their parents/grandparents names. So in no particular order the Williams Girls married names are - Timmins, McDonald, Monkman, Griffiths, Cowmeadow, Jones, Wilcock, Hales.

Monday, 10 October 2011

At Home!

Well here I am again, sitting at home wondering what to do now that the holiday season is over and the weather is deteriorating!  I have neglected my blog and family history research for a number of months as outdoor activities beckoned, so I think it is now time to ease myself back into genealogy mode with a nice easy post on my blog.

I have further reason to be inactive right now as I injured my knee whilst on holiday in Brittany (France).  My daughter got married in early July, as you can imagine the weeks leading up to this were quite hectic so a couple of days later we took our touring caravan to Brittany for a long 4 week break.  On the second day at the first camp site we decided to put up the awning on the outside of the caravan  As I was squatting down to hammer in one of the pegs something happened inside my knee, a sharp pain and 2 days of swollen knee followed.  We completed the holiday without too much of a problem, but I now realise I should have taken more care following the incident! My knee never recovered and deteriorated further.  Following a consultation with a specialist last week I find that I have a Meniscal Cartilage Tear which now needs surgery.

I find that one of the great things about being away from home and all its diversions is the ability to relax and read some of the books that have been gathering dust in the bookcase.  From a genealogists viewpoint one book I read stands out from all the others, in fact until I started to read it I never gave any thought to its relevance to family history.  The book I am referring to is At Home by Bill Bryson.  It is also available for the Kindle.

Bill Bryson seems to have the ability to grab your attention and draw you in to his books right from the start.  Perhaps its a 'man thing' but I love the obscure facts that he keeps coming up with, I want to keep reading on and on to see what's next.  The introduction starts with a cracker about Norfolk churches and why they all appear to have sunk into the ground, the fact is that they haven't, it is the churchyard's that have risen, 3 feet or more in some cases.  I won't tell you why as it would spoil the start of the book.  The book is a fascinating journey back to 1851 with hundreds of facts that will keep a family historian glued to the book.  The research that went into this book is amazing, there are 33 pages of Bibliography, there is also a comprehensive 28 page index.  In my opinion a thoroughly good read, highly recommended.

Book of the Month - An idea for a new widget

Thought - If I had injured my knee back in 1851 then I would have been a cripple for the rest of my life, thank goodness for modern medicine and surgery.