Monday, 24 March 2008

The boxer - Thomas Fitz-Henry, my great-grandfather

The picture is of my great-grandfather Thomas Fitz-Henry, whose older incarnation can be seen in the photo in the first post I made on this blog. It's a scan of a "tintype" photo, the original instant snap. More about tintypes can be found here at Wikipedia
I think Thomas must have been in his late teens or early twenties here (he was born in 1870), and I'm told that this would have been taken outdoors in natural light against a white background. So he was either standing outside during a competition or it might have been at a bout at a fair where traveling photographers were popular.
In February 1894 he won a silver cup at the Sydney Club Open Boxing Competition weighing in at 7 stone 10lb (108lb) or flyweight. The trophy was never engraved with his name as it was more valuable at the pawn shop unnamed (family legend) but thankfully it was safely redeemed so I now have it.
The picture may have been taken at that event as this is the only photo we have of his boxing career.

Where Mount Fitzhenry got its name from...

Once again my North American geography correspondent (Ann FH) has come up trumps with the reason behind the name (and I quote from her email):
According to the book "Gods and Goblins: A Field Guide to Place Names of Olympic National Park" by Smitty Parratt, Mount Fitzhenry was named in honor of Edward A. Fitzhenry, Clallam County Surveyor from 1892-1900. The name was assigned by parties unknown sometime between 1900 and 1910.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Mount Fitzhenry!

My geography correspondent informs me that the Fitzhenry clan has a mountain named after it in Washington state. Or probably someone called Fitzhenry claimed a mountain. But what's the story behind it?
For a map and aerial shot of our very own mountain click here
and select the satellite view, or cut and past this rather long link:,ftc,1,fid,1519621,n,Mount%20Fitzhenry.cfm

Many thanks to Ann Fitzhenry for this information.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Patrick Fitz-Henry, slave trader, Bristol

I was in (email) conversation with Lesley Champion, my Australian correspondent, about the Bristol origins of her Fitz-Henry line in the late 1700s. There are several Fitz-Henry/Fitzhenry families mentioned, and they seem to be Irish Catholics (probably the worst combination you can have at this time from the genealogy viewpoint!).
A name that has cropped up in several references is Patrick Fitz-Henry. I first found him in the London Gazette, where he is prominent in the Bankruptcy columns. In fact he seems to have the distinction of becoming bankrupt twice in the 1790s. He is listed variously as a "Merchant and adventurer" and a "ship owner" trading out of Bristol and Newfoundland. A Google reference then more sinisterly leads to a pay-per-view article in the History in Africa journal which names him as a slave trader with his ship the Maria. He is also listed on the Merchant Network website as being a slave trader out of Bristol.
The last reference is via Google books and in George Oliver's "Collections Illustrating the Catholic Religion..."(1857), the description of the attempt to establish a Catholic Mission in Bristol told that
"the congregation could contribute but little and even that little, collected by committee, was unadvisedly placed by its members in the hands of one Fitz-Henry, an Irish merchant, and was irrevocably lost by his bankruptcy."
Any further information about Patrick Fitz-Henry most welcome.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Charlotte Fitzhenry Robling 1917-2008

I am grateful to Ann Fitzhenry for informing me of the death last week of Charlotte Fitzhenry Robling, an extraordinary woman who was amongst other things, a reporter and photographer for AP newsagency. Our sincere condolences to her family. A brief biography from the Chicago Sun Times can be read here

Saturday, 1 March 2008

The London Gazette online

Sometimes you find a source of new material that makes you wonder how you had never heard about it before. This month's new source for me is the London Gazette online. The Gazette was first published in 1665 and is a newspaper published by the government that covers military promotions, searches for the beneficiaries of wills, bankruptcies and lots of other good stuff for a family history researcher. The archive online is fully searchable and its free. Have a look - it's marvelous.

How did I miss that?

Only when we get tonked 4-1 by Birmingham today do that I realise that I hadn't marked the first trophy win in 9 years last Sunday. For our overseas readers, Spurs beat Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup. You can be assured that I probably won't be putting any more random football posts here for another 9 years unless we get a lot better...