Help the Royal Cornwall Museum encourage all future generations to be inspired by Cornish heritage. Find Out More

The UK’s Greatest Museum For Cornish Life & Culture | Free For Children

The Haslam Family

Using the Diaries to Conduct Genealogical Research

Uncovering the Family

Tasked with analysing a series of digitised diaries the aim was to trace the lives and stories of the diaries’ creator Miss Elsie Haslam, her father, her mother, ‘Bernie’ and the enigmatic ‘Charlie’.

This was definitely a challenging project – especially so where Charlie was concerned. The information gathered from Elsie’s diaries is exceptionally limited. Knowing only Elsie’s full name, the Courtney Library researchers at the Royal Institute of Cornwall tracked Elsie’s movements and through this narrowed down her location to Weeks St. Mary. Through the 1901 and 1911 census records (shown below) the RIC was able to confirm the names of her father and mother and that ‘Bernie’ was in fact Bernard Lewthwaite Haslam, her brother.

Elsie Mona Haslam

Image from the collection of the RIC. Available to view at the Courtney Library and Archive CLG.2013.4.1 Younger Elsie Mona Haslam.

© From the collection of the RIC. Available to view at the Courtney Library and Archive CLG.2013.4.1 Younger Elsie Mona Haslam.

  • Born 4th August 1882 in Rochester, Kent, Elsie and her family moved to Weeks St Mary, Holsworthy, Cornwall sometime between 1891 and 1901.
  • She was the second of two children to parents Samuel Holker Haslam and Sarah Elizabeth Barham.
  • According to the 1891 census she attended Grammar School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and was listed as having the occupation ‘scholar’.
  • Post-1901 her occupation, as denoted in her diaries, was that of a sheep, dairy and turkey farmer.
  • Marriage: In 1920 Elsie married reverend canon Alexander Drake Allen in Totnes, Devon and later that year became a mother to a daughter, Stella May Allen born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
  • Elsie passed away on 7th April 1948 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire at the age of 65.
Image © From the collection of the RIC. Available to view at the Courtney Library and Archive CLG.2013.4.2 An older Elsie Mona Haslam.

© From the collection of the RIC. Available to view at the Courtney Library and Archive CLG.2013.4.2 An older Elsie Mona Haslam.

Samuel Holker Haslam

  • Born 13th March 1855 in Maughold on the Isle of Man.*
  • Samuel was one of 12 siblings: he had 9 full siblings and 3 paternal half-sisters all born on the Isle of Man.
  • According to the 1891 census Samuel worked as both Headmaster of the Grammar School Elsie attended in Clitheroe, Lancashire as well as a ‘clerk in holy orders’. Come 1901 though, he is listed as being an Anglican Clergyman (Church of England).
  • Marriage: Samuel, only known to have married once, wed Sarah Elizabeth Barham in 1879 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and fathered two children, Bernard and Elsie.
  • Samuel passed away 3rd October 1922 in Devon, England aged 67.

*Note Isle of Man records are separate to the UK and not visible on most search engines.

 

Sarah Elizabeth Haslam (neé Barham)

  • Born around 1857 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
  • Sarah’s lack of a listed occupation in census records from 1891-1911 was not atypical of a middle-class woman of this time, due to her husband’s position and somewhat comfortable finances she would have been expected to run the household and manage the household affairs and staff as opposed to bringing in her own designated income. Each of the three census’ show the household as employing a minimum of one servant at any one time.
  • As stated above, Sarah wed Samuel Holker Haslam in 1879 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and was mother to two children, Bernard and Elsie.
  • The date Sarah passed away is unknown, all that can be said is that it was after 1918.

 

Bernard ‘Bernie’ Lewthwaite Haslam

  • Born around 1880/81 in Rochester, Kent.
  • First of two children, older then Elsie by 18months- 2years.
  • The same as Elsie, according to the 1891 census Bernie attended Grammar School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and was listed as having the occupation ‘scholar’.
  • Post-1901 his occupation, as denoted in Elsie’s diaries and census records of that time, was that of a poultry farmer.
  • Little has been discovered on whether Bernie married or had children.
  • The date he passed away is also unknown, all that can be said is that it was after 1918.

The information on Charlie himself was even more limited and without a last name, an age, an occupation, an address or any knowledge of his connection to the family for him very difficult to track anything down.

What we did learn of him through Elsie’s diaries was of his aunt in Bournemouth, that he went to Tremeer and then Bodmin in early 1915 to enlist. From Bodmin he underwent basic training and was briefly brought to Falmouth before his unit was ‘shipped out’ to the Isle of Wight.

Come 1918 however, Elsie notes of how he was part of 1st Battalion of Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry and was injured twice in France – once badly in the hand which resulted in an operation removing part of his thumb. It was through his war records and the invaluable help of Paul Nixon, and the Cornwall Regimental Museum that Charlie was identified.

 

Charles ‘Charlie’ William Haslam

  • Born 24th April 1894 in Ramsey on the Isle of Man.
  • Charlie’s father was William Holker Haslam, older brother to Samuel. This made him and Elsie first cousins.
  • Charlie’s occupation before enlisting in 1915 was a farmer, and in 1915 in was working on a farm in Bude. In 1915 Charlie enlisted as a member of Kitchener’s New Army where he remained until after the war.

With this information and the extraordinary help of self-taught genealogist Graham Harvey a paternal family tree was assembled:

Partial Family Tree of Elsie Mona Haslam, shows her paternal aunties and uncles, along with her later marriage. Pink denotes female relations and male are in blue.

Partial Family Tree of Elsie Mona Haslam, shows her paternal aunties and uncles, along with her later marriage. Pink denotes female relations and male are in blue.

Uncovering Elsie’s Cornwall

Due to the nature of Samuel Holker Haslam’s occupation as preacher, the Haslam family welcomed many people into their home and had the opportunity to visit more places than most of the time, especially as the family brought a Studebaker motor car in summer of 1914.

  • Home: The Rectory, Weeks St Mary.
  • The [Old] Rectory, Jacobstowe, Devon for a concert.
  • Bude, Cornwall for tea.
  • Summerleaze Beach, Bude.
  • The Castle, Bude for Tea and Tango [Dancing].
  • Wainhouse, Bude.
  • Stratton, Bude.
  • North Tamerton, Bude.
  • Week Orchard, Bude.
  • Burnwell, Cornwall for lunch at the Bettinson’s.
  • ‘Steele’, Weeks St. Mary – to visit Mr Treleven, whose headstone still resides in the Parish of Weeks St. Mary.
  • ‘Marham Church’ Rectory, Cornwall.
  • Poundstock, Cornwall.
  • Bakesdown, Cornwall.
  • Tresmeer, Cornwall.
  • Clubworthy, Cornwall.
  • North Petherwin, Cornwall.
  • Thinwood Moor, Cornwall.
  • Truro, Cornwall.
  • Columb, Cornwall.
  • Wadebridge, Cornwall.
  • Newport, Launceston.
  • Leworthy, Cornwall.
  • Tetcott, Cornwall.
  • Clawton, Cornwall.
  • Morwenstow, Cornwall.
  • Kilkhampton, Cornwall.
  • Clovelly, Cornwall.
  • Greena Moor, Cornwall.
  • Bridgerule, Holsworthy.
  • Bodmin, Cornwall.
  • Crackington Haven, Crackington.
  • Buckland Filleigh, Cornwall.
  • Tintagel, Cornwall.
Map, showing local Cornish stops for the family.

Map, showing local Cornish stops for the family. Yellow pin is their home in Weeks St. Mary.

  • Paignton, Devon.
  • Tavistock, Devon.
  • Yelverton, Devon.
  • Plympton, Devon.
  • Ivybridge, Devon.
  • Totnes, Devon.
  • Dartmouth, Devon.
  • Kingswear, Devon.
  • Torquay, Devon.
  • Ashburton, Devon.
  • Bovey Tracey, Devon.
  • Moretonhampstead, Devon.
  • Okehampton, Devon.
  • Bridstowe, Okehampton.
  • Lifton, Okehampton.
  • Maristowe, Devon.
  • Exeter, Devon.
  • Doulsdon, Cullompton.
  • Holsworthy, Devon for the dentist.
Map, showing stops for the family in Devon and Cornwall. Yellow pin is their home in Weeks St. Mary, blue pins are military locations.

Map, showing stops for the family in Devon and Cornwall. Yellow pin is their home in Weeks St. Mary, blue pins are military locations.

The family even went as far as places like Bournemouth, Bristol and Bath and near London.

Map, showing stops for the family over the UK.

Map, showing stops for the family over the UK.