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Craig Sheldon

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Rope maker George Dryden (right) with his nephew on the ropewalk in Tabard Street, London, where they manufacture their products, circa 1920. (Photo by Paul Thompson/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Credit: Archive Photos / stringer
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24 Hour Dinghy Endurance Event
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Sunset Beach, Cape Town
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Fahrenfort #genealogy

Research into the Fahrenfort family descended from Gerhard Friedrich Fahrenfort (1776 - 1846) and Charlotte Strangmeier of Quernheim, Germany. There are branches in South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United States. 

The basis of Fahrenfort research was carried out by Marion Fahrenfort over at ; additional research can be found at ; interested people are encouraged to join and contribute to and to Facebook -
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Dryden #genealogy  of Hounslow, Middlesex

Henry Dryden, flax dresser, lived in Hounslow, Middlesex in the early 19th century. He was married to a woman named Sarah (possibly Sarah Watkins, on 10 July 1814 in All Saints Church, Isleworth) and had at least four children with her:

- Matilda Dryden, born 10 Aug. 1814

- Sophia Ruth Dryden, born 7 Nov. 1815

- William Henry Dryden, born 27 June 1817

- Alfred Dryden, born 19 Nov. 1820

I don't know what happened to Matilda or Sophia, but I suspect that Alfred Dryden is my third great grandfather who, after the death of his first wife (Margaret Miles) immigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, c.1860, where he re-married and died. Alfred's 28 Oct. 1850 marriage record to Margaret Miles gives his occupation as Twine Spinner (although in the 1851 Census he was working as a policeman) and his father, Henry's occupation was flax dresser.

William Henry Dryden, a Twine Spinner and Rope Maker, was married to Jane Dinah Stevenson on 8 Feb. 1842 in Lambeth, London. It is possible though that William was previously married as in the 1841 Census he has a young son, William jnr., who also appears in the 1851 Census, and his date of birth, c.1838, is clearly earlier than William's marriage to Jane.

Also in the 1841 Census is William's mother, Sarah, who gives her date of birth as c.1776; unfortunately, the marriage record of Henry Dryden and Sarah Watkins doesn't give their ages, so I'm unable to confirm this, though if correct it would mean she married somewhat late in life.

While attempting to find further information on Henry Dryden, the flax dresser, I came across the flax and twine Drydens of Northumberland; specifically I came across a reference to a Henry Dryden, Flax-Dresser and Twine-Spinner, in the 1806 A Directory, etc., for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Source:, living in Church-street, which made me wonder if it might be the same man, who had perhaps immigrated from Berwick-upon-Tweed to London, but unfortunately I've been unable to confirm.

I do note though that the Dryden family have lived a long time in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and that according to FamilySearch, a Henry Dryden was christened in Berwick-upon-Tweed on 22 Sept. 1779 to parents Henry Dryden and Jane. Perhaps both Henry and Sarah Watkins got married in their thirties (their marriage record describes them as a bachelor and spinster)?

I've also come across a reference to an earlier Henry Dryden, perhaps the father or grandfather of the one found in FamilySearch, who worked as a flax dresser in Berwick-upon-Tweed around the 1750s; tragically he lost his first wife to the hangman after she was convicted of murder, according to the book A place by itself: Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Eighteenth Century by David Brenchley. This would seem to be Margaret Dryden who was hanged on 3 May 1758 for the "murder of her bastard-child".

"The practice of Henry Dryden (who had survived the shock of losing his first wife to the hangman and re-married) was to advance his flax-dressers a sum for subsistence, and to pay the balance paid when a cartload of flax had been worked."
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Dryden #genealogy  of South Africa and Hounslow, Middlesex

Alfred Dryden, my third great grandfather, arrived in South Africa c.1860, possibly on board a steamer ship named "Celt", sailing from Plymouth, England to Table Bay.

However he arrived Alfred's Estate Papers, held in the Cape Town Archives, do not name his parents and only give his place of birth as England. According to his Death Notice Alfred, a railway stores night watchman, was born c.1821 and died in Woodstock, Cape Town on 9 Dec. 1888. His wife was named as Priscilla Norris Dryden nee Wood (c.1833 - 4 Mar. 1888), a cook, and his children as Henry Norris Dryden and Sophie Hayes nee Dryden.

Further research revealed that in fact both Alfred and Priscilla were widowers, and that Alfred Dryden, age 44, a railway guard, had married Priscilla Walford (nee Wood), age 38, a cook at Somerset Hospital, were married in St. Mary's District Chapel, Papendorp (old Woodstock) on 7 Feb. 1865. (Source:, "Cape Town, Papendorp and Woodstock, St Mary and St George, Marriages 1865-1879", Image no.: 1) records also uncovered several more children born to Alfred and Priscilla; their absence from both Alfred and Priscilla's Death Notices implies they all died young:

- Sarah Dryden, born 30 Aug. 1865, Woodstock
- Sophie (Sophy) Dryden, born c.1867, Woodstock, married Elias Hayes
- Arthur Dryden, born 23 Aug. 1870, Woodstock - died 7 Oct. 1870, Woodstock, buried in St. George's Church cemetery, Woodstock.
- Edward Norris Dryden, born 2 Dec. 1873, Cape Agulhas
- Henry Norris Dryden, born 6 Jan. 1876, Cape Agulhas
- Alfred Dryden, jnr., born 21 July 1877, Cape Agulhas

From 21 Dec. 1872 - 1 Jun. 1879, Alfred Dryden snr. worked as a 1st lightkeeper or assistant lighthouse keepr at Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, the southernmost tip of the African continent. James Orchard (born 1833 - 1880), Chief Lighthouse Keeper at Cape Agulhas, was a Witness at the baptism of my second great grandfather, Henry Norris Dryden. For unknown reasons Alfred Dryden was dismissed from his position in 1879, though it may have been due to alcoholism. (Source: Personal records of Harold Williams, Lighthouse Inspector, courtesy of Heather Vallance,; see also, Jeannette Grobbelaar, Cape Agulhas lighthouse: the first hundred years 1849-1949, where Alfred is listed as: "A. Dryden 1872 - 1879".) Alfred Dryden is described as an Assistant Lighthouse-keeper at L'Agulhas in 1875. (Source: 1875 Cape Almanac)

Although the South African records give very little information on Alfred's life before his arrival from England, there is enough to suggest that he was born 19 Nov. 1820, Hounslow, Middlesex, the son of Henry Dryden, flax dresser, and Sarah Watkins. It seems the only other Alfred Dryden born around this time - at least that appears in the Census records - was Alfred Erasmus Dryden, lawyer, and son of Reverend Sir Henry Dryden.

Alfred, the son of the flax dresser, married Margaret Miles, on 28 Oct. 1850 in Brixton, London (Source:, Alfred Dryden and Margaret Miles, Marriages Dec 1850, District: Lambeth, Vol.: 4, Page: 284) Margaret Miles was born c.1815, Wenvoe, Wales, daughter of Morgan Miles, a labourer, and Janet Jenkins. Although Alfred is described as a Twine Spinner in his 1850 marriage record, by the time of the 1851 England Census he was working as a Policeman. It would seem then that Margaret Dryden nee Miles is the deceased wife of Alfred Dryden who married Priscilla Walford nee Wood; and  Alfred's training as a Policeman would have undoubtedly suited him well in his later occupations as a railway guard and night watchman. 
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Samuel Nield, farm labourer of Crompton

Samuel Nield, my fourth great grandfather, was born c.1806 in Crompton, Lancashire or Whitfield, Crompton, England, depending on the Census record.

In his daughter Mary Hampshire nee Nield's 1868 marriage record Samuel's occupation is given as Labourer. (, Marriages: Dec 1868; Surname: Hampshire; First name(s): William; District: Oldham; Vol: 8d; Page: 953)

Samuel has the same occupation in the 1851 Census and was a Farm Labourer in the 1861 Census; Mary's mother was Alice Hall, c.1809, Manchester, daughter of Benjamin Hall, and Samuel's second wife.

According to, Samuel, a widower, married Alice Hall on 26 May 1844, in St. Mary's Church, Oldham.

In the 1851 Census, Samuel and Alice were living in Crompton, Lancashire with their daughter Mary, and Alice's illegitimate son with an Edmund Whittaker, David Hall. Mary's name seems to have been erroneously written as Nancy.

In the 1861 Census, this same family were living together in Shaw Head, Crompton. Mary and David worked in a cotton factory.

Mary Nield seems to have been the only child born of Samuel and Alice's marriage.

I don't yet know who Samuel's first wife was or if they had any children. I also do not know who Samuel's parents are.

Neither Samuel Nield nor Alice Nield nee Hall seem to appear in the 1871 Census; Samuel is not described as deceased in Mary's 1868 marriage record, however the only death record on FreeBMD that seems to fit is from 1866, though this Samuel's estimated date of birth was c.1801.

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Andre Brink's latest book, "Philida" - - is a fictional re-telling of the real relationship between Francois Gerhard Jacob Brink - - my fourth great grandfather - and the Brink family slave, Philida van der Kaap - - See also "Philida's Story" on the Cape Slave Heritage Blog - #genealogy  
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Here's my debate about privacy and publicness on Jian Ghomeshi's CBC Radio show Q, with Micheal Vonn, a B.C. civil liberties attorney.

I love this show and listen on my Sirius all the time. They get a chance to dig into topics with more than the standard 1:30 segment and Ghomeshi's a very good interview and easy on the ears.

The debate comes down to the question of whether there is too little or too much privacy regulation and what the risks and benefits of that are. It's an attempt to turn around the privacy discussion and look at it from another end of the prism, from the perspective of publicness.
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