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Jeremy Irons’ Kent smuggling ancestor

On Saturday I watched a rerun of the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) featuring Jeremy Irons. I do this sometimes, either because I’ve forgotten the celebrity’s story, I want to revisit the research methods, or sometimes because there’s nothing better to watch!

Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons, actor

This episode was fairly contemporary, with Jeremy wanting to discover if his ‘coming home’ feeling of living in Ireland was due to any Irish ancestors. He also ‘liked the sea’.
Jeremy did eventually discover that his great-great grandfather, Henry Loftie RUTTON married Catherine McCREIGHT, whose family had lived in the north of Ireland since 1695. She was his Irish connection. They married on 24th August 1843. He also later discovered Catherine’s grandmother was born in County Cork, where Jeremy now lived.

However, this was not what sparked renewed interest in his story. When Jeremy discovered his great-great grandfather was Henry Loftie RUTTON, transcription records of his grave in Tullylish stated (at around 35 mins into the episode):

Here lieth the body of Henry Loftie RUTTON, formerly of Ashford in the County of Kent, who died at Warrenpoint in this county, 9th September 1864 …”

Alarm bells rang… Kent… RUTTON…

During my research into William BALDOCK (1748-1812), businessman and smuggler, I had come across the name Dr. Isaac RUTTON.
Dr. RUTTON was a physician from Ashford in Kent, and the British History Online website states:

“Near the market place, is the house of the late Dr. Isaac RUTTON, a physician of long and extensive practice in these parts, being the eldest son of Matthias RUTTON, gent of this town, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Sir N. TOKE, of Godinton. He died in 1792…” (

Godinton appears to have been a seat of the TOKE family.

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury. Believed to be the same man who took over the reigns of The Seasalter Company from Dr. Isaac RUTTON.

Double alarm bells!! Someone called Sir Nicholas Roundell TOKE was an executor of the Will of William BALDOCK! To top it all, Dr. Isaac RUTTON held the parsonage at Seasalter, which on his death in 1792 passed to William BALDOCK ( parsonage).

Seasalter Parsonage farm was used as the headquarters of “The Seasalter Company” smuggling fraternity, founded in 1740 by … Dr. Isaac RUTTON! ( For those not in the know, Seasalter adjoins Whitstable on the north Kent coast – ‘by the sea’ !

More details on these smugglers and their activities can be discovered in the book by Wallace Harvey called “The Seasalter Company: a smuggling fraternity, 1740-1854“.

Coming back to Jeremy’s line, Henry Loftie RUTTON was the son of Matthias RUTTON and Margaret LOFTIE (, and Matthias was the son of Isaac RUTTON and Judith STOKES (, whose first son was the Isaac RUTTON who became physician and smuggler:

Jeremy → Barbara SHARPE → Henry SHARPE → Katherine RUTTON → Henry Loftie RUTTON (1800-1864) → Matthias RUTTON (1748-1818), brother of (Dr.) Isaac RUTTON (1746-1792)

Thus, Jeremy is the 4 x great nephew of Dr. Isaac RUTTON, Kent smuggler.

Did William BALDOCK know Isaac? — Almost certainly, given the property and business relationships with the RUTTON family.
Did William BALDOCK know Henry Loftie RUTTON? — Possibly, but as yet unknown.

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Published in: | on September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

Ernest Joseph BALDOCK, 1929-2014

On 28th May 2014, my father Ernest Joseph BALDOCK passed away after long ill-health. It was unexpected, but he was victim to multiple conditions affecting each other at the end. His last days were in Kent and Canterbury Hospital, but he was in the presence of family – myself, my sister and my mother.

Dad as an army driver during National Service
Ernest Joseph Baldock was born on 18 July 1929 at Marshside, near Chislet, to Ernie, a farm horse-waggoner, and Elsie. He used to walk across the road that became the Thanet Way with his mother, brother Geoff and sister Dorothy to Hilborough Infants School near Reculver. On the return one day, he spotted his father working the fields and ran to greet him. He was knocked down by a car which failed to stop. The German monocled farmer for whom his father worked shouted, “Get his number, waggoner, get his number!”

This was the first evidence of his cast-iron constitution.

Following his father’s moves from farm to farm, he attended Chislet Primary School and Minster Primary School. The family finally arrived at St. Nicholas, Down Barton Road, where he finished schooling at the age of 14.
On leaving school, which he freely admitted was not his forté, he joined his father in farming. Farming was in his blood. In tracing the family history, I have discovered agricultural labourers at almost every step, with generations traversing East Kent back to the late 1500’s.

Having been laid off farm work by Colonel Tapp one year due to bad weather, at the age of 24 he joined Kent River Board and aided in the construction of the Reculver sea wall defences after the 1953 floods. There is even British Pathé News film footage of him and his colleagues at work during the construction available on the internet.
In 1954, he entered National Service with the Buffs, and on his return re-entered farm work.

In 1968, whilst on a pub crawl with his mates, he ended up at the Five Bells at Eastry, where he met his wife and fell in love. They married, started a family and remained in St. Nicholas for 25 years until his retirement from Linnington Farms in 1994, when he moved to Westgate.

He preferred to be called Joe, since his father was Ernest too. They became known by some as “Big Ern” and “Little Ern”, but he became known to many as “Lofty”, since he was tall and his brother Geoff, or “Tich”, the short one. Some might have known him as “Cauliflower Joe”, since he was often found in his trade-mark rolled-up shirtsleeves and cap, cutting cauliflowers with his fellow workers in the fields, or driving his tractor bailing straw. His children often visited him there.
Joe didn’t suffer fools gladly, but if you became a friend it was generally for life.

Tragically losing his sister, Dorothy CHRISTIAN (nee BALDOCK) abruptly three months ago on 17 March 2014, and himself succumbing to long-term ill-health, his cast-iron constitution finally had to give in, and he passed away calmly on 28 May 2014 in Kent and Canterbury Hospital in the company of his wife and two children, Stephen and Lisa.

A genuine, hard-working, family man, and avid vegetable gardener until his retirement, he will be greatly missed by all friends and family.

He was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Nicholas-At-Wade, after a wonderfully packed church service, on 18th June 2014. The family would like to extend thanks to all those who attended and whom we did not get to thank personally.

We may mourn his passing, but celebrate his life.

Dad in shirtsleeves and cap

Ernest Joseph BALDOCK, 1929-2014

See ya, Dad!

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Published in: | on June 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Familysearch vs. Tolkien

One domain to rule them all, One domain to find them,
One domain to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mormon where the servers lie …

So, Familysearch wants to put all the world’s historical records online in one generation, do they? From a personal point of view, I find this disturbing, and I’ll explain why….

Much has been posted online recently regarding the increasing “collaboration” between Familysearch and other providers, such as, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, BillionGraves etc. And much has been said in the past regarding accuracy of online data. Don’t get me wrong, I was only too pleased six years ago to have access to online data through such providers, and made great steps in a very short time provisionally traversing my direct paternal lineage through to the mid-sixteenth century of Kent, England. However, I was also fortunate enough to have lived there most of my life, and found it very easy to access paper records at the former Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone, or at Canterbury Cathedral Archives, to verify the data which was being presented to me. Of course, I also have good knowledge of the Kent place names and surnames which were represented. As such, I often find myself adding ‘alternate’ (read ‘corrected’) names or places to Ancestry transcriptions, and reporting faults on transcriptions at FindMyPast.

However, what about colleagues in the USA, or Europe, or Australasia, who may not have such knowledge and take what is presented to them as a true reflection of the original.

I recently located an Ancestry tree containing an ancestor who appeared to have (incorrectly) married his own mother, and consequently had an incorrect list of children and siblings attributed against them. Having spoken to the tree owner, it turns out this was as the result of merging trees and/or data.

We have recently been told that Ancestry have been concentrating a lot on overhauling the software which sits ‘behind the scenes’, some of which no longer suits today’s data or user demands. I think that a concerted effort should be undertaken to semi-automate data checking to stop such obvious mistakes happening. I know that the Merge wizard in Family Tree Maker had such checks. I have not used FTM for a while, and frankly I have now decided to maintain my master set of data on my own blog, and will not be updating my Ancestry tree (which is now 3 years out of date) or any other online presence.

I know I will miss out on ‘hints’ via Ancestry – well, hey, I’ll just check things manually. My tree is now large enough that I would probably not keep up with the hints, anyway. That way, I can focus my research, and if any of that research develops in error it won’t propagate to everyone else’s trees in 10 milliseconds !! There will only be me to blame.

My opinion is controversial, I know, especially when I have made use of data shared on these sites by others. Yet I too have spent time researching and value the effort and accuracy of my data, and welcome any comments to correct innocent mistakes on my part. In this way, I feel my research is more than a data-mining exercise, and benefits from accuracy and local knowledge.

When websites such as those above accept transcriptions and pass them through their ‘checking’ process, are they simply accepting a concensus of opinion as to what a scribble represents, or are they calling upon volunteers with more local knowledge to provide a more weighted contribution. I doubt contributors outside of Kent would have been able to decypher a parish record containing the signature of minister A Egerton-Brydges (Anthony) I recently discovered – my local knowledge certainly helped on that one (and others!)

Accuracy of data must start rising up the priority list of genealogy data providers, in my opinion.

Otherwise we will find we are all next in line to the English throne and Jesus is our nephew!

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Published in: | on February 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »