Sunday, 25 August 2013


We recently booked a last minute vacation, and I found that we had 5 days in England with nothing special planned.  As we were staying near Salisbury, Wiltshire we looked at day trips we could take from that location.

I immediately thought of George Howson, my 3x great grandfather. I knew from information from the Oxfordshire Family History Society (OFHS), that George Howson had married Jane Lay in 1816, at St. Helens Church  in Abingdon-On-Thames, Oxfordshire.  They also had a son Thomas Howson born in 1817, who died at 1 day old, also at St. Helens.

According to the parish records, George was listed as a victualler of West St. Helen's Street at that time.  Unfortunately the OFHS have no tombstone records of any Howsons buried at St. Helen's cemetery.

Since we were in England for such a short time, I didn't feel I could devote a day of research in the library.  However, I did want to see Abingdon and perhaps walk the streets that George and his wife Jane may have walked so many years ago.  Another factor was that my husband in not very interested in genealogy and we both needed to enjoy the day.

We decided to make an overnight trip and accomplish 3 things.  The first was a walking tour of Oxford City.  Our tour guide was very funny and we walked past many of the colleges.  According to him Trinity is the best as he is an alumni.  The day was perfect for a tour and we enjoyed ourselves.  The next part of the trip was a visit to Abingdon, which is just a short bus ride from Oxford.  The 3rd event was a trip to Banbury to see a  Fairport Convention concert, as this is one of my husband's favourite bands.

After all the various tickets and hotel accommodations were booked we were ready to go.  St. Helen's Church is open to the public on certain days, but we would be there late afternoon so we couldn't go inside, but there was still the outside of the church and the churchyard to discover.  I wanted to see the church and West St. Helen's Street, where George lived.  There were also a lot of pubs listed, on Ock Street.  Since another meaning for victualler is an Innkeeper I have been working on the premise that George might have been a pub landlord.  My husband was interested in this concept, he loves a good pub.

So armed with not much more than a Family Group Record of George Howson, a one page history of the St. Helen's Church and a street map of Abingdon, we were on our way.