An Unexpected Gift

Many years ago, when I first started researching my family tree, one of the first things I did after my mother passed, was contact as many of the older generation as I could before they too were gone. There were a few of my mother’s cousins left and one Great Uncle by marriage, Uncle Sandy (Alexander Morris) Smith.

Uncle Sandy was married to my Grandmother’s youngest sister, Hilda and we spent quite a bit of time visiting them at their wonderful old house in Kincumber NSW when I was young. Uncle Sandy was really helpful, telling me a few stories about my Great Grandfather Albert Edward Tincknell and the family.

Albert, his wife Annie, their sons Charles, Robert, Tom and their daughters Kathleen, Mabel, Annie, Lilly and Hilda emigrated from Wedmore in Somerset England in 1911 to Brisbane on the S.S. Otranto. They first settled in Texas Queensland but later moved to Stonehenge near Glen Innes in NSW after the tobacco crop failed that Albert had been brought out to work on by WD & HO Wills.

One of the stories from Uncle Sandy was that Aub (as Albert was known) bought the farm Strathlane at Stonehenge after having seen a great crop of oats on it. He paid 1000 pound (more likely 100 pound in those days – memory sometimes is not totally reliable) for 40 acres. Never again, however, was it to bear such a great crop.

A question I had for Uncle Sandy was if he knew of any Tincknell Family Bible. He said there was but that it had been lost. So, disappointed, I thought no more about it.

Uncle Sandy also put me in touch with a cousin of my mother that I did not know before, Nora Tincknell/Smith (no relation to Uncle Sandy). I wrote to Nora and she was also very helpful and she told me about her younger sister, Joy, that lived in California. We kept in touch by snail mail on and off as Nora was not connected to the internet.

Fast forward to 2013 and I am on holiday staying with a friend near Anaheim in California, when I received a surprise email from Joy about our family history. I took a few days out of my itinerary and flew up to San Francisco near where Joy lives to meet her and spent a lovely few days visiting and swapping information. We have stayed in contact ever since.

Just over a month ago, Joy sent me a message to say she was back visiting Nora in Australia and had been helping Nora go through her stuff. Nora was moving and Joy found a Bible that belonged to Albert Edward Tincknell and she wondered if I would I like it? Well, there was no hesitation on my part and it has now been passed into my care to my great privilege and honour.

Bible belonging to Albert Tincknell
Inscription Page of Bible

The first thing I noticed when I opened the Bible was the inscription:

The gift of the Late Mr Jas.Toogood

Albert Tincknell


John V. 39

The second was, as Joy had mentioned in her message, there was no information regarding the family in it. Except there actually was a little, albeit indirectly.

Sand – this is where the family lived and is one of the hamlets of Wedmore, or the Isle of Wedmore as it is sometimes called.

The gift of the Late Mr Jas. Toogood

Now Toogood was a name I instantly recognised as it appears in the Wedmore parish registers quite regularly and, as the population of Wedmore was so endogamous, it also appeared on my extended family tree. So, I went looking to see what this gift was about.

Referring to my favourite Somerset webpage, Michael Tutton’s Wedmore Genealogy Pages, I quickly found there a copy of the publication A Brief History of Wedmore By W. Marston Acres that gave me my answer:

Mr. James Toogood, who died in 1856, bequeathed five acres of pasture land in Weare, the rent from which was to be used every Christmas time in purchasing six large Bibles for the poor and in gifts of fifteen shillings each to the three men and three women who had been most regular in attendance at church, and to the three boys and three girls who had made the most progress at the Church School. [i]

So, one can probably assume that Albert received his Bible at Christmas, sometime between 1904 when it was printed and 1911 when Albert left Wedmore.

However, he still had his halfpenny so, in his eyes at least if no-one else’s, he was not poor. 😊[ii]


For those that are interested John V. 39 You search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they that which testify of me.

[i] Marston Acres, W.( F.R.Hist.S), ‘71. Later Charitable Bequests’ A Brief History of Wedmore, c. 1950 accessed 10/8/2019

[ii] See “You will never be poor as long as you have a ha’penny”: The Story of Grandfather Tincknell and his Coin Purse