Newsletter 4 from Jennifer Topham, of Malmesbury, England

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The Risdons of Somerset
Newsletter No 4
May 2004

Hello once again to everyone!

Firstly there are, unfortunately, the deaths to announce for two of our more senior cousins, who were brother and sister. On 5th March, at Creston, British Columbia, Canada, Ina Uttermare PETERSEN nee Risdon died followed five days later at Strathmore, Alberta, Canada, by her brother Walter Uttermare RISDON. Ina was the eldest child of Walter Harold Risdon and his wife Frances Louise nee UTTERMARE. She was born on 31 January 1907 at Shinfield, Berkshire, with Walter arriving the following year on 28 August. I am sure I can speak on behalf of us all, in sending condolences to the Petersen and Risdon family’s, several of whom were at Risdon Descendants Day last year.

In this newsletter, I had intended to write about illegitamacy and education. If you ever went to boarding school, it’ll make you glad you were there in the 20th century and not the 19th!!! However, this will now have to wait until the September newsletter, as instead I want to tell you that I have made contact with a large group of American cousins.

These cousins are descendants from the marriage of George RISDON and his wife Jane nee HARRIS. George was baptised on 27 June 1807 at Old Cleeve, Somerset, the son of Edward and Joan nee TORRINGTON. George and Jane married in June 1831 in Taunton, before leaving England about twenty years later to settle in the area of Juneau, Wisconsin, USA. There were nine or ten children born to this couple (according to which source one uses), and several of these siblings also produced fairly large families, consequently there are alot of descendants living all around the USA!

For those of you with computers, visit the family website ( Alternatively type "Jemima Risdon" into your search engine, and you will find loads of information including some wonderful photographs, all concerning this American branch of our family. Ask me for e-mail addresses if you would like to make contact with this group, several of whom are already hoping to attend the next Risdon Descendants Day in May 2006.

Then, also, on a completely different line, and descended through Rebecca (a daughter of Philip and Rebecca RISDON), I have made contact with a member of the CAVILL family. Rebecca RISDON married Richard VEYSEY, their daughter Ann married James BISHOP, whose daughter Mary married Isaac HOOK. Mary and Isaac HOOK’s daughter Mary married James Jenkins CAVILL in 1873. These families lived around the villages of Spaxton, Fiddington, Enmore and Aisholt just north west of Bridgewater. Aisholt is especially pretty with little thatched cottages in steep lanes enclosed by high banks and the church is set on the side of a hill completely surrounded with trees. The churchyard here is very steep meaning my daughter Adele and I had some difficult “walking” when looking for tombstones a couple of years ago!!

There is information on this CAVILL family on the website but, be careful, as only the information regarding James Jenkins CAVILL and his wife Mary nee HOOK and their descendants is relevant. Please note that the webmaster of this site is not a member of our Risdon clan - so ask me for further contact details etc. A descendant spouse from this CAVILL line is Hilda PARHAM who has made spoken records of her life and memories. Have a look at for the written version - interesting stories of west Somerset life from a very elderly lady!

I had found alot of information on both these lines prior to Risdon Descendants Day last year, so the Risdon group was already on the family tree even though I was not at that time, entirely convinced of the accuracy of my findings. However, now it’s proven so all is well. Just as a quick item of interest, at RDD the family tree covered 281 pages with about 1350 names. This has now grown to 309 pages and 1529 names. Would anyone like to start a ‘betting book’ on the size by RDD 2006?

While on the subject of making contact with people, can anyone help with addresses for the following, - all born with the surname RISDON- who probably live in Canada or USA?

It would be good if these families could be represented at the next RDD, won’t it? Please let me know if your have any information at all on these people or their descendants.

Do you remember that at Risdon Descendants Day, I mentioned a cousin given the name of Christmas Mary MERRY? She was born on Christmas Day 1884, the daughter of a publican and his wife, at the Hood Arms, Kilve, Somerset. Well, I have now found Christmas’ marriage in 1908 to a man with the name Alexandria Seymour HYETT. What was going on historically - possibly in the north African region? - circa 1880, for a boy to be given the name of Alexandria - not a spelling mistake as all references found so far, to this man have the same spelling? Perhaps someone knows and can tell me, and then I can give everyone the answer in the next newsletter which will be sent out at the end of September.

There are a number of new e-mail addresses again this time:
Jon Fitz-Bartholomew
Darwin Risdon
Richard & Rita Gliddon

Good luck to Jane and Darren SIMMONS in Australia for the birth of their baby due in July - hope all goes well.

That’s all for now - goodbye.

Jennifer Topham, 2 Orchard Court, Arches Lane, Malmesbury SN16 0ED Wiltshire
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