From: Fred High [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
From when I stopped intensive research in 2004 I have received an average of about one email per week from people seeking or offering information on our High family tree. Where I could validate the additional information I have included it in the family tree.
One of the interesting contacts was from the High Family Association in America – about five years ago they wanted me to have a DNA test to determine whether I was related to Thomas High (b 1647 in England), but I saw no point as I could only trace our family back to William in about 1705.
However, things have progressed since then and about a year ago a Steve Lee from the UK made contact as he was keen to find out more about William and Hester and trace our family back before 1705. Steve is a 4th cousin once removed, so a distant relative of mine. Since then we have been corresponding and joined forces to see what we could find out about William and his ancestors. Steve has done the vast majority of the research and work and I have offered my opinion here and there. i.e. I have “retired” from genealogy!!
There are a number of problems with records from 1538 when Parish records in England first began through to about 1713. In our particular case the burying prior to WWII of the Salthouse/Kelling Parish Registers by a well-meaning Rector resulted in the majority of records being destroyed even through they found the Registers and have been restored to some extent in 2006 by the NRO.
From the commencement of the Parish Registers (Salthouse/Kelling 1538) the local rector was supposed to provide his Archbishop with and annual transcript of all Baptisms, Marriages and Burials that occurred in his church. These are known as Archbishops Transcripts (AT’s). However, this only happened spasmodically and, in the case of Salthouse/Kelling, many of the early records were in Latin and the local Rector seldom sent a transcript to the Archbishop. As a consequence of this it makes it very difficult to trace our ancestry pre 1734/35 when Sarah High was baptised at Salthouse.
The other major problem with the High forebears is many of them were non-conformist. The non-conformists, as part of their nonconforming, did not record Baptisms, Marriages and Burials as required in the CofE and the law of the England at that time. However, for social security reasons many non conformists had their children baptized in the CoE church.
To make the research even more difficult in the period 1538 to 1713 the English language was evolving from Olde English to Modern English and the fact that much of the spelling was phonetic and of the local dialect meant that the spelling of surnames varied greatly, especially in the 16th, 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. Throw in those records originally written in Latin and later transcribed/translated to English makes the spelling of surnames even more complicated. The surname “High” does not become a common spelling in the Norfolk Parish Registers until the mid 17th Century and doesn’t standardise until the mid 19th century. The first appearance of the surname High in the Salthouse/Kelling Parish records was the baptism of Sarah in 1734/35. The AT Records for Salthouse/Kelling date from 1538.
Within Norfolk the surname High first appeared in the Parish records for the marriage of Margaret High who married John Maund in 1541 at Beeston next Mileham. However, a note on the transcript said “HYE” so High is a modern spelling of the original surname.
The first appearance of the surname “High” for Baptisms was Elizabeth High daughter of Edwarde High baptised 30 April 1570 at West Winch (King’s Lynn area). The next baptism was William High on 21 Jan 1626/27 at Broome (west of Lowestoft), but again the transcribers were unsure of the surname. This brings us to a Sarah High who was the daughter of John and Ann and she was baptised on 6 May 1667 at Caister near Yarmouth. Between 1670 and 1690 there were 11 recorded baptisms and from 1690 to 1710 there were 31 recorded baptisms. From then on the High surname features regularly.
The first appearance in the Marriages was Agnes High who married Richard Platford in West Bradenham (SW of Dereham) in 1643. The second record was Ann High (parish of Hampton) married Nathan Seaton 13 Jan 1661/62 in Whissonsett. From 1670 to 1690 there were 7 records of High’s marrying and between 1690 and 1710 there were 10 more High marriages.
The first record of a Burial was High, wife of Stephen at Wymondham (SW of Norwich) on 30 April 1631 and on the 13 June 1654 a Jane High, wife of Thomas was buried at Pulham (S of Norwich). For the period 1670 to 1690 there were 18 recorded burials and between 1690 and 1710 there were a further 15 recorded burials.
These facts lead Steve and myself to ponder the possibility of a change in the spelling of the surname High, and what surname it may have evolved from. We now believe we may have found a record of William’s baptism in the Salthouse records where a William HOW was baptised on 2 May 1703. If this is the case then we can possibly trace our ancestry back to about 1490 through a series of Parish registers, AT’s and Wills.
Its meaning has been described as “dweller on a high place of eminence or a hill.”
From research to date our branch of the High surname had their origins in Norfolk and the name is recorded back to the 1500’s when church records began in Norfolk.
Norfolk is described in Barclay’s Complete and Universal English Dictionary, 1842 as inter alia:
“The face of this county varies less than most tracts of equal extent in England. Not one hill of any considerable height is to be seen in the whole county: yet, in most parts, its surface is broken into gentle swells and depressions.”
The vast majority of the High’s living in Norfolk from the late 1700’s were either Agricultural Labourers or Domestic Servants. Certainly no one of eminence.
Perhaps the High’s originated from somewhere else in England or were once of eminence or lived in places of eminence or simply lived on a swell in Norfolk.
It will take much research to find the origins of the surname High as it applies to our branch of the family
Steve is seeking help from interested family members to try and either find positive proof of our ancestry pre 1705 or at least reach a stage of “beyond reasonable doubt”. If you have the time and inclination to comment on the research so far, or have suggestions as to how we can move forward from here, please let me know. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Family history and ancestors are not of great interest to many people but I do hope you at least find something of interest in this communication.
If and when our ancestry pre 1705 can be established “beyond reasonable doubt” I will forward a full revised version of our High Family tree.
In the mean time have fun, keep smiling and enjoying life to the full.
Australian Fishing Reels
25 Anderson Street, Point Lonsdale. 3225
Tele: 61 3 5258 2873 or 61 3 5249 5704 (Engin)
Mobile: 0408 344 749