Mike Parsons’ Family Tree

Mike has been researching his family tree, mostly on his father’s side.

Mike’s earliest known ancestor to bear the Parsons name was Richard Parsons, a farmer who lived in Kington Magna in Dorset, near to the Somerset border, during the middle part of the 17th century. Generations of the Parsons family have continued to live in that area until the present day, but in the 19th century three children of Edward Parsons, whose father Charles Parsons lived in the manor house in Marston Magna, decided to move to Southampton. Mike’s great-grandfather John Parsons was one of them and he became a well known Southampton publican.

Mike’s best known ancestor was undoubtedly John Boyes of Owslebury in Hampshire who was a grandfather of John Parsons’ wife Harriet. He was a farmer who was transported to Van Diemen’s land for supporting farm workers who were demanding higher wages. There was a public outcry and the newspaper proprietor and writer William Cobbett wrote in support of his case. Questions were asked in Parliament which eventually led to him being pardoned and returned home again to his wife and family.

Mike is still researching his ancestry on his mother’s side. She is Danish and her parents shared the same surname which is one of the commonest in Denmark. Danish parish registers and census records are available on line from the Danish State Archives — http://www.sa.dk/content/us/genealogy but progress has so far been limited.

Three family trees are presented on this web site:

1)  The “Parsons” Family Tree, representing the ancestors of Mike’s grandfather Sidney Alfred Parsons (1876 to 1924) and their relatives.

2)  The “Bennett” Family Tree, representing the ancestors of Mike’s grandmother Dorothy Bennett (1886 to 1923) and their relatives.

3)  The “Neilsen” Family Tree, representing Mike’s Danish ancestors.

Some of the individuals discovered were especially noteworthy or led particularly interesting or colourful lives. Information about a few of them, and some of the families with whom the Parsons family were associated, can be found by clicking on the following links.

  •  John Parsons (1845 to 1925), a Southampton publican with a quick temper who ran several boisterous pubs in the city.

  •  Charles Parsons (1787 to 1846), a prosperous farmer from Marston Magna in Somerset.

  •  William Parsons (1751 to 1836), an inn-keeper and land-owner from Holton in Somerset and Kington Magna in Dorset.

  •  Richard Parsons (died 1682), a weaver and flax-dresser from Wincanton in Somerset who died in Kington Magna, just over the county border in North Dorset. Richard was not a direct ancestor of Sidney’s but was almost certainly a relative of the Parsons families in Kington Magna from one of whom Sidney did descend.

  •  William Complyn (died 1498) who, with his wife Agnes, was commemorated by an inscription and an engraving of St. Christopher on a brass plate on the wall of a church near Winchester.

  •  John Boyes (1782 to 1856) of Owslebury in Hampshire, who became a national celebrity after his role in the 1830 agricultural riots (often known as the “Swing Riots”) for which he was transported to Van Diemen’s Land. He was later pardoned after a public outcry and an intervention by the future Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.

  •  George Brown (1887 to 1964) who played cricket for Hampshire and England. According to the commentator John Arlott George Brown was “the most complete all-round cricketer the game has ever known”.

  •  Benjamin Misselbrook (1810 to 1893) who was head keeper at London Zoo for twenty years.

  •  Charles Light (1817 to 1877), a bricklayer from Twyford in Hampshire who married three times and eventually became the landlord of the Clump Inn in Chilworth, near Southampton.

  •  George Parsons (1807 to 1876) who was a flamboyant Victorian entrepeneur. He was a farmer and a land agent, but also an inventor and a businessman who founded a large factory beside the River Parrett in Somerset. In later life he retired to New Zealand with his wife and sons.

  •  George Robert Parsons (1845 to 1874) was a gold prospector in South Africa. His find in KwaZulu Natal started a small gold rush and he was also part of the group which made the first discovery of commercial quantities of gold in the Transvaal thus paving the way for South Africa’s gold mining industry..

  •  Forrest Gale Parsons (1882 to 1916) became a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. He and his observer were lost in action whilst flying a B.E.2 biplane over France in October 1916. Forrest, who grew up in New Zealand, was a grandson of George Parsons, the land-agent and entrepreneur from Martock in Somerset.

  •  John Weston Peters (1783 to 1858), a wealthy landowner who was closely associated with Lord Portman (later Viscount Portman of Bryanston) and whose sister married into the Parsons family.

  •  Lord Portman (1799 to 1888), a prominant landowner and politician, and one of the richest men in England. Several members of the Parsons family worked for him as land agents.

  •  Barnard Goldfinch (1645 to 1724) who was named after an officer in Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary forces whose men were billeted with the Goldinch family just before his birth and who prevented his men from drinking the barrel of beer which was being kept for the baby’s christening.

  •  The Gale family, many of whom were clergymen or doctors and lived in or near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Frederick Gale (who was born in 1806) was a pioneer in the use of plaster of paris in the treatment of fractures.

  •  The Estcourt family of wealthy landowners whose estate at Shipton Moyne in Gloucestershire was founded in the early fourteenth century.

  •  The Machen family of Gloucestershire. Thomas Machen and his wife Cristian are commemorated by a magnificent memorial in Gloucester cathedral. He was three times mayor of that city and was also served as its member of parliament.

  •  Søren Winther Nielsen (1876 to 1932), who was the father of the present author’s Danish grandmother Anna Nielsen. He rescued someone from drowning in circumstances which put his own life at risk for which he was awarded a medal by King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

  •  Patience Penfold, who came from a well known Romany travelling family. Her first husband, Charles William Light, was a great-uncle of Dorothy Bennet’s.

  •  Sir John Chancellor, who was Governor of Trinidad, Governor of Southern Rhodesia, and in 1928 became High Commissioner of Palestine. Sir John’s wife’s father, George Rodie Thompson, married Ezit Peters, one of William Parsons Peters’ daughters. Sir John’s grandson, Simon John Elliot, married Annabel Shand, the younger sister of Camilla Rosemary Shand, and Camilla, having married His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, is now the Duchess of Cornwall. Another Chancellor relative is his granddaughter the actress Anna Chancellor who played “Duckface” opposite Hugh Grant in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

  •  Philippe (or Philip) Asplet was a noted poet in Jersey’s Norman dialect who, with his brother Charles, became a good friend of the French author Victor Hugo who was exiled to the Channel Islands during the reign of Napoleon III. Philip’s connection with the Parsons family is through his daughter Letitia who married a grandson of George Parsons and his wife Jane Peters

  •  The Watts family were chandlers (or “soap boylers”) from Queen Camel in Somerset two of whom moved to the island of Jersey.

  •  Charles Richard Dunn who was lost at sea in one of Britain’s worst peace-time maritime disasters. His ship HMS Eurydice sank off the Isle of Wight on 24th March 1878. All but two of the 319 people on board perished.

  •  Louis Henry Parsons who left a detailed journal describing his life as a seaman in the Royal Navy during the final years of the 19th century.

  •  Silas Parsons who was an early settler in Tasmania.


During the course of his research Mike has gathered a significant amount of information which might be of value to other people who are researching their families’ histories.

Much information can be found in the individual web pages. For example, there are many transcriptions of wills.

Some selections from Parish Registers for those parishes in which Mike’s Somerset and Dorset ancestors and their immediate family are known to have lived can also be found.

There are also transcriptions of a few Monumental Inscriptions from St.Mary’s Church in Marston Magna and one from a Tombstone in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Sutton Montis, which is about 3 miles north east of Marston Magna.

Mike relies heavily on his Family Tree software — As Time Goes By, from Wallington Software. If you are interested, please contact Mike.

This web site will continue to evolve as Mike discovers more information about his ancestors.

Mike can be contacted at the email address below.