Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Monday, 9 November 2020

Thomas and Winnall Travally, Watermen

St Dunstan & All Saints, Stepney
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © John Salmon -

Having traced my East End Sweeney ancestors back through the wonderfully named Anne Elizabeth Gabbeday, whose parents were John Benbow Gabbeday and Isabella Cleghorn at the start of the 19th Century, little did I think it possible to follow any of them back well over another century. 

John Benbow Gabbeday's mother was Elizabeth Travally (1742–1822), whose parents were Winnall Travally (1715–1783) and Elizabeth Benbow (1715–1779). And in turn, Winnall Travally's parents were Thomas Travally (1685 – 1744) and Rachel Winnall (1680–1755), who had married in 1704. 

It goes even further, because Rachel Winnall's parents were John Winnall (b. 1642) and his wife, Alice. (John Winnall, my 8th great-grandfather, therefore, was born in the same year as the start of the English Civil War.)

Winnall Travally, 'merely' my 6th great-grandfather, had been one of six children to Thomas and Rachel, all baptised at St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepneythe mother church of London's East End, and also its oldest
  1. Elizabeth Travally baptised 26 Aug 1705
  2. Esther Travally baptised 18 Jul 1709
  3. Mary Travally baptised 30 Jan 1712
  4. Winnall Travally baptised 15 May 1715
  5. Martha Trevally (sic) baptised 17 Feb 1716
  6. Warden Travally baptised 10 Feb 1718
It is on these baptism records that Thomas Travally is listed as a Waterman

"If watermen were the river’s taxi drivers, then lightermen drove the lorries."

According to the Binding Records of the Thames Watermen & Lightermen, Winnall Travally was apprenticed and therefore bound to his father, Thomas, on 18 Jul 1729. He would have been around 14. The record says he would be free on 20 Jan 1843, by which time he would have been 28 years old.

That seems a very long time. Apprenticeships are still completed for those wanting to work on the river, offered through the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, lasting 5 years. My thoughts are that Thomas Travally was shrewdly protecting his trade, by demanding such a long period. 

Race for Doggett's Coat and Badge 
The World's Oldest Boat Race

Since 1715 the Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge has been passionately rowed by apprentice river workers on the Thames. It is believed to be the oldest continually competed sporting event in the world. The competitors are Thames Watermen. They compete to earn a coveted red Waterman's coat and badge.

The race therefore dates, coincidentally, to the year of Winnall Travally's birth. Being in the industry, Thomas Travally and his son must surely have known about it. Could they even have taken part, I wonder? 

(And little did I think that I might have been following family tradition when I took part in the Dongola Race at Sunbury Amateur Regatta one year.)

There is considerable further research required to confirm many of these details, however, what I've been able to find to date suggests that Winnall Travally and Elizabeth Benbow went on to have four children; Sarah Travaly (1739 - 1792), Winnall Travally (1741 - 1741), Elizabeth Travally (1742 - 1822) and Esther Travally (1744 - 1821). So that, sadly, looks like the end of the line for the name and for the Travally's association with the river.

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