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Joseph Dumville (1862-1959)
(centre) and family
In 2002, in the days of dial-up connections, floppy disks and Friends Reunited, I was interested in learning how to create websites, and looked for a subject with which I could practise. My sister Jill had been doing family history research sporadically since the 1960s, before the arrival of the internet, and during the course of this she had compiled a typewritten book of about a hundred pages recording the history of the Dumville family, which is our mother's side of the family. Jill agreed to me making it into a website, and she helped to design the website.
Once it had been uploaded, the website seemed to take on a life of its own. We received email messages and more information from many people around the world. Although I didn't create any more websites, as I had intended, I have added more pages to this website on other subjects. They can't be accessed directly from this home page, but are reached via search engines such as Google. Jill wrote the welcome message below when we started the website. I'm sorry to say that she passed into history in 2009.
Welcome to our website! Are you a Dumville yourself? Or do you have some other connection or special interest? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Please do e-mail, and/or write in our Guest Book.
It's been great fun researching the Tree, and planning the website. We've already found out a lot, but there's masses more to add and discover. Not least, of course, the origins of the Grand Old Molecatcher himself, Robert Dumville. We know he spent most of his life in Hunton, north Yorkshire, where he died in 1857 aged anything from 90 to 105, depending on your source! He married twice, and had at least 12 children, whose births span some 41 years, from 1789 to 1830.
Many of Robert's sons and grandsons were molecatchers too. Finding so many molecatchers on the Family Tree was a welcome change from the usual 'ag lab' (agricultural labourer). Hence, as you'll have guessed, our choice of website logo and our interest in the little velvet gentlemen.
Now for the mystery. Try as we (and very many others) may, we can't discover who Robert's parents were or where he came from. In the 1851 census he said he was born in Masham, north Yorkshire, but there's no trace of him in the records there or in adjoining parishes. All we know for sure about his father is what appears in an 1891 biography of his son Joseph: he 'was a farmer and lifelong resident of England. He married, and reared a family of industrious sons and daughters, who settled in different parts of their native land'.
The www.familysearch.org website gives Robert's place of birth as Lurgan, Ireland, and his father as Robert Dumvill (c1735–1819). Other sources give his father as William Dumvill (c1740–1793), brother of Robert Dumvill (c1735–1819). This is all unverified speculation. (See note.) However the chances are high that he is linked to the well-documented Cheshire line of Dumvilles/Domvilles, which descends from Hugh of Avranches (near Donville, Normandy) and Oxton, who came over to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.
But when did he come to north Yorkshire, and why? And what is his connection with other similarly-named people we have found in villages near Masham and Hunton? Especially, for instance, John Dumell (c1696–1790), who lived at Morton Flatts, just across the fields from Bramper Farm. The farm was tenanted by Thomas Smothwaite, whose daughter Margery married Robert. Can you help solve the mystery of Robert's origins?
Thank you to everyone who has helped with the research. Special thankyous to Roma (Dumville) Cresswell, to Clifford Dumville of Ottawa, Canada, to his sister Elaine, and to the late Harry Dumville of Stowe, Vermont, USA. Thank you too to the Grand Old Molecatcher himself, Robert Dumville, without whom none of us would be here!
We hope you enjoy the website.
Jill Holroyd (research and text) and Miles (website)
Note: We apologise for any errors or inaccuracies. Please let us know so that we can correct them. You may be interested to know that publishing the personal data of living family members on the internet is exempt from the provisions of the 1998 Data Protection Act, section 36, 'domestic purposes' exemption. However, we realise that some people may prefer some or full anonymity. We have therefore included only limited information on living people (birth and marriage dates and places, and spouse's names), and included more information only if we have permission. If we have inadvertently included something you would prefer excluded, please tell us at once so that we can put matters right.
On behalf of Holywood Shared Town, Robin Masefield applied for a Community Heritage grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The grant has enabled the production of a film which was edited by Conor Kelly in spring 2021, drawing on material from Colin Steele, the late
Members of the Holywood u3a played various roles in the project which was greatly appreciated. The Heritage grant also facilitated the reprinting of a free Community Guide to Redburn Country Park (copies of which will be in Holywood Library) and the erection of information panels showing historic images of Redburn House and gardens (which Robin and Rosemary have created). The front cover of the Guide contains a QR code that provides direct access to the film.
Alternatively, the link to the YouTube page with the film is: