Newsletter 13

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Kiff One Name Study 1996-1999 all rights reserved

KIFF One Name Study

Secretary: Lori-Ann Foley
St Helier, Jersey
Channel Islands, UK

Issue 13

Winter 1996

Kiff One Name Study Newsletter


St Stephens Parish Church, St Albans, Herts

Issue 13,  Winter 1996


page 1

Getting Closer to Ken Kiff

page 2

Update on the stray family of John Kiff and Elizabeth

page 4

Thomas Kiff and Annie Monk -
On the Herts Kiff Tree At Last!

page 5

The Word From Wales

page 8

Bits & Pieces - Research Undertaken

page 10

Where did you come from, Connie Kiff?

page 12

Page 1


The latest issue of the newsletter arrives in time for Christmas and I send best Wishes of the season to you all.

This issue continues our work of firmly connecting a number of branches to the Hertfordshire Kiff tree. We have had some successes but a bit of work still needs to be done, so if you come across anything in your researches which relates to any of the families below, please let us know.

This issue's cover features the last photograph in my series of churches in the St Albans area which are connected to the St Albans Kiffs. The cupboard is now bare with regards to illustrations for the covers, so if you have anything that might be suitable, please send it along before the next issue comes out in February.  Many thanks.

image2.gif (1568 bytes)

page 2

Getting Closer to Ken Kiff.

Further to our look at the Kiff branch to which Ken Kiff, the artist, belongs, more research has been undertaken and various certificates have been ordered. A tree, opposite,(below) shows the possible form that this Kiff branch takes.

The certificates, working our way back, are as follows:

1) Birth certificate for Frederick William Kiff born 8th December 1901 at 10.40 a.m., 9 Andover Gardens, Hornsey Road, Islington, son of Arthur Kiff, a milk carrier, and Jane Helen Adams.  A look at the GRO index shows a James Ansell Kiff also born in Islington on 4th 1901 and as a time of birth is given on Frederick's birth certificate this suggests he was a twin and JamesAnsell may have been his brother.

If James Ansell is a son of Arthur Kiff and Jane Helen Adams, it is probable that Alfred Ansell Kiff, born 1st 1889, St Saviours is also a brother.  Alfred Ansell died at the age of 1 year.  Another birth in St Saviours is Albert Ansell Kiff, born 1st 1891.  Another brother perhaps? A look at the GRO index also shows a George Edward Kiff being born 1st 1894 and dying 2nd 1894 in St Saviour.  This is followed in 4th 1897, Islington with another set of twins, Henry William and Jane Ellen, both of whom survived childhood and grew up to marry.   Might any of these children be the offspring of Arthur Kiff and Jane Helen Adams?

2) Marriage certificate dated 28th June 1886 of Arthur William Kiff, aged 23 years, a milk carrier, and Jane Ellen Adams, aged 22 years. Both gave their address as 2 Tafnell Park Mews, St George's Tafnell Park, Islington. Arthur William's father was William Kiff, a horse dealer.

Seeing the use of the full name Arthur William, it is interesting to note a birth of an Arthur William Kiff in 1st 1887 in Islington, about 7 - 9 months after the wedding.

3) A search for Arthur Williams birth certificate has not been successful yet.  A possible brother of Arthur's, William Ansell Kiff, was born on 11th December 1858, at 8 Hollingworth Street, Holloway, Islington West, Islington, the son of William Kiff and Amelia Ansell.  William was a cab proprietor.

4) William Ansell Kiff went on to Mary Elizabeth Hofman on 28th January 1883. William was 23 and a carman, while Elizabeth was 18. Both gave their address as Broad Wall, St Mary, Lambeth.  William Ansell'sfather William was deceased, but his occupation was cab proprietor.

If anyone has any ideas on how to confirm the parentage of all the births in Islington and St Saviours following the marriage of Arthur (William) Kiff, please send their information.  It is probable that the wives of both Arthur William and Williain Ansell were having children and sorting out which child belonged to which set of parents will be quite a task.

Information on this branch is slowly building up and if anyone comes across the final few pieces to pin this family firmly to the tree, their information will be very welcome.

page 4

Update on the stray family of John Kiff and Elizabeth

Further to my Kiff theory in Newsletter 12 concerning the descendants of John and Elizabeth Kiff, ie. their two sons James Benjamin and John William, information has been forthcoming from one of James Benjamin's descendants.  Peter Lesley Kiff, James Benjamin’s great-grandson, has filled out the tree for us.

Peter has a copy of the birth certificate of James Henry Kiff, born 2nd October 1848, the son of James Kiff, a plasterer, and Esther Hall.  The family were living at 10 Providence Row, Finsbury and Peter is going to check the 1851 census to see if he can find the family.  The place of birth for James (Benjamin) Kiff given in the census will, hopefully, provide us with useful information on James and his family's origins.

The marriage certificate of James Henry Kiff shows that he married Mary Maria Harding on 4th July 1874.  James Henry was working as a clerk and living at 13 Old Charles Street, while his bride had been living at 29 Granville Square.  Both their fathers were deceased.

A look at the GRO index shows a James Kiff dying in Barnet in 1st quarter 1868, aged 55. This would make his approximate date of birth 1812/1813, fitting in with James Benjamin's christening date of 29th November 1812.

Another point raised by the tree in issue 12 is that James Benjamin and his brother John William could be twins, as they have the same christening date.

A copy of the fuller tree is below and any theories on if and where this branch fit on the tree will be gratefully received.

page 5

Thomas Kiff and Annie Monk - On the Herts Kiff Tree At Last!

All the hard work has finally paid off and Thomas Kiff, Annie Monk and their numerous descendants have finally been securely placed on the Hertfordshire Kiff tree.  The last newsletter noted that Thomas, his siblings and parents were on the 1881 census index and father John’s birthplace was Northolt in approximately 1821.  This piece of information was enough for Laurie Page to confirm that the family belonged on his branch of the tree.

John Kiff, born 1820 at Northolt and married to Lydia Bau, was the son of James Kiff, born 1787 at St Stephens, and Elizabeth.  John's siblings included Charlotte born circa 1813, James born circa 1815, Laurie Page's great great grandfather Daniel born 1817 in Northolt, Mary born 1822, Sarah born 1825 and Thomas.

The 1881 census for Middlesex shows Thomas, his wife and four children living in Norwood. Thomas, aged 32; his wife Annie, aged 31; Alice, aged 9; Mary, aged 7; John, aged 3; Charles, aged 1. The GRO index shows Alice Maria born 4th 1871, Uxbridge; Mercy (Mary) born 4th 1873, Uxbridge; John, born 3rd 1877, Uxbridge; Charles Henry born 4th 1879, Uxbridge.

The entire branch of the tree, as uncovered so far by Betty Lark, is as follows (not reproduced yet)

I have tried to pin down the various children of Thomas Kiff and Annie Monk to names on the GRO index, but with little success.  It is likely that the names remembered bv the family in New Zealand were pet names used by the family and not necessarily the names registered at birth.  I have my own theories on which entries in the GRO index relate to which names given by the New Zealand family, but would be delighted to receive second- third or fourth opinions.  Having finally placed this large branch on the tree, it would be nice to have them recorded "Officially" through the GRO,

page 8

The Word From Wales

by Sandra Thomas

Sandra, who has been busy looking after her Mum this year, has kindly found time to send us a few tidbits from Wales.

From The Dictionary of english and Welsh Surnames with Special American Instances by Bardsley comes the following extract:

Kift - Nick. 'the kift'i.e. the ungainly, the awkward. 'Kift, awkward, clumsy. West’ (Halliwell). John Kyft, co. Soms., I Edw. III: Kirby's Quest, p. 80.
We find similar nicknames, such as Snell and Crees, in the same register; V. Crease.
1616. Edward Kyfte, co. Glouc.: Reg. Univ. Oxf. vol ii. pt. ii. p. 352.
1674. Joseph Smart and Mary Herbert, alleged by Richard Kiff. Marriage Alleg. (Canterbury) p. 124.
1675. Henry Hinton and Eliz. Corbett, alleged by Richard Kift: ibid. p. 152.
1703. Married - Joseph Lester and Eliz. Kift: St. Dionis Backchurch, p. 51.
MDB. (co. Soms.), 1; Philadelphia, 3.

From The Carrnarthen Antiquary, Vol XXV 1989, page 20, Medieval Carmarthen and its Burgesses comes the following:

KIFT (Kyft, Icist, Kyst)

John Kift held two burgages within the town walls and one in Lammas Street in 1268, and he is thus apparently the major burgage holder of the family.  John is mentioned as a witness c. 1265- 77 in a Carmarthen Priory transaction of land at Trebersed (CC21*) and may be the John Kyst who obtained a charter from the Mayor of Bristol in 1299 (GRB 277*).   His son Robert witnessed a subsequent Trebersed land grant to the Priory about 1280, by which date it is probable that John was dead.  Robert, Richard son of Roger Kyst and Philip were either Friars or Canons, as they are referred to as 'of the Brotherhood in CC19*. But in CC46* Philip Just is referred to as Chaplain in 1291.   Philip held land at the Island in the 1280 Extent.  In the 1268 surbey a Richman Kyft held a burgage in Bridge Street.  Richards father, Roger was a juror in 1299 (Cal.AP 368*).  This is an extensive family which is difficult to disentangle- but one may suggest that the older generation is represented by John and Roger who perhaps were brothers.  The next generation took holy orders, and a branch of the family may have moved to Cardigan since there is a Roger Kift holding 1 burgages there in 1301 (Saunders, 190); Kyfts also acted as Reeves there in 1398-99 and in 1433-4 ( griffith 421, 424).

* The references are: CC = Carmarthen Cartulary; GRB = Great Red Book of Bristol; Cal.AP Calendar of Ancient Petitions relating to Wales.

And finally below is a photograph of Kieft Cheinists in Manselton, Wales.

The, shop was established by Edward James Kieft.  His daughter Mary was an assistant at the shop in 1972 when Sandra moved to the area and Mary retired a few years ago and leased the shop out.  It closed in January 1996.

page 10

Bits & Pieces - Research Undertaken

Celia Jepps has sent in a copy of the death certificate of Maria Kiff nee Masterson.   Maria died on 22nd June 1907 at 27 Avondale Road, South Croydon.  She was the 80 year old wife of Thomas Kiff, a London Dock Company Employee.  Her son G A Kiff was the informant who had been present at death.

Peter Kiff has sent in a number of items.  The first is from the book Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy by Thomas D'Urfey, a reprint of the 1719 edition, volume 4.  The penultimate verse of the song The Wiltshire Wedding runs as follows:

The Wiltshire Wedding (verse)

In pleasant Recreation,
they pass'd away the Night,
And likewise by relation,
with her he takes delight,
To walk abroad on Holy-days,
to visit Kiff and Kin:
With how do you do? and how do you do?
and how do you do agen.

It is interesting to note again the use of the word "Kiff" for "kith" in "kith and kin",

Peter also noticed in the obituary for the actor Christopher Casson, in The Independent of Tuesday 16th July 1996, that Christopher was always known to his elder brother John as "Kiff" because his name was such a job to pronounce. The name Kiff does pop up in unusual places!

Again in The Independant Peter noticed a graph showing the changing value of 1 over the period from 1260 - 1994, which is reproduced below, and wondered how much the 10 mentioned in Andrews will of 1788 would be worth today (not forgetting money brought different things back then, no TV's, fridges etc.).

Peter was surprised to calculate that the 10 would be worth about 600

And carrying on with the theme of graphs, Peter has drawn up a fascinating chart showing an annual summary of the number of Kiff births and marriages from 1837 - 1950.   The graph shows a reduction in births and an increase in marriages this century, due presumably to a reduction in the size of families.  (The scales are marriages 0-20, births 0-25 and go from 1836-1950)

Annual Summary of number of Kiff births and marriages  1837 - 1950



Quarter No of births %
1st 425 25.6
2nd 415 25.1
3rd 418 25.3
4th 396 23.9
No of Marriages %
1st 189 19.5
2nd 258 26.6
3rd 285 29.4
4th 238 24.5

page 12

Where did you come from, Connie Kiff?

A letter has been received from Mrs Margaret Turner of Chesham, Bucks concerning a connection with the Kiff tree which her husband Christopher appears to have.   Christopher has a relative called Connie Kiff who came from Ireland and the details of the family are as follows.

The parents of Christopher William Turner, Margarets husband, were cousins and lived in Northwood. Their names are Albert Turner and Ada May Turner.  Albert had a sister called Connie, perhaps named after her grandmother.

Their fathers were brothers; Albert Turner, who married Ethel Rose Potter, and William Turner, who married Emily Collins respectively. Albert and William also had five sisters.

Margaret Turner wonders if the mysterious Connie Kiff was the mother of Albert, William and their sisters, or perhaps the wives - Ethel Rose Potter or Emily Collins.

In a further letter Margaret confirmed that they had no documentation about Connie Kiff at all but her husband Christopher thinks she was a great-grandmother on his mother's side, i.e. the mother of William Turner or Ada Emily Collins. They guess she would have been born circa 1840-1850.

A photograph, shown below, shows an elderly couple who Margaret and Christopher think could be Connie Kiff and her husband, but there is no inscription or writing of any kind on the original postcard. The lady is short of stature - a Kiff trait!

A look through the IGI for Ireland shows no Connies, or Constances, or any other names which appear to me to perhaps have been shortened to Connie.  If anyone can think of names which may have been shortened to Connie, please let me know.

A tentative version of the tree appears below.

A quick look through the 1881 census index shows a Turner family living in Middlesex.

William Turner


born London

Mary Ann



Mary Ann
















2 mth


This shows William and Albert plus four sisters.  The Albert 's also about the right age for Albert on Mrs Turner's tree.  If this is the correct family (and I have no reason to believe it is), then it would confirm that Connie Kiff does not appear to be married to Mr Turner.

In her latest letter Mr Turner writes that she plans to go to London to try and get the appropriate certificates for the Turners, Collins and Potters and will let us know the results in due course. In the meantime, as usual, any information will be gratefully received.

Kiff One Name Study 1996-1999 all rights reserved

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