Newsletter 18

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Kiff One Name Study 1998-1999 all rights reserved

KIFF One Name Study

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

Issue 18

Autumn 1998

Kiff One Name Study Newsletter

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Issue 18, Autumn 1998


page 1

Jenkin Kift

page 2

Kiff Reunion

page 3

Clift/Kift Close

page 4

Leonard Thomas Kiff

page 5

The Kiffs in Somerset

page 6

Page 1


The picture on the cover is of Christon Church in Somerset.  The IGI for Somerset lists Agnes KYFF born 1555 and John KYFF married 1649, but there is no subsequent information.  The parish records have been studied but there are no further KYFF references, although most of the early records are unintelligible.

For anyone who has wondered what can be written about our ‘ordinary ag lab’ ancestors, Sandra Thomas has given us hope, with her article on Jenkin Kift of Swansea. I hope that maybe one or two people might be inspired to have a go with their own ancestors, of any period, and send in the results to put in the newsletter.

Once again, I’m afraid, the Kiff Newsletter file is empty so, although I realise just before the holiday season is the wrong time to ask, could everyone think about a piece, no matter how big or small, that they have written or have been thinking of writing up and maybe have a go before Christmas or after things have quieted down in the new year.  I have received some photocopies from Tasmania about the two Kiffs who were transported to Australia in the mid 1840s and plan to have a go at transcribing that over the holidays and hope to have that ready for the next newsletter in the early spring.

New Members

Peter and Joyce Kiff

Flint Cottage, .....UK

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Page 2

Jenkin Kift

by Sandra Thomas, Swansea, Wales

It’s not only the wealthy members of society who leave records of their lives for future generations! With a bit of luck details of the poorer members can be pieced together to build up a picture of their way of life and movements over the years.

Take, for example, Jenkin Kift, of Newton, Oystermouth:-

Jenkin Kift was born on 10 January 1783 in the parish of Oystermouth, the youngest son of William and Elizabeth Kift. His baptism followed a month later at All Saints Church on 9 February.

Thirty-four years later Jenkin married Eleanour Ball of Llanrhidian, Gower, at St Mary’s Church, Swansea, on 8 May 1817. We can only assume that the intervening years were ones of poverty and hard work. He lacked education - hence the ‘X’ marking his name on the marriage entry.

Later records indicate that he was a sailor, so perhaps he went to sea at an early age, as many young men and boys did in the thriving seaport of Swansea at the beginning of the 19th century. This might explain his being in his mid 30s at the time of his marriage - quite an advanced age for the time.

The only child of the marriage, Elizabeth Kift, was baptised in her mother’s parish church of Llanrhidian on 15 August 1819. If Jenkin was away at sea, perhaps Eleanour returned to her native village to be amongst her relatives. It would have been a healthier environment for a young child than the overcrowded town of Swansea.

However the family eventually returned to Newton and it was here that Eleanour died, the burial taking place at All Saints on 14 October 1829.

Jenkin probably thought that things could not get much worse! But they did!

The Oystermouth Vestry Books show that by the mid 1830s Jenkin had fallen on hard times and needed parish relief. For 24 weeks he received one shilling a week from the overseers and several entries refer to the purchase of clothing and the cost of shoe repairs for him.

Had he suffered an accident or serious illness? Was old age catching up with him? Where was his daughter? Was she living with him or relatives or working away from home?  We will probably never know.

The 1841 census for Newton described Jenkin Kift as a labourer, so he had recovered enough to have some sort of employment.  In 1849, when his daughter married Thomas John of St Thomas on 11 June at St Mary’s, Swansea, his occupation was given as ‘sailor’, although this could be referring to his younger days.

However, any improvement in his situation was of short duration and according to the 1851 census Jenkin was an inmate of the Swansea Workhouse.  He seems to have lived out the final years of his life there and died in February 1853, at the ripe old age of 70.


West Glamorgan Archive Service - Parish registers
National Library of Wales - Civil and ecclesiastical records for Oystermouth
Census material - Swansea Reference Library

page 3

Kiff Reunion

Lori-Ann Foley, Jersey, Channel Islands

This year’s Kiff Reunion took place on the second Saturday in June and, as usual, the weather refused to co-operate.

A small band of hardy souls gathered together to discuss the latest developments in Kiff research and to trade information that had been uncovered in the past year.

Diana Rustam, who graciously opened her home to us once again, provided a splendid buffet, with the usual mouth-watering desserts that cannot be resisted.

An enjoyable time was had watching videos that had been taken at earlier reunions and this led on to the discussion over what we should do next year.

The suggestion has been put forward that we take to the road in June 1999, touring the sites in and around St Albans that have been home to Kiffs past and present. If people are interested in the idea please let me know as soon as possible so that we can push on with arrangements. It would be very useful to know who would be able to provide cars and how many passengers they could take.

I have had the privilege of being taken on a tour by Diana a few years ago, which included sites that William and Elizabeth Kiff, at the top of the Hertfordshire tree, would have known, as well as their children and their descendants in the various parishes in and around the town of St Albans. So perhaps, if there are enough people interested, we could persuade Diana to plan the route that would be best taken, in her experience.

So do think over the idea and please, if you are interested, let me know as early in the new year as possible, so that plans can be made.

The date is tentatively set for the second Saturday in June, but if enough people prefer another day, and we know early enough, then an alternative date can be arranged and confirmed.

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Back row: Dennis Kiff, Robert Kiff, Peter Kiff, Laurie Page;

Front row: Lori-Ann Foley, Diana Rustam, Celia Jepps

page 4

Clift/Kift Close

by Sandra Thomas, Swansea, Wales

Clift Close, or Kift Close as it is known locally, is an old cottage on the top of a cliff between Layland Bay and Caswell Bay - very nice in the summer but very bleak and windswept in the winter.
image5.jpg (90789 bytes) In the mid 19th century this cottage housed two families. At one time John Kift and his wife Caroline lived there with several children. The two youngest, twin daughters, died there.
image6.jpg (123955 bytes) It is now part of a golf course and a path has been made through what was once a doorway from a green to the next teeing-off point.
image7.jpg (11778 bytes) Although they cannot have lived there for any length of time, it’s amazing how the name has stuck.

Page 5

image8.jpg (11238 bytes) Leonard Thomas Kiff

The photograph on the right was taken at Arnham and shows the headstone of Leonard Thomas Kiff. The son of Leopold Kiff and Ada Elizabeth Brown, he was born on 2 May 1923 in Camberwell and died on 24 September 1944.  He is the brother of KONS member Renee Stanton.

Page 6

The Kiffs in Somerset

by Peter R Kiff, Wallingford, Oxon


Kiff, John married Margery HOBBS - 6 May 1552 at Evercreech

This is one of the earliest references to the name KIFF, spelt in the modern way. John and Margery do not appear to have any descendants, at least, as far as I have been able to trace and certainly not in Evercreech.

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I made a trip to see the church in August 1998 and to photograph its surroundings in the hope that I might find some trace of John and Margery. The church itself is dedicated to St Peter and is very well kept and looks as if it has an active congregation. There are carpets in the aisles and the interior is freshly painted (apparently in 1960 but it looks later than that).
The following information is taken from the ‘Brief Guide for Visitors’. The first known reference to Evercreech was made in a Charter of Edward the Confessor in 1066. The original church building was partially destroyed in about 1539 in the reign of Henry VIII. The chancel and 14th century windows surviving along with the tower dating from 1475.
The records date back to 1540 and are kept at the County Records Office at Taunton. Copies can be seen at the Society of Genealogists office in London.
image10.jpg (18198 bytes) St Peter's, Evercreech
Speaking to a local inhabitant, I learnt that HOBBS is a local name and several families still exist in the area, particularly in Shepton Mallet, but he had never heard of the name KIFF. I suspect that this is yet another dead end but it was an interesting trip to see a beautiful church.

Kiff One Name Study 1998-1999 all rights reserved

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