Toppin

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In my blog entry on penmanship the video link mentioned how handwriting analysis had become very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I have a handwriting analysis for my Great Grand Aunt Edith Toppin.

Unfortunately it is not dated but Edith Toppin was born in 1874 and died in 1946 so if she was over twenty one at the time then it would be after 1895.

What I have is the form that “The World-Famed Graphologist” “Miss Wagner, Co. Cork, Ireland” filled in with the analysis. The form has a section down the side with “Press & Public Opinions” which includes one from Montreal and other parts around the globe. There is a list of “Bazaars and Fetes” where she will be appearing and magazines where I am presuming she was mentioned.

The fees for this service were 1/- (one shilling), 2/6 (two shillings six pence) and 5/- (five shillings). No explanation of what you get for each of those fees was mentioned. Edith provided Miss Wagner with a handwriting sample and signature. What the sample was and how she signed her name are not included. Here is the transcription of the deduced characteristics of Edith from her handwriting.

You are cheerful, persuasive, agreeable, affable & pleasing in friendly & social relationships Mental & philosophical sides of life appeal to you – Tastes are refined you are hopeful courteous, bright & impressionable – Intuitive in grasp of people – character & situations – skilful in managing – avoiding irritating – & getting on well with many met. Good sense of humour wit – fun & playfulness A merry heart – tolerance of what must be put up with or tactfully ignored for peace sake at times

Good sense – brains intelligence management – expenditure & results pleasing effects – with when required fairly thrifty outlay

A wish for harmony – proportion fitness – suitability & becomingness critical acumen – ideals & ideas good writers, musicians – artists – teachers & accountants – you can appreciate points in many ways, good domestic traits – the finely organised & artistic temperament – that helps to make a tasteful happy home.

Fidelity in life’s closets ties & relationships an uncongenial alliance would be fraught with serious & hurtful results for you you should be successful in making friends & way in the world – kind to pets & children your lucky gem is the turquoise bringing prosper

Your colours are gold & brown – typical of personal aspiration & pleasure in many things in daily life & existence – In some ways ease pleasure & loving – with as well tenacity that adds persistence & slight obstinacy in sooner or later arriving at intentions & purposes

Your flower is the holly bringing the seasons happiness – you should be accurate in aim & execution – enterprise & calculations

Ingenious in striking out ways & means a fix in & helpful in suggestions & ready assistance Quick & sharp in perceptions, inferences & diagnosis if the topic puzzling dilemma tc

[Some] love of being comfortable – Ready ability to imitate & reproduce what you admire – This should give you correct taste in household – personal & feminine matters – consulted in – [Frank] – believing in freedom of speech – Quick to [nite] weakest point in others armour – over activity – worry or restlessness would be injurious to health – Fresh air out of door life exercise in moderate degree are good

Some of these items sound like they would be expected of any female of the time. I wish I knew Edith to see if any of these traits were true and what she was really like.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Toppin is one of my family lines in Ireland. My Toppin family was located in Buffanagh (Buffana) Fethard Tipperary. They have been a bit of an anomaly for me. Not much information had been found on the family and most of what I had was family stories and information.

Aunt Girlie, aka Sarah Agnew Toppin, gathered a bit of information about the family. Her father left Buffanagh at the age of majority. He married in Kilkeel County Down and raised his family in Limerick. Aunt Girlie thought her Grandfather’s name might have been Mathew.

The Governor did not speak much about his family. The Governor was the family name for Sarah’s father Philip Rawlins Toppin. The fact that he did not speak about his family caused a bit of a red flag for me. Had something happened that Philip did not want to be reminded of his early life?

In preparation for a trip to Dublin in 2003 I was gathering up all the information already known about the family and started a cluster research project for my Toppin family. The first step was to gather all the birth, marriage and death records for the name Toppin, Tappen, Toppen, Topham, Topping and Tapping in the area surrounding the family home of Buffanagh.

I was ordering a lot of certificates from Ireland and this was getting expensive. To ease the expense I began ordering photocopies of the registrations from the Mormon Family History Centre in Salt Lake City. Only the earlier years of registration are available but any little bit helped.

One of the copies of the death registrations came back with three entries on one page. Mathew Toppin, William Toppin and Richard Toppin all died within a couple of weeks of each other in 1869. This was around the time that The Governor left Buffanagh. Could this have been the reason?

A closer look at the causes of death provided an even more incredible story. Mathew had died of respiratory problems and he was well on in years. William was but 20 and died of Tuberculosis. Richard was middle age and had been murdered. Yes, murdered!

Thankfully this information was found before leaving for Ireland so I was able to concentrate on finding out more about the murder while in Dublin. This was something that would have been extremely difficult to do from Canada. I also remembered that a long time ago on a mailing list someone had mentioned a murder and the Toppin family but no one knew any details.

My first stop was the National Archives of Ireland. When I first approached the Archivist about finding information he said the murder must have been about land. He said that most murders in Ireland had to do with land during that time period. There were no coroner’s records so the only other recourse was newspapers.

I had a date of death so that helped narrow down the search. The Irish Times and Cork Examiner were the two big papers for the area in that time period so the search began.

The National Library of Ireland has a great resource online called Newsplan. You can search for available newspapers by title, town or county. You can even include titles from the Newsplan project that are not held by the National Library of Ireland.

The search provided lists of publication dates and what was available on microfilm and hard copy. It also provided the different incarnations that the newspaper had during its publication.

So into the dark microfilm reading room at the National Library of Ireland I went. Several entries of the inquest were found. The description of the body was so detailed I could not read it all. It looked like the murder was a result of land. Three Fitzgerald cousins of the wife of Richard Toppin were arrested for the murder with the reason being a disagreement over a piece of land they felt should have gone to them.

New family information was also gleaned from these reports. The reports provided the names of his wife and children as well as the fact that his wife and children practiced the Catholic faith and Richard was Protestant. Information on other family and neighbours was also provided in the newspaper accounts. These accounts were published about a week or so after the murder.

In the end the three men arrested were not charged because there was not enough evidence to convict them. By the sounds of it the murder was never solved.

While searching for the coroners records at the National Archives of Ireland the Archivist mentioned another resource that really helped me with my Toppin research. It turns out they had copies on microfilm of the parish registers of the local Church of Ireland in Fethard. By searching these I was able to develop family groups and go back three more generations. The Governor’s father was John Philip Toppin. Mathew Toppin, who died at the same time as Richard, was his uncle. Richard Toppin and William Toppin were his cousins.

No one will ever know for sure but all these things happening at once as well as the possibility that The Governor did not want to be a farmer could have resulted in him leaving Fethard and not wanting to talk about his family.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research