Friday 12 April 2013

Out of Their Trees - An Olympian Mayflower

I haven’t done an lgbt family tree for several months so I thought I’d do one to tie in with the 300-days countdown to the Winter Olympic games in Sochi. I’ve done quite a lot of research on many Olympians – from the famous (including Jayne Torvill and Michael Phelps) to the forgotten (including Margaret Woodbridge and George Beaumont). I’ve covered several lgbt Olympians on this blog already (Lauren Meece, Mark Chatfield, and Susan Gray McGreivy). During many years of research I’ve uncovered new facts. For instance, I became the first to verify that Michael Phelps is descended from Edward III, and that Todd Eldridge and the gymnastic Hamm twins have Mayflower ancestry.

Today I’m taking a look at the ancestry of another Mayflower descendant, a Canadian who celebrates his birthday next week – Toller Cranston.

Toller Cranston won the bronze medal in figure skating at the 1976 Montréal Winter Olympics. He stood on the medal podium on the left-hand side of the great John Curry, who won the gold. Between them, Curry and Cranston brought a new artistic element into men’s figure skating. Curry was known for his graceful and balletic athleticism, whilst Toller brought a more artistic and energetic presentation to technical elements – the jumps and twists – that made them merge seamlessly into the routine. The influence of both skaters remains in men’s figure skating today.

Toller’s ancestry, as you might imagine, has a lot of Canadian blood in it, but there is also quite a lot of American early settler blood as well. The Mayflower Pilgrims are the most well-known.

Some internet websites show that Toller is descended from an impressive 9 Mayflower passengers. My own research can only verify 4. They are John and Elizabeth Tilley, their daughter Elizabeth, and John Howland. The Tilleys were members of the Pilgrim group while Howland was a servant of pilgrim John Carver. Howland later married the Tilley daughter and rose in the Plymouth Colony to become Assistant Governor in 1633.

John and Elizabeth Howland had 9 children. Their second daughter, Hope, married John Chipman who had emigrated to New England in 1631. Chipman became a local magistrate and, in 1670, was appointed an Elder of the Puritan congregation in Barnstable.

John and Hope Chipman’s son, another John, also became a magistrate. Later he was appointed a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and it was his son Handley who took the family blood to the Canadian colonies when he moved to Nova Scotia, and he also became a judge.

Toller’s connection to the justice system in Canada continued in other descendants of Handley Chipman, including Toller’s great-great-aunt Alice who became the second wife of the Premier (and later Governor) of New Brunswick colony Sir Leonard Tilley. As Lady Tilley Alice showed a philanthropic zeal for health and social welfare issues in the colony.

Lady Tilley’s younger sister Annie married Col. Frederick Toller, Sir Leonard’s private secretary and Comptroller of the Dominion Currency. This brought the name Toller into the family and it’s use as a first name. Col. Toller was the first in his family to move to Canada from Devon, England, where the family had lived for over 400 years.

Col. and Mrs. Toller’s daughter Mary Frances married Dr. James Goldie Cranston jr. of Arnprior, Ontario. His grandfather came to Canada from Roxburghshire in 1831. The doctor and his wife were Toller’s grandparents. The Cranston’s probably belong to the Clan Cranstoun. Even possessing a related name Toller will be entitled to wear the tartan and clan badge pictured below.

That is Toller Cranston’s father’s family. His mother’s family, the Chubbs, descend from Charles Chubb, the locksmith who founded Chubb Locks and Safes, so at least Toller should have somewhere safe for his medals! Charles Chubb’s grandson, another locksmith called Charles, emigrated to Canada in the 1860s. His granddaughter Margaret (usually known by her second name Stuart), is Toller’s mother.

So that’s just a quick look at Toller Cranston’s ancestry.

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