You are currently viewing St Petersburg – The Sussex Connection

St Petersburg – The Sussex Connection

Looking into some of my family history I recently discovered some 19th century records were held by my local records office.

My family only have lived in Sussex for a hundred years or so, so this was unexpected.

The records themselves are about people in St Petersburg (see my Oswald Cattley article for more about St Petersburg) so I was not expecting to see them in the East Sussex records. I decided to visit The Keep in Brighton to see the records and to work out how they fitted in to my family tree.

Once I was setup with a readers card, day photography licence and a USB stick for saving scans I started to look at the first documents I had pre-ordered.


I started off with some certificates. The Russian birth and wedding certificates are completely different to English ones. Portrait not landscape and more like a letter.

The wedding of James Ronaldson Handyside and Sophia Jubb took place at the English Church in St Petersburg on 10 May 1845. The ceremony was conducted by Edward Law.

Marriage of James Ronaldson Handyside and Sophia Jubb in 1845 in St Petersburg

All 3 of these people are my relatives!

  • James and Sophia are my 3 x great grandparents. He was a physician in St Petersburg.
  • Rev. Edward Law is my 4 x great grandfather and he’s the grandfather of Oswald Cattley (mentioned at the beginning of this post) who married James and Sophia’s daughter Margaret Sophia Handyside (known as Sophia).

I also saw Sophia Handyside’s birth certificate and those of her two brothers.

I have a copy of the Jubb family tree taken from Visitations of England and Wales Volume 2. See below with the people mentioned in this article highlighted in red.

Other correspondence

I discovered the reason for the certificates being in the East Sussex records, Sophia Jubb’s mother (Sophia Cocks) had a half-sister, Harriet Cock, who lived in Brighton and left jewellery and £2,000 to her niece Sophia (and Sophia’s descendants). There are several letters and correspondence about this including Harriet’s will and the schedule of disbursements over several years.  The will includes all the payments made to the butcher, baker (but not candlestick maker!) and to Sophia, her brother and their children.

Sophia Jubb’s half sister, Harriet Busk (lots of Harriets and Sophias here) wrote a letter stating that she knew Sophia and her children so that the legalities were followed regarding inheritance.

Another interesting point about this is there are different versions of the surname, Harriet Cock is sister of Sophia Cocks. I am not sure which is ‘correct’ and have searched for variations of both names.

Sophia Jubb wrote a letter to a Mrs Neville who was arranging for the jewellery to be sent out to St Petersburg in Russia. Her father John Jubb also wrote on the same letter.

All this strengthens my knowledge of this part of the family in this era.

One interesting fact I discovered recently is that all foreigners living in Russia at this time had to become Russian citizens.

It’s amazing to be able to read correspondence and wills dating from the 1800s and to find the information locally.

Have you any older family birth certificates, letters or wills? If you would like help with reading or interpreting them please contact me.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.