Present day Tenter Street probably looks much different from when Thomas Arment's family lived there in the 1840s
Each family line seems to peter out into the unknown at a different time. Some go back for generations, others not nearly as far. In the case of my London ancestors, finding out where the first ancestor came from before they were drawn to the streets of the big city is a frustrating endeavour. One thing about our less honest ancestors, especially ones in a time when it is hard to find information about the average person; criminals leave records. In my search for my criminal Arments, both Thomas, father and son, I decided to check out what The National Archives could tell me. TNA have lots of research guides and I thought they must have one about researching criminals.
There was a research guide on crime and criminals which had a clickable link to "Crime, prisons and punishment 1770-1935" which sounded promising and showed that the database was available on Find My Past so the records were available online. There were 43 results for Thomas Arm*nt, more than I had found by searching the Find My Past site directly and I had access to the records once I signed in to Find My Past through the TNA Discovery site. Among those records I found another clue. The birthplace of Thomas Arment senior!
At last I was on my way to finding out were the Arments had come from! There was only one problem. There is no such place as Great Bennell. Well, at least I knew the county was Suffolk.
To take my research back further, I turned to Family Search and did a search for Arment with the birthplace of Suffolk between the years of 1775 and 1810. This turned up a likely candidate for Thomas Arment senior baptized in 1787 whose parents' names were Samuel Armant and Alice. This couple had other children baptized as well: Samuel in 1784, John in 1790, James 1793 and Mary in 1799. But they were all baptized in Bramfield, Suffolk which really couldn't be mistaken for Great Bennell. This was one of the problems I took with me to Salt Lake City.
At the Family History Library, I found a book called How to find Suffolk Towns and Villages put out by the Suffolk Family History Society. There was no Great Bennell in the book but there was a place called Benhall which other sources told me was sometimes called Bennell Green. Aha! It didn't take any great leap of the imagination to see some clerk in Portsmouth taking that down as Great Bennell. Bramfield and Great Benhall weren't adjacent parishes but they weren't that far apart either.
After that it felt much better to search the Bramfield records for the family. The baptism register entry for Thomas Arment felt much more likely to be that of my Thomas Arment senior. What's more it was proof of the advice to search the source of online records even if it is a transcript because it read: 1787 Feb. 11 Thomas s. of Samuel Armant and Alice his wife (late Puttock, spinster): born Feb. 2. This led me back to the marriage of Samuel Armant and Alice Puttock on August 3, 1783. Which would be good if they were part of my ancestral line. But were they?
I found what looked to be a tentative connection to Benhall. A search of Find My Past turned up entries for James Armond (Almond) and family who would be the right age for the James born in Bramfield in 1793 to Samuel and Alice Armant. So, it looks like at least one brother lived there around the 1850s. But why would Thomas Arment have given that as his birthplace? I am intrigued and need to follow the clues further.