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Members' Meeting February 9th video
published by Jenny Towey on Thu, 10/02/2022 - 11:40

It is with regret that I have to inform you that - due to technical difficulties - we were unable to live stream or record yesterday's talk on DNA for Family History.

We desperately need a couple of people to help us out with the technical side of streaming and recording talks - offers of help are very welcome.

Jenny Towey

News TopicFairs, Seminars & Talks
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February 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 31/01/2022 - 23:48

I know the days are getting longer and there are signs of regeneration in the garden, but I still am not fond of February.  I wonder how our ancestors dealt with the changing seasons and cold weather?  We are also coping with the uncertainties around the Covid situation.  Many apologies to those who turned up for the January meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes which we had to convert to a Zoom meeting at short notice because of the rising number of infections in this area.  We did try to notify our members, but sadly I believe some who turned up were visitors.   The talk is available on our web site for members who missed it.

Annual Subscriptions

A gentle reminder that your annual subscription is now due.  We really pride ourselves on the low cost of our membership. £9.00 per year for a digital membership is really good value considering all the transcriptions and other information and support which is available for members.

Members' Surname Interests 

If you haven’t looked at the web site lately, please do.  Have you entered your names, dates and places to The Members’ Surname Interest Section? You can add a pedigree chart or family tree in PDF format to your entry which may help others.  Some people have added comments to their SURNAME Interests which can be really helpful.

Research Forum 

Have you used the Research Forum yourself?  If not, why not?   It has been very quiet again recently, does that mean that no one is stuck with their research or have found something which they can share with other members?  Can you help other members by answering their Research Queries?  Look back at those which are on the site – you may be able to add helpful information.

Search the Web Site  

The web site also has information available for non-members.  You can also use the Search facility (found as a box on the home page) to see if anything connected with your research can be found.   Search for your research SURNAME or any other word which might crop up in anything about your family.  It searches articles from Buckets and Spades, Research Queries, Comments and of course Newsletters!

Family History Research

Why are we researching our past?   Is it just the thrill of the chase or are we really interested on how our ancestors lived?  Or do we want to know what characteristics we have inherited from our ancestors? Many books suggest that researching family history is like a living detective story which gives a buzz of adrenaline when you solve the mystery. Other say it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle with very similar shaped pieces and fitting the correct one gives pleasure.  What surprising facts have you discovered?

  • Have you studied the transcriptions of the local burial records to see what was happening in the area when your family was active? 
    • The Worle Burials during 1813-1839 contain at a rough count   
      • 8 children who were only days old,
      • 28 children who were weeks old
      • 65 who were months old.
      • 34 children who were under 10 years old.
  • It is worth remembering that this time covers an outbreak of Cholera and that Typhoid, Measles and Smallpox were also highly infectious.
  • Small pox was greatly feared and mentioned during this Funeral at Lympsham in 1846
  • Vaccination against smallpox was made compulsory in England in 1853.  The Registrar of Births was made responsible for making sure that it took place, with parents being subjected to fines or imprisonment if they did not comply.  Like today, there were a number of people who were against vaccination.  Cases can be read in local newspapers.
  • Some newspaper articles appear very familiar today!
  • It is also interesting to note how many illegitimate children were baptised during a particular period.
  • What are the most common occupations listed against the fathers when their children were christened?    Did these occupations change as the area adjusted to the Industrial Revolution?
  • All of the above gives some idea of the area in which your ancestors lived.

1921 Census

What results have you gained from the 1921 Census? 

  • I have been disappointed that there is no mention of health problems on this census which seems strange considering the number of ex-soldiers from WW1 which must have caused the need for additional funding during this time. 
  • Employers being mentioned is an advantage – I have just identified someone who later became a motor mechanic but in 1921 was an apprenticed as a carpenter to his elder brother.
  • A posting on our Facebook Group has highlighted the difficulty of deciding whether boarders were just staying as holiday makers for a short stay or whether they were long term. 

 FaceBook Group

The Facebook Group has gained members but not many of the latest ones have posted their SURNAME Interests yet.  Like with the Web Site there are few queries posted but we are keen to encourage younger members who may not be quite sure about how to go about researching.  Membership of our Society and the use of a number of free web sites can enable them to make a start.  Just ask!

Family Stories

Family Stories which have been handed down are a good place to start. Trying to prove whether they are factual or not can be frustrating but fun if you succeed.    My Grandfather told me many a story about his family but I am afraid that he had a vivid imagination.   Did Garibaldi really stay with my gg grandfather when he visited Bristol in 1864?  The answer to that was NO!   Garibaldi’s train only stopped for 10 minutes on Temple Meads Station but at least it got me looking up all about Garibaldi and why he was in this country.   There is often a grain of truth in these stories as I did discover that my gg grandfather, had signed an open letter inviting Garibaldi to visit Bristol!  

Family & Local History 

Family History and Local History are closely connected and we are lucky in having members with photographs of the area.  We were saddened to learn of the death of Colin Middle recently, a member who had a vast store of local knowledge and had shared much of it.  He wrote a booklet which traces the residents of Stradling Avenue in Weston – much written from personal memories. 

Next Society Meeting

Our next meeting is due on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th February at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road, at 2.30p.m. when the subject will be DNA and Family History.  The Speakers will be Peter and Jenny Towey.   As this subject is likely to be very popular, please check whether this will be an actual physical meeting or by Zoom before you leave home. 



News TopicMonthly Update
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January 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 23:15

Wishing a Happy and Healthy New Year to all our full Society members and to the members of our Facebook Group.   I suppose the highlight of January will be the release of the 2021 census. It is unlikely that many of us will see another census release as the 2031 census was destroyed during WW2 and there was not a census taken in 1941 which is why the 1939 Register has been so helpful.  I would love to see the 1961 census as I do not remember exactly where I was living when that was taken.  Was it Bristol, Churchill or at one of two addresses in Weston?  Unless I break records as being amongst the oldest people alive in 2061, I will not find out!   On Dec 16th, 2021 – a woman claiming to be the World’s oldest  person at 135 years old died in China.  There is of course some doubt as to the accuracy of her birth date!

Looking back over the years as I am inclined to do at this time of the year – I remember, December 1942, when my father was called up for active service in WW2.  One morning, at breakfast time, he left our home.  As a four-year old, I was eating cornflakes, and looked up to see my mother crying – something I’d never seen before.  Of course, I didn’t know then that she must have only recently discovered that she was pregnant at the time.

She would have also remembered the situation and the shortages of WW1 - I have this card sent to my maternal grandmother during WW1 from my grandfather to celebrate her birthday on December 12th.    I have others sent by him to my mother for Christmas and another which looks forward to Victory.

My mother told of the circumstances of his return from France when she and her sister were not allowed to hug him until his uniform had been debugged and he had been bathed and changed into fresh clothes.

Looking back on the past year the contribution made by the NHS has been outstanding and I wonder how many of you have ancestors who were employed as Nurses or Doctors before the NHS was instituted?  The other question I have is about epidemics which caused deaths in your family.

1918-19 Spanish Flu

Following WW1, the pandemic of Spanish Flu caused the death of many of the returning service men and women.  A great aunt of mine died in Bristol from this influenza in 1918, she was aged 40, she had been a schoolteacher before her marriage and they had three sons, the youngest only 3 when she died.  This photograph of her with her husband and eldest son was taken at Ilfracombe in 1910.


1957 - Asian 'Flu

While talking about pandemics – I managed to contract Asian ‘Flu in the autumn of 1957, about a fortnight after I had started my college training.  The college was later closed, and we were all sent home probably to pass it on to families!  There was no social media to spread information and very little publicity.  I have never felt so ill as I did then!


More details can be seen here 1957–1958 influenza pandemic - Wikipedia

To find out what might have caused the death of your ancestors over the years I can recommend a booklet by Dr Janet FEW – “’Til Death do us Part - causes of death 1300-1948”.  It was published in 2015 and contains a list of British epidemics including Smallpox, Measles, Typhus, Plague, Diphtheria, T.B. and ‘Flu. Janet also suggests sites which may help with your research.

If you have medical relations, a list of Nurses already in employment was drawn up in 1949 to encompass those who were taken over by the NHS and can be found on Ancestry. 

This paternal aunt, born in 1913 in Bristol, became a Nurse after a spell as a telephonist – She trained at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital from 1945, before the NHS was instituted.    She then went to London to complete her midwifery training before studying to become a district nurse obtaining a Queen’s Nursing Award. Touches of “Call the Midwife” here from what she later told me about her experiences in London.  After some employment in Bristol, she accepted a post in Wedmore as Midwife and District Nurse until her marriage in 1961.

 Pre NHS Life

The advent of the NHS certainly affected my family.  In 1947 I contracted Rheumatic Fever which my sister also developed, and we were put under the care of Prof C Bruce PERRY of the Bristol Royal Infirmary until we were 18.   I liked him very much and felt he was really interested in us.  His obituary showed that he was more deeply involved in rheumatic heart disease that we realised at the time.  The cost of consultant fees was difficult for our parents to find at first, but they insisted on nursing us both at home.  I was away from school for 15 months but with support of family and friends we both recovered but there was relief when the NHS took over the cost. 

A letter from my father during WW2 dated May 11th had highlighted the worry caused by Doctors’ Bills. – I think it must have been 1944, from Italy.  He was wounded on his birthday May 11th 1944 during an assault on Monte Cassino, so it is likely that this was written just before that event.  He wrote:

“While appreciating the fact that everything is much dearer in these times, I agree with you that Dr Purcell’s Bill was a bit stiff, but as the children are well again that  is the chief thing.  Please use the money of mine to settle it with.  I know it is being put aside for Pat’s schooling, but there is apparently little prospect of you wanting it for that purpose I would be glad if you used some of it that way as it will soon accumulate again, and there will be plenty there when we want it for the original purpose,”                                                                                    

I think he was referring to the proposed Education Act of August 1944 which was to give free Secondary Education to all pupils.  .

Looking forward now to 2022 – What can we expect?   

  • On Ancestry – Devon Parish Records were added on the 13th December 2021 
  • On Findmypast – A message about the 2021 census
  • The Genealogist allows you to pinpoint the position of your ancestor on the 1911 census.  This is very accurate in London but not so good in other parts of the country.  Checking on Whitecross Road in Weston the road is located but not the actual house address. You need to scroll down for the map. 
  • Family History Federation of which we, as a Society, is a member offers advice on how to access free resources  
  • On the 6th January the release of the 2021 Census: Going by previous releases it may be difficult at access the Findmypast site on that day but try again later!

Society Meeting

At the moment, our next Member’s  Meeting is due to take place on Wednesday afternoon the 12th of January unless more Covid restrictions are in operation by then in which case it will be a Zoom Meeting.  It is entitled “Traditions of Death and Burial” and will be given by Helen Frisby.  Meeting starts at 2.30pm with speaker at 3.00pm.  We meet now at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road observing all conditions for your safety – Please bring masks etc.  It will be recorded for those who cannot attend.

We all hope that 2022 will bring some stability to life and wish all our members success with their research - Have a Happy New Year!

News TopicMonthly Update
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December 2021 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 03/12/2021 - 12:46

Sorry that this is a bit late but I did start to write it on December 1st when I was woken that morning with Christmas music coming from ClassicFM indicating it must be the beginning of the season which usually is celebrated with family gatherings!  Whatever happens this year, if you are in contact with family or friends why not  discus what you have discovered about your ancestors and find out whether your research matches their memories or what they have been told?

Family Heirlooms

I have a christening robe reputed to have been made by my great grandmother, Sarah ELLY, shortly after her marriage in Bath in 1860. It has been used by several members of our family, descendants of Sarah ELLY, although not always appreciated by the child! 

christening robe

My grandmother told me that her mother made this robe and that she had been educated at the Blue Coat School in Bath.  However, I have recently confirmed that no one with  the name Sarah ELLY or anything similar is mentioned in the Record Books of the Blue Coat School in Bath – so it seems that my grandmother was mistaken about the school but hopefully not about the christening robe.

There is often a grain of truth in stories which are handed down and, in this case, – I have now established that one of my grandmother’s brothers was educated at the Blue Coat School in Gloucester so perhaps she was a little confused.  

How many of you regard  your Christmas Decorations as family heirlooms?  Rather than being fashionable all my Christmas tree decorations have a story to tell as they have accumulated over the years.  Carefully preserved each year they bring back memories to me of the days when my children and grandchildren were small and they helped to chose the one new item each year. 

Do you have any interesting family heirlooms?  

The popular BBC programme, Repair Shop, has produced some very fascinating items and stories attached to them. Your family heirlooms could make a worthwhile article for Buckets and Spades and often shed light on your ancestors.  What do you have which you would like passed down? 

My teddy bear given to me for my 2nd birthday in 1940 could tell a few stories - about comforting me when watching German planes fly over Bristol during the Blitz, accompanied me to the Anderson Shelter during subsequent raids, a constant companion during children's ailments meaning that he had to be send away to be fumigated along with all other soft furnishings (he lost his squeek then!)  A couple of years ago I decided he needed some new clothes but he has worn very well from the time I first unwrapped him on my birthday in my Grandfather's house to the accompaniment of a Warden shouting "Put that light out"!  

Teddy Bear  

Who do you think you are?

I have watched Ed BALLS in “Who do you think you are?”.  It certainly pointed up the difficulty we all have in relating to events which happened over 100 years ago and looking at them from the 21st Century with its ever-changing acceptance  of standards of behaviour and conditions. The Swing Riots of the 1830s and their aftermath highlighted the conditions of  agricultural workers in the south east of England. 


I was of course particularly interested in the mention of the Workhouses.  One problem I had with it  was the use of images to illustrate conditions.  The interior view used was from a London Workhouse as was the painting of the queue outside.  Were there no images of Kent or Norfolk Workhouses which could be used?

A great deal of research has been done about conditions in Norfolk, which were slightly different from other parts of the country.   Anne Digby in her book “Pauper Palaces” describes the arrangements made prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 to cater for the poorer elements of the population in Norfolk where Workhouses were introduced after the Gilbert Act of 1782. This allowed  parishes to join together to cater for the paupers  in their area.  Bristol also had an earlier Act of Incorporation in 1696.   This gave the Bristol Corporation the right to operate a joint relief system across the whole city and its many parishes including the setting-up of workhouses and the appointment pf paid Officers.  Sadly, many of these records were lost during the blitz. It is often supposed that the the Union Workhouses created after 1924 were the start of the Workhouse system but this was not the case.

The web site about the    History of the Workhouse      is an excellent place to discover more about the workhouses in the area wherever your family lived.

How do you tell others about what you have researched? 

Family History Blogs

One of our members, Honey Langcaster-James, who is descended from one of the Weston Worthies, Richard FRY, has this Blog which includes some history of the Weston area which you may not have seen. It is a fascinating site, Congratulations Honey, which may give you some ideas of how to publish your own findings online.  Her site is called Meet My Ancestor, 

Family Trees Online

  • Most of you will be familiar with the many sites where you can find family trees online. 
  • Some can be restricted to being available only to invited viewers who have a reason to be consulting them. 
  • Always check any details on these trees as errors can occur.

If you have placed your findings online, please let us know so that others may see it and perhaps get ideas of what is possible.

1921 Census

  • It has been announced that you can examine this census free of charge (via Findmypast) if you visit the National Archives at Kew and also In addition, visitors to the Manchester Central Library and the National Library of Wales will be able to access the 1921 Census of England and Wales via the Findmypast website for free following its publication in January.  This may be useful to members who live near either of these places.
  • The 1921 Census release will be augmented by a series of articles and exhibitions at the National Archives about life in the 1920s. 


Digital Exhibition


In line with Disability History Month, the Somerset Museum in Taunton is launching a digital exhibition about Sarah BIFFIN, the talented Somerset artist[PH1] . Sarah Biffin – South West Heritage Trust (swheritage.org.uk).  There are other digital exhibitions which may interest you on this site Digital Exhibitions – South West Heritage Trust (swheritage.org.uk) including one about the Bath and West Agricultural Society and its shows.

Research Queries

  • I have had a query about Joseph SHEPPARD 1834-1928, who painted the portrait of John Jeremiah Jackson-Barstow which I used in my talk after the AGM.  He lived in Milton (in the parish of Kewstoke) and more of his paintings can be seen on the Art UK web site Sheppard, Joseph, 1834–1928 | Art UK There are 21 paintings, including a couple of his father, Henry SHEPPARD 1792-1877, other local people and some views of Worle and Milton.  In 1911 Joseph SHEPPARD was living in Ashcombe Park Road with his long-time housekeeper, widow Elizabeth PETERS. When he died in 1928 he was buried at Kewstoke. 
  •  Another query I have received was about the locality of a Baptist Church near Rowberrow.  I was unable to answer so I put it on our Research Forum but presumably none of our members knew the answer either as there were no replies.  Does anyone have any idea about where a Baptist resident of Rowberrow might have attended  church?  I have found from my own family research that Baptist Records are notoriously difficult to locate as in many cases the registers seem not to have survived or have fallen into private hands.
  • I get many queries about schools in Weston, especially the private ones which proliferated during the 19th Century.  Often an ancestor has been found as a pupil.  A very brief history of Weston can be found here and the private schools are mentioned under "More growth in the 1880s".  More information can be accessed in Weston Library where many of these schools have files about them. One problem was that information about a school had been handed down in a family and it was eventually found under Weston, Bath!

Our December Members' Meeting

It has been widely announced but a reminder that we are restarting to have physical meetings after a long spell of Zoom meetings.  The first one will take place on Wednesday December 8th in the afternoon from 2.30 p.m. until 5.00 p.m. at Our lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road.  The speaker, Ian Sage will start his talk on Farler's Coal Pit at Nailsea  at 3.00 p.m. which will include his own family history research.  If you are unable to attend the talk will be screen at the same time and will be recorded and available as the Zoom talks have been for Members to watch at a time convenient for them.   Please observe the conditions in place to control possible infections and enjoy this Christmas meeting with seasonable refreshments served from 2.30 p.m. 

Our Lady of Lourdes - from Google Street View - there is car parking also at the back of the hall.

Our Lady Of Lourdes


Looking forward - Society meetings will continue to take place on the 2nd Wednesday afternoon of each month during 2022.

Wishing you all an enjoyable time during December.  If you have any queries please use the Research Forum and make sure that all your SURNAME interests have been added to the list.  If you have any comments or suggestions to help other members' research please add them to this Newsletter.    Happy & Heathy wishes for December and the New Year!

News TopicMonthly Update
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Portbury St Mary Monumential Inscriptions
published by Graham Payne on Wed, 24/11/2021 - 11:29

The Portbury St Mary MIs are now available for Society members to view online.

Please report any errors  or information regarding missing or incomplete transcripts to the author of this news article.

News TopicTranscripts
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Emmanuel Scout Troop
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 07/11/2021 - 17:43

I have added a file entitled "Emmanuel Scout Troop" to the Weston-super-Mare Page.  It is a collection of the names of Scouts who were mentioned in the Log Book of the 9th Weston-super-Mare Scout Troop which was set up in 1929.  Not all scouts are mentioned but if you have relatives who were young men in Weston between 1927 and 1944 it might be worth looking through this file.  I believe it also contains some evacuees.

News TopicPeople
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Forthcoming Events

Workshop by Zoom: Guild of One-Name Studies
Wednesday, 24th July, 2024 19:30 - 21:30
Library Help Session
Saturday, 7th September, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
Physical Members' Meeting: site visit
Wednesday, 11th September, 2024 14:30 - 16:30
Library Help Session
Saturday, 5th October, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
Physical Members' Meeting
Wednesday, 9th October, 2024 14:30 - 17:00
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