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May 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/05/2023 - 12:20

A Coronation, several Bank Holidays and a 40th Anniversary will make May a special month for us all.

First of all – today we have May Day!    Up at dawn to wash in the dew and then dance merrily around a May Pole!  Have you chosen your May King or Queen? This was an important annual event for our Ancestors to welcome the new season and to ensure the fertility of the land.  In the late 19th century and during the 20th century May the 1st also became known as Labour Day to celebrate and support the Workers of the World.

Free Help Session

The Coronation falls on the first Saturday of May and so we will not be having our free help session at the library that day but there are several events during May which should be able to help you with your research.

Next Society Group Meeting

During May we have a Society meeting on Wednesday the 10th May at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall at 2.30 p.m. when the Speaker will be Ann Ballard who will be talking about "Hidden Gems: an heraldic & genealogical journey"  Ann is a highly qualified family historian: she has a Higher Certificate, a Genealogy Diploma and a licentiateship in Heraldry & Genealogy.  Her family history research specialises in Wiltshire and Somerset and she has a particular interest in Heraldry.  Ann is going to tell us about fascinating tit-bits she has unearthed along her family history journey.

40th Anniversary Open Day

Our own celebration in May will take place on Saturday May 20th and everyone is welcome at our free event for Family and Local History where you can visit stands run by groups with the expertise and enthusiasm to assist you with your research or just to share their knowledge of some aspect of the locality or research. Refreshments will be available. That day you will be able to meet many people who share your interests as apart from our own stand these groups will be participating. . You may want to familiarise yourselves with these groups before attending so I have included their web sites. The society would welcome any books to be included on the Secondhand Book stall.

Anglo-German Family History Society          


Bristol & Avon Family History Society


Church of Latter Day Saints – FamilySearch


DNA  Advice 

Friends of Birnbeck Pier


Friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery


Guild of One Name Studies 


Kewstoke Local History Group


 Know Your Place 


Second Hand Book Stall

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society


U3A Family History Group


North Somerset Studies Library - Weston-super-Mare


Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway Group


Wick St Lawrence Local History            

Worle History Society


Zoom Workshop

On Wednesday 24th May at 7.30 p. m. we will have a Zoom Workshop which will be an "Introduction and Update to Family Tree Maker"  by Mark Olson, the Family Tree Maker Genealogy Community Ambassador.  Many of us use Family Tree Maker and this will allow us to become more familiar with how to use it most efficiently and get the most from it.  Instructions for joining this Zoom meeting will be sent to all full members before the meeting.

Asking for Help

The Facebook Group and the Research Forum on our Web site are always available for you to post queries.  It surprises me how few queries we receive but hope that you are all happy with your research.  It really doesn’t matter how simple you think your questions are – believe me, we all get stuck somewhere.

Catching up with past events

During April we have had two Workshops – on “Breaking Down Brickwalls” and the “Use of FamilySearch” which should both now be available for all members to watch – find them under “Videos” once you have logged in to our web site.  The talk given to the Society on Nursery Rhymes is also available at the same place. 


  • What are your experiences in breaking down brick walls? 
  • Did you ask anyone for help? 
  • If so – Who?
  • What helped you most? 

The most recent Newsletter from LostCousins includes a thought provoking and helpful article about the availability of parish registers which you can read here http://www.FamilyHistory.News

Matching Signatures

I’m not an expert in handwriting but in my own research I have been looking at signatures. This is from the wedding of my ancestors Robert LONG and Hester PRIGG at Bitton in May 1767

And the following were the witnesses at a marriage between a Thomas BRYANT and Mary BRIGHT at Bitton in November 1767.


Do you think that this witness is the same  Robert LONG – as my 4 x great grandfather - John WRIGHT signed many marriages but sadly, I can find no more signatures of Robert LONG in the marriage registers and no connection with the names BRYANT nor BRIGHT.  However, his signature may occur on other documents in the Bristol Archives, especially the Overseers’ Accounts. 

In which County did your ancestor live?

Bitton is one of those parishes which over the time seems to change its County.  The parish comes under the Bishop of Bristol and so its parish registers are in Bristol but it is situated geographically in the County of Gloucestershire.  The Gloucestershire Archives contain  documents relating to education in Bitton, and other local history items referring to Bitton. Under the New Poor Law of 1834, Bitton was included in the Poor Law Union of Keynsham in Somerset and so Bitton or Oldland residents might be found in the Workhouse Records in the Somerset Archives.  This has happened elsewhere in the country, so it is useful to check whether county boundaries have been changed or administrative processes have ensured that documents are in a different Archive. 

  • Did your ancestor know where or when they were born?
  • Can you rely on information in a census?

Getting Side-tracked

In researching my husband’s family history, I have yet to discover a direct ancestor of his who was not born in Somerset. It is probably not surprising that one of the songs which he enjoyed singing with the Weston Light Orchestra was Fred Weatherly’s “Up from Somerset” (where the cider apples grow!).  Fred Weatherly was also Somerset-born, in Portishead, is still remembered for the words of Danny Boy, other early 20th century songs and incidentally, he was married at St Martin’s Church in Worle.

New releases by FindmyPast

Take a look at what was released last Friday – you don’t need to have a subscription to read their Blogs and they often give suggestions for further research.  Although I’m not sure about this statement which they give to help you understand the 1873 Owners of Land -

“There are a few acronyms pertaining to land size used in these records - so bear these in mind when exploring each entry. 'A' is an acre, 'R' is a rood, and 'P' is a square pool.

When I was at school, I seem to remember that an ‘A’ was an acre which was equal to 4 Roods ‘R’ and a Rood equalled 40 Perches ‘P’.   Can anyone explain the square pool?

Example of an entry:  Owners of over one acre of Land in Somerset in 1873

Mrs William WALL of Wedmore could be Mary WALL in this census transcription of 1871, although the acreage does not tally.

1871 Census of Crickham, Wedmore, Somerset

First name

Last name


Marital status


Birth year


Birth place







Farmer of 100 acres employing 3 men








Farmer’s son








Farmer’s son








Farmer’s Daug








Farm Serv indoor

Somerset, England

 Transferable Research Skills

It’s great how family history research techniques allow you to research people and places other than your family and their homes.  I once spent a very happy hour or two in Worcester Archives getting the details of the original registration of 1923 for a car which we owned at that time enabling us to eventually restore its first number.  It turned out that it had been owned by a man who was later to become the Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire.  We managed to trace some descendants who gave us the name of the original Chauffeur who was still alive. We took the car to visit him and gave him a ride in it which seemed to delight him, bringing back many memories.  I don’t think he had ridden in the passenger seat before!

Surname Variants

The HASE family appears to have come from the Enmore area near Bridgwater and members are entered with many surname variants in local records such as HAST, HAISE, ACE, HARSE or HASTE etc.   It was only the branch which came to Weston-super-Mare, via Cross in Compton Bishop which became HASE - So disappointingly, that rules out Henry HASE who was the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England from 1807 to 1829 from being related.  

When I started to research this name I was told by a family member that William HASE, the blacksmith at Cross was really Wilhelm Henri HASE of noble German descent. As HASE is relatively common in Germany as a surname I gained help from the AngloGerman FHS (see their stand at our 40th Celebration on My 20th) However, more local research seems to have disproved this theory.

The case notes for a John HASE who was a patient in the Mendip Hospital are entered under HARSE but the Friends of the Mendip Hospital Cemetery found his burial in their Cemetery Records and even photographed the area where he was buried. The Friends will be present at our Open Day on May 20th.

Be aware of differing spellings of the surname you are looking for.  It may be that the name has been written “as heard” and as so many people were unable to read their surname when they made a mark, the spelling was not able to be checked. There are examples of the legitimate surname of ACOCK being entered as HAYCOCK because the person who heard it assumed that the “H” was being dropped. Of course, this name is then indexed under “H” which makes it more difficult to find.

New Releases from Ancestry

The latest additions to Ancestry can be seen at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/cs/recent-collections Your missing piece might just have been included so it's always worth looking again.

This is just a few which include an update to the Somerset Records.

Somerset Heritage Centre

For your information - The Somerset Heritage Centre will be closed to the public from Tuesday 2 May for essential building work & will reopen on Tuesday 23 May. Enquiries will still be answered during this period.

On the 1st June the North Somerset Archivist will visit the Weston-super-Mare Library where you can have to opportunity to discuss your research and to consult documents brought to Weston which you have ordered.  Look at the Somerset Archives Catalogue – to identify what you would like to see.  Sessions are open from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm, and from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm.  For more information and to discuss your requirements contact somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk

The Coronation

Great Aunt Maud

As I have mentioned before, I remember with warmth the last Coronation and a large family gathering to watch proceedings on a 12 inch TV - Great Aunt Maud, a much loved member of the family, who went on to live to be 100 with all her faculties, welcomed us all into her home.  To be honest I can't remember much about the Coronation itself just the family gathering and the endless sandwiches and glasses of lemonade! 

Make the most of the time during the next week to enjoy the Coronation and perhaps make time to record your thoughts about the occasion.  Looking back to the last Coronation, the world was a very different place and the way we lived was different too.  Your descendants may find your thoughts and feelings interesting.

News TopicMonthly Update
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Nailsea Christ Church Monumental Inscriptions.
published by Graham Payne on Sun, 23/04/2023 - 9:04

The Nailsea Christ Church monumental inscriptions are now available for society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article.

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Yatton Council Parish Cemetery Monumental Inscriptions.
published by Graham Payne on Wed, 12/04/2023 - 9:15

The Yatton Council Parish Cemetery monumental inscriptions are now available for society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article.

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April 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 01/04/2023 - 0:14

Family History can make fools of us all at times.  Today it’s April 1st and perhaps until 12.00 noon we can expect jokes to be played on the unsuspecting. However, you can be assured that those who attend the free Help Session at Weston Library this afternoon from 2.00 p.m.  until 3.30 p.m. will have no tricks played on them – just genuine help and assistance.  

There are several well documented tricks played by some of our ancestors to confuse the unwary.

  • Two Wives - Same Name. Perhaps one of the most confusing is the young widower who marries another wife with the same first name as his first wife and from the same part of the  country. If this happens between censuses then it looks as if there has been no change until you check the mother’s maiden name of the children.  Do this by using the free GRO index You have to register but no payment is involved and then once logged in you can search the online indexes.
  • Two Children - Same Name. Working along the same lines – things which happened between censuses – a child dies and is replaced by another who is given the same first name as its deceased sibling.  This causes a minor hiccup in your research as genetically a tree based on either infant would produce the same results. A birth certificate might be needed to sort them out.
  • Errors on Birth Certificates can also make fools of us.  My maternal great grandfather died in 1885 – he had been an engine driver on the GWR and was based in Reading when he died. My great grandmother moved back to Bristol to be near her birthplace of Wraxall with their 5 children, including my grandmother, who had all been born in Reading.  Amazingly, I have two more birth certificates for children born in Bristol naming my great grandfather as father. The first was in 1889 and this, the second one, was in 1892.

Reginald PINNOCK was christened at St Francis Ashton Gate in Bristol on the 24thJune 1892 but sadly died early in 1894 so does not appear on any censuses.

His second name is a mystery to me - could it indicate who his father really was?   I’m not sure even whether Annie was his mother – Later she took in a young boy who, on his military papers, named her as his next of kin as a foster mother.   Could she just have taken in the two who have birth certificates naming her as mother and William PINNOCK as their father?  Perhaps their mother was a member of the family and Annie was making life easier for them?  Neither of her daughters were old enough to be the mother.

This month I’ve had a new DNA match of 113 cM for someone who is named on my tree as a second cousin, once removed. Our Common Ancestors are William & Annie PINNOCK. Sadly, I’ve had no response from any correspondence from him and he might have been told more about those additional children.  

  • Inaccurate Information on Birth Certificate When my paternal great grandmother Rebecca Saunders COLES was born on 11 Jan 1844 her mother's name was given as  Cherity COLES, formerly SAUNDERS.  Cherity was being a little economical with the truth as she did not marry John COLES until 5 Feb 1844
  • Wrong Father on Wedding Certificate. In my husband’s ancestry, his great grandparents were a John and Mary Ann PUDDY who had been married on  March 29th 1860 at the Parish Church in Mark, Somerset, giving her father’s name as John SYMONS.

It took me several years to realise that John SYMONS was not Mary Anne’s  father – another almost April fool!  I eventually discovered that John SYMONS was her grandfather and that the Jane MILTON who witnessed the marriage was her half-sister.  Her mother was a Harriet PUDDY d/o John PUDDY who 4 years after Mary Anne’s birth married a James MILTON.  This was a fairly common occurrence in those days when the illegitimate offspring of a daughter might be taken into the family and raised as another child.  Mary Anne might even have believed that John was her father and that Harriet was an older sister.

  • Exaggerated Family Stories. It wasn’t on April 1st when my grandfather told me that his grandfather had entertained Garibaldi when he visited Bristol but the result was the same.  Family stories passed down may often fool us into believing them but do not discard them – they may contain a grain of truth.  Garibaldi did visit Bristol but only spent 10 minutes on Temple Meads station – Thomas LONG had signed a welcoming letter to Garibaldi which was the nearest he got to entertaining him!
  • Inaccurate Family Trees. Another time I was fooled was by someone else’s family tree.  My 7 x great grandfather was a Richard GUNTER born (I think)  in about 1632 in Coaley in Gloucestershire.  I found a tree which suggested that he was the son of a John GUNTER and Princess Margaret of Scotland, daughter of James VIth of Scotland.  This would have meant that I was also descended from Mary Queen of Scots.  Sadly, I discovered that Princess Margaret had died when she was only 2 years old and that John GUNTER had most probably married a Margaret STUART.  I am still working on that part of my tree!

How have your ancestors fooled you during your research?

Researching English Ancestors - Assuming that most of us will be researching British records - have you looked at the Ancestry Academy videos ?  This is aimed at Americans researching their British ancestry and explains a lot about the way in which English records have been produced and is a useful way of refreshing your own background knowledge of family history research. 

New Records released - FindmyPast has added some new records today, March 31st,  including some additions to the 1939 Register and some Sussex records.  Two Bristol Newspapers have been updated – The Bristol Evening Post for 1979 and the Bristol Times and Mirror for 1913-1920.  It is always worth checking to see what new resources have become available.  It would be great if there could be some later copies of the Weston Mercury and the Weston Gazette included.

Links with 1871 Census - During March the Genealogist has added some interesting links to the 1871 census giving maps and other documents to widen your appreciation of  where people lived at that time.

Tips for Researching - Last December FamilySearch published some tips for researching which are useful whatever resource you are using.

The Facebook Group and our Research Forum on our Web site have had limited use over the past month but if you have any queries about your research don’t forget that these are available for you to use.  You could also use them to tell us about any successes you have had at breaking down brickwalls or tips you may have about new resources or ways in which you have achieved success.

Remembering the last Coronation - With the Coronation of King Charles III fast approaching those of us who can remember the last one should be making sure that their memories are preserved.  The advent of television made the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II a widely shared event and I have written before about my experience of visiting a Great Aunt – the only close relation with a TV set - and watching the proceedings with other members of my family all clustered around a tiny 12-inch set in Bristol. My husband went with his parents to Birnbeck Pier to watch it, I gather that the set was not much larger than the one we had – but there were refreshments on hand as well.  Later with my school I was taken to a cinema in Bristol to see the colour film of that day.  We had the joint experience of a Coronation and TV to wonder at – how will this Coronation be remembered?

Coronation of King Charles III

Communities are planning events.  What will you be doing? 

The Coronation is on a Saturday and as it falls on the 1st Saturday in May we will not be holding our usual Free Help Session at the Library that day but on Sat May 20th we will be having our own celebrations – not of the Coronation but of the 40th anniversary of the founding of our Society.  This will be a free event to which we have invited other family and local societies and groups to attend. Come along to Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. when you can meet and talk to representatives of the following : Bristol & Avon FHS, Somerset & Dorset FHS, Anglo-German FHS, Kewstoke Local History Group, Worle History Society, Wick St Lawrence Local History, U3A Family History Group, Guid of One Name Studies, Know Your Place, Friends of Birnbeck Pier, W C & P Railway Group, Church of Latter Day Saints, DNA Advice and Second Hand Books – apart from our own Society’s Stand and Help Desk.   Something for everyone there, whether you are experienced or new to researching.  A big “Thank You” to all members who will be taking part in organising and running this event.

Our next Members’ Meeting will be on Wednesday April 12th at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall from 2.30 p.m. when Linda Hotchkiss will be making a return visit to our Society with a talk entitled “From the Nursery” about the background to Nursery Rhymes and stories some of which were politically motivated. 

Zoom Workshop - On Wednesday April 26th will be a Zoom Workshop form 7.30 p. m. about using FamilySearch the free resource from the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  This valuable resource is often overlooked and has been updated over the years.  When I started researching, the IGI on fiche was the first go to resource pre-dating the commercial ones and visits to one of their Family History Centres to search films of church records – images not transcriptions - produced great excitement and success.  If you are unsure about how to use FamilySearch this Workshop should be extremely useful.  They will also be represented at our Open Day. Details about how to join the Workshop will be sent to all members before the meeting.

North Somerset Archivist - The next visit of the North Somerset Archivist to Weston Library will be on Thursday June 1st between 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 p. m. and between 2.00 p.m. and 3.30 p.m.   The aims of these visits are to

  • Help people find out about the past, with information on how to find out about family, house and local history.
  • Provide information on the archives held at the Somerset Heritage Centre
  • Bring microfiche for people to study, and documents from the archive strongrooms when appropriate.

For more information and to book documents contact somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk  

Finally - Any comments, tips and advice to other members are welcome, either on the web site of the Society or on the Facebook Group

News TopicMonthly Update
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St Martin's Worle Burials
published by Graham Payne on Sun, 19/03/2023 - 10:26

St Martin's, Worle burial transcripts have been updated to include the period up to 1938 and are now available for Society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article.

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Christ Church Nailsea Burial Book
published by Graham Payne on Sat, 11/03/2023 - 11:01

A transcript of Nailsea Christ Church Burial book is now available for society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article.

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Forthcoming Events

Library Help Session
Saturday, 1st June, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
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Wednesday, 12th June, 2024 14:30 - 17:00
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Saturday, 6th July, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
Physical Members' Meeting
Wednesday, 10th July, 2024 14:30 - 17:00
Library Help Session
Saturday, 7th September, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
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