It’s now 6 months since all meetings of the Society ceased – no physical contact with members whether at our monthly meetings or at the Free Help Sessions at the Library. How are you all coping? What sort of support are you looking for from the Society? Please let us know if there is anything which we can provide. Use our Research Forum for your queries.
Although non-members can read much of what is on our web site including interesting articles from our past Journals (Buckets and Spades) It is worth stressing that the information on the web site which is for members only can be available to all for the cost of an annual membership of just £9.00 which is less than it costs to purchase a single certificate from the GRO.
Graham Payne has continued to supply marvellous transcriptions of parish registers with the addition of photographs and transcriptions of the memorials in the churchyards. Some of the transcriptions for St John's in Weston are of people who lived elsewhere for most of their days but died in Weston, so it is well worth looking there if your ancestor unexpectedly died in the Axbridge Registration District.
Milton Road Cemetery
One big asset we have for full members is the vast transcription of the burials in Weston Cemetery from 1856 when the majority of local churchyards were closed due to poor depth of available soil (St John the Baptist), waterlogged graveyards (Emmanuel) or simply no graveyard at all (Christchurch). Burials did continue at Uphill, Worle and other surrounding parishes but information about many local inhabitants can be found in the Cemetery including their last address and/or occupation.
In the past month I have started to publish information about the 40 residents of Weston who makeup the “Weston Worthies” of the 19th Century. It is an interesting project which I hope throws some light on the conditions in Weston at that time and how people lived. It is important to look at the local history of the area in which your ancestor lived and if any of you have looked at the parish in which your people lived please let us know so that we could add your research to our web site or as articles in future Buckets & Spades.
I have constantly recommended that you take a look at the Lost Cousins Newsletter this is the latest one it includes an account of some fascinating research showing how all those skills which we gain through researching our family history can come in handy in other ways.
Who do you think you are?
The BBC has announced the four personalities who will be researching their families in the next series starting during October. Researching the past can be rewarding, fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable for the participant and we can all share their emotions as the past is uncovered.
It’s always surprising what can turn up when looking for something else. In the Dorset County Chronicle - Thursday 21 July 1842, I spotted this:
Who was Rev John Henry GEGG and what was he doing in Jamaica? From our transcriptions you can see that while he was at Uphill several of his children were born and baptised and his mother was buried there. He was the grandson of a Thomas GEGG who also had died in Jamaica in 1778. In his Will Thomas had left £10 each to two of his slaves for their “Faithful Services”. This reference to “Slaves” made me wonder how many people from this area had connections. I found that the Rev John Henry GEGG is included in a list of Slave owners who received compensation when the Slave Trade was abolished in 1835. His reference suggests that he had 15 slaves. The web site “Legacies of British Slave-ownership” includes a biography of his grandfather Thomas GEGG with a full transcription of his Will. I note that thanks are given to Sharon Poole for the information.
Slaves and Bridgwater
I was also surprised to find elsewhere that on May 2nd 1785 Bridgwater was the first town in this Country to Petition against the Slave Trade. Although Bridgwater is slightly outside our area, I was interested to read this account. Following the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 a number of the rebels from the West Country were sentenced to be sent to the West Indies as Slaves. This prompted local interest and concern about what was happening.
FHS Really Useful Show
Coming up in November is this “Really Useful Family History Show” promoted by the Family History Federation. Tickets are just £5.00 and there are some excellent speakers. It seems that one of the benefits of Covid could be the virtual access to national events.
RootsTech Connect Conference
Next February there will be this FREE online Family History Conference. You can register for it now – All recordings and videos will be available to you on demand after the conference throughout the year, so you can make connections no matter where you are! Promoted by FamilySearch it is billed as visiting Salt Lake City without the travel!
RootsTech Videos Online
When RootsTech was in London in 2019 the speakers were recorded and are still available online.
- Have a look at this introduction to the Conference with the Keynote Speaker Dan Snow
- Another of the videos available is one about DNA Testing – this is an Introduction to it in 2019 - of course things have moved on a bit since then but Debbie Kennett is a well known and respected expert in this field.
Our Society covers 70 different parishes, mainly in North Somerset but also from the old Axbridge Registration District – the map on the Home Page gives some idea of the area and we welcome queries about families from any of these parishes, We also welcome your experiences from researching in this area. Articles from you about your families can be published in Buckets and Spades and you can add notes to your Surname Interest entries including family trees for others to see. Make use of the Web site to share your research. If you live in this area we are happy to receive queries about your research wherever your family lived – many of our local members do not have Somerset Ancestors but have expertise in other areas so can offer advice.
Given the average age of our members, and the national condition of this pandemic, it looks as if we will continue in this format until next Spring but it is possible that we will be able to offer more online action and are keen to have ideas from our members about what they feel will best assist their research.
With our very best wishes to all who are reading this – and we hope that some will feel that they can benefit from joining the Society as full members.