It is the 1st of November already and time for another newsletter. Yesterday we learned of another lockdown so that is the way we have marked Halloween this year. It is scary enough living through this pandemic and my thoughts go to members of our families who lived through earlier ones.
In the Autumn of 1957, I had just started at College when the Asian ‘Flu struck. I don’t remember any guidance about controlling the infection and within a fortnight I was in the sickbay of the Hostel. Within a week the college closed, and we were all sent home presumably spreading the disease. By December 1957, a total of some 3,550 deaths had been reported in England and Wales. Online newspapers for 1957 show how unconcerned the country was about this flu epidemic and the Government’s slogan was “Wait and Sneeze”. Schools, colleges, factories, sporting teams and military establishments all reported multiple cases.
My mother was born in 1910 and lived near to the main gates of Greenbank Cemetery in Bristol. She told me how as a girl she watched the arrival of the military funerals of the men brought back from the first world war. Although her father was serving in France, she had not realised that many of the later casualties were as a result of the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Although most of my grandfather's records were lost in the “Burnt Records”, just recently by using Ancestry and Fold 3, I was able to find a Penson Card which showed that in March 1919 he was granted a conditional pension due to the effects of pneumonia which was attributed to his war service.
A year later this was reduced to 30% for which he received 12/- a week plus 7/- for his 2 children. After 6 months it was further reduced to 8/- a week – it is unclear how much for the children at this point but in July 1921 he was allowed a final total allowance of 7/6 a week for a further 35 weeks. He was considerably luckier than many of his comrades and lived a full and active life after that and returned to the job he had previously with the Bristol Cooperative Society.
The lasting effects of the pneumonia may well have been like those described as pertaining to Long Covid and in his case were judged to last for over 2 years, although as he also had been gassed in the trenches that must have aggravated the situation.
This year when we remember those who were lost in the service of their country on November 11th we will not be able to attend traditional parades at Cenotaphs and War Memorials. Our thoughts should include those who came home carrying wounds both physical and mental which remained with them for the rest of their lives. This was most tellingly portrayed in the recent “Who do you think you are?” episode with David Walliams.
In all of our parishes there are memorials to victims of the two world wars sometimes inside the church and sometimes on a community War Memorial and sometimes in a workplace. On our web site we have listed the names on the Grove Park Memorial in Weston but it would help our members if we could show these memorials under each parish. This was suggested to me after the Research Query for information about casualties of WW2 from the 3rd Weston (St Paul’s) Group was posted.
Under our parish transcriptions there are many fantastic photographs and transcription of MIs for some parishes which, for example, does include the list of names on the WW1 memorial at St John’s in Weston. If you have information about any of the War Memorials in a parish covered by this Society we would be delighted to add it. There is a memorial to those from Weston who died in both wars and worked for the Royal Mail in the Warne Road Delivery Office Do you know of others? Incidentally, Ancestry have just added the UK Post Office Memorial Books 1914-1945
There is a web site dedicated to War Memorials online which may provide some additional information but in many cases it contains photographs but not yet transcriptions. However, it may help you if you are looking for someone outside of this area.
Who do you think you are?
You can catch up with all the programmes on iPlayer they are available for a year. Don’t forget that the last of the four is on Monday 2nd Nov on BBC1 and is about Liz Carr whose mother she described as follows: “ An armchair genealogist, my mum has dragged us around graveyards in search of our ancestors but to no avail so I’m hoping this will now all stop (probably not - knowing my mum!).” I think we can all relate to that except that in my case I dragged my mother around the churchyards!
Inaccurate Original Documents
- On our Research Forum we have had a query about a George GILL. In a comment in March 2018 from Dave Erasmus, one of our stalwart members who often answers queries and gives helpful advice, sited an example of a marriage of a widow Emily Jane PAYNE whose father’s name was given as Silvester PAYNE. This was an example of whoever was filling in the information forgot that the bride was a widow and assumed that her father would have the same surname.
- This is not the only time that errors occur and here I am not talking about transcription errors.
- In my own family I have at least two examples of birth certificates where the mother gives her surname as the same as the father and states she was formerly – giving her maiden name – but I have since discovered that they were not married at that time.
- The birthdate of Grandfather, Ashton Bertie HILL, is one week late as his parents hadn’t registered his birth within the allotted 7 weeks. This resulted in him having to wait an extra week for his Old Age Pension to begin – I remember his reaction to this!
- If you look at the military pension card above you will see his date of birth given as 1882 when it was actually 1880.
- I have a marriage certificate where the bride (who was illegitimate) gives her grandfather’s name as father. It is possible that she really thought this as she was brought up by her grandparents.
- Harry MARSHALL was christened HARRY but the enumerator of the 1939 Register decided that he was really Henry and so he was entered as Henry.
- Birth places on Censuses are notorious for being inaccurate – perhaps they didn’t know where they were born but knew where they had been living as children? – sometimes when the enumerator is at fault by using ditto marks in the wrong place and I have an example where a birthplace appears to be entered at random. This is from the 1901 of Wells. Harry MARSHALL was born in Wells in the same road where he was living in 1901 so where did the Gosport, Hants come from and why no entry for his wife Lilly who was born in East Pennard, Somerset?
- Because I knew where they were born when searching for them I entered their birth places and of course drew a blank. Be aware of this – sometimes entering less information can be more fruitful.
- The latest newsletter from Lost Cousins deals with how to overcome these problems with lots of useful tips for breaking down these brick-walls cause by inaccurate original entries.
New Resources online
As we are faced with more time at home – probably in bad weather as well – there are some fresh resources available
If you have Welsh ancestry, last August FindmyPast announced that they had released a collection of Welsh Parish Registers with images and Ancestry have in the past week added the same Welsh Parish Registers. As many Somerset folk moved over to South Wales these are very helpful to our members and I can research my Welsh cousins!
- Your committee will continue to meet via Zoom each month to monitor the situation. As you will already know all our face-to-face meetings have been postponed but please keep in touch with each other and us to share successes and frustrations (about Family History).
- The committee is looking to start some short Zoom sessions with members in the new year and if you are not already familiar with Zoom it would be a good idea to sign up for Zoom (for which there is no cost) and make yourself familiar with the controls. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for announcements. You could practise by setting up 'meetings' between friends to see how the system functions and whether your camera and/or speakers work etc. If you only invite one person as a trial then the timing is unlimited but if you add someone else (have 3 people meeting) then you become a group and are limited to 40 minutes.
- I have continued to upload the Profiles of the Weston Worthies – please add your comments to these of you have any additional information.
- We have added a section for the Mendip Hospital to our Web site as so many of our members have family who were there at sometime or other. The Harry MARSHALL mentioned above who lived in Wells was employed there as were others of his family
- Jenny Towey tells me that she has some cardboard document wallets wanting a good home (She could deliver or leave them outside her front door for people to collect). Contact her through the web site using the category “Chairperson”.
- We are still looking for a Librarian – if you are interested or want to know more about it please contact our secretary.
- With the Free Help Sessions in abeyance please feel free to use our research Forum or the Facebook Group to share your problems and successes.
- As you know we have postponed our AGM until further notice but the latest edition of Buckets and Spades should be available soon. Thanks to all who continue to support the Society and we are looking forward to hearing what progress you are making with your research.
- Keep safe!