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Weston and Clevedon Blitz
published by Pat Hase on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 12:12

As promised in the Update I have uploaded a document from John Penny giving a detailed account of the blitz on Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon.  It's a combined document so  it is the same in both places. John thinks that the list of casualties in Weston may be incomplete so if anyone can comment on that it would be very useful.  

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June 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 22:09

Each month I try to bring you up to date with news of developments in Family History which might benefit our members – I hope that at least some of you have time to read this and find it useful.

This month we are promised a slackening of lock-down regulations, but libraries, archives and museums remain closed to visitors. 

I wonder how many of you, like me, back in March, thought you would spend this time in lock down revising and progressing with your research.  With extra time and many resources made available online for the duration of this crisis I intended to make big strides in finding more people on the fringes of my tree who might share DNA   But……..    

In my case – I’m shielding - it wasn’t the lure of long walks for exercise, extra gardening or decorating which prevented this – it was sheer inertia and I’ve been easily sidetracked.  Lots of delightful phone calls and emails – some with family history queries which have set me off along other paths.  I didn’t intend to research the name of the horse which pulled the cart delivering greengrocery during WW2 (didn’t find it!) or the background of the Headmistress of the Infants’ School I attended in Bristol but I did – and coincidentally our families were linked by marriage!

I have however come across these resources which I recommend:

The Genealogical Index

As its name suggests The Online Genealogical Index is very helpful in locating resources online.   Committee note - We need to get our Society’s vast offering of transcriptions included on this site.  This site claims to provide links to sites online where you can find information and transcriptions.  You can search any county and place and some of the sites are local history ones which you might not otherwise discover easily.    In the past I have recommended Dusty Docs but this site seems to cover a wider area and includes many different sites


In researching a 3rd cousin twice removed I came across this on Ancestry – as Ancestry is still available free of charge via your local library it may be useful to know especially as Arnos Vale Burials are difficult to find elsewhere.   If you use the card catalogue and search for Bristol you will find Bristol, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1994.  You can browse this collection and by choosing Wycliffe Church, Totterdown under the County of Gloucestershire you will see the following registers.

  •        Indexed under the heading of Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1845-1868 are the early burials in Arnos Vale Cemetery from 1840-1868.  It was then called the Bristol General Cemetery.  I note that there are several burials of patients from Dr Fox’s at Brislington and as they could have come from a wide area it might answer some questions.
  •       Burials indexed Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1871-1897 has burials for Greenbank Cemetery, Bristol. 1871-1883.  These are predominantly Bristol residents.

My Heritage

MyHeritage has been offering  free online webinars and Facebook Live sessions in the past couple months. The goal of these sessions is to provide users with the opportunity to learn from experts and make progress with  research while at home. My Heritage is also attracting customers by offering free access to a different collection each day.  You will need to look at their blog to discover what is available on which day but if you have ancestors in any of these areas this will be an asset.

Family History Federation

As a Society we are affiliated to the Family History Federation and if you look under Federation Resources and Education there is interesting advice for beginners and a reminder to those of us who have been “at it” for years.  Under the title   “Everyone has roots irrespective of their background and origin”   There are 6  Guides

  • It starts with you
  • Ready to begin your research
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Growing your tree with census remains
  • Baptism, marriage and burial registers
  • Records created after death

        Each one gives helpful background information  - They may take time to read but perhaps              may offer suggestions in how to breakdown your brickwalls.


I have to confess that I find familysearch sometimes confusing and I’m not sure about the accuracy of the family trees but the Federation also has this advice on using FamilySearch Family Tree to assist you to develop, maintain and use this family history website

  • Navigating the Home Page
  • The Tree - Pedigree to Person page
  • Relationships - connecting families
  • Locating and attaching sources

 A House through Time

As a Bristolian I am really enjoying this BBC programme about a house near St Mary Redcliffe.  This project - to consider the history of an area by researching the people who lived in just one house over the centuries is fascinating. It's at times like this that I wish my own home was older than 1936!   We can all learn from the resources used in this series.  This podcast about the programme is worth listening to as a background to research.

My g g grandfather brought up his family in an Elizabethan house in the centre of Bristol which was eventually destroyed during the blitz and I'm longing to get to the Bristol Archives to see who lived there before and after him.  

In the last session of this series of A House through Time, the bombing of Bristol will be discussed and John Penny, who has frequently spoken in Weston about the Weston Blitz will be interviewed.  In the next couple of days, I hope to upload an account of the Weston and Clevedon Blitz compiled by John which he has kindly allowed us to use.

Know Your Place

I have mentioned this before but Know your Place North Somerset is a marvellous site for tracing the history and development of an area.  By choosing suitable maps you can see what has happened in a place over the years and photographs are now being added to give even more information.  

The Genealogist

For those of you with relations who served in the RAF during WW2 the Genealogist has released Record Books which show details of fighter and bomber squadrons during WW2 which are really interesting

National Archives

As I mentioned in the last update and Paul recently reinforced the free down loading of digital images including Wills and some Military records from the National Archives is proving a boon but not sure how long this will last so make the most of it.

Facebook Group

We now have 216 members of this lively group - many of whom are already full members of the Society. We hope to welcome others to join us to benefit from what we have to offer at a very reasonable cost

I wish I could tell you when we will all meet up again whether for Monthly meetings or for Free Help Sessions at the Library but just watch this space. Please continue to use our Research Forum to share your research with others and also to answer queries posted on it.  No question is too silly - we all have blank moments! Keep Alert and safe and enjoy this glorious weather if at all possible.

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Free Copies of Historic Wills
published by Paul Tracey on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 18:28

The National Archives (TNA) at Kew is currently closed to the public. While this
continues, it is allowing people to download up to 50 digitised items per 30-day period
free of charge. Usually the price is £3.50 per will. Only 10 items can be downloaded at a
time, but when you have done so you can go back and collect some more (subject to the
above limit).

Scanned PDF images of the office copies of wills proved at the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury are available on this basis from the TNA site. There are over a million wills to
choose from – you can search for those of interest on this page:

In order to use the service, you have to sign up for a free TNA account (or use your
existing one). Setting up an account is easy. The link to do so is:

The Prerogative Court of Canterbury was the senior probate court for England and Wales
until 1858.

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Congratulations to Brian Austin
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 18/05/2020 - 11:00

We are delighted to announce that Life Member, Brian Austin, has been awarded a BALH Award for Personal Achievement in Local History.  This award is a means of publicly honouring local historians who have made a significant voluntary contribution to the subject in their own areas and beyond, to identify and publicise good practice.

This was to have been awarded at a meeting in London in June which of course has had to be postponed but we would like to publicly acknowledge Brian’s well-deserved achievement in this field. 

The British Association for Local History - BALH - has recognised the value in the enormous amount of work undertaken over the years by Brian as he researched and recorded the people and history of his home town, Weston-super-Mare.  He has generously shared the results by depositing it (including many family trees) in the North Somerset Library, in the Somerset Archives and by being available to give advice by person, through talks or through the post.  The list of some of the documents which he still holds at his home can be seen on our website where his contact details are also given – he doesn’t use a computer.

Our society came into being in 1983 as a result of the enthusiasm for family history which he had engendered in the students in his Adult Education Family History Course for which we are very grateful.

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Monumental Inscriptions
published by Graham Payne on Sun, 17/05/2020 - 9:36

Churchill Methodist and Sandford All Saints monumental inscriptions are now available for society members to view online.

Please note that these are draft documents which required a site visit to review and update illegible inscriptions. This will be done once Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

In the meanwhile if you find any errors or can fill in any of the missing/incomplete inscriptions please contact the author of this news article.


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Axbridge Workhouse - Case Studies of Inmates
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 11:57

I have uploaded a document which covers case studies of some of the inmates of Axbridge Workhouse.  It includes names such as ADDICOTT, ALDERMAN, BAILEY, BROOKS, BURR, COOMBS, DAUNTON, FOGARTY and of course HASE!  It was originally part of my thesis to show how the Workhouse impacted upon the lives of its residents.  Many thanks to those who assisted me back in 1998 when this was put together.  It can be found as the last entry under Axbridge Poor Law Union 
Scroll to the bottom of the page.

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