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News & Information (Monthly Update)

May 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 30/04/2024 - 23:28

Well, here we are in May already.  Years ago, we would have been celebrating by washing our faces in the morning dew, dancing around May Poles, electing a May Queen and welcoming the start of Summer with Morris Dancing.  Of course, some celebrations still take place. In Padstow there is the Hobby Horse and usually in Hutton and many other villages there are other community-based events, and this May we do have two Bank Holidays.

Future Events

Free Help Sessions Weston Library  - Saturday May 4th from 2.00 until 3.30 p.m.

Do you know what is available in Weston Library for family and local historians?  Have you ever visited our Free Help Sessions at Weston Library? – everyone is welcome whether you are members of the Society or not.  These are held in the North Somerset Studies Room with our experienced Volunteers to help you.  On the 1st Saturday of each month from 2.00 until 3.30pm. - just come along and get a second opinion about your research.   Apart from the material available in the library itself, including directories, maps, files about people and places, family trees compiled by the late Brian Austin, electoral rolls, etc. you will also have free access to Ancestry and  Findmypast and the chance to find out about what other sites are freely available on the Internet.  If you are an experienced member, would you  consider joining our team of volunteers?

Society Meeting – Wednesday May 8th from 2.30 until 5.00 p.m. at our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall

John Page, a keen and knowledgeable local and family historian, will be speaking about “Settlement Orders, the lives of the poor”.  Settlement Orders are very useful ways of keeping track of your poorer ancestors who may have been sent back to their original parish if they needed support in the parish in which they were living.  The Somerset Archives online Catalogue includes an Index to Removals and Examinations https://somerset-cat.swheritage.org.uk/indexes/settlement .
In my own family research, I have found these documents to be enlightening and interesting.  The Examinations often outline the lives of the people involved and explains how they obtain settlement in a particular parish. I can also recommend a book by Thelma Munckton  “Somerset Paupers, Unremembered Lives” which contains case studies she extracted from the Settlement and Removal Examinations.

Workshop by Zoom will be on Wednesday 22nd May and will be an Update on the 1939 Register by Peter de Dulin

The 1939 Register continues to be updated to reveal people who have died since the last update.  In addition, users may have sent in corrections to the transcriptions, so it is always a good idea to check again for people who are missing.

I am under the redacted entry here.  My Identity Card Number was OANB 12 4.  The OANB can be found at the top of the page.

If you have any queries about how to use the 1939 Register please let Peter know before the meeting so that he can answer them during the Workshop.

Workshop on June 26th – Union Workhouses with examples from Axbridge.

Rear View of Axbridge Union Workhouse.   I will be offering a Workshop about my research into the people who were inmates of Axbridge Workhouse and how they were treated.  If you have found any of your relations in Axbridge I would be interested in hearing from you.  Some information can be found on our web site  http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/custom_page.php?pID=17

September Society Meeting - Away Day – Site visit to Mendip Hospital Cemetery on Sept 11th 2024

Jenny Towey has sent an email to all members about a proposed visit to the Mendip Hospital Cemetery to take place instead of the Society meeting on Wednesday Sept 11th   She wishes to know by email to her  jenny@towey.me.uk  whether

a)   you are interested in attending.

b)   you are able to offer transport to others and if so, how many?

c)   you will require transport.

If needed we can arrange a minibus which will incur a small charge.

A collage of a cemeteryDescription automatically generated

Views of Mendip Hospital Cemetery from the Friends Facebook Group.

Many people from this area were patients in the Mendip Hospital and may be buried there in this cemetery – This visit will be hosted by the Friends of Mendip Hospital http://www.mendiphospitalcemetery.org.uk/ and will include an exhibition in the chapel with new patient stories and more on the workings of the asylum/hospital, the entertainment, which was viewed as important for the patients and staff, a section on the staff and information on some of the medical history.

A room with a table and chairs and a table with a table and chairsDescription automatically generated

Picture from their Facebook Group. https://www.facebook.com/mendiphospitalcemetery/

Please let Jenny know if you are interested in joining the visit.

More information about the place can be found on our own web site   http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/custom_page.php?pID=18

Lost Cousins Newsletter

The latest edition of this excellent newsletter has recently been published and can be seen here - http://familyhistory.news/endapr24news.htm
Lost Cousins was first established 20 years ago and has offered valuable advice and encouragement to all. 
One of the items in this edition reminded me of the day before I was married.  We had sent our Banns certificates to the Vicar of the Parish where we were to be married. He had gone on holiday, so his housekeeper had forwarded all his mail to him in the north of England, but he had not received it.  We were contacted with the news that we would need to get copies of the certificates, or the wedding could not take place!  That Friday we had a rushed visit to Emanuel Church in Weston and St Cuthbert’s Church in Brislington, Bristol to get the necessary documents.

A person and person in wedding attireDescription automatically generated

That was nearly 63 years ago but we were legally married!

Inebriated Women

I have been helping a student who is now nearing the end of her dissertation on Inebriated Women of Weston.  She is going to join the Society. One of her case studies, Elizabeth STAPLES, is buried in Weston Cemetery in Grave Tu 381 and according to our records there is a memorial on the grave.  Would someone be very kind and take a photograph of the grave for her?  I can provide a map to show where the grave is.

Web site

The combined brain power of the Committee is being exercised about how to make our web site more friendly. We have a large amount of information available on the web site, but it is not always easy to find it or to add more. Very few people use the Research Forum to pose queries or to answer those from other members – Why? – Any comments or suggestions you have will be gratefully received.  But my newsletters do not receive many comments either!


Our Facebook Group is possibly not used as much as it could be.  We do have members with considerable experience in Family History Research who are willing to help others who are just starting out or are temporarilly puzzled. 
Sometimes people who are wishing to join our Facebook Group are delayed acceptance because they have not answered the simple question asked of them before we admit them.  If you recommend other people to join, please mention this as it does cause extra work our end to contact them and may disappoint them. 

Brian Austin – Worle Society Meeting – “Remembering Brian”

On Thursday May 2nd at 7.00 pm Worle History Society at Worle Community Centre, Lawrence Road will be hosting a special meeting in Remembrance and Celebration of Brian Austin, his life and work recording the history of Weston and its people. Non-members are welcome.

North Somerset Libraries

All North Somerset libraries will be closed on Tuesday 7 May from 9.30 to 2pm. This is so staff can be trained in using an essential new computer system for libraries. Libraries will re-open as normal at 2pm. Extended Access will be available at Nailsea, Portishead, Clevedon, Yatton, Worle and Winscombe libraries for customers who are registered for self-service. Alternatively, you can access eResources, make reservations and renew items at www.librarieswest.org.uk with your PIN.

New Resources Available.

Ancestry has published details of the Red Cross Volunteers during WW1.  https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/70927/

If you just enter Weston-super-Mare in the space for Key Word you get a list of all people with connections to Weston and some information of their work. There are some interesting people mentioned. Sybil Baker, the daughter of Ernest Baker who lived at Glebe House, Mabel and Vera Barstow, from the Lodge, and Marjorie Graves-Knyfton from Uphill. But one of the most interesting was Ethel Mary Pethick who as a Suffragette filled in the 1911 Census like this. “No Vote No Census”

A close-up of a registerDescription automatically generated

Ethel Mary PETHICK was the sister of Emmeline PETHICK-LAWRENCE who was the first Treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union.  Their father owned the Weston Gazette. Ethel Mary was the Assistant  Commandant at Ashcombe Red Cross Hospital from Dec 1914.

Ancestry has also published information during April about UK and US Blacksmiths and Related Trades 1720-1940. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/62979/    

I was surprised to find an entry for William HASE and even more so to see that the information for him had come from me!  I do remember many years ago contributing to an index of Blacksmiths which has obviously been included in this collection. It does mean though that the information may not be totally accurate – except for mine of course!

Memorial Service in Weston Cemetery – 3.00pm, Sunday 9th June

Please do not forget to contact The Weston Branch of the Royal British Legion if you wish to be involved in their Memorial Service for all those who lost their lives during the Blitz in Weston.  If you would like to attend, please contact the Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net


If you have any comments or questions about this newsletter, please feel free to add them together with any tips and advice you would like to share with other members.  We would like to be able to share your successes as well as help with any queries you may have. Not everyone can attend the face-to-face meetings and we hope that the Web site can provide a method of communication between members so that everyone feels involved in the Society.




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April 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 02/04/2024 - 0:02

Everything seems to be happening this weekend.  It is Easter with two Bank Holidays, the clocks have to be put forward 1 hour and it’s April Fool’s Day! And it's raining again!  How are you getting on with your family research?

Summer Time

Did you all remember to alter your clocks on Saturday evening?  As a child, I have a vague memory of the double summer time instituted during WW2.  Having to go to bed in broad daylight was a strange experience.  At least we had black-out curtains then which did help a little!

Easter in Rome

A portrait of a personDescription automatically generatedWatching the current Pope deliver his Easter Message reminded me that during WW2, my father who was severely wounded at Monte Cassino in 1944, after a partial recovery and classed as disabled, had spent the rest of the war in REME Workshops in Rome.  He did not come home until 1946. 

During this time,  he visited the Vatican with other troops for a gathering which was attended by the then Pope.  Not all his comrades were selected and several who were Catholics asked him (not a Catholic) to take various items with him so that when they sent them to their families, they could say that these had been in the presence of the Pope Pius Xll. 
My father kept this small card from that occasion.

This photo is of the group has my father sitting on the ground at the left hand end of the front row.



I have posted on Facebook the same request for information about inebriated women as you will find in our Research Forum.  This is an interesting project and has produced some relevant comments.  Looking at these women I can see that in some cases the Police Courts were sympathetic to their problems but in others (one woman was before them 17 times) less so but concerned about the welfare of the children involved. Looking at any problem with the benefit of C21st knowledge can sometimes produce a different result than if you were totally aware of the conditions and the social pressures of the time.

 Civilian Casualties of WW2 in Weston.

Here is a reminder that if you have any connection with any of Civilian casualties in Weston of WW2 and wish to attend this service please make sure that you let the BRL know as outlined below.  

REMEMBERING THE WESTON BLITZ 1941/42 – Sunday 9th June 2024

To mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day the Weston Branch Royal British Legion will be holding a Memorial Service at the Civilian War Graves area of Milton Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Blitz of 1941 and 1942. The Service will take place at 3pm on Sunday 9th June 2024.

The Branch would like to invite to this Service any relative, descendent or friend of those that lost their lives during the Blitz. If you would like to attend, please contact tthe Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net

New Items on Ancestry

These items have been added or updated during March.

A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated

It is always a good idea to check to see if your ancestor is included in any update.

New Items on FindmyPast

These items have been added or updated recently and can be seen on this blog I wonder how many of us have relatives in Country Life?!
However, as a side issue, many of you will know that we used to run a vintage car for Wedding Hire and the past owners of that car may well appear.
I don’t only research relatives but also those who connect with us.

Research Forum - Napoleonic Wars

A person wearing a red uniformDescription automatically generatedBrian Airey has posted that he has access to a file of information about the Napoleonic Wars compiled by the late David Milner.  Brian is prepared to look up any person you think might be included.  You never know what is included in this file.

David Milner, who for many years was our Treasurer, spent a great deal of his time researching these wars as he had an ancestor involved.  On Open Days he would dress in uniform to create a suitable atmosphere.

Please use the Research Forum if you need help in breaking down brick walls or are simply unsure of where to look for individuals.

Free Help Session

The next free help session in Weston Library will take place on Saturday, April 6th at 2.00 p.m. until 3.30 p.m.  Everyone is welcome, the Library has access to Ancestry and FindmyPast (which includes many newspapers) as well as on the shelves where you can find maps, street directories, electoral rolls, and files containing information about people and places in North Somerset etc.  Thanks go to our team of Volunteers who enable these sessions to take place.  

Scout Hut in Totterdown Road

My father-in-law was a scout with the 3rd Weston-super-Mare (St Paul’s) Scout Group  back during WW1 when they met in Whitecross Road. Much later, both our sons were scouts with the same Group,  meeting at the Gilcraft Den at 41, Totterdown Road and I served for some time on their committee. One of my sons is now a Trustee and has been involved in the planning and fundraising for a renovation of the Hut which is now taking place.

He is looking for exterior photographs of the Den as well as  maps to show its previous use as a cowshed.  The Somerset Archives has plans for it in 1923 and 1947.  If anyone is going to Taunton in the near future perhaps they could take a look for me? The next visit of the North Somerset Archivist to Weston Library is in June.


The National Library of Scotland has a map of 1929-1930 of Weston which does show it opposite the end of Whitting Road.  This is a good free source of maps as well as Know Your Place.

Next Society Meeting

There has been a change of speaker for the next meeting on Wed. 10th April at 2.30pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall.   It will be Merchant Seamen in the C19th & C20th by Lucy Browne: what their lives were like and how to research them. 
Many have a more praiseworthy service than our relation - Henry Austin HASE - who was born in Weston in 1857 but was sentenced to spend time on board the Training Ship Formidable in 1871.  From there he was apprenticed to the Merchant Navy and placed aboard the SS William from which he absconded in 1873 in Liverpool after his first voyage.

Ancestry has this record of him. 

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There was an excellent Zoom Workshop in March given by Mark Bayley from The Genealogist.  It is now available for all members to view on our web site.  It made me realise that whatever commercial site you subscribe to – there may well be areas of it which you have  never used. So, make sure that you get full benefit from your subscription.

The Zoom meeting on April 24th will be hosted by Mark Olsen of Family Tree Maker with news on the website with discounts and door prizes included.  

The Society

We are still in need of assistance on the Committee and a great many thanks are due to all those who struggle on to support this society.  Please consider what you can do to make sure that it survives.  Your opinion about what you think a society should or could provide, how to attract  younger people and meet their needs is of great importance. 

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March 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/03/2024 - 14:13

St David’s Day

The Patron Saint of Wales celebrates his day today.  Daffodils and Leeks are the national emblems of Wales.  I noticed that the Daffodils along the road towards the hospital in Weston are already in bloom.  They certainly seem to be a real message of Spring. 

If you have Welsh connections, you may find the Welsh Newspapers which are free to access helpful. We have a PC Charles PUDDY in our family who was born in Mark but became a Policeman in Cardiff. He often features in newspaper accounts of his activities in arresting offenders.  He also won a bravery award for rescuing a potential suicide from the river in Cardiff. 

Free Help Session

On Saturday 2nd March our Volunteers will be waiting at the Weston-super-Mare Library to assist you research your family’s history.  You will be welcome from 2.00pm until 3.30 for our Free Help Session. Could you be a volunteer to help others?

Next Society Meeting

Our next Open Society meeting will be on Wednesday 13th March at 2.30pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall. The Speaker will be  Terry Ransome who will be researching the history of Eliza CARR, a West Country Girl and her Sampler.  Visitors and Non-members are welcome.

Next Zoom Workshop

Correction to original entry - The next Workshop on March 27th will feature Mark Bayley from The Genealogist who will give us a presentation called "Breaking down brick walls in your family history research." - How to resolve stumbling blocks in your family history research using new and unique search strategies to find those missing relatives.

This includes searching for a family using just the individuals' forenames, using keyword search tools, using criteria other than a name to search on, and using other advanced search techniques. The talk also covers unique data sets such as Non-Conformist records, Non-Parochial records, Fleet marriages, Will images, Parish Records, Directories, Newspapers and more.

Login details will follow in due course.

 British Home Children

Between the 1860s and 1970s, over 130,000 children were sent to live in overseas dominions by the British government. Known as British Home Children, many of their stories have been lost to history.  Today, FindmyPast has added “The Canadian Home Children Inspection Reports” to their collection and it includes two children who were for a short time in Axbridge Workhouse.

On the 14th April 1911, 5 siblings, the children of Thomas GAINEY of Nyland, Wedmore, were admitted to the Workhouse.  The youngest, Maurice, had been born that day and sadly the mother had died giving birth.

A family story handed down through the eldest daughter, Beatrice, who was 7 years old at the time, reported that the father took all the children initially to the home of his employer where they were each given 6d and a hot cross bun (presumably not the baby!) as it was Good Friday and then taken to the Workhouse. The three eldest remained there until June when their father took them out, but they were returned in August 1911.  In September the baby died, and the remaining 4 children were again removed from the Workhouse. 

Isaac and Violet, the 2nd and 3d children must have gone to a Dr Barnardo’s Home because in 1920 they were  sent to Canada. Found on Ancestry.


Isaac was deemed suitable to do farming and Violet to be taken into Domestic Service.
Records of their employers in Canada can be found on FindmyPast with the Home Children Inspection Reports.

Violet appears to have moved around quite a bit.

On the 1931 Census of Canada which can be found on Familysearch (free of charge) Isaac GAINEY, is living as a farm labourer in Ontario and Violet is a Domestic Servant also in Ontario.

When Violet married George GOODSON in 1939 in Peterboro, Ontario, Ancestry shows that her brother was a witness. Findagrave.com has a photograph of her tombstone with her death given as Dec 1961 - Her husband died in 2001 and they were both buried in  Oshawa Union Cemetery, Ontario, Canada.

A Bristol retired Headmistress, Shirley Hodgson’s book “Bristol’s Pauper Children” gives the background covering Victorian Education and emigration to Canada and I highly recommend it.  More can be read about  British Home Children in Canada on this web site 

Around four million people worldwide - and around 10% of Canada's population - are descended from a British Home Child. Their stories make up a crucial yet relatively unrecognised part of Canadian history.

1939 Register

It is worth rechecking this Register because there has been an increase in the number of redacted entries which have been opened and they may include the names of evacuees.  They will not only be children but you can also find teachers who travelled with their schools. Some information about the evacuation of children can be read here 
I wonder how many evacuees to Weston remained after the War? There are some memories of evacuation on our web site.  If you enter evacuee into the search box on the home page you can read of some experiences.

I have several books dealing with the subject.  “Good Night Children Everywhere” ( a phrase Uncle Mac used to end the Radio programme Children’s Hour) covers first hand memories – not all pleasant – of children involved.  It has many photographs taken at the time. This is one of them.

Alec Kingsmill, in his book “A School in the Forties” recounts his experiences being evacuated from Mitcham to Weston Grammar School where they shared facilities with that school until the school was bombed and they went elsewhere. The Logbooks of schools such as Milton Primary School and Bournville School also report on conditions at that time. At the same time schools such as Westcliff and La Retraite were evacuated away from Weston and pupils from Clifton High School in Bristol were sent to Tyntesfield. Do we still have members with memories of evacuation?

Buckets and Spades

The latest edition of our journal will be available at the next meeting of the Society and I am sure that Sue will be pleased to have more items for the next one.  We all have stories to tell which may inspire others to research and help to break down brickwalls.


Enjoy St David’s Day, enjoy your Welsh Cakes and celebrate any Welsh ancestry – remembering that a large number of Somerset residents crossed the Bristol Channel to become miners in the South Wales Coalfields.  Please add any comments or views which will help your fellow members with their research.




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February 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 01/02/2024 - 22:05

I’m writing this in a chilly house as our boiler has decided to give up the ghost and needs to be replaced.  As vulnerable older people we are having a speedy resolution to this problem, but it has made me consider whether all the books, magazines, data CDs, microfiche and folders etc connected with family history which have been accumulating over the years are really needed.  We have had to clear the way for the new installation and some big decisions have had to be made.  Has anyone else had this state of affairs and how did you solve it?

David Tyler 1935-2024

It was with sadness that I heard this week of the death of David Tyler who for a long time was a member of this society. Dave was a stalwart member of the team who volunteered in the Library every Saturday before Covid.  In addition, he could often be found searching the newspapers on film in Weston Library and he carried out detailed research about the Carlton Street area, Moorland Road and other parts of Weston. The results of his research into some old public houses of Weston can be seen on our web site 

David had been evacuated to Weston during WW2 from West Ham and remained here afterwards.

A person sitting in a chairDescription automatically generatedHe worked as a projectionist at the Odeon from about 1950 and appeared in some publicity shots carrying a sandwich board around Weston advertising the latest film at the Odeon.

Dave and his wife, Joan, were very active in supporting the Community in which they lived.

I was grateful to David and Joan, as they were members of the U3A Family History Group which met at St Pauls, each month they made and served the refreshments for it. 

We will miss him and send our sympathy and love to Joan and his family.

WW2 Remembrance

I have received this communication from the Royal British Legion, and I very much hope that if you have memories of this bombing or connections with anyone who lost their lives at that time that you will be able to attend.


To mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day the Weston Branch Royal British Legion will be holding a Memorial Service at the Civilian War Graves area of Milton Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Blitz of 1941 and 1942. The Service will take place at 3pm on Sunday 9th June 2024.

The Branch would like to invite to this Service any relative, descendent or friend of those that lost their lives during the Blitz. If you would like to attend, please contact the Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net

A group of people standing in front of a graveDescription automatically generatedThis photograph is of the mass burial of civilian casualties taken from the information on our web site.








 Free Help Session at the Library

The next free help session at the library will take place this Saturday, February 3rd from 2.00pm until 3.30pm.  As we do not have as many volunteers as we did before Covid we can only offer this service once a month these days but do come along with your queries and our valiant volunteers will assist you in your search for members of your past family. There is no need to book - just come along.

Next Society Meeting

On St Valentine’s Day – Wednesday February 14th at 2.30 until 5.00 pm we have a meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall when the Speaker, Simon Talbot-Ponsonby will give an update on the Regeneration of Birnbeck Pier.  Many of our ancestors will have been familiar with this structure in its hey day and we will hear about progress which has been made to restore it, the money involved and when work is scheduled to begin.  There is a short compilation of pictures of the Old Pier on YouTube which you might find interesting.  

Next Zoom Workshop

A group of children sitting in front of a buildingDescription automatically generated

The next Zoom Workshop for full members of our Society will be on Wednesday 28th February at 7.30pm when I will be looking at the many Private Schools which existed in Weston in the 19th, 20th and early 21st Centuries - The last one, Ashbrooke House School, closed in July 2022.




Photo of Hazelhurst School  - which is included in a list of schools on our web site 

Thank you very much to those who have responded on Facebook and on our own web site with memories of attending such schools or with reports of ancestors who were educated or taught in these establishments.

Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday is on the 13th February this year and although probably most of us will be eating pancakes, the religious traditions of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are largely ignored in favour of more popular entertainment.  This is an extract from 1906 explaining the historical significance of these days.

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St Valentine’s Day

Ash Wednesday this year is also St Valentine’s Day which is commercially a clash of chocolate with the start of Lent.  Although I have several people whose birthday was on the 14th of Feb, I have no one with the first name of Valentine on my tree. 

Leap Year

With the additional day this year – does anyone have that date for a birthday, once every four years? I only have the 29th February once on my tree and that is for the marriage of a 2nd cousin 4 times removed of my husband – a Miriam CREED, who was married to Elias MARTIN at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol on the 29th Feb 1848.

Latest additions to Ancestry during January

The last one is interesting if you have anyone who worked for the Royal Mail and note that the Death Index now goes up to 2022.

Tracing Female Ancestors on FindmyPast

I found this entry particularly interesting especially as it mentions the importance of understanding the Social History of the time in which your female ancestors were living.  Take a look at this blog which summarises the aspects to consider. 

New Records on The Genealogist

I find Street and Trade Directories very helpful in tracing the movement of my ancestors and these cover a wide area of the UK. This explains what is now available.

Destruction of Wills

The petition about the proposal to destroy original wills has been available on our Facebook Group for a little while "Do not allow original wills to be destroyed after 25 years" and a few have signed. Please consider signing to increase the chance of more meaningful discussion of this proposal.  When you look at the errors in the index after the digitalisation of the 1921 Census and the difficulty of finding accurate information this causes.  There is also a link on our web site to the same petition which gives some background information.

I must close now because as in the marvellous song from Flanders and Swann – “The gas man cometh” – I just hope that it all goes to our plan and not like the song!  Have a great February and don’t forget to use the Research Forum, the Facebook Group and the Free Help Session to get help with your research. 

News TopicMonthly Update
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January 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/01/2024 - 15:49

A Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year to all the full members of our Society and to those who join us during the year! We are a Society of 40 years standing and have members who are finding out more about their families whether they currently live in North Somerset or if their family came from elsewhere and settled here.  As a Society we try to share our experiences for the benefit of others and our web page has many transcriptions of Parish Records and especially those of Weston Cemetery which are not available online elsewhere.  

New Year Resolutions

  • It’s so easy to write New Year Resolutions but more difficult to keep them!   
  • One of the favourite ones is always - keep a record of the sources where you found your information or you will be looking at the same record time and time again!
  • Another is to make sure that you have as many pieces of information- including death for all your ancestors.  With the GRO offering digital records of death (and birth) for £2.50 now might be the time to discover whether you have the death of the correct person in your tree,
  • How about writing up your findings in such a way that you inspire younger members of your family to take an interest?  
  • Have you tried sharing your direct ancestors on a fan chart?  This way you can get it 6 or even 7 generations on one just page - Yes I know it doesn't include many facts but it might just spark an interest - one of my granddaughters remarked that she was surprised to note that all her ancestors came from within 150 miles of Bristol.
  • Fan Charts also show where your gaps are and identify brick walls so that you know for what you should be looking!

Saturday Free Help Session

This is where you can go to get help finding those missing ancestors you've identified on your fan chart.

The first session of 2024 on Saturday January 6th will take place between 2.00 p. m. and 3.30 at Weston Library where you will have access to our experienced volunteers, Ancestry and Findmypast as well as all the contents of the North Somerset Library including film of Weston Newspapers which are not online. 

Society Meeting

The January meeting of the Society will take place on Wednesday afternoon, from 2.30 - 5,00 p.m on the 10th January at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church Hall. Baytree Road when Jean Routley will be speaking about "Why collect Postcards".  Whether you are familiar or not with the excellent Facebook Group "Memories of Weston-super-Mare" run by Farrell Fox which is mainly concerned with his collection of post cards you will want to hear this talk about how they can relate to your family history research.  

Workshops - Zoom

  • Workshops take place by Zoom from 7.30 - 9.30p.m. and details about how to join will be sent to all full members.
  • The Workshop on January 17th will be on How to Break down your Brick Walls. This should be of interest to all as we all are stumped somewhere.  If you have a particular problem you want looked at perhaps you could contact Peter de Dulin with an outline of your problem as soon as possible.  Or use our Research Forum!
  • I will be offering the Workshop on February 28th which will be about Private Schools In Weston. At one time Weston was teeming with Private Schools - the sea air, healthy climate and large Victorian Villas all welcomed this type of school.  Some of you may have ancestors who attended one of these schools - I know that some of our Society also attended them and may have memories - good and bad - which they may like to share.

Facebook Group

The Facebook Group continues to grow but not many of the members contribute - I'm very grateful to those who do! - However, it does provide a chance for anyone to ask questions about their research and hopefully receive an answer.  It has thrown up some interesting queries and hopefully is helpful to those just starting out.  Don't forget that there are many free sites on the Internet.  See this page on our web site  for "How to start research" and "Some Free Sites" .  Our own transcriptions may be able to help you at a fraction of the cost of Commercial sites. Full membership starts at £9.00 per year.  You will also get access to Zoom Workshops and our Journal "Buckets and Spades". etc.

What happened 100 years ago?

Axbridge Union Workhouse

In the December Newsletter I mentioned Christmas in Axbridge Workhouse - this  appeared in the January recounting the gifts offered to the inmates during Chirstmas 1923.   I wonder whether any of your relations appear as benefactors?

1924 was the year my Mother was a Nymph!

Before you get too excited about what that means I am - I should say that she took part in the Bristol Pageant.  The Bristol Pageant was a Community Production and as can be seen by this official programme, was to be part of the British Empire  Exhibition in 1924. It portrayed seven scenes from the history of Bristol


The first performances  were to be in the grounds of Ashton Court and then move to London - Wembley Stadium - Mum was 13 at the time, in her last year at school, and she was chosen as one of the dancers who accompanied Queen Elizabeth 1st into Bristol in the scene depicting her visit in 1574 - 350 years previously.

Although the first night at Ashton Court shows had to be cancelled due to heavy rain the other performances were greeted with acclaim and they all headed for London. Trains of supporters went to London from Bristol as well. There were over 3,000 in the cast and this was my mother's first visit to London.  They stayed at a school and she spoke of the bus journey across London to Wembley. recognising buildings she had only seen in photographs.  As a nymph, she was dressed in green and unfortunately during one of the London performances it rained and the green dye ran so much that her underclothes became green as well! 

Mum as a Nymph!

Mum mentioned the great costumes worn by the principal characters, and how spectacular it all was. She didn't know that one of the characters in the 2nd Act was Gilbert BALDWIN, a young school master playing the Jester, who was a cousin of the man she would marry.

Bristol decided that as the show was well received in Bristol that it should run for another week at Ashton Court on its return. In the event this was very sensible - the attendances were disappointing in London and the pageant very expensive to put on and transport with the large set pieces creating a problem as well. Extra ticket money would help

The Pageant ran at a loss of about £3,000 and such a project was never undertaken again. 

My mother knew nothing of the financial disaster nor did she ever mention the small attendances in London. I have included this because it demonstrates how an individual's perception of an event may differ from the reality.  In this case my mother reported what she remembered but in other cases family stories may be embroidered to show a person in a more favourable light. 

When you research handed down family stories have you found any discrepancies in them?

New Resources online

FindmyPast has new additions each Friday - they may not be in your particular area but it's worth looking from time to time.  During December they opened some more records on the 1939 Register which had been redacted.

Irish Ancestry  These may not be new but if you have Irish connections - have you tried this site for Irish records? It is part of https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/ and has many free records available.  I was looking for someone with the surname Mcarthy and at the end of my first search was this comment!

Please be aware that there are variants of this surname that should also be checked. Variants include:

Maccarthy, Cartey, Carthey, Carthy, Cartie, Carty, Caurty, Charthy, Corty, M Carthy, M Cartie, Ma Carthy, Mac Carthy, Mac Cartie, Macarite, Macarthey, Macarthy, Macartie, Macarty, Maccarty, Macharthy, Mc Arthy, Mc Arty, Mc Carthe, Mc Carthy, Mc Cartie, Mc Carty, Mc Catrhy, Mc Curthy, Mcartee, Mcarthy, M'carthy, Mcartie, Mcarty, Mccarhty, Mccarhy, Mccarke, Mccartey, Mccarthey, Mccarthy, Mccartie, Mccarty, Mccathy, Mccearthy, Mccerthy, Mccharty, Mccrthy, Cartney

Familysearch should also be considered as it is a free source of many records - this page just covers what is available for Somerset

Whichever site you choose - if possible try to see the original entry before accepting it into your family tree. Some transcriptions are doubtful.  This is one where the note in the left hand margin was not included in the transcription  - "Not for Magazine"! 

Annie PINNOCK was my great grandmother and you will note that no father was given for Reginald but when his birth was registered she gave her late husband's name as father in spite of him being dead for 7 years.  Family members think that she was not the mother either but had informally adopted him.  Perhaps the Vicar and others of the congregation would also know the true situation so that was why the christening was not to be mentioned in the Church magazine? 

Family History Federation

When you go to the Federation site take a look at what it has to offer. You will see that at the moment The Federation has a Sale of Books It is always a good idea to treat yourself to a good book about how to research and understand the documents that we all use.  These documents were not created for us to use and it is important to understand them and how to use them.  

Society Matters

Buckets and Spades

The Deadline for the next edition is February the 1st so you have plenty of time to get your letters (or emails) and articles to Sue Maguire, the editor, who will magically produce another interesting journal.  Thank you, Sue for all your hard work.

Next Meetings

I have already given details of the meetings we are holding in this newsletter. So it just leaves me to wish all our members a Fabulous 2024 with all you wish yourselves.  

As a Society we have many helpful members who help out at meetings, advertising our services, checking membership details, answering queries, transcribing documents and as volunteers at the Library our Free Help Sessions etc for which we are very grateful but we do still need new younger Committee Members.  Our existing committee members, although very enthusiastic about the subject, have health and family concerns which prevent them from giving as much time as they would like.   Please think about joining us.  You could be co-opted initially and attend committee meetings, which are on Zoom, perhaps shadowing and/or helping one or other of the committee members. 

Make it your New Year's Resolution to assist the society in some way. May 2024 be the year you fulfil all your own wishes and help others to research their family history. 

News TopicMonthly Update
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December 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 02/12/2023 - 1:35

Wishing you all a great time at Christmas however you and your family decide to spend the  holiday time.  After Colin Chapman’s talk on Christmas Traditions, a precis of which can be seen at http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/society_news_view.php?nID=510  – go to the attached document “Seasonal Traditions”,  it is interesting to look back on how your own family has celebrated this season over the years. Have you written up your own memories of Christmas in your family?

December Society Meeting

As a Society, our December meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the 13th December from 2.30 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall will be a light hearted meeting with a chance for you to share your own memories and perhaps bring along items which you can talk about which mean something to your family.  Share your experiences of family history research, ask questions about DNA, examine the 1939 Register and see photographs of Old Weston as well as a Raffle and a Sales Table  with seasonal refreshments.  With many thanks to all the members involved in organising this event.  Visitors welcome.

Christmas Day in the Workhouse

For those of you who might have had ancestors in Workhouses at Christmas time you may have heard of the old poem by George Simms which starts

“It is Christmas Day in the Workhouse, and the cold bare walls are bright,

with garlands of green and holly  and the place is a pleasant sight”

But as was mentioned to me – there are other versions with which especially servicemen may be familiar!

A group of people standing around a tableDescription automatically generated

Perhaps someone in your family might remember the whole poem which is actually very sad. The full version may be read here  https://victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poem.html  It starts with the inmates having a Christmas meal provided by the Guardians but then tells the story of the old man who has recently lost his wife and had no alternative but to turn to the Workhouse for his support.

British Newspaper Archive

Newspapers often relate what was happening at Workhouses at Christmas.  Apart from the usual Christmas dinner of Beef and Plum Pudding this happened on Boxing Day at Axbridge Workhouse. It is a pity that the ladies from Weston, Langford, Winscombe and Banwell were not named, nor were the amateur entertainers - perhaps they were related to some of our members?

A newspaper with text on itDescription automatically generated

There is a much longer account of the festivities in 1888 -with names ! - on Page 3 of the Wesoh-super-Mare Gazette and General Advertiser of Saturday 29th December 1888.  Surnames mentioned include :-  TANNER of Sidcot, TEEK and BUTT from Compton Bishop, BOWERING of Axbridge, READ and MASONfrom Weston, GILBERT of Allerton, TOMKINS fron Weston, BIRD of Winscombe, and Mesdames LLEWELYN and YAYMAN.  The entertainers were STATTERmTYSSEN, TAYMAN, HAYWARD, VINCENT and Rev H LAW. 

Family Christmases

I’m sure you all have your own memories of childhood Christmases. Why not include them in your write-up of your family history.  For children Christmas is a magical time and as our family also had several birthdays and anniversaries in December as well it was always a special time.

My earliest memories of Christmas time are from 1940 when I had my 2nd birthday just a week before Christmas Day.

 It was War time, and we were at my maternal Grandfather’s house on my birthday when my grandfather, who we all called “Pip”, arrived home from work. He was the manager of a Co-op in Bristol.  I think this photograph was taken in Weston-super-Mare.

He rode a bicycle and always wore a bowler hat – that day he left the bike in the hallway and carrying a brown paper parcel entered the living room where I was sitting on the floor and gave it to me. 

It was a teddy bear! A treasured gift and I’m sure I’ve written about him before.  I never gave him  a name, but he has accompanied me throughout my life.  Sadly, after I caught measles, he was taken away and deep cleaned which resulted in him losing his growl.

 Nevertheless, he is still with me and although he is sorely in need of some TLC and some new inserts in his feet and paws – and a new nose – he is still much-loved. 

More family Christmases

When I was a child my mother and her sister made sure that my sister, my cousin, and I had as a good a time as they could manage, especially during the war years. I remember the anticipation in the days leading up to Christmas, singing carols and the fun of making decorations – all those chains made with coloured paper with paper lanterns hanging from them, coupled with decorations saved from before the war. We were told the Father Christmas would not come unless we were very good and tidied our toys away!  
I don’t remember a tree, but Christmas day started with  the excitement of finding our Christmas stockings filled with  an apple (was there an orange as well?) in the toe and then other small gifts such as coloured pencils, a rubber, sweets, small toys and/or handmade gifts made specially for us. I do remember a new face flannel one year! What would children today make of that?! 
Christmas dinner meant chicken – a rare treat – no turkey in those days - and then time spent playing games. with lots of laughter. Board games were very popular and noisy! Snakes and Ladders and Ludo being amongst the favourites.

Card games such as “Happy Families” were also enjoyed by my family.

A couple of cards with textDescription automatically generated


Other Games and Pastimes

To celebrate Queen Victoria’s Coronation in 1883 this event was put on in Wells Market Square.  

These may not have been available at Christmas but there are some very familiar activities shown here which were popular in Victorian times -  Donkey racing, sack racing, a bran tub, gurning (grinning through horse collars,) weightlifting, bobbing for apples, etc.

A close-up of a posterDescription automatically generated

I’m not sure about “Whipping the Cock” but I have heard of chasing a piglet with a greased tail! 

Shingling was showing a skill in splitting chestnut wood to make roofing shingles.


New Resources for Family History

British Newspaper Archives

Although Shepton Mallet is not exactly in our area the Shepton Mallet Journal, 1992-1993, 1996, 1998 has been updated on the British Newspaper Archives and it is interesting to note how often it mentions events in Weston-super-Mare.  This isn’t Weston but it is my husband’s Uncle Doug celebrating his silver wedding on Boxing Day 1952. Another example of Christmas time Weddings.


During November these resources have been updated or added to Ancestry – Don’t forget that you can use Ancestry free of charge in Weston Library.


A screenshot of a websiteDescription automatically generated

GRO Index

The range of dates for digital birth or death records which you can obtain from The GRO  has been increased. Digital Images are now available for Births 1837-1922 and Deaths 1837-1957 and cost £2.50.  They have answered several queries which I had.    https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp


 Pre-1841 censuses.  The first census was taken in 1801 and was administered by the parish.  Findmypast has an article about all censuses https://www.findmypast.com/blog/family-records/uk-census-records but members can see the 1801 census for Huntspill in our transcriptions.  It just lists the head of the Household and how many people are in that household.  Go to the Index of Parish Transcripts for Huntspill and you will find the 1801 census included.

FindmyPast is also available for you to use in Weston Library.  I find it one of the best sites to use in conjunction with the free sites of FreeBMD and Free REG especially when researching a quick and dirty tree to establish DNA matches or as a beginner just starting your research.


 Are you a parent or a grandparent?  Familysearch has some ideas for you to inspire the younger generation to be interested in their past.     https://www.familysearch.org/discovery/activities/about_me/14/tips   Familysearch is completely free to use.

Please post any resources you have found helpful in breaking down your problems.


Free Help Session in Weston Library

There will be a free help session in Weston Library from 2.00pm – 3.30pm on Sat 2nd December – Do go along with your problems and get the advice from our experienced volunteers.  There will also be a Help Session on January 6th.

Society Meeting Wednesday 13th December

As stated at the beginning of this newsletter visitors will be welcome to attend our December Meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall from 2.30pm to celebrate the Christmas season.  N.B. This meeting is now due to start at 2.00pm and will finish at 4.30pm.

Seasons Greetings

Wishing all members of our Society and the Facebook Group a Very Joyeous Holiday season and lots of success with your Family History research.

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Forthcoming Events

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