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News & Information (Monthly Update)

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.


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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.

News TopicMonthly Update
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November 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Wed, 01/11/2023 - 11:51

There's nothing spooky about this Newsletter although it is Halloween and the spirts are abroad - A time for remembering the dead - surely something that all Family Historians do? A most commonly held view of genealogists is that they haunt graveyards seeking their past ancestors. When was the last time you visited a graveyard or even a County Record Office seeking information?  Perhaps we should all do that more often.  It is not all on the Internet!


Our AGM is scheduled for Wednesday November 8th at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall starting at 2,30 pm. Please make an effort to attend as your views are needed. Do we have your nomination for committee members?  Afterwards the Speaker will be Dr Colin Chapman, the well known and respected Genealogist who was the originator or the "Chapman Codes" those 3 letter abbreviations for the Counties which we all use.  SOM for Somerset MDX for Middlesex etc. Colin wlll be speaking of  "Christmases Past - Some festive customs and traditions". 

The current edition of Buckets and Spades will be available for you to pick up if you have opted for a printed version. Grace Rubery, has asked for raffle prizes to be donated for the December meeting.

Christmases Past

It is important for us to talk to younger relatives about our experiences at Christmas and the joy given by simple homemade gifts and special food.  What are your memories of Christmases in your childhood?  The first of mine were in wartime but perhaps more of that in the next newsletter.  I do remember receiving these blackboards and easels for Christmas 1943.  This photo was sent to my father who was in the Army, with a note in my mother's writing saying that she had made them for myself and my cousin and she told me that she had followed instructions given in the Womans Weekly!  

Researching for others - not related

I’m sure you will agree with me that it is so satisfying and quite a thrill when you find the connection for which you have been seeking.  Just the other day I managed to locate a missing relative of someone who had asked for help.  Subsequently the various parts of this family have been in contact and are busy exchanging information about the lost years.  I was very pleased to have been able to help in this case with such a happy result.

There are times when you can use your research skills to find the family history of friends and neighbours with amazing results.  Sometimes, however, you need to be tactful in sharing your findings because not everybody will be as excited (as I was) to learn that a 1st Cousin 3 times removed was a prostitute in London, murdered in Whitechapel and a possible victim of Jack the Ripper!

Memories of WW2

If you are old enough – do you have memories of the Home Front during WW2?  If younger, do you have family stories about the experiences of your family during that time?  How are you recording these?  On our web site at http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/documents_view.php?nID=183     we have some memories of life in Weston during WW2.  These were collected in 2012 and some of those people who were interviewed are no longer with us.  Can you add to these?

I was very young and living in Bristol when the second world war started.  I do remember the distinctive sound of the German planes overhead, the smell of the paraffin heater and the dampness  in our Anderson Shelter where we rushed whenever we heard the sirens wail, wearing a gas mask  and its smell, seeing the results of bombing where houses looked like giant dolls houses with one wall removed exposing whole rooms complete with furniture, seeing my mother cry for the first time when my father was called up, the soldiers camping in Eastville park after Dunkirk. the first of the American troops arriving in Bristol, coming to my school and giving us chocolate. After the war I remember the rose bay willow herb and buddleia growing on the bomb sites in town.  A strange assortment of memories but I was protected from the realities of war by a loving family – mostly female.

I have been asking my husband about his memories of that time.  He remembers being in a Morrison Shelter in their back room in Whitecross Road when a bomb fell – he thinks in Dickenson Road - the blast shattered the windows of his room but luckily all the glass was caught by wooden shutters which had been put against the windows instead of using blackout curtains and tape on the glass.

At another time the top flat of 2 Albert Road was destroyed by an incendiary bomb but for some reason the division between the flats had a concrete layer so the bottom flat remained habitable.  At that time a Nurse, Dorothy Jessie M PARKINSON lived in the lower flat which she refused to leave during the fire because she had bed-ridden patients  who she was looking after.  These accounts of bravery and courage need to be remembered. She died in Weston in 1974 – and was still living at the same address. Picture from Google Street view.

The Weston Blitz and the Royal British Legion Memorial Service in 2024

The Weston Branch of the Royal British Legion is seeking to contact any people who are related to casualties or have memories of the terrible time in Weston when it was subjected to the Blitz in the 1940s.  It is intending to hold a Memorial Service in 2024 for those who died as result of enemy action during that time.  Consequently, we have been asked to provide the names of contacts so that they may be invited to the Service.

During October much of my research time has been taken up with trying to find the relatives of the 129 people who lost their lives during the bombing of Weston in the 1940s so that they can be present at this event next year - as I hope other members are also doing – It is not easy - but how are you getting on? Only a couple of members have replied via the web site.  At the end of this newsletter is a document which is an updated list for you to check against. Please let me know how you are getting on so that I can pass the information to the RBL.

I did find that Alice Jane WILKERSON who died in Moorland Road was the sister of Susan SANDERS, the long-term housekeeper of my father-in-law’s father. John HASE, from 1908-1933. My father-in-law who was born in 1905 was really brought up by Susan SANDERS following his mother’s death in Dec 1907.

Thank you very much indeed for those who have been helping,  in particular, Ann Baxter who is related to Stanley Follett HOOK and Richard Gardiner who responded on the web site with detailed research into Philip Herbert MASTERS (not a relation of his) and has helped me with the CHINN family. He also looked at the ADDICOTT family. From our Facebook Group and from other Facebook Groups I have had response from non Society members who are connected with ADDICOTT, ANDREWS, HANDCOCK, MARSHALL,

This photo was posted on our Facebook Group and shows the devastation of Stonebridge Road the day after the raid where 10 year old Malcolm MARSHALL lost his life at 13 Stonebridge Road,  His grandfather died a few days later from his injuries.

Researching your own Family History

How have our members been doing in the last month with their own family history research? There have been no new entries in our Research Forum except for one which I put on.  No  new entries in the list of Surnames so no new trees entered there either.  What does this say to the casual visitor to the web site – who might be thinking of joining?

As a member of the Bristol & Avon FHS, I attended an excellent Zoom meeting of 68 members the other evening given by Dr Nick Barrett about the making of "Who Do You think You Are". About 18 years ago I heard him at Taunton when he spoke about the same subject and it was fascinating this time to hear how the programme has changed to match the changing technology and perceived interest of the viewers (and participants).  He did stress the need to visit County Archives, Libraries, Museums and the National Archives because not everything is online.  It is only the items which are easier to index which the commercial companies will offer.  And we all know how tricky their transcriptions are anyway.

New(ish) Resources

Last week FindmyPast added some Electoral Rolls for Manchester  Electoral Rolls for the 20th Century can be a great help in finding people especially as gradually those eligible to vote increase you can see the family grow. It is difficult to find families in the latter part of the 20th century without census records - you have to rely of Street Directories, Telephone directories and Electoral Rolls.

FamilySearch is completely free to use and apart from the records it holds, there are also videos and handouts with background information.  Non-Conformist Records are often difficult to find so this handout may be very useful to you.

Take a look at what has recently been added to Ancestry.  One item which particularly interested me is the "All London, England, Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1698-1922"  Although this was new in August I must have overlooked it.  It can be useful because with so many making their way to London to make their fortune but failing - it shows how many were sent back to their home parish. Don't rely on the index - the names of their home parish is often hidden in the description and not transcribed.

Each newsletter I ask for members to share resources which they have found useful with very limited success.

Free Help Session at Weston Library

A reminder that this Saturday, November 4th between 2.00pm and 3,30pm our volunteers will be at the library to assist anyone, member or not with their family history research.  As the library gives you access to Ancestry and Findmypast this is a marvellous opportunity for you to discuss your problems with helpers who can guide you through these resources and those available in the library.  As I have said elsewhere in this newsletter the Electoral Rolls and street directories which are on the shelves can be a tremendous help when searching for 20th century relatives.  

Next Workshop

The next workshop is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd June at 7.30pm. when the speaker will be our current Chair,  Jenny Towey who will let us into some of the secrets of using DNA to research our family. The title is "Organising your DNA matches" and as I have already heard this talk I can tell you that it is excellent and well worth your time if you are puzzled by how to work with your DNA results.

I was horrified at the low number who attended our October Zoom Workshop on Wrington – I think it was 5! What must the speaker have thought?

December Meeting Wed 13th at 2.30 p.m. at our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall

This is a reminder that our December meeting is a chance for you to talk about your family heirlooms - celebrate and share your successes or explain your brickwalls to get help from your fellow members. There will be a Quiz to sharpen your brains, a raffle (Bring any donations to the AGM or to that meeting - Grace Rubery will be delighted to receive them).- and suitable refreshments. But as they used to say on a now forgotten TV program - "chiefly yourselves" - was it the Good Old days? Non members will be welcome.

Please add comments or anything which I have forgotten that you wish to share with other members.

News TopicMonthly Update
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October 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 30/09/2023 - 22:58

40th Celebration Dinner and Brian Austin

The Dinner at the Grand Atlantic Hotel went very well was enjoyed by those who could make it.  Thank you to Peter de Dulin for arranging the celebration. A short tribute was made to Brian Austin whose sudden death had shocked us all a few days  previously. 40 years is a considerable achievement for any Society and in talking to Brian about our celebrations back in May, he had been delighted and surprised that what had started as one of his classes had lasted so long!  Does anyone have any photographs of the Dinner?

Future of the Society

Members will have received an email from the Jenny Towey, Chair of this Society entitled “The future of this Society” and Facebook members will also have seen the same message from her. As a co-opted committee member,  I have had the pleasure taking part in Committee Meetings over the past years and have seen the stress of maintaining a viable society during the pandemic when so much changed. All members should offer a tremendous vote of thanks to the existing committee for the way it has supported you while juggling personal problems and pressure on their time.  Consequently, we need new committee members to prevent the Society from collapsing so soon after celebrating 40 years.  You do not need to be widely experienced in family history research but just to have ideas about what you would expect from a Society, how to achieve it, how to energise members into supporting it and how to attract younger members.  Please think about it.

All About that Place – SOG free presentations

One suggestion which has been made about the Society is that it should cater more for the local and social history of the Area as family, social and local history are inextricably linked.  These last few days the SOG has been offering some free presentations under the umbrella of “All about that Place”. If you missed them, they are available on YouTube and although not necessarily about the West of England are well worth looking at. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCywn4HvGaYTMmycQ0FjZ79A

Researching History of your house and/or street

During September I started looking at the road in which I have lived for the past 60+ years!  It has been fascinating.  I have some directories at home and although the road wasn’t developed until the 1930s I have been able to extract the names of the Head of the House and the 1939 Register has given me some more details.  Searching for the road name in newspapers has thrown up more interesting facts from

·         minor motoring offences,

·         winners at Junior Arts festivals,

·         obituaries of some residents,

·         occupations (a lot of teachers!),

·         descriptions of houses when offered for sale,

·         a few break ins,

·         advertisements for servants!

·         Wills,

·         Letters to the press from residents.

·         awards and prizes in competitions, etc.

The road name on the Somerset Archives has given:

  •          dates of plans, additions and alterations to plans of buildings and
  •          repair of War damage.

Our own Cemetery Transcriptions gave:

  •          The date of burials of deceased residents

Know your Place shows me that the

  •          land of which our house was built had been part of a farm and
  •          later a Tennis “Ground”

The deeds give a complicated account of all previous owners of the land.

All in all, this is proving an interesting exercise, about the people and families who lived here.  I just wish the road was a bit shorter! 

Lost Cousins

The latest Newsletter from Lost Cousins can be seen here and includes some DNA advice http://familyhistory.news/latesep23news.htm

DNA based programmes on TV

I really enjoyed the start of the new series of DNA Family Secrets with Prof Turi King.  They are interesting and involving situations which may be solved by DNA testing but also need the use of the basic “paper” research to clarify the position. It was the balance of these which appealed to me as too often other programmes seem to totally rely on DNA to get their results. Do watch them if you have the time.

New Resources

On Ancestry - https://www.ancestry.co.uk/cs/recent-collections take a look at the new and recently updated collections of resources. It includes a list of WW2 Casualties – Officers and Nurses - where I found my Uncle, Capt H J JOHNSON, who was killed in a plane crash in East Africa just after the official end of the war in July 1945.

On The Genealogist these records are now available https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/news/  It’s always a good idea to see what records have been added to the lists.  Your family may have come from any part of the country, and you may find the resources useful.

Have you ever  tried using Dusty Docs  http://dustydocs.com/  to find freely available parish records?  It also guides you to other useful information such as the distribution of Surnames etc. This is the Distribution Map for the name PUDDY which occurs in our family history. You can see that it is concentrated in Somerset

Free Help Session

On the first Saturday of each month, we hold a free Help Session in Weston Library from 2.00 p.m . until 3.30., where experienced members give their time to assist others. You do not have to book but bring along anything you already know about your family and what you hope to find.  Apart from the resources available in the North Studies Library at Weston you will also have access to Ancestry and FindmyPast. Everyone welcome, beginners or not.

Volunteers at the Library in 2017 some of whom are still part of the team.

Next Society Meeting – Oct 11th - Weston Cemetery – Jane Hill

We are looking forward to the next Society meeting on Wednesday, October 11th 2.30 p.m. until 5.00 p.m. when Jane Hill will be talking about Weston Cemetery. 

Our web site has a marvellous set of transcriptions of all the burials at Weston Cemetery, available to members, from 1856 until 2016.  It includes the Memorial Inscriptions, some of the early ones being collected by Brian Austin before they became indistinct by weathering.  The rest were collected by members who volunteered  to record them.  Initially collated by the late Stanley Baker and more recently by Graham Payne who with the consent of Weston Town Council has transcribed the entries from the Burial Books and made them all available.  The Society in conjunction with the now defunct “Friends of the Cemetery” used to hold Saturday meetings in the Chapel explaining the history of the Cemetery and finding the graves for visitors from the plans which we have.

The last Society meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes attracted 23 members, 1 of which was a visitor and 6 were committee members.  Perhaps more would attend if it was an evening meeting, as it used to be, people who are not free during the day might be able to join in. What do you think?

Next Zoom Workshop –25th Oct - History of Wrington – John Gowar

Our next Zoom Workshop looks at the History of Wrington guided by John Gowar.  It takes place on Wednesday the 25th of Oct from 7.30 until 9.30 p. m.  

Wrington has a long and fascinating history with connections with many notable residents including John Locke, the philosopher who was born there in 1632, Henry Herbert Wills, a member of the Tobacco family and his wife Dame Mary Monica Cunliffe Wills, after whom the St Monica’s Homes were named following their outstanding philanthropy and Hannah More who lived at Cowslip Green and was buried in Wrington Church in 1833 with some amazing additional information in the Burial Register.

Local History

Have any of our members researched the history of a parish in our District or have any photographs  or information about a parish or place where their ancestors lived which could be added to our web site under the Place name?  This might help other members with their research.

Please consider the future of our Society and what you can do to assist it and its members to fully enjoy the activity of researching their family history.  As we all know it is an activity which benefits greatly from being able to get help from like minded people and to share our successes with others.


News TopicMonthly Update
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September 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/09/2023 - 0:08

It’s September, the month when people have the time to become more involved in their Family History after the Summer break and coping with the requirements of family and possibly the gardening.  What new challenges have you set yourself? 

Free Help Session

After the mixed weather we have been having, the Free Help Session on Saturday Sept 2nd at the Library could be just the spur you need to pick up the research.  Our Volunteers will be there from 2.00 until 3.30pm ready to offer advice and encouragement. Take the opportunity to discover exactly what the Library has to offer in the way of resources for family history. 

  • Notably the Weston Mercury and Gazette on film for dates not available online,
  • Street Directories 
  • Electoral Rolls,
  • the Files on People and Places,
  • Maps,
  • Family Trees complied by Brian Austin.
  • If your family is not local, then the Library can give access to FindmyPast and Ancestry.
  • etc.


This is the 141st Newsletter that I have put together for the Society, and I do hope that you have gained some help or ideas for ways of approaching Family History from them.  Although I have continually asked for your comments and asked for you to share your own tips for research, feedback has been noticeably missing.

Research Forum

As a Society, all members have a part to play and just a few days ago I had some tremendous help by using our Research Forum.  Perhaps you saw it?  I was looking for the baptism of a Henry HASE – with various ways of spelling HASE and the answer came from a member who has contributed before.  He found the baptism which had been entered as Henry EAST – a variant I had not considered! Thank you, Rob! This was not a poor transcription as the original entry was very clear as EAST.

From Ancestry – Emmanuel Church, Weston-super-Mare, November 1852

The first names of the parents and the occupation of the father prove to me that this is the correct baptism. Now, all I need is the registration of his birth!

Do you have a query for which you need a second opinion? 

40th Anniversary Dinner 

We should all feel very proud that our Society has lasted for 40 years, and   our Open Day in May helped to celebrate that achievement. The Anniversary Dinner on the 18th September will allow members to meet up during a relaxed meal and to share experiences about our common interests.

Members will have received an email with the menu from Peter de Dulin and he is looking forward to finalising the numbers. Please send your menu choices to Peter at anniversarydinner@dedulin.co.uk or peter@dedulin.co.uk. If you have any queries or have not received the menu and details about how to pay, please let him know.

Family Profiles

Have you considered writing up the life history of just one member in your ancestry?  It need not be someone for whom you have to decipher Latin documents or spend hours in an Archive researching - why not start with someone who lived in the 20th Century? 

A young child in a white dressDescription automatically generatedUsing my mother as an example - She was born in 1910 and died in 1997. This photograph was taken in Sept 1912.

Little did anyone know then how life was going to change for everyone during her lifetime.  

She lived through the problems created by two World Wars.  She saw the way in which her mother coped during the privations of WW1 and the effect that gassing in the trenches of France had on her father.  As the war ended, she witnessed countless funerals passing into Greenbank Cemetery in Bristol caused by the ‘flu epidemic.

Brief days out in Weston were enjoyed by her and her sister as they, like countless others paddled in the tide. 

The second photo with her younger sister is at Weston in about 1919 showing in the background the long extension of the New Pier.

The rest of her life demonstrated how changes in the way of life in society, affected her.   She accepted and applauded the changing role of women in society. However, in fulfilling her role as a wife and mother, she cared for all generations in her family with commonsense and empathy.

Dr Janet Few is writing the story of her grandmother and it is inspirational  to see how any life story can be embellished around the dates and places found in family history research.

Engaging the younger generation in family history research

It is well documented that people become interested in researching their family history as they become older and then regret not starting earlier when their immediate ancestors would have been able to answer their questions.  As a Society we need to attract younger members – how can we do that?  What should we be doing to encourage participation in society activities?

The August and September editions of Family Tree have very interesting articles discussing how studying Family History can benefit our  Health and Well-being. Is it more than just a hobby?  One way in which we can ensure that our own memories are being shared is to use these 20 Questions with members of our family.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-stories-our-lives/201611/the-do-you-know-20-questions-about-family-stories It’s not the answers which are important but the fact that family stories are being talked about.  Research has shown that through story telling families can share experiences that offer a sense of continuity to the young people as they cope with the complexity of modern life.  They also assist with communication with older people with failing memories.

If you are a grandparent, why not encourage your children to spend time talking to their children about the family – perhaps using the 20 questions outlined above. 

A side issue which is mentioned is that having the skill of being able to research censuses and other resources gave greater satisfaction and self-esteem than that achieved from writing up the results!  With this I totally agree – it is the adrenaline rush when a problem is solved, and an ancestor slotted into his or her correct family that makes this such an addictive activity.

School Genealogy Clubs can also help.  This is an account of one set up in Liverpool which shows how the research skills can increase the children’s confidence and independence. https://www.family-tree.co.uk/news/new-family-history-club-with-a-difference

New Resources Online

From Ancestry

  • Take a look at the new and updated records in Ancestry    
  • During August  Ancestry has added these Burial Records for
  • Birmingham, England, Birmingham Cemetery and Crematoria Records, 1836-2017
  • With all the links between Birmingham and North Somerset you may find this as helpful as I did –It included 10 entries for HASE – all descended from one family who moved to Birmingham.

From FindmyPast

Have you discovered any new resources which have been helpful to you?

Digital Death Records

When I started family history research and bought full Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates they were £2.50 each.  Very often I omitted getting the death Certificates on the mistaken idea that I had already found the burial and didn’t need them.  The cost then rose, and the death certs became even less attractive.  However, with the digital image from the records now being available for £2.50 I’m in danger of getting carried away.  But it’s worth it!  Here’s my 3 x great grandmother’s death. 

Ann’s Inquest was reported with others in the press, showing a range of causes of death including “Sudden death by visitation of God” – presumably a heart attack or similar.

Newspaper articles are often the only way in which to get information about Inquests.

William Joyner ELLIS, the Coroner, was the son of the previous Coroner, another William Joyner ELLIS senior whose notebooks covering the Inquests he presided over between 1790 and 1823 have survived and have been deposited in the Gloucestershire Archives.  In 1998 the Downend Local History Society researched these records and produced a booklet which sheds light on the workings of a Coroner.  Coroner’s records are very difficult to find and this is a marvellous insight into his work. Most Inquests took place in Inns but they were also held in gaols, workhouses, homes of the gentry or wherever convenient.  The detail of his findings and his sympathy for the bereaved sheds light on society in an area where mining was the cause of many deaths.

A quote from Oct 13 1820

“To the Salutation Inn at Mangotsfield on the body of Hannah LACEY, aged 28 who dropped down dead in the kitchen of her dwelling House immediately upon her returning home from digging potatoes in a field half a mile distance without any previous illness.

Verdict: Sudden death by visitation of God

21 miles £1. 15. 9d”

Next Society Meeting

On Wednesday Sept 13th we have a meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall with the Title “Guilty Pleasures: Chocolate, Beer and Tobacco by Chris Bigg.  The meeting starts at 2.30 pm and we hope that it will be well supported by our members and is open to non-members. 

Finally, as we say goodbye to Summer, I hope that you will all have more time and energy to make progress with your family history and consider how you can fully benefit from membership of this society.  Please add any comments you have about items in this newsletter and share any resources which you have found most helpful to you.

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August 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/08/2023 - 1:22

Welcome to the August Newsletter.  We do not have a meeting during August but hope to see you at the Hutton “Taste of Somerset” Show on August 30th where we will have a stand.  There will not be a Free Help Session in August but anyone can visit the library at any time it is open to add to their research. You will have access to Ancestry and Find My Past at Weston Library as well as the resources found in the Library.

Members are reminded of the Anniversary Dinner on the 18th September and encouraged to let Peter de Dulin know your choices.  More details 

Why did they move?

Some years ago, I  took part in a survey – I think it was run by Leicester University – to look at the reasons for internal migration in the UK. Why did your ancestors move around the country?  Just considering my own parents who only moved within Bristol was interesting. How moves can be made for reasons imposed rather than by choice. 

  1. My parents were married in 1935 and had saved enough for a deposit on a bungalow at Brislington, not far from where my father was employed at Crittall Windows on the Bath Road. 
  2. In 1939 the illness of my widowed maternal grandfather meant that my parents rented out their bungalow and went to live with him in Greenbank to care for him.  My father changed jobs at this point as well. They can be found with him on the 1939 register. I'm with them but I am pleased to see that as my entry is redacted I must still be alive!
  3. WW2 broke out and I have vague memories of watching war planes fly over while being held by my grandfather.  By 1941 my grandfather had recovered from his illness and had decided to marry again!  War time restrictions meant that my parents were unable to get their bungalow back and so had to rent accommodation in Eastville.
  4. It wasn’t until 1948 that they were able to return to Brislington and then it needed a court order to get the property back. 
  5. In 1961 my paternal grandfather died leaving his house to his 4 children.  It was agreed that my father could buy out his siblings and my parents moved back to his family home at Stapleton, where they remained until my father’s death in 1987. 
  6. My mother then had accommodation in my sister’s home in Filton until her death about 10 years later.

Why did your people move? 

We asked this question to our Facebook Members and had some interesting replies. They ranged from evacuation, for employment, for health reasons, to start a business catering for the holiday trade, to be nearer family members, to getting married. etc.  These reasons can all be included to enhance in your Family History as they breathe life into your story

Society of One Place Studies

10 years ago, Dr Janet Few started this Society to assist people to look in detail at a small area of the country which interested them or was involved their ancestry.  It could be the village or street in which you live or your ancestors lived - to see how it has developed over the years, and the occupations of other residents. it might be a local church, cemetery, prison or workhouse. It could be a local industry like a Pottery, Quarry, Shop, Theatre or Brewery etc., Perhaps the railway, other means of transport, or local sporting activities, the list is endless. Researching places also involves researching the people resident or working in that place.  

In September, to celebrate this 10 year Anniversary there will be an event called“All about that Place” which will introduce you to this type of research which uses those skills which you have honed in your Family History Research

10 minute Talks

The British Association for Local History which is sponsoring “All about that Place” also offers some very interesting 10-minute Talks on video covering a range of subjects. You might not want to spend longer than that watching a video, but these short ones are worth investigating.  Do try one of these 10 minute talks  which interests you. 

Researching the previous inhabitants of your home or road.

If you are choosing to research a road – try a short one!  Just recently I put all the residents of Ewart Road in 1921/22 taken from a Street Directory on to our Facebook Group which resulted in several people recognising their ancestors living there. When comparing the residents with the 1921 census you can see the occupations of all inhabitants and a couple of the wives were taking in washing -describing themselves as Laundress. 

EWART ROAD in 1921/2
From Milton Road
3 TANCOCK, Edwin
11 PHILLIPS, G, Stoke Villa
12 RICE, G
13 KNIGHT, C, Spaxton House
14 STOCKER, Alfred, St Neots
Here Cross over
15 HOCKEY, O W, Surrey Villa
16 ROSSITER, A, Needwood
17 BOND, Wm, Belmont
18 FEAR, Herbert W, Glencoe
19 BOARD, F and LOVELL, R A, Lydenburg
20 WEBB, B J
21 BURNELL, Lewis and MORLEY, D, Lilton Villa
22 BENNETT, Arthur, Brynville
25 BENNETT, F., Ivydene
Other roads in Weston which give examples of work undertaken at home include Holland Street where the long gardens allowed the washing to dry, the buildings at the bottom of the gardens or attached to the house contained the boilers and the wide drives allowed horse and carts to bring laundry from houses on the hill. Check the 1891 census to see how many women are employed as laundresses.
Palmer Street has archways between the terraced houses to allow access to the rear for workmen to bring horse or donkey carts.  Again check on censuses to see what employment the residents have.
Research Forum
As you all seem very reluctant to use our Research Forum – Why is this?  I have asked this question in several Newsletters but never got a reply. 
Where do you get help for your research when you are stuck?   
I find it helps to unravel my research problems by writing them in the form of a request for help.  Sometimes then you can even solve them yourself!
UK Railway Records
While considering movement of ancestors. My great grandfather, William PINNOCK worked for the GWR. His movements were governed by his employment.  
He was born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire. From his Railway Record (found on Ancestry) I was able to follow his employment from initially joining at Swindon. On the 1871 census he can be found boarding with his uncle’s widow, Esther PINNOCK and described as a fireman on goods trains.
In July the same year he was moved to Weymouth to become a fireman on passenger trains. In Feb 1873 he was stationed at Paddington again as a passenger train fireman.  He married a Jane HARRIS in Weymouth in October 1875 – presumably they had met while he was based in Weymouth and in December 1875 he moved to Reading to work in the Yard as an Engine Turner (responsible for the turntable and for shunting engines).
Jane died in Reading in 1877 and in 1878 he married  my great grandmother, Annie STOKES. from Wraxall who was working as a domestic servant in Reading giving his occupation as an engine driver. They had 5 children before his death in 1885. Annie returned to Bristol as a widow.

His Records also show when he was reprimanded for breaches of the rules.  There is no mention of an inquest on a fellow railwayman – a signal man - who was accidentally killed by his engine when shunting it into the shed.  No blame was attached to him.

This newsletter seems to be more about local history than family history but I hope that it may encourage some of you to look at your research in a different way.  

Please feel free to comment on this newsletter - perhaps to offer advice to other members about how to get the most information about your families and the places in which they lived. 


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July 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 02/07/2023 - 15:48

We are halfway through 2023 and the web site and the facebook group has been rather quiet so I’m hoping that you are all enjoying the weather and perhaps planning to visit those places frequented by your ancestors.  If you need help in finding where to go you could do no better that use Know Your Place  which is tremendously helpful in providing maps and photographs of places of interest. To read more about places on these maps their facebook group has some fascinating and informative postings from Cat Lodge 

Free Help Session

It is too late to remind you of the July Free Help Session at the Library which was on Saturday, 1st July but the next one will be Saturday 5th August from 2,00 p.m. The Library is now offering FindmyPast as well as Ancestry to assist your research.

Missing email address

I recently received an email via our website but it reached me without an email address.  The sender lives in Australia and I would really like to contact her. Her name is Sally SUTHERLAND nee TOY and she is descended from Rebecca Hester Barnard HASE who went to Australia in 1881. Several years ago another descendant of Rebecca’s visited us and we took her over to Axbridge to see the Workhouse where Rebecca had spent some time.  If anyone has any ideas about how I can find Sally I would be delighted.

Next Society Meeting

On Wednesday, 12th July at our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall from 2.30 p.m. member Honey Langcaster-James will be speaking about “Meet my Ancestors” who she describes as early founders of Weston-super-Mare.  Honey has produced a web site Meet My Ancestor in which she reports her research into her family which includes Richard FRY, one of the Weston Worthies.  One of our longest serving members, Anne Woolforth, who carries the Membership Number 49, is the speaker’s cousin and is hoping to come to the meeting from her home in Sussex.

Pamela Mary VOWLES 1929-2023

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Pamela VOWLES who had been a member of our Society for some time. Pam was brought up in Bristol but after her marriage lived in Weston. Until Covid she had regularly attended our meetings but had recently moved to Exeter to be nearer one of her daughters, however, she continued to attend zoom meetings.  We extend our sympathy to her family.

Getting Side-tracked

This week I also got sidetracked by the Ashes!   Although Ben DUCKETT has been associated with first class cricket for many years, I began to wonder whether he had any connections with the DUCKETTs of Somerset.  We have DUCKETTs in our family. Using mainly the free site FREEBMD I tracked his family back to the Liverpool area in the early 19th century and can see no immediate connection.  In fact, he seems to come from a different strata of society than the Wedmore DUCKETTs!


I’ve had a couple of enquiries about Divorce and how to find out about them. 

There are reports of divorces available in the National Archives – use their Discovery Search facility.

I have come across some divorces in our family and have found that newspapers are a resource worth researching.  Frederick Charles MARSHALL (known as Charlie) was an uncle of my husband and had married Doris Jane Maria CRIDDLE in 1935 in the Bridgwater District.  

The family story goes that while Charlie was away serving in WW2 that Doris had several men friends culminating in this Newspaper entry:

As this was held in Bristol details can be found in the Bristol Archives

Doris married again – not to Thomas BRADLEY – but to a William J DAVEY in 1953. Uncle Charlie married  Margery SLOCOMBE in Wells in 1952 and they went to live in Shepton Mallet in Victoria Grove.  Sadly, Charlie died suddenly in a London Hospital in November 1957. Now this is the surprising bit.  Late in 1958 I was sent to Shepton Mallett on Teaching Practice and had digs in Victoria Grove.  My landlady introduced me to her friend Margery who she said had been widowed a year ago.  How was I to know then that I was to meet and marry her late husband’s nephew!

New (and Old) Resources Online

  • Each Friday FindmyPast publishes its latest resources – take a look at  to see what has been added to their site and don’t forget that this is now available in Weston Library. You do need to book to use it . For more details see the announcement by the Library   
  • Ancestry  lists its latest acquisitions and updated records. It may be worth revisiting some areas to find new records.
  • The National Archives with its 155 Guides to Family History Research gives you a marvellous opportunity to familiarise yourself with the background to the records which you are using. 
  • The National Archives still has its free download of digital records such as PCC Wills and Medal Cards etc..  Yes, they can also be obtained through other subscription sources but they are free when obtained from here.  Go to The National Archives Discovery site register or sign in, search in the normal way and then click on “Available for download only”. When you find the document you require click on it and follow the instructions. I searched for “Weston-super-Mare” and the first document was this photograph.  It’s worth seeing what is available.

Wishing you all a happy and fruitful July with your research and don’t forget that the Research Forum and the Facebook Group are available to you to ask for help.  Any comments and advice you can offer to other members will be very welcome.         

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