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News & Information (Monthly Update)

January 2021 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 15:43

A Happy New Year!!  I am sure none of us will forget 2020 or regret its passing. Our thoughts and prayers go to members who have lost dear ones during this pandemic and to those who are feeling the effects of loneliness and isolation while we keep ourselves and others safe from infection. Our thanks go, not only to the members of the NHS and other essential workers, but also to those who have made our lives so much easier by keeping in touch and with the random acts of kindness which have brightened our days.  Welcome to 2021 bringing a fresh start and an optimism that things can only get better!

When future generations research our lives, they will wonder how we coped and how it affected us, just as we wonder about how our ancestors lived through other historic events.  As we are part of our own family’s history, we could make it easier for them by recording our own thoughts and feelings about 2020.  I remember reading an account which was found by one of our late members amongst the papers of his grandfather which simply described each member of their family as they sat around the fire one Christmas in the late 19th century. It painted an evocative picture, not only of the individuals but also mentioned how life was treating them. Yes, we now have photography, and you could record those family Zoom meetings but could one of your New Year Resolutions be (yet again!) to write up your family history and make sure that it is passed on to younger members?

Review of Some Online Resources

  • The Genealogist  During December The Genealogist  released some new College and University Records and added to its Map Explorer Range.  Their Tithe Maps are particularly useful because as they are accompanied by the Apportionments, you are able to see whether your ancestor owned or merely occupied land.  It also shows an image of the Apportionment giving description and size of the propertyMap from The Genealogist – Tithe Maps.        It has the usual misspelling of HASE but this was William HASE who was a Blacksmith in Cross between 1819 and 1853 until he moved with his family to Weston-super-Mare. 
  • Lost Cousins  Lost Cousins  is free to use until 12th Night and as always do look at their Newsletter to keep in touch with the latest genealogical news.
  • National Archives  The National Archives is still offering free downloads of some digitalised records.  As we get back to normal during 2021 and visiting is allowed, this will probably stop but make the most of it now.
  • 1939 Register  If you have not already done so, you will find the Podcast issued by the Family History Federation about the 1939 Register interesting listening answering many questions about this survey.
  • Other Archives  Family History Blogs are useful reading and I am suggesting just one today – Other Blogs are available! – perhaps you can recommend others.   This one suggests some available family history websites  Dr Sophie Kay publishes some really thoughtful comments – it is worth looking at all of her offerings.

Society Library

  • This is an important asset for our members BUT it needs a home and someone to take responsibility for it or we will lose this feature of our Society. 
  • Please consider whether you could help – Brian Airey, our secretary and current librarian, would be pleased to explain exactly what is involved and we would all be grateful to whoever takes it on.

Surname Interests

  • The last new addition to our Surname Interests was made 4 months ago.  Is your list of Interests up to date?  -  Perhaps that is another New Year’s Resolution?   
  • A reminder that under our Surname Interests you can add a PDF with a family tree for your family or part of it – this can also be seen by non-members and is helpful in allowing others to see whether they are researching the same family.  As an example here is one of mine for part of a LONG family from Bristol. It is suggested that you do not include living people in these trees.

Weston Worthies

Those of you who are following these profiles will know that I am almost half way with them now but I am having some difficulty identifying a couple of them.  I posted a query about John HARRIS - no response to it yet -  but I am also looking for someone called JARRETT for whom I have no other information. Any help would be welcome.

~o0o~

They say that one way to keep the brain active is to use it – whether by crosswords, puzzles, quizzes etc. – and I think that researching your family’s history combines all of these and is a fantastic and productive way to exercise the brain (If frustrating at times!).  It also serves as a motivation to learn something new.  I know that genealogy was the reason for learning how to use the internet for many older users when it first became available.  Many of us are now learning the implications of DNA testing and how it can help us add to our family’s history. As we delve deeper, aspects of history become more relevant - my interest in Axbridge Workhouse and the Poor Law grew out of family history. 

Remember that your family history experiences are interesting to others so write them up and let Sue Maguire have them for insertion in Buckets & Spades.  Use the Research Forum to solve your brickwalls, submit your Surname Interests and enjoy and benefit from your membership of this society.  Wishing you all a very different year for 2021 during which we will be able to meet up again 

News TopicMonthly Update
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December 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/12/2020 - 19:25

Let me start this Newsletter by saying how honoured I am by my new position as President of this Society which you will have seen announced in the latest edition of Buckets & Spades.  I am incredibly grateful to those who have contacted me with their congratulations, but I can only be President with the support of our excellent committee and the membership as a whole. Thank you all.

Well, here we are nearly at Christmas and still severely affected by restrictions in our lives due to the Covid Pandemic.  The one constant factor is our family history research.  I have found it invaluable as a distraction from the reality of life and being able to assist others with their research queries gives me great pleasure and satisfaction.  Researching people with whom I have no genetic connection has widened my experience and has made me look at records from other parts of the Country which in turn helps me with my own research.

The success of the BBC’s programme “A House through Time” has inspired others to look at their own House Histories.

  • One of our Members, Keith GRAHAM, is researching Hill Road – his request for help can be seen on our Research Forum    He is particularly interested in the house built and lived in by the architect Hans Fowler Price,  Tyn-y-coed.
  • David TYLER is researching Moorland Road and would welcome information about any of the families who lived in that road over the years.  Several houses were damaged during the blitz with fatalities – CHINN, ETTERIDGE and WILKERSON
  • John HARDING is also researching Moorland Road – in particular his ancestor’s connection with “The Moorland Pedler”   Can you read what is reflected in that window?
  • Some years ago, I took a look at Holland Street because I was fascinated by the buildings (designed by Hans Fowler Price) with their very long gardens, wide access to the rear, and stone built out-buildings. The censuses revealed that the majority of the men worked at the nearby Pottery whilst the women took in washing which were washed in boilers situated in the buildings at the bottom of the gardens and the washing lines made the most of the long gardens.  Was this use just a coincidence or were the houses built with this occupation in mind?
  • The Bristol & Avon FHS is advertising a book written by one of its members “Saints, Crooks and Slavers” about their own house which was short-listed for the BBC programme  It includes tips on how to research your house.

AncestryWest Midlands, England, Police Files and Ledgers, 1850-1950

Birmingham Police

Ancestry has released some new records some from the Birmingham Police and I was surprised to find a HASE relation amongst their ranks.  I knew about Dora HASE – I even had a letter from her when we were first married – but had no idea that she had ever joined the Police.  This must have been her war work as she was with them from 1942-1946.  This is one of the advantages of having a relatively unusual surname (although it often gets misspelt) and to look at new records “just in case”  Dora's grandfather was a greengrocer in Meadow Street, Weston-super-Mare.

Family History is not just collecting names and dates, we need information such as this to add necessary detail to our tree.  The Women's Auxiliary Police Corp was a new one to me.  Founded in August 1939 after the National Council for Women pressed for and were successful in ensuring the creation of the WAPC. They dealt with a large range of police duties, initially mainly administrative but expanding to take on roles formerly performed by Police Officers. On the 1939 Register Dora was a Ledger Clerk and Assistant Cashier so presumably her office skills would have been utilised in the Police Force.   This document also describes her stature and appearance but we have to look elsewhere to discover that she was a keen and competent pianist and singer and married a widower in 1957 but had no children.

Between the wars, I'm told that Dora's brother, John, cycled to Weston from Birmingham - I wonder whether he saw any of the attractions on this leaflet?  I recently put this image on the Facebook Group called Memories of Weston and it provoked quite a bit of interest.  I have a Guidebook to Weston for 1928 and I found it inside.

I wonder what an Electric Turkish Bath involved or was that just the way the water was heated?  It is also interesting to consider how specialist shops like Over's coped with shops such as Woolworths offering "Pick 'n Mix" as the High Street developed over the years.

Wills

A reminder that the £1.50 Wills for England and Wales from 1858 are still available from the GRO.

I have found that the Wills of unmarried members of the family are surprisingly valuable as they often name nephews and nieces and other members of the family.  

The National Archives

Whilst we are still unable to visit the National Archives they are still offering the Free Download of their digitalised documents.  They include PCC Wills, Military Records and many others.  Try entering the Place your ancestor lived to see what is available.  Click on "available for Download only" to see the range of documents which you can obtain.

Closure of Victoria Methodist Church

During the Pandemic we were saddened to hear that the Victoria Methodist Church in Station Road was closing.  The foundation stones for the original church on this site were laid in April 1899 and the School Room opened for services in September of that year with the church opening in Sept 1900. There had been a Methodist Church in Weston in Regent Street since 1847 (now Barclay's Bank).  If you are searching for Christenings the records are sometimes confusing.  For example Mary Ann PUDDY was born in Mark on the 4th April 1861 and christened in Mark Chapel on Mark Causeway, but listed  as part of the Weston Circuit of which Regent Street was the main Church. 

 

But the England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 on Ancestry has this entry!

Victoria Chapel had not been built in 1861 but this would have been correct for later entries after 1900.  Is it surprising that so many trees on Ancestry are muddled!

Family Heirlooms

Like many of you I have been enjoying "The Repair Shop".  It is amazing how items can become so important in our lives.  Each programme you hear "Family History" mentioned in connection with these articles. Normally in November at our "Members' Evening" we invite members to share stories about their treasured artefacts. This year we haven't been able to do that but perhaps you could write a short article for Buckets and Spades explaining the importance of your heirlooms and why you want to pass it on.  Sue Maguire is always grateful for contributions however short to add to our journal.  The latest publication has some fascinating articles - highlighting various aspects of family history.

Society Library

Brian Airey is still waiting for someone to volunteer to take over the responsibility for the Society Library. Please consider helping out.  Contact Brian to find out exactly what it entails.

Facebook Group and Research Forum

I hope to encourage those of you who are reading this and are members of the Facebook Group to post more queries about your family history to that Group.  We have some very knowledgeable members who will be pleased to offer suggestions about how you can find out more about your family members.   

Full members of the Society can of course post their queries to the Research Forum on this web site and the same thing applies. 

Don't leave it to others to offer suggestions have a go yourself

Christmas

This year we will be limited to how many can get together - As an experiment why not look at all your family on the 1911 census and calculate how many lived close enough to celebrate together on Christmas Day 1910.  Who was pregnant?  Who died between Christmas and the Census? Did anyone get married on Christmas Day?

Have Christmas celebrations changed over the years? I remember Christmas during WW2 - yes I was a child so excitement levels were high - but looking back, the home made decorations and gifts all added to the fun.  Simple games played in front of a roaring fire with hilarious results still bring back happy memories. How about writing up your own Christmas Memories for inclusion in your Family History?

Christmas and 2021

So, with seasonal greetings from your newly exalted President, wishing all our members as good and enjoyable a Christmas as you can in the circumstances and looking forward to 2021 with optimism as the year when we will all meet up again, starting probably with Zoom Meetings!  Watch this space! 

 

News TopicMonthly Update
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November 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 01/11/2020 - 18:00

It is the 1st of November already and time for another newsletter.  Yesterday we learned of another lockdown so that is the way we have marked Halloween this year.  It is scary enough living through this pandemic and my thoughts go to members of our families who lived through earlier ones. 

In the Autumn of 1957, I had just started at College when the Asian ‘Flu struck.  I don’t remember any guidance about controlling the infection and within a fortnight I was in the sickbay of the Hostel.  Within a week the college closed, and we were all sent home presumably spreading the disease.  By December 1957, a total of some 3,550 deaths had been reported in England and Wales.  Online newspapers for 1957 show how unconcerned the country was about this flu epidemic and the Government’s slogan was “Wait and Sneeze”.  Schools, colleges, factories, sporting teams and military establishments all reported multiple cases.

My mother was born in 1910 and lived near to the main gates of Greenbank Cemetery in Bristol.  She told me how as a girl she watched the arrival of the military funerals of the men brought back from the first world war.  Although her father was serving in France, she had not realised that many of the later casualties were as a result of the Spanish Flu pandemic. 

Although most of my grandfather's records were lost in the “Burnt Records”, just recently by using Ancestry and Fold 3, I was able to find a Penson Card which showed that in March 1919 he was granted a conditional pension due to the effects of pneumonia which was attributed to his war service.

A year later this was reduced to 30% for which he received 12/- a week plus 7/- for his 2 children.  After 6 months it was further reduced to 8/- a week – it is unclear how much for the children at this point but in July 1921 he was allowed a final total allowance of 7/6 a week for a further 35 weeks. He was considerably luckier than many of his comrades and lived a full and active life after that and returned to the job he had previously with the Bristol Cooperative Society. 

The lasting effects of the pneumonia may well have been like those described as pertaining to Long Covid and in his case were judged to last for over 2 years, although as he also had been gassed in the trenches that must have aggravated the situation.                 

        Remembrance Day

This year when we remember those who were lost in the service of their country on November 11th we will not be able to attend traditional parades at Cenotaphs and War Memorials.  Our thoughts should include those who came home carrying wounds both physical and mental which remained with them for the rest of their lives.  This was most tellingly portrayed in the recent “Who do you think you are?” episode with David Walliams. 

War Memorials

In all of our parishes there are memorials to victims of the two world wars sometimes inside the church and sometimes on a community War Memorial and sometimes in a workplace.  On our web site we have listed the names on the Grove Park Memorial in Weston but it would help our members if we could show these memorials under each parish.  This was suggested to me after the Research Query for information about casualties of WW2 from the 3rd Weston (St Paul’s) Group was posted.

Under our parish transcriptions there are many fantastic photographs and transcription of MIs for some parishes which, for example, does include the list of names on the WW1 memorial at St John’s in Weston.  If you have information about any of the War Memorials in a parish covered by this Society we would be delighted to add it.  There is a memorial to those from Weston who died in both wars and worked for the Royal Mail in the Warne Road Delivery Office  Do you know of others?   Incidentally, Ancestry have just added the UK Post Office Memorial Books 1914-1945 

There is a web site dedicated to War Memorials online which may provide some additional information but in many cases it contains photographs but not yet transcriptions. However, it may help you if you are looking for someone outside of this area.

Who do you think you are?

You can catch up with all the programmes on iPlayer they are available for a year.  Don’t forget that the last of the four is on Monday 2nd Nov on BBC1 and is about Liz Carr whose mother she  described as follows:  “ An armchair genealogist, my mum has dragged us around graveyards in search of our ancestors but to no avail so I’m hoping this will now all stop (probably not - knowing my mum!).” I think we can all relate to that except that in my case I dragged my mother around the churchyards!

Inaccurate Original Documents

  • On our Research Forum we have had a query about a George GILL.  In a comment  in March 2018  from Dave Erasmus, one of our stalwart members who often answers queries and gives helpful advice,  sited an example of a marriage of a widow Emily Jane PAYNE whose father’s name was given as Silvester PAYNE.  This was an example of whoever was filling in the information forgot that the bride was a widow and assumed that her father would have the same surname.   
  • This is not the only time that errors occur and here I am not talking about transcription errors. 
  • In my own family I have at least two examples of birth certificates where the mother gives her surname as the same as the father and states she was formerly – giving her maiden name – but I have since discovered that they were not married at that time. 
  • The birthdate of Grandfather, Ashton Bertie HILL, is one week late as his parents hadn’t registered his birth within the allotted 7 weeks.  This resulted in him having to wait an extra week for his Old Age Pension to begin – I remember his reaction to this!
  • If you look at the military pension card above you will see his date of birth given as 1882 when it was actually 1880.
  • I have a marriage certificate where the bride (who was illegitimate) gives her grandfather’s name as father.  It is possible that she really thought this as she was brought up by her grandparents.
  • Harry MARSHALL was christened HARRY but the enumerator of the 1939 Register decided that he was really Henry and so he was entered as Henry.
  • Birth places on Censuses are notorious for being inaccurate – perhaps they didn’t know where they were born but knew where they had been living as children? – sometimes when the enumerator is at fault by using ditto marks in the wrong place and I have an example where a birthplace appears to be entered at random.  This is from the 1901 of Wells.  Harry MARSHALL was born in Wells in the same road where he was living in 1901 so where did the Gosport, Hants come from and why no entry for his wife Lilly who was born in East Pennard, Somerset?
  • Because I knew where they were born when searching for them I entered their birth places and of course drew a blank.  Be aware of this – sometimes entering less information can be more fruitful.
  • The latest newsletter from Lost Cousins  deals with how to overcome these problems with lots of useful tips for breaking down these brick-walls cause by inaccurate original entries.

New Resources online

As we are faced with more time at home – probably in bad weather as well – there are some fresh resources available

If you have Welsh ancestry, last August FindmyPast announced that they had released a collection of Welsh Parish Registers with images and  Ancestry have in the past week added the same Welsh Parish Registers.  As many Somerset folk moved over to South Wales these are very helpful to our members and I can research my Welsh cousins!

Our Society

  • Your committee will continue to meet via Zoom each month to monitor the situation.  As you will already know all our face-to-face meetings have been postponed but please keep in touch with each other and us to share successes and frustrations (about Family History). 
  • The committee is looking to start some short Zoom sessions with members in the new year and if you are not already familiar with Zoom it would be a good idea to sign up for Zoom (for which there is no cost) and make yourself familiar with the controls. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for announcements.   You could practise by setting up 'meetings' between friends to see how the system functions and whether your camera and/or speakers work etc.  If you only invite one person as a trial then the timing is unlimited but if you add someone else (have 3 people meeting) then you become a group and are limited to 40 minutes.
  • I have continued to upload the Profiles of the Weston Worthies –  please add your comments to these of you have any additional information.
  • We have added a section for the Mendip Hospital   to our Web site as so many of our members have family who were there at sometime or other.   The Harry MARSHALL mentioned above who lived in Wells was employed there as were others of his family
  • Jenny Towey tells me that she has some cardboard document wallets wanting a good home (She could deliver or leave them outside her front door for people to collect).  Contact her through the web site using the category “Chairperson”.   
  • We are still looking for a Librarian – if you are interested or want to know more about it please contact our secretary.
  • With the Free Help Sessions in abeyance please feel free to use our research Forum or the Facebook Group to share your problems and successes.
  • As you know we have postponed our AGM until further notice but the latest edition of Buckets and Spades should be available soon.  Thanks to all who continue to support the Society and we are looking forward to hearing what progress you are making with your research.
  • Keep safe!
News TopicMonthly Update
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October 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 01/10/2020 - 0:23

It’s now 6 months since all meetings of the Society ceased – no physical contact with members whether at our monthly meetings or at the Free Help Sessions at the Library. How are you all coping?  What sort of support are you looking for from the Society?  Please let us know if there is anything which we can provide.  Use our Research Forum for your queries.

Although non-members can read much of what is on our web site including interesting articles from our past Journals  (Buckets and Spades)  It is worth stressing that the information on the web site which is for members only can be available to all for the cost of an annual membership of just £9.00 which is less than it costs to purchase a single certificate from the GRO. 

Transcriptions

Graham Payne has continued to supply marvellous transcriptions of parish registers with the addition of photographs and transcriptions of the memorials in the churchyards.  Some of the transcriptions for St John's in Weston are of people who lived elsewhere for most of their days but died in Weston, so it is well worth looking there if your ancestor unexpectedly died in the Axbridge Registration District.

Milton Road Cemetery

One big asset we have for full members is the vast transcription of the burials in Weston Cemetery from 1856 when the majority of local churchyards were closed due to poor depth of available soil (St John the Baptist), waterlogged graveyards (Emmanuel) or simply no graveyard at all (Christchurch).  Burials did continue at Uphill, Worle and other surrounding parishes but information about many local inhabitants can be found in the Cemetery including their last address and/or occupation. 

Weston Worthies

In the past month I have started to publish information about the 40 residents of Weston who makeup the “Weston Worthies” of the 19th Century.  It is an interesting project which I hope throws some light on the conditions in Weston at that time and how people lived.  It is important to look at the local history of the area in which your ancestor lived and if any of you have looked at the parish in which your people lived please let us know so that we could add your research to our web site or as articles in future Buckets & Spades. 

Lost Cousins

I have constantly recommended that you take a look at the Lost Cousins Newsletter this is the latest one  it includes an account of some fascinating research showing how all those skills which we gain through researching our family history can come in handy in other ways.

Who do you think you are?

 The BBC has announced the four personalities who will be researching their families in the next series starting during October.  Researching the past can be rewarding, fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable for the participant and we can all share their emotions as the past is uncovered.

Serendipity

It’s always surprising what can turn up when looking for something else.  In the Dorset County Chronicle - Thursday 21 July 1842, I spotted this:

Who was Rev John Henry GEGG and what was he doing in Jamaica?  From our transcriptions you can see that while he was at Uphill several of his children were born and baptised and his mother was buried there.  He was the grandson of a Thomas GEGG who also had died in Jamaica in 1778.  In his Will Thomas had left £10 each to two of his slaves for their “Faithful Services”.  This reference to “Slaves” made me wonder how many people from this area had connections. I found that the Rev John Henry GEGG is included in a list of Slave owners who received compensation when the Slave Trade was abolished in 1835.  His reference suggests that he had 15 slaves. The  web site “Legacies of British Slave-ownership” includes a biography of his grandfather Thomas GEGG with a full transcription of his Will.  I note that thanks are given to Sharon Poole for the information.

Slaves and Bridgwater

I was also surprised to find elsewhere that on May 2nd 1785 Bridgwater was the first town in this Country to Petition against the Slave Trade.    Although Bridgwater is slightly outside our area, I was interested to read this account.  Following the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 a number of the rebels from the West Country were sentenced to be sent to the West Indies as Slaves. This prompted local interest and concern about what was happening.

FHS Really Useful Show

Coming up in November is this “Really Useful Family History Show” promoted by the Family History Federation.  Tickets are just £5.00 and there are some excellent speakers.  It seems that one of the benefits of Covid could be the virtual access to national events. 

RootsTech Connect Conference

 Next February there will be this FREE online Family History Conference.  You can register for it now – All recordings and videos will be available to you on demand after the conference throughout the year, so you can make connections no matter where you are!  Promoted by FamilySearch it is billed as visiting Salt Lake City without the travel!

RootsTech Videos Online

When RootsTech was in London in 2019 the speakers were recorded and are still available online.

  • Have a look at this introduction to the Conference with the Keynote Speaker Dan Snow 
  • Another of the videos available is one about DNA Testing – this is an Introduction to it in 2019 - of course things have moved on a bit since then but Debbie Kennett is a well known and respected expert in this field. 

Our Society

Our Society covers 70 different parishes, mainly in North Somerset but also from the old Axbridge Registration District – the map on the Home Page gives some idea of the area and we welcome queries about families from any of these parishes,  We also welcome your experiences from researching in this area.  Articles from you about your families can be published in Buckets and Spades and you can add notes to your Surname Interest entries including family trees for others to see.  Make use of the Web site to share your research.  If you live in this area we are happy to receive queries about your research wherever your family lived – many of our local members do not have Somerset Ancestors but have expertise in other areas so can offer advice.

Given the average age of our members, and the national condition of this pandemic,  it looks as if we will continue in this format until next Spring but it is possible that we will be able to offer more online action and are keen to have ideas from our members about what they feel will best assist their research. 

With our very best wishes to all who are reading this – and we hope that some  will feel that they can benefit from joining the Society as full members.

 

News TopicMonthly Update
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September 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/09/2020 - 0:04

We are welcoming some new members this month and sincerely hope that the society will be instrumental in progressing their family history research.  September is traditionally the time when new beginnings are made with family history. This year has been different.  Back in March when the prospect ahead of us looked as if we would have hours of time to fill, many of us thought that family history was an ideal occupation with so much more now available online.  In the event it was amazing how many other activities took priority – or was it the thought that “there’s always tomorrow” which prevented us from making headway?

Committee News 

Your committee continues to meet via Zoom but without our members’ monthly meetings it is difficult to get any feedback from the general membership about how you see the society progressing.  Not one person answered the question in the last newsletter about whether you would be prepared to take part in virtual membership meetings!

November AGM

However, undeterred, the committee has decided that the AGM in November will take the form of a Zoom meeting.  You will receive details about how this will be arranged – The Journal, Buckets and Spades, which is normally published to coincide with this meeting will be available earlier so that all members, whether online or not will know what is happening.  The deadline for items to be included in this edition is now the end of September.

Society Library and Librarian

Those of you who normally attend meetings will know that the Society has a library of books which can aid your research and/or the understanding of what you discover.  For many years Brian Airey has been the Librarian as well as Secretary and would bring a selection of books to each meeting which complement the topic for the evening. He also would bring books from the collection for individual members to borrow who have chosen them from the list on the website.   He is looking for a local member who would like to take over this role.  The big advantage for anyone doing this is that they will have all the books at their own disposal.

Free on Findmypast

You can sign up for a free account on Findmypast which will give you free access to some selected items which includes 

More Wills

  • If you have Welsh ancestors the National Library of Wales also has an impressive collection of Wills pre 1858 which can be accessed free of charge with images 
  • The turnaround on the £1.50 wills from the England and Wales Probate Service   is now very short and they continue to provide sometimes surprising but interesting information.

 Researching Experiences

As I seem to have very few close DNA matches with trees I have spent some time recently trying to complete some of their sparse trees to see if I could identify where the link was and was interested in my reaction to what I was finding.  On one of the trees where I did find a common surname - but not an actual link – I discovered that someone in that family was currently serving a prison sentence for assault.  Whereas any evidence of criminality in the past has been ponced upon with glee I felt very differently about this finding.  It really does seem that distance lends enchantment…..    You have to be ready to accept whatever you might find when researching.

 

Sins as Red as Scarlet

 If any of you have ancestors who lived in Devon in the 17th Century or even if you haven’t, you will find much to enjoy and ponder over in Janet Few’s latest book, Sins as Red as Scarlet, set in Bideford or Byddeforde.  The comparison between the community - as it was then and as it is today – is compelling.  As you read it you become aware of the immense amount of research and thought which has gone into every little event.  The parts set in the Free Help Sessions for Family and Local History in the local Library will be very familiar.  Janet has spoken several times to our Society but for those have not met her you can read more about her here 

 Facebook

It has been encouraging to see that the Facebook Group continues to grow and that it has been instrumental in breaking down some brick walls and as a result has been able to welcome some new society members.

Web Site

Graham continues adding transcriptions to the web site and if you haven’t looked at them recently you will see that the number of photographs of memorials in each parish continues to group – these also have transcriptions of the memorials which  are extremely helpful.

The photographs of each place continue to grow but there is still space for more and I am sure that some of you may be able to comment on the photographs – for example – Who ran the Tea Garden at Bleadon?  Who was home for Christmas in Worle during WW1?   Many parishes are without photographs – perhaps you have some?

If you have any queries the Research Forum is waiting for your questions and surely someone has some suggestions for the query I put on a week ago on behalf of another member about Creating a Family Tree.  As we cannot meet up please make use of the web site.

 

News TopicMonthly Update
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August 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 22:52

Who can believe that it is already August and we should be enjoying Summer Holidays? We all hope that you are keeping well and enjoying life as much as possible. On the 1st of August some of our members will be venturing out for the first time after shielding and it will take some time to become accustomed to the changes which are taking place as we go about our lives.  We wish them well.  I hope that you have been recording your thoughts and feelings during 2020 as Coronavirus will be history one day and people will want to know how their ancestors coped.   

It’s been quiet on the web site and also the Facebook Group this month as people settle to a new way of life with different priorities.  I was told years ago not to worry if family history took a back seat for a while because it would always be there for you when you are ready to return.  I’m sure the same applies today. The only problem is trying to remember where you were when you stopped and this is why it is so important to note your sources – not only as proof for your tree but also to prevent the duplication of effort and rediscovering the wheel.

Transcriptions 

Huge congratulations to Graham Payne for his latest offering to our website with the Photographs and Memorials of St John the Baptist, the original parish church of Weston-super-Mare.  Coupled with a plan produced by the society in 1991 he has brought the history of many of the inhabitants to life (if you can say that about Memorials!) 

An on-going project -the inclusion of more modern inscriptions is a valuable asset to family historians.  Available for members only this more than repays the £9.00 annual membership fee and is not to be found elsewhere – except by a visit to the church.

  Buckets and Spades

The latest edition of Buckets and Spades is now available and full members can read it online.  Intended as a tribute to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day in May and VJ Day in August it contains several articles concerning people’s memories of the War and their experiences.  Thank you to those who contributed and to our editor, Sue Maguire for another memorable journal.

DNA Testing

Several of our members have been using their DNA results as a means of discovering more about their family.  In my experience DNA has been useful in confirming my paper based research but I’m still struggling to understand the basics and I sympathise with others in the same position.  I’m not particularly interested in the ethnicity results and one of my main frustrations has been the lack of, or inadequacy of the trees submitted by fellow researchers.  I found this article in familytreemagazine interesting. 

Gloucestershire Parish Registers - but it could be anywhere!

  • This isn’t about this locality but not all of our members have Somerset ancestors. Not everything in family history research is as straightforward as it seems! 
    • My grandfather, Ashton HILL, was born in 1880 in Cam near Dursley in Gloucestershire and in 1670 his direct ancestors and my 7xg grandparents were marred in the same parish.  
    • So with over 200 years in the same or adjacent parishes it should have been easy! Images of the parish records are available online for Cam and I set about trying to go back before 1670. 
    • George HILL, the groom would have been born about 1645 or thereabouts.  But that is in the middle of the Civil War and the parish clerk enters that there are problems with the records and there are large gaps around this time.

 I thought I would look for marriages before that date just in case I could find a marriage of possible parents but could find nothing by scrolling through the marriages.  However, Ancestry has indexed these records and there I found this which caused some concern!

I did not think that Cam was celebrating single sex marriages in 1641  – in 1642 Edward HILL married Henry TROTMAN and a George HILL marred Edward HILL in 1643 as well as in 1641

All was revealed when I looked at the images.  This had been taken from a page devoted the officers of the parish but how this became transcribed as marriages I haven’t a clue! – especially as there are no women involved.

There were several pages devoted to this covering the years 1599-1685

 

In 1641 Edward HILL was a Church Warden and George HILL was Supervisor of the Roads.

In 1642 Edward HILL was still church warden and his “bride” Henry TROTMAN was the Supervisor

These lists cover the parish officials from 1599-1685.  I haven’t gone through them all to discover how many marriages are indexed from them but they are a great source of parish history covering Church Wardens, Overseers of the Poor, Tithingmen, Constables and Supervisors of the Roads

Still don’t know if Edward HILL (gent) or George HILL were connected to me!

Moral – always view the original if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

  Resources online

  •   During the Lockdown there have been a number of ways in which
      information has been made available online. 
    • Jenni Phillips, a long standing member of this society and of our Facebook Group published a blog about marriages which took place in Bedminster, Bristol when the participants lived elsewhere. Part 1 is here but there are three parts and it makes for some interesting reading especially as so many of our members will have found that their ancestors married in Bristol. 
  • Although they have reopened The National Archives will continue to offer free download of some digital documents while it is restricting the access to the main collection. 
  • You have just one month until August 31st to continue the free use of Ancestry at home provided by  Libraries West as their libraries gradually reopen. 

Presentations online & Somerset Heritage Centre

  • Today I watched a presentation for Weston U3A members by Jane de Gruchie, an archivist with the Somerset Heritage Centre about “Tracing Your Somerset Ancestor”. 
    • She started by confirming that the Somerset Heritage Centre is reopening on Tuesday August 4th and that there are several changes to their arrangements.  Please visit their web site for information about days on which they are open and what you need to do to visit.   
  • Jane’s presentation covered a description of all the basic records available to assist in our research at the centre and pointed out some of the pitfalls which can occur when using them.
  • Look out for other Virtual Presentations which may be offered by commercial Research Sites
  • If you can recommend anything which you have found please add as a comment to this Newsletter.

Free Help Sessions

We have no plans yet about when we will resume the free help sessions at Weston Library but you can always post your queries on the Website under the Research Forum. 

Future Planning

  • Your committee held its first committee meeting via Zoom this week and once we got over the fact that you cannot catch each other’s eyes and learnt how to signal when you have something to say it all went well. 
    • Like other societies we were debating how best to support our membership whilst recognising that many will not be comfortable for some time about meeting in person. 
    • Our main means of communication is the website plus the printed journal Buckets and Spades for those who do not use the internet.
  • Although these monthly Newsletters or Updates rarely seem to attract any comments even when specific questions are posed perhaps this time will be different because we really do need your feedback. 
    • We were considering the AGM due in November and wondered how many members would join in if we held it on Zoom. 
    • Please will you let our secretary, Brian Airey, know if you would be happy to join in – at this time all we need is a rough idea about how well it would be supported – you are not committing yourselves but it would give us some idea if we could get a quorum using that format. 
    • You can use the “contact us” button on the website to do this and choose the Secretary under Category. 
    • It would be interesting to see how many people who live too far away to normally attend would do so this way.
  • Would you be interested in monthly meetings held this way if they can be arranged. 
    • If so, would you prefer day or evening meetings or a mixture?
    • Do we have any members who would be prepared to present their research findings as part of this format? 
    • Please let us have any ideas you have about the future activities of the society.

I will end with my usual plea that you use the Web site to assist your research.  The transcriptions of the local parishes are marvellous for those with local ancestors but we realise that many who live locally may want help with research elsewhere.  Please use the Research Forum to ask any questions you may have about your research and read some of the questions and answers which have been posted - they may give you ideas for your own research.  As Jenny Towey wrote in Buckets and Spades  “If, at first, you don’t succeed – search, search again, and then, search again.  That’s why they call it Research!”

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