How are you getting on with your research? It’s a pity that Hallowe’en doesn’t bring the spirits of our ancestors back with ghostly tales of their pasts. They might even be more accurate than relying on failing memories! There have been no research queries on the web site and very little from new members on our Facebook group either during the past month, so I assume you are all doing well. Why not share some of your successes (or failures!) with other members who cannot attend the meetings at Our Lady of Lourdes or the free Help Sessions at the Library? – the next Help Session being on Sat Nov 5th from 2.00 until 3.30pm.
I was sorry not to be able to give the Workshop on Educational Records last week but there are times when the living family must take precedence over researching the past. I hope to get it rearranged for another date.
Similar Cause of Accident
The sad news from South Korea about the horrific loss of life during Halloween Celebrations there reminded me of another similar, although lesser disaster on Boxing Day 1869 when 18 people died in a crush in a Bristol Theatre in Park Row. The victims – mostly young and many teenagers – were going down a narrow but steep incline to get to the entrance to the Pit of the Theatre, looking forward to enjoying a pantomime when the accident happened. One of the victims was from Weston-super-Mare, Ellen JONES (In several newspaper accounts named as Helen), she was 15 but her sister escaped. There are many newspaper accounts in the Bristol newspapers including The Western Daily Press of Wednesday 29th December which covers the inquest and lists all the victims. This is a small extract:
David WILLIAMS had married Caroline JONES at Emmanuel Church in 1867 – see our transcriptions. Ellen was buried in Milton Road Cemetery also see our transcriptions.
Newspapers can be valuable sources of information and gradually more are becoming available online. All branches of your family can find their names mentioned in newspapers. Did they win a prize or pass an exam while at school. Did they play in a team which is mentioned in the local newspaper? Did they take part in any sport like athletics or sailing? Did they fall foul of the law? Were the parents prosecuted for not vaccinating their children? Was their birth, marriage or death mentioned in a paper? Did they have a business? Did they advertise their business? Did they offer anything for sale in a newspaper? Did they advertise for a job for themselves or advertise for a servant or other employee? Was their home advertised for sale with them as the tenant? Did they become bankrupt? Was their marriage or funeral reported with lists of people attending and whether they gave presents or flowers? They do not need to have celebrity status to get a mention! Perhaps you could comment about how you have found newspapers to help you with your research.
Know Your Place
Do you use Know your Place – North Somerset? https://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=nsom If you click on the Community Layer you can see photographs and information about what is or was under that place in the past. You may have a copyright free photo which you could add about your ancestor’s home or work. Have you found it helpful?
Famous Painter at Quaker School in Weston
I received a query – not from one of our members – yesterday about a well-known painter, Henry Scott TUKE 1858-1929, who attended a Quaker School in Weston in the early 1870s which was run by an Irwin SHARP and his brothers and sisters. Henry was not there during the 1871 census, he was at home in Falmouth, but his elder brother William Samuel TUKE was a pupil then. There is a photo of a class containing H S TUKE on this site https://tinyurl.com/faun3cv8 which I think was taken on Knightstone Island outside the original Dr Fox’s Baths. By coincidence, as I was considering this newsletter, a painting by Henry Scott TUKE appeared on this weekend’s edition of The Antiques Road Show. It would be interesting to discover more about the TUKE and FOX families who both advocated a more enlightened approach to the care of people in the Asylums of their day.
One of the first books about Weston and district which I bought was a reprint of Francis A KNIGHT’s 1902 book “The Seaboard of Mendip”. Francis KNIGHT was a schoolmaster at Sidcot School and later set up his own Quaker based school, Brynmelyn, after the SHARP brothers had left Weston in 1881.
At the end of October, we have Halloween – which during my lifetime seems to have grown and become more significant. I do not remember trick or treats as a child, we didn’t dress up but this newspaper article from wartime outlines its origins.
Western Daily Press - Monday 02 November 1942
“SATURDAY night was Hallowe'en. According to ancient belief the Prince of Darkness (Herr Hitler's foreman) looses all forces of evil on the eve of November 1. Hallowe'en is the festival when fairies, elves and witches are supposed to meet and hold their celebrations. October 31 in the old Celtic calendar was the last day of the Old Year. The celebrations associated with Hallowe'en are wrapped in several thicknesses of mystery and seem to be associated with religious and pagan rites. In Roman - Catholic countries the faithful turn their steps towards the churchyard and place flowers on the graves of the departed. Bonfires were the chief feature of Scotland's Hollowe'en, and the kindling of fires is associated with the Teutonic and Celtic mythology. During the Middle Ages there was a secret Coven, which always celebrated Hallowe'en with a great feast and exhibitions of magic. A Group of magicians known as the Coven in normal times used to meet on Halloween at a leading hotel, where they gave exhibitions of magic”
Do you celebrate Halloween? Have you stories of how your family celebrated in the past?
DATES IN NOVEMBER
November brings with it a couple of dates which meant a great deal to our ancestors – the first – November 5th with its associations with Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605. I remember that the late Kerry James, when secretary of this society, became very excited when she discovered that she was connected to the THROCKMORTON Family. Kerry found that she was related to Ann THROCKMORTON who was related to Robert CATESBY, the leader of the Gunpowder Plot. A link to an historical event, however tenuous, brings history alive for you and increases your interest in the life and times of your ancestor. Do you have any such links?
Free Help Sessions at Library
Saturday November 5th is also the date of our next Free Help Session at Weston Library. Don’t forget that there are local newspapers on film which are not yet available online. If you know the date of an event you want to research, be prepared to find something very interesting in the next column which with side track you! Bring with you some information about what you hope to find next in your hunt for ancestors. Remember to check out what is available on the Library Shelves - Street Directories, Electoral Rolls, Maps and files of information on People and Places in the cabinets. etc.
On Wednesday 9th November, member Bill CAPLE who has a remarkable collection of photographs of Weston and District will be giving a talk entitled “Weston Then and Now”. Be prepared to see how Weston had changed over the years. This meeting takes place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall at 2.30pm and all are welcome.
The second important date which affected ancestors is November 11th, Remembrance Day. With war once again raging in Europe this day should not be forgotten. How many of you know of lost relatives in the two World Wars and other subsequent battles? The CWGC https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/ has an excellent site which also includes those civilians who died while serving on the home front in indiscriminate bombing. Support the British Legion with its Poppy Appeal to aid the recovery and assistance to wounded fighters and their families. Many people, like my grandfather from WW1 and my father from WW2 came home lucky to be alive but never talking about their experiences – who knows how different their post war lives might have been with some help with what is now recognised as PTSD.
On November 23rd at 7.30 -9.00 p.m. there will be a Workshop Session by Zoom on Censuses 1841-1911 which I am sure will assist everyone with their research. Full members of the society will learn How to find, read and understand census entries. Although Censuses are a major tool in family history research, they were not taken for us and need to be understood in their own context. A must for all researchers to brush up on their knowledge. An email will be sent to all full members with signing on details prior to the Workshop. If you missed the Talk on the 1921 Census, full members can see it if they sign into the web site and look under Videos.
Graham Payne is still busy transcribing records from the parishes in our area. At the moment, he tells me that “I am about 50% through transcribing St George MIs for Easton in Gordano and plan to start Christ Church Nailsea next”. MIs with their accompanying photographs are valuable assets. Easton in Gordano is a particularly interesting parish with its connection with Pill and the Bristol Channel Pilots based there. Since 2011 the Civil Parish has been called Pill and Easton in Gordano. https://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/things-to-do/activities/north-somerset-walks/potter-around-pill is a web site of particular interest to anyone who has ancestors from this area and although aimed at the holidaymaker this gentle walk around Pill will show the importance of Pill to the early sailors heading out of the Bristol Channel.
Bristol Pilots and Pill
In a book “The Bristol Pilots” by John Rich, a retired Bristol Pilot, published in 1996 the history of these Pilots and their boats over 500 years is recounted. Years ago, when I started giving talks about family history, I was advertised to give a talk at Backwell and the LONG family was mentioned in the advert. I received a phone call from a man who asked me if it was going to be worth his while going to the talk as rain had been forecast and he didn’t want to waste time getting wet if he wasn’t going to be interested. Unless I could tell him the parents of his maternal grandfather, Charles Edwin LONG, born in Bristol in 1856 he wasn’t coming! Luckily, I was able to reply – “Thomas and Martha LONG” and added that I that was descended from an elder brother of Charles Edwin who had been born in 1845. He came!
He was a second cousin once removed and we remained friends and in contact until his death in 2002. His mother’s brother had married into the ELLIS family from Pill who were Pilots and as he had been a marine engineer, he wanted to know more about them and their boats – and from this grew my interest in the Pilots. From John Rich’s book I can now trace several families connected with the ELLIS family including ADAMS and the name of their boats. This was and is a close-knit supportive community, proud of its historical connections.
I’ve been sorting old photographs and I am still horrified how few have names written on the back
This one does have something written on the back – it says “Pat aged 2 years 3 months in 1941”
It also reminds me of my mother’s ability as a needlewoman – as most women were skilled in those days. The outfit which I am wearing was blue and made by Mum out of an old coat of hers which she had carefully unpicked, washed and used again. I still have the buttons in my button box! “Make Do and Mend” was essential in war time and perhaps could assist today if the skills haven’t been lost.
I dare say my younger sister might have worn the same coat!
I notice also how fitted carpets had not arrived and there was that wooden or lino surround which always seemed to show the dust!
It’s not just the subject of the photo which is interesting it’s also the context.
I’ve inherited photos from both sides of the family and unfortunately there is no one left older than me who might recognise the individuals in the photos which are not named. Please go through yours and see if you have the same problem. Photographs are a marvellous conversation initiator with older people who may even find some that they have hidden away.
The ALHA Newsletter will be available on our web site but just in case you never look at it - here is a direct link to it because it contains information about Weston. https://www.alha.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/UD-221031.pdf As a society, we are a member of ALHA and benefit from its publicity.
Museum of Us - More 4
Whilst discussing knowledge of local history which I think is essential when researching your family - Have you been watching “Museum of Us” on More 4 presented by Sir Tony Robinson? The first one was about a road in Bristol - Read about it here https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/channel-4s-museum-residents-bedminster-7685621 – The series of programmes with different location each week are on Monday evenings at 9.00 p.m. but you should be able to catch up with past episodes on https://www.channel4.com/programmes/tony-robinsons-museum-of-us
AGM and Next Society Meeting
Our next meeting will take place, as mentioned above, at 2.30pm on Wednesday, November 9th at our Lady of Lourdes in Baytree Road when the AGM will be followed by a presentation by Bill Caple with his collection of pictures of Weston – Then and Now. The December meeting is on the 14th with Margaret Flux talking about "My Wonderful Curio Cabinet".
Although I say this every time - Please post any comments about this newsletter, your research, about new resources and anything else pertaining to family history which other members might find interesting.