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December 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 02/12/2019 - 15:18

It's nearly Christmas and late in November, our Society had a stand at the enjoyable St Mark’s, Worle, Parish Christmas Event which had been organised by our member Grace Rubery. 

There we met people who were new to family history and were able to stress the point that we are open to anyone, not only those who are researching Weston families. 

A school choir performing Christmas music meant that there were families present and the new My family Tree Booklet was very popular.  If you haven’t seen it - look at the Family Federation Site and perhaps print it off to give as a stocking filler to your young relations.  Perhaps you could help them fill it in?

During the November Monthly Meeting the Society held its AGM, returning a Committee which saw the official recognition and election of Jenny Towey as Chair.   A full house enjoyed a light-hearted quiz, refreshments and an interesting presentation by member Ann Lockyer about a black sheep member of her family who suffered the privations of a spell on a Prison Hulk.    The November 2019 edition of our journal – Buckets and Spades – was available and it is also available online to full members.

Christmas Day Marriages

At this time of year, it is more difficult to spend time researching the past amid the festivities and meeting up with living relatives. But it is interesting to spare a thought for the number of marriages which took place on Christmas Day.  In my own family I have recorded 29 Christmas Day marriages. Most of them 120 - 300 years ago and I wonder how the day was spent after the ceremony?     

The majority of these being before 1837 will have had to have taken place in Church of England Churches.  My husband’s grandparents were married on Christmas Day in 1885 in the Congregational Church in Waterloo Street.

This building was destroyed by enemy action during WW2 and replaced by the United Reform Church using the same site and footprint.

Photographs

It is amazing how new information emerges from the woodwork.  I have been given some photo albums and documents by a cousin and was delighted to find a letter from Australia written in 1895 to my great grandmother in Bristol.  A number of different family members were mentioned, and a story is developing – however, the photo albums have the age-old problem of un-named photos!  Only a handful have any identification and it brought home to me once again the need to label photographs.  It is so disappointing especially as one of them resembles my grandson as a child – I think the young boy in the photo might be my grandfather who was born in 1874 but have no proof. 

TV Programmes

There have been several TV programmes lately with a family history and war time flavour - you might be able to catch up with them still.

  • I was particularly interested in gary Lineker's "My Grandad's War" originally broadcast on Remembrance Day, Nov 11th.  A description of the programme can be seen here.  My own father was severely wounded during the Monte Cassino Campaign in May 1944 and the description of Gary Lineker's grandfather's experiences added to my understanding of the event.  As I write this there are 16 days left to view this programme on BBC iPlayer
  • Channel 4's 'My Grandparents’ War' featuring Helena Bonham-Carter can be still be viewed and the next programme in this series will be shown on Wed Dec 4th at 9.00pm it concerns Mark Rylance who explores the extraordinary World War II story of his grandfather Osmond Skinner, who spent almost four years as a Japanese prisoner of war. 
  • There are 10 days left to view the two programmes which cover Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey on ITV when Ant and Dec are given a unique insight into their lives using innovative DNA science and technology to trace their ancestors.

Wills

I continue to be pleased with the Wills which I have received at £1.50 each since they were reduced in price.  It isn’t so much about what was left to beneficiaries but the names which are mentioned in the Will.  The latest one to arrive added little to what I already knew but the Will was written just one month after the writer married (nothing strange there) and the witnesses were his father-in-law and the husband of his bride’s sister.  Everything was left to his wife but as I knew the people involved it all built up a picture of the family.

Research Forum

  • The Research Forum query about the Gallop Tea Gardens at Dundry produced some very interesting replies and the use of maps to aid in research was very useful. 
  • The newspaper accounts of events which took place concerning residents were a useful reminder that all that you read in newspapers might not be correct!  Things haven’t changed much over the years.  In this case the first name of someone who died 20 odd years previously was incorrect – but perhaps he was known by another name, different from the one he used on censuses and when he married?
  • If you have any query and it doesn’t have to be about family in the Weston area please consider using the Research Forum.  The replies can help others and suggest ways of furthering your own research.

Free Help Sessions

The Free Help Sessions in the Library continue every Saturday afternoon and the Volunteers are pleased to meet new people.  The free access to Ancestry enables the helpers to deal with queries about people in other parts of the country.  Situated in the North Somerset Local History Library we also have access to newspapers on film which have not yet been digitalised and therefore are not available online.  However, unless you have a specific date of an event allow yourself plenty of time to trawl through the pages!. 

Next Meeting

We do not have a Society Meeting in December so the next meeting is on Tuesday, January 28th when member, Peter Lander will be talking about Birnbeck Pier: Past, Present & Future.  Peter is closely involved with the Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and is very interested in the history of the Pier in particular with the people involved with it.

Wishing all our members (past, present and future) a joyous Holiday season with plenty of opportunities to ask questions of and record the answers from older relatives  -  as Gary Lineker said -  "Although we were close, my grandad never spoke to me about his wartime experiences… and now he’s passed away, it’s too late for me to ask him.”    and name those photographs!! 

Happy Christmas!

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