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May 2023 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/05/2023 - 12:20

A Coronation, several Bank Holidays and a 40th Anniversary will make May a special month for us all.

First of all – today we have May Day!    Up at dawn to wash in the dew and then dance merrily around a May Pole!  Have you chosen your May King or Queen? This was an important annual event for our Ancestors to welcome the new season and to ensure the fertility of the land.  In the late 19th century and during the 20th century May the 1st also became known as Labour Day to celebrate and support the Workers of the World.

Free Help Session

The Coronation falls on the first Saturday of May and so we will not be having our free help session at the library that day but there are several events during May which should be able to help you with your research.

Next Society Group Meeting

During May we have a Society meeting on Wednesday the 10th May at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall at 2.30 p.m. when the Speaker will be Ann Ballard who will be talking about "Hidden Gems: an heraldic & genealogical journey"  Ann is a highly qualified family historian: she has a Higher Certificate, a Genealogy Diploma and a licentiateship in Heraldry & Genealogy.  Her family history research specialises in Wiltshire and Somerset and she has a particular interest in Heraldry.  Ann is going to tell us about fascinating tit-bits she has unearthed along her family history journey.

40th Anniversary Open Day

Our own celebration in May will take place on Saturday May 20th and everyone is welcome at our free event for Family and Local History where you can visit stands run by groups with the expertise and enthusiasm to assist you with your research or just to share their knowledge of some aspect of the locality or research. Refreshments will be available. That day you will be able to meet many people who share your interests as apart from our own stand these groups will be participating. . You may want to familiarise yourselves with these groups before attending so I have included their web sites. The society would welcome any books to be included on the Secondhand Book stall.

Anglo-German Family History Society          


Bristol & Avon Family History Society


Church of Latter Day Saints – FamilySearch


DNA  Advice 

Friends of Birnbeck Pier


Friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery


Guild of One Name Studies 


Kewstoke Local History Group


 Know Your Place 


Second Hand Book Stall

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society


U3A Family History Group


North Somerset Studies Library - Weston-super-Mare


Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway Group


Wick St Lawrence Local History            

Worle History Society


Zoom Workshop

On Wednesday 24th May at 7.30 p. m. we will have a Zoom Workshop which will be an "Introduction and Update to Family Tree Maker"  by Mark Olson, the Family Tree Maker Genealogy Community Ambassador.  Many of us use Family Tree Maker and this will allow us to become more familiar with how to use it most efficiently and get the most from it.  Instructions for joining this Zoom meeting will be sent to all full members before the meeting.

Asking for Help

The Facebook Group and the Research Forum on our Web site are always available for you to post queries.  It surprises me how few queries we receive but hope that you are all happy with your research.  It really doesn’t matter how simple you think your questions are – believe me, we all get stuck somewhere.

Catching up with past events

During April we have had two Workshops – on “Breaking Down Brickwalls” and the “Use of FamilySearch” which should both now be available for all members to watch – find them under “Videos” once you have logged in to our web site.  The talk given to the Society on Nursery Rhymes is also available at the same place. 


  • What are your experiences in breaking down brick walls? 
  • Did you ask anyone for help? 
  • If so – Who?
  • What helped you most? 

The most recent Newsletter from LostCousins includes a thought provoking and helpful article about the availability of parish registers which you can read here http://www.FamilyHistory.News

Matching Signatures

I’m not an expert in handwriting but in my own research I have been looking at signatures. This is from the wedding of my ancestors Robert LONG and Hester PRIGG at Bitton in May 1767

And the following were the witnesses at a marriage between a Thomas BRYANT and Mary BRIGHT at Bitton in November 1767.


Do you think that this witness is the same  Robert LONG – as my 4 x great grandfather - John WRIGHT signed many marriages but sadly, I can find no more signatures of Robert LONG in the marriage registers and no connection with the names BRYANT nor BRIGHT.  However, his signature may occur on other documents in the Bristol Archives, especially the Overseers’ Accounts. 

In which County did your ancestor live?

Bitton is one of those parishes which over the time seems to change its County.  The parish comes under the Bishop of Bristol and so its parish registers are in Bristol but it is situated geographically in the County of Gloucestershire.  The Gloucestershire Archives contain  documents relating to education in Bitton, and other local history items referring to Bitton. Under the New Poor Law of 1834, Bitton was included in the Poor Law Union of Keynsham in Somerset and so Bitton or Oldland residents might be found in the Workhouse Records in the Somerset Archives.  This has happened elsewhere in the country, so it is useful to check whether county boundaries have been changed or administrative processes have ensured that documents are in a different Archive. 

  • Did your ancestor know where or when they were born?
  • Can you rely on information in a census?

Getting Side-tracked

In researching my husband’s family history, I have yet to discover a direct ancestor of his who was not born in Somerset. It is probably not surprising that one of the songs which he enjoyed singing with the Weston Light Orchestra was Fred Weatherly’s “Up from Somerset” (where the cider apples grow!).  Fred Weatherly was also Somerset-born, in Portishead, is still remembered for the words of Danny Boy, other early 20th century songs and incidentally, he was married at St Martin’s Church in Worle.

New releases by FindmyPast

Take a look at what was released last Friday – you don’t need to have a subscription to read their Blogs and they often give suggestions for further research.  Although I’m not sure about this statement which they give to help you understand the 1873 Owners of Land -

“There are a few acronyms pertaining to land size used in these records - so bear these in mind when exploring each entry. 'A' is an acre, 'R' is a rood, and 'P' is a square pool.

When I was at school, I seem to remember that an ‘A’ was an acre which was equal to 4 Roods ‘R’ and a Rood equalled 40 Perches ‘P’.   Can anyone explain the square pool?

Example of an entry:  Owners of over one acre of Land in Somerset in 1873

Mrs William WALL of Wedmore could be Mary WALL in this census transcription of 1871, although the acreage does not tally.

1871 Census of Crickham, Wedmore, Somerset

First name

Last name


Marital status


Birth year


Birth place







Farmer of 100 acres employing 3 men








Farmer’s son








Farmer’s son








Farmer’s Daug








Farm Serv indoor

Somerset, England

 Transferable Research Skills

It’s great how family history research techniques allow you to research people and places other than your family and their homes.  I once spent a very happy hour or two in Worcester Archives getting the details of the original registration of 1923 for a car which we owned at that time enabling us to eventually restore its first number.  It turned out that it had been owned by a man who was later to become the Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire.  We managed to trace some descendants who gave us the name of the original Chauffeur who was still alive. We took the car to visit him and gave him a ride in it which seemed to delight him, bringing back many memories.  I don’t think he had ridden in the passenger seat before!

Surname Variants

The HASE family appears to have come from the Enmore area near Bridgwater and members are entered with many surname variants in local records such as HAST, HAISE, ACE, HARSE or HASTE etc.   It was only the branch which came to Weston-super-Mare, via Cross in Compton Bishop which became HASE - So disappointingly, that rules out Henry HASE who was the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England from 1807 to 1829 from being related.  

When I started to research this name I was told by a family member that William HASE, the blacksmith at Cross was really Wilhelm Henri HASE of noble German descent. As HASE is relatively common in Germany as a surname I gained help from the AngloGerman FHS (see their stand at our 40th Celebration on My 20th) However, more local research seems to have disproved this theory.

The case notes for a John HASE who was a patient in the Mendip Hospital are entered under HARSE but the Friends of the Mendip Hospital Cemetery found his burial in their Cemetery Records and even photographed the area where he was buried. The Friends will be present at our Open Day on May 20th.

Be aware of differing spellings of the surname you are looking for.  It may be that the name has been written “as heard” and as so many people were unable to read their surname when they made a mark, the spelling was not able to be checked. There are examples of the legitimate surname of ACOCK being entered as HAYCOCK because the person who heard it assumed that the “H” was being dropped. Of course, this name is then indexed under “H” which makes it more difficult to find.

New Releases from Ancestry

The latest additions to Ancestry can be seen at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/cs/recent-collections Your missing piece might just have been included so it's always worth looking again.

This is just a few which include an update to the Somerset Records.

Somerset Heritage Centre

For your information - The Somerset Heritage Centre will be closed to the public from Tuesday 2 May for essential building work & will reopen on Tuesday 23 May. Enquiries will still be answered during this period.

On the 1st June the North Somerset Archivist will visit the Weston-super-Mare Library where you can have to opportunity to discuss your research and to consult documents brought to Weston which you have ordered.  Look at the Somerset Archives Catalogue – to identify what you would like to see.  Sessions are open from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm, and from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm.  For more information and to discuss your requirements contact somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk

The Coronation

Great Aunt Maud

As I have mentioned before, I remember with warmth the last Coronation and a large family gathering to watch proceedings on a 12 inch TV - Great Aunt Maud, a much loved member of the family, who went on to live to be 100 with all her faculties, welcomed us all into her home.  To be honest I can't remember much about the Coronation itself just the family gathering and the endless sandwiches and glasses of lemonade! 

Make the most of the time during the next week to enjoy the Coronation and perhaps make time to record your thoughts about the occasion.  Looking back to the last Coronation, the world was a very different place and the way we lived was different too.  Your descendants may find your thoughts and feelings interesting.

News TopicMonthly Update
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Comments ..

Submitted by Jenny Towey on Mon, 01/05/2023 - 14:04

The signature of Robert Long does look similar - maybe he was a friend/work colleague of John Wright?

We also have Friends of Mendip Cemetery and WsM Library attending our May Fair, Pat, if you'd like to add them to your list?

Refreshments are available, too.

Many of my ancestors moved around and I find that they often give the place they remember from their childhood as where they were born - which wasn't necessarily the same place.  Spare a thought for those of us with foreign ancestors: as the enumerators were only instructed to record the birth country.  Only occasionally did they write down the district or town...and, naturally (being unfamiliar with the person's accent and the spellings of that country), they mangled the information.

I, too, remember watching the last coronation on a 12" TV set, in black and white (no colour TV in those days!)...but at home.  My stepfather & mother joined forces with many people who obtained a TV set at this time - probably rented.

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Submitted by Les Martels on Tue, 02/05/2023 - 13:35

I don't think there is much doubt that Robert Long on both documents are the same person, the signatures are the same.

There may well be no connection between Robert Long and John Wright as I have often found that a witness to a marriage is actually that of someone who married around the same time or was a church official or clerk.  It might be worth checking other marriages either side to see if the names come up again, if it is important that you know or want to satisfy your curiosity.

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Submitted by Pat Hase on Wed, 03/05/2023 - 14:42

Since publicising this Newsletter there has been a change of Speaker for the next Society Meeting on Wed May 10th.  We are lucky that Grace Rubery has agreed to replace Ann Ballard who, unfortunately is unable to be with us.  Grace has a very interesting family and will be talking about "My Family in Uniform"I wonder what uniforms her family wore?   The only uniform for most of my recent ancestors would have been school uniform or that of a servant! Thanks Grace.

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Forthcoming Events

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