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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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Comments ..

Submitted by Jenny Towey on Fri, 01/09/2023 - 12:17

...I, too, have an ancestor ( my 4GGM) whose death, in 1844 in Yorkshire, went to the coroner who pronounced that she had died from 'a visitation from God' - but she was 82!  Fortunately I was able to find the coroner's report and see all the witness statements - an interesting and informative document.

As you've found, Pat, where coroners' reports are not available they can usually be found written up in local newspapers.

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Submitted by casselgerard on Tue, 05/09/2023 - 8:34

Good tip re Digital copies of certificates! I shall do that too.  I have a few but the one that made me the most emotional was my maternal grandfather's after WWll 1947. In the days of scarcity of telephones I am fairly sure my grandparents had one as they had had the money and social position to be in the forefront of most innovations for fifty years. Likewise my parents living in Central London, where my father was a theatrical agent, probably did too. So when my grandfather died and my parents got that phone call it was barely 24 hours  later when my father reported the death to the registrar! Seeing his name on the document really conjured up a picture of the situation, imagining them rushing down to Surrey to take charge. ( I have only recently found all these details having only known the year as my mother didn’t think to tell me her father was buried relatively nearby in Cheam). Lots more to discover I’m sure.

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