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Axbridge Paupers
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 13:57

I have just uploaded part of my study of Axbridge Union Workhouse submitted for my MA in 1998. I hope that you will finds parts interesting and useful - I will add the Appendices later.  I set out to consider the symbiotic relationship between family and local history and used responses from fellow family historians in compiling this document.  Some Workhouse inmates are named and inferences drawn about their connection with the Workhouse.   You can find it at the bottom of this page
or under "Axbridge Poor Law Union" on the  home page Menu.

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May 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 1:25

I’m writing this while a remarkable man is celebrating his 100th Birthday Capt (Or should I now say Col ?) Tom Moore has captured the imagination of a nation with his epic fundraising and inspiring attitude to life.  Coronavirus is bringing out the best in most people and although it is not easy and not a little scary at times  many of us have so much to be grateful for not least the way in which the NHS and all other essential workers, family and friends who are supporting us at this time. 

Because of the average age range of people who are interested in Family History it is likely to be some time before we can all meet up again whether at Society meetings or at the Free Help Sessions at the Library.  Like many of you I have been confined to barracks for about 6 weeks already and I had thought I would be able to get on with my own Family History Research but I keep getting distracted!  There are many additional resources being made available at this time.

Free Resources

  • The National Archives have released free of charge their digital collection – you can download many documents from Wills, Military records, etc.    You need to sign in but there is no charge and no wait – the documents are sent immediately.  Try searching for individual names or the places where they lived.  Some of these documents are available on other subscription sites.
  • If you are a beginner the Genealogist is offering access to  some censuses and parish records free of charge.  Called First Steps it is a useful introduction or recap to or of your research.  Try it!
  • Ancestry – The Library Edition of Ancestry is available free for you to use at home using your Library Card.  For members in this area go to this site  and follow the instructions. 


  • Graham Payne remains busily transcribing and uploading records from the local Cemetery and these are so valuable.  Thank you Graham.
  • There has been much mention lately about death rates and as the Cemetery was the only place available for burial in Weston from 1856 these records are fascinating.  Have you looked at the burials for 1918/1919?  The burials in November 1918 at the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic numbered 82 whereas only 30 were buried in November 1917 and the ages were considerably lower in 1918 than in 1917.   
  • Interestingly, I am currently transcribing the deaths in Axbridge Workhouse for the same period where the cause of death is entered and in only 3 cases is influenza mentioned.  These records will eventually go on our web site.

Surname Interests and Connecting other Researchers

  • Have you checked recently to see if any other member shares your SURNAME Interests?  Just click on Members’ Surname Interests under the Main Menu on our Home Page and then click on the surname which interests you and you will find more details about where and when that SURNAME is being researched, by whom and in some cases even a family tree – Members can add a comment or can contact them through the web site.  Non members can also make contact through the web site.
  • Use this time to make contact with people who share your interests and possibly your DNA whether it is through our site, Ancestry, My Heritage, Lost Cousins, Gedmatch, Facebook etc.   You might not always get a reply, but it just might breakdown a brickwall.  The other advantage of contacting others is that they may tackle the problem from a different perspective. This has been highlighted on the Facebook Group today when one of the members in reply to a posting wrote "Well, that's something I hadn't thought of either, that's why these family history groups are so beneficial"

Family History during Lockdown

During the lockdown I had expected there to be an upsurge in an interest in Family History resulting in more use of our Research Forum but there has been little evidence of it on our site from our members.

  • Bolton Family History Society has issued these tips for people interested in family history about how to get your family motivated! 
  • How about writing your own diary of Lockdown to add to your family History research?  When writing up your family history it is helpful to have some idea of the thoughts and feelings of our ancestors.  Spear-headed by Raye Green of the Worle History Society a book entitled One Day in Our Lives has been produced by some residents of this area recounting their thoughts and activities in the face of the coronavirus on 27th March 2020.  Profits will go to Weston Hospital and it will become a valuable resource for future family historians and will answer that question “What did you do in 2020 during the lockdown?”  It is loosely based on the “The mass observation Project” which ran during WW2 when many individuals kept diaries and accounts of their lives.  
  •  The Somerset Heritage Centre is asking for contributions because as they say  We are living through extraordinary events that are affecting all our lives in ways we could not previously have imagined.  The South West Heritage Trust wants to ensure that the stories of Somerset and Devon’s people and places are recorded during these difficult times, so that future generations can find out about the challenges we faced and how our communities pulled together”.
  • If any of you are trying to encourage youngsters into family history Weston Museum has devised this learning pack (amongst others) which you may find helpful 
  • The BBC produces what they call Bitesize lessons and for a bit of light relief I suggest you try the one on Black Death! You might decide to try some of the others in this section – after all our ancestors must have lived through these times.

In my last Update I invited you all to give suggestions about the society post Covid but not one member replied! If you have any comments about what you want from this society add them to this Update.  In the meantime, Keep Safe, wash your hands and remember to post your queries on our research Forum, answer other queries and to share your experiences of new resources and breakthroughs in your family history research. 


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New Milton Road Cemetery Burial Records
published by Graham Payne on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 9:10

The Milton Road Cemetery burial transcripts for book 57 covering the period September 1964-June 1967 are now available for Society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article.

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New Milton Road Cemetery Burial Records
published by Graham Payne on Sun, 05/04/2020 - 12:49

The Milton Cemetery burial records book 56 covering the period 1962-Aug 1964 is now available for Society members to view online.

Please report any transcript errors to the author of this news article

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Library Edition of Ancestry available at home
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 19:04

I have received this welcome communication from Weston Library:  I've tried it and it works!

"Ancestry are allowing us to use ancestrylibrary.com from home temporarily while the libraries are shut.

As the access needs to be secure we are fortunate that LibrariesWest libraries are all subscribers.

If people log in to www.librarieswest.org.uk with their library card and PIN. Look for the words in the middle of the page

Access to Ancestry Library Edition and click on the heading. This should take them to Ancestry. If they just go to the home page without logging in it won’t be visible. People need to use this link each time they want to use Ancestry as it is expects people to arrive at the website from www.librarieswest.org.uk via the link.

(P.S. It will say Bath Central Library rather than North Somerset Libraries)."  

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April 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 31/03/2020 - 23:25

Thank You 

I’m sure members will join with me in thanking the NHS and all Key Workers who by continuing to work are helping us to keep safe, whether medically, with essential services or by voluntarily keeping us supplied with our needs.     

While we face the uncertainty of this pandemic the Family History Society, like all groups elsewhere, has suspended activities where we meet face to face.  This should not and must not stop us communicating with each other.  We have a common interest in the lives of our families in the past and present and an opportunity to make sure that future generations have more information handed down to them. 

Buckets and Spades

Thank you to Sue Maguire who edited the 100th edition of Buckets and Spades published in March which as usual is full of interesting articles.  I was particularly interested in the one about Charlotte MORGAN, the nurse who served in WW1 and died in November 1918.  I wonder whether she died from the Spanish ‘Flu which was prevalent at that time?  Looking through the Cemetery records which are available on this site the increase in the number of burials at that time is obvious and although not all would have been from that pandemic, I suspect that many were.

Whilst on the subject of Buckets and Spades – The next issue of ‘Buckets & Spades’ is due for publication at the end of July, so the deadline for articles and photos is 15 June 2020.  Sue would be grateful for articles so that she can plan the contents.

Lost Cousins

I’ve just noticed that this must be my 101st Monthly Update and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve praised the Lost Cousins Web site during that time but for those of you who have still not yet registered for its excellent newsletters  the one published mid-March  comes with the news that Lost Cousins will be completely free over the Easter Weekend.  It’s a great way of finding others researching the same people – your “lost cousins”- and making contact with them. You will have plenty of time to fill in the census details which make the matches.

 And their newsletter published today has amongst so many other gems included an incentive to fill in your census details, and highlights a possible effect of coronavirus  in connection with postponed marriages which I hadn’t really considered but it might affect family historians of the future.


One of my “cousins” found on the Lost Cousins site has also tested her DNA.   We share a common ancestor in my 3 x great grandparents confirming our relationship. Jenny TOWEY is offering advice on DNA testing and understanding the results – Contact her through our website using the “Contact us” button at the top of the home page and choosing “Chairperson” under category.

Research Forum

A couple of new queries have been posted today - take a look at them and I hope that you will consider offering suggestions in answer to these or post new queries as you consider your own research.  The Research Forum should come into its own at this time when you have more time to question your own family trees.  It always surprises me that it is not used more or have you all finished and are busy writing up your family history research?  In which case there should be many more articles for Buckets and Spades in the near future!

Transported Ancestors

How many of you have people in your tree who were transported to Australia?  The web site Digital Panoptican has a tremendous amount of information.  Not only does it give background information about transportation, but it also allows you to search for individual convicts and in many cases see the original documents which concern them.

Death in the Workhouse

If any of you have found people who have died in Axbridge Workhouse – or Ilex Lodge as it was later called, I’d be pleased to hear from you as I’m trying to update the records on our web site.  I recently added a transcription of the 1939 Register when the building was still being used as a Public Assistance Institution and as a local Infirmary.   The purpose-built Infirmary became St John’s Hospital when the NHS was founded in 1948 and the old Workhouse became the headquarters of the Axbridge Rural District Council.

After the Virus

Let’s start planning for the future – what should the Society be doing when we can all meet up together again?  We were planning Workshops and attending more local shows to spread the word about the joys of researching your family – Let us know what you would like the society to do for you? What can you do for the Society?

Is there an area you would like to see more fully researched? 

  • We get a lot of questions about schools in the locality - is that a topic which you would be prepared to assist in researching?  Weston was a flourishing centre for private education in the 19th century.  How many young people were sent to Weston to be educated?  What about the other schools? 
  • It doesn’t look as if we shall be able to commemorate  VE Day as we had hoped – perhaps there’s some research to be done about WW2 and its effect on this area and how our families were involved.

We can’t say for certain yet when we will be able to meet again but, in the meantime, keep researching, naming your photographs, writing up your findings, asking questions of your relations. If you can’t find the answer use the Research Forum or the Facebook Group, and above all keep safe so that our families and friends stay safe.

If you have anything you would like to add to this Update – please use the comment facility.

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