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News & Information (Monthly Update)

July 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/07/2024 - 1:06

As I write this, I am watching parent seagulls who nest each year on the roof of a neighbour.  It looks as if they only have one young this year, but this small dark chick wakes up each time one of them returns to the nest demanding to be fed. It has just had to be rescued by the parent as it ventured rather too near the edge of the roof. I think they are a little earlier nesting this year but just as noisy! Both parents are very attentive.

Thank you for attending the Zoom Workshop I led in June.  It clashed with Football and an Election Debate, so it was interesting to see who attended!  I still would appreciate any comments.

After that Zoom Workshop on “The Poor Laws and Axbridge Workhouse” I posted a photograph of all the Guardians and Staff of Axbridge Workhouse taken when it officially closed as a Workhouse in 1930.  It is accompanied by a list of all the people featured on the photograph and can be seen if you scroll to the bottom of this page of our web site http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/custom_page.php?pID=17

  •          I note that one of the Guardians (for Churchill) was - T Sidney HILL – after whom the Alms  House which I mentioned in the talk in Churchill had been named. 
  •          Do you recognise any of the names?
  •          I still have to add the 1921 census return.

I mentioned Settlement Acts and this was a rather tongue in cheek offering to Overseers on how to prevent Settlements being granted in their parishes.

The Duties of the Parish Overseer

Extracts from “The Justice of the Peace and the Parish Officer”

by Dr Robert Burn, published in 1755.

·         To keep an extraordinary lookout, to prevent persons coming to inhabit without certificates, and to fly to the Justices to remove them, and if a man brings a certificate, then to caution all the inhabitants not to let him a farm of £10 a year, and to take care to keep him out of all parish offices.

·         To warn them, if they hire servants, to hire them half yearly, or by the month, or by the week or by the day rather than in any way that shall give them settlement.  Of if they do hire them for the year, then to endeavour to pick a quarrel with them before the years end, and so get rid of them.

·         To bind out poor children apprentices, no matter to whom, or to what trade, but to take special care that the master lives in another parish.

·         To grant a portion to the reputed father of a bastard child on condition that he marry the mother.


·         To see that the poor report to church and bring their children there to be instructed.

·         To contract with a master, that he shall procure apprentices to be taught to read and write.

·         To provide a stock of materials to set the poor to work.

To see the aged and impotent comfortably sustained, the sick healed, and all of them clothed with neatness and decency.

Belgian Refugees in Weston-super-Mare

A question was asked on the Facebook Group about Belgian Refugees in Weston.  During WW1 there were about 100 Belgian Refugees billeted in Weston and five of them are remembered on a tomb stone in Weston Cemetery.                                        


George Pierre BLONDIL or BLONDEEL who died aged 1 year on the 8th June 1915.  According to our records he was the infant son of James and Maria BLONDEL who were living at 71, Clifton Road when he died.  He was buried in Plot Tu 1850.

It was worth the £3.00 to satisfy my curiosity as to cause of death and to find that it was an Uncle, J STOOP, who was present when he died. Was he another Refugee? The father’s name is different from that given by the Cemetery as well.


Others mentions on tombstone:

Louise GRASMICHEL, aged 63 – died 5th Oct 1915 at 1 Milton Terrace, Milton Road
Michel GRASMICHEL, aged 58  - died 1st Dec 1915 at Bristol Hotel, Locking Road
Jean Georges ZAIRES, aged 51 – died 15th April 1916 at 3, Worthy Place
Anna Teresa GEUSKENS, aged 72 – died 28th Nov 1916 at 1, Clevedon Terrace, Weston

There is very little about Refugees in Weston in the British Newspaper Archives but I think that is because the Mercury and Gazette have not yet been added for that period.  There is quite a lot about places covered by other newspapers including arrangements being made for their support when they arrived in the Autumn of 1914.

There is a painting belonging to Weston Museum, painted by Alfred LEETE of Refugees being welcomed into this country. This is an amended version.  The original is probably at Taunton but do inquire at the Museum about it.  I happened to be having a coffee in the museum several years ago when it arrived, and it caused quite a stir.  So different in style from Alfred Leete’s normal cartoons and his famous WW1 poster.


"Sanctuary or the Ever Open Door"

Events in July

General Election

Don’t forget your Photo ID when voting on the 4th July.

Universal suffrage for all men and women over the age of 21 became lawful in 1928 and the next General Election in 1929 resulted in a hung parliament.

Another important General Election took place in 1945 at the end of WW2 which you can read about on https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zgmf2nb/revision/4

Free Help Session

Free Help Session Sat 6th July at Weston Library.  The Library holds a great many items to aid your research.  It pays you to consult their maps, printed versions of Brian Austin’s research, Electoral Rolls, Street Directories not to mention the files on People and Places in this area. Perhaps you can add to this – What have you found useful?

Society Meeting

Society meeting on Wednesday 10th July at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall when Ted Udall. a prominent member of the Somerset & Dorset FHS, will talk about the Social History of the Parish Register.  Non-members are welcome at this meeting.

A book cover of a chestDescription automatically generated Still one of the best books on this subject is “The Parish Chest” by W E TATE originally published in 1946.  I have a reprint of the 3rd edition from 1983.

My first introduction to a Parish Chest was in the 1970s when many Parish Records were still kept in their home parish churches and not yet moved to County Record Offices. 

My grandfather had told me that his grandfather, Thomas LONG,  had been born in Bitton in about 1818.

Although situated in Gloucestershire, Bitton came under the Bishopric of Bristol but then the registers for Bitton were kept in the original Parish Chest – Not unlike the one featured on the cover of this book.

 I made arrangements to visit the church and was thrilled to see the registers which had been indexed by the incumbent and so were relatively easy to search.  I could not only see the records but I could smell them!  The rather musty smell of parchment which had been entombed in the wooden chest.  You don’t get that on the internet!

Zoom Workshop

The next Zoom Workshop will be on Wednesday 24th July at 7.30 p.m. and will be led by Alan Moorhouse on “How to organise a One Name Study”.   If you have ever been tempted to see whether your surname could feature as a One-Name Study, take a look at https://one-name.org/ and then attend this meeting. All paid up members will receive joining information prior to the meeting.

New Releases on Ancestry

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Have you tried any of these?


Findmypast has published some interesting information about Home Children during June.  https://www.findmypast.co.uk/blog/new/home-children-burial-index-hazelbrae A newspaper article with textDescription automatically generatedDuring the June Zoom meeting I mentioned a young family whose mother died giving birth on Good Friday 1911 and all the children, including the newborn baby, were subsequently admitted to Axbridge Workhouse. 
I traced this family and discovered that in 1920 two of them, Isaac and Violet  GAINEY were emigrated to Canada by Dr Barnardos as part of the Home Children Scheme. 

In 2017, Shirley Hodgson published a great book entitled “Bristol’s Pauper Children” which outlined her research into British Home Children with emphasis on the local conditions in this country at that time – which I thoroughly recommend.


The Genealogist

While commemorating D Day, these records were released after my last Newsletter.  Many people remember the American soldiers based in Weston leading up to D Day and the United States WWII Army Enlistment Records (1938-1946) have been added to the Genealogist Site. A close-up of a bookDescription automatically generated


Have you tried using AI to enhance your research?  Try looking at https://www.familysearch.org/en/labs/ This offers a chance to try several new aspects of research including AI.  I have to say that I’m a little worried about the use of AI but have had some remarkable results if the questions are carefully worded. It could be of use when breaking down brick walls.  What have been your experiences?   I know that some people have successfully used it to transcribe wills and other documents but I haven’t yet so can’t comment.

Future Events – in September

At the moment it looks as if there will be no events organised by this Society during August except for having a Stall at the ever popular Hutton Food Festival on Wednesday, August 28th at St Mary's Field, Hutton.  We shall be there from 11.00a.m. until 5.00p.m. ready to answer any queries about family history and will look forward to meeting you.  Keep an eye on the Web Site for any further  announcements about events. 

The next Free Help Session at the Library after the July one will be on Saturday 7th September.  Jenny is still waiting for replies about the proposed visit to the Mendip  Hospital Chapel and Cemetery on Wed 11th September.  See http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/calendar_view.php?nID=1069 for details.

The September Zoom Meeting should be on the 25th September topic to be decided.

Why not use August to do what is traditionally supposed to be the activity of all family historians – i.e. visiting the places frequented by your ancestors including finding their graves.  Make time to talk to older people about their experiences before it is too late and talk to younger relatives about your own lives not forgetting to ask them about their own experiences.  How do school days today differ from those we remember?  What activities are popular and how do they deal with social media and the ever-present phones?

But before August we have to negotiate July with gardening, sporting events and holidays not to mention politics to contend with – all offering a distraction from researching our own family history.  Good Luck and enjoy the Summer.

By the way, the Seagulls have now changed their normal squalk to a more gentle chirrup as they temp their youngster with who knows what they have just brought back to the nest!

Not the ones I'm watching but very similar!




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June 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 01/06/2024 - 3:39

150th Newsletter

I was surprised when it was pointed out to me that this would be my 150th attempt to write a newsletter. I hope that you find some of my ramblings useful!

Facebook – Writing up Family History
There have been some interesting postings about the ways in which your Family History could be written up.  Probably as many different suggestions as there are people.  It seems that the best way can differ depending upon the intended readership.  Some suggested including information about how you did it, some started with an individual and worked back, while others started with the oldest ancestor and worked down to the present day.  Whichever way you choose make sure that all your hard work is not lost and is recorded for your descendants and relatives.
What do you suggest?

D Day
As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of D Day.  What memories do your family have of this time? Were any of your family involved?  I was only 4½ years old, but I can remember seeing American soldiers in Bristol.  Many Americans were stationed in Weston, and I believe some camped in Ellenborough Park during the day but went out to the countryside at night. Others were billeted in Hotels such as the Cairo, and some with families like the evacuees.

Looking through the Weston Newspapers I came across this article – and there are others. 

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  • Capt John Braithwaite lived at 35 Nithsdale Road.  I think his mother was a widow, Mrs Emily D Braithwaite, born 22 Aug 1887.  His father, Bernard Leigh BRAITHWAITE died just before John was born in 1919 – probably from Spanish ‘Flu.   I wonder why the father was buried at Bitton?  The mother was buried at East Brent.

Other Serving Soldiers
It was the first time that I saw my mother cry when my father was called up just before Christmas 1942.  Of course, I didn’t know then that she was pregnant with my sister.  My father was not involved in the Normandy Landings as his regiment was part of the diversionary attack in Italy on Monte Cassino in 1944.  Like many others who served he did not speak of his experiences, so after his death I sent for his Army Record.  When it eventually came, I discovered he spent his initial time in the Primary Training Wing. This letter had arrived at that time.   

A handwritten letter from a soldierDescription automatically generated

He wrote to me several times from there to explain what he was doing, and to encourage me to wear a gas mark  and to eat up my food!  He had previously served in the Home Guard.  He was then transferred to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at the Infantry Training Centre where he trained as a signaller.  I seems that my mother was telling tales!

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I have many more letters from him, even after he was wounded - several in rhyme.  Unfortunately, I do not have my mother’s letters.  I was lucky in that he did come home – so many who were part of D Day did not. 

Blitz in Weston
In October last year we were approached by the Royal British Legion to identify any relations or friends of those who died during the Blitz in Weston.  We know that not all the people who are buried in the Cemetery were from Weston but they are keen to get as many there as possible. As I was involved in designing the notice on the Civilian Graves Plot I am including this in case you might spot a name which rings a bell.

 A close-up of a newspaperDescription automatically generated

Memorial Service in Weston Cemetery – 3.00pm, Sunday 9th June
If you would like to attend, please contact the Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net

Saturday Help Session
A reminder that on Saturday 1st June our helpers will be at the Library from 2.00 until 3.30 to assist anyone with their research.  You do not have to be a member to come along.  The library has  a great many items which can be helpful as well as the ability to use Ancestry and Findmypast.

North Somerset Archivist
If you find a document that you wish to consult is at the Somerset Archives (not everything is available online) the next visit of the North Somerset Archivist is on Thursday next. Thursday 6 June and then again on Thursday 5 September and Thursday 5 December.  Sessions are open from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm, and from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm For more information contact somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk  Let them know what it is that you would like them to bring to the library – use their online catalogue to identify the document. https://somerset-cat.swheritage.org.uk/

New Releases from Ancestry

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The Poor Registers for Scotland look like a complete set and some of you may also be interested in the England Cricket Players – I see that it includes Lauren Filer

New releases on The Genealogist.

New releases rom Findmypast
https://www.findmypast.co.uk/blog/new/womens-navy-coastguard-records With the refurbishment of the Old Pier you may find something of interest in these records.

Prices of BMD Certificates
The prices of certificates and digital or PDF images have all gone up.
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The online digital image at £3.00 (if available) is still the same as a cup of coffee!

The next Society Meeting
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 12th June and will feature the Agricultural Revolution  of 1700-1850 with speaker Jim Pimpernell.  It was important to achieve a high level of productivity and the old 3 field system was overhauled.  As Somerset was predominantly agricultural-based many of our ancestor would have been working on the land. As usual the meeting will be at our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall from 2.30 pm until 5,00 pm.  Visitors are welcome.

The next Zoom Workshop
I will be leading the next Zoom Workshop on Wednesday 26th June, and it will be about the Poor Law with examples from the Axbridge Poor Law Union and Axbridge Workhouse.  I asked last month if anyone had specific queries about the way in which the poor were treated but I had few replies or comments posted.  It’s not too late to add your queries if you have any.

Visit to Mendip Hospital Cemetery
In the last newsletter Jenny gave warning about a planned visit in September.  Have you all replied to her?

It is now officially Summer so traditionally family historians go off researching the areas where their families lived.  Don’t forget that you belong to a Society whose members would like to hear how you are getting on.  Please post your comments and advice to other members which you think maybe helpful.

News TopicMonthly Update
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May 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 30/04/2024 - 23:28

Well, here we are in May already.  Years ago, we would have been celebrating by washing our faces in the morning dew, dancing around May Poles, electing a May Queen and welcoming the start of Summer with Morris Dancing.  Of course, some celebrations still take place. In Padstow there is the Hobby Horse and usually in Hutton and many other villages there are other community-based events, and this May we do have two Bank Holidays.

Future Events

Free Help Sessions Weston Library  - Saturday May 4th from 2.00 until 3.30 p.m.

Do you know what is available in Weston Library for family and local historians?  Have you ever visited our Free Help Sessions at Weston Library? – everyone is welcome whether you are members of the Society or not.  These are held in the North Somerset Studies Room with our experienced Volunteers to help you.  On the 1st Saturday of each month from 2.00 until 3.30pm. - just come along and get a second opinion about your research.   Apart from the material available in the library itself, including directories, maps, files about people and places, family trees compiled by the late Brian Austin, electoral rolls, etc. you will also have free access to Ancestry and  Findmypast and the chance to find out about what other sites are freely available on the Internet.  If you are an experienced member, would you  consider joining our team of volunteers?

Society Meeting – Wednesday May 8th from 2.30 until 5.00 p.m. at our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall

John Page, a keen and knowledgeable local and family historian, will be speaking about “Settlement Orders, the lives of the poor”.  Settlement Orders are very useful ways of keeping track of your poorer ancestors who may have been sent back to their original parish if they needed support in the parish in which they were living.  The Somerset Archives online Catalogue includes an Index to Removals and Examinations https://somerset-cat.swheritage.org.uk/indexes/settlement .
In my own family research, I have found these documents to be enlightening and interesting.  The Examinations often outline the lives of the people involved and explains how they obtain settlement in a particular parish. I can also recommend a book by Thelma Munckton  “Somerset Paupers, Unremembered Lives” which contains case studies she extracted from the Settlement and Removal Examinations.

Workshop by Zoom will be on Wednesday 22nd May and will be an Update on the 1939 Register by Peter de Dulin

The 1939 Register continues to be updated to reveal people who have died since the last update.  In addition, users may have sent in corrections to the transcriptions, so it is always a good idea to check again for people who are missing.

I am under the redacted entry here.  My Identity Card Number was OANB 12 4.  The OANB can be found at the top of the page.

If you have any queries about how to use the 1939 Register please let Peter know before the meeting so that he can answer them during the Workshop.

Workshop on June 26th – Union Workhouses with examples from Axbridge.

Rear View of Axbridge Union Workhouse.   I will be offering a Workshop about my research into the people who were inmates of Axbridge Workhouse and how they were treated.  If you have found any of your relations in Axbridge I would be interested in hearing from you.  Some information can be found on our web site  http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/custom_page.php?pID=17

September Society Meeting - Away Day – Site visit to Mendip Hospital Cemetery on Sept 11th 2024

Jenny Towey has sent an email to all members about a proposed visit to the Mendip Hospital Cemetery to take place instead of the Society meeting on Wednesday Sept 11th   She wishes to know by email to her  jenny@towey.me.uk  whether

a)   you are interested in attending.

b)   you are able to offer transport to others and if so, how many?

c)   you will require transport.

If needed we can arrange a minibus which will incur a small charge.

A collage of a cemeteryDescription automatically generated

Views of Mendip Hospital Cemetery from the Friends Facebook Group.

Many people from this area were patients in the Mendip Hospital and may be buried there in this cemetery – This visit will be hosted by the Friends of Mendip Hospital http://www.mendiphospitalcemetery.org.uk/ and will include an exhibition in the chapel with new patient stories and more on the workings of the asylum/hospital, the entertainment, which was viewed as important for the patients and staff, a section on the staff and information on some of the medical history.

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Picture from their Facebook Group. https://www.facebook.com/mendiphospitalcemetery/

Please let Jenny know if you are interested in joining the visit.

More information about the place can be found on our own web site   http://www.wsmfhs.org.uk/custom_page.php?pID=18

Lost Cousins Newsletter

The latest edition of this excellent newsletter has recently been published and can be seen here - http://familyhistory.news/endapr24news.htm
Lost Cousins was first established 20 years ago and has offered valuable advice and encouragement to all. 
One of the items in this edition reminded me of the day before I was married.  We had sent our Banns certificates to the Vicar of the Parish where we were to be married. He had gone on holiday, so his housekeeper had forwarded all his mail to him in the north of England, but he had not received it.  We were contacted with the news that we would need to get copies of the certificates, or the wedding could not take place!  That Friday we had a rushed visit to Emanuel Church in Weston and St Cuthbert’s Church in Brislington, Bristol to get the necessary documents.

A person and person in wedding attireDescription automatically generated

That was nearly 63 years ago but we were legally married!

Inebriated Women

I have been helping a student who is now nearing the end of her dissertation on Inebriated Women of Weston.  She is going to join the Society. One of her case studies, Elizabeth STAPLES, is buried in Weston Cemetery in Grave Tu 381 and according to our records there is a memorial on the grave.  Would someone be very kind and take a photograph of the grave for her?  I can provide a map to show where the grave is.

Web site

The combined brain power of the Committee is being exercised about how to make our web site more friendly. We have a large amount of information available on the web site, but it is not always easy to find it or to add more. Very few people use the Research Forum to pose queries or to answer those from other members – Why? – Any comments or suggestions you have will be gratefully received.  But my newsletters do not receive many comments either!


Our Facebook Group is possibly not used as much as it could be.  We do have members with considerable experience in Family History Research who are willing to help others who are just starting out or are temporarilly puzzled. 
Sometimes people who are wishing to join our Facebook Group are delayed acceptance because they have not answered the simple question asked of them before we admit them.  If you recommend other people to join, please mention this as it does cause extra work our end to contact them and may disappoint them. 

Brian Austin – Worle Society Meeting – “Remembering Brian”

On Thursday May 2nd at 7.00 pm Worle History Society at Worle Community Centre, Lawrence Road will be hosting a special meeting in Remembrance and Celebration of Brian Austin, his life and work recording the history of Weston and its people. Non-members are welcome.

North Somerset Libraries

All North Somerset libraries will be closed on Tuesday 7 May from 9.30 to 2pm. This is so staff can be trained in using an essential new computer system for libraries. Libraries will re-open as normal at 2pm. Extended Access will be available at Nailsea, Portishead, Clevedon, Yatton, Worle and Winscombe libraries for customers who are registered for self-service. Alternatively, you can access eResources, make reservations and renew items at www.librarieswest.org.uk with your PIN.

New Resources Available.

Ancestry has published details of the Red Cross Volunteers during WW1.  https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/70927/

If you just enter Weston-super-Mare in the space for Key Word you get a list of all people with connections to Weston and some information of their work. There are some interesting people mentioned. Sybil Baker, the daughter of Ernest Baker who lived at Glebe House, Mabel and Vera Barstow, from the Lodge, and Marjorie Graves-Knyfton from Uphill. But one of the most interesting was Ethel Mary Pethick who as a Suffragette filled in the 1911 Census like this. “No Vote No Census”

A close-up of a registerDescription automatically generated

Ethel Mary PETHICK was the sister of Emmeline PETHICK-LAWRENCE who was the first Treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union.  Their father owned the Weston Gazette. Ethel Mary was the Assistant  Commandant at Ashcombe Red Cross Hospital from Dec 1914.

Ancestry has also published information during April about UK and US Blacksmiths and Related Trades 1720-1940. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/62979/    

I was surprised to find an entry for William HASE and even more so to see that the information for him had come from me!  I do remember many years ago contributing to an index of Blacksmiths which has obviously been included in this collection. It does mean though that the information may not be totally accurate – except for mine of course!

Memorial Service in Weston Cemetery – 3.00pm, Sunday 9th June

Please do not forget to contact The Weston Branch of the Royal British Legion if you wish to be involved in their Memorial Service for all those who lost their lives during the Blitz in Weston.  If you would like to attend, please contact the Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net


If you have any comments or questions about this newsletter, please feel free to add them together with any tips and advice you would like to share with other members.  We would like to be able to share your successes as well as help with any queries you may have. Not everyone can attend the face-to-face meetings and we hope that the Web site can provide a method of communication between members so that everyone feels involved in the Society.




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April 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 02/04/2024 - 0:02

Everything seems to be happening this weekend.  It is Easter with two Bank Holidays, the clocks have to be put forward 1 hour and it’s April Fool’s Day! And it's raining again!  How are you getting on with your family research?

Summer Time

Did you all remember to alter your clocks on Saturday evening?  As a child, I have a vague memory of the double summer time instituted during WW2.  Having to go to bed in broad daylight was a strange experience.  At least we had black-out curtains then which did help a little!

Easter in Rome

A portrait of a personDescription automatically generatedWatching the current Pope deliver his Easter Message reminded me that during WW2, my father who was severely wounded at Monte Cassino in 1944, after a partial recovery and classed as disabled, had spent the rest of the war in REME Workshops in Rome.  He did not come home until 1946. 

During this time,  he visited the Vatican with other troops for a gathering which was attended by the then Pope.  Not all his comrades were selected and several who were Catholics asked him (not a Catholic) to take various items with him so that when they sent them to their families, they could say that these had been in the presence of the Pope Pius Xll. 
My father kept this small card from that occasion.

This photo is of the group has my father sitting on the ground at the left hand end of the front row.



I have posted on Facebook the same request for information about inebriated women as you will find in our Research Forum.  This is an interesting project and has produced some relevant comments.  Looking at these women I can see that in some cases the Police Courts were sympathetic to their problems but in others (one woman was before them 17 times) less so but concerned about the welfare of the children involved. Looking at any problem with the benefit of C21st knowledge can sometimes produce a different result than if you were totally aware of the conditions and the social pressures of the time.

 Civilian Casualties of WW2 in Weston.

Here is a reminder that if you have any connection with any of Civilian casualties in Weston of WW2 and wish to attend this service please make sure that you let the BRL know as outlined below.  

REMEMBERING THE WESTON BLITZ 1941/42 – Sunday 9th June 2024

To mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day the Weston Branch Royal British Legion will be holding a Memorial Service at the Civilian War Graves area of Milton Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Blitz of 1941 and 1942. The Service will take place at 3pm on Sunday 9th June 2024.

The Branch would like to invite to this Service any relative, descendent or friend of those that lost their lives during the Blitz. If you would like to attend, please contact tthe Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net

New Items on Ancestry

These items have been added or updated during March.

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It is always a good idea to check to see if your ancestor is included in any update.

New Items on FindmyPast

These items have been added or updated recently and can be seen on this blog I wonder how many of us have relatives in Country Life?!
However, as a side issue, many of you will know that we used to run a vintage car for Wedding Hire and the past owners of that car may well appear.
I don’t only research relatives but also those who connect with us.

Research Forum - Napoleonic Wars

A person wearing a red uniformDescription automatically generatedBrian Airey has posted that he has access to a file of information about the Napoleonic Wars compiled by the late David Milner.  Brian is prepared to look up any person you think might be included.  You never know what is included in this file.

David Milner, who for many years was our Treasurer, spent a great deal of his time researching these wars as he had an ancestor involved.  On Open Days he would dress in uniform to create a suitable atmosphere.

Please use the Research Forum if you need help in breaking down brick walls or are simply unsure of where to look for individuals.

Free Help Session

The next free help session in Weston Library will take place on Saturday, April 6th at 2.00 p.m. until 3.30 p.m.  Everyone is welcome, the Library has access to Ancestry and FindmyPast (which includes many newspapers) as well as on the shelves where you can find maps, street directories, electoral rolls, and files containing information about people and places in North Somerset etc.  Thanks go to our team of Volunteers who enable these sessions to take place.  

Scout Hut in Totterdown Road

My father-in-law was a scout with the 3rd Weston-super-Mare (St Paul’s) Scout Group  back during WW1 when they met in Whitecross Road. Much later, both our sons were scouts with the same Group,  meeting at the Gilcraft Den at 41, Totterdown Road and I served for some time on their committee. One of my sons is now a Trustee and has been involved in the planning and fundraising for a renovation of the Hut which is now taking place.

He is looking for exterior photographs of the Den as well as  maps to show its previous use as a cowshed.  The Somerset Archives has plans for it in 1923 and 1947.  If anyone is going to Taunton in the near future perhaps they could take a look for me? The next visit of the North Somerset Archivist to Weston Library is in June.


The National Library of Scotland has a map of 1929-1930 of Weston which does show it opposite the end of Whitting Road.  This is a good free source of maps as well as Know Your Place.

Next Society Meeting

There has been a change of speaker for the next meeting on Wed. 10th April at 2.30pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall.   It will be Merchant Seamen in the C19th & C20th by Lucy Browne: what their lives were like and how to research them. 
Many have a more praiseworthy service than our relation - Henry Austin HASE - who was born in Weston in 1857 but was sentenced to spend time on board the Training Ship Formidable in 1871.  From there he was apprenticed to the Merchant Navy and placed aboard the SS William from which he absconded in 1873 in Liverpool after his first voyage.

Ancestry has this record of him. 

A close up of a documentDescription automatically generated


There was an excellent Zoom Workshop in March given by Mark Bayley from The Genealogist.  It is now available for all members to view on our web site.  It made me realise that whatever commercial site you subscribe to – there may well be areas of it which you have  never used. So, make sure that you get full benefit from your subscription.

The Zoom meeting on April 24th will be hosted by Mark Olsen of Family Tree Maker with news on the website with discounts and door prizes included.  

The Society

We are still in need of assistance on the Committee and a great many thanks are due to all those who struggle on to support this society.  Please consider what you can do to make sure that it survives.  Your opinion about what you think a society should or could provide, how to attract  younger people and meet their needs is of great importance. 

News TopicMonthly Update
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March 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/03/2024 - 14:13

St David’s Day

The Patron Saint of Wales celebrates his day today.  Daffodils and Leeks are the national emblems of Wales.  I noticed that the Daffodils along the road towards the hospital in Weston are already in bloom.  They certainly seem to be a real message of Spring. 

If you have Welsh connections, you may find the Welsh Newspapers which are free to access helpful. We have a PC Charles PUDDY in our family who was born in Mark but became a Policeman in Cardiff. He often features in newspaper accounts of his activities in arresting offenders.  He also won a bravery award for rescuing a potential suicide from the river in Cardiff. 

Free Help Session

On Saturday 2nd March our Volunteers will be waiting at the Weston-super-Mare Library to assist you research your family’s history.  You will be welcome from 2.00pm until 3.30 for our Free Help Session. Could you be a volunteer to help others?

Next Society Meeting

Our next Open Society meeting will be on Wednesday 13th March at 2.30pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall. The Speaker will be  Terry Ransome who will be researching the history of Eliza CARR, a West Country Girl and her Sampler.  Visitors and Non-members are welcome.

Next Zoom Workshop

Correction to original entry - The next Workshop on March 27th will feature Mark Bayley from The Genealogist who will give us a presentation called "Breaking down brick walls in your family history research." - How to resolve stumbling blocks in your family history research using new and unique search strategies to find those missing relatives.

This includes searching for a family using just the individuals' forenames, using keyword search tools, using criteria other than a name to search on, and using other advanced search techniques. The talk also covers unique data sets such as Non-Conformist records, Non-Parochial records, Fleet marriages, Will images, Parish Records, Directories, Newspapers and more.

Login details will follow in due course.

 British Home Children

Between the 1860s and 1970s, over 130,000 children were sent to live in overseas dominions by the British government. Known as British Home Children, many of their stories have been lost to history.  Today, FindmyPast has added “The Canadian Home Children Inspection Reports” to their collection and it includes two children who were for a short time in Axbridge Workhouse.

On the 14th April 1911, 5 siblings, the children of Thomas GAINEY of Nyland, Wedmore, were admitted to the Workhouse.  The youngest, Maurice, had been born that day and sadly the mother had died giving birth.

A family story handed down through the eldest daughter, Beatrice, who was 7 years old at the time, reported that the father took all the children initially to the home of his employer where they were each given 6d and a hot cross bun (presumably not the baby!) as it was Good Friday and then taken to the Workhouse. The three eldest remained there until June when their father took them out, but they were returned in August 1911.  In September the baby died, and the remaining 4 children were again removed from the Workhouse. 

Isaac and Violet, the 2nd and 3d children must have gone to a Dr Barnardo’s Home because in 1920 they were  sent to Canada. Found on Ancestry.


Isaac was deemed suitable to do farming and Violet to be taken into Domestic Service.
Records of their employers in Canada can be found on FindmyPast with the Home Children Inspection Reports.

Violet appears to have moved around quite a bit.

On the 1931 Census of Canada which can be found on Familysearch (free of charge) Isaac GAINEY, is living as a farm labourer in Ontario and Violet is a Domestic Servant also in Ontario.

When Violet married George GOODSON in 1939 in Peterboro, Ontario, Ancestry shows that her brother was a witness. Findagrave.com has a photograph of her tombstone with her death given as Dec 1961 - Her husband died in 2001 and they were both buried in  Oshawa Union Cemetery, Ontario, Canada.

A Bristol retired Headmistress, Shirley Hodgson’s book “Bristol’s Pauper Children” gives the background covering Victorian Education and emigration to Canada and I highly recommend it.  More can be read about  British Home Children in Canada on this web site 

Around four million people worldwide - and around 10% of Canada's population - are descended from a British Home Child. Their stories make up a crucial yet relatively unrecognised part of Canadian history.

1939 Register

It is worth rechecking this Register because there has been an increase in the number of redacted entries which have been opened and they may include the names of evacuees.  They will not only be children but you can also find teachers who travelled with their schools. Some information about the evacuation of children can be read here 
I wonder how many evacuees to Weston remained after the War? There are some memories of evacuation on our web site.  If you enter evacuee into the search box on the home page you can read of some experiences.

I have several books dealing with the subject.  “Good Night Children Everywhere” ( a phrase Uncle Mac used to end the Radio programme Children’s Hour) covers first hand memories – not all pleasant – of children involved.  It has many photographs taken at the time. This is one of them.

Alec Kingsmill, in his book “A School in the Forties” recounts his experiences being evacuated from Mitcham to Weston Grammar School where they shared facilities with that school until the school was bombed and they went elsewhere. The Logbooks of schools such as Milton Primary School and Bournville School also report on conditions at that time. At the same time schools such as Westcliff and La Retraite were evacuated away from Weston and pupils from Clifton High School in Bristol were sent to Tyntesfield. Do we still have members with memories of evacuation?

Buckets and Spades

The latest edition of our journal will be available at the next meeting of the Society and I am sure that Sue will be pleased to have more items for the next one.  We all have stories to tell which may inspire others to research and help to break down brickwalls.


Enjoy St David’s Day, enjoy your Welsh Cakes and celebrate any Welsh ancestry – remembering that a large number of Somerset residents crossed the Bristol Channel to become miners in the South Wales Coalfields.  Please add any comments or views which will help your fellow members with their research.




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February 2024 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 01/02/2024 - 22:05

I’m writing this in a chilly house as our boiler has decided to give up the ghost and needs to be replaced.  As vulnerable older people we are having a speedy resolution to this problem, but it has made me consider whether all the books, magazines, data CDs, microfiche and folders etc connected with family history which have been accumulating over the years are really needed.  We have had to clear the way for the new installation and some big decisions have had to be made.  Has anyone else had this state of affairs and how did you solve it?

David Tyler 1935-2024

It was with sadness that I heard this week of the death of David Tyler who for a long time was a member of this society. Dave was a stalwart member of the team who volunteered in the Library every Saturday before Covid.  In addition, he could often be found searching the newspapers on film in Weston Library and he carried out detailed research about the Carlton Street area, Moorland Road and other parts of Weston. The results of his research into some old public houses of Weston can be seen on our web site 

David had been evacuated to Weston during WW2 from West Ham and remained here afterwards.

A person sitting in a chairDescription automatically generatedHe worked as a projectionist at the Odeon from about 1950 and appeared in some publicity shots carrying a sandwich board around Weston advertising the latest film at the Odeon.

Dave and his wife, Joan, were very active in supporting the Community in which they lived.

I was grateful to David and Joan, as they were members of the U3A Family History Group which met at St Pauls, each month they made and served the refreshments for it. 

We will miss him and send our sympathy and love to Joan and his family.

WW2 Remembrance

I have received this communication from the Royal British Legion, and I very much hope that if you have memories of this bombing or connections with anyone who lost their lives at that time that you will be able to attend.


To mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day the Weston Branch Royal British Legion will be holding a Memorial Service at the Civilian War Graves area of Milton Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Blitz of 1941 and 1942. The Service will take place at 3pm on Sunday 9th June 2024.

The Branch would like to invite to this Service any relative, descendent or friend of those that lost their lives during the Blitz. If you would like to attend, please contact the Branch representative on 01934 709564 or e-mail r.potter60@talktalk.net

A group of people standing in front of a graveDescription automatically generatedThis photograph is of the mass burial of civilian casualties taken from the information on our web site.








 Free Help Session at the Library

The next free help session at the library will take place this Saturday, February 3rd from 2.00pm until 3.30pm.  As we do not have as many volunteers as we did before Covid we can only offer this service once a month these days but do come along with your queries and our valiant volunteers will assist you in your search for members of your past family. There is no need to book - just come along.

Next Society Meeting

On St Valentine’s Day – Wednesday February 14th at 2.30 until 5.00 pm we have a meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall when the Speaker, Simon Talbot-Ponsonby will give an update on the Regeneration of Birnbeck Pier.  Many of our ancestors will have been familiar with this structure in its hey day and we will hear about progress which has been made to restore it, the money involved and when work is scheduled to begin.  There is a short compilation of pictures of the Old Pier on YouTube which you might find interesting.  

Next Zoom Workshop

A group of children sitting in front of a buildingDescription automatically generated

The next Zoom Workshop for full members of our Society will be on Wednesday 28th February at 7.30pm when I will be looking at the many Private Schools which existed in Weston in the 19th, 20th and early 21st Centuries - The last one, Ashbrooke House School, closed in July 2022.




Photo of Hazelhurst School  - which is included in a list of schools on our web site 

Thank you very much to those who have responded on Facebook and on our own web site with memories of attending such schools or with reports of ancestors who were educated or taught in these establishments.

Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday is on the 13th February this year and although probably most of us will be eating pancakes, the religious traditions of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are largely ignored in favour of more popular entertainment.  This is an extract from 1906 explaining the historical significance of these days.

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St Valentine’s Day

Ash Wednesday this year is also St Valentine’s Day which is commercially a clash of chocolate with the start of Lent.  Although I have several people whose birthday was on the 14th of Feb, I have no one with the first name of Valentine on my tree. 

Leap Year

With the additional day this year – does anyone have that date for a birthday, once every four years? I only have the 29th February once on my tree and that is for the marriage of a 2nd cousin 4 times removed of my husband – a Miriam CREED, who was married to Elias MARTIN at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol on the 29th Feb 1848.

Latest additions to Ancestry during January

The last one is interesting if you have anyone who worked for the Royal Mail and note that the Death Index now goes up to 2022.

Tracing Female Ancestors on FindmyPast

I found this entry particularly interesting especially as it mentions the importance of understanding the Social History of the time in which your female ancestors were living.  Take a look at this blog which summarises the aspects to consider. 

New Records on The Genealogist

I find Street and Trade Directories very helpful in tracing the movement of my ancestors and these cover a wide area of the UK. This explains what is now available.

Destruction of Wills

The petition about the proposal to destroy original wills has been available on our Facebook Group for a little while "Do not allow original wills to be destroyed after 25 years" and a few have signed. Please consider signing to increase the chance of more meaningful discussion of this proposal.  When you look at the errors in the index after the digitalisation of the 1921 Census and the difficulty of finding accurate information this causes.  There is also a link on our web site to the same petition which gives some background information.

I must close now because as in the marvellous song from Flanders and Swann – “The gas man cometh” – I just hope that it all goes to our plan and not like the song!  Have a great February and don’t forget to use the Research Forum, the Facebook Group and the Free Help Session to get help with your research. 

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Forthcoming Events

Workshop by Zoom: Guild of One-Name Studies
Wednesday, 24th July, 2024 19:30 - 21:30
Library Help Session
Saturday, 7th September, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
Physical Members' Meeting: site visit
Wednesday, 11th September, 2024 14:30 - 16:30
Library Help Session
Saturday, 5th October, 2024 14:00 - 15:30
Physical Members' Meeting
Wednesday, 9th October, 2024 14:30 - 17:00
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