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News & Information (Monthly Update)

June 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 31/05/2022 - 22:53

We start by congratulating her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Platinum Jubilee.  The Platinum Jubilee Beacon at Uphill will be lit as part of the national chain at 9.45 pm on June 2nd preceded by a unique Bugle Call and the ringing of the old church bells.  Just one of many local events to commemorate the occasion.  More later.

Members' Workshops

During May we had the first of the Members’ Workshop Sessions which are planned for the 4th Wednesday of each month by Zoom.  The Workshops start at 7.30 and the second one covering Marriages will be on Wed. 22nd June.  The first was very successful, and thanks go to Peter de Dulin for organising this addition to our programme of activities.  The opening session on Births and Baptisms is now available on video for members who could not attend on the night - you need to sign in first to see it.

Free Helps Sessions at Weston Library

It's good news that our Free Library Help Sessions are starting up again.  Initially they will be once a month at Weston-super-Mare Library - on the first Saturday of each month - with the first session on the 2nd July, from 2.00pm to 3.30pm.  You can bring your own laptop to work on if you prefer. Please bring whatever information you have about your family which will enable the volunteer to help you.  Only four people can attend each session and this time you will have to book through the Library (the Society cannot take bookings). Contact the library on 01934 426010 or email Weston.library@n-somerset.gov.uk to make your booking.

The Weston Library is a great resource for family historians covering all the parishes in North  Somerset.  It can also give access to local to local newspapers on film; however, these are not indexed but if you are prepared to search the pages for it and not be side-tracked by all the interesting articles in the neighbouring columns it can be a rewarding experience! The Electoral Rolls and Street Directories are also a goldmine of information as are the number of maps available.  Files of information about local people and places associated with the area are anther rich source.  Don't forget Brian Austin's collection of Family Trees. 

Free Web sites

I apologise that the list of free Web Sites on our home page is in need of correction. The North Somerset Libraries no longer give access online to some of the most useful sites like the Times Digital Archive, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and others which can still be accessed if you have a Bristol Library Card!  I will try to amend that list as soon as possible.  Please check with your local library to see whether you have access to these as it seems to vary across the country.

Addition to Ancestry Church Records

  • The Bristol C of E Marriages on Ancestry now covers 1754-1937 with images
  • The Bristol C of E Baptisms on Ancestry now covers 1813-1921 with images
  • East and West Sussex C of E Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from 1538 – 1920 (Baptisms) - 1936 (marriages) – 1995 (burials)

The 1950 Census of America

The 1950 Census of America was released during May. To search it go to https://1950census.archives.gov/search/ There is a useful series of videos on Youtube about how to use it to your advantage.    More details about these can be seen here

Who do you think you are? 

The web site has been very quiet – just one research query in the last 3 months – perhaps you may get inspiration from the current series of Who Do You Think You Are.  The first one about Sue Perkins was really interesting especially dealing with the Isle of Mann and the Knockaloe Internment Centre during WW1     The following programmes are scheduled:

  • Richard Osman - 9 June, 9pm BBC1
  • Matt Lucas - 16 June, 9pm BBC1
  • Anna Maxwell Martin - 23 June, 9pm BBC1
  • Ralf Little - 30 June, 9pm BBC1

WDYTYA is still one of the best programmes for gaining tips for future research, but remember how many researchers they use and how many people have been discounted as not being interesting enough!  Several TV programmes give a nod towards family history but many of them are designed as entertainment rather than giving any tips for research.  The best of the DNA programmes is probably “DNA Family Secrets” with the brilliant, Professor Turi King, who explains the system rather than just giving the answers.         

The experience of tracing and finding blood relations through DNA in these instances is a deeply emotional one and there needs to be a support network set up for both sides to see that mental health issues are addressed.

Irish Records Recovered

On June 27th a new free resource will become available for those of you who have Irish ancestry and who thought all records were destroyed in June 1922.  More information can be seen on this short video called "Beyond 2022" This is an encouraging and inspiring project which has gathered together evidence from a multitude of sources to enhance the resulting digital archive.

Basic Research Caveats

  • Not every record is online - one of the most valuable records - Overseers' Accounts - are difficult to transcribe or index but have fascinating information.
  • Original records may have errors - age, name etc.
  • You will make mistakes - we all do!
  • Handed-down family stories may not be accurate but may contain a grain of truth.
  • You will never finish!

Jubilee Celebrations

And now, that Jubilee!  We have Bank Holidays on Thursday and Friday the 2nd and 3rd June giving us a 4-day Holiday which we all hope that you will enjoying celebrating the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.  If you are meeting up with family during this time, why not take the opportunity to record any memories. In the last newsletter I shared some memories of Coronation Day in 1953 in the hope that some of you might have added your own but perhaps you are all too young, as nothing materialised.

This time I’m looking at the Silver Jubilee in 1977. I recently found some photographs of that time in Weston.  There were street parties – and a visit from the Queen.  None of my photos actually show the Queen! – just the scouts and guides displaying on the Beach Lawns  and the crowds lining the route. 

Street Parties were put on for the residents of a number of roads – This is a poor photograph of the cake for a party near me - but it does name the streets involved:

Called the Selbourne Road Street Party (half of which was closed for the event) it included Addiscombe Road, Beaumont Close, Bedford Road, Dumfries Place, Southville Road, Stanhope Road, Totterdown Road, and Whitting Road.  Strangely the only other road on the east side of Devonshire Road, Brownlow Road, is not mentioned - perhaps there were no children from there taking part.  The food was a buffet along one side of the road and provision was made for other games for the children.

Guitar entertainment was provided by the late and talented Bob Allam from Uphill.  I would take a small bet that one of the items he sang would have been a rendition of the highly appropriate Ralph Mctell’s “Streets of London”.  

Bob taught Guitar at an Evening Class for what was then the Extra Mural Department of Weston College and the “Streets of London” could often be heard pervading the building.    

There was also a fancy-dress parade for the children.   If this “King for a Day” bears any resemblance to me, it must be due to DNA!

If you have any memories of the Silver, Golden or Diamond Jubilees, please add a comment.

A picture containing text, newspaperDescription automatically generatedOur Ancestors would have celebrated Queen Victoria’s various Jubilees. In 1897 her Diamond Jubilee was marked in Weston by a parade through the town, a tea for Children, a meat dinner for the elderly poor and a public collection to set up a free library.  The resulting Grade II listed building was opened in 1900 in the Boulevard designed by Hans Fowler Price but sadly was sold when the library moved into the Town Hall.

The newspapers were full of plans for how each of the surrounding villages would mark the occasion but there was also this historical note about the Golden Jubilee of George III in 1809.  It seems that history does repeat itself!  Read more details here 

Jubilee Road 

I assume that Jubilee Road in Weston-super-Mare was named to honour the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. How many of our members or FB members have found ancestors living there?  The 1891 census shows 73 households in Jubilee Road. That 73 does not mean that there were 73 houses because in several cases two families (households) were living in the same house.  Each house had a name rather than a number.  We have had several new members of the Facebook Group who have joined because they are researching the house in which they live.  It is fascinating to look at the history of your house or the land on which it was built. Know Your Place can often provide an insight into the previous use of the land or building, sometimes you may find photographs in the Community Layer.  County Archives are useful for planning permission and changes of use of buildings. The plans may list the original owner or architect and Censuses and Street Directories give more information.

Future Events

Looking forward to August we are planning to take a stand at the Hutton Festival - "Taste of Somerset" which will take place on Wednesday 31st August in St Mary's Field in Hutton.  More details to follow.

Next Members' Meeting

Our next Members' Meeting will take place at 2.30pm -5.00pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall, Baytree Road on Wednesday June 8th and visitors are welcome.  At this meeting the remainder of our stock of Library Books will be offered for sale.  If you are interested in any but are not attending please contact our Secretary, Brian Airey.   The doors open at 2.30pm and the Speaker, Don Bishop, will start at 3.00pm.  The topic will be the West Somerset Railway - his web site has a splendid collection of photographs of the rolling stock. For those members who are unable to attend, the talk will be recorded and made available later on our web site for viewing at your convenience.


Enjoy the coming celebrations but when researching don't forget to ask for help if you need it, either on our Research Forum on the Web site or by posting your query on the Facebook Group.  Comment and additions to the Newsletter welcome.

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May 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 30/04/2022 - 21:51

It’s another Bank Holiday and the sun is shining on the apple blossom so it’s time to welcome May, which I often think is the best time to visit Great Britain.  This May Day Holiday is said to celebrate the coming of Summer with dancing around a Maypole and the crowning of May Queens.  This photograph shows my daughter-in-law when as a pupil at Christ Church Primary School she joined in the traditional activity.

The first Monday in May was officially granted Bank Holiday status in 1978.  The traditional Whit Monday Holiday this year has been moved to Thursday June 2nd to make a 4-day break to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee together with Friday June 3rd . When coupled with the following weekend this should allow plenty of time to commemorate this special occasion.  How will you be marking the event?

Memories of the Coronation 

I wonder how many of our members can actually remember the Coronation.  My husband, who was on leave from his National Service, went with his parents to Birnbeck Pier to have lunch and to watch it all on a very small television – he thinks it couldn’t have been any larger than a 10” or 12” screen.  The day was captured for posterity by Jackson’s Faces - arriving in time for the great event.

My Great Aunt Maud was the only member of our family who had their own television.  She organised a family party at her home in Bristol.  There were probably about 15-20 people crammed into her living room around a TV set about the same size as the one on the Old Pier.  Great Aunt Maud had catered extremely well, and we were kept going on sandwiches and cakes, which seemed to go on for ever as did the ceremony!

Diary Keeping

Memories like those are the bedrock of family history.  My husband has kept a diary since a schoolboy and it is interesting reading the entries which highlight issues which concerned him most at the time of writing.  The cost of chocolate is entered (almost daily) once sweet rationing ended and after he was 17 and the proud owner of his first car the cost of fuel becomes important - about 4 shillings a gallon (20p).  Chocolate has maintained its place in his daily life whereas the recent hike in fuel prices has passed him by as he no longer drives.  Do you have access to any diaries?

DNA Journeys

I have been watching the DNA Journeys on ITV and although entertaining these programmes have little to do with actual DNA research.  However, I was interested in the revelation that one of Christopher DEAN’s ancestor had become a Mormon in this country and had subsequently travelled to Salt Lake City where a branch of the family still lived.  In the commentary it was stated that at that time there were more active members of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints in this country than in America.

In my own research Great Aunt Kate née LONG married Albert E DAYER in 1907 and when looking at the DAYER family I came across this census entry and was intrigued to see that Albert’s elder brother, George, was born in America in Salt Lake City.  Their parents had been married on the 23rd June 1873 in Salt Lake City.  George T DAYER had arrived in the USA in July 1868 and Jane McBURNEY had arrived from Ireland in August 1871 so presumably they had met through their connection with the Mormon Church.

1881 England, Wale & Scotland Census

4, Sydney Street,Ss Philip & Jacob (Out) Barton Regis, Bristol

First name

Last name


Marital status


Birth year


Birth place

George T






Rail clerk

Newport, Mons








Ireland, Ballymena

George T







United States, Salt Lake City

Albert E








Herbert C








A great aunt of Albert’s  called Ann DAYER had married a David SPOONER in 1835 in South Wales and had 5 children in Glamorgan.  After David SPOONER’s death in 1850, Ann emigrated with her children to Salt Lake City where she married again in 1856 to an Isaac MORLEY.   In 1857 Ann’s daughter Sarah married Benjamin Franklin JOHNSON, who was an elder of the Mormon Church.  Under the auspices of this Church, it was possible for Benjamin to have 8 wives of whom Sarah was the fifth, all living at the same time.  It is likely that these experiences may have influenced George DAYER’s decision to go to America. Missionaries from America were active in this country at that time.  

There is anther series of programmes this time called DNA Family Secrets, beginning 9pm on May 11th on BBC2 – it will be interesting to see what format these take.

 Next Society Meeting

Also on May 11th we have our next Society Meeting, when the speaker will be Stuart Burroughs with the title “The Poor Man’s Friend? Bath and the Workhouse”.  Stuart is the Director of the Museum of Work at Bath and is immensely knowledgeable about life in Bath. Read about him here The Museum of Bath at Work is a fascinating place to visit.  All too often Bath is described as the Georgian Town catering for those in Society,  but it had its poorer residents as well and they have their history to be discovered.


As a Society we are a member of the ALHA (Avon Local History Archaeological) Association which has just updated their web site.    You can discover what each of the member Groups are offering to their members and whether there is a group covering the area in which your family lived. 


If you are a member, you will have received an email from Peter de Dulin about our proposed Workshops.  Please reply to him with any requests for topics you would like covered or giving details of any brickwall you are trying to break down.  Very little use is made of the Research Forum on the Web site but please respond to Peter if you need any help, however simple it may seem.

Facebook Group

We have had some interesting requests for help in the past month and discovered some surprising information about ancestors of our FB members.  It has highlighted the problem of an inaccurate transcription of a marriage on FindmyPast which led to many hours of futile research.  It is always best to check with the original document if possible.  



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April 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 0:03

Each month I try to publish a newsletter on the 1st of the month.  April 1st has its own problems with its links to All Fools Day.  I can assure you that whatever I write in this newsletter will be as truthful as I can make it.  What memories do you have of April Fool Jokes?  Were you taken in by any?  Did you create any yourself?  Read more about April Fools Day 

Mothering Sunday

During March we celebrated Mothering Sunday, another old custom, which may have inspired you to look again at your female ancestors.  With different resources becoming available it is often surprising how new information can shed light on our families. I decided to look again at my gg grandparents who lived in Wraxall, within our area.  Charles and Lavinia STOKES née SPERRING were married at All Saints, Wraxall, on the 24th of May 1846.  They had 15 children, so Mothering Sunday may have been very busy for Lavinia and the possibility of DNA matches should be relatively high if I can identify each one. A little while ago I posted a document "My Wraxall Connections" on the Web site under the Place, Wraxall which outlined this family.   Why not include some information about your research under the place where your ancestors lived on our web site?


Talking about DNA – I hope that some of you managed to catch some of the excellent talks (including the one on DNA by Blaine Bettinger) which were available under the project “History for Ukraine” which raised over £52,000 during last week. Today, 30th March, there have been further talks about Railway History and WW1 Battle of Somme and many other topics.  They are still available on youtube for 48 hours. 

Welsh and Irish Research

With both the Patron Saints of Wales and Ireland being commemorated during March, I decided to see where my own research featured in these countries.  I knew that Charles PUDDY, born in Mark, and a Great Uncle of my husband, became a Police Sergeant in Cardiff.  The free Welsh Newspapers  enabled me to identify some of the cases in which he was involved and learn about an Award with which he was presented for saving someone's life.

When considering Irish Ancestry this site is a useful one and so to a certain extent is "Dusty Docs" which, of course can also be used for other places in the British Isles.

Research Forum & Facebook

There have been no new entries in our Research Forum in the last month and the Facebook Group has also been very slow.  However, a request which was received through our secretary, Brian Airey, for a photograph of the Town Surveyor Harold BROWN was successfully answered on the Facebook Group by John Crockford-Hawley who found one in the Souvenir Programme for the initiation of the Borough of Weston-super-Mare in 1937.  Are any of you related to members of the Administrative Staff of the Borough at that time? I have included named photo of all of them employed by the Borough in 1937, taken outside of Drove Road Hospital which hopefully may be useful.


I have often mentioned an interest in the schools of Weston and district and there has been a request on the Facebook Group for info and photos for Winterstoke Girls' Secondary Modern School, which was not answered.  Can anyone help?  Initially it was known as Locking Road Girls' School but by 1952 took the name of Winterstoke.

Questionnaire about Workshops

Members should have received a questionnaire to assist in the planning of Workshops for the Society.  Please make sure that you reply as these are designed to make sure that these events meet the needs of the majority.

Next Meeting

Our next Society meeting on Wednesday 13th April - full details on our web site  The Speaker will be David SKIDMORE a member of the famous Worle Family which celebrated 100 years of trading in 1919.

Your Comments

Please take this opportunity to add any helpful comments which you may have about the society and whether it meets your needs. There are some very helpful members who are willing to answer any queries you may have about your research. Thanks go to Sue Maguire for another excellent Buckets and Spades, to Graham Payne who continues to provide transcriptions of records and Memorials, and to all those who have struggled with the challenge of new IT coupled with the rules and regulations of providing meetings during these difficult times.  


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March 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/03/2022 - 0:24

During February there have been some interesting developments in local family history research.  I received a communication that some genealogical papers – possibly from a house clearance - had been purchased as part of a lot which included local postcards and other local memorabilia.

What to do with your Research Notes

On investigation they were identified as being the work of a Weston man who had been actively researching in the 1980s and 90s.  He had no children and had moved away from Weston after the death of his wife.  The bundle included original birth, marriage and death certificates, some copies of certificates, a few photographs and several family trees compiled in the familiar hand of Brian Austin, who at that time had been running consultation sessions in Weston Museum and Library and remembers helping this man.

This set me thinking about what happens to all our work if we do not make sure that it is passed on to an interested party. Perhaps some of you can advise on what should be done with this type of research.  It also highlighted the contribution that Brian’s family trees, which can be seen in the Weston Library, can make to our research. 

The other aspect of these papers was the number of families in Weston which had connections with this man through marriage with his relations.  One even married into the CRANDON family and was related to one who married a HASE!

Since the original research was done more documents have become available online and it might be easier to discover the roots of the family today.  This one family had a link back to the MUGGLEWORTH family, (of Weston Worthy Fame), 3 illegitimate children born in Axbridge Workhouse, someone who changed his name by Deed Poll,  From London Gazette.

and two different women who married German musicians who entertained in Weston, one of whom had difficulties when WW1 started and she was classed as an alien. There are many other connections to the local history of the area.

British & Black History

At the beginning of February, FindmyPast published a Blog about British and Black History  to augment knowledge about Slavery and I have previously written about some residents of Weston and district who had been the owners of Slaves.

A teacher enquired on our Facebook Group about the effect that the arrival of the Windrush had on Weston and Worle, so that he could use local memories in his teaching.  Nobody responded which I think probably was indicative of the lack of recognition of the effects which those immigrants had on the Weston area.   Pre WW2, Weston did have several people born abroad – Many were the wives or children of men serving in the Army in India or Africa.  In 1911 only three people in Weston were born in the West Indies, similarly there were only three residents born in the West Indies in 1921.  These appear to be quite well off and living on their own means.  How would you ensure that children today were familiar with the effects of migration from the Caribbean on this part of the world?

RAF Records

The Genealogist has published some new RAF Records   Over 4.2 million transcripts for RAF Operations Record Books (ORBs), have been released – they are fully searchable by Name, Rank, Aircraft, Squadron, and Date plus many other fields, making it simpler to find your air force ancestors. There is a short video to show how this works 

Portraits & Photographs

Ancestry has connected with the National Portrait Gallery to offer a collection of photographs and paintings    It is worth looking – just in case you have someone in your family whose portrait is included.  My Grandfather always maintained that Edwin LONG RA was a member of our family and there are three portraits of him included.  Can anyone see a likeness to my gg grandfather who is reputed to be a cousin of Edwin?

Thomas LONG                   Edwin LONG RA  

RootsTech 2022

Here's what you will find at RootsTech 2022.  March 3rd - 5th   
Register today!  https://familysearch.me/RootsTech22gb

Next Society Meeting

On Wednesday the 9th March at 2.30 p.m. at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church Hall, Baytree Road, there will be a meeting of the Society when the Speaker will be Alan Bateman. He will be talking about how to research the villages in which your ancestor lived.  Some Covid restrictions will still be in action.  Please bring a mask and conform to requirements.

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February 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 31/01/2022 - 23:48

I know the days are getting longer and there are signs of regeneration in the garden, but I still am not fond of February.  I wonder how our ancestors dealt with the changing seasons and cold weather?  We are also coping with the uncertainties around the Covid situation.  Many apologies to those who turned up for the January meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes which we had to convert to a Zoom meeting at short notice because of the rising number of infections in this area.  We did try to notify our members, but sadly I believe some who turned up were visitors.   The talk is available on our web site for members who missed it.

Annual Subscriptions

A gentle reminder that your annual subscription is now due.  We really pride ourselves on the low cost of our membership. £9.00 per year for a digital membership is really good value considering all the transcriptions and other information and support which is available for members.

Members' Surname Interests 

If you haven’t looked at the web site lately, please do.  Have you entered your names, dates and places to The Members’ Surname Interest Section? You can add a pedigree chart or family tree in PDF format to your entry which may help others.  Some people have added comments to their SURNAME Interests which can be really helpful.

Research Forum 

Have you used the Research Forum yourself?  If not, why not?   It has been very quiet again recently, does that mean that no one is stuck with their research or have found something which they can share with other members?  Can you help other members by answering their Research Queries?  Look back at those which are on the site – you may be able to add helpful information.

Search the Web Site  

The web site also has information available for non-members.  You can also use the Search facility (found as a box on the home page) to see if anything connected with your research can be found.   Search for your research SURNAME or any other word which might crop up in anything about your family.  It searches articles from Buckets and Spades, Research Queries, Comments and of course Newsletters!

Family History Research

Why are we researching our past?   Is it just the thrill of the chase or are we really interested on how our ancestors lived?  Or do we want to know what characteristics we have inherited from our ancestors? Many books suggest that researching family history is like a living detective story which gives a buzz of adrenaline when you solve the mystery. Other say it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle with very similar shaped pieces and fitting the correct one gives pleasure.  What surprising facts have you discovered?

  • Have you studied the transcriptions of the local burial records to see what was happening in the area when your family was active? 
    • The Worle Burials during 1813-1839 contain at a rough count   
      • 8 children who were only days old,
      • 28 children who were weeks old
      • 65 who were months old.
      • 34 children who were under 10 years old.
  • It is worth remembering that this time covers an outbreak of Cholera and that Typhoid, Measles and Smallpox were also highly infectious.
  • Small pox was greatly feared and mentioned during this Funeral at Lympsham in 1846
  • Vaccination against smallpox was made compulsory in England in 1853.  The Registrar of Births was made responsible for making sure that it took place, with parents being subjected to fines or imprisonment if they did not comply.  Like today, there were a number of people who were against vaccination.  Cases can be read in local newspapers.
  • Some newspaper articles appear very familiar today!
  • It is also interesting to note how many illegitimate children were baptised during a particular period.
  • What are the most common occupations listed against the fathers when their children were christened?    Did these occupations change as the area adjusted to the Industrial Revolution?
  • All of the above gives some idea of the area in which your ancestors lived.

1921 Census

What results have you gained from the 1921 Census? 

  • I have been disappointed that there is no mention of health problems on this census which seems strange considering the number of ex-soldiers from WW1 which must have caused the need for additional funding during this time. 
  • Employers being mentioned is an advantage – I have just identified someone who later became a motor mechanic but in 1921 was an apprenticed as a carpenter to his elder brother.
  • A posting on our Facebook Group has highlighted the difficulty of deciding whether boarders were just staying as holiday makers for a short stay or whether they were long term. 

 FaceBook Group

The Facebook Group has gained members but not many of the latest ones have posted their SURNAME Interests yet.  Like with the Web Site there are few queries posted but we are keen to encourage younger members who may not be quite sure about how to go about researching.  Membership of our Society and the use of a number of free web sites can enable them to make a start.  Just ask!

Family Stories

Family Stories which have been handed down are a good place to start. Trying to prove whether they are factual or not can be frustrating but fun if you succeed.    My Grandfather told me many a story about his family but I am afraid that he had a vivid imagination.   Did Garibaldi really stay with my gg grandfather when he visited Bristol in 1864?  The answer to that was NO!   Garibaldi’s train only stopped for 10 minutes on Temple Meads Station but at least it got me looking up all about Garibaldi and why he was in this country.   There is often a grain of truth in these stories as I did discover that my gg grandfather, had signed an open letter inviting Garibaldi to visit Bristol!  

Family & Local History 

Family History and Local History are closely connected and we are lucky in having members with photographs of the area.  We were saddened to learn of the death of Colin Middle recently, a member who had a vast store of local knowledge and had shared much of it.  He wrote a booklet which traces the residents of Stradling Avenue in Weston – much written from personal memories. 

Next Society Meeting

Our next meeting is due on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th February at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road, at 2.30p.m. when the subject will be DNA and Family History.  The Speakers will be Peter and Jenny Towey.   As this subject is likely to be very popular, please check whether this will be an actual physical meeting or by Zoom before you leave home. 



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January 2022 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 23:15

Wishing a Happy and Healthy New Year to all our full Society members and to the members of our Facebook Group.   I suppose the highlight of January will be the release of the 2021 census. It is unlikely that many of us will see another census release as the 2031 census was destroyed during WW2 and there was not a census taken in 1941 which is why the 1939 Register has been so helpful.  I would love to see the 1961 census as I do not remember exactly where I was living when that was taken.  Was it Bristol, Churchill or at one of two addresses in Weston?  Unless I break records as being amongst the oldest people alive in 2061, I will not find out!   On Dec 16th, 2021 – a woman claiming to be the World’s oldest  person at 135 years old died in China.  There is of course some doubt as to the accuracy of her birth date!

Looking back over the years as I am inclined to do at this time of the year – I remember, December 1942, when my father was called up for active service in WW2.  One morning, at breakfast time, he left our home.  As a four-year old, I was eating cornflakes, and looked up to see my mother crying – something I’d never seen before.  Of course, I didn’t know then that she must have only recently discovered that she was pregnant at the time.

She would have also remembered the situation and the shortages of WW1 - I have this card sent to my maternal grandmother during WW1 from my grandfather to celebrate her birthday on December 12th.    I have others sent by him to my mother for Christmas and another which looks forward to Victory.

My mother told of the circumstances of his return from France when she and her sister were not allowed to hug him until his uniform had been debugged and he had been bathed and changed into fresh clothes.

Looking back on the past year the contribution made by the NHS has been outstanding and I wonder how many of you have ancestors who were employed as Nurses or Doctors before the NHS was instituted?  The other question I have is about epidemics which caused deaths in your family.

1918-19 Spanish Flu

Following WW1, the pandemic of Spanish Flu caused the death of many of the returning service men and women.  A great aunt of mine died in Bristol from this influenza in 1918, she was aged 40, she had been a schoolteacher before her marriage and they had three sons, the youngest only 3 when she died.  This photograph of her with her husband and eldest son was taken at Ilfracombe in 1910.


1957 - Asian 'Flu

While talking about pandemics – I managed to contract Asian ‘Flu in the autumn of 1957, about a fortnight after I had started my college training.  The college was later closed, and we were all sent home probably to pass it on to families!  There was no social media to spread information and very little publicity.  I have never felt so ill as I did then!


More details can be seen here 1957–1958 influenza pandemic - Wikipedia

To find out what might have caused the death of your ancestors over the years I can recommend a booklet by Dr Janet FEW – “’Til Death do us Part - causes of death 1300-1948”.  It was published in 2015 and contains a list of British epidemics including Smallpox, Measles, Typhus, Plague, Diphtheria, T.B. and ‘Flu. Janet also suggests sites which may help with your research.

If you have medical relations, a list of Nurses already in employment was drawn up in 1949 to encompass those who were taken over by the NHS and can be found on Ancestry. 

This paternal aunt, born in 1913 in Bristol, became a Nurse after a spell as a telephonist – She trained at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital from 1945, before the NHS was instituted.    She then went to London to complete her midwifery training before studying to become a district nurse obtaining a Queen’s Nursing Award. Touches of “Call the Midwife” here from what she later told me about her experiences in London.  After some employment in Bristol, she accepted a post in Wedmore as Midwife and District Nurse until her marriage in 1961.

 Pre NHS Life

The advent of the NHS certainly affected my family.  In 1947 I contracted Rheumatic Fever which my sister also developed, and we were put under the care of Prof C Bruce PERRY of the Bristol Royal Infirmary until we were 18.   I liked him very much and felt he was really interested in us.  His obituary showed that he was more deeply involved in rheumatic heart disease that we realised at the time.  The cost of consultant fees was difficult for our parents to find at first, but they insisted on nursing us both at home.  I was away from school for 15 months but with support of family and friends we both recovered but there was relief when the NHS took over the cost. 

A letter from my father during WW2 dated May 11th had highlighted the worry caused by Doctors’ Bills. – I think it must have been 1944, from Italy.  He was wounded on his birthday May 11th 1944 during an assault on Monte Cassino, so it is likely that this was written just before that event.  He wrote:

“While appreciating the fact that everything is much dearer in these times, I agree with you that Dr Purcell’s Bill was a bit stiff, but as the children are well again that  is the chief thing.  Please use the money of mine to settle it with.  I know it is being put aside for Pat’s schooling, but there is apparently little prospect of you wanting it for that purpose I would be glad if you used some of it that way as it will soon accumulate again, and there will be plenty there when we want it for the original purpose,”                                                                                    

I think he was referring to the proposed Education Act of August 1944 which was to give free Secondary Education to all pupils.  .

Looking forward now to 2022 – What can we expect?   

  • On Ancestry – Devon Parish Records were added on the 13th December 2021 
  • On Findmypast – A message about the 2021 census
  • The Genealogist allows you to pinpoint the position of your ancestor on the 1911 census.  This is very accurate in London but not so good in other parts of the country.  Checking on Whitecross Road in Weston the road is located but not the actual house address. You need to scroll down for the map. 
  • Family History Federation of which we, as a Society, is a member offers advice on how to access free resources  
  • On the 6th January the release of the 2021 Census: Going by previous releases it may be difficult at access the Findmypast site on that day but try again later!

Society Meeting

At the moment, our next Member’s  Meeting is due to take place on Wednesday afternoon the 12th of January unless more Covid restrictions are in operation by then in which case it will be a Zoom Meeting.  It is entitled “Traditions of Death and Burial” and will be given by Helen Frisby.  Meeting starts at 2.30pm with speaker at 3.00pm.  We meet now at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Baytree Road observing all conditions for your safety – Please bring masks etc.  It will be recorded for those who cannot attend.

We all hope that 2022 will bring some stability to life and wish all our members success with their research - Have a Happy New Year!

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Forthcoming Events

Weston Library Help Sessions
Saturday, 2nd July, 2022 14:00 - 15:30
Society Committee Meeting
Monday, 4th July, 2022 10:00 - 12:00
Physical Members' Meeting
Wednesday, 13th July, 2022 14:30 - 17:00
Workshop by Zoom
Wednesday, 27th July, 2022 19:30 - 20:30
Weston Library Help Sessions
Saturday, 6th August, 2022 14:00 - 15:30
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