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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

A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated

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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Comments ..

Submitted by Jenny Towey on Mon, 01/07/2024 - 9:43

In August the Society are (wo)manning a stall at the Hutton Food Festival.  Wednesday 28th August, St Mary's Field, Hutton, 11am -5pm.  Bring along your questions...

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Submitted by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/07/2024 - 10:37

Thank you Jenny - I have added Hutton to the main article.  It's always a very enjoyable event.

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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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