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December 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 02/12/2019 - 15:18

It's nearly Christmas and late in November, our Society had a stand at the enjoyable St Mark’s, Worle, Parish Christmas Event which had been organised by our member Grace Rubery. 

There we met people who were new to family history and were able to stress the point that we are open to anyone, not only those who are researching Weston families. 

A school choir performing Christmas music meant that there were families present and the new My family Tree Booklet was very popular.  If you haven’t seen it - look at the Family Federation Site and perhaps print it off to give as a stocking filler to your young relations.  Perhaps you could help them fill it in?

During the November Monthly Meeting the Society held its AGM, returning a Committee which saw the official recognition and election of Jenny Towey as Chair.   A full house enjoyed a light-hearted quiz, refreshments and an interesting presentation by member Ann Lockyer about a black sheep member of her family who suffered the privations of a spell on a Prison Hulk.    The November 2019 edition of our journal – Buckets and Spades – was available and it is also available online to full members.

Christmas Day Marriages

At this time of year, it is more difficult to spend time researching the past amid the festivities and meeting up with living relatives. But it is interesting to spare a thought for the number of marriages which took place on Christmas Day.  In my own family I have recorded 29 Christmas Day marriages. Most of them 120 - 300 years ago and I wonder how the day was spent after the ceremony?     

The majority of these being before 1837 will have had to have taken place in Church of England Churches.  My husband’s grandparents were married on Christmas Day in 1885 in the Congregational Church in Waterloo Street.

This building was destroyed by enemy action during WW2 and replaced by the United Reform Church using the same site and footprint.

Photographs

It is amazing how new information emerges from the woodwork.  I have been given some photo albums and documents by a cousin and was delighted to find a letter from Australia written in 1895 to my great grandmother in Bristol.  A number of different family members were mentioned, and a story is developing – however, the photo albums have the age-old problem of un-named photos!  Only a handful have any identification and it brought home to me once again the need to label photographs.  It is so disappointing especially as one of them resembles my grandson as a child – I think the young boy in the photo might be my grandfather who was born in 1874 but have no proof. 

TV Programmes

There have been several TV programmes lately with a family history and war time flavour - you might be able to catch up with them still.

  • I was particularly interested in gary Lineker's "My Grandad's War" originally broadcast on Remembrance Day, Nov 11th.  A description of the programme can be seen here.  My own father was severely wounded during the Monte Cassino Campaign in May 1944 and the description of Gary Lineker's grandfather's experiences added to my understanding of the event.  As I write this there are 16 days left to view this programme on BBC iPlayer
  • Channel 4's 'My Grandparents’ War' featuring Helena Bonham-Carter can be still be viewed and the next programme in this series will be shown on Wed Dec 4th at 9.00pm it concerns Mark Rylance who explores the extraordinary World War II story of his grandfather Osmond Skinner, who spent almost four years as a Japanese prisoner of war. 
  • There are 10 days left to view the two programmes which cover Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey on ITV when Ant and Dec are given a unique insight into their lives using innovative DNA science and technology to trace their ancestors.

Wills

I continue to be pleased with the Wills which I have received at £1.50 each since they were reduced in price.  It isn’t so much about what was left to beneficiaries but the names which are mentioned in the Will.  The latest one to arrive added little to what I already knew but the Will was written just one month after the writer married (nothing strange there) and the witnesses were his father-in-law and the husband of his bride’s sister.  Everything was left to his wife but as I knew the people involved it all built up a picture of the family.

Research Forum

  • The Research Forum query about the Gallop Tea Gardens at Dundry produced some very interesting replies and the use of maps to aid in research was very useful. 
  • The newspaper accounts of events which took place concerning residents were a useful reminder that all that you read in newspapers might not be correct!  Things haven’t changed much over the years.  In this case the first name of someone who died 20 odd years previously was incorrect – but perhaps he was known by another name, different from the one he used on censuses and when he married?
  • If you have any query and it doesn’t have to be about family in the Weston area please consider using the Research Forum.  The replies can help others and suggest ways of furthering your own research.

Free Help Sessions

The Free Help Sessions in the Library continue every Saturday afternoon and the Volunteers are pleased to meet new people.  The free access to Ancestry enables the helpers to deal with queries about people in other parts of the country.  Situated in the North Somerset Local History Library we also have access to newspapers on film which have not yet been digitalised and therefore are not available online.  However, unless you have a specific date of an event allow yourself plenty of time to trawl through the pages!. 

Next Meeting

We do not have a Society Meeting in December so the next meeting is on Tuesday, January 28th when member, Peter Lander will be talking about Birnbeck Pier: Past, Present & Future.  Peter is closely involved with the Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and is very interested in the history of the Pier in particular with the people involved with it.

Wishing all our members (past, present and future) a joyous Holiday season with plenty of opportunities to ask questions of and record the answers from older relatives  -  as Gary Lineker said -  "Although we were close, my grandad never spoke to me about his wartime experiences… and now he’s passed away, it’s too late for me to ask him.”    and name those photographs!! 

Happy Christmas!

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George REED of Burnham on Sea
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 10/11/2019 - 18:34

With thanks to member John Rigarlsford and a group of fellow researchers we have added a PDF under Burnham on Sea about the life and times of George REED 1805-1869 who was Lord of the Manor of East Brent and Benefactor of Burnham. The Groups involved in this were the George Reed Study Group, the North Sedgemoor Local History Group and the East Brent Parish History Group and we are grateful for their permission to publish their findings on our web page. Some years ago I researched the life of George REED and have been able to contribute to this document. If you have ancestors in Burnham between 1836 and 1869 it is likely that they would have known George REED and his legacy to Burnham is still visible today.  Go to Information Sources, click on Places / Churches.  Click on Burnham on Sea (not the church) and you will see the document relating to Burnham on Sea.

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Free Access for Remembrance Weekend from Findmypast
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:55

Leading British & Irish family history website, Findmypast, will be providing free access to their entire collection of military and civilian records ahead of Remembrance Day 2019.

 

From 12pm (GMT) Friday November 8th, until 12pm Monday November 11th, all records on Findmypast excluding newspapers, electoral rolls and the Periodical Source Index, will be completely free to search and explore.

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Documents about East Brent
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 11:14

Under our "Information Sources" we have documents about the Places as well as Church Records. It is with many thanks to member John Rigarlsford that there are now two new documents available about East Brent.  East Brent Remembers 1914-1918 is dedicated in remembrance and thanks to not only those who were casualties, but to all of the young men of our parish, who served in World War One. Also to their families, who suffered anxiously while their men were away….

The second document - Black Sheep of East Brent is a compilation of people and events which took place in East Brent which were dubious in nature and therefore of interest!

Both of these documents can be accessed under Information Sources for East Brent.

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November 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 31/10/2019 - 23:26

Tricks and treats are not only evident at Halloween but also in family history research. It sometimes looks as if our ancestors played tricks by purposely making it difficult to be traced when they disappear from all the usual resources.  At other times, some documents may suddenly reveal amazing information which you are not expecting – a real treat!

  • I’ve just received a Will of a maiden lady who I thought was an only child only to read that she left bequests to her six nieces who turned out to be the daughters of her two sisters and two brothers.  Not only did she name all of them but gave their married names as well – which filled in many gaps in the family.  For £1.50 that really was a bargain!  The wills are now coming through quite quickly and have given quite a boost to my research.
  • I’ve also heard via the Ancestry Site that someone has discovered that he is related both to me and to my husband.  Now that is going to take a bit of sorting out!  Who can say that they have finished their research?

Military Matters

  • Remembrance Sunday this year falls on November 10th when we remember the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.  Not only those who fell but also those who were wounded, mentally and physically as a result of wars. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Web Site  should be the first port of call when looking for relations who died in any of these conflicts.  Don’t forget that Civilian casualties are also recorded there.
  • The CWGC site has more than lists of casualties.  My father was severely wounded on his birthday May 11th1944 at the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.  The CWGC  pages about Monte Cassino give an interesting look into this battle.  It pays to explore this site.
  • My Diary for 2020 tells me that the May Day Holiday on the 1st Monday in May will not take place next year but instead there will be a Bank Holiday on Friday 8th May to coincide with VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, which marks the day during World War Two when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe.  That weekend there will be many commemorative events as we look back 75 years to May 8th, 1945. 
  • Victory celebrations were anticipated in Bristol.  Late at night on May 7th, before the much-anticipated official announcement, my mother woke me to get out of bed to see the bonfires which had been lit along the railway line near what was then the thirteen arches in Eastville.  I sleepily said “alright” and went back to sleep!  I do remember the Street Party and the feeling of excitement during the days which followed, we as children, catching the mood of our elders.  Do you or other members of your family have memories of this time?  How should we as a Family History Society mark this occasion?

Events

  • On Saturday the 23rd November from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. the Society will be having a stand at an event at St Marks Church in Worle.  Please come along and support us.  It will be in the form of a Help Desk so bring along your research and any queries.
  • We are looking to attend more local shows next year.  If you know of any Village, School, Scout or Guide fete or any other community show at which we could have a stand to publicise our society please let Graham Payne or any of the Committee know so that we can discuss this with the organisers. 
  • Please let your friends know about our Free Help Sessions each Saturday afternoon at the Library.  They do not have to be members or researching local families.  We would be happy to see anyone with a query. 

Photographers and Photography

  • The talk we had about Somerset Photographers in October was very interesting but has left me with more questions than answers.  Some years ago, I was given an old photograph album by my Aunt.  She told me that all the photographs in it were of her side of the family.  Not one of them was named. 
  • Two of them were taken by J. G. Williams, Photographer of High Street, Weston-super-Mare and showed what I believed to be a young family on holiday in Weston-super-Mare and the children had been given buckets and spades to hold during the session.   I thought that I could identify them.  I thought they were my great grandmother’s sister and husband with girls born in 1872, 1875 & 1878 and two boys born in 1880 and 1883. The boys had not yet been breeched (put into trousers) 
  • However, from the book “Secure the Shadow” compiled by the speakers about Somerset Photographers 1839-1938 I discovered that J. G. Williams left the High Street in 1874 which did not match the ages of the children.  I contacted Phil Nichols and he cast even more doubt on my identification of the family by suggesting that the style of photographs looks to date it to late 1860s or very early 1870s. Firstly, the carte has square, and not rounded, corners, and secondly the full-length poses are typical of the 1860s - see the descriptions of styles / fashions at http://www.cartes.freeuk.com/time/time.htm
  • So, I’m now looking for a family in my tree with at least 5 children born before 1872.  Back to the drawing board!

Web Site

  • I sound like the proverbial broken record here - but why are members not using the Research Forum?  We have said that the queries do not only have to be about our area as many of our local members are researching family from elsewhere.
  • There are under a handful of members who ever contribute to this Forum - either to ask a question or to give help and suggestions to others. 
  • I have just put a new item on our web site – it can be found under Information Sources, Places/Churches, and Wraxall.  You will find a document relating to Wraxall – “My Wraxall Connection” click on that and you will be able to read about part of my maternal tree – the STOKES family.  This is an experiment to see if we can add to the information and general interest available under the Information Sources. 
  • This isn’t a tree but a narrative about the place and people living there.  Could you add similar documents under other places?  Let me know what you think.  I’m working on one now for Mark and my connection with the PUDDY family – but as they frequently wandered from Mark it is proving difficult!

Next Meeting and AGM

At our next monthly meeting on Tuesday November 26th will be our AGM and a members’ evening when you are asked to contribute.  In the past we have had some fascinating items from your research.  This month you are asked if you know of any Black Sheep in your family?  Do you have Famous or Infamous people on your tree?  Be prepared to talk about your naughty and/or interesting ancestors.  The latest edition of Buckets & Spades will also be available for collection.

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Somerset Photographers
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 22/10/2019 - 21:58

Following this evening's interesting talk about Somerset Photographers by Robin Ansell and Phil Nichols if any of you have information about photographers or locations in Somerset which were featured in the talk please contact Phil Nichols.  He would also be glad to hear of any photographers who have Somerset connections but were not included in the talk or in the book, "Secure the Shadow" - Somerset photographers 1839 - 1939.

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