Who can believe that it is already August and we should be enjoying Summer Holidays? We all hope that you are keeping well and enjoying life as much as possible. On the 1st of August some of our members will be venturing out for the first time after shielding and it will take some time to become accustomed to the changes which are taking place as we go about our lives. We wish them well. I hope that you have been recording your thoughts and feelings during 2020 as Coronavirus will be history one day and people will want to know how their ancestors coped.
It’s been quiet on the web site and also the Facebook Group this month as people settle to a new way of life with different priorities. I was told years ago not to worry if family history took a back seat for a while because it would always be there for you when you are ready to return. I’m sure the same applies today. The only problem is trying to remember where you were when you stopped and this is why it is so important to note your sources – not only as proof for your tree but also to prevent the duplication of effort and rediscovering the wheel.
Huge congratulations to Graham Payne for his latest offering to our website with the Photographs and Memorials of St John the Baptist, the original parish church of Weston-super-Mare. Coupled with a plan produced by the society in 1991 he has brought the history of many of the inhabitants to life (if you can say that about Memorials!)
An on-going project -the inclusion of more modern inscriptions is a valuable asset to family historians. Available for members only this more than repays the £9.00 annual membership fee and is not to be found elsewhere – except by a visit to the church.
Buckets and Spades
The latest edition of Buckets and Spades is now available and full members can read it online. Intended as a tribute to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day in May and VJ Day in August it contains several articles concerning people’s memories of the War and their experiences. Thank you to those who contributed and to our editor, Sue Maguire for another memorable journal.
Several of our members have been using their DNA results as a means of discovering more about their family. In my experience DNA has been useful in confirming my paper based research but I’m still struggling to understand the basics and I sympathise with others in the same position. I’m not particularly interested in the ethnicity results and one of my main frustrations has been the lack of, or inadequacy of the trees submitted by fellow researchers. I found this article in familytreemagazine interesting.
Gloucestershire Parish Registers - but it could be anywhere!
- This isn’t about this locality but not all of our members have Somerset ancestors. Not everything in family history research is as straightforward as it seems!
- My grandfather, Ashton HILL, was born in 1880 in Cam near Dursley in Gloucestershire and in 1670 his direct ancestors and my 7xg grandparents were marred in the same parish.
- So with over 200 years in the same or adjacent parishes it should have been easy! Images of the parish records are available online for Cam and I set about trying to go back before 1670.
- George HILL, the groom would have been born about 1645 or thereabouts. But that is in the middle of the Civil War and the parish clerk enters that there are problems with the records and there are large gaps around this time.
I thought I would look for marriages before that date just in case I could find a marriage of possible parents but could find nothing by scrolling through the marriages. However, Ancestry has indexed these records and there I found this which caused some concern!
I did not think that Cam was celebrating single sex marriages in 1641 – in 1642 Edward HILL married Henry TROTMAN and a George HILL marred Edward HILL in 1643 as well as in 1641
All was revealed when I looked at the images. This had been taken from a page devoted the officers of the parish but how this became transcribed as marriages I haven’t a clue! – especially as there are no women involved.
There were several pages devoted to this covering the years 1599-1685
In 1641 Edward HILL was a Church Warden and George HILL was Supervisor of the Roads.
In 1642 Edward HILL was still church warden and his “bride” Henry TROTMAN was the Supervisor
These lists cover the parish officials from 1599-1685. I haven’t gone through them all to discover how many marriages are indexed from them but they are a great source of parish history covering Church Wardens, Overseers of the Poor, Tithingmen, Constables and Supervisors of the Roads
Still don’t know if Edward HILL (gent) or George HILL were connected to me!
Moral – always view the original if possible.
- During the Lockdown there have been a number of ways in which
information has been made available online.
- Jenni Phillips, a long standing member of this society and of our Facebook Group published a blog about marriages which took place in Bedminster, Bristol when the participants lived elsewhere. Part 1 is here but there are three parts and it makes for some interesting reading especially as so many of our members will have found that their ancestors married in Bristol.
- Although they have reopened The National Archives will continue to offer free download of some digital documents while it is restricting the access to the main collection.
- You have just one month until August 31st to continue the free use of Ancestry at home provided by Libraries West as their libraries gradually reopen.
Presentations online & Somerset Heritage Centre
- Today I watched a presentation for Weston U3A members by Jane de Gruchie, an archivist with the Somerset Heritage Centre about “Tracing Your Somerset Ancestor”.
- She started by confirming that the Somerset Heritage Centre is reopening on Tuesday August 4th and that there are several changes to their arrangements. Please visit their web site for information about days on which they are open and what you need to do to visit.
- Jane’s presentation covered a description of all the basic records available to assist in our research at the centre and pointed out some of the pitfalls which can occur when using them.
- Look out for other Virtual Presentations which may be offered by commercial Research Sites
- If you can recommend anything which you have found please add as a comment to this Newsletter.
Free Help Sessions
We have no plans yet about when we will resume the free help sessions at Weston Library but you can always post your queries on the Website under the Research Forum.
- Your committee held its first committee meeting via Zoom this week and once we got over the fact that you cannot catch each other’s eyes and learnt how to signal when you have something to say it all went well.
- Like other societies we were debating how best to support our membership whilst recognising that many will not be comfortable for some time about meeting in person.
- Our main means of communication is the website plus the printed journal Buckets and Spades for those who do not use the internet.
- Although these monthly Newsletters or Updates rarely seem to attract any comments even when specific questions are posed perhaps this time will be different because we really do need your feedback.
- We were considering the AGM due in November and wondered how many members would join in if we held it on Zoom.
- Please will you let our secretary, Brian Airey, know if you would be happy to join in – at this time all we need is a rough idea about how well it would be supported – you are not committing yourselves but it would give us some idea if we could get a quorum using that format.
- You can use the “contact us” button on the website to do this and choose the Secretary under Category.
- It would be interesting to see how many people who live too far away to normally attend would do so this way.
- Would you be interested in monthly meetings held this way if they can be arranged.
- If so, would you prefer day or evening meetings or a mixture?
- Do we have any members who would be prepared to present their research findings as part of this format?
- Please let us have any ideas you have about the future activities of the society.
I will end with my usual plea that you use the Web site to assist your research. The transcriptions of the local parishes are marvellous for those with local ancestors but we realise that many who live locally may want help with research elsewhere. Please use the Research Forum to ask any questions you may have about your research and read some of the questions and answers which have been posted - they may give you ideas for your own research. As Jenny Towey wrote in Buckets and Spades “If, at first, you don’t succeed – search, search again, and then, search again. That’s why they call it Research!”