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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?


  • 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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Quaker Family History
published by Brian Airey on Tue, 15/10/2019 - 19:37

The QFHS invites applications for a Margaret Bennett Research  Award to support research into any aspect of Quaker Family History in the British Isles.  Grants to the maximum of £1500, may relate to the cost of travel, reproduction of materials, and/or publication. 

For further details and an application form contact the QFHS Secretary on secretary@qfhs.co.uk. The closing date for applications is 31st December 2019

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October 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 12:51

Yesterday, Sept 30th, we enjoyed our Annual Lunch which took place at the Worlebury Golf Club.  Thank you to Peter de Dulin for organising it and it was agreed that we would do it all again next year so if you couldn’t make it today, we hope you can join us in 2020.

Thanks also to Peter Towey for his interesting talk about military medals at our last monthly meeting – so many of our families had people who took part in the first world war and we may be familiar with Pip, Squeak and Wilfred  and their variants but the more recent medals were new to me not being in a military family.  My grandfather’s records are amongst the lost WW1 ones but just last week I noticed that his name appeared in a list on FOLD3 via Ancestry – you need a subscription for FOLD3 but by using their Free Trial I was able to see information about his pension.

I hope some of you took the opportunity to visit some of the churches which were open during the Heritage Days in September.  Several of them had interesting exhibitions of their history on view and thanks to all the people who took time to answer questions about the places.

Next Saturday, October 4th, we will be taking part in the Library’s initiative to inspire people to take up a new hobby and of course we will be suggesting Family History could be the one to choose.  This “Fun Palace” will be operating from 10.00 – 12 noon and the afternoon Free Help Session will be running as usual.  If you can spread the word to others outside the Society, it would be appreciated.  Full details can be seen here.  

On October 12th the Weston & District FHS Stand will be at the Glamorgan FHS Open Day hoping to help all those “Welsh” people whose families came from Somerset!  If you live on that side of the Bristol Channel do make yourselves known to Graham Payne and Bill Caple who will be managing the stand.

WW2  Memories

At our last meeting it was suggested again to me that we might be able to produce a booklet about people’s memories of WW2.  Some articles have already gone to Sue for inclusion in the next edition of Buckets and Spades but I would be glad to receive any more so that we can see whether this booklet is possible.  First or secondhand memories and photographs are welcome of life in Britain during WW2. As I mentioned last month. Any accounts of the blitz on Weston or elsewhere, experiences of evacuation or the “Make do and Mend” culture, food and rationing and anything else which would give those who follow us an idea of what life was like.

Music in Weston

I have also had several queries lately about people who were musicians in Weston.  Some were of German ancestry while others were local.  Names include DEAHL, PFAFF, MOGG, BURGESS, CORELLI, WINDEATT, WAGNER etc.  If you have a musician in your family please can you let me know because this might be of interest to others.

Aspects of Family History Research

  • A couple of years ago I enrolled on the free online course on Family History hosted by Strathclyde University and found it very worth while and recommend it if you want to brush up your research techniques.  I know that some other members have benefitted from it and the next course starts on the 28th of October.  It’s a five week course and is suitable for all, beginners and those with some experience.
  • If you are following the Rugby World Cup in Japan you may be interested in the My Heritage research into the DNA of 4 former world class players.  Essentially an advert for My Heritage DNA but I still feel that the most important results of DNA testing are not the aspects of ethnicity but the connections made and confirmed by traditional research  
  • Findmypast has a free blog which has some interesting items – In particular during September it put on an article about tracing the family tree of Tess DALY who introduces the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing   It is a step by step guide to research which shows how some errors can occur on original documents.
  • We have talked a lot lately about how we can get younger people interested in Family History.  Essex Record Office has produced a series of brief power-point presentations intended for use by school teachers but the content is of interest to anyone who is researching their family and want to find more that just names and dates – these give a background into the social history and lives of our ancestors 
  • If, like me, you are still waiting for Wills and Probates you ordered way back in July – it seems that they grossly underestimated that response that the reduction in price would produce – you are encouraged to wait patiently because contacting them simply lengthens the process.   The wills I have received have given me some surprises and answered some questions.  As I probably would not have ordered them at the original price, they are well worth the wait.

Our next meeting at the Vintage Church is on the 4th Tuesday of October – that’s October 22nd – and the subject will be Somerset Photographers 1839-1939. Phil Nichols and Robin Ansell will be discussing the project of cataloguing all the known photographers operating in Somerset at that time. With Allan Collier they have produced a book and CD entitled “Secure the Shadow”, published by the Somerset & Dorset FHS which lists all the named photographers many of whom operated in Weston-super-Mare.

The Help Sessions in the Library on Saturday afternoons 2.00 ‘til 3.30 p.m. and the Facebook Group continue to attract new people and we hope that some will join our society

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Forthcoming Events

Society Meeting
Tuesday, 27th October, 2020 19:00 - 21:00
Society Meeting
Tuesday, 24th November, 2020 19:00 - 21:00
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