May is such an optimistic month – the trees are sprouting, the blossom is out, the birds are nesting and busy feeding their young. I’ve often thought that if I was visiting the UK for the first time I would choose to come in May. Apart from that we have two Bank Holidays and a Royal Wedding to look forward to this May. What is the oldest Wedding Photograph you have – do you know the names of the participants? Perhaps you could scan it or photograph it and post on our web site under the Research Forum with any other information you may have of the Wedding in question - other members may have connections to the family. Do you have a list of presents from a newspaper account perhaps?
The Research Forum has also been very quiet this month only two queries and one of those was mine! Thank you to those who made suggestions about where my ancestor lived – I’m really grateful. Do make use of this facility – we have many experienced members who can help you break down your brick walls.
We did have an enquiry by post about the identity of a Mrs L J GRAY who was living in Burnham-on-Sea in 1931. She sent a wreath to the funeral of a William Ernest PALMER of Manor Farm Hadenham in Buckinghamshire in 1931 and one of his descendants is keen to identify her as he knew that she had always sent birthday cards to a member of the family. Not certain whether the initials were hers or her husband’s and as yet we have not found her – can anyone help?
Milton Road Cemetery records are now available for 1856-1923 on our site: These include information of about 250 Weston Residents who died in Axbridge Workhouse – from the early 1900s referred to as Ilex Lodge, Axbridge It also gives the place of death, date of burial and Grave number.
- Once you have identified a person you will have the grave number and by then searching for that Grave number you can find others buried in the same plot. Remember that a grave starting with Tc is in consecrated ground and a grave starting with Tu is in un-consecrated ground signifying a non-conformist burial or perhaps a catholic burial when the ground is consecrated at the time of burial.
- For example: William HASE, a blacksmith, aged 87, (well, that’s how old someone thought he was!) died in Laura Buildings and was buried on the 12th March 1959 in Grave Tc 4586. Looking for that grave number I find that on the 29th July 1865 a 4-month-old, Florence HASE, who also died in Laura Buildings was buried in the same grave. She is shown as the daughter of William & Amelia HASE (she was actually the blacksmith’s granddaughter). I find this interesting because the family had not purchased the grave, there is no stone on it but presumably the workers in the Cemetery had recognised the relationship and she was buried in the same grave.
Many thanks to Graham and his small team of helpers for making these records available for members, and as the churchyards in Weston were closed to new burials when the cemetery was opened it is a valuable asset to find this information for Weston residents.
Local History in Weston
The North Somerset Studies Room at the Weston Library where we hold our Free Help Sessions on Saturday afternoons contains so much information about parishes in North Somerset, including parish records on fiche of all the parishes. Dedicated to Frederick Wood who left his substantial library of books to the original Weston Library in the Boulevard it is worth familiarising yourself with what is there. Ernest Baker a Solicitor in Weston, who lost two sons during WW1, was a keen local historian.
He interviewed many older inhabitants in the 1880s and published his findings but he also kept extensive scrap books. Six volumes of these are on the open shelves in the library and make for fascinating reading. Brian Austin has also given to the library the results of his own research including many family trees of Weston Families which are housed in the filing cabinets in the centre of the room. Does anyone keep a scrap book now-a-days?
Family History Workshop – April 17th
The take-up for this Workshop at the Museum was very disappointing although the small number who did attend had one-to-one assistance for the afternoon and left expressing satisfaction. Many thanks to the volunteers who gave up their time and expertise to support the Workshop. If anyone has suggestions for any other activities which the Society could offer which might be more popular - please let us know.
Familysearch and Digitalised Records
- During 2017 the LDS announced that they were stopping the facility of sending films of parish records to local Family History Centres because the digitalised records could be accessed online.
- This short video explains how to find these records but note that many of them are only viewable at pay-for-view sites or at a Family History Centre. The nearest LDS Family History Centre is in Weston where you can see these records free of charge.
- As older records become available some will be written in Latin. To help work out what they mean this site of Common words in Latin is useful.
- If you haven’t already done so the GRO Index is really worth while using for checking the mother’s maiden name for births up to 1917 and the age at death up to 1957 Both sets of records start in 1837.
- This can be very helpful in checking siblings and making sure that you have buried the correct person! Because of the restricted 2-year time span you can search on the GRO Index I locate possible people on FreeBMD first and then I can easily find them on the GRO index, sometimes narrowing it down by using the Registration District as well. Where children have died only months old sometimes they are listed as much older – for example a 14-month-old child may appear as having died aged 14. Don’t forget that the offer of a cheaper PDF of a birth or death certificate is still available from the same site.
- The ability to trace siblings and their families becomes important if you decide to have a DNA test where matches may become evident in the lines of cousins.
The April Members’ Evening
This meeting was well-attended, and Jenny and Peter Towey led the session on using DNA as a family history resource. The ingenious demonstration involving coloured sweets and yogurt pots showed how our DNA is passed down through the generations and led to some interesting questions from members – some of whom have dipped their toes into DNA and others who were frankly puzzled and slightly sceptical about the whole experience! For more information look back at the articles which Jenny wrote for our journals
I have found that actually working with a DNA sample and receiving matches has made me aware of the possibilities of DNA for Family History but I still have an awful lot to learn!
The Wiltshire FHS will be holding its Family History Fair at Wilton . More information can be found here which includes free talks, there is one on Researching military ancestors – Michael Cornwell of the Rifles Museum which also has a stand at the show. Other talks are about using the Internet for Research and first Steps in family History.
Tuesday May 22nd at the Vntage Church - Society Meeting
Sue Burne is returning to tell us about how she found out about “A Flock of Black Sheep” on the 22nd May - Why is it that we are so interested in the wayward members of our families!- Sue will be looking at the CULLIFORD family which she says contains heroes and rogues.
Looking forward to June.
We will be attending the SWAG Family History Fair on the 30th June which is being held at Swindon at the Steam Museum with lots of other attractions for family members! The SWAG Web Page has a map of the area represented by Family History Societies so if you are researching anywhere in the South West and South Wales with the exception of Cornwall you will find something of interest in the 10 Societies which will be there. Commercial companies will also be present as will special interest groups.