LoginRegister About us Contact us Terms & Conditions

News & Information (Monthly Update)

November 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 01/11/2020 - 18:00

It is the 1st of November already and time for another newsletter.  Yesterday we learned of another lockdown so that is the way we have marked Halloween this year.  It is scary enough living through this pandemic and my thoughts go to members of our families who lived through earlier ones. 

In the Autumn of 1957, I had just started at College when the Asian ‘Flu struck.  I don’t remember any guidance about controlling the infection and within a fortnight I was in the sickbay of the Hostel.  Within a week the college closed, and we were all sent home presumably spreading the disease.  By December 1957, a total of some 3,550 deaths had been reported in England and Wales.  Online newspapers for 1957 show how unconcerned the country was about this flu epidemic and the Government’s slogan was “Wait and Sneeze”.  Schools, colleges, factories, sporting teams and military establishments all reported multiple cases.

My mother was born in 1910 and lived near to the main gates of Greenbank Cemetery in Bristol.  She told me how as a girl she watched the arrival of the military funerals of the men brought back from the first world war.  Although her father was serving in France, she had not realised that many of the later casualties were as a result of the Spanish Flu pandemic. 

Although most of my grandfather's records were lost in the “Burnt Records”, just recently by using Ancestry and Fold 3, I was able to find a Penson Card which showed that in March 1919 he was granted a conditional pension due to the effects of pneumonia which was attributed to his war service.

A year later this was reduced to 30% for which he received 12/- a week plus 7/- for his 2 children.  After 6 months it was further reduced to 8/- a week – it is unclear how much for the children at this point but in July 1921 he was allowed a final total allowance of 7/6 a week for a further 35 weeks. He was considerably luckier than many of his comrades and lived a full and active life after that and returned to the job he had previously with the Bristol Cooperative Society. 

The lasting effects of the pneumonia may well have been like those described as pertaining to Long Covid and in his case were judged to last for over 2 years, although as he also had been gassed in the trenches that must have aggravated the situation.                 

        Remembrance Day

This year when we remember those who were lost in the service of their country on November 11th we will not be able to attend traditional parades at Cenotaphs and War Memorials.  Our thoughts should include those who came home carrying wounds both physical and mental which remained with them for the rest of their lives.  This was most tellingly portrayed in the recent “Who do you think you are?” episode with David Walliams. 

War Memorials

In all of our parishes there are memorials to victims of the two world wars sometimes inside the church and sometimes on a community War Memorial and sometimes in a workplace.  On our web site we have listed the names on the Grove Park Memorial in Weston but it would help our members if we could show these memorials under each parish.  This was suggested to me after the Research Query for information about casualties of WW2 from the 3rd Weston (St Paul’s) Group was posted.

Under our parish transcriptions there are many fantastic photographs and transcription of MIs for some parishes which, for example, does include the list of names on the WW1 memorial at St John’s in Weston.  If you have information about any of the War Memorials in a parish covered by this Society we would be delighted to add it.  There is a memorial to those from Weston who died in both wars and worked for the Royal Mail in the Warne Road Delivery Office  Do you know of others?   Incidentally, Ancestry have just added the UK Post Office Memorial Books 1914-1945 

There is a web site dedicated to War Memorials online which may provide some additional information but in many cases it contains photographs but not yet transcriptions. However, it may help you if you are looking for someone outside of this area.

Who do you think you are?

You can catch up with all the programmes on iPlayer they are available for a year.  Don’t forget that the last of the four is on Monday 2nd Nov on BBC1 and is about Liz Carr whose mother she  described as follows:  “ An armchair genealogist, my mum has dragged us around graveyards in search of our ancestors but to no avail so I’m hoping this will now all stop (probably not - knowing my mum!).” I think we can all relate to that except that in my case I dragged my mother around the churchyards!

Inaccurate Original Documents

  • On our Research Forum we have had a query about a George GILL.  In a comment  in March 2018  from Dave Erasmus, one of our stalwart members who often answers queries and gives helpful advice,  sited an example of a marriage of a widow Emily Jane PAYNE whose father’s name was given as Silvester PAYNE.  This was an example of whoever was filling in the information forgot that the bride was a widow and assumed that her father would have the same surname.   
  • This is not the only time that errors occur and here I am not talking about transcription errors. 
  • In my own family I have at least two examples of birth certificates where the mother gives her surname as the same as the father and states she was formerly – giving her maiden name – but I have since discovered that they were not married at that time. 
  • The birthdate of Grandfather, Ashton Bertie HILL, is one week late as his parents hadn’t registered his birth within the allotted 7 weeks.  This resulted in him having to wait an extra week for his Old Age Pension to begin – I remember his reaction to this!
  • If you look at the military pension card above you will see his date of birth given as 1882 when it was actually 1880.
  • I have a marriage certificate where the bride (who was illegitimate) gives her grandfather’s name as father.  It is possible that she really thought this as she was brought up by her grandparents.
  • Harry MARSHALL was christened HARRY but the enumerator of the 1939 Register decided that he was really Henry and so he was entered as Henry.
  • Birth places on Censuses are notorious for being inaccurate – perhaps they didn’t know where they were born but knew where they had been living as children? – sometimes when the enumerator is at fault by using ditto marks in the wrong place and I have an example where a birthplace appears to be entered at random.  This is from the 1901 of Wells.  Harry MARSHALL was born in Wells in the same road where he was living in 1901 so where did the Gosport, Hants come from and why no entry for his wife Lilly who was born in East Pennard, Somerset?
  • Because I knew where they were born when searching for them I entered their birth places and of course drew a blank.  Be aware of this – sometimes entering less information can be more fruitful.
  • The latest newsletter from Lost Cousins  deals with how to overcome these problems with lots of useful tips for breaking down these brick-walls cause by inaccurate original entries.

New Resources online

As we are faced with more time at home – probably in bad weather as well – there are some fresh resources available

If you have Welsh ancestry, last August FindmyPast announced that they had released a collection of Welsh Parish Registers with images and  Ancestry have in the past week added the same Welsh Parish Registers.  As many Somerset folk moved over to South Wales these are very helpful to our members and I can research my Welsh cousins!

Our Society

  • Your committee will continue to meet via Zoom each month to monitor the situation.  As you will already know all our face-to-face meetings have been postponed but please keep in touch with each other and us to share successes and frustrations (about Family History). 
  • The committee is looking to start some short Zoom sessions with members in the new year and if you are not already familiar with Zoom it would be a good idea to sign up for Zoom (for which there is no cost) and make yourself familiar with the controls. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for announcements.   You could practise by setting up 'meetings' between friends to see how the system functions and whether your camera and/or speakers work etc.  If you only invite one person as a trial then the timing is unlimited but if you add someone else (have 3 people meeting) then you become a group and are limited to 40 minutes.
  • I have continued to upload the Profiles of the Weston Worthies –  please add your comments to these of you have any additional information.
  • We have added a section for the Mendip Hospital   to our Web site as so many of our members have family who were there at sometime or other.   The Harry MARSHALL mentioned above who lived in Wells was employed there as were others of his family
  • Jenny Towey tells me that she has some cardboard document wallets wanting a good home (She could deliver or leave them outside her front door for people to collect).  Contact her through the web site using the category “Chairperson”.   
  • We are still looking for a Librarian – if you are interested or want to know more about it please contact our secretary.
  • With the Free Help Sessions in abeyance please feel free to use our research Forum or the Facebook Group to share your problems and successes.
  • As you know we have postponed our AGM until further notice but the latest edition of Buckets and Spades should be available soon.  Thanks to all who continue to support the Society and we are looking forward to hearing what progress you are making with your research.
  • Keep safe!
News TopicMonthly Update
 1 Comment      login or join us now to post comments
October 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 01/10/2020 - 0:23

It’s now 6 months since all meetings of the Society ceased – no physical contact with members whether at our monthly meetings or at the Free Help Sessions at the Library. How are you all coping?  What sort of support are you looking for from the Society?  Please let us know if there is anything which we can provide.  Use our Research Forum for your queries.

Although non-members can read much of what is on our web site including interesting articles from our past Journals  (Buckets and Spades)  It is worth stressing that the information on the web site which is for members only can be available to all for the cost of an annual membership of just £9.00 which is less than it costs to purchase a single certificate from the GRO. 


Graham Payne has continued to supply marvellous transcriptions of parish registers with the addition of photographs and transcriptions of the memorials in the churchyards.  Some of the transcriptions for St John's in Weston are of people who lived elsewhere for most of their days but died in Weston, so it is well worth looking there if your ancestor unexpectedly died in the Axbridge Registration District.

Milton Road Cemetery

One big asset we have for full members is the vast transcription of the burials in Weston Cemetery from 1856 when the majority of local churchyards were closed due to poor depth of available soil (St John the Baptist), waterlogged graveyards (Emmanuel) or simply no graveyard at all (Christchurch).  Burials did continue at Uphill, Worle and other surrounding parishes but information about many local inhabitants can be found in the Cemetery including their last address and/or occupation. 

Weston Worthies

In the past month I have started to publish information about the 40 residents of Weston who makeup the “Weston Worthies” of the 19th Century.  It is an interesting project which I hope throws some light on the conditions in Weston at that time and how people lived.  It is important to look at the local history of the area in which your ancestor lived and if any of you have looked at the parish in which your people lived please let us know so that we could add your research to our web site or as articles in future Buckets & Spades. 

Lost Cousins

I have constantly recommended that you take a look at the Lost Cousins Newsletter this is the latest one  it includes an account of some fascinating research showing how all those skills which we gain through researching our family history can come in handy in other ways.

Who do you think you are?

 The BBC has announced the four personalities who will be researching their families in the next series starting during October.  Researching the past can be rewarding, fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable for the participant and we can all share their emotions as the past is uncovered.


It’s always surprising what can turn up when looking for something else.  In the Dorset County Chronicle - Thursday 21 July 1842, I spotted this:

Who was Rev John Henry GEGG and what was he doing in Jamaica?  From our transcriptions you can see that while he was at Uphill several of his children were born and baptised and his mother was buried there.  He was the grandson of a Thomas GEGG who also had died in Jamaica in 1778.  In his Will Thomas had left £10 each to two of his slaves for their “Faithful Services”.  This reference to “Slaves” made me wonder how many people from this area had connections. I found that the Rev John Henry GEGG is included in a list of Slave owners who received compensation when the Slave Trade was abolished in 1835.  His reference suggests that he had 15 slaves. The  web site “Legacies of British Slave-ownership” includes a biography of his grandfather Thomas GEGG with a full transcription of his Will.  I note that thanks are given to Sharon Poole for the information.

Slaves and Bridgwater

I was also surprised to find elsewhere that on May 2nd 1785 Bridgwater was the first town in this Country to Petition against the Slave Trade.    Although Bridgwater is slightly outside our area, I was interested to read this account.  Following the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 a number of the rebels from the West Country were sentenced to be sent to the West Indies as Slaves. This prompted local interest and concern about what was happening.

FHS Really Useful Show

Coming up in November is this “Really Useful Family History Show” promoted by the Family History Federation.  Tickets are just £5.00 and there are some excellent speakers.  It seems that one of the benefits of Covid could be the virtual access to national events. 

RootsTech Connect Conference

 Next February there will be this FREE online Family History Conference.  You can register for it now – All recordings and videos will be available to you on demand after the conference throughout the year, so you can make connections no matter where you are!  Promoted by FamilySearch it is billed as visiting Salt Lake City without the travel!

RootsTech Videos Online

When RootsTech was in London in 2019 the speakers were recorded and are still available online.

  • Have a look at this introduction to the Conference with the Keynote Speaker Dan Snow 
  • Another of the videos available is one about DNA Testing – this is an Introduction to it in 2019 - of course things have moved on a bit since then but Debbie Kennett is a well known and respected expert in this field. 

Our Society

Our Society covers 70 different parishes, mainly in North Somerset but also from the old Axbridge Registration District – the map on the Home Page gives some idea of the area and we welcome queries about families from any of these parishes,  We also welcome your experiences from researching in this area.  Articles from you about your families can be published in Buckets and Spades and you can add notes to your Surname Interest entries including family trees for others to see.  Make use of the Web site to share your research.  If you live in this area we are happy to receive queries about your research wherever your family lived – many of our local members do not have Somerset Ancestors but have expertise in other areas so can offer advice.

Given the average age of our members, and the national condition of this pandemic,  it looks as if we will continue in this format until next Spring but it is possible that we will be able to offer more online action and are keen to have ideas from our members about what they feel will best assist their research. 

With our very best wishes to all who are reading this – and we hope that some  will feel that they can benefit from joining the Society as full members.


News TopicMonthly Update
 1 Comment      login or join us now to post comments
September 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/09/2020 - 0:04

We are welcoming some new members this month and sincerely hope that the society will be instrumental in progressing their family history research.  September is traditionally the time when new beginnings are made with family history. This year has been different.  Back in March when the prospect ahead of us looked as if we would have hours of time to fill, many of us thought that family history was an ideal occupation with so much more now available online.  In the event it was amazing how many other activities took priority – or was it the thought that “there’s always tomorrow” which prevented us from making headway?

Committee News 

Your committee continues to meet via Zoom but without our members’ monthly meetings it is difficult to get any feedback from the general membership about how you see the society progressing.  Not one person answered the question in the last newsletter about whether you would be prepared to take part in virtual membership meetings!

November AGM

However, undeterred, the committee has decided that the AGM in November will take the form of a Zoom meeting.  You will receive details about how this will be arranged – The Journal, Buckets and Spades, which is normally published to coincide with this meeting will be available earlier so that all members, whether online or not will know what is happening.  The deadline for items to be included in this edition is now the end of September.

Society Library and Librarian

Those of you who normally attend meetings will know that the Society has a library of books which can aid your research and/or the understanding of what you discover.  For many years Brian Airey has been the Librarian as well as Secretary and would bring a selection of books to each meeting which complement the topic for the evening. He also would bring books from the collection for individual members to borrow who have chosen them from the list on the website.   He is looking for a local member who would like to take over this role.  The big advantage for anyone doing this is that they will have all the books at their own disposal.

Free on Findmypast

You can sign up for a free account on Findmypast which will give you free access to some selected items which includes 

More Wills

  • If you have Welsh ancestors the National Library of Wales also has an impressive collection of Wills pre 1858 which can be accessed free of charge with images 
  • The turnaround on the £1.50 wills from the England and Wales Probate Service   is now very short and they continue to provide sometimes surprising but interesting information.

 Researching Experiences

As I seem to have very few close DNA matches with trees I have spent some time recently trying to complete some of their sparse trees to see if I could identify where the link was and was interested in my reaction to what I was finding.  On one of the trees where I did find a common surname - but not an actual link – I discovered that someone in that family was currently serving a prison sentence for assault.  Whereas any evidence of criminality in the past has been ponced upon with glee I felt very differently about this finding.  It really does seem that distance lends enchantment…..    You have to be ready to accept whatever you might find when researching.


Sins as Red as Scarlet

 If any of you have ancestors who lived in Devon in the 17th Century or even if you haven’t, you will find much to enjoy and ponder over in Janet Few’s latest book, Sins as Red as Scarlet, set in Bideford or Byddeforde.  The comparison between the community - as it was then and as it is today – is compelling.  As you read it you become aware of the immense amount of research and thought which has gone into every little event.  The parts set in the Free Help Sessions for Family and Local History in the local Library will be very familiar.  Janet has spoken several times to our Society but for those have not met her you can read more about her here 


It has been encouraging to see that the Facebook Group continues to grow and that it has been instrumental in breaking down some brick walls and as a result has been able to welcome some new society members.

Web Site

Graham continues adding transcriptions to the web site and if you haven’t looked at them recently you will see that the number of photographs of memorials in each parish continues to group – these also have transcriptions of the memorials which  are extremely helpful.

The photographs of each place continue to grow but there is still space for more and I am sure that some of you may be able to comment on the photographs – for example – Who ran the Tea Garden at Bleadon?  Who was home for Christmas in Worle during WW1?   Many parishes are without photographs – perhaps you have some?

If you have any queries the Research Forum is waiting for your questions and surely someone has some suggestions for the query I put on a week ago on behalf of another member about Creating a Family Tree.  As we cannot meet up please make use of the web site.


News TopicMonthly Update
 4 Comments      login or join us now to post comments
August 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 22:52

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.

DNA Testing

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.






  Resources online

  •   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. 

Future Planning

  • 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!”

News TopicMonthly Update
 1 Comment      login or join us now to post comments
July 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 30/06/2020 - 19:21

As I write this, a plane has just appeared in the clear blue sky leaving a vapor trail as it makes its way towards Bristol Airport.  A very unusual occurrence during this pandemic but it seems to me to represent family history research – each family makes its mark as it travels through time but its effect soon fades – our research is to catch and preserve that trail. 

What do you write in a monthly Newsletter for a Society during lockdown?  No monthly meetings to report on or anticipate, no Family History Open Days to attend, no free Saturday Help Sessions – I could go on but let’s be more positive.  Your committee continues to watch over the society;  at our last virtual meeting it was decided to change  the name of the Monthly Update to Monthly Newsletter to more accurately reflect what it contains. I hope you continue to find it helpful but would appreciate comments of what you would like included.

As family history and local history are intertwined one way in which to enhance our study is to look more closely at the area in which our ancestors lived. Perhaps inspired by the BBC’s “A House Through Time” how about a history of your own house or that of an ancestor.  In my case very easy, as our house was built in 1935 and when we bought it in 1961 we were only the third owner and we haven’t moved since.  I’ve even found a photograph of a grandson of the original owner taken in our easily recognisable front garden which was included in a family tree on Ancestry.  Those trees do have their uses after all!

Somerset Heritage Centre

The Somerset Archives has a collection of Planning Applications for Weston-super-Mare which could be very useful if you decide to do some local research.  Just go to the catalogue and enter the address which interests you.  When restrictions are lifted you may be able to see the original plans or have them brought up to the Library when the North Somerset Archivist resumes visiting Weston.

The National Archives

By using the Discovery Catalogue of the National Archives  it is sometimes possible to discover documents which refer to your family which have been deposited in archives than the county you expect them to be.  If you happen to be researching an Amelia BEAUMONT widow of Benjamin BEAUMONT who died in Weston in 1897 and is buried in the Cemetery you can read all about her family here  in the Discovery catalogue listing  but the document is in the Manchester Archives. 

There is still time to download digital images of some documents from the National Archives free of charge.   


Newspapers, accessible from The British Newspaper Archive and FindmyPast can also provide information about who lived where.  Try searching with the address of an ancestor. This way you may find:

  • the usual family announcements of births, marriages and deaths which sometime name other relations.
  • reports of inquests – giving details of cause of death or life style
  • court cases affecting your family both as victims or as the accused
  • advertisements for work, for servants, for sale of houses or other property etc.

Street Directories

One resource which I am lacking during this lockdown has been Street Directories – I do miss being able to access these in Weston Library.  Very often, particularly in Weston, houses were given names but the directories of the early 20th century have appendices which list the number of the house which bears these house names.  Directories also include a great deal of information about  the administration of the town. The Weston Directory for 1941 even lists the Staff at the County School.

Weston Museum and History of Weston

  • Weston Museum has been posting a number of videos concerned with the history of the Weston and its surrounds The latest is by John Crockford Hawley about the architecture of Weston.
  • There is a fairly new Facebook Group called Memories of Weston-super-Mare which is producing some interesting views of Weston. 
  • Another Facebook Group worth a visit is Know Your Place, North Somerset  Not only does it give help on how to use Know Your Place, which I have recommended before, but there are also interesting contributions about the area.
  • Not so much family history but more a glance at the enjoyment of a children’s visit to Weston around 1960 – typical of fun at the sea-side   

The Secret History of My Family

I don’t know whether you have caught it but BBC2 is showing “The Secret History of My Family” again which is three programmes investigating the lives of differing families with common ancestors and comparing the lives and attitudes of their descendants.  You will be able to catch up on IPlayer.

Roman Catholic Records

  • Each Friday FindmyPast releases more records. Take a look to see what has been made available over the past few weeks.   Although Findmypast has just published some Roman Catholic Records there are none yet for Somerset.  -  
  • The Somerset & Dorset FHS has produced a CD of the records of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Burnham on Sea.  Looking through it – I noticed that a couple of the early marriages were in Weston Catholic Church and against some of the christenings were notes of their later marriage, even if it took place elsewhere in the country. Details can be seen in their online shop https://sdfhs.org/product-category/publications/data/  

Comparison of Genealogical Websites

Which should I use? - Ancestry, FindmyPast, The Genealogist, FamilySearch or MyHeritage.  Well, FamilySearch is free, Ancestry is free in the library (and at home during lockdown) and you have to pay for the others.  Having said that, each has its strong points and the Familytree magazine has published a comparison to them (omitting The Genealogist).  I found some interesting comments - you might not agree with them all but useful neverthless.

2020 Census

FindmyPast has announced the progress being made on the release of the 2021 census.  This of course will be the last census to become available to us as the 1931 one was destroyed and there wasn’t one taken during the war in 1941.   

Some of you may remember the excitement when we waited for the 1881 census to be released.   1881 was the first census to be totally indexed (it was done by volunteers from Family History Societies) and would revolutionise the way we researched census information.  In Weston, we had been more fortunate because of Brian Austin’s work of indexing all local censuses from 1841 which we could look at on film in Weston library. 

2020 Census and Buckets & Spades

To mark 100 years since the 1921 census, Buckets and Spades next March will be a special Census Edition and Sue Maguire would welcome any articles and items based on censuses. Any strange entries?  Any strange names?  Any different occupations etc.  Or any way in which a census has assisted you in your research.

Writing up your Research

I know that some of you have taken this lockdown time to document your own research.  It's not easy - but if you have anything you can share please consider adding information to your Surname Interests on our Web Site.  I know that some of you have done this and it does seem a useful way of passing on your findings.

I’ve been trying to write up the results of my research in a form which will be easily understood by anyone who cares to read it and in doing so have revisited some of my early findings before the advent of the internet.  I have identified places where more research is now possible – for example how can I not investigate more about this marriage - the bride is a 1st Cousin 3 times removed – close enough to be a valid DNA match.

Western Daily Press – Friday 18 October 1872


GORTZCOFF – BURROWS – Oct 14 at All Saints’. Knightsbridge,

Prince Zacharius Basilius Gortzcoff to Emily Ann, second

daughter of John Burrows, Esq., of York Street, Bristol


It turned out that there was a printer’s error in the announcement and the groom’ surname should have been GORTZACOFF but that was actually a pseudonym - his name should have been Basil ZAHAROFF and there are masses about him on the internet!


I am aware that today the speed at which some pieces of information can be located means that the beginner can get almost instant satisfaction from the results of their research.  The majority of records which we use were not compiled for family historians but to measure the number and age of the population and enable initially the Church and later the Government to manage finances.  We need other sources to put flesh on the structure given us by official documents. 

How can our society help you with your research? – why not start with the web site?  

In the top right-hand corner of our Home Page is a SEARCH Box which is really useful.   You can use it to open up the riches of our Website.

If you enter any word, name, place or occupation etc., which interests you it will show every time it occurs on the site

  • Other people who are researching the same name
  • When the word occurs in queries and answers on the Research Forum
  • When the word has been used in a Journal Article
  • When the word is in an item of Society News such as the Monthly Newsletter.

Why not try it?

Our membership is a little down on last year but when compared with other societies and in the current situation I think we are doing quite well. 

We do miss the opportunity to pass on by word of mouth the benefits of joining us. Our membership fee of just £9.00 per year is very little – less than buying a single birth, marriage or death certificate - and gives access to transcriptions of parish registers for North Somerset and beyond including an increasing number of photographs of tomb stones and inscriptions.  There is also information and photographs about the places themselves.  The Cemetery Records are invaluable to anyone who had relations who died in Weston from 1856 when all local churchyards were closed to new burials. Our records of Axbridge Union Workhouse also give details of inmates and an account of its position in the lives of many of our ancestors.  The next edition of our Journal “Buckets and Spades” will be available shortly for members but selected articles from past publications are freely available on our website.  

We look forward to meeting up again at sometime but while we are waiting why not share your research experiences with us by using the Research Forum – we’d love to hear from members about how you are getting on – and rejoice with you if you have made a break through.

As restrictions are reduced – still keep safe!

News TopicMonthly Update
  login or join us now to post comments
June 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 22:09

Each month I try to bring you up to date with news of developments in Family History which might benefit our members – I hope that at least some of you have time to read this and find it useful.

This month we are promised a slackening of lock-down regulations, but libraries, archives and museums remain closed to visitors. 

I wonder how many of you, like me, back in March, thought you would spend this time in lock down revising and progressing with your research.  With extra time and many resources made available online for the duration of this crisis I intended to make big strides in finding more people on the fringes of my tree who might share DNA   But……..    

In my case – I’m shielding - it wasn’t the lure of long walks for exercise, extra gardening or decorating which prevented this – it was sheer inertia and I’ve been easily sidetracked.  Lots of delightful phone calls and emails – some with family history queries which have set me off along other paths.  I didn’t intend to research the name of the horse which pulled the cart delivering greengrocery during WW2 (didn’t find it!) or the background of the Headmistress of the Infants’ School I attended in Bristol but I did – and coincidentally our families were linked by marriage!

I have however come across these resources which I recommend:

The Genealogical Index

As its name suggests The Online Genealogical Index is very helpful in locating resources online.   Committee note - We need to get our Society’s vast offering of transcriptions included on this site.  This site claims to provide links to sites online where you can find information and transcriptions.  You can search any county and place and some of the sites are local history ones which you might not otherwise discover easily.    In the past I have recommended Dusty Docs but this site seems to cover a wider area and includes many different sites


In researching a 3rd cousin twice removed I came across this on Ancestry – as Ancestry is still available free of charge via your local library it may be useful to know especially as Arnos Vale Burials are difficult to find elsewhere.   If you use the card catalogue and search for Bristol you will find Bristol, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1994.  You can browse this collection and by choosing Wycliffe Church, Totterdown under the County of Gloucestershire you will see the following registers.

  •        Indexed under the heading of Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1845-1868 are the early burials in Arnos Vale Cemetery from 1840-1868.  It was then called the Bristol General Cemetery.  I note that there are several burials of patients from Dr Fox’s at Brislington and as they could have come from a wide area it might answer some questions.
  •       Burials indexed Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1871-1897 has burials for Greenbank Cemetery, Bristol. 1871-1883.  These are predominantly Bristol residents.

My Heritage

MyHeritage has been offering  free online webinars and Facebook Live sessions in the past couple months. The goal of these sessions is to provide users with the opportunity to learn from experts and make progress with  research while at home. My Heritage is also attracting customers by offering free access to a different collection each day.  You will need to look at their blog to discover what is available on which day but if you have ancestors in any of these areas this will be an asset.

Family History Federation

As a Society we are affiliated to the Family History Federation and if you look under Federation Resources and Education there is interesting advice for beginners and a reminder to those of us who have been “at it” for years.  Under the title   “Everyone has roots irrespective of their background and origin”   There are 6  Guides

  • It starts with you
  • Ready to begin your research
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Growing your tree with census remains
  • Baptism, marriage and burial registers
  • Records created after death

        Each one gives helpful background information  - They may take time to read but perhaps              may offer suggestions in how to breakdown your brickwalls.


I have to confess that I find familysearch sometimes confusing and I’m not sure about the accuracy of the family trees but the Federation also has this advice on using FamilySearch Family Tree to assist you to develop, maintain and use this family history website

  • Navigating the Home Page
  • The Tree - Pedigree to Person page
  • Relationships - connecting families
  • Locating and attaching sources

 A House through Time

As a Bristolian I am really enjoying this BBC programme about a house near St Mary Redcliffe.  This project - to consider the history of an area by researching the people who lived in just one house over the centuries is fascinating. It's at times like this that I wish my own home was older than 1936!   We can all learn from the resources used in this series.  This podcast about the programme is worth listening to as a background to research.

My g g grandfather brought up his family in an Elizabethan house in the centre of Bristol which was eventually destroyed during the blitz and I'm longing to get to the Bristol Archives to see who lived there before and after him.  

In the last session of this series of A House through Time, the bombing of Bristol will be discussed and John Penny, who has frequently spoken in Weston about the Weston Blitz will be interviewed.  In the next couple of days, I hope to upload an account of the Weston and Clevedon Blitz compiled by John which he has kindly allowed us to use.

Know Your Place

I have mentioned this before but Know your Place North Somerset is a marvellous site for tracing the history and development of an area.  By choosing suitable maps you can see what has happened in a place over the years and photographs are now being added to give even more information.  

The Genealogist

For those of you with relations who served in the RAF during WW2 the Genealogist has released Record Books which show details of fighter and bomber squadrons during WW2 which are really interesting

National Archives

As I mentioned in the last update and Paul recently reinforced the free down loading of digital images including Wills and some Military records from the National Archives is proving a boon but not sure how long this will last so make the most of it.

Facebook Group

We now have 216 members of this lively group - many of whom are already full members of the Society. We hope to welcome others to join us to benefit from what we have to offer at a very reasonable cost

I wish I could tell you when we will all meet up again whether for Monthly meetings or for Free Help Sessions at the Library but just watch this space. Please continue to use our Research Forum to share your research with others and also to answer queries posted on it.  No question is too silly - we all have blank moments! Keep Alert and safe and enjoy this glorious weather if at all possible.

News TopicMonthly Update
  login or join us now to post comments
Page 1 of 18 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Forthcoming Events

<- View calendar for more

Website written and designed by:
Weston IT Solutions
Copyright (c) 2018