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April 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 31/03/2020 - 23:25

Thank You 

I’m sure members will join with me in thanking the NHS and all Key Workers who by continuing to work are helping us to keep safe, whether medically, with essential services or by voluntarily keeping us supplied with our needs.     

While we face the uncertainty of this pandemic the Family History Society, like all groups elsewhere, has suspended activities where we meet face to face.  This should not and must not stop us communicating with each other.  We have a common interest in the lives of our families in the past and present and an opportunity to make sure that future generations have more information handed down to them. 

Buckets and Spades

Thank you to Sue Maguire who edited the 100th edition of Buckets and Spades published in March which as usual is full of interesting articles.  I was particularly interested in the one about Charlotte MORGAN, the nurse who served in WW1 and died in November 1918.  I wonder whether she died from the Spanish ‘Flu which was prevalent at that time?  Looking through the Cemetery records which are available on this site the increase in the number of burials at that time is obvious and although not all would have been from that pandemic, I suspect that many were.

Whilst on the subject of Buckets and Spades – The next issue of ‘Buckets & Spades’ is due for publication at the end of July, so the deadline for articles and photos is 15 June 2020.  Sue would be grateful for articles so that she can plan the contents.

Lost Cousins

I’ve just noticed that this must be my 101st Monthly Update and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve praised the Lost Cousins Web site during that time but for those of you who have still not yet registered for its excellent newsletters  the one published mid-March  comes with the news that Lost Cousins will be completely free over the Easter Weekend.  It’s a great way of finding others researching the same people – your “lost cousins”- and making contact with them. You will have plenty of time to fill in the census details which make the matches.

 And their newsletter published today has amongst so many other gems included an incentive to fill in your census details, and highlights a possible effect of coronavirus  in connection with postponed marriages which I hadn’t really considered but it might affect family historians of the future.


One of my “cousins” found on the Lost Cousins site has also tested her DNA.   We share a common ancestor in my 3 x great grandparents confirming our relationship. Jenny TOWEY is offering advice on DNA testing and understanding the results – Contact her through our website using the “Contact us” button at the top of the home page and choosing “Chairperson” under category.

Research Forum

A couple of new queries have been posted today - take a look at them and I hope that you will consider offering suggestions in answer to these or post new queries as you consider your own research.  The Research Forum should come into its own at this time when you have more time to question your own family trees.  It always surprises me that it is not used more or have you all finished and are busy writing up your family history research?  In which case there should be many more articles for Buckets and Spades in the near future!

Transported Ancestors

How many of you have people in your tree who were transported to Australia?  The web site Digital Panoptican has a tremendous amount of information.  Not only does it give background information about transportation, but it also allows you to search for individual convicts and in many cases see the original documents which concern them.

Death in the Workhouse

If any of you have found people who have died in Axbridge Workhouse – or Ilex Lodge as it was later called, I’d be pleased to hear from you as I’m trying to update the records on our web site.  I recently added a transcription of the 1939 Register when the building was still being used as a Public Assistance Institution and as a local Infirmary.   The purpose-built Infirmary became St John’s Hospital when the NHS was founded in 1948 and the old Workhouse became the headquarters of the Axbridge Rural District Council.

After the Virus

Let’s start planning for the future – what should the Society be doing when we can all meet up together again?  We were planning Workshops and attending more local shows to spread the word about the joys of researching your family – Let us know what you would like the society to do for you? What can you do for the Society?

Is there an area you would like to see more fully researched? 

  • We get a lot of questions about schools in the locality - is that a topic which you would be prepared to assist in researching?  Weston was a flourishing centre for private education in the 19th century.  How many young people were sent to Weston to be educated?  What about the other schools? 
  • It doesn’t look as if we shall be able to commemorate  VE Day as we had hoped – perhaps there’s some research to be done about WW2 and its effect on this area and how our families were involved.

We can’t say for certain yet when we will be able to meet again but, in the meantime, keep researching, naming your photographs, writing up your findings, asking questions of your relations. If you can’t find the answer use the Research Forum or the Facebook Group, and above all keep safe so that our families and friends stay safe.

If you have anything you would like to add to this Update – please use the comment facility.

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Comments ..

Submitted by Pat Hase on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 21:20

This arrived just too late for the Update but look out for these records being available.

From the National Archives

"We’re pleased to confirm that we will be giving everyone free access to our digitised collections very soon, but it’s taking our amazing digital team a bit of time to make it happen.

They’re facing similar challenges to the rest of the world with regard to connecting to our various technical systems while working from home, and many of them are also juggling childcare duties. Stay tuned for an update soon!

EDIT: To clarify, we’re referring to digitised collections that are available on our website (and usually chargeable) – at this stage, this doesn’t extend to our collections on other sites."

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