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March 2021 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 12:26

Welcome to a new Month and a special mention for our Welsh members who will be celebrating St David’s Day today. Even if many will have discovered that they are not Welsh at all but have come from other parts of the Country including many from Somerset, you can wear your daffodil with pride!

The high spot of last month just has to be our first Society Meeting via Zoom.  It was a very successful meeting with an interesting and informative talk from our Vice-Chairman, Peter De Dulin about the 1939 Register.  Thank you to all concerned for arranging it and the Society hopes to run Zoom meetings on the 3rd Thursday of each month from now on. We welcomed some members who would not normally be able to attend local meetings and it was great to match names with faces. An email will go to all full members advising them of the contact details each month.  If you did not receive one last time, please check that you have not changed your email address.   If you have any ideas of topics for these meetings, please let Jenny Towey know.  Please note that the meetings are on the 3rd Thursday NOT 4th Tuesday.

Online Talks

I wonder how many of you have benefitted in the last few days from the wonderful selection of talks available from Rootstech which will still be available for another 11 months.   Perhaps you could recommend some of the talks you have found helpful to other members?

Census

  • On March 21st the 2021 Census will be taken – I know it has been suggested that you copy your form to preserve in your own Family History Archives. You might consider asking whether other members of your family might do the same and let you have copies of their entries – it will save your descendants having to wait 100 years to access them!
  • I admit to having waited avidly for the release of the 1881 census and here we are, 40 years later, looking forward to the 1921 Census for England and Wales which will be released in January 2022, initially by Find my Past.  I think I know where my parents and grandparents were then but 3 of my great grandparents were still alive and it would be interesting to find out exactly where they were living and with whom.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

  • There was an interesting query on our Research Forum about some military graves in Milton Road Cemetery which revealed a piece of WW2 history which I had not really researched before although I had seen the graves in question.  At one of our Zoom meetings hopefully will be a speaker from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – their site seems to have more information on it every time I go to it.
  • There will be a War Graves Week in May  to raise awareness of the work done by the Commission.  Their project for Wild Flower Gardens has already been oversubscribed.

Newspapers and Coroners Reports

  • A posting on our Facebook Group led me to the report of an Inquest in a local paper.  This reminded me that although Coroners Records have in the main not survived, amazing detail can often be obtained from the newspapers.  I find that although Find my Past does have access to the British Newspaper Archive, the search facility is so much better on the BNA site.
  • Many of the sites containing searchable resources update regularly, including the Newspapers so it can be productive to search again for mention of your families, remembering that newspaper entries can have errors in them!  One small thing I have become aware of recently is the use of the phrase “of this town” sometimes used in Family Announcements.  I spent some time looking for a man at an address in Weston only to find that although the notice was entered in a Weston newspaper it was under a heading of Somerset Events with a sub heading Burnham and he was from Burnham on Sea!

Leisure Activities

Newspapers are also very helpful at giving information about leisure time activities – often listing sporting teams, winners of flower shows, competitors at Music Festivals etc. 

From documents found with my great grandfather’s photographs I have found out that he was a fisherman. This was at the start of the First World War but presumably that was not going to stop him fishing. 

Fishing permit

For several years Samuel Thomas LONG had been a member of the Bristol West End Angling Association – he was also their Auditor – and their very posh Member’s Ticket for 1896, apart from their Rules and Regulations, listed the Railway Arrangements whereby the Midland Railway Company issued 3rd Class return “Fishing Tickets” at preferential rates to members provided that they showed their Membership Cards, Fishing Rod and Tackle at the Booking Office!  Although the newspapers did report their annual fishing matches, I cannot see that he ever won a prize.

Local History Groups

I know I have included this before but do not overlook the Local History Groups covering the area in which your ancestors lived.  In many cases they have web sites rich with historical information about their home places.

Workhouses

  • You probably know of my interest in Workhouses and Axbridge Workhouse in particular. There are a number of Axbridge records including, births, baptisms, deaths and censuses which I have transcribed and made available on our web site for members. Find them under Axbridge Poor Law Union in Main Menu
  • The Somerset Archives have released some searchable Somerset Workhouse Admission and Discharge Transcriptions for the whole of Somerset under their Index to Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers from 1836.  It is not a  complete listing because not all records have survived and there is a 100 year cut off, but very useful if you have lost someone.

Buckets & Spades

Look out for the latest edition which you should be receiving shortly.  Please consider how you can contribute to the next one.  It is always interesting to read about other people’s family history and how they managed to find that elusive ancestor.

Facebook Group

We now have 319 members. and it is interesting and encouraging to see how links are being made between local families.   I am posting advertisements from a 1911 book about Weston which have been jogging memories of long-established trades people in the town and of how life was before our time and of course before WW1.  These have generated useful discussion.

Web Site

  • Graham Payne is still busy with the transcriptions and photographs of Memorials which are very well received by our members.  In particular the transcriptions of the burials in the Milton Road Cemetery are in great demand by full members as they answer so many questions about what happened to their relatives after 1856. 
  • Bill Caple is still adding pictures to the Places covered by this Society.  Go to Places/Churches and click on the name of the Place not the church. They give literally a snapshot of where our ancestors lived.  If you have any which could be added I'm sure that Bill would love to hear from you.

Finally, the future is looking more promising now, provided we do not let go too quickly as soon as the better weather comes.  We all want to meet up again but let’s not lose the advantage the vaccination programme has given us by rushing things.  In the meantime, please keep in touch through the Research Forum, contributing to Buckets & Spades, contacting us through the web site or the Facebook Group and join in with the Zoom Meeting on Thursday March 18th.

Yesterday, I had to add the death of a very dear first cousin to my family tree and although not unexpected, it has triggered a whole range of happy memories, from childhood escapades, through teenage confidences, to marriages and the sharing of family gatherings when our children were small to our last contact, a Zoom meeting over Christmas.  A whole generation of memories to be cherished – that is what family history is about - not just the framework of names, dates and places. It is recognised that it is more difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to catch the underlying aspirations and feelings of our ancestors but it is those which makes each family different and separates genealogy from family history.

News TopicMonthly Update
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John MAUNDER - a Weston Worthy & Zoom Meeting
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 21/02/2021 - 10:43

No 26 of the Weston Worthies is now available on the Weston-super-Mare Page  If anyone has difficulty finding it please let me know.  All the Worthies are with other documents relating to Weston-super-Mare under Places/Churches in the Main Menu.  John MAUNDER owned land in Weston before the town was developed including the land on which the Wadham Street Baptist Church was built. 
Looking forward to the first Zoom Members' Meeting on Thursday 25th Feb at 7.00pm.  Details about how to join have been sent to all members.

News TopicPeople
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Weston Worthies - 25 Frederick MARTILL
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 14:45

I have added the profile of Frederick MARTILL to the Weston-super-Mare page.  With thanks to Dave Erasmus who helped decipher the 1841 census.  I will leave it for you to judge whether Mr MARTILL deserves his place amongst the Worthies. He was quite a character who lived through some interesting times in the development of Weston.

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Weston Worthies - 23 & 24 The MUGGLEWORTHS
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 11:50

Richard and Betty MUGGLEWORTH were active in Weston during the first half of the 19th Century.  Both were Weston Worthies and their profile can be now be seen at the bottom of the Weston-super-Mare Page 

News TopicPeople
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February 2021 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/02/2021 - 13:09

The snow drops are out in my garden and snow is gently falling, as I write this on the last day of January.  This month has flown by, but that is the way time seems to go during Lockdown – days blend into each other and all the plans I have when I wake in the morning seem to be still plans in the evening!  The occasional zoom meetings and many phone calls and emails keep me in touch and I am grateful for those, and for the way in which researching my own family (and others!) has given me an escape from the reality of life during a pandemic.

Renewing Subscription

Can I gently remind members that their annual subscriptions are now due.  Normally many members renew at the January meeting, which of course did not take place, and it may have slipped your minds. If you can renew as soon as possible it will save administrative work sending out individual reminders.  Thank you to those who have already renewed.

New Members

We offer a warm welcome to New Members and hope that their time with us is productive and useful for them.  Take time to make yourselves familiar with the website - there is a lot on offer. Add your SURNAME interests to the lists so that others researching the same name can find you and share information.  Use the search button at the top right-hand corner of the home page to see if your particular interest, whether it is a surname, occupation, place or event etc. is mentioned anywhere on the site. Use our Research Forum to breakdown your brickwall.

For those who are not yet members I would like to point out that annual digital membership is very low, just £9.00 per year which as I have pointed out before, is less than the cost of an individual civil registration certificate. For that you will have access to our Journal, “Buckets and Spades”, the next edition being due in March, access to the transcriptions of parish records for most of North Somerset and the Axbridge Registration District and access to the Burial Records of Weston Cemetery, from 1856, when local churchyards were closed.  Local members also have access to our Library.

Our Library

The Society’s Library is in danger of being lost unless we can find a member who is prepared to give it a home.  One big advantage of volunteering to do this is that whoever holds the library has immediate access to the books.  We have been asking for someone to come forward for some time and we will have to make a decision soon about what to do with these books.  Please contact Brian Airey for more details about what is involved.

Sharing Resources

We received a valuable suggestion from a member that members may own resources such as Street Directories, and they would be prepared to do look ups for other members.  To set this up on the website would have incurred a cost and the committee were uncertain about how many members would have taken advantage of it.  This is a shame because the closure of the Public Library has meant that access to Street Directories has been curtailed.  However, the Research Forum could be used for requesting help such as from a Street Directory.  Please make use of the Forum for furthering your research.  Why is it underused – nothing at all in the last month?

Buckets and Spades

The deadline for the next edition of Buckets and Spades is February 15th and Sue Maguire, the editor, would be pleased to receive copy for this or future editions.  Your family history research and how you went about it would be interesting to other members.

Resources online

Many sites are increasing their resources during the pandemic. Here are just a few, perhaps you can add others.

  • Just last week the Somerset Archives advertised a free session entitled "Somerset Family History: Online Q & A" on 11 February 10.30am - noon.  This proved so popular that it was quickly full but you can add your name to their waiting list for a repeat event.
  • Weston Town Council has posted this very interesting background to Milton Road Cemetery and some of the people who are buried there.
  • Weston Town Council also has a page devoted to honouring those for whom Blue Plaques have been erected in the town.
  • Know Your Place North Somerset has an interesting Facebook Group where the benefits of using this fantastic tool can be discussed 

Videos etc

Sometimes you may want to while away some time watching a video or a recorded Zoom presentation about family history research, many of which are now available on You Tube.  Although these are mainly from Findmypast the content is varied and can be viewed without having a subscription.

  • This introduction to the Electoral Registers which are available at the British Library is eye opening about what is actually available and how difficult it can be to use the records.  I found it particularly interesting because at about 25 minutes in they start to research a man by the name of Thomas William ALDWINCKLE.  This name was familiar to me as a Miss Marion Gertrude ALDWINCKLE was the founder of Westcliff School in Weston, who I had already researched and Thomas was her Uncle!
  • If you have Irish ancestors this presentation entitled “Irish Family History is Easy” may dispel some of the myths about the difficulty of researching Irish Records.  
  • I think I may have suggested this one before but as a background to Social History and an understanding of how the conditions in which our ancestors lived affected their lives this discussion is thought provoking and interesting. 
  • Many of us have found ancestors who married on Christmas Day but why did so many choose that day to tie the knot?  Christmas Day Weddings may answer that question.

 RootsTech in February

Normally this would be a live event in Salt Lake City but this year there is a free Virtual Event   taking place 25-27 February – you can register for free and then join in as much or as little as you wish.  Their publicity answers the question - What’s Included?

  • Celebrity keynote speakers
  • Dozens of classes to choose from taught by presenters all over the world and in multiple languages
  • An interactive expo hall with companies from all over the globe
  • Fun cultural activities/demonstrations geared to celebrate traditions from around the world

Vaccination

I hope that the vaccination roll-out continues to work well and those who qualify are accepting their vaccination.  I have been very impressed with the efficient and caring way in which our local centres have been operating and it reminded me of this certificate I posted on Facebook a short while ago which confirms that young Master PENNY had received his smallpox vaccination at a time when that vaccination was compulsory, and parents could be prosecuted if their children were not vaccinated.

Long Lost Family

I watched an edition of this ITV programme which was concerned with using DNA to identify WW1 soldiers whose bodies have recently been discovered in France over 100 years after they were killed.   It is available on the ITV Hub for 30 days

DNA Research

Peter and Jenny Towey are sharing their expertise in this field and one thing I have realised is that it is essential to have researched all the descendants of my ancestors in order to identify a possible match.  If the match is a 3rd, 4th or 5th cousin then there are many places in each generation where the surname may change.  I recently had a match on My Heritage which has me researching their tree to see if there is a connection and if there is it will break down a long standing brickwall!  I’m still waiting for a reply from them to see if I’m on the right lines. 

Facebook Group

You do not have to be a member to join our Facebook Group.  Our aim is to be available to quickly answer queries and make suggestions about future research. In this way we hope to attract full membership of the Society and to support all who share our interest in Family History.  We would welcome more contributions and queries both on the Facebook Group and on the website.

The Future

This time last year we had no idea that we would be in this situation now with no face to face meetings and we sincerely hope that it will not be too long before we can meet up again. Please let us know how you are getting on with your research, either by an article for Buckets and Spades, use of the Research Forum or on our FaceBook Group.  We would like to share your successes and frustrations as you unravel your family.  Happy Hunting!

News TopicMonthly Update
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South West Heritage Trust Q&A
published by Brian Airey on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 11:18

The above organisation is holding a free  session entitled "Somerset Family History: On line Q & A" on 11 February 1030am - noon.

Discover what to look at next in your family history adventure.  A free informal session to ask about researching your Somerset family. 

To book please go to   South.West.Heritage.Trust2@r1.technology-trust-news.org

News TopicFairs, Seminars & Talks
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Forthcoming Events

Zoom Members' Meeting
Thursday, 20th May, 2021 19:00 - 21:00
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Thursday, 24th June, 2021 19:00 - 21:00
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Thursday, 19th August, 2021 19:00 - 21:00
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