At Bristol Record Office yesterday, I looked at the 18th century Cold Ashton registers. I had been told that they were ‘illegible’ for that period and discovered that, indeed, they were difficult to read. Half of each page was vertically obliterated so you could either, for instance, read the name of the child being baptised or the bridegroom in a marriage entry or else the parents of the child or the bride’s name but rarely both. However, when I looked at the Bishops Transcripts for the parish for the same period, they were vastly better, quite easy to read and, unlike many for other parishes, an almost complete set. So don’t believe that you cannot find your ancestors in Cold Ashton in the 18th century, try the Bishops Transcripts instead!
Well, my first session at the archives went well but I didn’t exactly get far. I had ordered two bundles of documents and concentrated first of all on the family bundle. This held about 20 documents and included copies of wills, (not all apparently related to the Gwinnett family but possibly to do with land they were interested in), leases and, the one I began with, a marriage settlement dated 1646. This related to the marriage of Richard Gwinnett to Anne Caple, the daughter of William Caple who was an Alderman in the city of Gloucester. Others mentioned were Richard’s parents, George and Elizabeth Gwinnett, and Anthony Freeman of Badgeworth, who was Richard’s brother-in-law. The amazing thing was that William Caple was paying George Gwinnett £600 to marry his daughter to Richard, of which only £100 would go to Richard and Anne. That was a lot of money in those days!! (Anyone tell me how much it would be worth today?) After nearly two hours of transcribing the document, I am still only a quarter of the way through it.
As part of my New Year’s resolution to spend more time on my own research, I am starting a session at the Gloucestershire Archives this evening when I can concentrate on my ancestors, the Gwinnetts. They appeared in the Badgeworth area of the county in the second half of the sixteenth century. The earliest reference I have found for them so far is 1575. The document is actually in the manorial records and the entry is dated 1579 but it mentions that George Gwinnett had been there for four years. Does anyone have an earlier date for them?
The codes used in Smith’s Men and Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608 are as follows:
The figure (1.) shows the age of that man to be about Twenty.
The figure (2.) shows the age of that man to be about Forty.
The figure (3.) shows the age of that man to be between Fifty and sixty.
The letter (p.) shows that man to be of the tallest stature fit to make a pikeman.
The letter (m.) shows that man to be of the middle stature fit to make a musketeer.
The letters (ca.) show that man to be of a lower stature fit to serve with a caliver.
The letters (py.) show that man to be of the meanest stature either fit for a pyoner or of little other use.
The letters (tr.) show that at the time of taking this view, he was then a trained soldier.
The letters (sub.) show that the said man was then a subsidy man.
Yesterday, I had cause to look at a book entitled ‘Men and Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608’. by John Smith. It is a transcript of the information produced by a military survey of the county of Gloucesteshire in that year. As such, it lists, under hundreds, manors and tithings, the name, occupation or description of each person in the county capable of bearing arms or, if incapacitated, the armour he can contribute. Thus, it contains a list of all the men from the ages of 16 to 60 in Gloucestershire in 1608 and is particularly useful for tracing ancestors in the early 17th century. Also included is a code for the age and another for the stature of the man concerned. For instance, the entry for one man is:
Richard Gwynnett, husbandman, 2, m., tr. hath a musket furnished.
The ‘2’ tells us that he is about 40 years (as opposed to 20 or 50-60)
The ‘m’ means that he is of middle stature ‘fitt to make a musketyer’.
Finally, the ‘tr’ means he was a trained soldier at that time.
The best feature of the book is that it has an excellent index which makes searching for your ancestors in the early seventeenth century very easy.
Welcome to Falling Leaves, my new blog of genealogical thoughts on researching family history in and around the English county of Gloucestershire. After undertaking research for many years, I have gathered a vast amount of information on my area which may prove of interest to you in your online search for your ancestors.