Early schools in Gloucester

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Gloucester, Gwinnett, Schools

In Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors Volume 2, I included a chapter on education records and mentioned some of the early Gloucester schools such as the Crypt School, Sir Thomas Rich’s School and the College School, all of which are still in existence, the latter now called the King’s School.

Recently, however, I was googling the name of Theodore Gwinnett and I came across a mention of him in connection with the Minutes of the Committee of Privileges of 1799. Further investigation showed this particular document to relate to one William Cole (or Tudor as he was calling himself), attempting to make a claim on the Berkeley estate. It seems that three of the Gwinnett boys, Theodore, Charles and John had all known the young William Cole or his relatives in their schooldays or early manhood. One other family that mentioned was the Hudds of The Fleece in Wotton.

Apart from the information I gleaned on the early years of the Gwinnett boys, it was interesting to note how they walked from Barnwood to Wotton to collect William Cole and continue with him into the city to school most days. Theodore said he attended Mr Cook’s school in Oxbody Lane in Gloucester, whilst William Cole, who lived with his family at The Swan at Wotton, went to a different school. However, another friend, Edward Hudd, said both he and William Cole attended Mr John Cooke’s school, again said to be in Oxbody Lane, but that Theodore Gwinnett had gone to a different school, that belonging to a Mr Mutlow, which he believed was ‘down behind the College Wall’. Someone has to have been wrong! William Cole’s sisters went to a school in Lower Northgate Street ‘kept by a person by the name of Middleton’ and later to Mrs Clarke’s.

Does anyone have any more details on any of these schools? Or any other small Gloucester schools of the same period?

Settlement Examination

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law, Uncategorized

When a woman was left with  illegitimate children after her partner had died, she was examined by the local overseers of the poor to find out which parish she belonged to.  Such an examination happened to Ann Howell …

On 27th April 1832, Mitcheldean Overseers of the Poor examined Ann Howell, the daughter of Evan and Mary Howell of Lampeter in Pembrokeshire as to where she had been born.  She was 47 years old and in need of help from the parish.  Her examination revealed a long story involving much travelling.

In 1813, Ann had been hired by Captain James Probert of St. David’s at £5, presumably in a domestic capacity.  After she left Captain Probert’s employ she ‘connected’ with George Sleeman Kendal, a malt mill grinder.  She never married him but lived and travelled with him.  In 1814, she became pregnant and was delivered of a male bastard child at a lodging house in Pembroke.  The child was baptised Thomas Sleeman Kendal in Peterchurch, Herefordshire.  In 1820, Ann had a female bastard child at Brockway in Hewelsfield who was baptised Mary.  In August of that year, a male bastard child called George was baptised at St Mary’s church in Swansea.

Then the family moved to Ruardean and finally Mitcheldean.  In May 1822, a son called William was baptised, the following July a daughter called Margaret arrived on the scene and, finally, a sixth child, a boy called Evan after his grandfather, was baptised at Mitcheldean in August 1825.

The following year, George Sleeman Kendal died and Ann stated that she did not know his legal place of settlement but only that it was near Penzance in Cornwall.

If it weren’t for this examination document, how confident would you be in tying the various baptisms together into one family?

Illegitimacy

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law, Research

Every time we go back a generation, we double the number of ancestors that we can add to our family tree, except when we come across an illegitimate child.  As the base born child was baptised with the mother’s surname, it is normally very difficult to find out the name of the father.  Where would you start looking?

 

Apprenticeships for poor children

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law

Some apprenticeships were organised by the overseers of the poor in a parish  in order to enable a poor child to provide for himself and his family in future years.  These documents may be found in the parish chest and can often give a little more information than expected.

For example, an apprentice indenture, dated 12th January 1772, found in the Down Hatherley records, relates to young William Gibbs and informs us that William was the son of the late John Gibbs who was a labourer from the hamlet of Wotton,  and that his mother was Dorothy who was then married to John Finch of Wotton, also a labourer.  William was being apprenticed to John Blanch who was a cordwainer in Down Hatherley.

Many years later, on 28th February 1801, William Gibbs was declaring to the overseers that George Piff of Down Hatherley had his apprenticeship indenture.  No reason was given for why he did not have it himself.

 A week later, William Gibbs was examined by the authorities – presumably he had become dependent on the parish for some reason.  In his examination on 4th March 1801, he declared that he had been born in the hamlet of Wotton in the parish of St Mary de Lode and, about 27 years before, had been apprenticed to John Blanch of Down Hatherley, cordwainer, with whom he had served 5 years.  This qualified William for settlement in Down Hatherley and therefore to support from the parish.

On 6th March 1801, the overseers of Down Hatherley were ordered to pay William Gibbs the vast sum of 3 shillings per week.

Guilds

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Freemen, Genealogy, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Research

Early tradesmen and women were organised into guilds.  Today, there are over 100 guilds, each with its own crest and associated patron saint, a list of which can be found online.  Some archives exist, consisting of information on apprentices, freemen, minutes of meetings and requests for help from petitioners.  However, there is no central repository of their records; most are based in London at their guild headquarters.  Some information, particularly on apprentices and freemen may be found locally.  For Gloucestershire, we have two good books which contain transcripts on apprentices between 1595 and 1834 and their masters and one which lists freemen from 1641 to 1838.   These records don’t necessarily relate to a Gloucestershire person – either the apprentice, the master or even the freeman could be from another county.  An example of an entry in the Apprentices book is:

Ref: 1/549         1641 Nov 1

Draper, John son of Thomas, upholsterer, dec’d, of Gloucester to Plomer, Robert & Christian, 8 years, pewterer, 20s.

Check out my chapter on Apprentices and Freemen to find out more about guilds, apprentices, masters and freemen.

 

Settlement Certificates

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Gloucestershire, Gwinnett, Parish Chest, Poor Law

For many years I tried to find a link between my Worcestershire Gwinnetts and the Gloucestershire family without success.  Then, thanks to an index to Gloucestershire Overseers of the Poor documents, I located a settlement certificate from the overseers of Painswick to their colleagues in Bewdley, stating that they did ‘own and acknowledge’ Richard Gwinnett of Painswick and his wife Ann and their issue.  This meant that, should Richard fail to support himself and his family once he settled in Bewdley, Painswick parish would pay any costs incurred in supporting him and removing him to his home county.  Read more about settlements and removals in my latest book.

The Vestry

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest

The parish chest included vestry minutes.  The vestry was the name given to the early equivalent of the current parish council and was the main body for administering the parish in days gone by.  It would appoint the parish officers who were the churchwardens, the overseers of the poor, the highway surveyor, the petty constable, and the parish clerk and would oversee their work and their accounts.  The many tasks of the vestry included setting a rate for the parish (sometimes done by the overseers of the poor), and ensuring its collection, caring for the poor, sick and elderly, upholding the law, maintaining the roads and keeping the church in good repair.  Anything that occurred in the affairs of the other parish officials could also be discussed in the vestry meetings.  The topics dealt with can be seen from the various vestry minutes that have survived.  Whilst the vestry minutes are not generally as informative of family affairs as other parish chest documents may be, they should not be ignored in the search for more information on your ancestors, you may find a fascinating entry relating to your ancestor.  For instance, in the Painswick vestry minutes, you could discover that, on 17th March, 1771, the vestry ordered that the two children of Joseph Scott be removed to the isolation of the local pest house because they were suffering from smallpox.

 

The Parish Chest

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Books, Parish Chest, Parish Registers, Poor Law, Research

There’s more in the parish chest than baptism, marriage and burial registers. Back in the 16th century, each parish was required to purchase a strong oak chest, with three locks and keys, to hold the church silver, the parish registers and other documents necessary for the administration of the parish. This followed on from the Poor Law Act of 1522 which had ordered a similar chest to be bought to hold securely the alms collected for the poor. The three keys were to be given to the bishop, the minister and a religious layman.

If you have finished searching the registers and want to know more about your ancestor’s life in a parish, look at the settlements and removals, the apprenticeship records and the bastardy bonds (We’ve all got some of those!). Check out Chapter 1 in my latest book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Volume 2.

Alney Island map

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Books, Genealogy, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Research

Whilst looking for information on Alney Island on the outskirts of Gloucester yesterday, I came across an early map of the area, c. 1750. It was beautifully drawn, showing the western end of the city of Gloucester, where the River Severn separates into the Upper and Lower Parting. It shows other streams, the outlines of the fields, which are all named, and even little gates in the hedges. To one side of the map runs what was called Over’s Causey – the causeway leaving the city and heading to Over and the Forest of Dean. It even shows the arches underneath the causeway which were left to allow the flood water to pass through – they knew about the flood plains in those days!

The map is very clear, neat and precise and includes The Island with tiny houses drawn on it, between the West Gate Bridge and, what was called on the map, Fording Bridge, which later became Foreign Bridge and which now no longer exists.

I have no idea why the map was drawn. It may be over 250 years old but this is a little gem of a map – I wish I had found it before I wrote my chapter on Gloucestershire Maps as I would certainly have included it. For anyone with ancestors living in the Alney Island/The Island area of Lower Westgate Street, Gloucester, this would really bring your house history to life.

Sexton’s registers

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Gloucestershire, Parish Registers, Research

I recently found a source of information that I hadn’t come across before – maybe because not many seem to exist for Gloucestershire – sexton books. The duties of the sexton varied; usually he was the grave-digger, possibly the bell-ringer and general odd job man associated with a church. He was employed by the church, often for many years, and therefore his appointment, pay, etc., should be included in the parish chest records. He recorded the burials in the churchyard and usually noted the name, date of burial, age of the deceased and a location for the grave. In some cases, there may even be a map of the churchyard.

So far, I have found 8 sexton registers – for Blockley, Cirencester, Minchinhampton, Newnham & Parkend, Painswick, Rodmarton, St Mary de Crypt in Gloucester and Cheltenham Methodist Church.