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?

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Coroners’ Records

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

I came across a very sad entry in the Coroner’s Records today.  Dated 4th February 1904, it stated:

 At Whaddon, on George Leonard Salt, aged 1 year and 8 months, son of George Henry Salt of The Brickyard, Whaddon, ridge tile maker, died on the 2nd day of February from phosphorus poisoning (secondary cause convulsions) caused by sucking England’s Glory matches.

Jury 12/-, Room 2/6d, Med. Wit. £2-0-0d, Wit. 2/-.

Gloucestershire Archives Reference: CO3/2/3

England’s Glory matches were made in Gloucester by S.J. Moreland and Sons.  The story reminds me of my school history lessons when we were taught about ‘phossy jaw’ and the strike of the London Match Girls in 1888.

 You can find out more about Gloucestershire Coroners’ Records from my book Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Volume 1.  You can only purchase it through me or the GFHS Family History Centre.  You can order online now, at:

www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/books/discover-gloucestershire-ancestors/

Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors: Volume 1

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Books, Genealogy, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Maps, Nonconformist, Parish Registers, Research, Self-publishing

After more than two years, my book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors has finally gone to the printers!  At least, Volume One has.  There turned out to be far too much to go in one book so I have split it into two – and begin to wonder if there might even be a third volume.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the research process and learnt a lot about layout and design during this, my first, self-publishing experience.

The book fills a gap in the family history market because there is no other book in print today that refers specifically to Gloucestershire and the records you can find in our beautiful county.  Although necessarily the book includes mostly documents to be found at Gloucestershire Archives, it covers other sources as well.

To help the beginner get started with their family history research, the book covers basic chapters on civil registration and the censuses.  Did you know there were ten Gloucestershire parishes for which a pre-1841 census with names exists?  Maybe your parish of origin is one of them?

The book then leads the reader through chapters on parish registers and nonconformist records before looking in more detail at records relating to births, marriages and deaths, such as adoption, illegitimacy, irregular marriages, divorce, monumental inscriptions, suicide, etc..

Finally, this volume covers the justice system, looking at petty sessions, quarter sessions and the assizes followed by the given punishments, the inevitable incarceration in gaols and houses of correction or transportation ‘to foreign parts’.

The book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, ISBN: 978-0-9571440-0-2, will be available from 1st March 2012, price £14.99 plus p&p.  Check out the details on my website at:

www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/books/discover-gloucestershire-ancestors

 

 

Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Books, census, Genealogy, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Parish Registers

Having researched at Gloucestershire Archives for over twenty years, I am finally writing what I hope will be the definitive guide to tracing your Gloucestershire family history. I have learnt so much over the years and even more recently whilst researching this book. It has been designed as a basic family history guide but with specific details for Gloucestershire records and documents. It will have something useful for both beginners and experienced genealogists.

I am very excited to have finally managed to get the first four chapters of my forthcoming book “Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors” available online. They are:

1. Gloucestershire Born and Bred:
An introductory chapter for family historians with useful background information on the County of Gloucestershire and Diocese of Gloucester.

2. Civil Registration:
Chapter 2 includes details on civil registration of births, marriages and deaths, how to order certificates and where to find indexes to help with your search.

3. The Censuses:
This gives information on the 1841 to 1911 censuses and particulars and samples from the 10 pre-1841 Gloucestershire censuses.

4. Parish Registers:
As well as background information on parish registers and Bishop’s Transcripts, this chapter includes which registers are the oldest, where the gaps are in some parish registers, available indexes and which parishes are not on the IGI. Please check out: http://www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/books/discover-gloucestershire-ancestors/

This is a still very much a ‘work in progress’ so comments on the content of any chapter could still affect what goes into the final book. I would be delighted to be get some feedback on the chapters to enhance the content.

Self-publishing is a new experience for me so any advice on content, advertising and marketing will be much appreciated. (My previous book, A Rogues’ Gallery. Victorian Prisoners in Gloucester Gaol, was published by The History Press last year.) One of my main objectives of self publishing and particularly of publishing the individual chapters online was to allow this to be a “living document” where I can engage with the Gloucestershire genealogical community and receive feedback.

This has been a steep learning curve and I would love to get comments from others who have self-published and from Gloucestershire genealogists who have found unusual sources.

Espousal Books

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy

Today I came across a new source that I had never heard of before – Espousal books. It seems they were used to record betrothals up until the early seventeenth century. A betrothal was considered to be almost as binding and valid as a marriage.  Few such books have survived and I haven’t managed to locate any Gloucestershire examples. Has anyone ever seen one?

Pre-1841 censuses & population lists

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: census, Genealogy, Gloucestershire

For my book on Researching Gloucestershire Ancestors, I have nearly completed the chapter on pre-1841 Gloucestershire censuses and population lists and have found 16 parishes with, at least, names of the householders and numbers of occupants and, in some cases, full details of the families living there. I would hate to omit a parish by mistake so if anyone knows of a parish with either a census or a population list for the period 1780 to 1840, please let me know. I will work on earlier population lists in a later chapter.