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?
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.
Having completed my first book on ‘Victorian Prisoners in Gloucester Gaol’, I am now embarking on a new project to document the records available in the county for researching Gloucestershire ancestors. Having researched locally for twenty years now, I am obviously familiar with the main repositories such as Gloucestershire Archives, the Local Studies collections in the various libraries, the GFHS Family History Centre and the local history societies but want to produce as comprehensive a list as possible in the book so I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has found any funny, quirky or downright unusual sources of family information that could be included. Any references used in the book will be acknowledged.
Are you missing an ancestor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? Perhaps they were in Gloucester Gaol? My book containing photographs and criminal records for prisoners held in Gloucester Gaol during 1870 and between 1883 and 1906 is now available. Entitled ‘Victorian Prisoners in Gloucester Gaol – A Rogues’ Gallery’ it costs £14.99 from all good bookshops. Published by The History Press it has ISBN: 978-0-7524-5129-9. It contains information and mugshots of men, women and children from all round the world, not just from Gloucester or Gloucestershire. Perhaps your ancestor was there …..
Poor Law was administered by each parish following an Act of Parliament in 1597. It authorized the parish to levy a rate to be paid by those who could afford to so do. Collection of the rate was the duty of the Overseers, who also distributed the money to those in need, either in cash or in kind. Overseers had to keep accounts and they are very useful for finding out more about the poorer members of society.
As well as distributing money, the Overseers could organize apprenticeships for poor children and orphans, could question single mothers and order reputed fathers to pay maintenance so that the illegitimate children were not a charge on the parish, and could examine and remove people to their parish of origin who were in need of funds but who perhaps were not qualified to belong to that particular parish. So Overseers Papers include apprenticeships, bastardy bonds, settlement examinations and certificates and removal orders as well as rates for the poor and details of poor relief.
Having been asked about existing early (pre-1841) censuses and population lists with names in Worcestershire, I remembered Colin Chapman’s book on the subject and found the following for Gloucestershire:
And, of course, in Gloucestershire , we have Smith’s Men and Armour for 1608 which lists all the adult males as well as some females.
I have just been asked to find out about someone born in Shortwood in the first half of the nineteenth century. The name Shortwood tells me that the family were nonconformists – Baptists in fact. The original site is no longer in use, the graveyard sadly neglected when I last went and took photographs of all the tombstones there a couple of years ago. Some records do remain for the church which is now situated in the town of Nailsworth so it may be possible to locate ancestors who attended the church.
I am in the process of transcribing the Inclosure Award for Badgeworth and Shurdington. If you are seeking the lands that belonged to your ancestors, you may find some clues here. Only the landowners seem to be mentioned. With the section I am transcribing at the moment, that includes Joseph Ellis Viner, William Edwards Lawrence, William Henry Hyett and Joseph Sadler. The transcript accompanies maps of the area. The final version will be put on the computers at Gloucestershire Archives – many Inclosure Awards have already been installed there.
Find these books on Amazon:
|Maps for Family History||Maps for Family & Local History|
One way to trace the parents of your ancestor is by looking at records concerning their apprenticeships. There are two useful books for Gloucestershire Apprentices, both produced in the Gloucestershire Record Series by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.
They are: ‘A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester 1595-1700′ edited by Jill Barlow, M.A. and ”A Calendar of the Registers of the Freemen of the City of Gloucester 1641-1838′ transcribed by Peter Ripley and revised and edited by John Jurica.
The first book deals with the apprenticeship registers and has entries such as:
1690 Nov 1 Gwinnett Francis, son of Lawrence, gentleman of Great Shurdington, to Newman, Samuel 7years baker
1680 Apr 12 Gwinnet, Richard, son of George, gentleman of Badgeworth, to Randle, Josiah & Margery, 7yrs baker 2s 6d.
the second line giving the name of the apprentice’s master, the length of time of his apprenticeship, the trade and sometimes the amount paid to the master. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice was entitled to become a freeman of the city.
The second book, listing the Freemen, has entries such as:
1757 Oct 24 Button Gwinnett, son of Sam., clerk
1806 Apr 14 Sam. Gwinnett, writer, son of Chas., victualler
(There is a note that Button was a signatory on the American Declaration of Independence of 1776.)
A man could become a freeman in four ways, by apprenticeship, by patrimony, by purchase or by gift of the city corporation. Although the books, available via Amazon.co.uk, specify the city of Gloucester there are entries for people from the whole county of Gloucestershire as well as a few from elsewhere.
You have searched the IGI and checked the parish registers and still you cannot find that elusive baptism. Could it be that your ancestors were Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Roman Catholic ……?
Finding ancestors who did not conform to the Church of England religion is fraught with difficulty. Many of the churches, chapels and meeting houses no longer exist and registers, when kept, have been destroyed over the years. It is hard to know where to start as there is no list of all such churches for Gloucestershire. I am endeavouring to fill that gap by creating a database of all known churches, chapels and meeting houses that existed or still exist in Gloucestershire and Bristol.
I am hoping that someone can help me extend my list, tell me about chapels that I have omitted or duplicated, anything that will add to my knowledge and, in the long run, to other people’s as well. I have a long way to go but have made a start at:
Please take a look and send me any information that might prove useful.