|I had an interesting time at Worcestershire Archives yesterday. Amongst other things, I was looking at the Roman Catholic registers for Dudley, seeking an Irish family, and there, to my surprise, I found a baptism for an Ann Gwinnett in 1836. The Gwinnetts have been almost totally members of the Church of England since they arrived in Gloucestershire in the late 16th century; only two other instances of nonconformity have been found, one a Methodist and, most intriguing, a Lawrence Gwinnett who was found on a list of Papists in the early 18th century. I wonder if this new Gwinnett child is linked to Lawrence? Because of the difficulty of finding any Catholic registers for the county for that period, this Lawrence branch has vanished into thin air. Did he remain in Gloucestershire? Were his estates confiscated? I wish I knew!||
Tracing Catholic Ancestors
National Index Parish Registers
I had cause to look up something to do with Chedworth today and came across Anthea Jones’ book ‘The Cotswolds’, published a few years ago. It is, I think, the best book I have found on the subject. It begins with the Domesday Book and works its way forward through the ages, explaining the changes to the environment and way of life that occurred. Using fieldwork and excellent research, Dr. Jones has produced the definitive book on the area. If your ancestors came from the Cotswolds and you want some background reading on the area, this is the book for you. You can find a copy here
Well, I have another session at the Archives tonight on my Gwinnett research. I am considering some sort of publication, either a book or a web site, that involves the history of the Gwinnett family, combined with researching your ancestors in and around Gloucestershire – basically a how-to-do-it book. The latest version of ‘Gloucestershire Family History’ written by M E Richards and produced by the then Gloucestershire Record Office is 15 years old now and a lot has happened in genealogy since then. It has been mentioned a few times that it needs updating ….. So, my problem is threefold: do I write the family story from when the Gwinnetts arrived in Gloucestershire in the 16th century using documents to illustrate what can be found – the most logical way from the family point of view; do I begin with the most recent Gwinnett and work back though his family as one does when tracing ancestors; or do I take topics for research such as parish registers, probate, etc., and describe the family via that means? Any suggestions from those who have been along this route already? It’s all a bit overwhelming at the moment.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. A client very tactfully suggested that the information I had sent him about a marriage contradicted an entry for the same event listed in Phillimore’s Marriages and also 6 entries in the IGI so I checked the Minchinhampton registers to see who was correct.
To begin, I checked the specific marriage registers and could not find the entry at all until I noted that the minister had mixed up all the banns and marriages and they were not in the correct order. Presumably he had filled in the banns as they occurred but then he had extra marriages to enter when people married by licence so couldn’t always fit the marriage to its banns. The result was a very muddled register. I did eventually find the marriage and was rather disappointed to find that Phillimore and the IGI were correct – the bride’s name was Hester and not Elizabeth as I had thought.
However, I also needed to check the general register for a burial at the same time and while searching that document, I realised that the minister had, quite unnecessarily, entered the marriages there as well as in the special marriage registers produced from 1754 following the Hardwicke Act. And when I came to 1759, there was a second entry for the marriage I was interested in. And this time, the bride’s name was Elizabeth! All other details were the same. So – was she Hester or was she Elizabeth? Next week, I will look at the Bishops Transcripts to see what is said in there.
As they say,
you should always have three separate sources for every fact
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.