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.

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.

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.

Gloucestershire Research

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Nonconformist, Parish Registers, Poor Law

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.

Nonconformist churches, chapels and meeting houses

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Parish Registers

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:

http://www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/nonconformists/

Please take a look and send me any information that might prove useful.

One marriage, two brides?

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Parish Registers

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

.

Cold Ashton

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Parish Registers

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!