Can we rely on Parish Register entries?

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

Looking for the baptisms of the children of John Harris in Kings Stanley, I came across these entries on a microfiche.

  • Samuel Harrisson, son of John Harrisson, baptised last day of July 1653
  • John Harrisson, son of John Harrisson, baptised 14th October 1655
  • William Harrisson, the 3rd son of John Harrisson, baptised 25 December 1657

Checking a microfilm of Kings Stanley parish register entries for the period that followed, I also found:

  • John Harries the son of John Harries was baptised the 14th day of October 1655.

I did not find baptisms on this film for either Samuel or William.  The three Harrisson entries were not on the microfilm and the one Harries entry was not on the microfiche!  So, what was the explanation?

I ordered up the original register and checked the entries, all as above.  There was nothing that I could see in any part of the book to indicate that any part had been copied at any time.  The book appeared to be organised in 4 sections.   The first section held baptisms, the second had marriages, and the third burials.  The fourth section seemed to be a general section.   At the end of the first section, I found the first three Harrisson entries just as they were shown on the fiche.   After the marriages and burials, I found the baptism for John Harries as it had been on the film.

So, all four entries were there in the registers, as you would expect from filmed documents.  So – what happened?  After discussion with the archivist on duty and another experienced researcher, we all agreed that it was extremely unlikely that a John Harries, son of John Harries, was baptised on the same day (14th October 1655) as a John Harrisson, son of John Harrisson.  We agreed that there was most probably only one family, father John and his sons Samuel, John and William.

So, which surname is the correct one – Harries or Harrisson?  From other, later entries in the registers, Harrisson or, more usually, Harrison, seems to be the most reasonable choice but – are our assumptions correct?  There were, of course, no bishops transcripts for the 1650s so we cannot check those.   Can we trust the parish registers?

Confusing Dates

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Dates, Genealogy, Parish Registers, Research

Family historians have to be careful of various changes with the system of dates.  I was recently transcribing an early burial register when I came across the date of 29th February 1739 which appeared to be a leap year day but not in an actual leap year.  It made me wonder when leap years were first introduced.  Further research told me it was originally back in the days of Julius Caesar so well before 1739!  Obviously, the minister or churchwarden had made an error when entering the burial information.

But the real dates to be careful with are those around the early 1750s.  Before 1752, the new year began on Lady Day (25th March) and ended 24th March so a date recorded in a register as 1st March 1750 would nowadays be called 1st March 1751. From 1752 onwards, the year began on 1st January.  So 1751 was a very short year.  And even 1752 lost nine days …..  confused?  There is a fuller explanation in the first volume of Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors.

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 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.

Pre-1841 Census with names

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: census, Gloucestershire, Research

My book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, lists the 10 pre-1841 censuses which include names as opposed to the merely statistical data that the government of the day required.  They are from Arlingham, Aust, Bisley, Great Badminton, Hawkesbury, Horsley, Kemerton, Naunton, Stratton and Stroud.

Today, at Gloucestershire Archives, I discovered an 11th pre-1841 census – this one for Rendcomb.  Dated 1831, it mentions 30 inhabited houses, the number of families in each and how many families are involved in agriculture, trade or other occupations.

Two columns identify the number of males and the number of females in each household but of most interest to the family historian are, of course, the names of the heads of each household.  The surnames are:  Reeve, Cox, Harding, Orchard, Price, Chappel, Hayward, Guise, Jayne, Williams (2), George, Trotman, Preston, Potter, Munday, Golding, Neal, Crump, Gegg, Barradine, Painter, White, Tayler, Griffin,  Line, Newman and Burrows.  Two properties did not have a head of household but were just called Barn Field and Marsden Farm but both had residents.

So – having found an 11th early census, I am wondering if there are more out there for the county – can anyone tell me of others?

 

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/

Buy my book!

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Books, Gloucestershire, Research

My latest book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Volume 1, is now available for purchase

  1. online, with payment via Paypal, ONLY from MY website
  2. directly from me, with payment by Sterling cheque
  3. from the Gloucestershire Family History Centre in Gloucester

Details of how to order can be found on my website at:

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

My book is NOT available from any of the online book stores such as Amazon, The Book Depository, etc., despite the adverts you may find there.

Order your copy now!