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.

 

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.

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.

Early censuses

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: census, Genealogy

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:
Bristol 1695
Olveston 1742
Stroud 1756
Uley 1795
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.

Gloucestershire Apprentices

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Freemen, Genealogy, Gwinnett

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.

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.

How to document Gwinnett research?

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gwinnett

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.

Codes of Men and Armour for Gloucestershire

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy

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.