18th May 2017 a talk about Bedminster Workhouse

The Life and Death of Hannah Wiltshire

I will be giving a talk on Bedminster Union Workhouse. Bristol to the Clevedon History Group on the 18th May, 2017.  The talk will illustrate how during the year 1855 the workhouse Guardians neglected in their care and duty to protect a vulnerable young women, which resulted in her death. This lead to a public outcry and calls for the first mental health asylum to be built in Bristol.

Bedminster Union Workhouse was located Flax Burton, in North Somerset, England and served the parishes in the region of south west Bristol as well as Bedminster, Bristol.

Let me search for your ancestors and see if any of them were in a workhouse click

Why search and send off for a copy marriage certificate?

As we start to go back in time, through a few generations, it is easy to not be quite sure that we have the right individuals who we feel may be that missing great grandparent for example.  It can often be that we find 10 or even hundreds  of couples who married around the time our couple may have married, and in the same vicinity.  The only sure way to find out is to send off for a copy marriage certificate, which in the U.K. you can find records recorded on and after 1837, when formal civil registration became the law.

Firstly, you should try and find out the volume number and page number where the marriage is recorded, known as the Indexes. This information can be found out by doing a simple search on one of the on-line genealogy sites.  You can now go onto the GRO (General Register Office) web site.  This is the site where you order your certificates and is the cheapest method.  You will find a couple of simple forms to fill out and currently a charge of £9.45 at time of writing.  If for some reason the certificate cannot be found your payment is refunded.  Currently it is taking about 10 days to receive the ordered copy certificate.  It is exciting when the envelope arrives. I can help you do this by filling out the contact form here.

A marriage certificate will give you a lot of information and very importantly the maiden name of the bride, and of the couples fathers and their occupation.  The occupation of the bride and groom is also recorded which is a useful tool for cross referencing our couple on the census returns.   This can be a wonderful resource to help us to go back a further generation and be confident that we have the right people added to our line before we attempted to go back further.

The history of British marriage certificates

Civil registration in England and Wales commenced on 1 July 1837, and relates to the birth, marriage and death of an individual. In Scotland records began in 1855 and in Ireland in 1864, with Irish non-Catholic marriages recorded from 1845.

In England and Wales, up to that time, the government had relied on the church to register the population but this was was not a complete record, not a full listing of the population. Also, mass printing of government administration forms was now possible due to advances in printing technology.  A single tier registration system was introduced, based on the administrative poor law unions, which had been set up in 1834, and previously the administrative hundreds. These became the registration districts. Births, not baptisms, and deaths, not burials, were recorded as well as marriages.  Parish and nonconformist baptism & burial registers were still completed at the same time that the new civil registration system began.  The Act also permitted marriages to be performed in Register Offices and outside the confines of the Anglican Church. Many nonconformist chapels were authorised to perform marriages. Since 1837 there has been much fine tuning of the system and various new regulations and legislation have been introduced.

It can be very rewarding to send off for a copy of our ancestor’s marriage certificate.

And below are are some pointers to understanding what you may read.

No exact age may be shown and ages may be recorded that the bride or groom were “of full age”, an age in excess of 21 years. Although this statement may have been false to avoid a minor having to obtain parental consent.  Where an actual age is given, it is usually reasonably accurate but it may also have been altered for a variety of reasons and remember not everybody actually knew their exact age!

The same address for both parties may show and  this was common to avoid paying two sets of banns fees if one or other party resided in a different parish.  Marriages traditionally took place in the parish of the bride.

The absence of a father’s name and occupation usually meant he was unknown.  But, also a made-up name, or a male name with in the family, could have been used with (deceased).  I have seen several suspected examples of this on certificates.  Also this is a clue of illegitimacy.  If the father was in fact dead the name was usually filled in and the word deceased written alongside it.  The inclusion of the name of the father without the word deceased did not automatically mean that he was alive at the time of the marriage! Remember the certificate was being hand written with details often being given by the bride and groom who could not always read and write, and vital information may not of been asked for.

Coming soon – your family tree web site

Soon we will be launching a personal family tree web site.  The site will be carefully made just for you. It can display images, relationships and facts about your ancestors lives.  You will be able to share the web site or invite preferred persons to have access.  This is a wonderful way to possibly find out even more about your ancestry!

To view a Heritage Found family tree click here

New Book! Lady Blackshirts

New Book out now: Lady Blackshirts

‘Lady Blackshirts. The Perils of Perception – suffragettes who became fascists’

This is the true story of suffragettes who became fascists during the inter war years.

During the 1930’s a small group of ultra-nationalistic women, who considered themselves feminists, joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.  Surprisingly some of these women were former high ranking members of the suffragette movement.

This work examines the political and social tensions that confronted women in the 1930’s and also the tensions that arose within Mosley’s ranks.  Issues that were so profound, that some women were drawn into the world of the fascist political elite, and became ‘militant women citizens’ advocating and endorsing fascism.

Available in book shops now and directly from the Bristol Radical History Group.