Thank you to my learners – great work

Just finished my latest family history course.  The learners were very enthusiastic and managed to trace their family heritage back to the 1841 census.  This was the goal for the Stage 1 course.

Some found that family stories helped to validate the records they discovered.  While some discovered that the records only disproved what they had been told!   This is often the case.  Over time family memories and stories are re-told and often vital facts are forgotten, names forgotten, or dates are simply made up.  It is only by sourcing the records accurately, which can be very time consuming, can we prove, or disprove our family history.

This takes great discipline, concentration and good record keeping.  The learners found the time and space in their weekly class, and afterwards felt they had a better understanding of the process. I hope they all felt they had made really good progress and will continue with their research.

Well done everyone!

Genealogy discoveries and mysteries still to be solved – The lost marriage

Lost, First Marriage

Over the summer I have been busy with solving a couple of genealogy mysteries on behalf of clients. The one, below, involves a lost first marriage.  Let me explain:

The first involved a lady who believed her mother may have been married before her mother and father met and married.  When this lady was a child an elderly aunt had once told her that her mother had been married before, and that she, this lady had a brother.  The revelation remained a secret and was never spoken of again.  Her mother died in her fifties and now this lady wanted to know if she did in fact have a half brother.

I was able to help her by searching her genealogy through the marriage records and birth records. Unfortunately her mother had a common name, and came from a city.  This meant cross referencing with over 40 possible matches with the mothers names.  I had to check for deaths of some of these 40 women and birth records around the correct time.  But in the end I found her mothers first marriage, which took place in a different city.  This is probably why her family did not know of her first marriage or birth of her first son, who was born just 3 months after the marriage.

The story turned out to be true and the lady is now hoping to contact her half brother.  However, I did not find a divorce record for her mother, so we believe her father did not know of the previous marriage or child.  I hope very much that this lady finds her half brother and gets to hear all about his life story.

(The client granted her permission for me to blog her story).

Sign up for one of my courses and you could discover your family history Courses

Second story to follow soon…..

Pauper death and burial in Eastville, Bristol

On 12 July a fascinating public walk and lecture about the history behind the unmarked pauper graves of Rosemary Green, situated on the outskirts of what was once Eastville Union Workhouse, Fishponds Road, Bristol.

After the 1834 Poor Law Act a paupers funeral was considered to be an extravagance that the parish should no longer pay for.  Before the 1834 Act, pauper funerals were paid for by the parish, with local persons attending to the traditional funeral rituals and necessities. In other words a person with no or little money who had died was treated with respect in death and buried as a human being as would be expected, albeit simple, within the cultural rituals of the time.

But after the Act was enforced the Poor Law Unions, in order to save money, and ‘demonstrate disgrace in death of those who had surrendered to poverty‘.  Death and burial practices were changed to become a disgraceful new attitude that resulted in approximately 4,000 men, women and children simply being wrapped in a shroud and dumped in unmarked graves in a small piece of land that sloped into a small river.   The pauper graveyard is located at Rosemary Green just opposite Greenbank Cemetery where there is also an older pauper grave yard.

Extensive research into Eastville workhouse has been undertaken by Bristol Radical History Group and published in 100 Fishponds Road.  (Book available from BRHG). Click here.

Many people have now contacted the BRHG as they suspect that their ancestors may have be buried at Rosemary Green. (Records of names still exist).  If you think that you may have an ancestor who might have died in a workhouse you can contact Heritage Found, free of change, to try to find out more.

At Rosemary Green there is now a touching monument to all those souls once buried beneath.

Made of slate it reads:

Rosemary Green Burial Ground

1851-1895

On this site over 4,000 men women and children

who died in Eastville Workhouse,

known as 100 Fishponds Road,

were buried in unmarked graves.

A further 118 were given to the medical school.

This memorial stands in recognition of all

who lived and died in the workhouse.

Not Forgotten

Please click here to discover more and see fascinating photographs of Eastville Workhouse.

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

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

The British Census, a beginner’s guide 1841

1841

The first British census, which covered England and Wales, was undertaken in 1841.  The census was carried out by literate persons who had to visit each and every household, institution and vessel on the xxxxx 1841.  We can view all the records on line at various sites, which you will have to pay for.  The 1841 census gives us the names, age, occupation, where they lived and whether born in the county where they were living.  This was noted as a simple y for yes, or for no.  An S was recorded for those born in Scotland and an I for those of Irish birth.  If a person was born abroad an was marked instead to note this, although it does not tell us in which country they were born. The 1841 census rarely gives us full addresses and never states the relationship of the people within one household.

Another important fact that you need to be aware of is that age was marked down to the nearest 5 years.  So if a person was 38 their age was recorded as 35!   Why would they do this, when it would have been just as easy to put the persons real, known age?  Well, some people did not know their exact age in 1841, and the government were really just interested in where people were living.  There had been a huge wave of migration in the early to mid 19th century as people moved off the land into the cities and towns to find work.  The Industrial Revolution had caused many families to move to find work in the new mills, coal mines and factories that were now covering large areas of the new urban regions.

So, in brief the 1841 census will tell us:

  • The persons first name and surname (last) name
  • Age of person
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Where born