Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2012 10-12 Volume 20 Number 4
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
Oct - Dec 2012
Vol 20.4
Contents of this issue.
From the Chair 1
Requests for Genealogical Help 3
News From the Secretary 4
Strange but (Possibly) True 5
A Murderer in the Family (part 2) 6
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks 8
An RAF Photo Mystery 17
An Accidental Death 18
This Issue’s Cover Photograph 19
Why Do We Call It That? 19

From the Chair...

Chairman’s Report from the Annual General Meeting, September 2012
2011/12 has been yet another successful year for our Group. Monday meetings have been well attended and our visiting speakers on the whole have proved entertaining. Attendance at the Thursday ‘drop in’ sessions has dropped again this year, but we will continue to offer help and research facilities.We have received grants again this year from Burntwood Town Council towards our WW1 memorial project, and also from Staffordshire County Councils Adult and Community Learning Service, which covers the cost of our meeting rooms. Pam Woodburn and Barbara Williams take on this task, and we appreciate and thank them for their efforts.Alan Betts is doing a grand job with our website. It is great local resource, with links to many other useful sites. Local businesses advertise so, if you make use of any of these, please mention where you saw their advertisement. Many thanks, Alan.Mike Woolridge and his small group of transcribers and checkers are still working well, and Bernard Daniels continues to produce our CDs. Barbara Williams takes the orders for discs and arranges despatch to customers. Many thanks to you all. It is always worth checking our collection of CDs and microfiches. Steve Bailey brings everything to the Thursday meetings and looks after them between times. Thanks, Steve, for your help.
Our treasurer, Jeff Wilson, is doing a grand job keeping up to date with the financial position of the group. Thanks for your work on our behalf, Jeff. Although poorly at the moment, Geoff Colverson continues to look after our library, which increases yearly, despite the storage problems which continue to be insoluble. Thank you, Geoff, for your time and help. If someone could help with this, I know Geoff will be grateful.
Our speakers’ costs have risen slightly again this year, but they are affordable and, just occasionally, there is no charge. The booking of speakers is done by Jane Leake, who would be interested and grateful to hear if you know of anyone who might offer a good talk. Thank you, Jane, for your contribution. The Christmas social was well attended again and our thanks go to Jenny Lee, who made the arrangements. We also had an enjoyable lunch at the Wych Elm.We haven’t attended any outside events this year, but there are a couple in the pipeline for next year. These are great occasions to promote our group, and our display boards are very impressive and full of information to help anyone just starting out on research.We have continued to run drop-in sessions at Lichfield Library on a monthly basis, although numbers have dropped off during the summer months. Volunteers would be appreciated.
Unfortunately, our annual visit to the National Archives at Kew was cancelled this year due to a lack of response. Our thanks to Jenny, however, for making the usual enquiries. Our Honorary Secretary has again worked extremely hard supporting all aspects of the running the group and I would like to express my thanks to Geoff for his unfailing support. Thanks must also go to John Catliff for taking on the job of Minutes Secretary. Not an easy job, and I would like to thank John for his contribution.Many thanks also to Brian Asbury for his work in producing the quarterly journal. He would, however, be pleased to receive more articles to keep the Journal interesting. If anyone has ideas, please let us know. Thanks also go to Geoff Sorrell for the effort he puts into the production and distribution, and to Sheila Clarke for writing a précis of the monthly talks, which then go into the Journal for the members who were unable to attend. We still need a stand-in for Sheila when she is unable to be present.
Thanks to Barbara Williams and all who have helped sell raffle tickets or provided prizes. If anyone would like to donate prizes for the raffle, Barbara will be delighted to receive them.Finally, thanks to anyone who has taken on the chore of making and serving the refreshments during the past year. Thanks to Jenny Lee who does the shopping, and to everyone who helps putting out the cups etc. at the start of the meetings. Please may we have more volunteers during the next year.To end, I would like to thank everyone for their support and trust the group will go from strength to strength. Thank you.     Carole Jones
Requests for Genealogical Help
Alison Sharma (sharmaa2@sky.com) writes:
I am currently researching the history of Heath Hayes with the aim of publishing a book. I have already done a lot of the groundwork and have started speaking to local residents, so if any of your members or visitors to your website are interested in adding their memories and photographs to the publication, I would love to hear from them. If they are local, I am more than happy to visit them for a chat or if not they can contact me by email – please feel free to add my email address (above) to the website if you agree to this request, or write to me at 69 Burntwood Road, Hammerwich.The topics I am researching for the book include: The growth and development of the village, local properties, coal mining, shops and businesses, local churches, Five Ways Board School, sport and leisure, local pubs and clubs, World War I and World War II.I would like to point out that this project is a ‘labour of love’ and is not a profit-making venture in any way.
Gloria Packman (gloriapackman@sasktel.net) writes:
Hello from Saskatchewan, Canada. We have recently learned that my husband’s grandfather was Thomas Boonham, born in 1885 in Burntwood. His Father was William, his Mother Rose Ann.Would you be familiar with this family? Thanks in advance, Gloria Packman.
News from the Secretary

There have been no new members who have joined since the last Journal was published. However, two of our members have sadly passed away recently. John Macalester was local and had become a regular attender at our meetings. Lorna Poole was a distant member but took a keen interest in our group. Our condolences have been expressed to their families on the Group’s behalf.
Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held on Monday 9th September 2012 and was attended by rather fewer members than are present at most Monday meetings.Reports on the Group’s activities and financial affairs were presented by our Chair, Carole Jones, Treasurer Jeff Wilson and retiring Secretary Geoff Sorrell. All members of the committee were willing to serve for a further year and I volunteered myself for the position of Honorary Secretary, which automatically made me a committee member. The committee is now comprised of the four Officers – Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-Chair, plus nine nominated members. The Group’s constitution allows for fourteen people to serve on the committee at any one time. For those who are not aware of the people who organise and carry on the day-to-day running of the Group, you will find a list on the inside front cover of the Journal. You will see that in addition to the committee, there are almost as many others who take part in the group’s activities but who do not serve on the committee. If anyone has been missed off the list, please let me know.Membership of the Group has stabilised over the past few years and now consists of around 125 people. Of these, twelve are ‘family’ members who share their membership with someone else in their household or family. Membership subscriptions have been held steady for some time now, but subscriptions alone would not be sufficient to sustain the Group’s activities and we rely on grants from various sources to maintain our healthy financial situation. Costs are rising all the time: for example, speakers at our meetings have had to increase their fees due to fuel costs. Also, Journal production costs have risen due to increased material and postage charges, and the rooms that we hire at the Old Mining College now cost more than they used to.The Group has for some years been helping other groups and local libraries by providing volunteers to run open days and surgeries. However, it becomes more and more difficult to find volunteers to attend some of the events at which we have traditionally been represented. Lichfield Library have recently informed us that our volunteers will no longer be able to park in the Library car park, butthey tell us that we can claim back from them the cost of public parking and travel to and from Lichfield – a typical example of ‘saving’ money and then ending up spending even more, while providing an annoying chore for the people who give their time free to help the Library Service!

A request for assistance

Sue Thornley is trying to research her family tree and is looking for information on her maternal grandmother, whose name was Marjorie Pritchard. In 1931, Marjorie was living with her father, Frank Pritchard, at 102, Coppice Side, Ogley Hay. Frank was a platelayer at a pit. Marjorie married Aaron Hathaway from Heath Hayes, who also worked in the coal industry. Sue thinks that he was a member of an organisation called ‘The Brotherhood’. After marriage, they went to live in Hill Street, Heath Hayes. They had two children: Christine (Sue’s mother) and Beryl. Sue’s grandmother left Aaron and the two children, but Sue’s mother is now deceased and Sue cannot gather any other information. Sue has been told that Marjorie ‘went away with a policeman from Heath Hayes’, but this story cannot be confirmed. Sue would like to find out if Marjorie remarried so that she could contact her missing relatives and find out more about her. If any anyone has information about Frank Pritchard’s wife and what happened to her, or about Marjorie after she left Aaron Hathaway, Sue would be very grateful. Sue’s maiden name was Hawkins (from Hednesford) and she married a Thornley from Heath Hayes. She now lives in London and can be contacted at suejthornley@gmail.com – or contact me and I will pass on the information.     Pauline Bowen
Strange but (Possibly) True

One of the problems of burying the dead is that there is only so much room in graveyards to bury people. So, when churchyards began to fill up as the population grew, it became commonplace to dig up old coffins and take the bones to a bone-house so that the grave could be re-used. When reopening these coffins, however, one out of every 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside, suggesting that people had been buried alive. A practice thus began of tying a string around the wrist of the corpse and threading it through the coffin and up through the ground, before tying it to a bell. This led to a number of well-known sayings. Just in case, someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus someone could be saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer. It’s not certain that any of this is really true, but it does make a good story!
A Murderer in the Family by Carole Jones

Part 2: The trial opens

Where did I get to last issue? Oh yes: there was a tale told by my grandmother that there once had been a murderer in the family, and I decided to investigate. Last time, following my learning that Patsy McMillan from New Zealand had transcribed all the Gloucester inquests from 1722 to 1838, I visited her website looking for family members or at least miscreant neighbours, and I discovered the murder of Sarah Sully in 1829. I gave the outline of the murder and the fact that William Salewell was hanged for the crime. Now let’s see what actually happened at the trial. Trial Notes (from Gloucester Journal 5th September 1819)
Murder of a Wife!

William Salewell was indicted, charged with the wilful murder of his wife Sarah Salewell, at Ruspedge Meon, in the hundred of St Briavels.
Mr Justice (with whom was Mr Watson) said, in addressing the Jury, that the silence and anxiety which prevailed through that crowded Court, indicated the deep interest excited by the important investigation, which was now to employ their attention – an investigation, not only important as it respect the inquiry into the death of a fellow-creature, but important, as it affected the life of the man then at the bar, standing on the verge of eternity. In addressing them, he trusted that not one word would escape his lips contrary to that blessed maxim of the English Law which required that charges of this serious nature should be decided on by the evidence alone. But he would endeavour to state the facts, so that the interests of justice would be protected and the interest of the prisoner should not be violated. The prisoner, it appeared, was a foundling: his birth place and parents were alike unknown, as he had been left, while an infant, at the door of a farmhouse called Sollywell, from whence he derived the name he was now known by. He moved in one of the humblest paths of life, and some years ago he married the unfortunate deceased.
They lived together in a hovel in St Briavels of the most miserable description: they were without furniture of any kind, with only a bed of straw, and without a door to their wretched abode. The deceased appeared to have submitted to the privation which Providence had placed around her path, with the greatest patience and resignation, and scarcely to have made any complaint at the cruel usage she received from the prisoner. On the evening of Saturday, 23 May, the deceased went out to meet the prisoner, whose return home she had been expecting. She went along the tram-road, and shortly after cries of “murder!” were heard: and a girl, who was passing along the road, saw the deceased on the ground, and the prisoner kicking her in the most brutal manner. He desired her to get up; she replied she was unable; he then kicked her again; and the girl being too much frightened to interfere, went on a fast as she could, till she met a man, whom she sent to the woman’s assistance. The man found the prisoner still beating his wife; he pushed the prisoner from her, and asked him if he was going to murder the woman. The prisoner replied, she was his wife, and he had a right to do as he had a mind with her. The next day she was seen laying on her miserable bed of straw, in a state of great pain and weakness; she was dreadfully bruised, and unable to rise. A kind neighbour had gone to her assistance, but the prisoner was displeased at it, and threatened, if she came there again, he would serve her the same. On Monday, the 25th, the poor woman died; and the neighbour who had evinced so much kindness for her, removed the body to her own cottage, where she performed the last offices for it. The Jury would hear the circumstances detailed by the different witnesses to this unfortunate transaction, and from the Medical Gentlemen who had opened the body of the deceased. If they thought the evidence was sufficient to establish the charge against the prisoner, it would be their duty, by the verdict, and by his example, to hold out a warning to the bad passions of mankind.
Next time: The Witness Statements!
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks - Reviewer: Sheila Clarke

July 2012: John Yates on ‘Understanding a Birth Certificate’

John Yates from the Birmingham Register Office has given entertaining talks to our group for over ten years. This time he concentrated on showing us how to interpret the information found on birth certificates, looking for the subtle clues which they may contain. Certificates can be ordered online direct from the Birmingham Register Office, and a scan of the original entry will usually arrive within three or four working days. Birmingham Register Office contains upwards of 9,500 registrations. The Greater Birmingham area includes part of West Bromwich. Using the name given by David and Victoria Beckham to their daughter Harper Seven as an example, John pointed out that a number could only be given as a forename if it was spelled out. He told us of other instances where numbers were used, such as Million Montague Eve; Zed Thirteen Singleton; Eleventh Elizabeth Web; and an example from Tower Hamlets, where a One Two Three Tucker registered in 1886, was followed in 1896 by Four Five Six Tucker! We sometimes find that where more than one forename is given the first name is not always used in later life, so, if an ancestor cannot be found, look for them using their other name. In the USA, for example, the Republican presidential contender, Mitt Romney, was registered as Willard Mitt Romney. John then systematically went through the entries we find on Birth certificates.
Registration District/Sub-District. These were based on the old Poor Law Union District (until they ceased to exist) but were compromised of more than one district or sub district. The year refers to when the birth was registered (not necessarily the year of birth). The county is that in which the Registration District fell at the time of registration, but sometimes this may consist of more than one county, and all will be shown. The Registration Districts are used for the compilation of the census, and can be used to search a specific part of the census.
Entry Number. This refers to this birth register and there is no relationship with the page number shown in the GRO indexes.
(Col 1.) When Born (From about 1865 When and where born). Initially the date only was shown but, after a short time, most registrars also included the place. If a time is shown, this may indicate a multiple birth. In the early days of registration, only the town may be given. If the birth occurred in an institution (e.g. workhouse or infirmary), this was originally entered by title. Later, to prevent any stigma, the address only was given.
(Col 2.) Name, if Any Shows forename(s) only. If details of both parents are given and they are not married, the child may use either surname. Second and subsequent forenames may be significant, (e.g. mother’s maiden name; a family name from the past; the father’s surname if the child is illegitimate and no father shown. There is no legal requirement to name the child at registration, so the space may be left blank. Forename(s) can be given at a later date or a change made. The new name is entered in the last column.
(Col 3.) Sex.Until 1963, the entry was ‘boy’ or ‘girl’; from that date, ‘male’ or ‘female’.
(Col 4.) Name and Surname of Father.As given by the informant, irrespective of what may appear on the father’s marriage or birth certificate. Prior to 1875, an unmarried mother could enter a father’s name on the certificate without his knowledge or agreement. After 1875, where the parents are unmarried, the father’s name may be entered if he jointly registered the birth with the mother. If the father’s name is not shown, column 6 (Occupation), will be blank. If a father is deceased, and the Registrar aware of this, the father’s name will be followed by (deceased).
(Col 5.) Name and Maiden name of Mother.This will be shown, together with all previous surnames used. At the top will be the latest, with the earliest at the bottom. One surname will be shown if not married. If married once, this will be shown as Smith, ‘formerly’ Jones. If married twice, this will be shown as Evans, ‘late’ Smith, ‘formerly’ Jones. If married more than twice, shown as Brown, ‘late’ Evans, ‘previously’ Smith, ‘formerly’ Jones. If a mother uses another surname without being married, this is shown as Smith, ‘otherwise’ Jones. If no father is shown, the mother’s occupation may be given, and possibly her address, if different from the address given in the informant column. If the mother died in childbirth, she may be shown as ‘deceased’. If she died after the birth, she may not be shown as deceased. If the child is a foundling, both the mother’s and father’s names will be left blank.
(Col 6.) Rank or Profession of Father. Profession followed at the time of birth. This would show a previous occupation if that entitled the father to a pension (e.g. armed forces). This column is left blank if no father is shown.
(Col 7.) Signature, Description and Residence of Informant. The signature mark and name, of the informant is followed by their right to be the informant. Preference is in this order: (1) the father (if birth legitimate); (2) the mother; (3) the father and mother jointly if the birth is illegitimate; (4) the occupier of the house where the birth took place; (5) person present at birth; (6) person in charge of the birth. Address of informant. If the informant has moved to a different Registration District since the birth, the birth may be registered in a different district and then passed on to the appropriate one with the declared date appearing at the bottom of the column. A birth registered as taking place in an Institution may indicate that the mother only went in for the birth if her residence is somewhere else at the time of registration.
(Col 8.) When Registered. Shows the date when registered. ‘On the authority of the registrar’ means that special circumstances exit, (e.g. late registration or re-registration). Late registration means more than 42 days after the birth a fee is (up to 1875), or a fine (after 1875) is payable. Up to 1875, a child had to be registered within six months. From 1875 until 1922, registration had to take place before the child reached 7 years. From 1922, a child could be registered at any time.
(Col 9.) Signature of Registrar. Also shows qualifications of Registrar. If two signatures are present, this indicates special circumstances (e.g. late registration).
(Col 10.) Baptismal Name. May show any new forenames given after registration. These take precedence. Up to 1874, they could be inserted on production of a baptismal or naming certificate. From 1875, the period was extended to 12 months. Re-registration.Since 1927, it has been possible for parents to re-register their child if they subsequently marry, however far back in time the original registration took place. This new registration supersedes the original entry. Look for a marriage between the birth and second registration. Local Registrars are only allowed to issue copies of the new certificate. An individual can apply to the general Register Office at Southport requesting a copy of the original entry. Each case will be treated on its merit; there are no guidelines.
After his interesting entertaining and informative talk John Yates provided us with copies of his guidelines for understanding Birth Certificates. These will remind us of the other sources which Birth certificates point to; Census Returns; Electoral Rolls; Marriage; Death records; and Trade Directories.
October 2012: Danny Wells on ‘City of Dreadful Night’

Danny Wells’ illustrated talk focused on the poverty and social deprivation which arose in the East End of London during the 19th century and some of the social reformers who tried to alleviate this problem. In 1801, the population of Britain was 11.5 million, but by 1901 it had risen to over 42 million people. In 1801, no town outside London had a population in excess of 100,000. However, people flocked to Manchester to work in the burgeoning cotton mills and factories. By 1830, it had become a showcase for new industrialisation, but allied to unease around the dire living conditions arising from the rapid rise in population. In 1880, Britain was the richest country in the world. London became a haven for immigrants seeking a chance for a better life, or escaping from persecution. These included Huguenots during the 17th century; Sephardic Jews in the 18th century; Irish and Scots who came to build the docks; and Lascar sailors and those from Malaya and China. In 1900, Jews escaping from the pogroms in Russia arrived. In 1901, the London Jewish Free School had 4,000 pupils. Most immigrants settled in the east of London north of the Thames. With each new influx of people, buildings changed their use. For example, one building started life as a Huguenot church but later became a Methodist church, then a synagogue, and is now a mosque. The most rapid growth occurred throughout London’s East End, although the name ‘East End’ was not used until late in the 1880s. It was an area of dockland in which shipbuilding was a significant industry, first developed by the East India Company during the 16th century, exporting and importing goods. This added to the country’s wealth, yet there was poverty on the doorstep. Dock work was cyclical, so there was seasonal unemployment. Between 1870 and 1900, agricultural workers migrated to London as the chance of making a living from the land also declined. The population of Tower Hamlets, which had been 143,000 in 1801, had risen to 581,000 by 1891. Overcrowding and bad sanitary conditions led to many outbreaks of cholera. In the early 19th century, the Thames was still relatively clean, as cesspits emptied by night soil men were the norm. Then flushing water closets became popular, using more water. This caused cesspits to overflow into the rainwater drainage system, which emptied into the Thames and its tributaries. The river became an open sewer which, during a particularly hot summer, resulted in ‘the Great Stink’ of 1858. The civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette was instrumental in designing and developing the London sewage system, which is still in use today. The system was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1865 but took a further ten years to complete.
One philanthropist and social visionary ahead of his time was the American George Peabody, who had established a bank in London. In 1862, he opened a donation fund to provide housing ‘for the artisans and labouring poor of London’. The first dwelling was opened in Commercial Street, Spitalfields, in 1864. The Peabody Trust still provides housing in London to this day. Octavia Hill, who later established the National Trust, developed a social housing plan in 1864, initially purchasing three houses and training women in the running of the enterprise to diminish any feeling they would have of ‘charity’. She was also instrumental in developing playgrounds for children, and the notion that public open spaces were important. Angela Burdett Coutts was heiress to a vast fortune, but spent her life on philanthropic projects, including night classes for the unskilled and housing for the poor in the East End. In 1840, with the assistance of Charles Dickens, she set up a house for the rehabilitation of ‘fallen women’. She thought about the poor traders who were out in all weathers and had an indoor market built in Columbia Street, Bethnal Green, which opened in 1869. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, the market was not a success. In 1865 William and Catherine Booth, began their Whitechapel Mission outside the ‘Blind Beggar’ pub. Working together, they saw the Salvation Army, the fastest-growing religious movement, become worldwide within 25 years. In support of the match girls’ strike of 1886/7, the Salvation Army issued matches using red phosphorous instead of the white variety, which caused ‘phossy jaw’. They were called ‘Lights in Darkest England’. The match girls of Bryant and May, striking because of poor wages and working conditions, were successful in gaining improvements at the factory. They were helped in their endeavours by Annie Bessant, the social reformer and campaigner for women’s rights. The French artist Gustave Dore published a book of engravings in 1872 entitled, ‘London. A Pilgrimage’. It was a financial success, but critics complained that he had concentrated too much on the poor and destitute areas of the city and the degradation within. London had been experiencing monumental upheavals caused by the expansion of the railways, roads, canals and embankments cutting through many areas, thus isolating sections of the community from main thoroughfares. This had the effect of fostering savage enclaves of vice and depravation, where drunken men and women fought in the streets.In 1889, dockers went on strike for higher wages. They wanted 6d an hour. The rise in organised trade unions across the world was highlighted when Australian dockers raised £30,000 for the London dockers’ cause and helped their strike achieve its aim.
The advent of the tabloid press and the Penny Dreadful, with titles such as ‘The Great Unwashed’, ‘Howling Wilderness’ and ‘City of Dreadful Night’ created a morbid interest in the East End. George Simms, author of the poem ‘In the Workhouse, Christmas Day’, saw for himself the dreadful conditions in which many lived. In his book, ‘How the Poor Live’, written when the exploits of David Livingstone were in the news, he wrote ‘A dark continent is within easy walking distance of the Post Office’. A congregational minister wrote of ‘every room housing one or more families, the dead lying alongside the living sometimes for weeks’. Ragged children scrabbled amongst the filth and, in one street of 35 houses, 32 were brothels. Something had to be done and, in 1885, a Royal Commission was set up. In November, 1888, five girls, all prostitutes, were brutally murdered and eviscerated in Whitechapel. The crimes were seized upon by journalists, who named the killer ‘Jack the Ripper’, a name used in a letter sent to the police. Victorian society saw the crimes as indicative of the depraved nature of the area. Danny wondered whether the notoriety was whipped up to try to divert public attention away from the actual parlous plight of the people who lived in the East End. Dr. Barnardo, from Ireland, had set up his East End Children’s Mission in 1868, and established homes for orphan and destitute children. He was later accused of financial irregularities, but was found not guilty. He did, however, make sure that on publicity photographs there was usually a lame or vulnerable-looking child included to gain sympathy for his cause. In 1882, he facilitated emigration to Canada. By 1914, 20,000 children had been sent to Canada. Frederick Charrington was the heir to the Charrington Brewing Empire. Around 1870, he was passing the Rising Sun Public House in Bethnal Green when he saw a desperate mother with her three children in tow, begging her drunken husband for money. Frederick was shocked to see the man turn and strike his wife. He quickly intervened but, on looking up (perhaps from the ground when the man punched him too), he saw the name Charrington above the door. From that day, he eschewed strong drink and turned his back on the brewing business. He devoted his life to trying to improve the lot of the poor in the East End. He opened a school and became an ardent member of the temperance movement. In 1885, he founded the Tower Hamlets Mission. He had The Grand Assembly Hall built as a centre for Christian work in the area.
Canon Samuel Barnet and his wife Henrietta were both social reformers, and tried to improve the lot of the poor from their parish, St. Jude’s in Whitechapel. They opened the first University Settlement ‘Toynbee Hall’ in Tower Hamlets, like an Oxford or Cambridge college, but where university students would live among the poor, hopefully promoting social inclusion. They also aimed to ‘bring art to the poor’ with the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Danny concluded his talk by showing us a photograph of a building in Whitechapel. It had originally been built by wealthy Jews in 1909 as a soup kitchen for the Jewish poor, but has now been converted into apartments for the affluent. A carved soup tureen can be seen in the stone over the door. 10,800 bowls of soup were dispensed each day and it worked like a conveyor belt, with ‘Way In’ carved over one door and ‘Way Out’ carved over another. How else could such a logistical problem be tackled?

November 2012: Judith Farrington on ‘Beyond the Brick Wall’
We have all reached the proverbial brick wall in our family history research – sometimes, several of them! Giving illustrations from her own and her husband’s family, Judith Farrington’s enlightening and amusing talk showed us that persistence, and not taking family lore too literally, can be the key to a breakthrough. When looking at her husband Brian’s family, she wondered why there was an eight-year age gap between Brian and his elder brother. Her husband said that twin sisters Edith and Mary had died between the birth of him and his brother. Judith sent for the birth certificate of Edith, which showed that she had been born on 22nd May 1926. Her death certificate showed that she had died the same year. Mary’s birth certificate showed that she had not been born until 2nd February 1928, so obviously the girls were not twins. Mary died in 1929. So how had the belief that the sisters were twins occurred? When the 1911 census was released, Judith discovered that twins had died in Brian’s mother’s family. Somehow, the ‘twin’ story had been attached to the wrong generation.Judith’s old family home was at some point rented out. A water cylinder needed to be replaced and, behind the old cylinder, the plumber found an Edwardian wedding photograph which brought back memories for older members of the family, who recognised some of the guests. Grandma Colledge was recognised and ‘she was a bit of a devil, you know’ was expressed. ‘Poor Alfred’ was spotted. Judith’s mother said that he had been knocked down and killed by a horse and cart during the war. No one could say which war. A woman dressed in an extremely fashionable hat was named as Sarah Susannah, ‘the posh one’. And Uncle Bert was recognised: ‘He was simple and always wore a cap’. After researching all Grandma Mary Colledge’s children, fourteen in all, Judith pointed out one was missing from the photo. Before her marriage, she had an illegitimate son Fred Busby; so Judith had found why ‘she was a bit of a devil’.
From local newspaper archives and the coroner’s inquest, it was discovered that ‘Poor Alfred’, aged 65, had been knocked down and killed during the blackout of WWII. However, he had been knocked off his bike by a car, not a horse and cart. The car paused and then drove off. Alfred had then been run over by vehicles coming in the opposite direction, including a bus. The coroner’s report concluded that he died from a fractured skull and other extensive injuries, though whether caused by the initial impact or subsequently he could not say. The car that knocked him from his bike was never found. Sarah Susanna, ‘the posh one’, married Fred Hutson, a French Polisher, in 1907, but he was living as a boarder in Cheltenham at the time of the 1911 Census, while Sarah Susanna and their child Dorothy were living with relatives in another town. However, searching through trade directories and poll books, it was established that Sarah and Fred kept a greengrocers’ in Handsworth Birmingham, an affluent area in the 1930s, and in 1933 were able to live in a substantial house away from the shop. In 1936, they bought Hagley Hill Farm, near Belbroughton. Frederick, Sarah and Dorothy are buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church Belbroughton. The farmhouse has now been rebuilt, but people in the village remember the Hutsons. Uncle Bert was 22 years old at the time of the 1911 Census. He was living with his parents. Although the last column was still blanked out, it looks as though the first two letters of the word ‘simple’ are visible. Judith Farrington will be looking at the census again when this column is cleared, but this piece of family information appears to be correct. When advertising for information about the Colledge family, Judith had two replies, one of which was about the youngest girl on the wedding photograph. She was Catherine Ellen Colledge, the grandmother of a woman in Scarborough, who was pleased to discover some new relatives she knew nothing about.
A family photograph from around 1937/1938 was displayed. On it was Brian as a young boy, eating an ice-cream on an outing with his family. In the background was someone Brian said was Auntie Annie Ellen Horton, ‘Dad’s Auntie’. However, after some detective work, and in spite of Brian being adamant that Auntie Annie had never married, Judith found her marriage to a Thomas Horton. Her maiden name had been Sankey. Although finding Auntie Annie’s burial record, Judith has to date not found what happened to Thomas Horton or where he is buried. A photo of a young woman shows Aunt Nancy, ‘such a treasure’. She had worked in service. As a child, Judith used to talk to her under the sideboard, a sort of imaginary friend to whom she could tell her childish troubles. Judith wondered if another photo she has showed an older Nancy. Cousin Tom had a car and plenty of money. He often took other members of the family out for treats. One day, young Judith had a cold and was not going with the others. Tom said he knew something which would make her feel better, so she had better come along. They all went to the ‘Moorcroft’ and Judith was treated to a glass of Benedictine (or three or four). She soon felt much better! The reason Tom had money was because he had been a pawnbroker. He died in 1968 leaving £1,294 in his will – quite a tidy sum for the time. Looking for the birth certificate of ‘cousin’ Marie Chater, the ‘only Brummie relative’, posed a problem at first. She turned out to be a second cousin, not a cousin, and on the birth certificate her name was Elsie Marion Chater. It can be unwise to take family rumours as true without thorough investigation. Judith has failed, so far, to find any marriage of Fanny Rathbone, whom family members suggest entered into a bigamous marriage. Research has shown, however, that she seems to have remained Fanny Rathbone all her life, never marrying at all.
In Brian’s family, it was believed that his great-grandfather Isaiah Shaw had committed suicide after stealing money from where he worked. Judith found that Isaiah Shaw had been steward at a Working Men’s Club. The coroner’s report on his death stated that he had been in his bedroom at home and had tried to cut his throat with a razor, his wife sustaining cuts to her hand and arm as she tried to prevent him. She called to a policeman, who managed to stem the flow of blood. Isaiah was committed to an asylum in a weak state, but died a few days later after he had reopened the wound. There was no mention of missing money. Finally we were shown two items. The first was a white drawn threadwork tablecloth, or throw, supposedly ‘done by Aunt Melinda on her way back from Australia’. The second was a napkin ring engraved with the initials J.C. Melinda’s husband had been James Cullen, and passenger lists showed that he had left for Australia on SS Cusco in 1895. Belinda Shaw embarked for Australia later, reaching Queensland in November 1897. The couple were married in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Rockhampton, on 27th November 1897. Their daughter Sarah Hannah Cullen was born there in 1899, but died in Rochdale in September 1901. The couple returned to Australia but again returned to the UK in 1907, perhaps because James’s mother was ill. She died that year. James died in England in 1936 and Melinda in 1939. It is likely that she did the drawn threadwork on the second journey from Australia, as she would probably not have had the time with a small daughter in tow. Judith Farrington’s talk pointed to a number of resources we can look at when we think we have reached an impasse. A change of direction can often lead to a breakthrough in our research.

An RAF Photo Mystery by Pam Turner

When my mom died in 2009, I inherited many family photographs, including two of my dad taken while he was in the RAF at the end of WWII. One photo was Dad on his own, standing in front of a hut, and the other was a group of about 25 RAF men, including Dad, taken in front of a wall with several marked features on it. This picture also had numerous signatures on the back, which I presumed belonged to the other men featured in the photo. On seeing these pictures, I realised I knew very little about my father’s time in the RAF, apart from a few snippets Mom had mentioned, so my first thought was to wonder where the pictures had been taken. However, with lots of other things to think about at that time, and with plenty of other family history research to keep me busy since, I haven’t really given this thought much attention. Recently, being part of the BFHG memorial project, I was assigned a local serviceman to research, who turned out to be an RAF serviceman killed in WWII, so I started looking at RAF sites on the internet in order to gain some info about the man concerned. It was while I was trawling through various web pages that I came across a link to a site devoted to RAF West Kirby. Initially, I wasn’t going to bother looking at this site, but then a little bell rang in my head. I remembered that Mom had mentioned Dad was stationed for a while in Cheshire, near Liverpool.
With this in mind, I accessed the site and found it very informative. It is hosted by a man called Les Haines on behalf of the RAF West Kirby Association, and it told me that the camp had existed from around 1940 to 1960; in excess of 150,000 young men had passed through, either on route to foreign parts or as recruits to be trained. Looking through the various pages on the site I found some photographs dating back to 1946, and realised one of them had the same backdrop wall as my dad’s photo. I was thrilled; could this be a clue to where Dad spent some of his time in the RAF? I really hoped so. I emailed a copy of my photo to Les Haines and asked him if he could confirm that it was taken at West Kirby. Les very quickly replied, saying yes, it was, and he was interested in posting the photo on his site. Also, he wanted to know if I had any other info on Dad to give him. Unfortunately, I told him my knowledge about his time in the RAF was limited, but what bit I did know I sent him, along with a copy of the signatures from the back of the photo and also a copy of the other photo taken in front of the hut. Les has now posted these pictures on his website and I am hoping one of the men who featured on the group picture may still be around and will contact Les. It would great to hear from someone who remembers that time and, if I’m lucky, maybe even knew Dad as well. Of course, I am aware that if Dad were alive now, he would be 88, and most of the other men on the photo would be around the same age, so my chances are slim; but one never knows. Les has also advised me that it might be worth my while obtaining Dad’s RAF service records, which, as I am his next of kin, would be available to me – although I will have to pay £25.00 to obtain them. So, when Christmas is over and I have little more spare cash, I think I will send for the records, which hopefully will enable me to fill in a few more gaps on Dad’s service time with the RAF. If anyone is interested in looking at the West Kirby Association site, the address is: http://www.rafwka.co.uk/id29.htm

An accidental death by Stewart Jukes

I am a resident of Longdon Green (Brooklands, Hay Lane) and I am trying to research the accidental death of a housemaid who supposedly fell down the stairs in our house many years ago. The previous owners (the Tippers) told us of this and, indeed, we kept the story from our children for years. I have searched local newspaper archives and coroners’ records online but keep drawing a blank. It is sad, if this is true, that no record is easily found; the accident victim was meant to be only very young and taken in her prime.The house was, to our knowledge, built circa 1846. However, neighbours tell me that there could have been a dwelling listed on the site since 1816. The staircase in the property was purchased and installed by Captain Stephen Stokes from the auction of the interior of Beaudesert Hall just before it was pulled down, and this might give a clue, as the stairs were stone prior to this, which may account for the tragic outcome of the fall. I would like to find out more about this incident and if her name could be found, it would be amazing. I can only assume the story is true and hopefully one day I will find out. Is there anyone that might be able to help me? Stewart Jukes (stewart@midlandfuneralsupplies.co.uk)
This Issue’s Cover Photograph

King Edward VII Statue in Beacon Park, Lichfield - Photo by Alan Betts

The King Edward VII stature stands in the formal Museum Gardens of Beacon Park, Lichfield. The gardens were at one time covered by part of Minster Pool but, in the late 18th century, silt that had been dredged up from Minster Pool was deposited in the Bishop’s Pool, raising the ground level. The area was developed into formal gardens, which was funded by Conduit Lands Trust. Edward VII (Albert Edward) was born on 9th November 1841 and was King from 22nd January 1901 until his death on 6th May 1910. Before his accession to the throne, Edward held the title of Prince of Wales and was heir apparent to the throne for longer than anyone else in history (until the present heir, Prince Charles). The Edwardian period covered Edward’s reign and was named after him. The statue of Edward VII was sculpted from Portland Stone by local stonemasons Robert Bridgeman and Sons, and presented by Robert Bridgeman during his time as Sheriff of Lichfield. In 2010, the statue was restored to its former glory made possible thanks to £3.9 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of their Parks for People programme. It was unveiled as part of a multi-million pound project to transform Beacon Park, The Garden of Remembrance and Minster Pool and Walk.
Why Do We Call It That?

Mothering Sunday: It was custom in rural England for young girls to visit their mothers (or, if they were orphans, their mother church) on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Servant girls were given time off work especially to make this visit. Boxing Day: This derives from the custom of boxes being left at the back of the church to receive gifts from the well to do around Christmas time. These were then distributed to the poor on the day after Christmas, so this day became known as Boxing Day. Alias: Did not always have criminal connotations. It was used to join two surnames, perhaps those of step children who wish to retain their father’s name or a claim on his estate, and also to use that of their step father. Or a woman on re-marrying might join the names of both husbands. An ‘alias’ could also be used to give the father’s surname to an illegitimate child.