Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2013 04-06 Volume 21 Number 2
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
April - June 2013
Vol 21.2
Contents of this issue.
From the Chair 1
News From the Secretary 4
Research on Behalf of Members and Non-Members 5
A Sign of the Times 6
London in the 19th Century 7
Request for Genealogical Help 8
The BIG Numbers Game 9
Reviews of Guest Speakers' Talks 11
The Wathey Brothers of Belper and Augusta, Ohio 17
Methodist History 18
This Issue’s Cover Photograph 19
Another Request for Genealogical Help 19
Useful Addresses 20
Transcriptions on CD Available for Sale 21
Programme of Speakers - Back Cover

From the Chair...

Thanks to Jane for writing ‘From the Chair’ last issue. Now it’s my turn! It seemed quite a strange idea to share the chairmanship when emergency forced this upon us just before Christmas, but one of the good outcomes is that our members get two perspectives on what is happening within the Group. However, both Jane and I are unable to continue beyond the AGM in September and the Group will be looking for a new chairperson. Could it be you? If you feel that it might be possible for you to take over, rest assured that there will be very strong support from the other Committee members and, as we have seen, in dire emergency, two people could job share!
We have had a recent Committee meeting when, as usual, many things were discussed. It was interesting to examine the results of the questionnaire that a lot of members completed, and the one point that required discussion was the fact that many of you feel that some of our speakers don’t cover what is strictly ‘family’ history. Strangely enough, I have the same quandary when I am teaching family history, because most of you will be aware that at first there are a number of basic steps to be followed which everyone has to learn (such as census, parish records etc.), but before long each family starts to branch off on to its own unique path. As a result, what is perfect for one researcher is quite the opposite for another. For myself, I would love a speaker who could tell us in detail about workhouses and asylums in Somerset, but I can’t see many of you joining me in that one! Another interesting point that arose from the survey was that almost 50% of our members had ancestors who did not originate from Staffordshire. So you can please some of the people some of the time! Our thanks to Jane for making sure that we have speakers on a variety of subjects.
The coach trip to Kew was well subscribed, thanks to Jenny’s hard work. Once again, our Group was joined by members of the Gardening Guild and residents from the Retirement Village in Lichfield. We were very happy to find that we were travelling on a very comfortable coach, with tea and coffee provided en route. Alan, our driver, was pleasant and helpful. I’m sure that we all enjoyed the day in our different ways.
Burntwood and District Memorial Project: help needed!
The Memorial Project moves on apace, and everyone who has seen the completed biographies on our website has been most impressed. Once again, we need more volunteers quite urgently, particularly as the centenary of the outbreak of WWI is fast approaching. Many of you will be aware of the good work going on in the Memorial Project. If you haven’t seen what we are doing yet, do look at the Group’s website (www.bfhg.org) and see some of the mini-biographies compiled by our volunteer researchers. However, we already have a waiting list of people who are related to local soldiers who gave their lives. As the centenary draws nearer, we expect an increase in the number of people who contact us and ask us to research the lives of their relatives, and this is where you can come in. Could you join our team of researchers? Plenty of help and support is available, but we are likely to need more people. You do it when it is convenient to you and work at your own speed, whilst keeping in touch with the family for whom you are researching. Please don’t feel that you don’t know enough to offer help, because you would receive a lot of support and advice, whilst being able to work at your own speed. If you feel that you could help in the project, please have a word with me. I attended a conference about WWI commemoration recently on behalf of the Group and was surprised to discover just how many varied types of activities were planned throughout the county. It is very likely that some of our Memorial Project work will be displayed at various venues in the area in the next few years, and members of our Group may well be invited to go along to explain what it’s all about. Watch this space. Do get in touch with me if you feel that you could join us. We will be delighted to welcome you as long as you have basic research skills and are happy using a computer. I am also glad to give more information to anyone who needs it. I shall look forward to being knocked over in the rush!
Other news
Unfortunately, I was unable to go to the Mormon Church visit with the Group a few weeks ago, but I understand that everything went well and I hope that those of you who went were able to gain a lot from it. Another visit can be arranged at a later date if enough people are interested. Our next Group excursion will probably be to the Diocesan Record Office in Lichfield. And finally, after much discussion with Lichfield Library, it has been decided to continue with the family history surgeries that members of the Group provided until recently. The day has been changed from Wednesday to Tuesday afternoon, from 1.30 pm until 3.30 pm. We shall be able to use the car park but will no longer have to key in a code. Members of the library staff will come to let us in after we have rung them on 01543 510712. It is important to ring this number instead of the main one (510700), as this will take you through to the switchboard in Stafford.
In future, we shall be offering the prize of a bottle of wine to the member who contributes the best article for the Journal. Anticipating fine summer evenings, sitting outside with a glass of wine can be very appealing, so you may like start thinking what you could write about.
Finally, two pieces of sad news:
We have been informed of the death of a staunch Group member, Len Owens, who died aged 92. Those of you who remember him will recall his kindness and sense of humour. He was a member of the Group for many years and will be sadly missed. His family hope that a memorial event will be held for him in the summer at the Arboretum.
We also heard that Alan, the husband of Carole (our previous chair) had passed away after a long illness. We send condolences to both families.
Pam Woodburn (Pam.woodburn@talktalk.net)
News from the Secretary
We have ten new members this quarter. Welcome to you all. The new members’ names, and the names they are researching, are:
 Ivan Holdsworth: Ivan is researching Holdsworth (Bradford), Harrison (Huddersfield), Jagger (Bradford/Leeds) and Beanland (Bradford).
 Mr & Mrs Millward: I haven’t received an application form from Mr & Mrs Millward, so have no contact details or research details. If anyone knows them, please ask them to contact me.
 Barbara Pitch: researching Hope (Birmingham), Smith (Wolverhampton) and Ellson (Birmingham).
 Paula Knight: researching Horton (Chasetown/Wednesbury), Wiggall (Cranham, Gloucs), Gregory (Kings Stanley, Gloucs), Savory (Leonard Stanley, Gloucs), Steel (Awre Blakeney and Bridgewater in Somerset) and Napper (North Curry, Somerset).
 Janet Thomas: researching Miller (Walsall) and Stockley (Staffordshire).
 Gary Brown: researching Littler (Lichfield), Mewis (Barton under Needwood), Bodsworth (Marchington, Staffs).
 Robin Tovell: researching Simpson (Pelsall), Keasey (Dudley/Smethwick) and Jones (Pelsall).
 Trevor Tye: researching Tye, Toy, Thacker and Spencer (all from Birmingham/Warwickshire).
 Helen Bratton: researching Bratton and Gregory (both from Shropshire in Shrewsbury and Whitchurch areas).
 Margaret Maddiss: researching Evans [Septimus] (Brereton, Rugeley & Dudley), Baddeley (Milwich), Polnlon (Milwich & Stoke on Trent) and Barber (Rugeley).
Margaret Maddiss works in the library in Whittlesey, Peterborough and has access to local parish records. She is willing to look up names for anyone researching relatives in her area. To contact her, please apply to me in the first instance and I will give you her contact details. A microfiche reader has been kindly donated by Mrs Milnes of Chase Terrace, many thanks to her for her generosity. We have received correspondence from Susanna Humphreys, asking if any of our members know of Oaken Hall. Her great grandmother was Emily Teresa Bolton, and her great-great grandfather was Thomas Bolton of Oaken Hall. If anyone has any info, please contact me and I will give you her contact details. Finally I had the pleasure of joining the trip to Kew in May and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Many thanks to Jenny Lee for organising it. - (Pauline Bowen)
Research on Behalf of Members and Non-members by Geoff Sorrell
As from 1st January, 2013, all the duties of the Honorary Secretary have been taken over by Pauline Bowen apart from the research of surnames, etc. on behalf of our members and others who enquire via the Group’s website. Since relinquishing the Honorary Secretary’s responsibilities, I have been responsible for handling enquiries for information about people and places in the local area. The Group has always had a policy of helping both members and others to resolve problems with their ancestral research in our local area. However, this cannot extend beyond the data sources which are the property of the Group, which means that when we receive requests for help from members, we direct them to towards the research material which they can access at our Thursday meetings – or, if they are distant members, we try to do the research for them using whatever means we have available. Non-members who ask us for help usually do so via our website or by personal correspondence with one of the Group’s officers.
When we receive an enquiry, it will not always be possible to resolve it using our local parish register transcriptions and census information. However, provided sufficiently detailed information is given, we can now use the Internet to point them in the right direction to people outside our area by using Ancestry.co.uk, Find my Past, etc. So much information is now available to everyone who is prepared to pay the subscription to ancestry websites such as are provided by the PRO, Genes Reunited, etc., but the Group is limited in what it can do in accessing those sites unless members are prepared to use their own subscription services to search those records. Members of the Group should ask a Committee member or one of the officers for information about research on the Internet. Distant members who require searches of the records held or transcribed by the Group, can do so by contacting the Group by email through the website at enquiries@bfhg.org. It should be borne in mind, when asking for information from the Group, that we are Family History, not Local History. We can provide information on the local area – street names, house names, events, etc. – only by asking local members who may have this knowledge for their input. We do this through our website, which we hope everyone looks at occasionally, or by publishing details in the Journal.
We do have an extensive library that includes many books which are relevant to the local area, but these are mainly of use to those members who are able to attend our meetings, as we cannot lend them to distant members or non-members. We will do whatever we can using the Group’s facilities and our own members’ local knowledge to resolve your queries, so do not hesitate to contact us. The worst we can do is to say: “Sorry – we cannot help with this one,” if that is what it comes down to.
A Sign of the Times by Geoff Sorrell
The cost of posting the Journal to our members and the various societies with whom we exchange Journals has risen recently to 50p. I recently received an envelope – C5 size – from one of our local advertisers. containing two A4 sheets and a CD which had an array of five stamps on it. Four of the stamps were standard issue, but the fifth was a double-sized commemorative issue with a replica of a stamp from the 1950s as part of it. This stamp was 37p; the other four made up the total postage to 50p, and one of them was for 1p! This set me to thinking about the Royal Mail delivery service, which was inaugurated in 1843 by Roland Hill with a standard charge for delivering a letter to anywhere in the British Isles of one penny – 1d. There were 240 old pennies to £1, and 2.4 to one modern penny (1p), making the cost of the current second class mail up to 120 times as much as it was then. Many of us can still remember when a first class stamp cost 2½ p (in the 1960s?) and was supposed to ensure that the letter arrived first post the next morning after posting. The postmark on my envelope was very clear and showed that it was posted on 9th April by a the sender living in Burntwood, about a mile from my address. It was sorted and franked by ‘Royal Mail West Midlands’ on 9th April at 9.12 pm and arrived in my letter box on 10th April at 11.30 am. The ‘old penny’ still bought you quite a lot in 1843!
London in the 19th Century - Book recommended by Sheila Clarke
Last year a young man at the ‘Who do you think you are’ show at Olympia was asking visitors if they had any ancestors who were born or had lived in London. He had a theory that most families had, even if the family now came from further afield. My grandfather was born at Sutherland Place, Pimlico, in March 1879, but spent forty years of his life in Birmingham, where he brought up his family. His grandfather had taken his family to London some time after the 1851 census and was working as a wheelwright there at the time of the 1861 census, but he and most of the family were back in his native Suffolk by 1871. Two of his daughters became servants and both worked in London – my great-grandmother as a cook and her sister as a lady’s maid. I was keen to find out as much as I could about the London in which they lived. I saw a book advertised called The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London, by Judith Flanders. I downloaded it onto my Kindle and proceeded to read. I was soon transported to the appalling, dynamic, squalid, noisy, and fascinating metropolis that was Victorian London.
Judith Flanders’ narrative is lively and absorbing, taking the reader into the lives of those who lived in the city, from prince to pauper. She draws on the experiences of Charles Dickens’s life in London, which he often used in his novels, as well as other writers of the time, historical documents and the opinions of visitors from abroad.The rapidity of redevelopment at that time is mind-blowing. The building of the railways, the underground, new wider properly surfaced roads, the sewerage system and the absorption into the metropolis of surrounding villages went on apace. A whole swathe of housing was demolished, much of it being the homes of the poor, to bring London into the 19th century. This led to overcrowding in other poorer areas of the city as the dispossessed moved into them. Urbanisation, increases in population and evangelical morality changed the way the poor were viewed. Previously, the poor were seen as unfortunate people who had fallen on hard times but who were morally no better or worse than the rest of society. Now, however, attitudes hardened to viewing the destitute as not having fallen on hard times because of illness misfortune or low wages, but as drunkards, lazy or criminal, or as moral degenerates who had bought their plight on themselves. The situation in workhouses changed from being largely caring institutions to places more like the one we read about in Oliver Twist.
Nowadays, with democracy and our planning regulations such rapid changes in infrastructure cannot happen. However, we also seem to have lost the ‘can do’ attitude and the vision which was prevalent at that time. We are shown in this book the London that Dickens saw as he walked in its streets: the markets, rubbish and the raucous cries of the vendors; the sewers and their problems and stink; the overcrowded cemeteries; the gin palaces and eating places; and the hazard of falling houses and other buildings lacking repair. Dissecting the city was the Thames, used as a convenient highway, a source of drinking water and a repository for ordure and rubbish. It was a gateway to and from the wider world, thus contributing to the country’s wealth. We are made aware of how uncomfortable travel by omnibus and cabs were, and the many uses to which a dead horse could be put! Judith Flanders is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham. I have found this book so useful that I have now bought a hardback copy. While the Kindle version is a good read, the pictures and maps reproduced in it are too small and indistinct, and they are more legible in the book version. I also find that as I wish to use this book for reference, the hardback copy will be easier to use than the Kindle version. Anyone who wishes to know more about what everyday life was like for an ancestor living in 19th century London would find Judith Flanders’s book brings that long-gone world to life. The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London by Judith Flanders is available from Amazon.co.uk for £14.75 (hardcover) or £9.95 (Kindle edition).
Request for Genealogical Help - ‘Avryll’ from New Zealand (Avryll@kol.co.nz) writes:
My children, Elizabeth and Philip Opie, have the Poole family in their family line, which includes the artists William and James. Their direct ancestor, Mary Ann Poole, is the sister to George, William, Sarah and James. She was married William Wallis Mason in 1834 at Aston Juxta. George was the Vicar of Burntwood and I am rather hoping that the BFHS might have further information regarding both George and his family. We are simply stuck at the moment. We know from other research that their father was William Poole, merchant, and we think the mother was named Sarah, but I am not willing to commit to the line anything which we are not able to check out as 100% accurate. We are also wondering whether you have any other anecdotes or even a grainy photograph of George. There is a gorgeous family portrait of their mother Sarah painted when she was probably about 15, and I look at the self-portrait by William Poole, her son, and I see her again in his face. It is quite lovely. Any detail, however small, would be so much appreciated.
The BIG Numbers Game by Brian Asbury
Here’s an intriguing question: what are the odds on everyone who is reading these words being related? I can hear some people saying: “Well, I suppose if you go back far enough...” But how far back is ‘back far enough’? The answer may well be: ‘Not anything like as far back as you think’. Put it another way: how many ancestors have you got? Do they number in the hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Think about it: the number of ancestors that every individual has doubles with each generation back. And we really don’t know how many generations of humans there have been since the first hominids climbed started to walk on two legs and became self-aware, at least a couple of million years ago. What about before that, even? Humans evolved from other species – they didn’t just pop magically into existence. The question, then, is probably not answerable in its simplest form. We need some parameters.
Right, let’s put some limits on the question. How many ancestors did you have a thousand years ago? Hundreds of them? Thousands? Millions? It should be relatively simple to come up with an approximate answer. Let’s assume, say, a generation is about 25 years. It will vary, of course; it may be less than that, it may be more – but 25 years is a good number because it allows for four generations a century, which is a nice, round figure. So, if we take a child born in the year 2000, he or she would have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents... and so far we’ve only gone back four generations, or about a hundred years. So, are we still talking hundreds, thousands, millions or what? Sixteen ancestors a hundred years ago makes it sound like there aren’t going to be too many. But how many of you remember being asked a maths question when you were in school about a blacksmith fleecing a rich man? He offered his customer to put the first nail in the first horseshoe for just a farthing, then the price would double for each subsequent nail. Sounds a good bargain – but when you do the maths, doubling the price each time for four horseshoes, with eight nails in each shoe, works out at over two million quid!!
Carrying on multiplying ancestors, then, the numbers start to get pretty big pretty quickly. Going back another hundred years, the sum becomes 16 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 = 256. Going back another fifty, to make 250 in total, it goes over a thousand, i.e. 256 × 2 × 2 = 1024. Let’s ignore the odd 24 and call it a round 1000 to make the numbers easier to handle. There are four 250s in 1000, so going back 1000 years from where we started, our Millennium baby will have had 1000 × 1000 × 1000 × 1000 ancestors living in the year 1000. That’s 1000,000,000,000. A trillion ancestors (note: using the international convention which says that a trillion is a thousand thousand million)!
The maths cannot be disputed – and yet, a trillion is a ridiculous number. The total number of human beings who have ever lived is probably less than a trillion – and here we’re only going back a mere one thousand years. In fact, the real figure is probably much higher, because in practice there may be five, six, even seven generations in a century, not just four! Yet the actual population of the whole world in the year 1000 is estimated to have been only 310 million!
So how is this possible? How can you, or I, have had a trillion ancestors a thousand years ago, when the world’s total population in the year 1000 was only 0.00031 percent of that? Obviously, the only way that could be possible is if a lot of those ancestors were the same people – i.e. they were in-breeding. That’s a bit of a disturbing thought. After all, there’s a certain stigma attached to the word ‘inbred’, fraught with birth defects and all manner of other problems. Look at the royal houses of Europe if you want a good example – they were pretty fond of ‘keeping it in the family’, and that had disastrous results for some of them. The Hapsburgs spring particularly to mind...
Don’t panic, though. Remember, the same mathematics that produced these unimaginably large numbers can also reduce them. It only takes ten pairs of ancestors (not many over a period of 1000 years) who were related to reduce the total by a factor of one thousand – and twenty pairs over the same span of time would reduce it by a factor of a million. Even so, in the year 1000, the combined population of England, Scotland and Wales was only about 3,500,000 – so having a million ancestors living back then (assuming they were all natives of these isles, which admittedly isn’t that likely) would still mean you were related to a large proportion of the people living here at that time. Looking at my own family tree, so far I’ve discovered only one definite instance of in-breeding; the grandmothers of my ggg-grandfather Joseph Knight were sisters. There are a few more that look like possibilities, but that’s the only definite one. However, my tree only goes back about 400 years and there are lots of gaps, so there are probably many more hiding in there somewhere. Statistically, there must be. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most people lived in small villages and would have been unlikely to marry anyone who lived more than twenty or so miles away, if that. The gene pool in such an area wouldn’t be all that big, so most people would be related to their neighbours in some way. So, coming back to my original question, how likely is it that everyone reading this is distantly related to one another? In the light of the above, it now seems to be quite strongly likely that many of you are, if not all. So hi there, distant cousins. I hope you enjoyed reading this!
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks - Reviewer: Sheila Clarke

March 2013: Danny Wells on ‘The Great War : Shattered Illusions’
Danny Wells has given talks to our group on many occasions, and he is particularly interested in social and cultural history. His talk this time focused on the attitude to war prevalent at the time of World War I – useful for those of us who have ancestors who were caught up in the conflict, and for members who are taking part in the Memorial Project. One would think that the loss of 22,000 lives during the Boer War would disillusion the population, but this conflict did little to alter attitudes. Even unhappy episodes were glamorised – for example, ‘The Relief of Mafeking’. From our perspective and the indelible mark made by the appalling casualties of World War I (9 million dead, 10 million orphans and 3 million widows), it is difficult for us to understand the culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the world, but particularly in Europe and the USA, warfare was romanticised. Stories, comics and poetry focused on chivalry, patriotism, duty and sacrifice, and portrayed war as a game. In this there was no talk of any particular enemy; it was all about the thrill of battle and doing one’s duty.
Authors concentrated on the pleasure content of war. G.A. Henty, who wrote adventure novels, mainly for children, emphasised valour with modesty. Henry John Newbolt, the Wolverhampton-born poet, wrote ‘Vitai Lampada’ (The Torch of Life). The poem depicts a schoolboy, a future soldier, learning selfless commitment to duty during cricket matches; with its refrain ‘Play up, play up and play the game!’ The poem glorifies the success of the British during the Battle of Abu Klea, January 1885, during the unsuccessful attempt to relieve General Gordon in Khartoum. The British arrived in Khartoum two days after Gordon had been killed. Paintings of the battle and the more famous ‘Gordon’s Last Stand’, by George W. Joy, enjoyed public popularity.
After war was declared in 1914, Henry Newbolt’s son volunteered, Newbolt senior saying that he wished it was he who was going. The Scouts movement, started by Baden Powell, did not glorify war but the Scout motto ‘Be prepared’ was perhaps seen as ‘be prepared just in case’. Most people expected a war sooner rather than later. Britain was the world’s richest and most powerful nation, with a large Empire overseas. The navy was unsurpassed at that time. Throughout the latter part of the 19th century, and leading up to the Great War, the British thought of themselves as superior and invincible. War was enthusiastically embraced by most of Europe, however. Britain entered the war on 11th August, 1914, but leaders on all sides underestimated the length of the war. The mantra in Britain was ‘We will be home by Christmas’. In Germany, the Kaiser said, ‘We will be home before the leaves fall from the trees.’
In Britain, Kitchener made his call for volunteers with the proviso that the men should be at least 19 years old and 5’8” tall. Thirty thousand men volunteered in a day, one million in the first five months. By November, the height restriction had been lowered to 5’2”. Twenty million leaflets and two million posters were produced, expressing the sentiment ‘The women of Britain say GO!’ and ‘What did you do in the war, Daddy?’ with no mention of the enemy they were to fight.
Danny Wells cited cases of poets who served in the war. The first, Francis St. Vincent Morris, was the son of a canon who had previously been an army chaplain in the Sherwood Foresters. Vincent Morris was at school when war was declared but, at the end of the summer term of 1915, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the Third Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. However, he realised that his chances of getting to France were not favourable, so he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. In April 1917, a few weeks after arriving in France, he suffered a crash and died just a few weeks later, under anaesthetic whilst undergoing further surgery. He was 21 years old and he is buried at the St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
Julian Grenfell, son of Baron Desborough, was a career soldier who epitomised the generation of young men who saw war as glory. He mentioned in a letter that he saw war like ‘a picnic’. His poem ‘Into Battle’ sets out the joy and eager anticipation felt on the eve of battle. He received the DSO and was also mentioned in dispatches. On 15th May, 1915, he received a severe head wound from which he died, living long enough for his parents and sister to gather around his death bed. The next day, his poem was printed in The Times. Three months later, Grenfell’s younger brother was also killed, just a few miles from where Julian Grenfell had fallen. A memorial to the brothers, called ‘Phoebus Apollo’ was erected at their family home, Taplow Court, which nowadays is a Buddhist retreat. Roland Layton said to his friend Vera Brittain, ‘I feel I must take some part in this war’. At first he was rejected because of poor eyesight. In August 1915, whilst on leave, he became engaged to Vera Brittain. They corresponded on his return to France; he sent her a number of poems and they also discussed politics and current affairs. Vera Brittain later published the letters in her books. On 23rd December, 1915, Roland was shot by a sniper while repairing barbed wire protecting a trench. Vera, who was working in the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment), received the news in Brighton whist waiting for him to come home on leave. Roland Layton was 20 years old. In her book Testament of Youth, Vera wrote about the impact of the First World War on the middle class youth of Britain, which lasted well into their future lives.
Rudyard Kipling actively encouraged his son John to join up. John, too, had poor eyesight and was rejected, first by the Navy and then the Army. However, Kipling pulled strings so that he was accepted into the army as an officer. In September 1915 during the second day of the Battle of Loos John, aged eighteen, was killed. Kipling later wrote, ‘If any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied’. John’s fate and his father’s part in it is commemorated in David Haig’s play My Boy Jack. Kipling joined the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was responsible for the epitaph on the grave of the Unknown Soldier (‘Known to God’), that on the Cenotaph (‘The Glorious Dead’) and ‘their name liveth for ever more’. Volunteers from the Empire turned up to fight in the war in their millions. In January 1916, conscription was introduced for all unmarried British men. Women went to work in the factories and the men were encouraged to join a Pals Brigade or the Chums, where they would be ‘Marching with the Pals’, alongside their colleagues – much better for morale, it was thought. The Press were urged: (1) Don’t report bad news; and (2) Say that victory is within reach. In 1914, Arthur Machin published a story entitled ‘The Bowmen’, in which the bowmen of Agincourt come to the aid of British soldiers during a battle. A popular story at the time, this is thought to be the origin of the ‘Angels of Mons’ legend; angels were reported as being seen by British and German troops, while the French reported seeing Joan of Arc. Periods of boredom, followed by incessant bombardment, together with the fear and sights of death and mutilation, are thought to have contributed to the illusion. Soon, disillusionment set in for many. During the war itself, poetry was still extremely popular, many poems written in favour of the war. It was reported in Germany that 50,000 poems were written each day. Rupert Brooke’s poem, ‘The Soldier’, was read from the pulpit on Easter Sunday, 1915. Brooke died from septicaemia on his way to fight in Gallipoli and was buried on Skiros, the childhood home of Achilles. Winston Churchill wrote his obituary in The Times. Edward Thomas, whose criterion for fighting was love for his country and not hatred of the enemy, wrote: ‘This is no case of petty right or wrongs that politicians or philosophers can judge. I hate not Germans nor grow hot with love of Englishmen.’ Wilfred Owen, recognised as the greatest of the Great War poets, questioned this patriotic view in ‘Dolce et Decorum est’. In this poem and in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, the horrors and desperation of the conflict are vividly depicted. He spent some time at Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Scotland after being wounded and suffering from shellshock. He returned to light duties and then, perhaps because his friend Siegfried Sassoon had done so, he chose to return to active duty. He was posted back to France at the end of August 1918. He received the MC after his commanding officer was shot and he successfully took over command. He was killed on 4th November 1918; his parents were informed of his death on Armistice Day.
Siegfried Sassoon was motivated by patriotism at the start of the war, but the horrors of the trenches led him to satirise the patriotic pretentions of those he considered responsible for the conflict. He showed himself to be brave – some would say reckless – and was well respected by his troops. He was awarded the Military Cross for rescuing a number of wounded whilst under fire. However, while on leave, he threw his MC into the Thames, refused to return to duty and wrote a letter decrying the war to his commanding officer. This got into the hands of a sympathetic MP, who read it out in Parliament. Instead of a court martial, he was sent to Craiglockhart, deeming to be suffering from shellshock. There he met and became friends with Wilfred Owen and was instrumental in encouraging Owen in his poetry writing. He returned to duty, but was accidentally shot in the head by his own sergeant, requiring him to undergo hospitalisation. He survived the war. Marshal Foch, at the signing of the Armistice, made the prophetic statement, ‘This is not peace, it is an Armistice for twenty years’. In fact, the effects of decisions made at that time are still reverberating around the world nearly 100 years later. Danny Wells’s talk has given us all much food for thought.
May 2013: Richard Bifield on ‘Ironbridge Gorge, Then and Now’
Ironbridge Gorge became a World Heritage site 25 years ago, one of the first six to be so designated by UNESCO. The site lies within the southern boundary of Telford, a new town created in 1968 from the existing district of Dawley. Abraham Darby I, a Quaker, smelted iron using coke instead of charcoal in a blast furnace at his foundry in Coalbrookdale in 1709. This made an important step towards the Industrial Revolution. Using this new fuel eventually released the iron industry from the limitations imposed by the speed at which trees grow. Only with coke smelting could iron be produced in large quantities to meet the Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) requirements of a greater industrial base. Abraham Darby’s grandson, Abraham Darby III, cast the iron for the Iron Bridge at the foundry in Coalbrookdale from a design by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard. Thomas Pritchard died before he was able to see the bridge he designed, which spanned the River Severn by 1779.
Manufacturers other than the Darby foundry made greater use of the new method in making industrial castings. In the 19th century, the Coalbrookdale foundry diversified instead into making fine art castings. The beautiful gates which marked the entrance to the Coalbrookdale site at The Great Exhibition of 1851 were made at the foundry. These can now be seen at the entrance to Kensington Gardens, London. In 1959, Allied Iron Founders, who were running the foundry, opened a small museum. Now there are ten museums in the area, making an interesting day out for families. Museums include the original blast furnace; the Jackfield Tile museum; the Museum of the Gorge; the Coalport china museum (the manufacture of china moved to Stoke on Trent in 1926) and the Blist Hill Victorian Town, made up of buildings relocated from other areas. Some of the Darby family homes are also open to the public. Richard Bifield used a series of photographs illustrating the changes which have taken place in the gorge over the years. The ground there is extremely unstable, and many landslips have occurred, resulting in the destruction and demolition of swathes of houses and other structures in the area. Unfortunately, the Quaker Meeting House became so unstable that it had to be demolished, but the burial ground and the simple gravestones of the Darby family can still be seen. Where possible, Richard has taken photographs himself from the same spots from where photographs were taken long ago.
He showed photographs of the railway, both in Ironbridge and in Coalbrookdale. Where there were former rail tracks and station buildings, there are now meandering footpaths through grassy wooded glades. In some instances, it is hard to imagine there had ever been railway lines there at all. However, near to the Iron Bridge, a few tracks have been left in the tarmac as a reminder; and one station house is being used as a popular vegetarian café.
Some of the inns have fared well. The White Hart, The Black Swan and The Talbot (now the Malt Shovel), for example, have been spruced up. Other pubs, though, have gone, particularly where the land was unstable. Jug Row, a street of terraced houses, together with the Jug pub, was demolished because they had become unsafe. One area where many buildings and terraces have disappeared is along the river bank, leaving land which is now used as car parks for the museums. Large buildings pulled down near Tontine Hill have left a surprisingly small footprint. The brick and tile works was raised to the ground in the 1940s. Throughout its life, even the Iron Bridge has undergone periodic repairs, and stabilisation of the structure has been necessary because of the unstable nature of the gorge sides.
Buildings have changed in use. A large private house, Severn House, is now the New Valley Hotel, its large garden a public open space. Some of the museums are housed in redundant factory premises. Instead of machines and workmen seen in one photograph of the Coalbrookdale works, we were shown a recent photograph of the same large space being used for a formal dinner. An ironmongers is now an estate agent, Elcock the butcher became first a café and now a fish and chip shop, and the old police station has been transformed into what Richard described as an excellent Indian restaurant. A War Memorial was shown to have been moved across the road. The municipal building in Madeley had to be demolished because of instability, only to be replaced by a plethora of road signs. A cinema has been replaced by a group of new houses called Valentino Row. We were shown ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos of some of the other bridges crossing the river and railway track. The River Severn has always been liable to flooding, so many bridges have, over time, either been rebuild or demolished. The great flood of 1795, for example, saw 25 bridges along the river swept away. Before the Iron Bridge was built there was no bridge across the river at that point, only a ferry crossing. The building of the bridge encouraged development in the area. Richard -showed photographs he had taken inside some of the museums and houses in Ironbridge, and the wonderful views which can be seen along the river, though more trees are in evidence now than in the past. The fact that there is so much to see in a small area makes the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site worth many visits, particularly as a yearly pass is very good value. Many of us will have ancestors who worked in the trades demonstrated there. Perhaps we, too, should be trying to compile old pictures of places where our forebears lived, together with comparison photographs of the area now.
The Wathey Brothers of Belper and Augusta, Ohio by Jane Leake
In 1818, John and Zachariah Wathey left their homes in Belper, Derbyshire, to travel to Ohio, USA. Zachariah was the brother of my husband’s four-times great-grandfather. Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover exactly who John was – but he must have been related, as the two men kept close contact all their lives, witnessing wills and attending weddings. They appear to have left under the auspices of Belper Methodist Chapel, but exactly which one I do not know. The harvest of 1817 was a complete failure, and flour was almost unobtainable. Belper suffered acutely from the general depression, so this may have prompted them to leave with a party of other residents. An article in the Notts. and Derbyshire Notes and Queries of January 1893 quotes from letters written home to Belper relatives and friends between 1818 and 1819. John Wathey wrote to his mother, telling her he was very pleased with his surroundings, and he stated:
“Think not that I am destitute of friends, for I have friends in every house. I have been working at my own trade this winter, and can earn a bushel of wheat per day. The people here buy their own leather, and as soon as they knew I was a shoemaker they would not let me stay at home. They are the kindest people I ever met with. ... Tell Robert Smith if he was here I would help him to four or five farms very near to us, to buy at two dollars per acre. ... Tell Robert Jackson that as people are their own bakers here I would advise him to go to farming. ... Please to show this letter to Samuel Bridget. He must not lay his money out in English goods; rifle guns in this country are far superior to yours; the people here will kill squirrels at fifty yards with them. ... Tell Heathcote if he was here with twenty children he could live well. I desire my mother a few of the same sort of peas she gave me ... bring some wood betony with you.” John sounds very content with his new life. In 1819 he married Ann Richardson, an English girl, and they had five children before poor Ann died in 1828. The following year John remarried to Edith Walton of Augusta, and they had a further two children. John died in 1877 aged 90 and is buried with his wives in Augusta cemetery. Zachary, the eldest son of John ‘the Pioneer’ was evidently a very successful farmer and businessman, though he had little formal education. In a biographical sketch of citizens of Carroll County, it states that, “Mr. Wathey has a good farm, well supplied in every particular, and takes much pride in raising good stock. In politics he is a Republican, and at the last county election, Nov. 4th, 1890, was elected county commissioner. There are few men who have more friends in Carroll County than Mr. Wathey.”
Zachary and his wife had three children and lived to celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary. When he was 93, he and his wife were taken on a tour of Carrollton in a six-cylinder Cadillac to see the changes that had taken place in the vicinity. Evidently, they thought they were on the wrong road at first, due to the new buildings in the area and other general improvements. Both enjoyed splendid health and held an annual dinner at their beautiful farm for a host of friends to celebrate another successful year. Amazingly, the lady who undertook the research on my behalf also found a newspaper cutting which included a photograph of the couple. A railway crossing was named Wathey’s Crossing in their honour, and the building still survives in a local museum. Sadly, only one of their children reached maturity, and Anna died several years before her parents. However, she left three children, so there must be descendents of John the ‘Pioneer,’ living somewhere in the United States today.
Methodist History by Pam Turner
For anyone with Methodists in their family tree, there are two recently launched websites that may be of interest.
MY METHODIST HISTORY: http://www.mymethodisthistory.org.uk/
MY PRIMITIVE METHODIST ANCESTORS: http://www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/
Both of these sites have been created with the aim of encouraging people to share information related to every aspect of Methodism, including stories, photos and comments. Anyone can upload material on to the sites which is free to use after registering, also there are message boards enabling people to ask for help and share interests, There will be a third linked website called ‘My Wesleyan Methodist Ancestor’ coming shortly. This site will complete the trio of online community archives and will include a search facility to scan the network.
This Issue’s Cover Photograph - Pipehill Pumping Station - Photo by Alan Betts
The hamlet of Pipehill lies close to the A461 Lichfield-Walsall road, on what was formerly an area of waste known as Pipe Marsh. South Staffordshire Water Co. commissioned the pumping station in 1903 on a two-acre site to house a pair of horizontal tandem compound rotative pumping engines. The building was completed in 1910 in the Gothic style, and is a fine example of utilitarian industrial architecture. Many such pumping stations were built throughout the district in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were designed to be used for a variety of infrastructure systems, such as the supply of water to canals, the drainage of low-lying land and the removal of sewage to processing sites. During the Victorian era, there was a fashion for public buildings to feature highly ornate architecture. The steam engines are long gone, as the station was electrified and modernised in 1973 at a total cost of £155,100. The building was for many years covered in ivy, but this has now been removed.
Another Request for Genealogical Help - Maggie Maddiss (m.maddiss@btinternet.com) writes:
Hello. I am researching my family history. My father lived at ‘The Mount’, Brereton, near Rugeley, However I cannot find any reference to where it may have been, so I wonder if you would be able to help me. The other address I have for him was Woodthorne, Hednesford Road, Rugeley. This, I believe, belonged to the NCB. Please can you let me know if you have any information about either of these places. My Father’s Name was Septimus Edward Evans; he was the son of Septimus Evans, who lived at Woodthorne, and the grandson of Septimus Seth Evans, who lived at the Mount. He was raised by his grandparents after his mother and father separated. I would be grateful for any snippet of information that you may have. If you have anyone searching the Evans family from the Sedgeley Area, then please feel free to pass on my email address. Many thanks, Maggie