Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2014 04-06 Volume 22 Number 2
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
April - June 2014
Vol 22.2
Contents of this issue.

From the Chair 1
The 1921 Census 2
News From the Secretary 3
Hereford Archive Service 3
The Surname Lapley - Domesday to Present Day 4
Dudley Borough Archives 6
The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal 7
Going Ga Ga 8
Members' Short Talks 9
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks 12
Out of the Blue 17
Closure of Lichfield Record Office 18
This Issue’s Cover Photograph 19
Relatively Funny 19
From the Chair
Dear Members, By the time you read my introduction to this Journal, the year will be almost halfway through. So where has the time gone?Someone said to me when I was much younger, “The speed of time is inversely proportioned to your age”. Of course, I laughed and thought, what a strange thing to say? However, I’m not laughing now – it seems to be true! When I was a child at school, the summer holidays, although only six weeks long, seemed to last forever and a day. Now the weeks flash past, with one week seemingly blending into the next. “Soon be Christmas,” people will be saying! This forthcoming year is going to be very important for us, particularly those members of the group involved in the WWI Memorial Project, with 2014 commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. On that note, we have been contacted by the Museum Educating Officer of The Royal Welch Fusiliers, who are running their own WWI Memorial Project. They would like any photographs of any soldiers who served in the regiment; if so, you can contact them by emailing: rwfmuseum1@btconnect.com. Our Monday night meetings are very well attended on the whole, and the speakers have been very interesting and informative. On our Thursday evening research nights, we have seen several new faces, which is promising. We hope that they will stay with us in the future.
n Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March, we attended a Family History Event organised by members of The Church of Latter Day Saints in Lichfield. This was hailed as a great success by the organisers, although it was not that well attended, due to lack of press coverage. The organisers were impressed with our stand which included our display boards and WWI Project material – so much so that we have been invited to attend a second event along the same lines. This is going to be held at their Penns Lane Church in Sutton Coldfield on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June. If anyone feels that they can help by manning our stand, please let one of the committee know.Another event we have been asked to support by having a stand is the Burntwood Chase Wakes, held at Burntwood Rugby Club in mid-July but only for one day. This local event should raise the profile of BFHG in the community. Again, if anyone can spare a few hours to help out, please let us know.We are exploring an idea at the moment of an excursion to a National Trust property in the coming months as something different and as a social event. When things are more advanced, more details will be released. As you can see, we are going to have a busy but enjoyable time ahead. Steve Bailey, Chairman, BFHG, 2013–2014.
The 1921 Census
As most of you will know, the next UK census to be made public will be the 1921 census. This will be the last census to become available until 1951, as the 1931 census was completely destroyed in a fire in 1942, while the 1941 census was cancelled due to World War II (although there was a ‘sort of’ census in 1939 – but that’s another story). But what about the 1921 census? Many people are wondering if details of this will be released early, as was the case with the 1911 census. Alas, no! The ruling by the Information Commissioner that resulted in the 1911 census being opened early does not apply to the 1921 census because, unlike the 1911 census, the 1921 census was conducted under the 1920 Census Act, which is still in force and which contains a statutory prohibition on disclosure. So, I’m afraid, the 1921 census is unlikely to be released before 2022. Let’s hope we’re all still here!
News from the Secretary
As you know January is the month that we have to pay our annual subscriptions, but we are now in June and there are a number of subscriptions still outstanding. If you haven’t yet paid, please send a cheque to me at 8 Larkspur Avenue, Burntwood WS7 4SS. The cheque should be made payable to Burntwood Family History Group, and I would be grateful if you could put your membership number on the reverse. A number of our local members met together on the 30th December for a very enjoyable lunch at the Wych Elm. On behalf of all those who went. I would like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Pam Woodburn who organised it. Thank you to all those members who have sent in articles and items for the journal, they have made interesting reading, please keep them coming preferably by email to me pauline.bowen8@btinternet.com or direct to Brian (Editor) brian@aryxia.freeserve.co.uk. Pauline Bowen
Herefordshire Archive Service
Rhys Griffith, Senior Archivist, Herefordshire Archive Service, informs us that Herefordshire Archive Service is now closed to the public and will remain so for the whole of 2014 and early 2015. This is to allow staff and volunteers to prepare the collection for a move to purpose-built new premises next year. The distance enquiry and paid research services will continue as normal throughout the closed period. Details of progress on the new building and plans for the future will be available on the Hereford Archive Service web pages at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/archives.
The Surname Lapley – Domesday to Present Day - by Pam Turner
On February 17th, 1690/91, Marcus Lapley got married to Margaretta Cotton at St Mary and All Saints Church, Bradley, Staffs. Margaretta was listed as a widow, her maiden name being Adderley, and she had previously been married to a Thomas Cotton in 1684 at the same church. Marcus and Margaretta were the sixth great-grandparents of my husband and they had one known son in 1692, called John. They probably had more children, but no details have been found. On February 21st, 1716, John Lapley married Alice Scutt, also at St Mary and All Saints Church, Bradley. I know that John and Alice resided in Wollaston, which is an area very close to Bradley, and I am almost certain that John was involved in farming. The couple had seven children, all of whom were christened at Bradley Parish Church. Alice died in 1759 and was buried at St Mary and All Saints, as was John when he passed away in 1771. John and Alice were my husband’s 5th great-grandparents, and it was their youngest daughter Margaretta, born in 1730, who married into the Turner family. Margaretta Turner’s descendants remained living in Bradley for the next 126 years, making the line very easy to follow, considering that it is such a common name. In 1856, Edward Turner, Margaretta’s grandson, died in Bradley. His widow Mary Ann and their children then moved to live in Cheslyn Hay, which is how my husband came to be born in Cannock 90 years later. Since discovering this name of Lapley in the Turner tree I have been intrigued by it and recently decided to look into its origins. According to several sites on the internet, the surname Lapley (or Lapslie and Lapsley) is of English origin and derives from the village name of Lapley, in Staffordshire. The name was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Leplie’. The meaning of the name is obscure, but it may translate as ‘Laeppa’s farm’, from the pre-seventh century Old English personal name Laeppa, plus ‘leah’, which literally St Mary and All Saints, Bradley describes an enclosure suitable for agriculture in a forest, but more logically describes a farm.
Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their original homesteads and moved elsewhere, so this is maybe how the Bradley Lapleys came about, with Bradley being very close to Lapley in geographical terms. One of the supposed first recordings of the name is a John Lapley at Bradley on February 18th 1636. This is followed by the christening of a John Lapley on 13th June 1654 (parents Marke and Bridget) which, considering the names, leaves me to believe that these particular Lapleys could have been related to my husband’s ancestors. On looking at the rest of Staffordshire, I have found an earlier recording of the name at St Mary’s Church, Lichfield on 6th November 1571. This was the christening of a Marke Lapley (parents John and Francys) which, again, looking at the Christian names, could well be connected to the Bradley Lapleys. By the end of the 18th century, it appears that all traces of the Lapley name had gone from Bradley. There were one or two recordings in other parts of Staffordshire but, by the start of the 19th century, the name spelt as ‘Lapley’ was virtually non-existent in Staffs. The surname was also well recorded in the diocese of Greater London, where the development as Lapslie and Lapsley is believed to be first recorded. The earliest mention I can find in London is 12th July 1607, when a Frances Lapley married a Christopher Kidd at St Giles, Cripplegate. In 1633, a James Lapley was christened at St Benet, Pauls Wharf, and a Richard Lapley was a witness at St Botolphs without Aldgate, in the City of London, on June 23rd 1672. James Lapslie was recorded at St James Garlick Hythe on December 6th, 1727. This church had connections to the French and, according to some reports, so does the name Lapley. I think it is more likely that the London Lapsley/Lapslies originated from France, the name deriving from Le Plessier, Le Plessix or Le Plessy from Normandy, rather than being a mis-spelling of the Staffordshire Lapley. There were also Lapleys in Alderley, Gloucestershire – Anne Lapley, christened 1562, Jone Lapley, 1566 and Richard Lapley in 1572 – all with a father called John, who I feel sure could have originated from Staffs.
The very earliest record of the name I have found is a Thomas Lapley, who was a defendant in a court case in Warwickshire in 1483 at the end of the reign of Edward IV. The plaintiffs in the case were a William and Gertrude Astley, and the crime was listed as ‘concord’ which, apparently, was the final agreement or judgment on freehold ownership and transfer of land and property following a fictitious lawsuit. The suit centred on a fictitious claim by the plaintiff against the deforciant who, it claimed, was preventing the rightful owner from occupying the property. Bringing the name forward to more recent times, I have found that over the years, the surname with the exact spelling of “Lapley” has became very sparse, in the 1841 census I can find only one person – in Boston, Lincolnshire – who was a farmer. In 1851, there are three people recorded with the name – two in Cornwall and one in Derbyshire – and in 1861 there appears to be just one family with the name, living in Farnham Surrey, the head of the house being an Agricultural Labourer. In 1871, there is only one mention of the name, in Duffield, Cheshire; however, in 1881, there are eight people recorded, all of whom were living in various areas of London. The occupations of these included fishmonger, porter and labourer. By 1901, there were ten recordings of the name, most of whom were again in London, and in 1911 there were 22 – ten in London, six in Cheshire, four in Portsmouth and two in Norfolk. Occupations mentioned in this year included brewer’s drayman, wood carver, cabinet maker and farm labourer. Throughout these census years, there were many recordings of the name Lapslie and other variations, but I personally do not feel that these were connected to the Staffs Lapleys. Looking at the name today, I can only find two people with the exact spelling of Lapley on the electoral registers – one person in Cambridgeshire in 2007/2008 and one person in York in 2009. When I first started to research the Turner tree, I didn’t have any great expectations. I fully expected that I would hit a brick wall very early on, with it being such a common name, so to take the line back to the mid-1600s has been quite amazing. Even if the Lapley name hadn’t entered into the mix, I would still have got back to the early 1700s on the Turner name alone, due to the family staying put in Bradley for more than150 years.
Dudley Borough Archives
Dudley Borough Archives has opened a new archives and local history centre. Located next to the Black Country Living Museum, it replaces the outgrown, ageing facility at Coseley. It houses the borough’s archives, which date back to the 12th century, and it is hoped the resources will be well used by local historians and anyone interested in tracing their ancestors. There are also contains learning and conference rooms, local studies and rare books libraries, a research area, a search room and public Wi-Fi services. More information can be found at: http://www.dudley.gov.uk/resident/libraries-archives/local-history-heritage/archive-and-local-history/
The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal - by Beryl Evans, FFHS Archives Liaison Officer
The National Archives is making the digitised records of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal, which heard the cases of men seeking exemption from conscription into the army during the First World War, available online. The records of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal, in series MH 47, include the case papers of over 8,000 individuals, as well as administrative papers reflecting the changing policy towards conscription as the war progressed. The records reveal men seeking exemption on medical, family or economic grounds, as well as the relatively small proportion wishing not to fight on moral grounds as conscientious objectors. The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal was one of the county-level appeal tribunals, part of a national system of military service tribunals that were established across the UK to hear applications from men seeking exemption from military service. The collection is one of two sets of appeal tribunal records officially retained as a benchmark following the end of hostilities, and it provides a unique insight into the impact of the First World War on families, businesses and communities far from the battlefields.
Local and county appeal tribunal records also survive in many local archives, within personal and local government collections, and with the Federation of Family History Societies. The National Archives has begun a survey of surviving material in local collections to supplement A2A and NRA data. The online launch has attracted a great deal of media interest and, although the focus is likely to be on the scarcity of surviving material, we anticipate that it may lead to an increased interest in locally held tribunal records. The digitisation of this collection has been generously supported by The Friends of The National Archives and Federation of Family History Societies, and it forms part of The National Archives’ programme of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. You can search the case papers through the First World War 100 web portal at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war/ or search the series in Discovery, our catalogue: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/ The National Archives can be contacted with any enquiries relating to the project or the records at their website: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact/
Members’ Short Talks -Given on the Members’ Evening, February 2014 - Reviewed by Sheila Clarke
Tracing Rachel: by Barbara Williams
Barbara began her talk by reminding us that while we are researching our family history, we will sometimes come across an unusual tale of a family member which, when investigated and found to be true, may develop into an interesting story. She urged us all to submit our findings as an article for the Journal, whose editor is always grateful for contributions! Barbara became aware of Rachel’s story many years ago, when she first started going out with Ron Williams, who later became her husband. When she was taken to meet Ron’s family, she was told about Great Aunt Rachel in Canada who had, during the Second World War, sent tea bags to Ron’s mum. It was agreed that, at Christmas time, the family in Canada and the family in England should make a pot of tea and listen to the King’s speech on the radio whilst drinking it and, at the same time, think about family far across the sea. Barbara doubts that Aunt Rachel actually sent tea bags – it was more likely to be loose tea – but she concedes that they may have had tea bags in Canada at the time. When Barbara became interested in family history, she wondered how, why, and when Rachel emigrated, but this information was not known. When she began her research, she found that Rachel was born in Clayhanger on 13th February 1887, and had been baptised on 13th March 1887 at St. John’s Church, Walsall Wood. She was living with her Bywater family in Clayhanger at the time of the 1891 census. When Barbara tried to find Sarah on the 1901 census, she was unable to find her, in spite of trying different variations of spelling Rachel’s name. Barbara knew that other family members did spell the surname ‘Bywaters’. Barbara was pleased to find Sarah recorded on the 1911 Census. She had moved north and was living at the home of the Raeford family at 67 Mount Road Fleetwood, near Liverpool, as a general servant. Mr Raeford was a bank clerk.
Barbara had been searching through emigration lists on Ancestry, but for a long time found nothing useful. Then, one day, she saw that a note had been attached to the 1919–1924 emigration lists, commenting on one record and stating that it would be of interest to anyone researching Rachel Bywater. When Barbara opened the attachment, she found a Form 30a from 1922. In it, she found that Rachel was to sail on the Empress of Britain on 9th July 1922, bound for Quebec, with an onward journey on Canadian Pacific Railway. She was 36 years old, and she had stated that the reason for her going was as ‘a change’ and that she intended to stay. Her religion was recorded as Church of England. She was able to read and had 25 shillings in her RMS Empress of Britain possession. In the section asking how she had paid for her passage, it was stated that she had been assisted by the Salvation Army and that she was going to be a domestic at the Salvation Army Lodge in Toronto. Her next of kin was her mother in Clayhanger. She had replied ‘no’ to all the questions regarding physical and mental disabilities, and to having any criminal record. Rachel’s last address in Britain was in Edgbaston, Birmingham. It seems that before leaving for Canada, Rachel was living close enough to her family so that she could visit them. The document had been signed by the Salvation Army in London. Barbara found Rachel on the passenger list of the Empress of Britain.
Barbara found that, at the time of Rachel’s move to Canada, some Canadians feared that the British were dumping the most poverty-stricken of their population in Canada. However, Barbara found a research paper, written by Myra Rutherdale, an Assistant professor at York University called ‘Canada is no dumping ground; Public Discourse and the Salvation Army. Immigrant Women and Children, 1900–1930’. Ms Rutherdale looked at the experiences of 200 children and 200 women intended for domestic work in Canada, who had been sponsored by the Salvation Army. This group contradicted the adverse perception. They adapted and prospered in their new surroundings. Most of the women found husbands reported back to the Army when they married, and stated that they were content in Canada. The Army’s Christian ethic and their policy of finding employment and accommodation for those they sponsored must have helped the immigrants’ transition. Rachel herself eventually married and moved to Montreal. Her last address was 2224 Plymouth Grove, Montreal. Barbara had photographs of Rachel and her husband Alex and other related documents she has found which we were able to look at. From Barbara’s talk, we can see how researching a variety of sources we can get to know something of the character of a person long dead, as well as get a flavour of the time in which they lived. I, for one, feel that I know Rachel from Barbara’s talk.
Helping with Research: by Vic Vayro
In January 2013, Vic Vayro set out to help Tim Richards, who had sent an email from faraway Chile, asking the group for help in researching ancestors who had lived and worked in Chasetown. Vic, as a lifelong resident of Chasetown, was able to answer many of Tim’s questions, identify photographs which Tim sent to him, and take photos of places for which Tim only had a name. This was enormously useful for Tim when he and his wife visited the area. In 1853 Tim’s ancestor Tom Richards moved from Swanton in Leicestershire to work as a miner. He and his wife Sarah were staunch Methodists and worshiped in the wooden hut which served as the church before the Methodist Chapel was opened in 1864. Altogether, they had five children – three boys and two girls. Tom worked at the No. 4 pit. The very deep coal seam had been exhausted, so the shaft had been reduced from 100 yards to 20 yards, in order to work the upper seam. A platform was built across the shaft 20 yards down. By May, 1858, Tom was the ‘butty man’. On 15th May, Tom and seven other miners were being lowered down the shaft when the cable snapped. Six men were killed, including Tom Richards. The subsequent enquiry found that, because the shaft had been reduced but the cable left at the original length, a worker had tied material around the cable so that the operative lowering the cage would know when it had reached the platform. Over time, this material had become impregnated with a tarry substance and become rigid, chafing on the unseen cable underneath and gradually weakening the strands. Tom’s wife was now a widow with young children.
Despite the tragedy, Tom’s children prospered. His son Tom married in 1876 and had twelve children. He became a businessman with several businesses. His brother, William Henry, Tim’s ancestor, became the Cannock Chase Colliery manager before moving with his family to manage a mine in Lancashire. His three sons worked in the mining industry. Tim’s father also worked in mining, as an explosives engineer. Vic identified and photographed the shops which had belonged to Tom Richards, and the former butcher’s shop once belonging to Tim Richard’s maternal grandmother. He also photographed the remains of Bleak House, where Tom’s family had lived. ‘The Cottage’, supposedly another home, was a later name for Bleak House. Tom Richards’ family finally lived at Edial House. Vic discovered the names of people on a wedding photo Tim had. Tim Richards and his wife visited the area and met Vic at St. Anne’s Church. They walked around Chasetown to enable Tim to take photos. The highlight for Tim was seeing the spot along Union Street where No.4 pit had been. He was unable to take photos of Edial House at the time but, later, when the house came up for sale at nearly £1.5 million, Vic was able to send him the estate agent’s brochure! Photographs of the area were displayed, together with documents including the report and conclusion of the enquiry into the pit disaster.
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks- Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
January 2014: Robert Sharp on ‘The Hammerwich Hoard’
Robert Sharp pointed out that the cache of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver found in a field in Hammerwich in 2009 is the only one ever found in the whole of Europe; ‘equivalent for a Christian to finding a new gospel book’. Items from the hoard have been exhibited in this country, in Europe and in the USA; and many of us have viewed some of the artefacts and listened to presentations on the subject before. However, I am sure we all agree that Robert’s talk added extra information both to the way the items were found; to their conservation, and the purpose of individual items. Richard also put forward some ideas as to why the hoard was buried where it was, and by whom. Terry Herbert, a member of a metal detecting club, had asked farmer Fred Johnson many times if he could use his detector on a field which bordered the A5, which is near to the site of Watling Street, the old Roman Road. Mr Johnson had always refused permission until the summer of 2009. While walking over a featureless spot on the field, Terry found enough artefacts in a five-day period to fill 244 bags. Many items were lying on the surface, none was found more than eight inches below the surface. Mr Johnson had recently ploughed the field deeper, probably to even out the slope. After consulting family and other metal detectors, Terry Herbert contacted Birmingham museum, and they, together with archaeologists from Birmingham University, started a systematic investigation of the site. Robert showed us a map of the dig, which highlighted where specific articles were found. During the excavation of July and August 2009, the number of artefacts discovered at the site rose to more than 4,000, many of them small but most containing high quality gold. Fortunately, Terry had not tried to clean or wash the discoveries. Any archaeological finds should be passed to experts to clean, as surrounding soil could give clues to the type of landscape and vegetation prevailing at the time of the items’ burial. However, investigation of the soil suggested that the area had been fairly open heathland, heathers being the predominant species. When the hoard was taken to the British Museum to be X-rayed, cleaned and assessed, the items filled a table 40 feet long × 3 feet wide, plus three extra tiered trolleys. Blackthorn prickles were used to clean off the soil. This has been found to be the best method of cleaning intricate objects without causing scratches or damage. Some of the pieces were totally encased in lumps of clay from the burial area and had to be X-rayed; most of the rest of the soil in Mr Johnson’s field is sandy. Robert later put forward a theory as to why the items were buried in such a featureless site. He wondered whether it was this fact that was significant.
The hoard consists mostly of martial pieces, decoration for armour and weapons, together with some religious items. Many pieces feature cloisonné using garnets and gold filigree. Robert showed us photographs which enlarged the exquisite work undertaken by the craftsmen of long ago. The pieces were possibly made in England, but there is no actual proof as to where they were made. The name Hammerwich makes one think of some sort of metal industry, but there is no evidence of this taking place during Anglo-Saxon times. The large garnets were probably from India and the small ones from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). This showed that merchants had well-established trade routes along the Silk Road. The goldsmiths’ work was, in many cases, far superior to that which can be done now. Behind the garnets, dimpled gold foil was placed, using an exact number of dimples to create the maximum possible sparkle from the garnets. Garnets can be found in many colours; those used in the weaponry are red, possibly to replicate the colour of blood. The gold filigree into which the cut and polished garnets were placed is reminiscent of fine lace. Flux used to fuse gold wire to the base gold was made from copper, honey and salt. The finest gold wire used is only 0.036mm thick. Goldsmiths today are unable to replicate how the Anglo-Saxons stuck the small gold beads onto such fine wire. The well-publicised ‘sea horse’, with filigree decoration, may be a stylised war horse’s head. The neck section appears to be broken. It could originally have been joined to another horse’s head. The whole may have been part of the harness of a horse belonging to someone of high status. The largest and heaviest crucifix in the hoard had been folded at some time before being buried. It probably had a central garnet, which is missing, and four garnets representing the gospels. It has lugs attached, by which it could have been fixed to a gospel book. Robert suggested that the cross is similar to a Crux Gemmata which the eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II presented to the accepted site of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 417AD. There are only a handful of such crosses left throughout Europe. Instead of the tree of life being depicted, the hoard crucifix has Mercian artwork.
The gold pectoral cross has an eyelet at the top for a leather thong, so that the cross could be hung from the neck. The decoration is gold filigree with a red stone, probably garnet in the centre. It was probably a devotional cross, and because it is the only box construction in the hoard, it is possible that it contained a holy relic. A silver gilt strip is possibly one of the most controversial items. It was probably a strap and latch from a bible. There is a scratched sentence in Latin (with spelling errors) on both sides, from Numbers Chapter 10, verse 35; ‘rise up Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face’.
There are depictions of animals and birds throughout the hoard. There are many strips of silver and silver gilt which had adorned helmets. There are plates which have been identified as cheek protectors, similar to those on the helmet found at Sutton Hoo. However, Robert thinks that they are too short for this purpose, and he thinks they may have been more suitable for horse blinkers. No sword blades were discovered in the hoard. The gold, silver and decorative items, such as the pommels, had been stripped from swords before burial. There are also parts from an extremely fine seax (dagger), which must have belonged to a chief or king. The date of the artefacts is contentious and wide, somewhere between the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Robert Sharp speculated as to how and why the hoard was buried. He felt that it was not the spoils of battle hidden for a later date, because the actual burying place was so insignificant that the items would be difficult to find again. The field is on what were three tribal boundaries, that between Mercia and land that was later called Wales, and the land of the Penk people. The Mercian kings were warlike, and battles took place regularly. In many battles, a bishop was required to walk before an army carrying a bible and a cross – not a job many bishops relished! A slain enemy ruler would be dismembered and his body parts scattered, as it was believed that not to do so would enable him to threaten the victor again. Penda, for example, killed six other Anglo-Saxon kings, whose body parts were then dispersed. He died in 655AD at ‘Winwaed’, thought to be somewhere in the north of England. Although Tamworth was the capital of Mercia, boundaries were very important in the Mercian culture; ‘Mercia’ means ‘border people’. Talks and ceremonies were more likely to take place on the border. Perhaps Penda, or a later ruler, was buried on the slope of a featureless hill, so that his body would lie undisturbed by his enemies and not dismembered. Kings gave precious sword pommels as gifts to their warriors. Perhaps, on death, these were given back. Penda was said by Bede to be pagan, but he allowed churches to be built at Repton and Lichfield, so maybe he was hedging his bets. As Robert said, we can let our imagination run and run but there is, at the moment, little hard evidence from that time.
March 2014: Barbara Andrew on ‘Grandma Was a Suffragette’
Photographs of Thirza Cove reproduced courtesy of Barbara Andrew
Some members may remember that Barbara Andrew came to talk to the group in 2008 about her grandmother, Thirza Cove. Since then, she has done further research, and this time she brought along many photographs; illustrations of posters and propaganda, as used by the women’s suffrage movement, and also examples of counter-propaganda used by those opposed to electoral equality for women’s suffrage. In 1865, Philosopher John Stuart Mill was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Westminster on a platform of political equality for men and women. Women, though, did not attain voting parity with men until 1928, about the time that one of the best known of the suffragists, Emmeline Pankhurst, died. The front cover of the notes has a handsome photograph of Barbara’s grandmother aged about 25, and the story and further photographs of her part in the campaign are included inside. What amazed me, and probably others, too, was the fact that her grandmother never spoke of her involvement in the suffrage movement. At the age of 82, Thirza, having been made redundant from her housekeeper’s job, was unceremoniously left on the doorstep of her only surviving son and his wife. Barbara was the youngest of five children, so it was she who had to share her bedroom with grandma – not something she was keen on doing! All her working life, as far as the family knew, Thirza had done jobs involving domestic duties. She had had to bring up her elder son as a single mother after her partner left when her younger son died in early childhood. At the age of 87, she bought her first home. She died just short of her 90th birthday, when Barbara was 14 years old. Barbara inherited a box, a writing slope, which contained a wealth of memorabilia connected to Thirza’s ‘golden years’ as a suffragette. There were her sashes, her badges, envelopes in the colours of the movement; and her long scarf in the Women’s Social and Political Union colours of purple, white and green, now much the worse for wear. The suffragettes would roll up their scarves and, at an opportune moment during a debate in the House of Commons, would unroll them over the gallery balcony, shouting ‘Votes for Women’. Barbara also had her grandmother’s ‘stone throwing bag’. This was made of stout canvas, ostensibly to carry suffragette magazines and pamphlets; but had a small pocket in which two egg-sized stones wrapped in newspaper could be secreted. Wrapped stones would not rattle and be discovered. Stones would be used to break windows or throw at the police during demonstrations. Thirza Cove, called ‘Thirzie’ by her family, was born in 1881 in Marylebone, London, the third of ten children. Her father was an ostler. The earliest photograph of Thirza we were shown was a tintype from 1881, in which Thirza, a babe in arms, is on her mother’s lap. The family’s surname had previously been Anglicised from Cowen to Cove, to enable them to fit in. Many Jewish families altered their surnames to sound ‘English’. Thirza became a domestic servant, but gave up domestic life when she became a militant campaigner.
She was one of 5,000 people who, in 1908, demonstrated in Parliament Square, calling for equal voting rights for women. Twenty-eight women, including Thirza, were arrested during a ‘sit down’ and sentenced to a month in Holloway. She was kept in solitary confinement. Whilst in prison, Thirza drew pictures showing her bleak cell. She was able to smuggle these out on her release. Copies of these pictures are in our notes. Also included are photographs of Thirza carrying the Suffragette banner in a procession; another of her with a group of fellow suffragettes holding restraints which were used during the force feeding of hunger strikers; and a third showing her distributing banners, ribbons and sashes emblazoned with the slogan ‘Votes for Women’. This final photograph is dated 21st June 1908 and was the day when 300,000 people assembled from all over Britain for a rally in Hyde Park. The photograph is now in the Archives of the Museum of London. Thirza was imprisoned on two further occasions, once for breaking windows in Downing Street. What made those supporting women’s suffrage angry was that they were treated like common criminals rather than political prisoners.
As time went on, the campaign became more and more militant. Acts of criminality and vandalism included cutting telegraph wires and bombing or burning railway stations and churches where the clergy had preached against them. Suffragettes ensured that no-one was injured in these acts. Sentences became harsher as the government became increasingly desperate and the public more indignant. Although it is understood that many men opposed female enfranchisement, some women felt that the vote was unnecessary and undesirable. Queen Victoria, too, was opposed, thinking the fight for women’s rights was a ‘mad, wicked folly’. Postcards obtained by Barbara from an auction had once belonged to Ronnie Barker. Postcards produced by the suffrage movement set out the reasons why women should receive the vote; other cards, produced by the opposition, lampooned the militant women. Barbara feels that the vote had to be extended to some women after the end of the First World War because women had stepped into the breach when their menfolk were at the front. There seemed to be no tasks which women were unable to do, so the belief that women were both physically and mentally incapable no longer stood up to scrutiny. Action continued for ten more years and, in 1928, women finally achieved voting parity with men. Barbara’s notes give short accounts of individual men and women, and the organisations which have played a part in advancing suffrage and improving the lives of women. The women include those from Staffordshire. Most women will agree that we still have some way to go before we have equal opportunities with men in all walks of life. Barbara urged the group to use our right to vote, which was so hard won.
Out of the Blue
(or how a family history breakthrough can come at any time) - by Sheila Clarke
In 1996, I wrote a piece for the Journal about my mother and father in law’s visit to Australia in 1981 to see their daughter and her family. While there, they were determined to see other family members whose parents had emigrated in the early part of the 20th century and with whom an elderly aunt had kept in touch by letter. This family lived in the outback, they drove out to see them. While there, they were given a copy of a register which had been written in a bible taken to Australia by my father in law’s aunt. In it was recorded the names and dates of birth of children born to Stephen Hudson Clarke, his grandfather. This provided invaluable information, especially as I had just started on my family history research. The fate of Stephen Hudson Clarke’s youngest son, Leo Philip Bernard, has remained a mystery for a 115 years. The register from Australia records that he was born at Little Broom Street, Camp Hill, Birmingham, at 3.45 am on April 10th, 1885. Family legend had it that he had gone to France to become a jockey when he was 14 years old; that was the last that they heard of him.
On 24th January, 2014, I opened my emails and found one from a Frenchwoman, Elise, who had seen my genealogy tree on the Family Tree Maker website. It transpired that Leo had indeed gone to France in 1899, when he was 14, to be a stable boy at the Lamorlaye and Chantilly stable. This was proved by an entry in a French census return. In 1912, he married Eugenie Angeline Leclere. Elise’s great-grandmother was their only child. Elise knew from her family that there were eight siblings in Leo’s family, and the names of his parents. She included three attachments in her email; a photo of Leo taken in middle years and another of him as a soldier in 1914, taken just after enlistment. It looks as though he is wearing a British uniform, but the badge on the cap is blurred – though it may be of the Service Corps. The third item was a tinted likeness of Leo’s mother, Emily, probably around the time of her marriage on 2nd December, 1865. I was able to send Elise photos, and a copy of the family register from Australia. Receiving the information about Leo has raised more questions about his life in France. He died in Lamorlaye, Oise Picardie, in 1946; his wife lived until 1969. I still have no idea where Leo joined the army, or what he did after the Great War. I have found a medal card which could be his, though the name of the regiment is not clear. Elise did not know either because there is little reliable information from her living family. Records in France before 1912 are kept in the area where a person lived, and Elise herself lives far from Picardy; but she has promised that if she discovers more about Leo and his life, she will pass it on to me. Please do let me know if you have ideas of where else I could find more information.
Closure of Lichfield Record Office
In February of this year, plans to close Lichfield Record Office and re-home all the county’s archives into a single centre in Stafford, which previously were being ‘explored’, were passed by Staffordshire County Council, who said the move would save £75,000 on costs such as property maintenance. The authority maintains that it does not yet know what the implications would be for staff. The plan envisages centralising Staffordshire’s Records Service and the William Salt Library Collections, in addition to improving online access to the records. The proposals, by Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service, would see the creation of a ‘state-of-the-art’ extension at the existing archives building on Eastgate Street in Stafford. The new facility would mean visitors can access all the collections under one roof. It also promises extra storage space and improved storage conditions, a ‘break-out’ area for users, a new search room with modern equipment and an exhibition space. As part of the proposals, a new service will be put in place at Lichfield Library as Lichfield Local and Family History Centre, offering access to digitised collections and microfiche sources alongside the local studies collection. People will also be able to access the county archive records on the Findmypast website.
But Lichfield history buffs have registered their dismay at the proposals. Kate Gomez, of history group Lichfield Discovered, said: “I am concerned that if the proposal goes ahead there will be no facility to access any original documents at Lichfield and anyone wishing to consult these – either because they are not digitised/available on microfiche, or because the individual prefers to work from the originals – will need to make a 40-mile round trip to Stafford. “Whilst supportive of the digitisation of archives, I do wonder how long it will take to make the key collections available at the proposed Local and Family History Centre and what the facilities at this new centre will be. How many computers and machines will be available for use and will anyone be on hand to assist and advise? Lichfield won’t just be losing the archives, but also the local knowledge and expertise of the staff at the record office. “At a time when many people are interested in local history and groups like ours are working to encourage people to explore and discover the incredible heritage that we have here in Lichfield, it’s very disappointing to hear that the city is at risk of losing one of its greatest local history assets.”
“I really hope that people take the time to read through the consultation and make their views known.”
This Issue’s Cover Photograph
Burntwood Parish Memorial Stone - Photo by Alan Betts
In April of this year, a new memorial stone commemorating the brave Burntwood people who fell in both world wars and later conflicts was unveiled. and dedicated in the grounds of Burntwood Institute, Rugeley Road. Previously, the only memorial was a plaque in the entrance of the hall, which only listed those who fell in WWI. The space where the previous plaque was is to be filled with a stunning piece of embroidery The work which has been completed by the members of the group Embroidery for Burntwood Community. The new Memorial Stone, while commemorating the outbreak of the Great War, also adds the names of the fallen from the Second World War and later conflicts. Civic dignitaries and children from Fulfen Primary School attended the service, with the youngsters burying a time capsule in front of the memorial. Very special guests at the ceremony included some relatives of the fallen from the First World War, who organisers were able to trace with help from Burntwood Family History Group. The Group also provided some of the background information on the 38 men recorded on the original plaque – many were coal miners before they enlisted. Their sacrifice and others’ were also honoured by special displays with photographs and details about their lives and where and how they died.
Relatively Funny
So who says relatives, living and dead, can’t raise a titter now and again?
An in-law is someone who has married into your family; an outlaw is an in-law who resists letting you do their genealogy!
If your family members won’t talk about a particular relative, a seasoned genealogist knows they are keeping mum about something very interesting.
The Moment of Truth for a genealogist: discovering you are your own cousin!
A genealogist is someone who knows that all grandparents are great grandparents!
Can a first cousin once removed be returned?
Genealogy: In the end, it’s all relative...