Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2014 07-09 Volume 22 Number 3
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
July - September 2014
Vol 22.3
Contents of this issue.

From the Chair 1
Difficulty Finding Your Ancestors? 3
News From the Secretary 4
Volunteers Required 5
Research Enquiries 6
Church Newsletters 7
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks:
 JRR Tolkein in Staffordshire 8
 The Battle of Waterloo: the Aftermath 10
 Do’s and Don’ts of Family History 14
The Weird and the Wonderful 17
Online Research and its Limitations 18
This Issue’s Cover Photograph 19

From the Chair
Dear Members, By the time you read my introduction to this Journal, the nights will be drawing in, and the World Cup and the longest day will be just memories! More time to spend on your computers, concentrating on your research. Our Monday evening talks by our guest speakers continue to be well attended, interesting, informative and educational, I learn something new every time that I don’t know about the rest of you. On the other hand, Thursday evening research nights seemed to be a mixed bag. Is there something more or different we should be offering to boost attendances? Please let us have your thoughts and/or suggestions.
This year we have been busier than ever with outside events we have been asked to attend, a direction I think we ought to be going in to raise awareness of BFHG to the outside world. The following is a brief description of where we have been or have been invited to. On Friday and Saturday 20th and 21st June, we attended a Family History Event organised by members of The Church of Latter Day Saints at their Penns Lane Church in Sutton Coldfield. This was hailed as a great success by the organisers, although it was not that well attended due to lack of press coverage again. 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 third event along the same lines at their Church in Wolverhampton in September. If anyone feels that they can help by manning our stand, please let one of the committee know.
In July, a number of our members involved in the Memorial Project went into Erasmus Darwin Academy (formally Chasetown High School) to give a short talks on our work in the Memorial Project. Thanks to all who took part. Personally, I found it a daunting experience, standing in front of around 200 pupils and staff and talking for about ten minutes. We were well received and we look forward to working with the school in the coming years. 
Another event we were asked to support by having a stand was the Burntwood Wakes Festival, held at Burntwood Rugby Club on July 19th, but only for one day. This local event would have raised awareness of BFHG in the local community but, unfortunately, due to torrential rain and thunderstorms on the Friday night and Saturday morning, the event was cancelled as the ground was waterlogged.
Richard Sharpe came to talk to us in February this year about the Staffordshire Hoard but would not accept payment for his services. He asked in return that we should take our display to an event in Burntwood Christchurch, this we did for three evenings in July.
Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to man our stand on any or all of these displays.
We are now working towards having a Facebook page on the social media network on the Internet. This is another direction in which I think the group should be going. We need to be continually assessing where we are, with technology going forward in leaps and bounds. It would be in addition to and compliment our BFHG website, as you can find a group for most interests these days on the internet. Thanks to Ivan Hodgson for investigating this. Ivan is also involved with our Memorial Project, raising awareness with local schools.
The Memorial Project has received some wonderful news from the Lottery. After a great deal of hard work, patience and mountains of form-filling by Pam Woodburn, she was informed that a grant of £4,000 has been awarded for the work done and still to be done. Well done Pam!!!
We are looking to run a trip to The National Archives at Kew, probably in September, for anyone interested. Jenny Lee has organised these trips in the past, but now feels it is time to hand the reins over to a younger person, so if you feel you would like to organise this trip, please contact Jenny or one of the committee. To enable this trip to be financially viable, we usually run it in conjunction with Cannock Wood Gardening Guild. Their members go to Kew Gardens, which is close by, but you can come on the trip and go elsewhere in
London, as long as you are back to Kew to catch the coach back. For anyone who hasn’t been on this trip before, I can highly recommend it, although first timers to TNA will probably be like a kid in a sweet shop. I know I was!
Happy Hunting. Steve Bailey, Chairman
Difficulty Finding Your Ancestors? - by Barbara Williams
Below are just a few examples I came across while checking the register of Baptisms of St Luke’s Church, Cannock:
5th August 1829: Caroline daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Edwards, passing through Cannock for Wales.
5th June 1831: William son of John and Martha Wooton and Jemima daughter of John and Martha Wooton. William appears to be 21 yrs of age and Jemima appears to be 18yrs of age.
23rd February 1832: Elizabeth daughter of Robert and Rebecca Bird alias Nicholls, alias Leland
18th October 1834: Mary daughter of Antonio (deceased) and Elizabeth Nicholls. Travelling through Cannock
1st November 1835: Jane daughter of James and Mary Holmes of Wall. Jane Holmes appears to be about 20 yrs of age
28th October 1838: Edmund, son of Joseph and Elizabeth Trubshaw of Willenhall
4th June 1839: Mary natural daughter of Mary Skepper of Fiskerton Devon
10th September 1843: Thomas son of John and Elizabeth Worrall of Wheston Yorkshire
News from the Secretary
We have had two new members join the group during this quarter; a big welcome to you both.
First of all, apologies for the late arrival of the last journal. The editor was ill, so the publication had to be delayed. Brian is now recovered and we wish him continued good health for the future.
The collection of subscriptions this year has been a long task. I still have 16 outstanding, so I have to assume that they no longer require membership. Thank you to all those people who paid on time (about half the membership). Can I ask you all to put in your diaries that subscriptions are due on the first of January each year and, if you do not wish to renew, please send me a quick email or a note to let me know.
I will include a form in the December Journal for you to update me with your personal details and about any new names you are researching. Please return this form with your subscription and I will update our records.
Thank you to all those members who have sent in articles and items for the journal. They have made interesting reading, so please keep them coming, preferably by e-mail to me, pauline.bowen8@btinternet.com, or direct to Brian (editor), brian@aryxia.freeserve.co.uk
Pauline Bowen, Secretary
Volunteers Required  - by Jane Leake
Have you considered helping to run our group? We have been fortunate for many years to have members willing to give time to do just that. However, they cannot be expected to go on doing it forever! Since the beginning in 1986, our group has grown in numbers and interests. Some of those of us who joined at the outset are still playing a big part in the day to day running of our affairs, but we now need your help.
How could you help? There are several ways in which you could make a difference. Here are just a few of them. Many of us have enjoyed trips to London over the years, but we now need someone to organise the next one if it is to take place. It involves getting a list of names, booking a coach, and arranging times of departure and return. Jenny Lee has been doing this for the last few years and is very willing to guide a new recruit through the process.
Both the Memorial Project and the Transcription Project need more helpers. Those people already working on them have found it very interesting, and Pam would be happy to start you off. Why not have a look at some of the finished biographies? 1914–1918 is the centenary of the First World War, as you will know, and we are all being encouraged to remember our ancestors who gave their lives.
There are various way people can be involved with the Transcription Project. You do not have to be a computer wizard, as there is help at hand, and we need volunteers to transcribe parish records and also to check the transcriptions for mistakes before they are put on to CDs. This involves correcting any mistakes using paper print-outs and a microfiche (supplied by the group), and can be done in your own home. Please come and talk to me if you think you can help.
One way it is very easy to help out at meetings is by volunteering to make the drinks. If a few people put their names forward, perhaps a list could be organised, and it would save that awful silence at meetings when the Chairman asks for someone to make the drinks! We also need one or two members to welcome new people, just to give them information and ask about their interests and what they are hoping to get from the group if they join.
Finally please do help to keep the group going in some way. In September, we have the AGM as usual, and we may need some new committee members. Please don’t be afraid to put your name forward, as it is not arduous and you are amongst friends who will give help if you need it. In fact, you will find that you get to know more members of the group and thus make new friends. Why not talk to members of the present committee? They will be happy to answer any questions you may have about volunteering. We really do need your help to keep the group going.
Research Enquiries  - by Geoff Sorrell
We continue to receive many enquiries from members and others for help with their research. Most of these can be dealt with by me (sometimes with help from other members of the Group) and can then be considered ‘closed’. There are, however, a few for which, although much information has been obtained already, there are still some outstanding questions which have not been answered. In most cases, the records available to us just do not contain sufficient detail to resolve the enquirer’s query fully. The following are a few instances of this which our members, through their own local knowledge, may be able to resolve.
Pavior’s Row, Chasetown. Carolyn Harris has ancestors who lived in the old miners’ cottages before 1900 (after which they moved to Nottinghamshire), and she would like a photograph of those cottages. They were demolished about 50 years ago, were replaced by the houses which are now there, and the road was re-named Pavior’s Road.
There is a photograph in the publication ‘Old Chasetown’ which purports to show these cottages, but they are away in the distance and the photograph is of poor quality. It is evident, however, that the photograph was copied from a postcard, and the original may still be in existence somewhere, which would give a much clearer picture. If you know where this postcard may beseen, or you know of any other photographs which show a clear view of Pavior’s Row, please let me know. The family names were Harris and Whitehead.
Sandra Palmer. This lady was from Brownhills originally, but married and moved to Meadway Street, Chasetown in about 1970. Our index of surnames in the local Parish Registers does not reveal a lady of this name, and the enquirer cannot provide her married name. I know this is a ‘long shot’ but, if you have any information which you think may apply to this lady, our enquirer would be pleased to receive it.
Clara Gibson. This lady died in 1946 whilst she was a patient in St. Matthews Hospital. She was not buried in the Hospital Cemetery or, so far as I can tell from our transcription, in the Christchurch cemetery or burial ground. If there is anyone who has any knowledge of a Gibson family in our area, who may have arranged the burial of this lady and who may be able to cast light on the place of her burial, our enquirer (her grandson John Sadler) would appreciate their help.
Thomas Bate. This one for anyone who lives in or has researched ancestors in Cannock. I have given the enquirer lots of information on the Bate family, and more is coming up on a regular basis during transcription of the St. Luke’s P.R. However, it seems almost certain that Thomas was a cabinet maker and had an address in Mill Street, Cannock. I have copy of a photograph, taken in the 1920s, of what is believed to be members of the Bate family – several young men in a timber yard which could be in Mill Street. If you think you have any information on this which would help, please contact me and I will arrange for you to see the photograph.
John Borman. We had an enquiry some time ago from a gentleman whose Uncle Jack (John Borman) who was born in Chase Terrace in 1885 and spent time in Canada. He was a resident in Burntwood from the 1950s, having come from Little Hay, Shenstone, and was employed by the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company. He often wore a waistcoat with a watch and chain, and was known as a colourful character. He was an accomplished musician on the piano and accordion, and also taught others to play, as well as being a local entertainer. Our enquirer would particularly like to know where his Uncle Jack is buried and any other local information on him and his family.
John Edward Whitehead. No connection with the Whitehead mentioned earlier above. This man was reputed to be a Regimental Sergeant Major in the North Staffordshire Regiment, but the Regimental Museum can find no record of his service. However, his descendant says that he was stationed for a time during WWI at Brocton Camp, and she would like any information about the Camp and what role he might have served there as an instructor at the Infantry School. I believe there is a book on the Cannock Chase Army Camps, and if you
have a copy of it which I could borrow for a short while, I could copy relevant information and send it to the enquirer.
Church Newsletters
By popular request (OK, I’ve got a space to fill...) here are some more genuine cringeworthy moments from church newsletters and bulletins!
Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
Hymn 43: ‘Great God, what do I see here?’ Preacher: the Rev. Horace Blodgett. Hymn 47: ‘Hark! an awful voice is sounding.’
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks - Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
May 2014: Dave Robbie on ‘J.R.R. Tolkien in Staffordshire’

Dave Robbie has lived in Great Haywood for many years. He and other enthusiasts of the Haywood Society are researching J.R.R. Tolkien’s links with the area, and how local landscapes and buildings influenced his writing. Many people believe that Tolkien is the greatest writer of the 20th century. In 1961, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature by C.S. Lewis, but the prize
was awarded elsewhere. In 2003, The Lord of the Rings was voted the nation’s best-loved book in a poll conducted by the BBC. Tolkien’s popularity is world- wide, and film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have had considerable box office success.
Tolkien was stationed at Rugeley and Brockton Military camps on Cannock Chase between November 1915 and June 1916 while training in signalling. He had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1915, and undertook his officer training in Bedford before being posted to Whittington Heath and then to Rugeley. He believed he had little in common with the other officers had more affinity with the enlisted men; so, because of the mores of the time, became something of a loner. He spent his spare time being bored; drinking ale, riding his AJS motorcycle, eating poached deer, writing poetry and inventing new languages.
The name ‘Tolkien’ originated in Saxony and the family had come to England during the 18th century. Tolkien’s father Arthur Reuel Tolkien was a bank manager. He and his wife Mabel left England when Arthur was promoted to lead the Bloemfontein branch. It was there that, in 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born. Mabel, and her sons returned to England on a visit in 1895, expecting Arthur to follow later, but he died in Bloemfontein, leaving the family without an income. Mabel and the children lived for a time with her parents in Kings Heath. They then moved to Sarehole, later to become Hall Green and part of Birmingham. The mill, Perrot’s folly, and the Moseley bog, where the young Tolkien played, were later transformed into mythological places in his stories. Mabel Tolkien died of diabetes in 1904 and Father Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory became Tolkien’s guardian. Already attending King Edward’s School Birmingham on a scholarship, Tolkien and some fellow pupils formed the TCBS (The Tea Club and Barrovian Society), which met at Barrows’ Store near the school to drink tea and talk. Tolkien’s interest in writing poetry stems from these meetings. In 1910, Tolkien went up to Exeter College, Oxford to read Classics. He later developed an interest in German and Norse languages and mythology. He was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris, and the arts and crafts movement, looking back to an England before the Industrial Revolution.
Tolkien met his future wife Edith Bratt when he was 16 and still at school. They were both living at the same lodgings at the time, and both had been orphaned. Their friendship blossomed, much to the dismay of Father Francis (not least because Edith was a Protestant at the time), who persuaded Ronald to finish his education and not contact Edith again until after he was 21. Tolkien completed his degree after WWI had begun, and then joined the army.
In late September 1915 the four friends members of the Tea Club met at the George Hotel Lichfield as the ‘Council of Lichfield’. This may have been the last time they were together; all had joined the military and, by the end of the War, only Tolkien had survived. Having finished his studies, Tolkien contacted Edith again, and on 22nd March 1916 they were married. The couple may have stayed briefly at The Clifford Arms in Great Haywood whilst looking for somewhere for Edith to stay during the time Ronald was at Brocton Camp. The Tolkiens made contact with the local parish priest, who provided lodgings for Edith and her cousin Jennie until they found somewhere more permanent. He also conducted a Nuptial Blessing for Ronald and Edith in May 1916 as this was not possible at the time of their marriage, which had taken place during Lent. Father Emery became a lifelong friend of the couple.
Edith and Jennie moved from the Presbytery to furnished rooms at the home of a Mrs Kendrick. Tolkien walked from Brocton Camp to Great Haywood to visit his newly wed wife. His mythical village of Tavrobel was based on Great Haywood. The route he took passed Womere (The Mirkwood Swamp?); and along the Sher Brook (The Brook of Glass?) Did Tolkien transform Brocton Coppice into The Forest of Fangorn and Coppice Hill into The Heath of the Sky Roof? In those days, Tolkien would have clearly seen the chimneys of Shugborough Hall (The House of a Hundred Chimneys). According to Tolkien’s notes, this was the resting place of the Golden Book (of Lost Tales).
On 4th June, 1916, Ronald was posted as a Signals Officer to the Somme. He spent four months in the trenches before contracting trench fever, which is transmitted by lice and can cause extreme debilitation and even death. He was hospitalised in Birmingham at a hospital set up in the University. While she was away in France, Edith rented a very old crook framed cottage, in which she and Ronald could live on his return – probably the one now known as Rock Cottage. Tolkien returned to Great Haywood in time for Christmas 1916. There, he penned poems, one called GBS, mourning the death of his great friend Geoffrey Bache Smith. The cottage was also the place where Tolkien completed The Fall of Gondolin, which he had started writing in hospital; and The Cottage of Lost Play, a story based on the cottage which became the foundation for his later writing. He wished to discover and write a mythology for England, being entranced by old English texts such as Beowulf and the legend of Hengist and Horsa.
Although continuing in the army until the end of the war, Tolkien was never fit enough to return to France. Ronald and Edith had four children. His son Christopher Tolkien has been instrumental in sorting and putting in order JRR Tolkien’s writings – a formidable task. Some of Tolkien’s works were not published until 1983–84.
In 1918, Tolkien became a lexicographer, and in 1925, Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. The Hobbit was published in 1937. Lord of the Rings was written between 1937 and 1949.It was published in three volumes, but not until 1954. In 1959, Ronald retired, and the couple went to live in Bournemouth. Edith died in 1971 and Ronald in 1973.
Many of us in the Burntwood Family History group were unaware of the strong connection that JRR Tolkien had with Staffordshire and we are extremely grateful to David Robbie for enlightening us. Tolkien, a major literary figure, has a worldwide following, but it seems that publicity showing his connection to this area has not been highlighted by the Tourist Industry. The Haywood Society has recently published The Tolkien Trail, featuring four circular walks in the footsteps of JRR Tolkien. This booklet shows the walker where Tolkien and his wife lived during 1915 and 1916, and highlights places which Tolkien used in his writing. Further information can be obtained from daverobbie38@btinternet.com
June 2014: Tim Burgin on ‘The Battle of Waterloo: the aftermath’
Tim Burgin’s entertaining talk showed that The Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday 18th June, 1815, on what was then Dutch territory, influenced national thought and actions for many generations. The battle ended the series of wars which had consumed Europe since the late 18th century at great financial and human cost. The parlous financial state of countries at the end meant that diplomacy had to be used in the following years.
The morning after the battle, the field of conflict was a harrowing place to behold. Dead, dying and wounded soldiers and horses were piled on all sides. 50,000 soldiers were killed or wounded and lay in an area measuring two miles by three miles. The rain hampered the burials, though it is believed that most of the British dead were removed after the battle and buried in consecrated ground. A group of soldiers had, during the fighting, asked their commanding officer if they could bury a comrade gunner at once because, although dead, he appeared to be looking at them. The request was granted, though it was usual to leave lower ranks where they fell until the end of the battle.
The cavalrymen had horses shot from under them during battle. Smiths travelled round the site removing horseshoes, a valuable commodity, then the carcasses were burnt. 10–12,000 horses died that day. Soldiers who were found with untreatable injuries and who were in unbearable pain were shot, often at their own request. Fallen French soldiers lay on the battlefield for many days because the French army had retreated towards Paris, pursued by the Prussians.
The battle was over by nightfall on 18th June, so scavengers were able to pass among the dead under cover of darkness, removing anything they thought would come in useful. As false teeth were at best fashioned from animal bone or taken from the dead, the teeth of deceased soldiers were prised from their jaws and were later used to make ‘superior’ sets of dentures. ‘Waterloo teeth’ were in great demand because they had come from previously healthy individuals.
Wellington’s communications about his successful campaign were careful to mention favourably all the important people who had taken part; he may need them on his side in the future. Lord Percy was tasked with delivering the dispatch to London to inform the Prince Regent and Parliament, but he waited a few days before delivering the message and in the meantime put money on the stock market; shares were bound to go up after the good news got out and, indeed, that is what happened, leaving Lord Percy a much richer man!
The future George IV was keen to ‘look after’ all those who fought at Waterloo. Governments are usually parsimonious, especially after such a costly war, and this one was no different. They cast about looking for something which would commemorate the glorious victory of the allied British, Dutch, and Prussian over Napoleon, while spending as little as possible. At that time, a new bridge across the Thames was nearing completion by the Strand Bridge Company. The company name was changed to The Waterloo Bridge Company and, hey presto! the bridge became The Waterloo Bridge, opening with great ceremony on 18th June 1817 by the Prince Regent and Wellington.
The bridge was opened as a toll bridge, but it never made money because there were other, free, bridges across the Thames. It was taken into public ownership in 1870. Over the years the bridge had to carry heavier traffic as horse-drawn vehicles were replaced, and the volume of traffic increased. In 1920, it was found that the bridge was being undermined by the flow of the river. It had to be closed, and conservers and those in favour of building a new Waterloo Bridge argued about what should be done. Eventually, Labour took control of the London County Council and Herbert Morrison, the leader, cut through the wrangling, decided that the old bridge could not be repaired and commissioned a new one. Morrison laid the first stone in 1934 and, though it was opened to traffic in 1942, it was not ‘officially’ opened until 1945.
In 1816, the Prince Regent suggested that medals should be given to soldiers who were involved in the Battle, which was duly implemented. This was the start of giving awards to the military. Bad feelings arose between those soldiers who had been at Waterloo and soldiers who had taken part in The Peninsula Wars but not Waterloo, who were denied any recognition for their efforts. In 1846 this snub was finally rectified and they were awarded a Peninsular War Medal.
Field Marshal Gebhard von Blucher, 72 years old in 1815, was an extremely eccentric and headstrong man. Wellington was respected by his troops, but Blucher was idolised by his. The Prussian Army was pivotal in the defeat of Napoleon. They arrived late in the day with 30,000 fresh troops, thus undermining Napoleon’s belief that Blucher had been put off coming to Wellington’s aid. It later suited Wellington and the British to play down the role of the Prussians, but Blucher is highly regarded in his own country and three ships have borne his name.
In 1821, an annual Waterloo Dinner was inaugurated. At first it was restricted to the highest ranks; however, with the passage of time, in order to keep the numbers constant, lower ranking officers filled the spaces. The dinners were attended by George IV, and the dinner on June 17th 1830, was held two days before the king died. In 1836, Sir William Salter’s painting of the dinner included Waterloo veterans who had previously died. Many artists, including Lady Butler, painted scenes from the battle many years afterwards.
Henry Paget, Lord Uxbridge, was Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire. He had eloped with Wellington’s sister-in-law, though both were married to other people at the time. He was made second in command of the British Army at the Battle of Waterloo. Towards the end of the day, his leg was shattered by grapeshot. The wounded Uxbridge was taken to the house of Hyacinthe Paris, where his shattered right leg was amputated. Paris asked if he might bury the leg in his garden, which he duly did.
The spot became a shrine after some judicious publicity by Paris, who installed a plaque recording Uxbridge’s bravery. Travellers would pay him and his descendants for the privilege of visiting the spot. It is said that when a member of the Paget family visited the ‘shrine’ many years later, he found the willow tree under which the leg had been buried had blown down, so the limb was displayed in a glass case. Appalled by this and wanting to take the remains back to England, Paget appealed to the Ambassador. The Belgian government
intervened and insisted that Paris re-bury the leg immediately. Instead of complying, the Paris family hid the leg where, after time, it was presumably forgotten. Later, in the 20th century, the widow of the last of the Paris family was clearing out her husband’s possessions, where she came across a heap of bones. She duly burned them in her furnace, so Lord Uxbridge’s leg was no more.
Wellington returned to England and to politics, becoming Prime Minister in 1828. He was very conservative and generally opposed reform, which resulted in his popularity declining during his period in office. However, in spite of his conservatism, it was Wellington who steered the bill through Parliament which gave Roman Catholics political emancipation; maybe he became more sympathetic to this cause because he had been born in Dublin. A staunch protestant, Lord Winchelsea, accused Wellington of insidiously introducing Popery into all
branches of British life. Wellington took great exception to this and challenged Winchelsea to a duel. They met on the morning of 23rd March 1828. Wellington shot and missed and Winchelsea shot into the air; so honour was satisfied.
The Chief of Staff at Waterloo was William de Lancey a well-respected tactician, who had served with Wellington on previous campaigns. William had married Magdalene Hall, and they were still on honeymoon when he was called back to Brussels after Napoleon’s escape from Elba. Magdalene followed him there, but a week later he left for the battlefield. During the afternoon of the battle, de Lancey was hit in the back by a cannonball, catapulting him from his horse. Though having serious internal injuries, no skin had been broken. Magdalene rushed to his side and diligently nursed him until his death six days later. Magdalene later remarried but died in childbirth in 1821.
Sergeant Charles Ewart, a career soldier in the Scots Greys, was 45 years old at the time of the Battle. His name entered folklore when he captured a French regimental standard, a gilt eagle, and took it to the rear. His action was later celebrated in a painting of the exploit. He was promoted to ensign (second lieutenant) and became something of a celebrity. After his retirement, he and his wife moved to Salford, where he died in 1846. The churchyard where he was buried was paved over during redevelopment. He was later reburied under a commemorative granite stone on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. There is a Charles Ewart Pub nearby.
When Parisians saw the raggedy British Army marching around Paris, they could not believe that such an unkempt crew could have defeated their illustrious well decorated French Army.
Immediately after the battle, Napoleon rode on horseback to Paris but could not raise any defences. After his abdication for a second time, he rode to Rochefort, hoping for a ship and passage to the USA. When this was not forthcoming, he threw himself on the mercy of the British and surrendered to them on HMS Bellerophon. He hoped to live out his days in the English countryside. However, the British had other ideas; they wanted him as far away as possible. St. Helena was spotted on the map, 600 miles away from any other land. That was where the 46 year old Napoleon was sent, and where he lived until he died on May 5th 1821, probably of stomach cancer.
As with many famous people, conspiracy theories arise when they die if the circumstances are unusual. Did Bonaparte die of natural causes? Was he poisoned? Tim thinks that there was no motive for anyone to hasten his death. First buried on St. Helena, his body was moved to Paris in 1840 and reinterred in a magnificent mausoleum.
Many who had been at Waterloo wrote their memoirs on their return home. Captain William Sideborne interviewed as many ex-soldiers as he could so that he could give a rounded appraisal, and to try to ascertain at what point the Imperial Guard were defeated. From these accounts, models of the battlefield were constructed. Arguments abound to this day as to what actually happened, and when. Even Wellington joined in and said that the Prussians were much further back than they probably were. In the 20th century, wargaming became big business.
Tim Burgin pointed out that The Battle of Waterloo was the last of the battles where the small arms used were so unreliable that with any luck a soldier could be fired at all day and never be hit. Tim’s entertaining and informative talk kept us all enthralled.
July 2014: Richard Churchley on ‘Dos and don’ts of family history’
Richard Churchley drew upon his experiences when researching his family history to illustrate the most fruitful way of tackling the task, and to point out the pitfalls encountered and assumptions made by inexperienced researchers. He began his interest in tracing his ancestors before records could be found on the internet, and he felt that trawling through original archives avoided some of the mistakes made by new researchers who can now find a wealth of information on the internet, but: a) do not check the source thoroughly if the information has been transcribed; b) forget to recheck sites because extra information is being added daily; and c) ignore the wealth of records which are not on the internet but which can be found elsewhere.
We also need to be aware that census returns are not all-encompassing, and that there are omissions of individuals and places. Areas of the country omitted can be found online, but sometimes people were left out accidentally or because they wished to avoid being recorded. Censuses have been taken every ten years since 1841 apart from 1941, though there were some taken earlier which are less
useful. Issuing of birth, marriage, and death certificates began in 1837. Records before then were kept in parish registers, which are now deposited in Record Offices. Transcriptions can be found online, but always check the original if possible.
A more recent source is the possibility of having one’s DNA tested; though it is only through the Y chromosome, passed down intact from father to son, that it is possible to find familial matches between men with the same surname. Mitochondrial DNA, passed down through the female line and able to show prehistoric place connections for that female line, may also, in the future, be able to show more recent historic familial connections. Richard Churchley, whose surname was in the past often spelled ‘Chesley’, was contacted by an American who was interested to find if he and Richard had ancestors in common. He offered to pay for a DNA test though, to the American’s disappointment, the result indicated that he and Richard were not related.
When starting out, the aim may be to ‘get back as far as possible’ and produce a family tree, or to find a famous or well-connected ancestor. Richard suggested that this was the difference between genealogy and family history. The aim of a family historian is to find out as much about an individual ancestor and the time and place where they lived. It is best to start at the present date and events with which you are familiar, and work back through time. First, get as much oral history as you can; but always check the facts, as over the years, stories may change or unpalatable information may be omitted. For example, Richard recounted how his grandmother could remember many family members, with the important dates, but when Richard checked the relevant census, he found out that one of his great uncles had been left out. When Richard asked about this man, his grandmother said that her mother had told her never to mention his name, so she never had – though she did then tell Richard that her uncle kept a sweet shop in the village where they lived, and that he threw sweets at the children. Without checking, Richard may have missed this ‘black sheep’.
Richard has found that researching former residents in rural areas can be fruitful, because people were often better known in a smaller community. Interesting sources of information which may indicate the standing of a particular family are other parish records, such as the Overseers of the Poor Accounts, Settlement records, and churchwarden records. In these, one can see if an ancestor was an overseer, whether they were in receipt of help when they fell on hard times, or whether they had moved to or from another place. Parish records are mostly to be found at the relevant Record Office. Other useful archives found there may be Quarter and Petty Session Records, and Manorial Records.
Richard’s favourite archives are wills, Probate records, letters of administration and inventories. Not only do these records shed light on the wider family and friends of the deceased, one can get an insight into their occupation, lifestyle, whether they could write their name, what possessions and land they had, and even how many rooms there were in their house. However, a word of caution; although it is often surprising how few possessions even our richer ancestors had, we must remember that family members may have removed favourite pieces before an inventory was taken.
The Churchley name may have originated from a manor just to the north of Bristol, although the majority of the Churchley family were later found in Warwickshire. The earliest Churchley Richard has found is Walter de Churchley, from Buckland, near Broadway, but he has yet to establish a link with his own family. The earliest ancestor he has found is William Churchley, a carpenter who lived in Inkberrow between 1612 and 1694. He became a carpenter when his maternal grandfather died and left the twelve year old William his tools in his will.
William prospered and was also recorded as a yeoman and a churchwarden. He married Elizabeth Taylor, the couple lived at Arrow near Alcester, and they had more than ten children. He was illiterate, but his sons were educated at Alcester Grammar School. Richard suggested that if we have tradesmen ancestors, we should look in Estate Records. Most of these have been deposited in Record Offices. He found that William bought timber from Ragley Hall, and was paid for repairs he undertook at Coughton Court. A gravestone was erected over William’s grave, complete with skull and crossbones at the top – the only Churchley gravestone Richard has been able to find before the 19th century.
Francis Churchley, William’s son, born in 1665, was also an overseer of the poor, but in 1711, an epidemic killed many of the local people, including Francis. His family fell on hard times, and it is recorded that they received free firewood from the parish, the sons and daughters were apprenticed out, and the parish provided clothes for their employment.
Francis’s son was recorded as a farmer in Pebworth, and lived from 1694 until 1762. His son, another William, moved to Long Marston, where his son Francis (1761–1833) also lived. He was a farmer but, when the Enclosure Act was passed, many smaller farmers lost out as common land was enclosed, curtailing their grazing rights. After this, Francis became a farm labourer. His wife Jane and son carried on a business as carriers, and the parish records state that Jane Churchley was paid for delivering a letter. The couple had several children, David, Richard’s ancestor, (1808–1880) being the youngest. He also worked as a farm labourer, and in 1837 married Lydia Jones, daughter of Samuel Jones, who for many years was the gardener at Kinwarton Rectory, near Alcester. From an estate map, Richard was able to find the site of the cottage in which Lydia and Francis lived, though it has been replaced by a modern bungalow.
Francis and Lydia’s son Samuel (1842–1922), was, at the time of the 1861 census, living in Ipsley and working as a cow-boy. His place of birth is recorded as ‘Warwickshire, not known’, and his age is recorded as sixteen instead of eighteen. Like many country men at that time, he went to live in Birmingham, first working at a brewery and then as a carpenter for a railway company.
Samuel’s son William Henry (1870–1961) started work for the railway company as a cleaner. He graduated to fireman and finally to engine driver. Railway archives are worth exploring to find out more about family who worked for a railway company. In 1894, he ‘got a girl pregnant’ and was probably forced to marry her. The couple married four months before the birth, and separated soon afterwards. The girl moved to North Wales, and William Henry to South Wales. Both married again, bigamously.
When William Henry left school, he worked at the Austin Motor works, and his son Denis (the draughtsman), was born in 1920, living until 2013. His sons, Richard and his elder brother, both went to University. Richard commented that though one of his sons has a daughter but is unmarried, no one thinks it unusual, or has forced a couple to marry.
Richard’s talk encourages us to look further than the internet, as there is a wealth of resources not online. He also made us aware that the fortunes of a family can turn on small events and decisions; some out of their control, such as epidemics, conflict, bad harvests, and government decisions.
The Weird and the Wonderful - by Jane Leake
Here are some more weird and wonderful names taken from Cannock Church Registers. Look out for some more in the next Journal.
Abendigo Meredith. 1771.
Faithful Stokes. Female. 1772
Selah and Zillah Sambrook. Twins 1773.
Keren-happuch Marshall. Male 1777.
Mary Throselcock. 1778.
Esau Sceriette. 1779.
Sebra Collit. Female 1780.
Walter Haddock. 1780.
Domingo Perarott. Male Foreigner,1782.
Loveside Reynolds. Female 1785.
Docy Sanders. Female1786.
Noe Worsey Male. 1787.
Blaney Craddock. Female. 1789.
Shropshire Sambrook. Male 1795.
Zebra Collins. Male ? 1807.
Bartharon Clewley. Male 1810.
Avarat Cooper. Female 1823.
Laney Bradbury. Female 1823.
Trithana Dace. Female 1823.
Online Research and its Limitations - by Geoff Sorrell
Those of us who have been doing research for some time have learned that it is not always possible to obtain what you want from archived documents. The problem is considerably exacerbated when those documents have been transcribed and digitised for use in research on the internet. These are some of the frequently arising problems which you should consider if you draw a blank when using online sites for your research.
1 There are numerous sites on the internet which purport to have everything you need to pursue your search for an ancestor or a relative. Make sure that the one you use is genuine before you start your research, and that you can do at least a limited search for free.
2 There some sites that will give you far more information if you pay a subscription. This will enable you to print off documents which you access on your computer.
3 Some sites will allow you to print from you screen whatever is displayed there, but you will not be able to print a census page or a register of birth, marriage or death, which would normally have to be paid for without buying credits or a subscription.
Ancestry (ancestry.co.uk) is the official site of the UK National Archives, and will allow you to download facsimiles of census sheets on payment of a credit or subscription, but it will only show brief details of the person you have searched for, as shown in the original registers. All other registrations will not show you a facsimile, even if you have paid a subscription. You will, however, be able to see where the event was recorded in the form of a registration number and, in the case of a marriage, you can enter the name of the other party and check that the registration numbers are the same for both parties before placing an order. You will need to establish where the original was recorded and obtain the certificate from there, or order it from the National Centre at Southport. You will usually need some details of date and place in order to initiate a search, although a forename and surname will provide a searchable list for you to view in order to narrow it down.
Local Register Offices will supply certificates, but will charge for them and will require proof that they are required only for family history purposes. They will not search their records on your behalf, will charge for any certificate you order, and will not offer a refund even if it is incorrect.
There are many errors and omissions in the original documents, and transcription errors which may have led to the index not leading you to the correct entry. It may be possible to have an error corrected if it is palpably wrong, but not just because you are of the opinion that it is wrong.
Genes Reunited is more useful for connecting with other people who are researching the same families as yourself, and is more sociable than the official sites. It also allows you to search the official records and some other sites, on payment of a subscription, and connects you directly to other people who are related to you and who put their details into this website.
Family Search. The official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is very useful for earlier records before the advent of Official Registration in 1837. Useful for tracing before 1837, but only covers those records which have been transcribed by their own people – the major ones being early Parish Registers. This site will also require payment for some aspects of use of the website.
This Issue’s Cover Photograph - Beaudesert Hall ruins
The estate known as Beaudesert Park once occupied a large portion of the southern area of Cannock Chase. The estate had three distinct areas; Beaudesert Old Park, north of the Hall, the central wooded area, which included the site of the hall, gardens and the stables, and Beaudesert New Park to the east and south east of the hall. Beaudesert Old Park was the largest part of the estate and included was a deer park in thick, wild forest. It is assumed that the name Beaudesert derived from this landscape, being French in origin and roughly translated to ‘beautiful wilderness’. The estate was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield and Coventry until 1546, when, after the Protestant Reformation, Henry VIII gave it to the Paget family, who extensively rebuilt the Hall. It was the seat of the Pagets until 1920, when, following a fire some years earlier, the 6th Marquess of Anglesey moved out to live at Plas Newydd. Unfortunately, no buyer could be found for the Hall, which was demolished in 1935. The ruins were protected with Grade II listed building status in 1953.