Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2015 04-07 Volume 23 Number 2
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
April - July 2015
Vol 23.2
Contents of this issue.

From the Chair 1
Amusing Gravestone Inscriptions 2
Recent Research Enquiries 3
How’s This For Luck? 4
Robbery With Repercussions
Genealogy Quotes 7
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks:
Getting Away With It 8
Hazelslade 10
Request for Genealogical Help 12
Arising from Coal Dust, (Part 19) 13
Burntwood and District Memorial Project 16
Are You Interested? 17
Ancient Rules for Ancestors! 18
Publications Update 19
From the Chair

Summer’s here at last! Hooray!!! But the days are already getting shorter again since mid-June, just to put a dampener on things.  The past few months have been busy in one way or another, the visit to the ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ Show at the NEC Birmingham was hailed as a
great success by all who filled our minibus to get there. My particular highlight of the show and claim to fame was meeting, chatting and having my photograph taken with Sir Tony Robinson of television programmes such as ‘Time Team’ and the ‘Blackadder’ series. I bumped into him on the ‘Ancestry’ stand and he was quietly spoken, polite, with no airs and graces, what a nice man!  There was also another trip to The National Archives, organised by our friends at Cannock Wood Gardening Guild, who went to Kew Gardens. We were invited to fill seats on their coach to make the trip financially viable. Another great success by all accounts, so please give this trip a go in future.  We are being asked to attend local events with our display boards, promoting our group and The Memorial Project. These events are usually on Saturdays, so any help that can be given to man our stand just for a couple of hours would be  very much appreciated – it is usually left to a few members of the committee to
man the stand. Most people who come up to the stand have very limited knowledge of how to go about tracing their family tree, and will come for a chat about their family, so don’t be daunted about helping.
In June we finally got to use our new projector screen, after the speakers in the two previous months didn’t require the use of a screen. However, using the screen wasn’t all plain sailing, as we had a power cut (sorry ‘power outage’, as they are called these days!) at the start of our meeting, and again for a second at the end when our speaker Stephen Fimbles had finished. Thanks go to Burntwood Town Council for awarding us a grant to buy the screen. We thought that we had better buy one before someone had a bright idea and was tempted to use the large white expanse of the back wall as an ‘Art Space’. Also, to improve your viewing pleasure, Pam Woodburn has spent some of the
Memorial Project funding from the National Lottery on a digital projector, which we are sure will be put to good use over the coming years.  More good news from the Mining College! Burntwood Town Council have taken over the running of it. There is Purple Wi-Fi in the building so bring your laptops and tablets etc to access ’tinternet, and it is very fast by all accounts. The computers in the upstairs computer suite benefit from this fast internet, too, so please come on the Thursday research night and give it a go. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Steve Bailey Chairman, BFHG 2014–2015

Amusing Gravestone Inscriptions
A few more of the kind of memorable memorials that we all wish could be found in our local churchyards...
In the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia: ‘Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102, The Good Die Young.’
A lawyer's epitaph: ‘Sir John Strange. Here lies an honest lawyer, And that is Strange.’
Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York: ‘Born 1903 – Died 1942. Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.’
Recent research enquiries by Geoff Sorrell
The first two research enquiries in this issue are connected with the Memorials Project, and I am including them on the off chance that someone might know of the people concerned and be able to add something to the biographies that we provide in the booklets. I have already found out quite a lot about both of them, but if you have any personal knowledge of or connection with the families, please let me have it for inclusion.
William Henry Sockett. William was born in the Black Country, but his family came to Cannock and he was employed in the Coal Mining industry as a coal hewer. The family lived in Chadsmoor, and William Henry joined the 9th Battalion, South Staffs. Regiment, in August 1915. He was severely wounded in action on the 11th November, 1915, when attempting to get a stretcher to a comrade who had been wounded earlier. He died of his wounds shortly afterwards, leaving a wife and family in Hednesford. He received no citation or award for his gallantry. His grandson lives in Heath Hayes and he has provided me with quite a lot of information.
Mervyn Godfrey Larkin. This man and his brother Frank both appear on the War Memorials, and are the subject of a study for the Memorials Project. They were sons of Herbert and Harriett (née Gilbert), and part of a large family. The two sons were both in the North Staffordshire Regiment and were killed in action in France during WWI. Herbert Larkin was a tobacconist with a business at 7, St. John Street, Lichfield. The building is still there, and appears to have changed little, but it is now a vintage clothes shop.
George Benjamin Stuart. This enquiry was solved thanks to our transcription of the burials at the St. Matthew’s Hospital Private Cemetery. His family were from Burton-on-Trent, and the Asylum Register mentioned members of his family who were present at the burial, and that the officiating minister was Father Byrne. Does anyone know of a church or chapel official of this name, who was working in our area in 1947?
John Edward Smith. We have had an enquiry from this person’s grandson, Graham, currently living in Bournemouth. He appears on the 1911 Census with his wife and children, living at ‘Cottage’, Jackson’s Buildings, High Street, Ogley Hay, Brownhills. He is described as a ‘Carter on Road’, Brownhills Urban District Council’, but Graham seems to think that he was a coal miner. His children were Thomas Edward, Leonard Isaac and Joseph William. It is doubtful whether any of them are still alive, but someone may know of the family through later connections. John Edward joined the Royal Engineers, according to records obtained by Graham, and at one time was stationed in Ireland (The Curragh). This is a particularly difficult one to solve, due to frequent occurrences of the surname Smith, and discrepancies between the information given by Graham
and that which has been gleaned from local records. Graham’s original request was for information on the Absent Voters List for 1918, but I have been unable to find out where this is. Possibly Brownhills records have passed to Walsall, Staffordshire or West Midlands at some time. Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome.
How’s this for Luck? by Pam Woodburn
Three days ago (before writing this), I received a letter from a gentleman in Lytham St. Annes, asking my help in tracing family members who lived locally, and particularly those with the surnames Fearns and Ing in the Pipe Hill area. He was also extremely anxious to obtain a copy of his parents’ wedding photo. I replied to his letter, suggesting several ways in which we might be able to help him. This included articles in our local papers, a written piece for the BFHG journal, an entry on our website and, possibly, an advert on ‘Streetlife’. The letter was posted and off I went to the BFHG Thursday meeting. There were a few new faces, and I made it my business to talk to a newcomer to see if I could help him at all. We hadn’t been talking for five minutes when it dawned on me that his family contained the names Fearns and Ing! I don’t know who was more astounded – him or me!
As I couldn’t recall all the contents of the letter, I shot off home to fetch it, and returned ten minutes later with it clutched in my hot little hand! It soon became apparent that the gentleman who had contacted me was the first cousin of the man I was talking to! This must surely have been the quickest success story ever! I handed over the letter for him to read, and he was delighted to have contact details of a cousin he hadn’t seen for many years. By the time our next meeting comes around, I hope they will have made contact and be well on the way to tracking down a copy of the wedding photo.
Robbery with Repercussions by Pam Turner
James Crosbie, born in Westmeath, Ireland in 1781, was my four-times great-grandfather, and from 1795 to 1820 he served with the 8th regiment of foot in the British Army. After he retired from service James together with his wife Amelia and their family settled in Doncaster, which was Amelia’s hometown and James became the publican of the Coach and Horses public house in Scot Lane, just off the High Street. On June 5th 1822, two men, James Ramsden (27) and Robert Gill (35), both awaiting trial for burglary, escaped from York Castle Prison, after which they made their way via Tadcaster, Leeds and Bradford to Doncaster. On July 17th, on arrival in Doncaster, they went to the public house in Scot Lane kept by James, where they came upon some intelligence which they considered of benefit to them. On the night of July 18th 1822, Ramsden and Gill committed a robbery at the premises of Mr Philip Bright, a silversmith and jeweller, which was situated across the road from the Coach and Horses. The pair stole over £1200 worth of goods, including gold watches, gold chains, sovereigns, silver spoons and sugar tongs. Ramsden and Gill had entered Mr Bright’s premises by climbing over a wall from the adjoining empty property, and had then removed the step from the bed of Mr Bright’s door and excavated a hole underneath large enough to be able to crawl under. The following morning, Mr Bright’s servant, Elizabeth Knowles, got up at 5 am in order to let some chimney sweeps in. She found the inner shop door open and various items strewn across the floor, although it wasn’t until after the sweeps had finished that she raised the alarm, causing the initial finger of suspicion to be pointed at her. When it was realised who the actual culprits were, a reward of £50 each for their apprehension was offered, although it was several weeks later before they were caught. Robert Gill was arrested in Manchester at the end of August, while staying at a public house and attempting to commit another crime, and Ramsden was apprehended in November in Leeds, having 117 sovereigns on his person, which were believed to belong to Mr Bright. Both men were taken back to York Castle to await their trial.
The trial of the two men was conducted at York Castle on March 20th 1823 various witnesses were called, including James Crosbie and his eldest son Richard, aged 16, who was my three-times great-grandfather. Apparently, while at James’s public house, Ramsden and Gill had learned of the chimney sweeps’ visit to Mr Bright’s premises and had devised their plan with the hope that the robbery might be laid upon the sweeps. Both James and Richard Crosbie attended the trial and gave evidence to prove that the two robbers were at the pub the day before the robbery. After the conclusion of the proceedings and the judge’s summary, the jury gave a verdict of guilty of robbery and the two men were taken back into custody to await their sentence. Three days before the robbery trial, Gill had also stood trial at York Castle for another burglary at the home of a dissenting minister called Jonathon Toothill in Hopton. This burglary was carried out with another accomplice called Isaac Jessop, and the two had stolen silver spoons and sugar tongs. Isaac Jessop was tried and sentenced to death at the previous assizes, and
Gill should have also been tried at the same time but for his escape. The jury also found Robert Gill guilty of this crime. Nine days later on March 29th Ramsden and Gill were returned to the bar and the judge duly passed the ‘awful sentence of death’, adding that, in the discharge of his duty, he could hold out no hopes of mercy. He also told the two men to make the best use of the short time remaining to them in this world.
The hanging of the two men took place two weeks later, just after 11 am on Saturday 12th April 1823, on the drop behind York Castle. Ramsden, who was a native of High Town, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, made an affectionate farewell to his wife the day before, as did Robert Gill to his wife and father-in-law. Robert Gill was a native of Aberford, near Leeds, and a former soldier and veteran of Waterloo. The following day, the two bodies were taken away by their families to Leeds. James Ramsden was interred at High Town and Robert Gill was interred at St John’s Churchyard. Unfortunately, before his internment, Robert Gill’s wife exhibited his body at a cottage in the square in Leeds with a basin placed on the body for the purposes of contributions. This was described in more than one newspaper article as ‘disgusting’. The whole scenario of these two men, their escape from York Castle, the Doncaster robbery, their capture and the executions, is well documented in numerous northern newspapers of the day, including the Yorkshire Gazette, Leeds Mercury, Lancaster Gazette and Westmoreland Gazette. There are lots of detailed descriptions in the relevant articles, as well as transcriptions of statements and testimonies. Also, York Castle has a website where there are two short articles about the men included as part of their detail on executions that occurred at the castle. As I have researched this story, I have wondered exactly who gave the two robbers the intelligence about the sweeps going into Mr Bright’s shop and the empty premises next door. Could it have been James and Richard? Certainly, they would both have had the local knowledge. However, it could well have been some of the pub’s regular patrons who were drinking in there on the night in question. In all the articles I have read on the robbery, none of them have implicated James and Richard in any way, which is a relief – although I have wondered why, out of all the public houses in Doncaster, the two men chose to drink at James’s house. Being so close to Mr Bright’s premises seems the obvious reason for their choice but maybe, as Robert Gill was an ex-soldier, he may have known James from his time in the army. Either way, I doubt I shall ever know.
The Coach and Horses public house is still there today in Scot Lane, Doncaster, and across the road is a jeweller’s shop by the name of HL Brown. Mr Bright died in 1841 and, from what I have gathered, his stock was all sold off. As HL Brown wasn’t established until 1861, I don’t think the two businesses have any connection. My ancestor James didn’t stay at the Coach and Horses; by 1829 he had left, and it was being kept by a Joseph Hargreaves. James did continue to live in Doncaster until 1831, after which he relocated to live in Dublin with his second wife, Elizabeth. Amelia, his first wife and my four-times great-grandmother, died the same year as the trial. James returned to live in Doncaster again from 1840 to 1844, but then moved to live in Manchester, where he remained until his death in 1855. His son Richard married in Doncaster in 1830, but by 1832 had moved to Newark, Notts. As a 16-year-old in 1823, Richard had seen at first hand the repercussions of criminal activity, so you would think he would not have wanted to get involved in such things himself. Not so, I am afraid! While uncovering this story, I have found newspaper articles which tell of two instances in Newark wherein Richard had a brush with the law. However, that is another story...
Genealogy Quotes
A few choice words that some famous people have had to say concerning family
Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. Mark Twain
I don't know who my grandfather was, I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. Abraham Lincoln
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. George Bernard Shaw
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks. Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
April 2015: Richard Stone on ‘Getting Away With It’
Richard Stone’s talk described the way the rule of law was maintained in Saxon, Norman, and Medieval England. He began by clarifying the difference between a misdemeanour and a felony. Felony was the most serious crime, which originally meant forfeiture of one’s life, or land and goods. Less serious crimes were classed as misdemeanours. Anglo-Saxon law handed out brutal and quick punishments as well as the death penalty. Reparation to the victim or their family was a means of avoiding a harsher punishment. There was a set fee – for example, for killing a
peasant, 200 shillings; a Lord of the Manor, 1,200 shillings; and a Bishop, 3,600 shillings. There were also fines set out for various wounds and injuries inflicted, such as the loss of an eye or a limb. Perpetrators too poor to pay faced the death penalty. Trial by ordeal symbolized submitting to Divine Judgement. This included grasping hot irons and walking nine paces. If the wound festered, the person was guilty; if the wound healed, they were declared innocent. In trial by water, the accused was deemed guilty if they floated, and innocent if they sank. Hopefully the ‘innocent’ would be dragged out before they drowned. After the Norman Conquest, county sheriffs were appointed by the king. These posts were unpaid, but were extremely sought-after, because sheriffs had great influence in their locality – their position giving them a licence to exploit, should they so wish. Ralph Basset, who was sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire, hanged 42 people in one day. A gallows was positioned in a prominent position on the outskirts of towns and villages as a deterrent. Lichfield’s gallows were where Upper John Street and
London Road meet. Henry II found corruption among sheriffs rife throughout the country, and relieved all but one sheriff of his post. Alexander de Claverley, sheriff of Staffordshire, was deemed honest enough to keep his position. Those wishing to be appointed in the future had to undergo training, and could not be appointed in their own county.
Every man between the ages of 12 and 60 had to belong to a tithing. A tithing consisted of six men who had the task of policing their locality. Every citizen had to serve in turn. If a Hue and Cry was raised, all must respond. Failure to do so resulted in a fine, but a false or mistaken response was also fined. When a chaplain argued with and killed another chaplain, the watchman at Lichfield closed the gate after the perpetrator had fled. His excuse that he closed the gate because it was the time he normally did so did not exonerate him, and he was fined for letting the chaplain escape. As a result of avoiding justice, the errant chaplain was made a outlaw. Outlaws did not have the law to protect them, and could be killed without the person responsible being punished. If a murdered person was a Norman, the fine was double. A community that failed to capture a felon would have to pay the fine. During the trial for an offence, it helped the defendant if they had ‘friends in
high places’ to plead on their behalf. Up to twelve character witnesses could be called, and the higher the rank of the witnesses, the more credence was put on their testimonies. This was abused, and Richard Stone pointed out a case where 20 people were accused of hiring out their services as character witnesses. If the ‘value’ of a crime was more than twelve pence, it was a felony and the guilty could be hanged; if the value was under twelve pence, it was classed as a misdemeanour. A jury decided on the penalty. There were various ways in which a miscreant could avoid the death sentence. If a man signed up for military service, the case could be deferred. In 1343, during the Hundred Years War, Edward II offered a pardon for all homicides and felonies if the guilty fought in France for a year. During this time, the ‘volunteers’ had to pay for their time whilst in the army. Two brothers of the Folegambe family were accused of murdering William Gratton. They failed to attend the Assize court on three occasions, and on the fourth were threatened with being declared outlaws. They signed up to fight for the king and were pardoned. Villains agreeing to go on a Crusade would have the charge against them differed. After a year and a day, they would be pardoned. Pardons were obtained from the king, or from the person or family who had been harmed.
In the early 15th century, the Abbot of Burton Upon Trent was pardoned on more than one occasion, first for robbery and later for murder, and a rape which occurred on Christmas Day. Powerful men could nominate another to fight for them. The Bishop of Hereford used Thomas of Bruges for this purpose. Using the law of ‘Trial by Battle’, duels were used by the gentry to settle scores – first using swords, and later pistols. In 2002, Leon Humphries was fined for non-payment of tax. He tried to have a ‘trial by battle’ using Samurai swords. His request was denied, and he was fined £200 with £100 costs! Women could escape execution by being pregnant, though the child’s movements within the womb would have to be detected to prove this. The courts delayed the sentence until after the child’s birth, and usually it would be commuted. This plea was last used in 1880. Emma Pleasance drowned her two children. The family were starving and she was pregnant at the time. She was finally pardoned. ‘Chance Medley’ was similar to manslaughter, where someone is unintentionally killed during a quarrel. In 1415, a prior in Lincolnshire struck a man, and the man struck the prior, killing him. He was found not guilty. A son killed an assailant who was attacking his mother. He, too, was found not guilty.
At this time, it was possible for man to claim ‘Benefit of Clergy’. If a person was ordained, a capital offence would be reduced. Later, this was also possible for those who swore that they were going to be ordained, and later widened still further to include anyone who could prove they were literate. To prove literacy, the accused would have to read Psalm 51. As this test was always the same, it was possible for the verse to be committed to memory. Benefit of Clergy could only be used for a first offence. To ensure this the perpetrator would be branded on the thumb; ‘M’ for murder, ‘F’ for felony. Benefit of Clergy was repealed in 1827. For ‘Claiming Sanctuary’, the accused could flee to a church. Here, they could
stay for 40 days, during which time food would have to be provided by the locals. Richard Stone has extensively researched original documents to discover interesting cases which illustrated for us early English law. What we could see – and something that has not changed – is that if an accused is rich or powerful, they are often able to get a more favourable outcome than someone who is without influence.
July 2015: Derek Davis on ‘Hazelslade – how a favourite uncle’s research sparked Derek Davis’s interest in local and family history’
Unfortunately, because of a mix up in dates, Derek Davis’s talk had to be altered, as he did not have access to all of the equipment he needed to project his pictures. However, his talk on how he is writing a history of Hazelslade, and how he managed to get a WWI war memorial erected in Chadsmoor, proved to be interesting and entertaining. Derek was left some information on Hazelslade running to 12,000 words, written by a favourite uncle, Redvers Buller Davis, who was born in 1901. Uncle Buller Davis had ‘been a bit of a devil’ in his youth, but had worked as a miner and had held a responsible position in the pit. He joined the Staffordshire Regiment in WWII and became a Regimental Sergeant Major. During his childhood, Derek imagined his uncle fighting in battles and being involved in daring deeds. However, when Derek spent £34 and obtained his uncle’s army records, they told a different story. His uncle had been posted to Paris and organised the leave that soldiers had at the Ambassadors Hotel, where they had access to prostitutes. Derek decided to use the information which his uncle had amassed on Hazelslade to write a history of the village. 150 miners’ houses had been built there by the Earl of Anglesey. The miners and their families were a fluctuating
population, as the houses were tied to pit jobs. Derek and the flourishing Hazelslade Local History Group drew up a list of all those who lived in the village at the time of the 1911 census. From these census returns and other records, they now have a fair record of the population from the 18th century, and some even further back. They have tried to find out as much as they can about the lives of those who once lived in the village. Derek’s 3× great-grandfather moved to Hazelslade in 1871, and married into the Jenkins family. Derek told us that there are 25 names on the Hazelslade WWI War Memorial, but suspects that there are other fallen soldiers from the village whose names should be included. He is particularly interested in the lives of soldiers’ families, and how they coped during that war. For those of us who have ancestors from the Hazelslade area, he suggested that they should look at www.hazelslade.org.uk, which has information on the village, together with photographs of people and houses and events from the past. Hazelslade’s Local History group meet at the Hazelslade Pub. The pub has long been a focal point in the village, and anyone interested in the area is invited to join the group. The group is always interested in obtaining further photographs, memorabilia, and stories of inhabitants which could be put on their website.
A bursary of £5,000 was given to a student to undertake his dissertation on the lives of people living in the Hednesford area during WWI. This is nearing completion and is likely to be published as a book in due course. Chadsmoor men fought and died during the First World War, but a war memorial was never erected. is the centenary of the conflict approached, it was decided that this omission should be rectified. Initially, it was understood that less than fifty men fell, and so a brick memorial was proposed. However, after time, more than 160 names were put forward, so a memorial in Portland stone was finally agreed. This was installed in April, with a service conducted by the Bishop of Wolverhampton, poems by school children, a band marching through the town, and the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire. This issue’s cover photograph shows the memorial as it now stands. Derek has found useful information from newspaper archives through FindMyPast.co.uk – for example, about the chief fire officer of a mines rescue team turned WWI recruitment officer. In one case, he was so successful that Thomas Brough, aged 47 and an overman at a pit, left his job. After scant training, Brough arrived in France and, three days later on Christmas morning 1915, was shot in the head. He left a widow and several children. Derek pointed out that the widow soon remarried. I would imagine that this was quite common at the time; there would be little chance, then, of a woman on her own providing for a large family without having a husband in work.  Derek Davis’s talk will encourage us to investigate the day-to-day lives of ‘ordinary’ people, because many led extraordinary and interesting lives.
Request for Genealogical Help
Liz Roberts writes from Caerphilly: Hello. I am attempting to research my family history and have recently discovered that my third great grandparents moved to Longdon from Sheepy Parva and lived in Smithy Farm Cottages in 1881. They were called Arthur and Rebecca Brown (nee Wolfe) and were born around 1811. I have discovered that Rebecca Brown is buried in St James Church in Longdon but can find no record
of Arthur Brown other than a death index indicating that he died in Longdon in 1885. I can find no other family members and believe the rest of the family remained in Sheepy. Any information would be very greatly appreciated. Until I am sure of my facts, I do not wish to follow any of this up by travelling to various places, as I am sure you will appreciate, although my son’s girlfriend has parents who live in Lichfield which could be helpful.
Arising from Coal Dust by Alan Brookes  Part 19: In King George’s Footsteps
When we were eleven, Dad enrolled us in the Boys Brigade, to provide us with another interest and to keep us out of mischief. This was allied to the Methodist Church, and we attended the Boney Hay Methodist Sunday School as well as going to Boys Brigade one evening per week.  The skipper was Captain Chris Kirby who, at that time, was headmaster at the Hazel Slade Primary School near Hednesford. In addition to participating in a disciplined regime of precision marching, we learned quite a lot about administering first aid, types of physical exercise and how to tie knots. A consequence of being a member meant we had to listen to visiting evangelist preachers. I used to enjoy these, because the religious stories they told were given with such passion and conviction and self-belief. This was totally different to the stuffy vicar at the local Church of England, boring the pants off us and sending us to sleep for fifteen minutes. I can still sing the Boys Brigade anthem, which we sang each and every time we attended the Boys brigade meetings. ‘We have an anchor that keeps the soul Steadfast and sure as the billows roll Fastened to a rock which cannot move Founded deep and sure in the saviour’s love’. The problems associated with amusing ‘bored’ youngsters are not new, and Captain Chris Kirby was not ‘re-inventing the wheel’ when he provided leadership and inspiration for our Boys Brigade meetings and activities. The Boys Brigade was founded in 1883 by Sir William Smith in Glasgow. This was 25 years before Lord Robert Baden-Powell (the hero of the famous siege at Mafeking, 1899–1900) founded the Boy Scout movement. Indeed, if it had not been for the encouragement and co-operation of the Brigade founder, there may easily have been no Boy Scouts.Most of our friends meantime joined the Boy Scouts so, after about six months, we followed suit and joined them at the First Chase Terrace scouts, meeting at Ironstone Road, Chase Terrace. Mr. Bertram Wright was the leader. It was he ho founded the Scout group and led them in 1926, when my Uncles Charlie and George were members, and again in 1938, when it became Uncle Tom’s turn to be a Scout.
A feature of belonging to the Scouts was participating in the marches, and particularly the one on Remembrance Day. We had a terrific band, with bugles, drums and cymbals. The march started at the Scouts headquarters in Ironstone Road and progressed about two miles around Chase Terrace, before ending at the cenotaph at St. John’s church in High Street for the remembrance service. On route we passed ‘The Chequers’, where Gran would come to the roadside to watch us. Grinning she would tell us afterwards how smart we were, and that “Peter and I were the only ones in step with the beat – the rest of the troop were out of step.” The senior Scouts leading the procession were ex-army soldiers who had not long before returned from service in the Second World War. They were very strict and professional. The rhythm and precision of the drums was so exact that it compelled and encouraged you along on the march. The bugles, however, would seem to me to screech out their monotonous tunes. Usually, at least one of the twelve buglers managed to burst the notes, and most of them were not in
tune or tone with each other. However, a melody could be discerned, and the overall effect was quite stirring. I was once volunteered (caused by the inaction of my friends to volunteer) to play the cymbals on a march. My task was to clash them in front of me at the same time as the booming base drum. It seemed to go OK for a time, then my grip loosened on the leather straps and the cymbals crashed to the floor. The
brass discs split to the centre and were ruined. That ended my Scout band career, and I was confined to the infantry ranks after that! At the cenotaph, a sole bugler named Alan Garbett was always selected to play the Last Post and reveille fanfares. Generally he always played very well, with sureness and appropriate sentiment. However, one particular bitterly cold year with snow and frost on the ground proved a disaster. His turn came to play, and he started confidently enough, but then he began to split the notes. He got worse and worse until, by the concluding fanfare, he was fluffing and splitting every note. His face became redder and redder, and it seemed the harder he tried, the worse he became. The cold wind on that day put paid to his reputation as the premier fanfare bugle player. Years later, playing my Euphonium, I could empathise with him, realising how difficult it is to play a brass instrument in frosty fresh air, with cold brass metal sticking to your lips.
One of the main advantages of being a Scout was the opportunity to attend summer camps. Under canvas, I attended camps at Teignmouth and Paignton in Devonshire. Also, one weekend in every month in the summer, I had the experience of camping at Beaudesert on Cannock Chase. This was, and still is, 123 acres of land close to Castle Ring, formerly owned by the Marquis of Anglesey and permanently dedicated for the use of young people of the district. HRH The Princess Royal opened the Beaudesert Trust on 2nd July 1938 and, since then, thousands of young Scouts and Girl Guides have thrilled to the enjoyment received by camping in such a beautiful location. As a young Scout, I loved exploring the forest of Cannock Chase, and especially Castle Ring. Here, the forest is thick with pines and rhododendrons, which complement the contours of the rolling hills and valleys and add to the mystery of the historical setting. On one exploratory venture, I came upon the remnants of Beaudesert Hall, the former residence of the Marquises of Anglesey – and before them, the Pagets of 1550, and before them the Trumwyns of 1292. All that was left of that stately palace were demolished walls and foundations that resembled an ancient crumbling archaeological site. Cracked and broken flagstones that once were trod in 1815 by the Princes George and William, before they became King George IV and King William IV of England, were now covered with moss, lichen and pine needles. Sandstone steps that once welcomed the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel were now disintegrating with time and neglect. I thought I was probably standing at the very spot where the victorious Duke expounded his exploits of how he routed Napoleon at Waterloo to Sir Robert. The then Marquis of Anglesey had accompanied the Duke at Waterloo and lost his leg to French artillery fire in the battle. Sir Walter Scott even referred to Beaudesert Hall in his ‘The Lady of the Lake’. Thomas Tusser was a musician and scholar at the Hall for ten years in the eighteenth century. Some of his writings have passed into everyday speech, and include:
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Look before you leap.
How could Charles, the sixth Marquis of Anglesey, have committed such cultural vandalism by allowing the hall to be demolished? Beaudesert Hall today would have made a terrific tourist attraction for the area or as a cultural centre for the appreciation of Cannock Chase. Didn’t he owe such a massive debt to Cannock Chase in return for his family pocketing all those royalties from coal extracted from under his land over many years? His actions smell of a selfish aristocrat indifferent to the heritage and culture of Cannock Chase. Miners used to sweat, cough and inhale noxious gases deep underground, probably from under the very dining table that nurtured his and his ancestors lavish life style. Today the passing of time and Mother Nature has albeit obliterated traces of the once proud hall. The creeping forest renders it almost impossible to recognise even the barest features that I managed to find in 1955. Today his son, the seventh Marquis of Anglesey resides at Plas Newydd on the Isle of Anglesey.
Burntwood and District Memorial Project Update, June 2015, by Pam Woodburn
Time moves on apace, and our Memorial Project grows larger month by month. Many thanks must be offered to all of you who have volunteered your time and expertise as researchers for the Project and helped make it such a success. Always remember that, whilst we do not ask for any payment for your work, a few kind words to go on our website (www.bfhg-bdmp.org.uk) are always much appreciated. At present, over 25 biographies of local men have been completed. These are:
Basil Callier William Daker George Davoll Walter Evans Thomas Fairfield Michael Geraghty George Gough Bert Gozzard Enoch Hancox Edward Kibble Frank Larkin Albert Lees James Lees John Thomas Lomas John Malley William Thomas Marriot Walter Mason Harry Penton James Penton Harry Penton James Penton Tom Penton Tom Penton Frederick Rhodes Plant Harold George Plant Dennis Hayward Stanley Percy Willett Joseph Witton
Several more are currently being worked on. Also Pam Turner has completed a transcription of the whole of St. Luke’s, Cannock, Roll of Honour. We have started to look at life on the Home Front, too. Have you attended one of our displays at local venue open days yet? They are held at places like the library, various local churches, Heritage Centres, Chase Wakes, etc. Please come along to give your support and helpful suggestions. Also, if you know of a venue for the display, please get in touch with me. Finally, and most importantly, we need more researchers and that need is becoming serious. Since we started the Project several of our researchers have suffered health problems which have forced them to withdraw. These places need to be filled! If you would like to join the happy band, you need: Research skills – and be ready to ask advice and learn as you go. Basic computer skills, i.e. copying and pasting, saving to files, making folders, etc. All basic stuff! I shall sit back and expect to be trampled in the rush! Seriously, we do need more help, so get in touch if you are able to offer any. Many thanks, Pam
Are You Interested?
There are many rewards in teaching, and one that I have started to encounter recently is when ex-students, and particularly ex-members of your class, contact you. This is an excerpt from an email I received from Dr. Chris Langley, Lecturer in Early Modern British History, Department of History, Newman University, Birmingham:
I wanted to inform you, and the local history group, of our postgraduate programmes: our MA in Victorian Studies, our doctoral programme and
scholarship competition. As a young university, we are eager to get passionate postgraduates on board to boost our research student population. I would really appreciate it if you could pass this on to any you might know with an interest. More information can be found at the following webpage: http://www.newman.ac.uk/studentships/867
Could this be for you? Pam Woodburn
Ancient Rules for Ancestors!
And they were so good at following them!
1 Thou shalt name your male children: James, John, Joseph, Jonathan, George, Richard, Thomas or William.
2 Thou shalt name your female children: Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Anne, Ann, Maria, Sarah, Edith or Margaret.
3 Thou shalt leave NO trace of your female children.
4 Thou shalt, after naming your children from the above lists, call them by strange nicknames such as: Ike, Eli, Polly, Dolly, Sukey –or anything else that makes them difficult to trace.
5 Thou shalt NOT use any middle names on any legal documents or census reports. Thou mayst use only initials on legal documents (but only where necessary).
6 Thou shalt learn to sign all documents illegibly so that your surname can be spelled, or misspelled, in various ways: Hicks, Hix, Hixe, Hucks,
Kicks or Robinson, Robertson, Robison, Roberson, Robuson, Robson, Dobson.
7 Thou shalt, after no more then three generations, make sure that all family records are lost, misplaced, burned in a town hall fire, or buried so that NO future trace of them can be found.
8 Thou shalt propagate misleading legends, rumours, and vague innuendo regarding your family’s place of origin: (A) Thou mayst have come from : England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales.... or Iran. (B) you may have Maori ancestry (replace with American Indian...) of the [insert name here] tribe...... (C) You may have descended from one of three brothers who were immigrants from [insert name of country here]
9 Thou shalt leave NO cemetery records, or headstones with legible names.
10 Thou shalt leave NO family Bible with records of birth, marriages, or deaths.
11 Thou shalt ALWAYS flip thy name around. If born James Albert, thou must make all the rest of thy records in the names of Albert, AJ, JA, Al, Bert, Bertie, or Alfred.
12 Thou must also flip thy parents’ names when making reference to them, although ‘Unknown’ or a blank line is an acceptable alternative.
13 Thou shalt name at least five enerations of males and dozens of their cousins with identical names in order to totally confuse researchers.
14 If thy wife shall die before you, thou may only be wed again to a woman with the same given name.
15 Thy gravestone shalt give no information other than thy name and a trite verse singing thy praises.
Publications Update
Our new publication CD21 is now available for purchase. It is the transcription of Saint Peter’s Church, Hednesford Parish Records and covers the following dates:

. Baptisms 1865 – 1913
. Baptisms Index 1914 – 1926
. Marriages 1870 – 1913
. Marriages Index 1914 – 1926
. Burials 1868 – 1913
. Burials Index 1914 – 1928
If you wish to purchase a copy of the CD, you will find details on our Publications for Sale webpage (http://bfhg.org.uk/Publications-For-Sale.php)
If you purchase this, or any of our other CD’s and you find an error, please contact us with the details of the CD, the error and the correction needed. The transcription can then be corrected for the next edition of the CD. Alan Betts – BFHG Webmaster
Transcriptions on CD Available for Sale
Easily searchable CDs of the following transcribed records can be purchased from the Group. Enquiries should be addressed to: Mrs. B. Williams, 20, Princess Street, Chase Terrace, Burntwood, WS7 1JW. Parishes transcribed so far:
St. Michael’s, Lichfield
Christchurch, Burntwood
St. Annes, Chasetown with St. John’s, Chase Terrace
St. Michael’s, Brereton
St. Bartholomew’s, Farewell
Christchurch, Gentleshaw
St. John the Baptist, Hammerwich
St. James the Great, Norton Canes with St. John the Evangelist, Heath Hayes
St, James, Ogley Hay (Brownhills)
St. Augustine’s, Rugeley
St. Peter’s, Stonall
St. Chad’s, Lichfield
St. John the Baptist, Shenstone
St. Joseph’s RC, Burntwood (formerly Chasetown)
St. Michael and All Angels, Pelsall
St. Matthew’s Hospital Cemetery Burials
Methodist Chapels in the Burntwood Area (Baptisms only)
St. Mary’s, Lichfield
St. John the Baptist, Armitage
The Index used for searches also contains some information from census records for the County Asylum at Burntwood.
Others to be transcribed in due course (microfiche only available at the present time): Whittington and Hednesford. St. Luke’s, Cannock has been transcribed elsewhere and a CD is available from the Staffordshire Parish Registers Society.
If you know of any other parishes in the Lichfield, Cannock and Burntwood areas for which the registers have been microfilmed and are available for purchase by the Group, or which you personally have purchased and would allow the Group to use for transcription purposes, please let us know so that we can consider future additions to our publications.