Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2009 04 Volume 17 Number 3
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
April 2009
 Vol. 17 No. 3
Contents of this issue.
From the Chair...
Strange Engagement Superstitions
News from the Secretary
Ordering Certificates
In the Good Old Days
Reviews of Visiting Speakers’ Talks
Origin of the Coroners’ Jury in England
A Tragic Family
Rachel’s Story
Member’s Profile – Geoff Sorrell
Burials and Cemetery Records
St. Mary’s Parish Register
Request for Genealogical Help
From the Chair
Dear Friends, Once again we are offering the opportunity for members to join with others for several visits. The most complex to organise is, of course, the trip to Kew on May 20th, when you are able to choose between spending your time researching at The National Archives or alternatively wandering around the amazing Kew Gardens. As most of you know, the coach drops people off outside the entrance to the Gardens or in the car park of TNA. Jenny Lee has once again kindly agreed to organise the trip and will advise those who will be making their first visit how to obtain Readers’ Tickets for the Archives. She can be contacted on 01889 586168. We have kept the fare at £15, which will need to be paid in advance at a meeting, or by post to Jenny, but must be by a cheque made out to Burntwood Family History Group. We do need a minimum of 35 bookings to break even, so, if we cannot achieve this, we may need to cancel. A list for those wishing to go to sign will be available at meetings. I hope we shall get lots of support. Other possibilities for visits have come to the fore this year. Paul Ford, Archivist at Lichfield Diocesan Record Office, has invited us to tour the Lichfield Offices in the Library at Lichfield. No date has been chosen as it depends on the interest shown, so do sign up if you are interested in going. A second possibility is another trip to tour the Walsall Local Studies Library at Essex Street. I know that some of you have been before, but you may enjoy a second visit. Look out for the list at meetings, if you wish to add your name. The last opportunity was offered by this month’s speaker, Jan Altham, who gave a most interesting talk on the National Memorial Arboretum. Jan said that group visits could be arranged, but it is easy to find if you wish to make your own arrangements. The site is now so big that you may need to make a couple of visits in order to see everything. Again I will have a list available on the table for people who are interested in going as a group, so please look out for it and ask if you cannot see it. Do remember that the success of these trips depends on the level of interest shown by you, the members. Jane Leake
Strange Engagement Superstitions (From an old newspaper clipping – submitted by Maureen Hemmingsley)
Marry when the year is new. Always loving, kind and true. When February birds do mate, You may wed or dread your fate. If you wed when March winds blow, Joy and sorrow both you’ll know. Marry in April when you can – Joy for maiden and for man. Marry in the month of May, You will surely rue the day. Marry when June roses blow, Over land and sea you’ll go. They who in July do wed, Must labour always for their bread. Whoever wed in August be, Many a change are sure to see. Marry in September’s shine, Your living will be rich and fine. If in October you do marry, Love will come, but riches tarry. If you wed in bleak November, Only joy will come, remember. When December snows fall fast, Marry and true love will last.
News from the Secretary
Membership renewals will be due on or before 31st July for all current members, regardless of the date of joining the group. I know it seems very early to be mentioning this, but every year there are misunderstandings about renewals of membership, so I feel justified in mentioning it in this Journal. I shall remind everyone once again at the time of the next Journal by enclosing a renewal form which will also incorporate a Members’ Interests Update. Please check with the 2008-9 list and ensure that your details are correct. If there are additions, alterations or deletions to either the list itself or to your telephone, email or address, please note them at the time of renewal on the form provided, particularly if you are not sure that recent changes have been notified to the group. Geoff Sorrell
Sadly, two of our members have passed away in recent weeks: John Wheeler had been a member of the Group for a number of years, together with his wife, Ann, and was well known for his dry sense of humour. Mick Ottey had also become a keen member, along with his wife Ruth, and they were particularly enjoying the computer evenings. Both John and Mick will be sadly missed. Our condolences to both their families have been sent, and we hope that both Ann and Ruth will continue with their membership, knowing that they are amongst friends.
Ordering Certificates
This warning was recently put on Staffordshire-request@rootsweb Certificates of births, marriages and deaths from the General Records Office cost £7.00 each, including postage (to anywhere in the world), provided you have the GRO index reference and order them directly from the GRO, via their website at www.gro.gov.uk. Certificates ordered this way normally arrive within about seven working days. However, there are other organisations out there, some of whom are obviously dodgy, but others which have a high profile and otherwise respectable reputation as suppliers of online genealogical data. Some of these are offering a certificate supply service which is both considerably more expensive and much slower. So let the buyer beware! It’s always a good idea to check on the reputation of these organisations before you jump in.
In the good old days... Provided by Barbara Williams
The following is a list of office staff practices, as issued to office workers in Lichfield in 1852...
Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business
2 This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 am and 6 pm on week-days
3 Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present
4 Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colours, nor will they wear hose, unless in good repair
5 Overshoes and top-coats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.
6 A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff; coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal, each day, during cold weather
7 No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from Mr Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted, and clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order
8 No talking is allowed during business hours
9 The craving of tobacco, wines or spirits is a human weakness, and, as such, is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff
10 Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced the partaking of food is allowed between 11.30 am and noon, but work will not, on any account, cease
11 Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available, on application to Mr Rogers
12 Mr Rogers will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and the private office, and all boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers, and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubbers and soap are provided by the owners
13 The new increased weekly wages are as hereunder detailed:- Junior boys (to 11 years) – 1/4d. Boys (to 14 years) – 2/1d. Juniors – 4/8d. Junior clerk – 8/7d. Clerks – 10/9d. Senior clerks (after 15 years with the owners) – 21/-. The owners recognise the generosity of the new Labour Laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near-Utopian conditions. “... And from next week you’ll be expected to bring in your own air to breathe...”
Reviews of Visitors’ Talks - January 2009: David Budden on ‘St. Matthew’s Hospital’ Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
David Budden’s talk on the history of St Matthew’s Hospital, Burntwood, gave us an insight into the development of attitudes to mental health and the provision of treatment for the mentally ill from the 17th century until the present day. David had spent 20 years working in the dispensary at the hospital. Before the 18th century, people who were mentally afflicted were either kept at home or sent to privately run madhouses. Pauper ‘lunatics’ were often housed in workhouses or even prisons. In 1809 the County Asylums Act was passed. Each county was empowered to provide for its mentally ill and a 20-bed asylum was built in Stafford, but few others were established until the 1845 Lunacy Act made their provision mandatory. Each asylum was managed by local people of standing who met once a month and regulated its running. Commissioners were appointed to inspect the asylums annually and unannounced. Staffordshire built its second asylum in Burntwood in 1865. Men and women were kept separate with staff of their own gender. On one occasion, two male attendants were caught trying to get into the women’s quarters and were summarily dismissed. Dr. Davis was appointed the first Superintendent, but scandals and discrepancies in the asylum’s management, including accusations of intoxication on the premises, led to Dr Davis resigning. Dr. Spence then became Superintendent, a post he held for 40 years. Dr Spence raised the standards of the institution and was well respected both in this country and abroad. In the early days, lunacy covered people of limited itellect as well as those with a mental illness. It was found that when patients were given interests and were kept occupied, their mental health improved. They were encouraged to exercise and were taken on walks into the countryside. Those unable to go out for walks were encouraged to walk in the grounds. Cures for mental illness were sought to no avail. Treatments included cupping, where a bolus of a patient’s flesh was sucked into a cup and thus with it, supposedly, the ‘bad humours’ causing the problems. Spanish fly, an irritant, was rubbed into the flesh, presumably to give the patient something worse to worry about! Digitalis, discovered in 1700, was used, as were various other drugs. Lobotomies sometimes worked, but sometimes resulted in fitting or death. Electric shock treatment began in 1946 – dreaded at first, but later it did seem to benefit some. It was found that patients with tertiary syphilis improved if infected with malaria. Supplies of mosquitoes were fetched from London on a regular basis! Quinine was used to reduce the high temperature which ensued. St Matthew’s tried to be self-sufficient. Wells were sunk, and it also had its own gas works. Its own cemetery was established when spaces became short in the nearby churchyard. Staff and patients drank beer, and in one year thousands of gallons were drunk. The custom was eventually stopped and staff allocated £20 per annum as beer allowance, a practice which continued for many years. Bread was made on the premises and when Coulter Farm was purchased, patients grew crops and tended the animals. All housekeeping activities were also undertaken by the patients under supervision, even painting the walls. Sometimes, however, being self-sufficient caused problems, such as when patients tried to repair a sewer. This led to severe illness for many inmates. Music was deemed important at St Matthew’s, and an advertisement for an attendant placed in the Daily Telegraph asked, first and foremost, for someone who could play the violin. No mention was made of the potential applicant’s suitability for a job in the asylum! There were sports teams and cricket, netball, football, darts and dominoes. Cups could be won for the best-dressed ward at Christmas, and for other competitions. Shows were also put on by staff and by visiting artists and drama groups. In 1890 a society was formed called ‘Friends of alleged lunatics’, because of concern that relatives could send a relative to an asylum just so they could get their money or property. This resulted in admissions being made more difficult. In World War I, patients were sent to St. Matthew’s from Rubery Hill, because that hospital was used for wounded soldiers. Many attendants had volunteered for the war. Dr. Spence was the only doctor, with a dearth of staff. Food and fuel were short and real deprivation ensued. After the war, the patients from Rubery returned there, but many soldiers returned from the front with shellshock and needed treatment. Huts were built during the Second World War, and many more patients came to St. Matthew’s after the war. The name was changed from asylum to hospital. The introduction of the drug chlorpromazine in 1953 resulted in fewer patients needing hospital care. The demographic of patients changed from those who could benefit from work on the farm, and benefit from sports activities, etc. to elderly people with dementia. David Budden feels that the wholesale closure of mental hospitals happened too quickly. Some vulnerable people were unable to cope in the wider community and were unable to access help for their difficulties, resulting in them living on the streets, or ending up in prison
February 2009: Paul Ford on ‘Using Walsall Study Centre – Coroners’ Records’  Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
Paul Ford is the curator of the Walsall Study Centre and his talk concentrated on the value of coroners’ records for family historians. Walsall inquest records are held at the Centre and coroners’ records can be studied by the public 75 years after the death. By special request to the Coroner’s office, it may also be possible to see records of a later date. Coroners examine the circumstances of an unexplained death to clarify where, why and when a death occurred. The coroner looks at post mortem results and witness evidence gathered by the police, then presides over the inquest, where he or she is able to question the witnesses called. Records dating from 1194 show that even then, unexplained deaths were investigated. This was usually by a person of substantial means, possibly a knight. In those days, the coroner had the authority to send a suspect for trial, which they cannot do today. Since then, the role of the coroner has evolved. At first there was no remuneration, but later on coroners were paid for each death they investigated. It wasn’t until the20th century that coroners received a salary. To illustrate how coroners’ reports can give us an insight into the society of the time, Paul showed us two reports. The first dated from 1915, when a woman was found drowned in a Walsall canal. The inquest was opened, and a police constable reported that he was alerted to the body by a young girl who had been playing on the footbridge. He used a bill hook to drag the body to the bank. The dead woman was wearing a brass wedding ring but gold earrings and had a handkerchief, a shilling and two tickets issued by Bristol Tramways. The post-mortem showed that she had been in the canal for several days; her hair was matted with mud, her lungs were full of water, her liver was hard and there were no injuries indicating foul play. In an attempt to find out who she was, the coroner asked the police to find out if any boats had travelled from Bristol around the time the body had been discovered. Photos were sent to police stations and Bristol Tramways, when asked, revealed that the tram tickets were issued around a week before the body was found. A sergeant from visited lodging houses in the area. However, despite these extensive enquiries, the woman’s identity was never revealed. It makes us realise how much easier it is to uncover someone’s identity now that we have access to identification by fingerprints, dental records and DNA. The jury recorded a verdict of death by drowning. The letters, report and even the tram tickets are preserved at the study centre, but the handkerchief and the shilling are missing. The inquest was recorded in local newspapers of the time. The reporter assumed that because the woman’s liver was hard, she had fallen into the canal whilst drunk, something not mentioned at the inquest. It seems that newspapers were as quick to jump to conclusions then as they are now. The second case occurred in March 1917, when an Avro 533 biplane being flown from the Royal Flying Corps airfield at Market Drayton to Castle Bromwich crashed onto a house in Walsall, killing five people, including a ten month old baby. Evidence was given at the inquest by the child’s mother, who had survived the tragedy, a local pub landlord who was first on the scene, and by the pilot, who had also survived. The woman stated that the family had been in the garden watching the plane for some time and she heard someone shout ‘run’ before the plane hit. She was still receiving treatment from the hospital. The pub landlord said that he, too, had been watching the plane for several minutes. He had seen it circling around and noticed the pilot waving before he heard it crash two streets away. He had run to the scene and helped to extricate the semi-conscious pilot from the plane. He waited for the police, and the pilot was taken to the hospital in a lorry. He did not, however, see a baby. The pilot stated that visibility had been poor, so he descended to 500 feet. He saw that he was over a town, but his engine then cut out. He looked for an open feld where he could land, but there were none nearby. He had waved and shouted to people on the ground to get out of the way before he crashed. The verdict was accidental death, with no blame attached to the pilot. There are several copies of letters with the report. One is from the coroner to the undertaker, which stated that funeral expenses totalling £12 would be paid for Mrs Vass’s family from the local war fund. Mrs Vass’s husband was serving in the army at the front. There is a letter to Mrs Vass, informing her that she need not worry about the cost of the funeral. There was a letter from Mr Slater the mayor, saying that he had written to the Royal Flying Corps asking if they could contribute some compensation. They had no letter conveying either regret or an offer of compensation, but the local church held a collection for the family. This bizarre case highlights the community spirit of the time and the attitude of the Flying Corps. Having listened to this interesting talk, I am sure many of us will use coroners’ records more in the future.
March 2009: Jan Altham on ‘The National Memorial Arboretum’  Reviewer: Brian Asbury
Jan Altham came to the UK in 1967 from New Zealand, and lived in Lancashire until 2000 before moving to Staffordshire. After her husband passed away in 2006, Jan threw herself into volunteer work at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. The NMA is the brainchild of David Childs, who got the idea after visiting the USA’s Arlington National Cemetery during the 1990s. He got in touch with Leonard Cheshire and together they approached then Prime Minister John Major to get the ball rolling in 1994. They then managed to get a Millennium Grant to finance the project. Finding a site was the next consideration. This was provided by the generous gifting of 82 acres of reclaimed gravel working alongside the banks of the River Tame, by Redland (now Lafarge) Aggregates, and has since been extended to a further 70 acres, including the wildlife lake. The land was given to the NMA for a peppercorn rent – £1 per year for 999 years! Planting began in 1997 and the Arboretum was officially opened by The Duchess of Kent on 16th May 2001. Since then it has expanded considerably, with one major addition being the awe-inspiring Armed Forces Memorial, which was opened in 2007 with a dedication by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen and PM Gordon Brown in attendance. There are over 50,000 trees on the site, which is intended to be the UK’s main centre for the collection of oak trees. Over 30 different species of oak have already been planted. Apart from the Armed Forces Memorial, some of the highlights of the site include:
• the Polar Bear Memorial – a 9’ long, 2.5 tonne sculpture dedicated to the 29th Infantry West Riding Division stationed in Iceland, one of the first memorials to open
• shot at Dawn – a poignant memorial to 306 soldiers executed for alleged ‘cowardice’ in World War I;
• the Far East Prisoners of War Museum – which includes outdoor areas featuring the Lych Gate from Changi Gaol, a section of the Burma Railway and more;
• the Merchant Navy Wood – 2,535 oak trees, one for every British merchant vessel lost in World War II...
... and far, far more than I could possibly list here. Jan’s talk included a slideshow which gave us a virtual tour of many of these memorials, during which you could have heard a pin drop in the room! She explained that new memorials are being added each year. For example, 2009 will see the opening of memorials dedicated to St. John’s Ambulance and the Women’s Institute, among others. The site will be expanding by a further 60 acres over the next ten years as new land becomes available from the gravel quarries. Attendance is also growing, and in April of 2008 alone, the NMA had 18,000 visitors. Jan concluded her fascinating talk by telling us that the NMA costs £3,000 per day just to stay open, and that donations are always vital. To set an example, she asked for her fee for the talk to be donated to the NMA
Origin of the Coroner’s Jury in England
A gentlewoman of London, after having buried six husbands, found a gentleman hardy enough to make her a wife once more. For several months, their happiness was mutual; a circumstance which seemed to pay no great compliment to her former partners, who, as she said, had disgusted her by their ‘sottishness and infidelity’. With the aim of getting to know the real character of his amorous mate, the gentleman began frequently to absent himself, to return home at late hours, and, when he did return, to appear intoxicated. At first reproaches, but afterwards menaces, were the consequence of this conduct. The gentleman persisted, and seemed every day to become more addicted to his bottle. One evening, when she imagined him dead drunk, she unsewed a leaden weight from one of the sleeves of her gown and, having melted it, approached her husband, who pretended to be sound asleep, with the intention of pouring it into his ear through a pipe. Convinced of her wickedness, the gentleman started up and seized her. Having procured assistance, he secured her till morning and conducted her before a magistrate, who committed her to prison. The bodies of her six husbands were dug up and, as marks of violence were still discoverable upon each of them, proof of her guilt appeared strong upon her trial and she was condemned and executed. To this circumstance, says the compiler of the Dictionaire d’Anecdotes, is England indebted for that useful regulation by which no corpse can be interred in the kingdom without a legal inspection
A Tragic Family by Barbara Williams
My great-grandmother Elizabeth Cherry was born on 2nd May 1854 in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, and married Elijah Heath on 17th July 1871 at North Wingfield Parish Church. For a long time I was unable to locate a birth certificate, until I contacted the staff of Chesterfield Register Office, who within a week discovered she had been registered as Betsy Cherry. For a long time I hadn’t been particularly interested in obtaining death certificates, but when I got started, it opened up a whole new area of research for me. I decided therefore to obtain Betsy’s death certificate and was shocked to discover she had died from Huntington’s Chorea. Discovering that this condition was hereditary, I decided to look at her parents’ demise. Elizabeth Taylor and Edward Cherry were also married at North Wingfield Parish Church, on 29th November 1838. After following their lives on the various census records, I obtained their death certificates and found that Edward had died of poisoning at the age of 48 years and Elizabeth had also suffered a horrific death, when she was burned to death at the age of 77 years. With the help of Derbyshire Local Studies Library, details were soon revealed and the following is taken from the Derby Mercury, January 4th 1865:-
CURIOUS POISONING CASE AT CLAY CROSS. On Friday, the 23rd ult., an inquest was held at the George and Dragon Inn, Clay Cross, before Mr Busby, coroner, on the body of Edward Cherry, coal miner, aged 48 years who died on Wednesday, the 21st ult., from the effects of poison. Elizabeth Cherry, the deceased’s wife, said on Monday, the 5th ult., deceased went out of the house to buy some sublimate for the purpose of making ointment, which the deceased had often previously made. He got two pennyworth of the sublimate at Wilsons and two pennyworth at Greaves and put it all into a white half-pint mug. Witness went out to buy some lard. When witness got back, the deceased said the landlord had been for the rent, which they were not able to pay, and witness said to her husband, “Never mind, he shall be paid, get this work done.” Deceased replied, “Stop a bit mother, I feel so poorly.” Witness asked him what he had been doing, when he replied, “I’ve done nothing but drink half-a-pint of water.” She then asked him what pot he took. He said, “That pot,” pointing to the white pot on the table in which he had put the sublimate. Witness ran immediately to Mr Wilson’s surgery, and afterwards to Mr. Goodalls and Mr. Dentons, but they and their assistants were out. She then went to Mr. Greaves, the druggist, who told her to give the deceased mustard and water to make him vomit. She did so and also gave him salt and water. Deceased kept throwing up and purging from 2 pm till 5 pm, when Mr. Wilson’s assistant saw him and stopped it. Dr Wilson and his assistant attended deceased afterwards till he died. He kept getting worse from the first, and was not sensible for one hour and a half after he had taken the poison until the day he died. Witness said deceased had not been right for some time, and she believed the landlord having come for the rent disturbed him, and that he went to the tap for water and forgot he had put the powder into the jug. Robert Lloyd, assistant to Mr Greaves, druggist, deposed to deceased buying a quarter of an ounce of corrosive sublimate, which he labelled “Corrosive Sublimate – Poison”. Deceased had purchased it several times previously, and told witness he used it for curing the itch. The sublimate was in crystal and not very soluble in water. The crystals would take three or four days to dissolve in water and would not be wholly dissolved in that time. Deceased’s wife went to him afterwards and told him deceased had taken some of the poison, and he told her to go to the doctor’s immediately. He did not tell her to give him mustard and water – Robert Wilson, druggist, deposed to selling deceased two or three pennyworth of corrosive sublimate in crystal. The crystals as sold out might vary from nearly the size of a hazel nut down to almost powder. Such portions as would dissolve in water would dissolve in ten or fifteen minutes. When deceased’s wife told him her husband had taken some of it, he told her to get the white of an egg and afterwards sent her three eggs. He did not tell her to give him mustard and water. Mr W J Wilson, M.D., Clay Cross, deposed: My assistant saw deceased on Monday evening, the 5th ult. He told me that deceased was reported to have taken corrosive sublimate, and had vomited blood. Two or three days afterwards I was told deceased was much worse and getting salivated, and I saw him myself. He was evidently suffering from mercurial poisoning and most probably from corrosive sublimate. He was profusely salivated, his gums, cheeks and tongue were sloughing in patches. His voice could not be understood in consequence of inflammation having spread down the throat. He was in great agony, and vomited and purged (from the description given to me) what was evidently altered blood. He got gradually worse, and died from exhaustion. Ten or twelve grains or a small dose of corrosive sublimate might produce death, a quarter of an ounce would contain 120 grains. Mustard and water would not be proper to give a person having taken a corrosive sublimate, and salt water would promote the solubility and activate the poison. Corrosive sublimate is soluble in water, but I don’t think pouring cold water on it would dissolve the crystals. The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide, being of unsound mind”. Derby Mercury dated May 1st 1895 reported Elizabeth’s death thus:
SAD END OF AN OLD WOMAN On Sunday morning Elizabeth Cherry, aged 77 years, widow of Edward Cherry, miner, of Clay Cross met with her death under very distressing circumstances at the house of John Towle, Broadley Terrace. Deceased had been an inmate of the Chesterfield Union up to Easter Monday, when she was released at her own request. On Saturday night deceased retired to rest, but about 2.35 am John Towle was aroused by the barking of his dog. On going downstairs he found deceased in flames, and the place was full of smoke. Deceased was badly burnt, and she eventually died. On Monday Mr Coroner Busby held an inquest at the Prince of Wales. The evidence was similar to the above. A verdict of ‘accidental death’ was returned. A sad end to a member of a most tragic family
Rachel’s Story by Pauline Stanley
Rachel Richardson was baptised on 6th Jan 1833, the second daughter of William and Elizabeth Turner, who had six children in total. Rachel and her sister Elizabeth both were born at Braithwaite, Cumberland, where her father William was a schoolmaster, but the children were baptised at St. Cuthbert’s church in Carlisle. The family moved to Dalston, as by 1835 William was a teacher at Stoneraise School. Little is known of Rachel until the 1851 census, when she was staying with her grandmother Rachel Turner at Rigg Head, Hethersgill, at the age of 18 years. Nothing more is recorded of her until the baptism on 15th September 1854 of Joseph, son of Rachel Turrner of Ullermire, an unmarried woman. On 26th November 1856, at the church at Wetheral, Rachel married Joseph Richardson, who was a 39-year-old bachelor and yeoman who resided at Cotehill. As time passed by, the couple raised a family of ten children, eight boys and two girls. The census shows them in 1861 living at Melfoot with four sons. By the 1871 census, they had ten children living with them. The size of the family changed over time. In 1874, Rachel suffered the loss of James Barnard, her fourth son, at the age of 14 years. If that was not enough for a mother, her firstborn decided to seek his fortune, or gain more knowledge in agriculture, on the other side of the Atlantic. Newspapers tell us that at Westminster, Canada on 8th July, Joseph, the eldest son of Joseph Richardson of Cotehill, died at the age of 22 years. John, Rachel’s third son, had joined the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, leaving the household with only eight members in the 1881 census. Little is known of what pressures the family suffered, but the next big blow to Rachel was the death of her husband Joseph, on 10th February 1882, at the age of 64. This left her with a farm to manage, with the help of three sons and two daughters. In 1894 her first daughter, Rachel, married a man called Joseph Pigg and left home. Thus it is that in the 1901 census we find life at Cotehill much changed, with Rachel, a 67-year-old widow, living with only her youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth. Her sons married and had families of their own and one of her daughters, with her husband and Rachel’s young granddaughter Priscilla, moved to find a better life in America. We see in all families that there is always trouble and strife, and Rachel seemed to suffer her fair share of it. I feel that she must have been a feisty old lady, with stong morals and maybe strong religious beliefs. Information from one of Rachel’s great-great-granddaughters suggests that Rachel, functioning in a caring capacity towards David’s family, would send a churn of butter from her farm. Underneath the butter she would hide some money, thus ensuring that the gift of the money reached the wife and not be wasted by David on his way home. Thus she made sure that the children received the benefit of the gift. The wife of one of her sons, Albert, died at a very early age. He continued to farm, but his bereavement meant that all six children were then left in the care of grandmother Rachel and the single aunt Mary Elizabeth. Rachel herself died on 26th November 1920, at the age of 87. I wonder if a modern woman could manage to raise such a large family and also manage a farm, without all the modern equipment that we all take so much for granted today
Church Newsletter Bloopers
Yes, another couple of awkward moments from church newsletters and bulletins:
This evening at 7 p.m. there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Member’s Profile no. 3 Geoff Sorrell, Hon. Secretary
I was born in 1933 in Bloxwich, attended the Blakenall Heath (‘Sunshine’) Infants and Junior School from 1938 to 1944 and Queen Mary’s Grammar School from 1944–1949. My early homes were in Leamore, Paddock and The Delves – all districts of Walsall. From 1949 to 1955 I was employed in the Chief Engineer’s Office of the City of Birmingham Water Department as a clerical assistant, moving on from there to the Public Works Department as an administrative assistant in the City Surveyor’s Office in 1955. During my time there I studied local and central government administration and obtained an intermediate diploma. The work involved much contact with the Public Works Committee and its meetings, and it was through this that I gained many skills which proved invaluable many years later when I became interested in family history research and involved with the Burntwood Family History Group. In 1958 I married at St. John’s Church, Walsall Wood and left home to set up house in Park Farm Road, Great Barr. Then, in 1960, I was asked by a friend to help him in a new business for which he required a chauffeur who could double up as a collector and service engineer for amusement and gaming machines. Although initially this was only a parttime employment, it made life much easier for me as by this time I was married with two small children. The business quickly expanded and by 1961 I was offered full-time employment as the company’s service manager. Given the promise of considerably improved earnings, I moved back to Walsall to live in the Park Hall area. My second daughter was born in 1962 and she was the first of my children to have her birth registered in my own registration district, as the first two were registered in Birmingham. This was of no particular significance to me at the time, but in later years it made me realise that it would not always follow that all the children of a marriage would be registered in the district of the marriage, or indeed in the same district as each other. All three children were baptised at St. Margaret’s Church, Great Barr, which may be of some help to researchers of my family in the distant future! From 1967 to 1972 I worked and lived in Scotland as managing director of a business which was based there. The result was that in 1967 I was living at Rhu, a small village near Helensburgh in Dunbartonshire, and running a business located in the West End of Glasgow which had clients ranging from Inverness in the north to Stranraer in the south. Travelling became a major part of my life and included regular trips to trade exhibitions at London and Blackpool, which gave me an opportunity to incorporate visits to my parents in Pelsall, Lichfield and Burntwood. My late younger brother also eventually moved to Burntwood. From 1971 to 1975 I ran my own business and did quite well with it. In 1972 I moved house again, and for the next eight years I lived in a late Victorian farmhouse near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. Between 1977 and 1982 my children left home and in 1983 I retired and sold my business in Scotland. In 1984 I spent several months in Gibraltar, helping a friend to operate a bouncy castle on the beach there. On return to the UK I finally came to roost in Burntwood, at the invitation of my late mother; my wife and I were by then separated and awaiting divorce. Needing some sort of employment to keep me busy and solvent, I joined a market research organisation (not knowing at the time that the company’s chief executive was Martin (now Sir Martin) Sorrell!). This developed my interest in research, and when an elderly uncle asked me to deal with a request for information on the Lockley and Hague families that he had received from a distant relative (who turned out to be the Secretary of Staffordshire Parish Registers Society), I took up the challenge. I did a lot of research at Stafford and Shropshire CROs, Lichfield JRO and Walsall Local History Library. In 1986 I saw in the Lichfield Mercury that a meeting was being held at Lawnswood Avenue for people who were interested in tracing their ancestors. That meeting resulted in the formation of the Burntwood Family History Group and I became a member of the management committee. From 1986 onwards I continued my research and visited Record Offices in Matlock (Derbyshire), Leicester, Reading (Berkshire) and Chelmsford (Essex) as well as St Catherine’s House (BMDs), Portugal Street (Censuses), Somerset House (Wills), Myddleton Place (G.R.O.), Society of Genealogists and the National Archives (Kew). Much of my research was facilitated by the regular coach trips to London organised by the Group. My function within the BFHG has ranged from meetings secretary to honorary secretary via custodian of fiches and readers, librarian, Journal production, vicechair and chair. I had a major role in the formulation of the Group’s bids for a grant from Millennium Awards for All and BT’s Computer Award. My own family history is now substantially completed and for some years I have given talks to other groups and societies on FH-related subjects, as well as the occasional talk to our own group. As honorary secretary of the group, I am privileged to be able to help others to achieve their goals, both as members of our group and as visitors to the various functions and surgeries which I and other members attend from time to time
Burials and Cemetery Records by Pauline Stanley
Did you know that the Local History Centre in Essex Street, Walsall, holds all the cemetery records that are indexed? I found out that this was so and they helped me to find the final resting place of some ancestors. The first was a Lydia Matilda Wyatt, who died in 1925 and was always thought to have been buried at Rycroft Cemetery. However, the records told me that she was buried on 21st November 1925. They also supplied the grave number, who performed the service, from where the body was collected, and the dimensions of the plot. Sadly, the records held there only go up 1956, after which burials were transferred to Lawns Cemetery at Willenhall, with cremations being conducted at Streetly. I had not known before that from 1955 cremations were held at Rycroft Cemetery, but that they were stopped in 1984. To find more details, I visited the enquiry office at Lawns and they gave me the information that I required. The vital thing I had not found on the records was the number of persons buried in this plot; this information was now also given to me. I learned that there had been two burials there, one of whom was a family member whom I had not expected to find. If you want the opening times for Lawns, the telephone number is 0845 1112848. My next move was to visit Streetly Crematorium, to find out about other names on my list of people whom I knew were cremated. The enquiry office is situated on the end of the main building. The people there were very helpful; information is held in two books and I was given names, dates of cremation and addresses from which the bodies were collected. It turned out in one case that the collection point was a nursing home, and it was the manager who had made the arrangements. There was nothing I enquired about that seemed to be to much trouble, and their final act of kindness was the provision of a plan of both Rycroft and Streetly Cemetery and the remembrance sites. All this information was collected and has been installed in the files of these people
Parish Records of St Mary’s, Lichfield by Jane Leake
As you may know, our present transcription project involves the Parish Records of St Mary’s Church, Market Square, Lichfield (General Register 1677 to 1716). Progress is slow, as the early general registers are extremely difficult to read. You may think that people today choose some strange names for their offspring, but that is nothing new. Imagine being baptised ‘Reservoir’, as was one poor child in an even earlier register! I thought you may be interested to read some of the names I have come across. Most of the entries are baptisms and there are a few marriages. However, not too many burials are noted, probably due to the fact that St Mary’s had no graveyard. Some are noted to have been buried at Stowe, and perhaps others were buried beneath the chancel of the church or in family vaults. The double year dates relate to the fact that, from about 1190 until 1st January 1752, the Julian calendar was used in England and each year began officially on Lady Day, 25th March rather than on 1st January. In 1752, England adopted the Gregorian calendar and was thus brought in line with most of the rest of Europe.
Sarah dau. of Ffowke Cartmale was baptised 6 th Jan. 1680/81
Theophilus Spencer marr. Easter Higabotham 15 th. January, 1681/82
Easter Sanford found in Sanford St. Supposed to be illegitimate bap.19 th. April, 1682
Anthony Fritchett marr, Goodeth Insberry 2 nd. December, 1682
Thomas Parker marr. Deliverance Waltho 12 th. February, 1684/5
Chrisacon dau. of Henry Waring was baptised 11 th. May, 1689
Humphrey Hodgkins marr. Tamor Procktor 6 th. July, 1690
Obadiah son of John Cooper was baptised 10 th December, 1690
Dixsey son of James Heamond baptised 29 th. March, 1691
Comfort dau. of Sam Burrows was baptised 15 th. November, 1691
Brute son of Wm. Shroppjune was baptised 21 st. September, 1693
Ostain son of John Cooper was baptised 25 th. December, 1693
Philio Stridd marr. Sarah Stridd 19 th. September, 1696
Little dau, of James Boswell baptised 20 th. July. 1697
Licester son of Mr. George Marshall bap. 12 th. May, 1698
Hutchinson son of Mr. John Martin bap. 1 st. May, 1700
Carolina dau. of Fettiplace Nott Esq. bap. 1 st. May, 1700
Worley son of Edward Walmiley bap. 30 th. January, 1700/01
Skidimore Bibbins marr. Ann Grannage 25 th. June, 1701
Rock son of Christopher Heningham bap. 1 st. June, 1703
Richard Powell marr. Comfort Sole 2 nd. July, 1705 [This is my favourite – Editor]
Sheldon son of Mr. Robert Port baptised 14 th. July, 1705
Wenlock Sedgewick marr. Martha Dring 20 th. April, 1708
Mrs. Philadelphia Wollaston buried 10 th. November, 1712
William Faultless marr. Sarah Brinley 1 st. June, 1713
John son of George Birdseye was baptised 19 th. February, 1716
Kilward Shanand marr. Anne Burton 13 th. August, 1716
An interesting item was an insert in the register for 10th January 1691/92 for the burial of Catherine Johnson, identifying her as the grandmother of Samuel and widow of William Johnson. At the foot of the page is a little more information, but not all is legible. The gist of it is that the records had been in an old chest discovered in 1929 by the churchwarden, and it was signed by the vicar. A few people are described as either Mr, Mrs, Esq or simply Gent. I wonder what the significance of these different titles was? Most folk were not, of course, seen fit to merit any of them. If you have any ideas, please let me know. By far the most favoured Christian names for girls were Mary and Elizabeth. George and William topped the boys’ names, but John, Edward, Richard and Francis also appear regularly. I’m sure I shall find more to report on in the next Journal
Request for Genealogical Help Daphne Wenn (wennfamily@yr1961.freeserve.co.uk) writes:
I have been given your email address from the secretary of the Walsall Family History group. I am trying to trace my grandmother Mary Taylor, born about 1884, who married my grandfather Alfred Oerton at St Mary and All Saints, Palfrey, Walsall on 8th August 1906. She was recorded as being age 23. Her father’s name was Eli Taylor and he was a collier. I have absolutely no other information about her whatsoever. I don’t know where she was born or exactly when. I know researching the name Taylor is a pretty hopeless task, but I do hope that perhaps you might be able to give me some clue
This Issue’s Cover Photograph
The former Lichfield Friary Girls High School This building was formerly a Grammar School with ancient roots. The part that can be seen on the right of the picture is timber-framed and was once part of the Friary. The more modern buildings (main entrance behind the large tree) contain Lichfield Central Library and the Lichfield Diocesan Joint Record Office. Our group regularly holds Family History Surgeries at the Library. For anyone doing research in parishes within the Lichfield Diocese, a visit to the Joint Record Office is a must as they hold, among other things, many original Bishop’s Transcripts and pre-1837 Wills. The JRO is part of the Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archives Service and you will find a contact address and tel. no. on the page opposite. The picture is taken from the this is currently being considered.