Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2009 10 Volume 18 Number 1
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
 
October 2009  
 
   Vol. 18 No. 1
Contents of this issue.
 
Chairman’s Annual Report
An Old Proverb
News from the Secretary
Honorary Secretary’s Report to the AGM
Reviews of Talks
Aren’t We Lucky?
23rd Psalm for Genealogists
Parish Records of St Mary’s, Lichfield (part 3)
Arising From Coal Dust, Part 15
Government Response to E-petition
The End of the Line?
This Issue’s Cover Photograph
 
Chairman’s Annual Report
 
2008/9 has been another successful year for Burntwood Family History Group. The level of membership has been maintained and the Monday meetings have, on the whole, been very well attended. We continue to offer help and research facilities at the Thursday meetings, thanks to grants awarded to us for the year just ended. This money pays for the rental of the rooms, which is a great help, but it may not be offered next year. The level of attendance at the Thursday meetings varies tremendously and we may have to reconsider how often we continue to use both of the rooms, especially if the grants dry up. As I mentioned above, we have been fortunate to receive two lots of grant aid. Burntwood Town Council awarded us £100, followed by Staffordshire County Council Adult and Community Learning Service. Their contribution has to be spent on the rental of the meeting rooms. This has meant that we could book both the computer suite and the small meeting room for the Thursday meeting, allowing us to have our library books available with the microfiche and readers in the small room while others were engaged upstairs using the computers. Pam Woodburn has taken on the task of setting up the computers, with help from other computer-literate members. However, the sessions have been poorly attended in recent months, so we need your support if this is to continue.
 
My thanks go to all who give up time to help members at the Thursday meeting. The Group’s website, created and managed by Alan Betts, continues to prove its worth, but the time has come to make a change. Alan is at present building a new website, which should be even better, and he hopes it will be up and running very soon. The old one is will continue to be accessible until 29th October, but by then the new one should be available. If anyone has suggestions for new links, Alan would be pleased to hear about them. It is a big task to transfer our information onto the new site, so I would like to thank Alan for the work he does on our behalf. The website is valuable to us, as it is our main way of advertising and selling our CDs. Work on our transcription project is now in its thirteenth year. Due to changes in computer technology we now sell mainly CD-ROMs, but we still have some floppy discs available. The latest work is the transcription of the Parish Records of St. Mary’s Church, Lichfield. Progress is very slow, as the early records are extremely difficult to read. Mike Woolridge is the organiser of this work and he has a small group of transcribers and checkers working with him. If anyone feels they would like to help, Mike would be pleased to welcome them and help them to get started. My thanks go to all of you who take part in this rewarding task.
 
Bernard Daniels continues to produce the actual CDs and I thank him on your behalf. Jeff Wilson takes the orders for discs placed via the Internet or by post and sends them off to the customers. He would like to pass this job on to someone else so, if you think you could do this, please contact Jeff or myself. Thank you, Jeff.
 
Our CDs and microfiche are not so much in demand now that much of the information can be accessed via the Internet, but it is always worth checking what we have available. Steve Bailey brings everything to the Thursday meetings and looks after them at home between times. Thanks, Steve, for your help.
 
Harold Haywood has as usual kept his meticulous financial records on our behalf, to ensure that the committee know exactly where we stand in financial terms, but he has decided it is now time to hand over the position to someone else. Many thanks, Harold, for all your years of work on behalf of the group.
 
Geoff Colverson continues to look after our library, which increases each year despite the storage problems which continue to be insoluble. If anyone can offer help in this area, we should be most grateful. Thank you, Geoff, for your time and help.
 
Our speakers have, on the whole, been interesting and informative this year, but booking them has given me a few headaches, as on three occasions we have had cancellations. They all let me know in advance and we were lucky to find people willing to step in at short notice. A visit to Lichfield Diocesan Record Office was most interesting and well supported. The booking of speakers is now being done by Carole Jones and she has almost completed the list for next year, so if you know of anyone who might offer a good talk, please contact Carole. Thank you, Carole, for volunteering to do this. The Christmas social was well attended and, thanks to Jenny Lee who made the arrangements, we also had an enjoyable lunch at The Wych Elm.
 
We have had two trips to London this year and both were a great success, due to the hard work of Jenny Lee. Jenny made the bookings and arrangements that ensured people who needed to obtain or update Readers’ Cards were given the forms beforehand, saving a lot of hassle when we arrived. The coach was full each time, mainly due to support from members of Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw Gardening Guild, who came along to visit Kew Gardens. Thank you, Jenny, for your help.
 
Our Honorary Secretary has, as ever, worked extremely hard in supporting all aspects of the running of the group. He tirelessly produces booklets of members’ interests, lists of members’ details and even a list of all our library books and research aids. I would like to express our thanks to Geoff for his unfailing support. Thanks must also go to Maureen Hemmingsley for her work as Minutes Secretary. She makes sure we are all furnished with agendas and relevant minutes for committee meetings, besides contributing new ideas. Many thanks also to Brian Asbury and Jan Green for all the work they do to produce the quarterly Journal. Please keep the articles coming, to make their task easier. The new look cover is most attractive. If anyone has ideas for articles, please let us know. Thanks also go to Geoff Sorrell for the effort he puts into the production. All this is very time-consuming, and these people are extremely generous in giving so much of their time.
 
Sheila Clarke volunteered to write a précis of the content of the talk given at each meeting, and these then go into the Journal for the members who were unable to attend. However, we do need a stand-in for Sheila on the occasions she is unable to be present. Thanks go to Barbara Williams and anyone else who has helped to sell raffle tickets or has provided prizes. If anyone would like to donate prizes for the raffle, Barbara would be delighted to receive them. The system devised to make sure no one gets landed with the dreaded chore of making and serving the refreshments too often has worked quite well, so thanks to everyone who has taken their turn this year. Thanks also to Jenny Lee, who does the shopping, and to everyone who helps by putting out the cups, etc. at the start of meetings.
 
We have continued to run drop-in sessions at both Lichfield and Burntwood Libraries. This continues to be monthly at Lichfield, but the take-up was not great at Burntwood, so we have reduced this to quarterly meetings. Volunteers have been kept very busy offering help and advice. There was a drop in attendance figures in June and July, but I think this was due to people being busy with summer activities, so we hope it will take off again when we recommence in September. The weekly group meeting at the St. Mary’s Centre in Lichfield continues to prosper, thanks to Bob Houghton, who gives a lot of time to helping there and would welcome new helpers. Last September we took part in events for Community History Month and were at four of the venues. We also recently had a very successful day at the Chase Wakes, which generated a lot of interest. Many thanks to all who have been involved in these activities.
 
We still offer for sale copies of a magazine, Faly History Monthly, at our meetings. The cost is £3.75 per magazine and the group makes £1.12 profit on each sale. The magazine has been praised by the members who buy it on a regular basis, and each month we sell around nine copies. This is yet another way to help boost our funds so, if you haven’t purchased one yet, do think about it, as they really are most informative. Finally, I would like to thank the committee and all the members for the support they have given to me. I hope the Group will continue to go from strength to strength in the coming year. Jane Leake
 
An Old Proverb Submitted by Maureen Hemmingsley
 
This little gem comes from the final line of a nursery rhyme in Tales of My Mother Goose, published by Perrault in 1697.
 
If Wishes Were Horses
 
If wishes were horses Then beggars would ride. If turnips were watches I’d wear one by my side. And if ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ Were pots and pans There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.
 
News from the Secretary
 
Welcome to the first issue of Vol. 18 of our Journal. It was nice to see rather more Members attending the Annual General Meeting than has been the case in previous years. Although a Family History Society exists primarily for the purpose of bringing together people with a mutual interest who can benefit from each other’s experiences and ideas about how, when and where to conduct one’s research, it is also an organisation which can provide valuable social interaction.
 
I like to think that over the years I have met, conversed with, and shared many social occasions with other members of our Group, and indeed with others who were not members but who became friends through my help in finding their long-lost family members and ancestors. Every meeting we have is a social occasion, as well as providing serious – and sometimes not so serious – information about our hobby. The Christmas Social, coach trips and representation at events and surgeries can all be opportunities to make new friends and meet people from different social backgrounds to our own.
 
Offering to take part in the organisation and running of the Group can also provide opportunities to exercise skills which were formerly part of a job but which, due to retirement or redundancy, are no longer being used. There is quite a thing going on at the present time about volunteering, and there is usually something that needs to be done within the Group which requires a few hours time each week. Think about it next time our Chair says, “Would anyone like to volunteer to …”.
 
Membership renewals
 
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to our overseas members. I shall not mention names, but all of them have very generously contributed donations to our funds or have paid subscriptions several years in advance. While we always try to find ways of helping our Australian and Canadian friends, it is impossible to offer them the research facilities which those of you who live within travelling distance of our meetings can take advantage of. To some extent, this also applies to our many out-of-town members, and the Committee extends its thanks to those of you who are not able to attend meetings but who nevertheless continue, year on year, to support us with your membership. Thank you also to those of you who have, when renewing membership or requesting help, made such complimentary comments about our Journal and its contents. It is a lot work for Jan, Brian and me every three months, but knowing that it is appreciated makes it well worthwhile.
 
Is this your last Journal?
 
I normally send the first issue of the Journal after membership renewal date to everyone who was a member until the previous July. Subsequent Journals will only be sent to those who have paid their subscription for the current year, which ends on 31st July 2010. What often happens is that people who join during a subscription year mistakenly think that because they have only had the benefits of membership for a short time, they do not need to renew. I always try to mention that l renewals are due on the 1st August in the Journal which we publish in April, and I then send out renewal forms with the July issue. In spite of this, there are usually quite a few people who ignore the warnings and let their membership lapse. Around February time I then a get an anguished email, letter or phone call asking, “Why am I not getting my Journal?” So if you haven’t paid a subscription since 1st August 2009 and wish to remain a member of the Burntwood Family History Group, please get in touch soon. Geoff Sorrell, Hon. Secretary
 
Honorary Secretary’s Report to the AGM
 
When I reviewed the Group’s activities at the previous AGM, I was able to present a healthy situation so far as the accomplishments of the Group during the year were concerned. Once again I am able to say that due to the enthusiasm and hard work put in by your Committee, and those of you who offer your services to help out on various occasions, we have had another successful year. Membership continues to increase year on year, and at the end of the 2008–9 year we had 128 members on our books. As has been the case for some years, about 30 per cent of the membership comes from outside the local area, and we have three overseas members – two in Canada and one in Australia. Having said that, the current membership is well under 100 and, although I expect there will be some late renewals and more new members through the year, it is possible that we shall not maintain the steady progress that has been evident from the date of our foundation. Response to the renewal of membership reminder that was sent out with the July Journal was quite satisfactory and the information on Surname Interests will be used in the next Interests List. Renewal of membership received after 1st November may result in interests details not being included in the new list. Thanks to everyone who remembered to update their contact details. There were quite a few changes of which I had received no previous notification. There are still two or three of last year’s members who provided no information at all at the time of joining, and unfortunately they will have received no renewal reminder.
 
As your Hon. Secretary I deal with the day-to-day correspondence and much of this involves answering enquiries regarding surname interests. I would like to say that we are continually trying to improve the research facilities that we provide and I would like to thank Bernard Daniels for giving me a facility to access our local transcribed records, which enables me to locate surnames that I am asked about. I deal with such enquiries regularly, many from non-members who contact Alan Betts through our website, who then emails them on to me. What would we all do without our computers? Well, we would use pen and paper, and some people still do write with their queries, even though they initially found out about us from the website.
 
During the past year we have published four issues of Volume 17 of our Journal, an updated Members’ Interests List and an alphabetical list of all our research materials. Fortunately I do have lots of help from Jan Green and Brian Asbury with the Journal and it is mainly their efforts which lead to so many complimentary comments from members in their correspondence to me. It is a great credit to a group as small as ours that we are able to do so many things that much larger groups and societies do not attempt.
 
Our Thursday meeting is now well established and, although it is sometimes sparsely attended, I know from experience that often people come on a Thursday with what looks like a comparatively simple task but which turns out to be full of pitfalls and disappointments. Whilst the modern trend towards more and more research information being available on the Internet provides us with the opportunity to utilise that facility, it can prove a frustrating exercise. I often spend most of the evening trying to find a particular person for whom the member has accurate and indisputable information, only to find that all of the online records consulted come up with ‘no results’. Transcription errors are undoubtedly responsible for some of the difficulties, and I often have to recommend a visit to a record repository where the original records can be consulted.
 
One of the services we have always provided for our members has been coach trips to London. At one time we were able to fill a coach three times a year for a trip to Central London or Kew, but these days it is a struggle to fill a coach once – and even then it is only because Kew Gardens is also a popular venue. My experiences of the Internet as a research aid, which I mentioned earlier, lead me to think that the subscriptions required by Ancestry, etc. before you can see the full records would be much better spent on trips to London, where it is possible to see everything for free. You could have five days out and several hours at the National Archives on each day for what it costs to obtain a dozen or so census records and a similar number of certificate details, armed with which you could get the certificates from Southport or a local register office for a few pounds. Think about it next time we have a coach trip. For further information on coach trips, you can email Jennie Lee on jennifer.lee1@virgin.net or me on gassor33@talktalk.net. Geoff Sorrell
 
Reviews of Talks Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
 
August 2009: Beryl Wilkes on ‘Love Misplaced’
 
Beryl Wilkes received a great deal of memorabilia after the death of her much loved great-aunt Gertrude Hyde in November 1968. There were photos, school reports, letters, dance cards complete with pencils, an accounts ledger and, most useful of all, a diary which her aunt had kept from the age of 18 until she was 98. The amount of material she had assembled made many of us feel very envious. Gerty, as she was known, was the eldest child of John Hyde and Bertha Coles. John had been 22 when they married and Bertha 17. Two brothers followed, but Bertha died when Gerty was about 7. John, taking the advice of his mother-in-law, engaged the services of Sarah Ansell as housekeeper, and she stayed with the family until her death. They called her Auntie Ansell. John worked within the prison service and moved around the country: Balham, Leeds, Kent, and finally Portland. On 21st February 1890, Gerty intimated that she had fallen in love with one Arthur Cook. His photo shows a handsome, personable young man. The Hyde family had lived near the Cook family in Leeds. Unfortunately Arthur did not reciprocate her affection. On 21st September 1894, he sailed from Plymouth, and Gerty waited for a letter. In November she heard that the ship had reached Auckland, New Zealand, and she wrote of her sorrow at not having heard from him. On 24th June 1895 she recorded that Auntie Ansell had received a letter from Arthur, and she herself received a Christmas card from him that year. Later she wrote that Arthur was in South Africa. Gerty visited friends and family and was called upon when someone was ill or during the ‘lying in’ of her sister-in-laws. She formed a special attachment with her nephew, ‘little George’, to whom she was godmother, and wrote lovingly about him. She enjoyed going to balls and her dance card was always full. She did say, however, that her smiling face hid a sorrowing heart. She went on holiday to Guernsey and Jersey, and struck up a friendship with a young man whilst there. In January 1897 she again wrote that she had heard nothing from ‘AC’. On 3rd February, ‘little George’ died, and Gerty wrote to say that it seemed those whom she cared for were always taken from her. In 1898 she wore her grandmother’s wedding dress to a fancy dress ball, and this dress is now in the London Museum. Gerty also wrote that she had walked with Arthur Cook in Leeds, but did not record what was said.
 
Gerty’s father retired in 1901 and they moved to Weymouth. After his death, Gerty and ‘Auntie Ansell’ looked for something to bring in an income, and when Gerty was 40 they opened a boarding house. Miss Ansell died in 1923, a few weeks after an operation which she had been persuaded to have. On 8th June 1923 Arthur Cook and his wife Fanny came for a visit and Gerty wrote that she liked Fanny. They kept in touch and, on 10th April 1931, Gerty received a letter from Fanny telling her of Arthur’s death. She continued to visit Fanny. Gerty died on 2nd November 1968 and was buried with her father and Auntie Ansell. She had written extensively about her family, friends, and events, and particularly about Weymouth during the war. But that is another story.
 
September 2009: Neil Terry on ‘Publishing Your Family History’
 
After this year’s AGM, Neil Terry showed how his company could help us to create our family history in book form. This could be a unique gift for a family, telling them the story of who they are and how they came to be where they are. The more enduring quality of a book would make it more likely that our research would survive for coming generations. Numerous binding methods are available, ranging from simple booklet stapling through to leather binding and gold blocking. For example, a simple handbound book would cost in the region of £90 for ten copies; the more copies, the cheaper per copy. Not all of the copies have to be bound in the same way. Some bindings allow extra pages to be inserted if further research warrants it. The group was shown a printed version of the research undertaken some years ago by Neil’s wife Claudia’s father. Photographs, maps, and his own handwritten account had been faithfully reproduced, making a beautiful book. The company is able to print photographs from our files or theirs, and are able to electronically manipulate and clean damaged photographs, which can also be retouched and enhanced as required. They undertake page layout and proofing. Their expertise may be called upon at any time during the production of a family history publication, from just the binding of a book or books to a complete design and printing package.  The company is based in Rugby and can be contacted on 01455 220651 or email: enquiries@familyhistorybook.co.uk. More information about formats available and cost of printing and publication can be found at: www.familyhistorybook.co.uk
 
Aren’t We Lucky? Submitted by Alan Betts
 
Congratulations to all my friends who were born in the 40s, 50s, 60s and early 70s! First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer. Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or locks on doors or cabinets and, when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or safety shoes. And don’t even mention the risks we took hitchhiking! As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose but not from a bottle. Takeaway food was limited to fish and chips – there were no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos. Even though all the shops closed at 6.00 pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death! We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this. We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy toffees, gobstoppers or bubblegum. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter, and we drank soft drinks with sugar in them, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing. We’d leave home in the morning and play all day, so long as we were back when the street lights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK! We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot to build in any brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with Matchbox cars. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii or X-boxes – no video games at all. We didn’t have 999 channels on Sky or cable, there were no videos, DVD films or mobile phones, and there were also no personal computers, internet or chatrooms – we had friends and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, yet there were no lawsuits resulting from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears! We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. You could only buy Easter eggs and hot cross buns at Easter time. We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them! Mum didn’t have to go to work to help Dad make ends meet! Rugby and cricket had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! Getting into the team was based on merit. Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bullies always ruled the playground at school. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’, ‘Blade’, ‘Ridge’ or ‘Vanilla’. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all! And you are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!
 
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives ‘for our own good’. And forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
 
The 23rd Psalm for Genealogists Submitted by Jan Green
 
Genealogy is my pastime,
I shall not stray,
it maketh me to lie down
and examine half-buried tombstones;
it leadeth me into still courthouses.
it restoreth my ancestral knowledge;
it leadeth me into the paths of census records
and ships passenger lists for my surnames’ sake;
yes, though I wait through the shadows
of research libraries and microfilm readers,
I shall fear no discouragement,
for a strong urge is with me.
the curiosity and motivation,
they comfort me;
it demandeth preparation of storage space
for the acquisition of countless documents;
it anointeth my head with burning midnight oil,
my family group sheets runneth over.
Surely birth, marriage and death dates
shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house
of a family history seeker forever.
 
Lichfield. St. Mary’s – Parish Registers Part 3 by Geoff Sorrell
 
Some of you will have had an input to one of our current projects, the digitisation of the St Mary’s Registers. During my stint on the Register of Baptisms and Burials, 1755 – 1812, I came across a lot of entries which differed from the standard forms. During the period under transcription there were several regular vicars and a number of visiting clerics or lay people who made the entries, so variations occurred according to the personal preferences of the recorder. Over time it became general practice to include rather more  information, and by the time the register ceased to be used (presumably when the ‘Standard Form’ was introduced), most of the information contained on that form was being provided in the handwritten entries. Firstly some points of general interest. When recording baptisms of common people (?), only the names would be written, but the middle classes would be given the added Mr or Esq in the father’s name. Sometimes place of residence would be given for people of local importance. Clergymen were specifically identified ‘Rev...’, ‘Vicar of ...’, etc. With Lichfield being a garrison city and having Whittington Barracks close by, many entries are found to have the words ‘a soldier’ or ‘a Dragoon’ in the early part, whilst later this is expanded to include rank and regiment, e.g. ‘a private in the 31st Regt. of Foot’, ‘a militia man’, ‘Lieutenant of the 4th Dragoon Guards’. This might be of particular interest to anyone having difficulty in tracing military ancestors.
 
Entries are frequently noted as ‘Illegitimate’, and sometimes the entry itself will give a clue as to the single woman’s unmarried partner, as the surname of the male involved is written and crossed through, or given as the second forename of the child. It’s always worthwhile taking a look at the microfiche if you think the transcribed entry looks promising.
 
Forenames often look more like surnames and this can give a clue to the mother’s maiden name, as children often carried their mother’s family name forward to the next generation in this way. Occasionally entries are made for special events, and one which occurred regularly was the ‘Triennial Visitation’. This records the visit of the bishop or his representative when the Bishop’s Transcripts were taken back to the Diocesan Records Office for archiving. If you consult the microfiche of the parish register and find the entry doesn’t tally with what you expected, have a look at the BT, because it may be written in a different hand and therefore more legible and less easily mis-transcribed.
 
If the event recorded was of someone not of the St. Mary’s parish, this is often written into the entry, e.g., ‘of St Michael’s Parish’. This can show where you may find entries for other members of that family. Between September 1781 and March 1775, several pages of the register were damaged so badly as to be illegible. The entries were transcribed from the BTs held at Lichfield JRO. If you are in any doubt about the transcription of these records, ask to see the BTs. On 1st October 1873 it is noted in the register ‘The Tax commences from this day’. Does anyone know what tax this was? Was it the original ‘Stealth Tax’? From 1st June 1789, forenames of both parents are given. Prior to this, only the father’s forename and surname were written, e.g., ‘George son of James Smith’. Occasionally in the later entries the date of birth may be noted, particularly if it was some time earlier than the baptism. General practice was obviously to have a child baptised as soon as possible after birth.
 
Some interesting entries
 
15 th November 1759 – Bapt. Erasmus son of Dr. Erasmus Darwin.
15 th March 1762 – Sarah – found in the street.
29 th January 1778 – Thomas Collins son of Thomas West Comedian.
29 th April 1804 – Sarah dau. Of John & Mary Spray one of the lay vicars of the Catholic Church of Dublin.
19 th August 1809 – John son of John Gregory and Jane Carbray convicts under sentence of death in the jail of this City was here privately baptised on Saturday 19 th August 1809 by me B.J. Proby Vicar of St. Mary’s Lichfield
14 th October 1810 – John illegitimate son of John Gregory and Jane Carbray after being privately baptised in the Gaol of this City on the 19 th day of August 1809. (Were his parents executed in the gaol?)
27 th June 1811 – Louisa daur. Of William & Ann Flint born at Great Yarmouth in the County of Norfolk June 12 th 1797. Jane daur. of the above William & Ann Flint born at Lichfield March 26 th 1808. George Bishop son of Wm. & Ann Flint born at Lichfield October 27 th 1809.
 
Arising from Coal Dust (Part 15: Examinations and excursions) by Alan Brookes
 
Joining the school brass band aroused in me an interest in brass and military music. My two favourite bands were the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band and The Royal Marines Military Band. Mom bought me two of their 45-rpm ‘extended play’ records, which I used to play constantly. One day, an enormous travelling exhibition caravan rolled into the school playground. It was the recruitment unit of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. At the next rehearsal of the school band I became aware that two of my fellow players were attending auditions to join the Royal Marines Band. This set me thinking that a life in the best military band in the country would be a good career move. The next day I entered the caravan and enquired about how to join the Royal Marines as a musician, and I was told that I would first have to enter the regular Marines military service. Shortly afterwards I received instructions informing me to attend a medical and physical examination in Birmingham, and if I passed that successfully I would then be able to attend a musical audition.
 
The number 5 blue Walsall Corporation bus from Sankeys Corner took me to Walsall, and from there I travelled on a Midland Red bus direct to Birmingham. The Royal Navy recruitment centre was in Corporation Street, an extremely busy place in the centre of the city. I entered the building and registered my arrival with the reception clerk. The whole of the morning was taken up with various intelligence tests and basic educational examinations, but while taking lunch in the canteen of the building I met the other chaps who were endeavouring to join the navy. There were six men aged between 20 and 30, a boy named Adrian who was aged 16, and myself, aged 13. After lunch we all attended the medical examination. The first session was concerned with hearing, eyesight and, particularly, the ability to recognise colours. For the rest of the day our bodies were subjected to an intense physical fitness examination.
 
We all were asked to strip absolutely naked and stand in line. The six men stood first, then Adrian and then myself. I was in awe of the men’s well-developed bodies, while they in their turn were sniggering at my rather undeveloped form. The doctor who was to perform the examination entered the room. Absolutely naked, we each had to perform a series of hard physical routines under the eagle eye of the doctor. ‘Well done!” he shouted sarcastically at one of the men who had climbed rapidly up and down a suspended rope. To his embarrassment, the man had managed to get his genitals tangled in the fabric cord of the rope, and the doctor, who seemed to be enjoying the spectacle, quickly interceded to extricate him from his painful predicament. By the time my turn came round, I had watched the others and knew what to do. The last exercise involved achieving twelve ‘pull-ups’ suspended from a horizontal bar. After the final one I was required to stay suspended in mid-air whilst the doctor attended to my private parts. “Cough!”, he instructed, while at the same time feeling me down below.
 
He had  clammy, cold hands and appeared to be taking a personal delight in leering at my body through the thick lenses of his spectacles. “Cough again,” he whispered close to my face. He had a severe cast in his right eye and when he looked directly at me, his two eyes seemed to be focusing at points either side of me, thus leaving me invisible in the centre of his vision. To counteract this, his head moved from left to right and back again, as if reading a book. Beads of sweat were standing proud on his forehead, which seemed to appear from under his thin, greased black hair, which was plastered to his scalp. He was panting slightly with reddened face and saliva dripped from the corner of his mouth and his breath and body exuded a sickly odour.
 
He again placed his hands around my groin, first to the left and then to the right. My arms were aching by now and I asked to drop down. “Okay!” he said, “Come over here and bend over.” His sweaty hands groped me from the rear, and he asked me to cough a final time. I noted that his intense examination of my private parts had taken longer than the whole of the remainder of the physical examination. Feeling totally humiliated and embarrassed, I returned to the line to join the other still naked and sniggering men. “Okay!” the doctor shouted, “That’s it – finished. Now you can all clear off!”
 
Looking back at that episode now, I’m convinced the so-called doctor may have been a paedophile. I was perhaps the one out of the eight entrants who was probably at the greatest risk on that day. However, everything must have been in place and in working order, because a week later I received a letter informing me that I had been successful in qualifying as a boy entrant for the Royal Marines. Accompanying the letter was a voucher for rail travel to attend a musical audition at the renowned North Western Academy of Music in Liverpool. On a bright August morning, I set off on the biggest adventure of my life up till then. With my cornet and music in their case, and a shoulder bag loaded with sandwiches, I took the No. 47 bus to Cannock, followed by a bus to Wolverhampton.
 
I arrived at the railway station and determined the correct platform for the Liverpool train. The ‘high level’ line was for the London Midland Railway – the LMR – while the ‘low level’ line was for the Great Western Railway (GWR). I had about thirty minutes to wait and I suddenly became aware of someone calling through the clamour of the bustling platform, “Alan! Alan!” Across the railway line, standing on the opposite platform, were my Uncle Bill, Auntie Doris and Cousin Jennifer. Dressed in their Sunday best and accompanied by bulging suitcases, they were going on holiday to Weston-super-Mare. Uncle Bill was my Mom’s brother, who lived in Rugeley Road, Chase Terrace. “What the hell are you doing here, all by yourself?” he shouted across at me.
 
With a rising sharp tone, he carried on, “Get yourself back home before you get into trouble. I’ll tell your Mom and Dad when I...” His words were cut short by the Weston train pulling between us adjacent to his platform. After a short delay, the train pulled slowly away and I saw my uncle and cousin Jennifer waving goodbye to me from their carriage window. His comments made me think, “What  am I doing here?” I was only 13 years old and was travelling to Liverpool all alone. I felt a little apprehensive at the prospect of my forthcoming journey to foreign climes, but then told myself, “I’m a big boy now and, after all, if I was to join the Royal Marines, shouldn’t I be expected to successfully undertake an adventure such as this?” Before having time to further talk myself out of going, the Liverpool train pulled alongside. It was packed full, with no seats to be found. My cornet case propped in a corridor became my resting place for the next two hours.
 
To be continued...
 
Government Response to E-petition
 
On Thursday 13 August 2009, the following e-petition was sent to the Government:
 
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow full and open access to registers of Birth, Marriage and Death from 1837 to 1908.” “Having full and open access to the registers of births, marriages and deaths from 1837 to 1908 will make it easier for genealogists to research the records and ensure they get the copies they require. If copies were put on the internet this would simplify the process. These records are over a hundred years old and should now be accessible to all with a small fee to cover the cost of copying the originals.”
 
The Government’s response was as follows:
 
Thank you for your e-petition which calls on the Government to provide full and open access to the registers of birth, marriage and death between 1837 and 1908. The Government understands that many family researchers want to have full and open access to the information in historic birth, death and marriage registers and accepts that the current legislation is overly restrictive with these records. Under current legislation – the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and the Marriage Act 1949 – access to the information in birth, death and marriage registers is only possible by means of a certified copy (certificate) of a particular entry, when that entry has been identified from the index and the statutory fee paid. There are other pieces of legislation which allow for the release of information in birth, death and marriage registers for specific purposes, e.g. statistical data, but there is no power to provide full and open public access. The Government proposed in 2003 a wide-ranging set of reforms to the civil registration service in England and Wales. These proposals included an intention to digitise all the records with historic records being accessible to view on a database, possibly with a small charge, but without the need to purchase a certificate. It did not prove possible to introduce the necessary legislation by a Regulatory Reform Order as we had intended and there has not been a suitable opportunity to legislate since then. Nevertheless, we remain committed to modernising the way in which these records can be accessed and the Registrar General keeps this under active review.
 
The End of the Line by Geoff Sorrell
 
Researching our families is our hobby. We enjoy the thrill of tracing the records of generations back in time, but then suddenly we reach the ‘brick wall’ and nothing seems to exist beyond it. With this thought in mind, I decided to analyse the present generation of my particular family, to see how someone might fare in a hundred years time if they wanted to trace us. My parents, between them, had eleven siblings. My father had four brothers and two sisters. Taking them in chronological order, his eldest brother had one child who did not marry but had one son. He never married and has, to use the legal term, ‘no issue’. The next brother married but had no children. Then there was a sister who married, had one female child who married twice but only had one son, who does not carry the family surname on to the next generation. Next in line was my father, who married and had two sons. Both married and the eldest (me) had one son and two daughters, but my son had two daughters who, even if they have children, will not carry the surname on to the next generation. My brother had two daughters, so they also will not carry on the surname.
 
Then came another brother who married and had two sons. Both of the boys married, but neither has produced a male heir, so there is no one from that root to carry on the surname. Next in line was a sister who never married, followed by a brother who married but had no natural children. Two children, one boy and one girl, were adopted but the boy produced no male offspring. My mother was one of six children, three boys and three girls. The eldest married twice but had no children. Next was a sister who never married or had children. Then came a brother who had one son and one daughter. The son married and had two daughters, so left no male issue to carry on the surname. Then came my mother, who I have already accounted for earlier. She was followed by a brother who married and had three daughters, so once again there is no one to carry on the surname. Last of the line was another sister, who married and had two sons and a daughter, but no one to carry on the surname.
 
The result of all this is that future research of the two surnames involved – Sorrell and Lockley – will reach a dead end with the current generation. My eldest daughter has been very helpful by giving one of her daughters the name Sorrell as one of her forenames, in the hope that a future researcher will key in that word to a computer and will come up with the one remaining thread that will take their research back to me, and from there to the eight earlier generations which I have managed to document. A quick calculation of the surviving descendants, partners, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Sorrell/Lockley families that existed just over 100 years ago reveals that there are no less than 87 of them at the present time. Maybe there are enough of them to produce a descendant who will want ‘to know who I am’ within the next 100 years.
 
This Issue’s Cover Photograph St. James the Great, Norton Canes
 
Norton Canes is one of the oldest recorded places in South Staffordshire. St. James the Great is the patron saint of pilgrims. The church was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, when it was probably a Saxon thatched building used by pilgrims making their way to the Shrine of St. Chad in Lichfield – about a day's walk away. It was rebuilt in the 14th Century and some of the stone is still visible at the base of the tower. Badly damaged during the Civil War, it was rebuilt after the Restoration and then, in 1831, a new church was built which was enlarged in 1870s. A disastrous fire in 1888 destroyed almost everything except the tower and bells, a few artefacts and the Parish Registers (for which we are eternally grateful!!). The church was quickly rebuilt once again and consecrated by the Bishop of Shrewsbury on 22nd October 1888.
 
Bumper Stickers for Genealogists
 
Adam and Eve probably found genealogy boring!
A family history shows you've really lived!
A family reunion is an effective form of birth control.
A job is nice but it interferes with genealogy.