Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2010 05 Volume 18 Number 3
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal

May 2010     

Vol. 18 No. 3
Contents of this issue.
From the Chair...
New Charges for Ordering Certificates
News from the Secretary
An Offer of Help from ‘Down Under’
Murphy’s Law in Genealogy
Irish Civil Registration Records
The Spoon Maker
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks
The Results of our Survey (so far!)
Requests for Genealogical Help
Slogans for Genealogists
BFHG Website News
George Carlin on Ageing
London Travels
This Issue’s Cover Photograph
From the Chair...
Dear Friends, Increased birth, marriage and death certificate fees are to be charged from April 6th, 2010. This of course will affect all family historians, but particularly those who are just beginning their research. All those ordering their certificates from the General Register Office will be charged a standard fee of £9.25 per certificate, whether ordered on line or by post, and with or without a GRO reference. Priority orders will cost a hefty £23.40. It will cost slightly less to order from a local registration office, at £9.00. I do hope this extra charge will not deter people from beginning their family history. It is now even more important that you contact other family members as they may already have the certificates in their possession.
Many of you will have found the National Burial Index a great research tool and the third edition was released at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in February. It contains 18.4 million records on a single disk and covers the years 1538 to 2008. You can buy the disk for £30 from www.genfair.co.uk, but if you purchased the second edition you can send your old disc to FFHS Services Ltd and then receive the new one for £15. However, do remember that the database is incomplete, as this is an ongoing project.
If you have not looked at our new website recently, I think you will be amazed to see the amount of information our webmaster, Alan Betts, has added recently. He has driven nearly four hundred miles to take all the photographs and there are also more links to other sites for you to explore. Many thanks, Alan, for all the time and effort you have given to enhance the site.
We are still looking for another volunteer to help Bob Houghton with the St. Mary’s Centre Family History Group. They meet weekly on Monday afternoons at the Centre (in St Mary’s Church, Market Square, Lichfield) from about 12 pm until 3 pm. People book an appointment for an hour and are dealt with on a oneto- one basis. Each helper has access to a laptop computer. At the moment there are three helpers who go regularly, but your help would be appreciated even if you could only go for part of the session. Please make contact with Bob or myself for further information. I am sure you would enjoy helping with this friendly group.
We have had a great response to our plans for another trip to The National Archives at Kew on May 26th, so much so that we have sold all the coach seats available. If you need to cancel for any reason, please let Jenny Lee know as soon as possible, as we do have a waiting list for places. Have a great day, everyone! Jane Leake
New Charges for Ordering Certificates
On 1st March 2010, new charges for people ordering birth, marriage and death certificates were announced by Registrar General James Hall. The new charges, which came into force on 6 April, condense the eight separate fees previously charged by the General Register Office (GRO) for ordering a certificate into just two – one for standard orders and one for the priority service. The cost of ordering certificates online with a GRO reference number, using the standard service, has risen from £7.00 to £9.25. A number of other charges, however, now fall to this new standard fee, including those for certificates where customers do not know the reference number. Three of the four priority overnight service charges also fall to a flat fee of £23.40. James Hall said: “The General Register Office receives more than two million certificate orders every year, the vast majority of which – over 90 per cent – are ordered online. This is our first change to fees since 2003 and we believe that the new fee structure will be simpler to use for our customers. GRO certificate services are self-financing and costs must be recovered to ensure taxpayers do not subsidise them. This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.”
News from the Secretary
Already we are halfway through the current membership year, and although numbers were down on last year until early 2010, we are now almost back to the highest membership we have ever had. Hopefully everyone will renew their membership on or before 31st July 2010 and we can start 2011 with a full list. I know that you read my ‘reminders’ in the Journal each year, but it is remarkable how many people manage to forget to renew their membership in spite of the fact that they have received a renewal form with the July issue of the Journal. Put a large X on your calendar for 31st July, to remind you to renew in good time this year – the Honorary Treasurer will be very grateful to you! In case you need to be reminded of the purpose of the renewal form, it has two major uses. It provides an opportunity for you to let us know of any changes to your personal details (address, telephone number, email, etc.) and of any additions or deletions in your Members’ Interests entry. You can also use the form to let us have your comments on the service we provide and suggestions as to how we can improve it. Please feel free to use the back of the form for comments and remember to return the form and your cheque to me, so that I can update your information. I will pass on your cheque to the Hon. Treasurer, who will give you a receipt only if specifically requested, as the appearance of your cheque on your bank statement is evidence of your payment.
The Committee are not anticipating any increase in the current rate of subscriptions, as the group’s financial position is quite healthy, following the sterling efforts of committee members in obtaining grants from local organisations to fund some of our activities. These include our regular family history surgeries at Burntwood and Lichfield Libraries and the support service we give to the St. Mary’s Group, which meets at the old St Mary’s Church in Lichfield, and which is now a Community Services facility. We have continued to support other groups in the Lichfield and Cannock area who have, from time to time, organised events centred on local and family history. Our website has also been updated and improved, which we hope is of benefit to our distant members. We also have financial assistance towards the cost of meeting rooms and visiting speakers. Without the help of grants, we would not have been able to continue doing these things without increasing the subscription rates.
Possible changes to publications
We would like your comments on proposed changes to the way we disseminate information to our members. For some years we have published an annual Members’ Interests List in the form of an A5 booklet. The booklet has been prepared from the database of surname interests which I maintain for the group. We understand that not everyone has ready access to a computer and the Internet, but amongst people doing family history research there will be very few who do not use digital facility access these days. All the surname interest information is available now on the group website – bfhg.org.uk – where it can be updated regularly and is available to all members on demand. The proposal is to cease publication of the printed A5 booklet and make it possible for any member who cannot access the website to be provided with any information in the Interests Database on request to the Hon. Secretary. A similar change could also be made in respect of the Research Materials Index, which we published as an A5 booklet for the first time in 2010. This is also held as a database by the Hon. Secretary and is continuously having additions and deletions made to it as new acquisitions are made and out-of-date ones disposed of . We have limited storage space for printed matter and new digital material is continuously being acquired which, in some cases, updates the printed matter in our library. Again, anyone without access to the Internet would be able to use the telephone or send a written request to the Hon. Secretary if required. Please let us have your comments. We would be particularly interested to know how many of our current members do not have internet access or have never used the group website. We did a limited survey of local members recently, in which we asked for information on use of our services, but this was not extended to our distant members, as most of the questions related only to members who attend our meetings.
Interactive Services
Relating to the previous proposals and use of our website, if you have any comments to make or queries to put to the group, you can use the email address (enquiries@bfhg.org.uk), should you prefer this to a letter or telephone call.
St. Mary’s Registers
Following my correction of an error in the January Journal regarding the date of ‘The tax commencement’, I can now tell you, courtesy of Kaye Christian, one of our members in Cheshire, that the tax in question was imposed by the Stamp Act of 1783, which imposed a Tax of 3d on baptisms, marriages and burials. Paupers were exempt and the tax was abolished in September 1794. Thank you, Kaye. Geoff Sorrell
An Offer of Help from ‘Down Under’
Our webmaster Alan Betts has passed on this offer of help from one of our antipodean members.
Dear Alan, Recently I renewed my membership for two (three?) years and will maintain that relationship while your team are doing good work. Should any of your members require any Australian support, please do not hesitate to ask. Although I live on the outer edge of Sydney, the main storage of records is close by and easy access. I do appreciate that most info can be accessed via the Internet, but the copies of actual records cannot. Regards Tony Hudson (thudson@pnc.com.au)
Murphy’s Law in Genealogy
Just when you think it’s safe, the great god Murphy always manages to raise his ugly head to mess up all your genealogical efforts. You know when he’s about when... You discover you have at least five ancestors who were born in the month before General Registration started. You realise that your ancestors don’t have a single gravestone between them. You suddenly remember that years before you developed an interest in genealogy, you gave your then six-year-old daughter your grandparents’ family album to cut up for a collage for school...
Irish Civil Registration Records by Bob Haughton
I went to the ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ exhibition at London’s Olympia in February. It was an excellent exhibition, but I could have done with several days there instead of just one. What interested me most was the amount of stands devoted to Irish family history. I also attended two talks on the subject, having hit a complete brick wall with my Irish ancestors. One of the talks was by the Familysearch people from the London Family History Centre, who, as you will probably know, are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was surprised to learn about the amount of work they have done with the Irish Records. We were shown a preview of their website, which has a fully searchable index of the civil registration of Birth, Deaths and Marriages from 1845 to 1958. And the good news is that it’s free! I thought that many of these records were lost, but the index is complete, although the starting date is different for different types of records, the births starting from 1864. So I visited their site and found a number of leads that I did not know about before. I am hoping it will at last open up the Irish door. As these records have only been available online for a short time, I thought I should let all other members of our group know. So far as I know, it was not widely publicised before the show.
To access the records you need to log on to the familysearch.org website and click onto the search tab and select ‘Record. Search Pilot’ from the pull-down menu. At this stage it may well ask you to install some software, but you only have to do that first time on the site. Click on to ‘Browse our records collections’. This produces a map of the world. Click onto Europe. Scroll down to Ireland (not in alphabetical order) and select ‘Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845–1958’. That should open up your search screen.
As with the English system, it is only an index and the further you go back the less information there is, but it does give you the numbers to order the certificates. As yet I have not ordered any, but I am told that you cannot do it online; you have to download an application form and post it off. Still a bit basic, but a giant leap forward in researching your Irish roots.
The Spoon Maker by Pam Turner
Stephen Hulse, my four-times great-grandfather, was born in Walsall at the beginning of 1764. He was the second child of Thomas Hulse and Phoebe Stephens and possibly the only survivor of their five children beyond childhood. Stephen was a spoon maker by trade, and the earliest reference I have to his occupation is in the 1801 Walsall census, when he was living in Rushall Street. Two further Walsall censuses in 1811 and 1821 also mention Stephen’s occupation, but on both of these occasions, his residence is given as New Street. During my research on Stephen, I found other references to him being a spoon maker. In 1818 he was mentioned in the Staffordshire Directory, but it is a reference in Thomas Pearce’s History and Directory of Walsall, printed in 1813, that is the most interesting.
Thomas Pearce was a local constable, churchwarden and vestry clerk who had previously taken two censuses of Walsall town, after which he had decided that the publication of a directory recording the town’s history and life would be useful. This book provides a fascinating record of Walsall’s inhabitants and their occupations in 1813, as well as many other aspects of life in Walsall at that time.
In Pearce’s Directory, Stephen Hulse was listed as living in New Street and his occupation was given as a ‘tutania and pewter spoon-maker’. Until reading this, I had never heard of tutania and so I was intrigued to find out what kind of metal it was. Initially, before the Internet came about, I could not find any details. However, with the increasing information available on the World Wide Web, I finally found some references to it. Apparently, tutania was an alloy of copper, antimony, zinc and tin patented in 1770 by William Tutin, whose Birmingham firm (Tutin and Haycroft) used it in the commercial production of housewares.
After further research, I found that William Tutin and William Haycroft had their business in Coleshill Street, Birmingham, and, like Stephen, their main product appeared to be spoons. Tutin and Haycroft are listed in directories going back to 1785 as being manufacturers of fine white tutania, but in later years other Birmingham manufacturers of spoons using the same metal were mentioned. In 1818, Mason and Grove and Millward’s were listed as spoonmakers who used the metal, and in 1828 Llewellyn and Ryland and Benjamin Turton were also mentioned. Both of these businesses were located in Coleshill Street. Tutin and Haycroft were not mentioned in 1828, so it is more than likely that they had finished trading by then.
In 1839, tutania was still mentioned as being used for making spoons in Birmingham, with both Ann Hill of Henrietta Street and Beck & Thomas of Coleshill Street recorded as users of tutania. After that date I could not find any further references to the metal, although it is possible it was still being used later than that. From the research I have done on Stephen Hulse, I feel sure that he worked as a sole manufacturer, although I do know that he employed apprentices. By a stroke of luck, I came across two indentures made in October 1820 and April 1821, whereby Stephen took on two boy apprentices from the village of Melbourne in Derbyshire. The first boy was John Curson, aged 13 and indentured for seven years, whose mother had been unable to contribute to his support after his father’s death. The second boy, Thomas Tivey, was aged 12 and indentured for eight years. Both boys were described as poor and indigent, and Melbourne parish trustees paid Stephen a fee of £10 to take on each boy.
Another interesting fact I found out about Stephen was that in May 1809, Walsall Borough issued an affidavit to the Sergeants at Mace and Ministers of Court, instructing them to find Stephen and keep him safe so that he could be brought before the next due Court Of Record at the Guildhall, which was due on 13th June 1809. Stephen’s apparent misdemeanour was that he owed Thomas Faulkner, a maltster, the sum of ‘13 pounds, 18 shillings and six pence for goods sold and delivered’. According to the website ‘Measuring Worth’, using the retail price index, this amount of money would have been worth £795.91 in 2008. I am sure that in 1809, the amount Stephen owed would have been an awful lot of money to Mr Faulkner. As yet I do not know what the outcome of the summons was, but I intend to research further into the matter.
During his lifetime, Stephen Hulse married twice. His first marriage, in August 1788, was to an Elizabeth Wright; it resulted in eight children, though not many survived into adulthood. Stephen and Elizabeth’s seventh child, James, who was my 3×great-grandfather, also worked with metal, although he became a silver plater specialising in spurs. Some time after 1823, Stephen moved to live in the Wolverhampton area with his second wife Sarah and their son Josiah, who eventually became a wood turner by trade. Stephen died in January 1837, aged 73, and was buried at St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
February 2010: Vanessa Morgan on ‘Stories Granddad Told’
Vanessa Morgan’s grandfather worked for the Birmingham Mint until his retirement in the 1950s. He once entered and won a writing competition and, as a consequence, was asked to contribute a series of articles to a magazine about his childhood in Cheslyn Hay, or ‘The Bonk’, as it was known locally, and the beauty and sounds of the countryside. Vanessa now has around twenty of these articles. She isn’t sure how much his memories were embellished to make more interesting stories for his readers, but they are certainly evocative of life in the area around the time of the First World War. She read us parts of eleven of them.
Granddad and his pals were, in their youth, known as the ‘Midnight Wanderers’ – a euphemism for poachers – and the first story gave advice to would-be poachers. He advised them how to avoid capture; to be aware of the censure handed out by the squire opening the village fete; the farmer, Colonel Blood; and the vicar, who would talk of dark deeds during sermons. He told of the lives of the villagers, and how land and houses could sink suddenly because of mine workings. For example, Chas and Mac had worked together all their adult lives, and Mac had saved Chas after a mining accident. In retirement they were still great pals. One day, Mac learned that his friend was gravely ill and had been given only a few hours to live. On his walk home, Mac decided to take a short cut but had an uneasy feeling. He was suddenly surprised to meet Chas, who told him to walk the longer way around as a mine shaft had collapsed. Taking Chas’s advice, Mac got home safely.
The next day he learned that a shaft had collapsed at the bottom of the field he was about to cross, leaving a pit full of muddy water in which he would probably have drowned. He thus owed his life to Chas. Then someone told him: “Mac, your old pal’s gone.” Chas had died at 8.30 the night before, the exact time that Mac had met him at the crossroads. The ‘Wanderers’ gave first pickings of their bounty to those who were most in need in the neighbourhood. They knew that old Josh and his wife were poor, so they went to give them some of one night’s catch, but Josh would not take any of their ill-gotten gains because his wife had told him that he was to give up either the lads or her. The band went away and, on the advice of Jonty, obtained some ducks from his father’s pond, which Old Josh was persuaded to accept.
‘Jimmy the brick’ had departed this life, so Herby the blacksmith donned his tie and his billycock hat and went to measure him up. “Well,” said his mate Pug, “Sixty years ago Jimmy had a wheezy chest, so I’m not surprised.” Jimmy’s cottage was in another village and Herby was not sure exactly where, but Pug noticed that one cottage had all the blinds drawn and the door was open. They went up the stairs and into the dimly lit bedroom, where they saw a body. “Oh dear,” said Herby, “One leg is bent. We can’t measure it up until it’s alongside the other. I know, give it a whack with your stick.” Pug did so, and there was an almighty howl from the bed. They had gone to the wrong house. Benjy had been batman to the Laird during the Great War and had served him in civilian life. He liked to be independent even in old age and insisted on cooking his own Christmas dinner. The Laird knew he was ill, so he called at Benjy’s cottage, but it was empty. A search party was organised. They found some of Benjy’s bird-snaring equipment an followed his tracks in the snow to the church, where Benjy was found inside on his knees. He said that a stranger had helped him into the church. The Laird took him back to his cottage where he took to his bed. Suddenly Benjy said, “Look – here’s the one who helped me. I’ll come with you now!” Whereupon he died.
At Christmas, the carol-singers would meet on the village green, carrying lanterns on long poles. The choir master would strike his tuning fork and off they would go, first of all to the top of the Bonk where the ‘big noises’ lived. There they would be asked inside for wine and mince pies, and then they would go to the other houses and outlying farms, returning finally to the green. Blinds were left undrawn at Christmas time, so mince pies were visible on the dresser waiting for callers. No Christmas wreaths or decorated trees could be seen; instead there would be trimmed butter tubs. Gun dogs were bred in the village. One, known as ‘Lazy’, was useless as a working dog, so he was acquired as a pet by Smiler. Vanessa’s granddad and Smiler had left the carol singers early one Christmas and parted to return home.
Her granddad was woken up by Smiler’s father knocking on the door and asking if his son was still carol singing, but upon hearing that he had left for home early because he did not feel well, a search party was organised. One of the dogs wanted to go in the direction of the reservoir, where they found Lazy trying to keep Smiler warm and licking his face to keep him awake. Smiler had felt ill and had collapsed. When Lazy finally died, a stone was erected saying ‘Lazy, a faithful friend’.
One day a fisherman arrived by train dressed as the complete angler. He walked up the Bonk and had lunch at the pub where he obtained directions to the pool. He set up his rods all around the muddy pool and sat down to wait. Several locals and small boys tried to talk to him but were shooed away. Everyone thought he was mad. He had caught nothing by teatime but dared not leave his rods, so stayed hungry and thirsty until it was time for his train home. He collected up his gear, observing to a local that he had been told the pool was teeming with fish. “So it is,” replied the man, “but you were fishing in a pool that has just formed after the heavy rain we’ve had. The fishing pool is further on round the bend. We did try to tell you, but you kept shooing us away.”
Vanessa’s granddad wrote about how things had changed in the 50 years since his boyhood. The old hall had gone, but the poor no longer trudged from place to place looking for work, their wives following with the children, often pushing a pram carrying all their possessions as well as the baby. Tarring and feathering was a thing of the past, as was drumming unwanted people out of the village. Jonty, Squitty, Miff, Smiler and the other members of the Midnight Wanderers were split up by the First World War. One was killed in action, while another died in a mining accident later on. Vanessa Morgan is lucky to have her grandfather’s writings. How many of us wish that we had asked our older family members to write and record things they remember, even if they are embellished a little. Often it is a case of us not being interested when we are young, and by the time we have developed an interest, these wonderful older relatives have died.
March 2010: Dave Pulley on ‘Local Survivors of The Charge of the Light Brigade’
Dave Pulley became interested in the Charge of the Light Brigade when he became the owner of two campaign medals belonging to Sergeant Matthew Rudman (1824-1909). Although not one of Dave’s ancestors, Rudman sparked his curiosity in the lives of those men who survived the most well-known disaster of the Crimean War. He showed us two photographs of Sergeant Rudman wearing his medals. He was a career soldier who served in various parts of the British Empire, and in retirement he was a Chelsea Pensioner. Many of us will recall Tennyson’s poem. The Crimean War was the first campaign in which photography and journalism paid a major part, and the poem spawned many paintings of the Charge and its aftermath. Russia attacked the Ottoman Empire because they were denied a role in the running of the Christian church in Turkey. They claimed it was a Holy War.
Britain and France feared Russian expansion, so they demanded the Russians withdraw; when Russia refused, war was declared. Battles took place over a wide area, but eventually the campaign became known as the Crimean War. The overall commander was Lord Raglan. In charge of the cavalry was George Bingham, Lord Lucan. Lucan’s second-in-command was James Thomas Brudenell, the Earl of Cardigan, (1797-1868). It did not help matters that Lucan and Cardigan could not stand each other. Both had enormous egos which were not matched by their military skills. Neither had previously commanded during a war and, like other officers of the time, they had bought their commissions. At the battle of Alma (30th September 1854), 8,000 men were lost. They rode on to Balaklava. The Crimea at that time was little more than an unhealthy swamp. Many soldiers succumbed to disease, including cholera, but Lord Lucan insisted that the men were malingering. From his elevated position, Lord Raglan could see that the Russians were trying to steal some cannons, so he sent an order to Lucan to attack. The message Lucan received was so vague that he did nothing, as he could not see anything from his position. Raglan sent a second command to Lucan, saying that the Light Brigade was to attack first and the Heavy Brigade would follow. The order was passed to Cardigan, but both men assumed that the guns were down the valley
When Cardigan questioned the action, because he could see Russian cannon on both sides of the valley, Lucan said that it was the order he had received from Lord Raglan. Cardigan and his men therefore charged off in the wrong direction down the valley. A third of his men were killed and two-thirds of the horses, but Cardigan left the fray early and retired to his yacht, which was moored offshore. An 1854 painting by Lady Elizabeth Butler shows survivors returning in the aftermath. John Ashley Kilvert (1833-1920), whose father was an agricultural labourer, was one man who did survive. He was the eldest son of the family and his first job was working for a publican in Birmingham. He later joined the 11th Hussars, and a photo of 1870 shows him as a Troop Sergeant Major. He was shot through the thigh during the Charge, the shot killing his horse. Kilvert was taken to the field hospital, and from there to Florence Nightingale’s hospital at Scutari. The higher quality care provided there, and the efforts of the other Crimean heroine Mary Seacole, meant that more of the wounded and sick survived.
Kilvert was sent home via Malta and Dave showed us a photo of him receiving a medal from Queen Victoria. He returned to Birmingham and married, but his wife died, leaving him with a young son. He went to Wednesbury to stay with a friend, then married a local woman and later became mayor of the town. In 1875, the Balaklava Commemorative Society was founded. Dinners were held all over the country and we were shown an appetising menu from one of these events. A photo of the 1908 dinner shows Kilvert in the centre of the front row. Also present was John Smith Parkinson, a survivor who later became a sergeant in the police force and was part of the guard of honour when King Edward VIII and Queen Alexandra came to Birmingham.
Another local man was a Mr Brookes, who had survived being wounded in the Sikh wars of 1840 and was fortunate enough to survive the Charge too. Another survivor was a Mr Vauxhall, who had been wounded fourteen times. William Henry Herbert survived the war without so much as a scratch, and went on to father 24 children. Only fourteen veterans were still alive in 1912. Kilvert, who died on 17th October 1920, left his sabre, medals and uniform to the people of Wednesbury. The uniform succumbed to moths and the medals were lent out for an exhibition and never returned, so only the sabre has survived. John Berryman VC (1825–1896) came to England from Ireland, but many of his family died during a cholera epidemic in Dudley. He spent 40 years in the army and was discharged as an Honorary Major. He married a Dudley woman but she, too, died of cholera. He later lived on a smallholding in Suffolk.
Walsall veteran William Arthur Perris (1828–1899) had his horse killed under him during the Charge. He was pinned underneath the horse and two of his ribs were broken. Serving in the Staffordshire Yeomanry, he was present at the Indian Mutiny. His funeral was attended by many of the townspeople and a brass band and he is buried in Rycroft Cemetery in Walsall. John Brown (1815– 1898), was from Lichfield. He came from a military family and served for 25 years. He wished to be buried with his bugle but, as this was in an unmarked grave, it wasn’t until a metal detector discovered the bugle that a plaque could be placed there.
Bill Bodger was taken prisoner by the Russians but was otherwise unscathed. He later worked on the railway and lost a leg in a shunting accident. The survivors became celebrities in their day and were often called upon to give talks on their experiences. Dave showed us a photograph of the veterans with Buffalo Bill. He is still looking for more photographs of the survivors to add to his collection. Dave Pulley’s knowledgeable illustrated talk gave us some real insight into the lives of the local men who took part in an ill-conceived military incident, which, because of Tennyson’s poem, has entered the British psyche.
The Results of our Survey (so far!) by Pam Woodburn
My thanks to everyone who completed a questionnaire during the last few weeks. If you haven’t handed yours back, don’t panic – there’s still time. Firstly, you were anonymous, so you could feel free to say exactly what you thought. No tricks: we really don’t know who completed which. At the time of writing, 16 surveys have been returned and the information on them is proving very useful.
The length of membership varied between ‘about to join’ and over 20 years! Many people attend only the Monday meetings because they have other commitments on Thursdays. About half of the people have used books and CDs that are available for consultation and loan on a Thursday, but some are still not aware what is available (despite Geoff’s noble efforts!). However, surprisingly, well under half of the people who completed questionnaires did not have ancestors in this area or even in the Midlands, so local information available at meetings was of no use to them. Generally, the speakers are rated ‘good’ to ‘excellent’. Our members find some speakers more useful than others, depending on their subject and delivery. We have had some good suggestions for future speakers’ topics. These include: 16th, 17th, and 18th. century research, local history; the workhouse; how people lived in earlier times; Welsh and Irish records; and newspaper research. There was also a suggestion that we might have a discussion meeting to find out how other  members of the group are progressing with their research. I’m glad to report that everyone feels comfortable at the meetings and we’re considered a friendly bunch. The coach trips are well supported and only three people had never been on one. The new website was mainly rated ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’, but two people rated it ‘OK’ and six had not looked at it. There were two cries for help in using the computer (I’m organising a 4-week course on using the computer for family history – for beginners).
There were some extra comments on improving the Group, freely given:
Access to Ancestry on a Thursday night would be useful. (We’re pursuing this one)
Find a permanent home!
More visits if possible.
Carry on the good work.
Most people are very helpful, kind and have a keen sense of humour.
A final comment on Thursday meetings: it seems a pity that the group’s library isn’t used more. Geoff comes on Thursday, takes out the books and nobody looks at them. The people who do attend are only interested in the computer research. We need to promote the library somehow. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Requests for Genealogical Help
 Dawn Davies (dawndavies06@tiscali.co.uk) writes: ‘I am trying to find a burial for a relative who died in 1900. His name was James Stringer. When he died he lived at the Jackson Buildings, Watling Street, Norton Canes. ‘Do you know where that building was back then and where would be the nearest graveyards, please?’ If you can help Dawn, please contact her directly by email.
Sandy Dickinson (Member 466: sandy.dickinson@ntlworld.com) writes: ‘I wondered if anyone knows if there is such a thing as an archive from the photographer Tinsley who traded for many years from premises in Chasetown High Street?’ Dawn sent our webmaster Alan Betts a photograph and spiel to add to a ‘Family Photographs’ page when he gets it running. The photograph was taken by Tinsley in High Street, Chasetown. Again, if you have any information which can help, please contact Sandy by email.
Jane Brownlee(jjrbee@yahoo.co.uk) writes: ‘Hello BFHG, I am researching my family tree and have discovered that my great great-grandfather was Henry Spurrier Brindley of Burntwood. Brindley was the surname of the family and the reason for Henry’s middle name Spurrier is a mystery yet to be resolved. ‘He was a land agent and sometime schoolteacher in Burntwood. I was surprised to find, too, that he was the enumerator of the district in 1851. His wife was Mary Webb, whose father, Henry, and family owned the Star Inn in Burntwood for many years. ‘My partner and I came to the village recently and had a drink in the Star (very exciting!) and a search around the graveyard. We found some family graves covered with leaves, but I notice on your website that you have transcripts of monumental inscriptions and also the surname index to the register of Christ Church. I know Henry and Mary were married there. I wonder if it would be possible to obtain copies of these please? ‘Most of the family are traceable through the censuses from 1841 right through to 1911, but my great grandfather, Henry, disappears after 1861 and then reappears in Salford, Lancashire (my home town) in 1881. Do any of your members have any knowledge of this family and could they shed any light on why or where he might have gone in the intervening years? ‘We had a super time in Burntwood and in the Lichfield Register Office, where we searched through wills and tithe maps. Everyone was so helpful. Any info would be really welcome.’
Alan Betts has replied to Jane, but any additional help that anyone else might provide would be very welcome. Again, contact Jane directly by email.
Slogans for Genealogists
If you’re looking for a slogan or motto to hang above your desk while you’re working on your family research, here are a few suggestions you might consider:
Shh! Be very, very quiet ... I’m hunting forebears.
I researched my family tree: apparently I don’t exist!
Genealogy is like hide and seek: They hide – I seek!
BFHG Website News
Alan Betts has been working very hard on the Group’s new website. He has been out and about with his camera and has taken over 1,000 photographs and uploaded nearly 600 of them up on to the website, in individual albums for 36 of the towns and villages in our vicinity. These can be accessed and viewed from the tab on the home page ‘Local Research’ then ‘Photographs of Landmarks in our Vicinity’. Alan has also created 36 pages, one for each of the towns and villages, which can be accessed from the ‘Local Research’ tab on the home page and then ‘Information on Towns and Villages in our Vicinity’. Each page contains information on that place, with links that may help you in your research. You can also access and view the photographs of that town or village from these pages. There are also links to family trees in our vicinity of the surnames ‘HAND’ and ‘WOOLRIDGE’.
If Alan has missed out a town or village that you want a page on, or if you have any information or links that he can put on the pages already created, do let him know. Also let him know if you have your own family tree on the Internet, or links to other online family trees in our vicinity. If you want a photograph of a specific building or location that isn’t there already, let him know. Alan is now compiling an album of photographs of ancestors and family who were born, christened, educated, married, worked, died or had any other association with our vicinity. If you have any photographs of ancestors or family that you want including, let him have them with a few lines of who is in the photographs, where and when they were taken and what the occasion was, and he will include them.
He has also added more links that may help you to research in Staffordshire, including some searchable editions of Kelly’s Directories. They can be accessed from the tab on the home page ‘Local Research’ and then ‘Staffordshire Research and Links’.
Alan points out that some of his emails to members requesting photos have bounced back as ‘Delivery Failure’, so he asks members to let him know when they change their email address by emailing him at: enquiries@bfhg.org.uk
George Carlin on Ageing
The late US comedian George Carlin had some interesting thoughts on the subject of ageing...
Do you realise that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about ageing that you think in fractions. So... “How old are you?” “I’m four and a half!”
You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.
You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead:
“How old are you?” “I’m gonna be 16!” You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life: you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!
But then you TURN 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you soundike bad milk! “He turned: we had to throw him out.” There’s no fun now, you’re just a sour dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed?
You become 21, you turn 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50, and your dreams are gone...
But wait! You MAKE IT to 60. You didn’t think you would! So you become 21, turn 30, push 40, reach 50, and make it to 60.
You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that, it’s a day-by-day thing – you HIT Wednesday!
You get into your 80s, and every day is a complete cycle: you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards: “I was JUST 92.”
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. “I’m 100 and a half!”
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!
London Travels by John Gallagher
Apart from using it for my research purposes, I have for a long time been fascinated with the Colindale Newspaper Library. This place is crammed with all types of media- related information with newspapers from every provincial town and city. If you have seen the BBC historian Dan Cruickshank doing newspaper research on any of his programmes, then this is the place. This oasis of periodicals, newspapers and printed matter is currently located in north London and is a good 20-minute tube journey from Kings Cross – truly suburbia. Once you are at the final destination, it is just a few steps before the building looms. A new visitor is rather intimidated upon first entering. The bag search and what you are supposed to leave behind at the front desk was very surprising, though they do provide a transparent bag for the essential tools for any researcher. With use of the London-Midland line at 7.40 am, the access granted me a good five hours research time before my train home in the late afternoon. This is a place where a digital camera would be in order, but they are not allowed and requests for printing incur a small charge. This is acceptable if you only want one or two pieces, but prohibitive if many requirements are needed.
It offers on-site facilities, and the delivery time of requested items is swift. As I had only a Saturday to visit, by utilising the website (www.bl.uk) I was able to prepare my work in advance and obtain items for an immediate start, so enabling me to maximise efficient use the time I had. My own particular interest was the four bound issues of the South Staffs Times from 1911–1915. It is regrettable that this paper is only located there and seems to have never been used since then, such was the good quality condition of the volumes. It covered more social and people news than the rather staid and conservative  Lichfield Mercury and, surprisingly, had more photographs.
There were episodes of lives duly recorded that assisted my WW1 research, but it was frustrating that the copies terminated in 1915. One thing did arise which had a satisfying conclusion. I was able to assist an email acquaintance with one such entry relating to her grandfather from 1911. It was a good stroke of luck indeed, as it was otherwise unrecorded and unknown. With more hours spent, I believe a useful picture of the city-wide incidents could be built rather than relying on the Mercury versions. As the library holds such a large and varied collection, it was not surprising to find an assortment of people and their reading choices. Alongside me I had two chaps reviewing copies of the Look-In comic, someone reading 1960s issues of Motorcycle News  and a reader of the Ugandan News from 1962. A diverse table indeed.
Apparently, the library is on the move, so a much more difficult journey to Boston Spa will have to be undertaken in the future, but if the time and hours are available, it is worthwhile making the trip to London to trace a part of your family history that would be otherwise unavailable in the Midlands. On my next journey, I intend to examine copies of the Teachers’ Gazette from the Great War, which should provide a record or obituary of the academics who served and fell in those years. With luck and a sharpened pencil, more forgotten history should be available.
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!