Friday, June 26, 2009

A Walk Home - postscript

My blog entry "A walk home along High Street" was chosen as the featured article in A Festival of Postcards' 2nd edition "Main Street". Thanks Evelyn! Thanks also to the other entrants, plenty of interesting postcards were contributed so do check it out.

As an postscript to that entry I'd like to post a back view of one of the postcards I used as it's quite interesting on its own.

"The Cross" postcard was published by Ernest Cleaver, the postmaster of Wing. My own copy of this postcard is unposted, but another posted copy has previously been up for auction on Ebay and I saved their scan of the back. That copy was postmarked Leighton Buzzard J[ul]Y 16 [19]12 11.15 am with a King George V halfpenny stamp (apparently His Majesty was a keen philatelist so I bet seeing himself on a stamp was a personal thrill), and is addressed to:

Mr Heather
Gas Works

The text reads:
"Dear Dad
We are coming by that 6.42 train from Leighton arrive Euston 7.40. Frank is going to meet us at Euston so you might see him. We are going up Wing Tower at 11.15am, and then going to see the Hounds at 12. Yesterday went to Ascot [sic]. All the men rushed out to see us. Ethel had her camera in her hand. They all wanted there [sic] photos taken. Love Dorothy."

I'm not entirely sure what Dorothy means by Wing Tower - presumably the bell tower at All Saints Church. By "Ascot" she is of course referring to Ascott House, the home of Leopold and Marie de Rothschild on the outskirts of Wing. Foxhunting was a frequent pasttime here.

My favourite bit is the description of the impact Ethel's camera had on the workers of the Ascott estate - evidence that cameras were quite a rare sight around Wing back then!

Are there any descendents out there of these visitors to Wing? Looking at the 1901 census I can find two sisters Dorothy and Ethel HEATHER (both born Lambeth), with a gas fitter father, living in Brighton, which sounds like a likely match.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

1911 census enumerators books

The summary pages from the census enumerators books are now available for the 1911 census. If you have previously purchased the page for your family in 1911 you should now be able to see at no additional cost the cover and address pages for your family (not that informative), and a number of more general pages about the enumeration district. The most interesting of these are "District Description", which detail the route travelled by the enumerator (see 1891 example) and the "List" which lists your household and up to 49 of their nearest neighbours. Each household line includes the primary surname of the household along with the number of males and females, so it is quite useful.

In one of my district description pages I spotted a familiar street name - it turns out the flat my brother first lived in when he moved to London in 2002 is the next road over from where our grandmother appears as a 5-year-old in the 1911 census!

If you have purchased the pages for your own Wing households I'd love to hear what you found in the individual household page and the List page. I'll be shaking the piggybank this weekend to see how many of my own households I can purchase!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mapping the LATHWELLs

View LATHWELL in a larger map

I've started tinkering with Google Maps customisation features, using the LATHWELL family as an example. The map above shows an assortment of randomly selected locations of Lathwell families, some of whom originated from Wing, and some who did not.

I don't have the time right now to do a comprehensive job on this particular map, but I like the overall concept. A long-term goal for the Wing One Place Study is to be able to map the immigration and emigration of each Wing family and this will be a great tool to complement that particular project.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A walk home along High Street, Wing, Buckinghamshire

Stand at the south end of High Street. To the right, the dust is kicking up from the carts travelling the road to Ascott and Leighton Buzzard. To the left, the Dove Inn1.

The Dove Inn looks pretty quiet this afternoon. There's the Pollard boys, hard at work in the blacksmith's shop next door. William's been looking a mite peaky lately, he's stopped to take a rest2. Hold on, there's Ernest across the road waving at me. Better go see what he wants...

Well I never! He's got some more of those post-cards in, photographs of our little village with his name on the back and all - "Cleaver, Wing, Bucks". He thinks the hoity toity set that come to Ascott for the hunting will be keen to buy 'em. That lot are only interested in horses if you ask me, the posh kind, not the good honest carthorses on some of the postcards.

One of the pictures was taken right about where I'm standing now, outside his post office looking up the road. Mrs Cleaver was in the doorway of the post office, and the other neighbours had quite the set-out by the Queen's Head. Have to admit, I came rushing over too when I heard that photographer chap from Leighton was here - but you won't catch me in the photographs! All very interesting it was though. Particularly when Mrs Lovell3 gave him what-for for blocking the road!

Speaking of the Queen's Head, perhaps I'll stop in for a quick pint with Henry.

That's odd, he's not there. Up the road at the Cock Inn4 maybe?

Right, had a quick chat and a wee bit to wet my whistle. I don't think Henry's missus will be pleased though, he's had more than a wee bit!

At the Cross5, so nearly home now. Ernest had another new post-card in, some of the little 'uns dandling about in the road with Wantage House behind. James Adams did well enough, him a carpenter and now managing the estate for Lady Wantage and living in the big House to prove it. You can't quite see our cottage on the postcard though - just as well, or my Mary6 would be wanting one. And who's she going to send it to anyway, I ask you!

This blog post is an entry in A Festival of Postcards blog carnival for "Main Street" June 2009

1 - did I mention it's 1901? It's another century or so before the Dove stopped serving.
2 - William Pollard died in March 1902 at age 24, six months after his only surviving child was born - luckily for me...
3 - Mrs Julia Lovell was one of the village carriers.
4 - yes, that makes three pubs along the 400m total length of High Street.
5 - the intersection of High Street and Vicarage Lane
6 - play along at home with the 1901 census and guess which Wing resident might be walking home!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ten key UK genealogical resources

If you're a non-UK-based genealogist starting to research your ancestors in the UK, you'll bring your existing genealogical skills to the game but each country is of course a whole new playing field. Here's a quick run-down of some key resources you should know about for England and Wales (the playing field is different again for Scotland and Ireland, about which I know nothing, but I'm sure the first resource listed will be a good place to start!)

GENUKI - clarifies the historical counties and gives you a good overview of the online and offline resources that are available for the area your ancestor lived in. Amongst other things, watch out for a link to that county's record office or archives. Many of these have an online catalogue of their holdings and offer a research/photocopy service (or can provide lists of professional researchers in the area whom you could engage to locate items for you).

FFHS - the Federation of Family History Societies has a list of all its member societies and their websites. Each county should have at least one family history society, whose role includes transcribing various useful records (census, parish registers, and other odds and sods). Purchase from a FHS if you have the option - they are non-profit organisations who know their area extremely well and this will be reflected in the quality of their offerings. And do consider becoming a member!

FreeBMD and GRO - civil registration of births, deaths and marriages began 1 July 1837 and there is a centralised index to these certificates. FreeBMD is a free, but not entirely complete, database of the index. Once you have the reference you need, head to the General Register Office website to order your certificate online. To find out what you can expect to learn from a certificate, be sure to check out Barbara's Registration Web Page., Find My Past and The Genealogist - individuals were first named in the 1841 census, and the census took place every 10 years thereafter. These are three of the commercial sites which have census records, both scans and indices, available. Check carefully to make sure the years and counties you want are included before waving your credit card at them, and as always the quality of transcriptions and hence the ease of finding your ancestors may vary. If your budget is tight, you might get lucky and find what you're looking for on FreeCen (transcriptions only).

FamilySearch - prior to the start of civil registration in 1837 the key source record where you will likely find information about your ancestors is the parish register (also very useful post-1837 too!). You may find that the parish registers for the village or town you are interested in have been filmed by the LDS so you can have the fun of ordering and viewing these yourself - search the FamilySearch catalogue by place name to see what's available for your village (or the whole county - like military or tax records).

The National Archives - does what it says on the box. Some useful centrally-held collections (like PCC wills) have been scanned and are available to purchase via their Documents Online service. Check out the useful free research guides about different types of historical records.

Historical Directories - a selection of surviving directories for the different counties can be found here. You'll find a brief description of the town or village along with selected residents (generally landowners and tradesmen).

Rootsweb lists - there are mailing lists for each county (and in some cases more than one - there's two for Buckinghamshire). Subscribe, watch the flow of emails for a while to get a feel for that list's etiquette (you'll pick up numerous useful snippets of information along the way if you take the time to read all the messages), then ask away or contribute information.

B-G Forums - just one of the numerous online message boards covering the UK. As with mailing lists it's best to register and take time to browse through the individual forums of interest to see how things tick before jumping in.

and finally, genealogical gold .....

One Place Study websites - check out the One-Place-Studies index for your village of interest, and google (village name + county name + genealogy) to see what turns up - you just might get lucky!

Monday, June 01, 2009

June update

New to the website this month is the 1895 Kellys directory. Brand-new to Wing in this directory were Miss Nellie WOODS, the infants school mistress, George HOUNSLOW now trading as a chimney sweeper, Charles MORTIMER farming in Cottesloe and George UNDERWOOD farming at Old Park Farm, Joseph WOOLHEAD as a draper, and several new publicans - William OSGOOD is pulling pints at the Cock (did you pull pints back then?) along with a SHIPLEY at the Queen's Head and a PINFOLD at the Sportman's Arms. There were also numerous others whose first appearance in the directories I've transcribed had previously been 1899, so this dates their trading activities earlier by at least four years.

I've also added Eric TAYLOR to the listing of military men from WW2. Eric may be known to many, as he first came to Wing in his capacity as an instructor with the RAF's Operational Training Unit based there, and was able to return to Wing permanently as the headmaster of Wing School in the 1950s.

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