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Berkshire Family Historian
December 1999

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Berkshire Family Historian:
Main Page, Dec 1999 contents

Excerpts from The Bulletin
Editorial - Gravestones under attack
Slough Branch Meetings
Paddington train disaster
If it moves, tax it - hat duty
More from the 1881 CDROM
A 1901 Census update
North Moreton
South Moreton
Ain't this sweet - an entry from the 1851 Census
Kennington
And finally...

Editorial - Gravestones under attack

Graveyards in many parts of England and Wales will be threatened if a report compiled by the Institute of Burial and Cremation is accepted by local authorities. Written by Angela Dunn it suggests that tombstones should stand for no more than 30 years because of the number of accidents involving crumbling masonry. According to the study of the 199 authorities surveyed 1.5% reported accidents in graveyards they are responsible for - three of them fatal.

Although the memorials are the responsibility of the owners, the cemetery authorities are answerable for safety. The thirty-year rule would apply unless the onus for maintaining the graves was taken on by the owners. But family historians in the future may not come across a memorial for their family until many years after the burial took place. If this report is accepted then unless the local authority can trace the family involved, they may have the right to remove the memorial entirely. This has already happened in many of the large cemeteries. In the older cemeteries in Greater London many local authorities have bulldozed acres of land with their memorials, to make way for new burials. Some, like Westminster Council, sold off cemeteries to private developers. It was only after a public outcry that the decision was reversed. Pressure will have to be put on Berkshire authorities to ensure that similar measures are not taken here. The author of the report admits this is likely to be a very sensitive subject and that when considering the removal of memorials the cemetery authorities will have to consider the heritage of these sites, and that headstones will be spared if they have special historical significance.

The Society of Genealogists' policy is not to campaign for the preservation of headstones, providing they are properly copied, but that ignores the heritage of our past. Too many of our cemeteries have been allowed to decay to the point where the graves have become vandalised by hooligans. Alan Bennett after visiting his uncle's First World War Grave in Belgium was astute when he wrote: "if this foreign field were forever England the bronze door would have long since been kicked off, the gates nicked 'Skins' and 'Chelsea' sprayed over all". How should we preserve the past for the future?

Slough Branch Meetings

From January 25, 2000 Slough Branch meetings will be held at Windsor. The new meeting hall is at Christ Church, United Reformed Church, William Street, Windsor. As before meetings begin at 7.30pm for 7.45pm.

Paddington train disaster

Most people living in Berkshire will have been touched in some way by the train accident that occurred on October 5. 1 have been a regular commuter on the Reading to Paddington line for more than 25 years, so seeing the pictures of the two trains after the collision was especially difficult to comprehend. I received a card from Una Wickett, from Honington, Bury St. Edmunds, who has been a member of the Society for many years. She writes. "May all of you who have been touched in any way know that the thoughts of those far away are with you. God bless and take care of you". Thank you, Una, for your kind thoughts.

If it moves, tax it - hat duty

Did you know that between 1803 and 1811 a licence was required to sell hats: in towns and cities it was 1, and five shillings in rural areas. Failure to obtain a licence could lead to a fine Of 50. In addition there was a graduated duty payable on all hats sold from 6d on hats between five shillings and seven shillings up to a hefty three shillings on hats worth 16 shillings or more.

More from the 1881 CDROM

Roy Stockdill, editor of the Journal of One-Name Studies, has been searching through the 1881 census on CDROM again. After finding Queen Victoria he's found more eminent Victorians. Florence Nightingale, the heroine of the Crimea, was living in South Street, Mayfair; two doors away was the Earl of Lucan, who shared responsibility with the Earl of Cardigan for the Charge of the Light Brigade.

He's also discovered that one of the victims of Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman, had connections with Windsor. She was born Eliza Anne Smith in 1841 to George Smith and Ruth Chapman. She married at All Saints', Knightsbridge, a coachman, John Chapman, a relative of her mother, and they lived in West London until some time in 1881 before moving to Windsor. Her husband was in the service of a gentleman at Clewer, Windsor. Annie was murdered on September 8, 1888, Jack the Ripper's second victim.

A 1901 Census update

The contractor for the digitisation and internet programme for the 1901 census is, as expected a government agency, the Defence Evaluation Research Agency. Charging on the internet will be based on the principle of the full cost of the service and rates will be set to encourage maximum use. Any profits will be used to finance the digitisation of other censuses. The charges have not been fixed, but the indications are that the index containing name and place would be free. To obtain a copy of the transcript would be about 50pence and to view the original, which could be down loaded, 80pence. There would be a minimum charge of five pounds, but heavy users may be able to maintain an account.

North Moreton

The register of burials for North Moreton for the period 1813-1891, includes the burial in November 1813 Of three members of the Bland family, 24 year old Harriet, 36 year old Mary, and baby Elizabeth, all of smallpox; the suicide by hanging of Richard Woolley, 68, in 1816 and in 1844 the death and burial of "John Lamb alias John Moorhen", a travelling bottomer of chairs, who died in Wallingford workhouse aged 27. There are also some unusual prayers for an election: "pray that all candidates, agents, canvassers, and electors, may avoid every temptation to impute unworthy motives .... and may refrain from making or embracing, unfounded promises". It's prayer that modem politicians ought to remember before every election.

South Moreton

The Berkshire Record Office has just acquired some parish records from South Moreton. Perhaps the most welcome were two volumes of overseers' accounts and rates for 1790-1808, thought to have been lost many years ago. They contain detailed records of expenditure on poor relief in this downland parish during a period of particular hardship in rural communities generally caused by a series of bad harvests in the mid-1790s which led to a scarcity of wheat and high prices for food.

Ain't this sweet - an entry from the 1851 Census

Geoff Mather contributed this entry from the 1851 Census at 69 Oxford Road, Reading.

Ellis, Henry F: Head: 38: Plebeian gardener and Chartist: Born: City of Chimney Pots
Ellis, Ann: Wife: 39: Fruitful wife: Household and maternal cares: Born: Ufton: BRK
Ellis, Mary: Dau: 15: Parents house-maid: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, Arm: Dau: 13: Parents housemaid: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, Henry: Son: 11: Much work and little pay: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, John: Son: 9: Helps brother and plays with the others: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, Charles: Son: 7: Goes to school whistling as he goes: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, Thomas: Son: 3: Stops at home and plays with baby: Born: Reading: BRK
Ellis, Edwin: Son: 4m: Nursed tenderly: Born: Reading: BRK

In deaf and dumb column presumably referring to his loving wife is: Can hear the Church bells: Talks to her baby and wears specs when daylight grows dim.

Kennington

The archives of Kennington Local History Society have been transferred to the Oxford Central Library. Before the local government changes in 1974 Kennington was in the ancient county of Berkshire.

And finally...

If you like a Kiss go to Crewe, to see a Tart take a train to Telford and for a Binge visit Cambridge. This is not a vice tour of England, but a survey of unusual surnames compiled by a marketing and information company. Lovejoy, Flitter and Eighteen appear as the most unusual names in Reading. Unless of course you know better .......


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updated 20th August 2001