BerksFHS Logo  

BerksFHS Berkshire Family Historian
June 2003

upBerks FHS indexContents

Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, June 2003 Contents

The Bulletin

A word from our Chairman

This June issue completes another Society year. Please remember to check your address on your renewal form and update the list of your current interests before sending it back with your payment. Thank you for being one of our two thousand members — and please remember to tell others that we can help family historians who live in Berkshire, not just those with Berkshire relatives.

How many of you have developed an interest in local history as well as family history? If you are like me, you will have already ‘tramped the ground’ your ancestors walked on. But how much do we understand of the way they lived? We can get some ideas from the many books that have been produced by local history groups and others. By looking at books for the different localities we may be able to see how one area compared to another. We may be able to understand why our ancestors moved from one place to another, and see whether it was an individual act or part of a general pattern.

As a service to you, our members, our bookshop stocks almost all of the current Berkshire local history books it can find. (We do omit a few books that we feel would be of little interest to you.) These books can go out of print quickly as some publishers think they are only of interest to people in the neighbourhood, so please forgive us when we can’t complete your order — but remember we do hold back one copy for the Research Centre library. As we believe local history is important to family historians, our Society is a corporate member of both the Berkshire Local History Association <> and the Berkshire Record Society. The Association website does list all the member societies and you may find the contact details helpful. I hope many of you will (find when it is published later - July 2003? - this year) the CD ROM of the 1851 Berkshire Census helpful in your research. We have recently started work on another CD ROM project, in conjunction with the Berkshire Record Office, to publish the early 1900s 25 inch (1:2500) maps on CD ROM. The CD will also include a gazetteer to help you find the correct map. We think both family and local historians will find these maps a very useful resource when they are published.

By the time you read this we will have refurbished the downstairs area in the Research Centre. We are swapping the bookshop and reception areas. This will allow a better display of books in the bookshop with some additional storage. There will also be more flexible furniture for the computer suite to accommodate up to ten computers for our popular hands-on workshops. This will make it much easier to rearrange the furniture for meetings and bookshop activities. Believe it or not, the Research Centre is now busy most days of the week and I am sorry we can’t open to visitors on more days.

As a final note, please remember that our (brief) Society AGM is hosted by the Newbury Branch this year in the Church Hall immediately adjacent to St Mary’s Church in Shaw. I look forward to telling you more about the progress of your Society there.

Free GRO index searches

The best known resource for GRO indexes online is , a volunteer project which aims to put all the GRO indexes over 100 years old on the Internet. But there are a number of other indexes covering local areas. The first covers Cheshire BMD from 1837 to 1950 and has two million entries. This one can be found at Another is for Yorkshire at, and another for Middlesbrough covering Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Hartlepool www.middlesbrough­

Old Bailey proceedings

Records of every trial to have taken place at the Old Bailey from 1674 to 1834 will soon be placed online after a grant from the New Opportunities Fund. The website initially includes trials from December 1714 to December 1799. In the autumn those for 1674 to October 1714 will be added, while 1800 to 1834 will be available in the spring of 2004. When it’s complete over 100,000 criminal trials will be available with a facility to search by keyword, name, street, date or by crime, verdict and punishment. During the seventeenth century the Proceedings were published as a periodical and were the main source for those seeking information on crimes in the Capital so the site is likely to be popular for anyone with London ancestors. You can read all about, among others, Thomas Nash, of Harrow on the Hill, indicted for the murder of Mary his wife ‘by giving her several wounds and bruises with stones on the left side of the head’; and William Turner, jailed in 1732 for stealing two cheeses. The website can be found at

Street directories online

The University of Leicester is creating a digital library of eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century local and trade directories from many parts of England and Wales. So far about 30 are online, with the prospect of 500 by the early part of next year. The website includes two from Berkshire, others from Devon, Durham, Wiltshire, Suffolk and many more. They contain local historical and topographical information, maps, lists of householders and their occupations and a wide range of other information. The site contains a powerful search engine so that all the information can be found on the digitised texts. The website address is

Posh Spice

Recently Sir Elton John said he wasn’t a snob as he’d be quite happy to sing with Victoria Beckham. Whether this was before he heard that Victoria, like many of us, had a dark secret in her family is open to question. According to Paul Blake who’s been researching her family, one of her ancestor s committed suicide in 1841 by drowning. She also drowned her four-month-old daughter and the coroner recorded an open verdict. I wonder what turmoil must have been going through her mind.

Dr. Watson

At one time I read the Sherlock Holmes’ canon avidly, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that Dr. Watson had a connection with Berkshire. He served as a house surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. It was here that Holmes and Watson first met. Watson trained as an army surgeon at Netley, Hampshire, and in 1879 was posted to India to join his regiment, the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. He was transferred to the 66th Berkshire Regiment of Foot, later renamed the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and was sent to Afghanistan where he took part in the battle of Maiwand on 27 July 1880. He was wounded in the shoulder by a Jezail bullet and saved from capture by his orderly, Murray. If the bullet had been fatal, Watson would have had his name carved on the Maiwand Lion memorial in the Forbury Gardens, Reading, and he would never have become Holmes’ assistant.

Aviation in Maidenhead

Maidenhead Heritage Centre is hosting an exhibition from 30 July on aviation in Maidenhead. The Air Transport Auxiliary Service had its headquarters at White Waltham and information about the service can be found at . White Waltham is the only airfield in Berkshire still operating and a history of the airfield can be found on the Museum of Berkshire Aviation’s website at Included on the site is a personalities page and a map showing other airfields in the county.

Crimean War Medal Roll

The roll for the British army in the Crimean War taken from WO100/22-34 has just been released on CD ROM. It covers all those men — both officers and other ranks — who fought in the War. It’s available from priced £29.99.

Rural History Centre

The Centre at the University of Reading has just received a Heritage Lottery grant to preserve their glass negatives collection. The project will package 130,000 glass plate negatives of the Farmers Weekly and Farmer and Stockbreeder in archival enclosures to be stored in acid free boxes. They are seeking volunteers to take part in the project so if you would like to help contact Caroline Gould on .

Historical farm records

Catalogues of these records are now available on the Public Record Office’s Access to Archives website at .

What’s on

The Yorkshire Family History Fair will be held at the Knavesmire Exhibition Centre at York Racecourse on Saturday 28 June.

  • Buckinghamshire Family History Society will be holding their Open Day on July 26 at the usual venue, Aylesbury Grammar School, Walton Road, Aylesbury.
  • The Essex FHS will be hosting the Federation of Family History Societies’ conference which will be held from 29 to 31 August. Entitled ‘A little of what you fancy’ it will be held at the University of Essex, Colchester. The conference will explore the extremes of poverty and distress with speakers as diverse as Colin Chapman, Lady Lucinda Lampton, and Dr. Julian Litten. Full details can be found on .
  • Oxford University Day School on ‘Riches and Poverty in Tudor and Stuart Newbury’ will be held on 7 June at West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury.
  • The Channel 4 Time Team programme will be taking part in National Archaeology Days at Ufton Court on 19/20 July.
  • Hampshire Genealogical Society Open Day will be at Horndean School on Sunday 21 September. Exit off the A3(M) for Lovedean. It is usually sign- posted from there.

Twenty five years ago

The BFHS journal for Summer 1978 proudly reported that the Society now had 89 members. Projects underway included indexing the settlement certificates and removal orders. Perhaps the most important section concerned a survey of Binfield including the final part of the schedules for the 1801 census with the names and households of individuals living in the parish.

Glenister family gathering

The first ever worldwide gathering of the Glenister family will take place on 28 June 2003 at Adams Park, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Around 100 people have committed to attend, including 18 from the US and ten from Australia. They would welcome more people — anyone with an interest in the Glenister family history — or more like Gl*n*ster which includes variant spellings too. The family has spread throughout England, and has many links to the Berkshire area. The family has been extensively researched, and the details are published on the website, which also has full details of the gathering.

Elizabeth Simpson Award

The Berkshire Family Historian has been highly commended in the annual award for excellence in family history magazines. This reflects the many authors who have contributed to the journal over the past year and the Executive Committee would like to thank all contributors. We hope to institute our own award scheme for the best article in the journal.

Web-page produced by DandyLion Services
Please contactwith any queries
© Berkshire Family History Society 2003

created 29th May 2003