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
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 cant 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 <www.blha.org.uk>
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
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 cant 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 Marys Church in Shaw. I look forward to
telling you more about the progress of your
Free GRO index searches
The best known resource for GRO indexes online
, 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 www.cheshirebmd.org.uk.
Another is for Yorkshire at www.yorkshirebmd.org.uk/,
and another for Middlesbrough covering Cleveland,
Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Hartlepool www.middlesbroughindexes.co.uk/.
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 its
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 www.oldbaileyonline.org.
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 www.historicaldirectories.org.
Recently Sir Elton John said he wasnt a
snob as hed 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 whos 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.
At one time I read the Sherlock Holmes
canon avidly, but it wasnt until recently
that I discovered that Dr. Watson had a
connection with Berkshire. He served as a house
surgeon at St Bartholomews 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
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 www.airtransportaux.org
. White Waltham is the only airfield in Berkshire
still operating and a history of the airfield can
be found on the Museum of Berkshire Aviations
website at www.rdg.ac.uk/AcaDepts/sn/wsn1/dept/av/en88.html.
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. Its 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 Offices Access to
Archives website at www.a2a.pro.gov.uk
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 www.esfh.org.uk
- 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
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
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 www.glenister.org, 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.