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BerksFHS Berkshire Family Historian
March 2001

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, March 2001 Contents

The Bulletin


I am sorry that there were no Chairman's Notes in the December edition of the journal. Among other things, I would have wished each of you the Season's Greetings. I take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous New Year. May you each find that elusive long lost ancestor this year.

We have been advised by the Federation of Family History Societies that our subscription for 2001 - it is based upon the number of members in the Society will be increased by 50%. This is just one of the additional costs of running the Society that we shall incur this year. Others include increased costs of printing and posting the Berkshire Family Historian; increased costs of running the Research Centre; and reduced income from bookstall sales. Taken together, I think that these factors will almost inevitably mean that membership subscriptions will be increased from the beginning of the next membership year in July. At the time of writing these notes in early January the Executive Committee has not finally reviewed the budgets for the next financial year and has not decided what action is required. If a decision to increase subscriptions is made before this journal goes to print then an announcement will be included as a late news item. I am sure that some of you will be unhappy that the Society may need to make this difficult decision. I would point out that subscriptions were last raised five years ago.

There are a number of Society posts that need to be filled at or by the AGM in June. I will have been a member of the Executive Committee for five years by the time of the AGM and under the constitution I am required to retire from the Executive Committee and therefore as your Chairman. Similarly, we shall also need to appoint a new Treasurer. Barbara Swiatek, who has been our Treasurer since the last AGM, will also have served for five years on the Executive Committee. The Society is therefore seeking volunteers to fill these formal Society posts, that is to say, the constitution requires that we have a Chairman and a Treasurer. In addition, Margaret Pyle has decided after some years to retire as one of the Membership Secretaries. We therefore need a volunteer to fill this very important post. Furthermore, Sally Pellow is no longer able to continue as Bookstall Manager. If you are interested in finding out about any of these posts then please ring the Secretary or myself. Job descriptions are available for each of the posts.

I am pleased to say that the Saturday Computer courses are proving to be very popular. In my other role as Research Centre Manager, it pleases me greatly to see that the centre is being used in this way. We can use the centre seven days a week and we should try to think of other innovative ways of using the premises. Would members be interested in other types of courses? Perhaps you would let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Our own family history is making slow progress at the moment. We are researching June's family. (My brother is researching the Dickason name.) June's maiden name is Marden and it seems that her family originated in Kent. One good source of information about our Mardens is June's great aunt Elsie. She is now aged 99 and a bit frail and deaf but when we see her she always recounts amusing stories about her early life with her ten brothers and sisters. In September, 2000 she celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary. Did you know that a 60th wedding anniversary qualifies for a message of congratulations from the Queen?

The maiden name of June's mother is Webb. Her grandfather came from Compton in Berkshire. We were therefore very pleased when the Society published transcripts of the parish registers for Compton. This has been a great help to us. A big thank you to those members who carried out the transcriptions and to Jocie McBride who produced the publication. June and I wish each of you a very happy Easter.

Battle of the Atlantic

The BBC is making a majordocumentary series on the Battle of the Atlantic to be broadcast on BBC1. They are keen to hear from widows or sisters of men who lost their lives on the following merchant ships, torpedoed in October 1940: Trevisa, Languedoe, Scoresby, Harpenden, Aenos, Carsbreek, Shekatika, Beatus, Convallaria, Creekirk, Empire Miniver, Gunborg, Blairspey, Fiscus, Assyrian, Soesterberg, Empire Brigade, Sedgepool, Clintonia, Niritos, Boekolo, Thalia, and Snefield. These ships were part of convoy SC7. Contact Victoria Brignell on 020 8752 5475, alternatively write to the History Unit, Room 5433, BBC White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS, or email her at

Shinfield War Memorial

The War Memorial has been moved onto the village green as a joint millennium project by the parish council and the local branch of the British Legion. As part of this project Peter Redfern has been trying to provide the background to the servicemen commemorated. There are 28 Great War names recorded, the majority belonged to the Royal Berkshire Regiment, but there are some Marines and others from the Royal Navy. But one name, Herbert Bailey, remains a mystery. So far he does not seem to have a Reading or local village connection. There are 1,400 Herbert Baileys on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll of Honour, so only family information would help to identify this particular casualty of the War. If you have any information then contact Peter Redfern on 0118-9885419.

American quilts

During the Second World War many thousands of quilts were made in America and Canada and sent to Britain as Red Cross Aid. The quilts were given to refugees, those who were bombed out, hospitals, land girls, and many others in different parts of the country. Sally Ward is preparing a research paper for possible presentation to the American Quilt Study Group on the stories behind these quilts. She is anxious to contact as many people who might have been children in families receiving them before the oral history they represent disappears. If you know of somebody who still has one then email Sally at .

The 1940s House

Those who saw a re-creation of a 1940s house on Channel 4 in January will be pleased to hear that the house itself forms a major part of an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London. The Museum has faithfully re-created a typical wartime home furnished and equipped as it would have been in the 1940s. The pre-war suburban 'semi' at 17 Braemar Gardens, West Wickham, Kent, will be on display until June 3. Visitors will be able to tour both floors and part of the garden with its Dig for Victory vegetable patch and Anderson Shelter. The reconstruction includes part of a wartime grocer's shop and displays about life on the home front ranging from the Blitz to the blackout.


For more than 200 years missionaries from Britain have attempted to convert the heathen souls who they believed ought to see the light. At its height, between 1880 and 1920 some 60 societies were actively engaged in many parts of the world, from China and Borneo to Africa and the Pacific islands. By 1889 it has been estimated that l0,000 missionaries were working in the field. As a consequence archives, personal papers, books, photographs and even films were produced. A new project to facilitate and improve access to this archive is underway and it is hoped that eventually a web-based guide will be produced. If you know of any materials which you think may be of interest to the group planning the project then contact: Rosemary Seton, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.

Fairs and Open Days

The South West Area Group of family history societies will be holding their third family history fair at the Winter Gardens, Royal Parade, Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday,7th July from l0am until 4pm. Eleven local societies will be taking part with help desks staffed by member societies. Parking is easy and there's a separate restaurant and bar where visitors will be able to enjoy a meal and relax.

Northamptonshire Family History Society will be holding their 25th anniversary conference on June 2 at the Cornmarket Hall, Kettering from 9.30 until 4.30pm. Speakers include Dr. Ruth Paley on rogues and vagabonds and Muriel Catty giving her lecture on the enumerator's tale. The day will cost £12.00, which includes lunch and refreshments.

The Berkshire Family History Society Open Day 2001 is on Sat, 19th May at Abingdon.

Family history magazines

If you already buy copies of Family Tree Magazine, Practical Family History, or Family History News and Digest then why not take out a subscription through the Society? We take care of the administration and the magazines are sent to your home address regularly. The publishers give the Society a small discount on subscriptions, so by ordering through us you will help to pay for new research projects. If you would like to take out a subscription then contact Jacky Holcombe, 36 Orchard Avenue, Sonning Common, Berkshire RG4 9LT.

Royal Archives

A number of members have contacted Sheila de Bellaigue, the Registrar of Royal Archives, since her article appeared in the December issue of the journal. Please do not send money with your requests for information as £io plus VAT is the basic fee and does not include photocopies. So don't include any money with your enquiry.

Spoof 1881 Census entry

According to an entry in the 1881 Census at 16 Acacia Gardens,

Paddington, Middlesex, lived the Goodman family. Robert the head of the household, aged 52, was described as an 'international playboy', his son, Robert, aged 40 was described as a ponce. There were 13 servants, born in places as far apart as, Nepal, Afghanistan, Syria, the penal colony in Australia and a curious spelling of 'Timbucktoo'. On the face of it this looks like some enumerator having a joke with the census until you come to one of the servants, John Gordon, a footman, who was born in Pakistan in 1850. As Pakistan was not created until after Indian independence in 1948, this is clearly a joke perpetrated by one of the indexers who transcribed the census for the Federation of Family History Societies. We have already come across a number of what seem to be humorous entries, I just wonder how many more there are, and how many were inserted by bored transcribers.

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updated 5th August 2001