|Extracts from 'The
Editorial - the
- missing baptisms uncovered
Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919
unusual entry from the 1871 Census
Parish relief fraud
And finally ...
- the 1901 Census
Nineteenth century census records are freely
available on fiche and film, and some have been
published. Like many other county family history
societies we have transcribed and indexed the whole
of the 1851 census, while recently the 1881 census of
England, Wales and Scotland was produced on CDROM.
When it comes to the census for 1901 the PRO has
decided that it should be made available in digital
form on the Internet.
There are more than 32 million names on the 1901
index on something like 2.5 million pages. In order
to cope with the huge influx of researchers expected
at the Family Records Centre it seems sensible to use
modern technology to make it available. Given the
timescale for the digitisation process the PRO
decided to seek commercial partners under the Private
A number of companies expressed interest and a
shortlist is now under consideration. One of those
companies - the Defence Evaluation Research Agency -
has recently been carrying out a survey on how much
family historians and demographers are prepared to
pay to use the first census of the twentieth century.
This particular company is looking at a number of
options. One of these is a large one-off fee, a
figure of £10,000 is being suggested, which would
give a researcher unlimited access for a lifetime.
Another possibility is a quarterly fee of perhaps £500,
or a system based on pay as you use. This may be
something in the order of £10 for half an hour, or
paying for the number of records you use for each
visit to the site.
Given that these records are in the public domain,
most family historians must ask themselves whether or
not they wish to pay such exorbitant fees in order to
look at the new census material, or if they will use
alternative sources that are freely available. Also
if this is a sign of the times, how much longer will
it be before birth, marriage, and death certificates
at the Family Records Centre will be subject to
commercial companies milking what has until now been
relatively free from the profit motive?
June and I hope you enjoyed your holidays.
The Society has been concerned for some time about
its corporate image. A small group from the Executive
Committee led by our Secretary has been working with
the Department of Typography at Reading University on
this initiative. They have been looking at how we can
improve the image of the Society by using modern
The first tangible result of this work is the new
look Berkshire Family Historian that you are now
reading. We hope that you like it. The principle aims
of the new look magazine have been to give it a
modern look; to improve the quality of the paper on
which it will be printed so that we may have better
reproduction of photographs. Last but not least, we
wanted to produce an attractive marketable product
that we can sell to non-members through the bookstall.
The Executive Committee would welcome any comments
that you may have concerning the new look magazine.
You will notice that John Gurnett has assumed the
editorial chair. Catherine Harrington has been our
Editor for some eight years and she now feels it is a
good time for a change. We thank you, Catherine, for
all your hard work with the Berkshire Family
Historian during that time.
I am writing this soon after the contents of the
Research Centre was put into store. During the early
part of July a group of volunteers led by our
librarian carried out a complete stock cheek on the
Research Centre Library and packed the whole
collection into boxes. Then on a hot July Saturday
about fifteen volunteers came to Prospect College and
we loaded the entire stock, furniture, fiche readers
and all and transported it into store. At the same
time some volunteers remained at the College to tidy
up the remnants. It is amazing how much junk we
removed. I would like particularly to thank Lesley
Hanna who organised the stock cheek and packing; Ed
Pearce who masterminded the removal operation; Chad
Hanna who played the part of trucker and Eddie
Spackman who loaned the use of his camper van. To all
the other members who gave their time so generously -
I am able to report that the refurbishment work at
Yeomanry House will be entirely completed by August 8
when the building will be handed back to Reading
Borough Council. That is the good news. The bad news
is that both entrances to our new premises remain
stubbornly behind the security fencing of the
contractor for the new Record Office.
We are continuing to find a way of gaining at
least temporary access to the premises so that
fitting out can commence. I fear, however, that fire
regulations will mean that we are unlikely to open
the new Centre before January 2000.
At the Annual General Meeting in June Ron Dobree
was re-elected Treasurer of the Society.
Unfortunately this was the last time he shall be able
to do so. Next year Ron will have completed five
years as our Treasurer and this is the maximum an
officer of the Society can serve under the
Constitution. So we need to find a new Treasurer
before the AGM in June 2000. It seems to me that the
sooner we are able to appoint a 'shadow' Treasurer
the better so that we have the maximum opportunity
for a smooth take-over. If any member feels able to
take on this important role please contact me. I have
a job description if you need to know more about the
Also at the AGM I was able to announce the
prizewinners of the 1999 Display Panel Competition. A
judging panel of Jean Debney, Chad and Lesley Hanna
and I carefully examined the seven entries. We
considered the logic told by the presentation; the
evidence of additional research; the use of colour
and space and the overall impression of the entry.
The clear winner was the entry submitted by Dr. Barry
Jerome of Southampton who won a leather briefcase.
Second and third places were tougher to decide but we
awarded second prize to Chris Sibbald of Maidenhead
and third prize to Walter Townsend of Bracknell who
won vouchers for the bookstall. Chris was able to
come to the meeting to collect her prize. Well done
by everyone who took part.
The Society will be staging the third Maidenhead
Family History week from October 2 - 9. This is
staged in conjunction with the Maidenhead Heritage
Trust. The Society will have a display at the
Maidenhead Heritage Trust Shop at the Nicholson
Centre at Maidenhead.
Needless to say we require volunteers to staff the
display during the week to assist the public with
their family history questions. You will be
encouraging newcomers, or those resuming their
research, to use the facilities at the Research
Centre and to advise them on the benefits of
belonging to a family history society preferably
Berkshire. In other words you are selling family
history as a hobby or pastime. So if you live in the
east of the County why not help to run the event.
June and I have found it very interesting during
previous years. If you are able to help please ring
me at any time.
Sandhurst - missing baptisms uncovered
The damaged parish register for Sandhurst covering
baptisms 1696-1812, marriages 1696-1753 and burials
16961812 has recently been made available at the
Berkshire Record Office. The original had suffered
from water damage and it was thought that the records
would be lost forever. New materials have enabled a
conservator to separate the folios and they have been
photocopied. The copy is now available in the search
room, together with an index and transcript of the
missing baptism and burials.
Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919
The Society has purchased a copy of the CDROM
version of Soldiers Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919
that contains 703,000 names in two sections: soldiers
unusual entry from the 1871 Census
2 Leopold Road, Reading (Ref. RG10 1284 Folio 72),
home of George Amor, a baker at Huntley and Palmers.
Among his family was a baby girl aged 30 minutes,
born at 11.30pm. Did the enumerator wait outside the
door to see what sex the child was before filling his
Peter Shilham, who runs the Selon Index, covering
south and south east London, came across an early
fraud while searching through some 1833 parish relief
records. A pauper was getting relief from the parish
and from the Catholics down the road, simultaneously.
Clearly a case for the Parish Constable, or the Fraud
A computerised index for births in Northern
Ireland is available in the Scottish Link area of the
Public Search room. The index contains births for the
years 1922 - 1993 inclusive. Use is free but time, in
half hour slots, must be booked at the Scottish Link
Peter Shilham, also came across the a death
certificate for a man named William Crapp, who died
of 'Inflammation of the Bowels'.