New Society President
Sir William Benyon, DL, of Englefield House,
was elected President of the Society at the
annual general meeting held in June. Sir William
has had an extensive career dedicated to public
service, and recently retired after thirty-five
years as a member of the University of Reading
Council. He was a member of Berkshire County
Council from 1964 to 74, an MP from 1970 to 1992
and High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1995. As well as
being our President Sir William is also president
of the Berkshire Record Society. Queen Elizabeth
I granted Englefield to her favourite, Sir
Francis Walsingham, from whom the present owner,
Sir William is indirectly descended. There have
been only two families in ownership since before
the Norman conquest and the same family has held
the property for well over three hundred years.
The Edwardian Country House
Those of you who have been watching The
Edwardian Country House on Channel 4 will be
interested to know that the house used for
filming is Manderston house, near the border town
of Duns, about 47 miles from Edinburgh. Its
owned by Lord and Lady Palmer (of Huntley and
Palmers Biscuits) who also host Britains
first privately owned Biscuit Tin Museum.
The British Record Society and the Roehampton
Hearth Tax Centre are jointly producing a series
of texts of the Hearth Tax records of the 1660s
and 1670s. They are being published county by
county. The first volumes to be published are:
Cambridgeshire ≠ Michaelmas 1664, Kent - Lady
Day 1664, Norwich, Thetford, Yarmouth and Lynn -
Exemption Certificates 1670-74. These should be
followed by County Durham - Lady Day 1666,
Northumberland - 1666, Huntingdonshire - 1664 and
1674, and Essex - 1666. Other volumes planned
include Lancashire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and a
composite volume for Cumberland, Westmorland and
Furness. The volumes are indexed by surnames and
places. Although expensive they should be
available at your local library and those who
have used these documents will know that the
Hearth Tax is a virtual census at a crucial time
during the period of change after the English
Theres a new British historical database
online for those interested in population studies.
It contains information from a barrage of
information culled from government reports during
the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Although not useful for names of individuals it
does reveal the changing social climate during
the nineteenth century. The data ranges from
marriage and mortality, to poor law and small
Geoff Mather, who has done so much to
transcribe and index the 1851 Census for
Berkshire, has been elected an honorary member of
the Society. His work over the past 20 years has
provided a unique tool for all those with
Berkshire interests and I am sure will be
welcomed by everybody who uses the transcripts.
London Metropolitan Archives
Anyone with London or Middlesex family
interests might like to try a new online
searchable catalogue of London Metropolitan
Archive holdings. You can find it on: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/family-research/registerSearchForm.asp.
It can be searched in three different ways: the
name of an institution, such as a church, school
or workhouse; a geographical location in London;
or a relevant description. The database only
holds details of registers of churches, schools
and genealogical sources. It does not contain
individual names of Londoners. So a search for
Richard Thomas will not produce results.
Following the success of last years
Heritage Open Day, the Berkshire Record Office
will be participating again. There will be a
chance for you to see behind the scenes on
Saturday 14 September from 11 am to 3 pm.
The Society of Genealogists Family History
Experience will be held at Stoneleigh Park,
Coventry, on Saturday and Sunday September 28 and
29. Family history societies from around the
country will be represented as well as second-hand
book dealers and computer software specialists.
Advance tickets cost £4 (before September 19),
tickets on the day cost £6, with free parking
and a shuttle bus from Coventry railway station.
Berkshire Family History Introduction
to Family History Classes
The Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring Classes
in 2001/2 have been a great success. They were
held at our Research Centre in Reading where we
gave explanations, advice and demonstrations to
small groups. Designed to help the beginner and
those who have reched a plateau, they are held at
the Research Centre. Perhaps we can offer new
avenues of research and discuss your problems.
details of forthcoming classes which are
normally help over 5 evenings
REME Museum at Aborfield
Whether or not you were a member of the Royal
Electrical and Mechanical Engineers their Museum
of Technology at Arborfield is a joy to visit,
especially for children. The new exhibition hall
displays 20 specialist vehicles. The museum also
houses the Corps archives, technical, documentary
and pictorial, and is a designated place of
deposit for the Public Record Office.
The museum is open on Monday - Thursday 9 am
to 4.30 pm, Friday 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday 11 am to
4 pm. Admission: Adults £3, Children £2.
Wiltshire wills project
Lucy Jefferis, archivist at the Wiltshire and
Swindon Record Office, who was responsible for
the digitising wills project at the record office
has been appointed Assistant Archivist at the
Bath City Record Office. All those who knew her
will wish her well.
A number of servicemen who won the VC are
buried in Berkshire (see article in Sep 2002
issue on The Berkshire Yeomanry 1794 to 2000) but
one of the first was Captain Robert LINDSEY who
received the award from Queen Victoria herself.
He was gazetted for rallying a party of NCOs and
men and holding their ground against an
overwhelming Russian force at the Battle of the
Alma during the Crimean War. Capt. LINDSEY, who
later became Lord Wantage, is buried at Holy
Trinity churchyard at Ardington.
Museum of English Rural Life
The Museum, at the University of Reading has
recently acquired a further collection of
exquisite wrought iron work by the Bradfield
blacksmith Arthur HOLLOWAY. This has come from a
distant relative living in Devon and adds to a
similar collection of his work given to the
Museum by his grand-daughter in 1997. Arthur
HOLLOWAY was born in 1844 and was the resident
blacksmith at Bradfield from the early 1870s to
the mid 1920s. As well as routine iron work
HOLLOWAY also produced candle holders in the form
of a tulip, snails, lizards, snakes and spiders
all influenced by William MORRIS.
Eight months after it was due to be released
the online 1901 census is still not available. (Now
- from late Aug 2002 - available on weekdays at www.cenusu.pro.gov.uk
as a 'test site' - Webmaster). The Public Record
Office has completed its independent test
programme and they are planning to move to a new
phase of public testing which should be completed
by late August. This new phase will probably mean
that the online system will be available in
certain centres across the country. But they
cannot give a firm date for general Internet
access until those tests are evaluated. More
waiting Im afraid. In the meantime the
microfiche continues to be available at the
Public Record Office at Kew and at local studies
libraries and County Record Offices.
BRO digitisation project
The Berkshire Record Office together with the
Rural History Centre has embarked on a two year
digitisation project to digitise the countys
enclosure records and the agricultural
engineering records at the Rural History Centre.
The aim of the project is to gather digital
copies of all 182 large≠scale Parliamentary
enclosure maps and 160 awards for the historic
county of Berkshire which can be found in
collections at the Berkshire Record Office, the
Buckinghamshire Record Ofice and the Public
Record Office. By the end of this year a website
will go live with some material ready
to be viewed.
New parish registers at the BRO
Recent acquistions at the Berkshire Record
Office include the deposit of the Eaton Hastings
registers of baptisms, 1813-2001, and burials,
1813-1998. Other, more modern parish registers
include Reading St. Barnabas, Reading St. John
and Stephen, California and Stubbings.
Desertion from the army was a major problem
during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
When a soldier enlisted a full description was
recorded, giving colour of eyes and hair, height,
and distinguishing features. Few of these
descriptions survive in the public records, but
they were passed onto the police and published in
the Police Gazette. Catholic Ancestor (June 2002)
reports that the Manchester and Lancashire FHS
have compiled an index to more than 36,000 names
published in the Gazette and the index is
available on microfiche.
In this jubilee year I was reminded that on
the anniversary of Queen Victorias death,
her children used to visit the mausoleum at
Frogmore. One year, as they knelt in prayer, a
dove came into the mausoleum, and flew round and
round. It is dear Mammas spirit,
they whispered. No, I am sure it is not,
contradicted Princess Louise. It must be
dear Mammas spirit, they persisted.
No it isnt, said Princess
Louise. Dear Mammas spirit would
never have ruined Beatrices hat.
Apparently the source for this story was Prince
Henry, who later became the Duke of Gloucester.