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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, September 2003 Contents

Berkshire Family Historian
September 2003

The Bulletin

Migration of poor families   
Poor Law Guardians were sometimes asked to defray the expenses of poor families and a number of requests have been found by Angela Hillier for families to emigrate to the United States. In 1838 Abingdon Union granted a request by the parish of Appleton and Eaton for permission to spend £10 to ‘defray the expenses of Richard Parrett and his family to America’. Meanwhile Wokingham Guardians refused a £7 grant to Widow Brent to accompany one of her daughters to America in 1837. Two months later her daughter who had paid for her mother’s passage applied for compensation and this too was refused.
Adoption appeal

The Berkshire Adoption Advisory Service, York House, Windsor, assists people who’ve been adopted look at their records and trace parts of their family history. There used to be a mother and baby home called Burnell House at 27 Bolton Avenue, Windsor, which became a family centre but was later sold and demolished. The name Burnell House was transferred to another family centre also in Bolton Avenue. This too was sold off. The Berkshire Adoption Advisory Service is anxious to locate any photographs of the first Burnell House which would help
place it in context for people whose birth mother stayed there. If you can help contact Alison Vincent, York House, Sheet Street, Windsor. Tel: 01628 683765.

Black and Asians in Britain

As part of a nationwide project to map the historical presence of Blacks and Asians in Britain the Berkshire Record Office is gathering references to them in parish registers in the county. If you come across any references while searching registers pass them on to the BRO. They have already found an entry for Thomas Goree, an African adult who was baptised at Cookham in 1771 and readers of this magazine will remember a number of others mentioned in the December 2002 issue of the magazine.

What’s on

Windsor camera obscura Photographs form an important element in family history and if you’ve got connections with Windsor you might like to visit an exhibition at the Local History Room at the Town and Crown tourist information centre at Windsor until the end of September. It’s called The Camera Obscura: A Different View of Windsor’. All photographs in the exhibition are for sale
Oxfordshire family history open day

The Oxfordshire FHS annual open day will be held at Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxford, on Saturday 4 October from l0am until 4pm.

Reading charter anniversary

The Berkshire Record Office summer exhibition, which ends on 13 September has as its theme the 750th anniversary of the grant of the first charter to Reading. The end of the exhibition coincides with the record office’s annual open day. As usual visitors will be able to see behind the scenes of the building usually closed to public access.

London local history fair

The Guildhall Library and Guildhall Art Gallery are hosting an event devoted to London and its history called London Maze. With over 30 stalls from London’s museums, archives, local history libraries and historical societies, expert talks, guided walks, and tours of Roman London’s amphitheatre it should be a wonderful day out for family historians with an interest in London. It takes place on Saturday 11 October from 10am to 4pm and entry is free.

West Middlesex FHS one-day conference

‘We seek em here, we seek em there’ will be held on Saturday 13 September at the Public Record Office from 10am until 3.3Opm. Among the speakers will be
Michael Gandy, Beryl and John Hurley and Chris Watts on sources at the PRO.

Museum of English Rural Life

Construction work has begun on the new Museum at the former St Andrew’s Hall, Redlands Road, Reading. Building work is due for completion in the summer of 2004. There will then follow the task of transferring the collections and setting up the new exhibitions, and the new Museum will open officially in the spring of 2005.

Regimental museum

The Museum website of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment at Salisbury Wardrobe is called the Wardrobe because it was once owned and used by the bishop of Salisbury in the nearby Cathedral. The museum holds all the records for the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). It is the only regimental museum in the country to have its war diaries on site and available to researchers. The curator is David Chilton who is extremely proactive and very helpful. Because it is located at Salisbury it very often gets missed out of the Berkshire circuit. In addition to the war diaries they have a mass of photographs that relate to the Berkshire Regiment. The website can be found at <>.
British in India and southern Asia

If you have family connections with India you may be interested in a new website at <>. Visitors to the website are free to join the discussion group which covers the modern-day countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Burma, Singapore, and Malaysia.

A free download of The Indiaman Magazine is also available. The latest issue has articles on the Gloucestershire Regiment, Regiments of the East India Company and even a recipe.

Research Centre news

Changes in the Research Centre are continuing, which is the sign that it is alive and not moribund. The Bookshop and Administration area on the ground floor have now been resited and partially equipped with new furniture. Combined with other things taking place at the same time meant that the Bookshop reorganisation took much longer than expected to complete and I apologise for that. Hopefully any further changes in the Bookshop will be minor tuning, not major ones.

Still to come as a major change is relaying the computer section, for which plans, as I write, are now complete. They are the last of the planned reorganisations and we hope they will make your enjoyment and ease of researching your family history better and more comfortable.
I was hoping to be able to report by now that the Reference Library Catalogue was accessible on our website but due to the enormity of the task of simplifying the detail and layout, this has not yet been possible. It is still our aim that all members will be able to look at the catalogue and find out what we hold of interest for them and their research without having to be in the Centre first. [It is can now (Dec 2003) be browsed on this web-site.]

On one of the recent monthly Research Centre Tours, a member remarked that even though she had been in the Centre many times, both as a researcher and as an assistant, she was very surprised at the range and compass of our holdings. In particular she had never before appreciated the wealth of research material available on all the other counties of England and Wales, as well as Scotland and overseas countries such as Australia. For new researchers, the biggest surprise is the almost complete coverage of all English and Welsh county 1851 census returns. When researchers combine their findings in 1851 with those made from the 1881 national census transcriptions on CD ROM and the 1901 English and Welsh census accessed through Broadband in the Centre, they suddenly find they have gained information on three generations of one line of their family in one day. Why don’t you come along and try things for yourself?

Computer Group

A new Branch, our sixth, the Computer Group, has just been established (see page 42). It will meet on the first floor of   St Peter’s Church Hall, Church Road, Earley at 7.l5pm on the third Wednesday of each month. Meetings are open to all who want to know more about using computers for family history and begin on 15 October with Phil Wood talking about census information now available on your computer. Kevin Tomes from Parchment Printers will join us on 19 November to demonstrate scanning and repairing photographs. After a break for Christmas, Chad Hanna will describe how to get the most out of the FamilyHistoryOnline website on 21 January. Each meeting will also include a half-hour surgery dealing with your software and hardware problems, a computer related bookstall and a raffle. Car parking is available and the No 17 bus stops nearby at the Three Tuns.

Jane Longhurst Award

As many of you will know the daughter of one of our founder members, Liz Longhurst, was murdered earlier this year. To mark her tragic death we decided to institute an award for the best article in the magazine over the past year. We asked the Editor of the Reading Evening Post, Andy Murrill, to judge the award. This is his report.

“What a magazine. It’s packed full of interesting, thought-provoking and detailed articles. Making features interesting when they contain so many facts is extremely difficult but, almost without exception, your writers managed to pull it off. There was no verbosity and the writing, as in newspapers, was usually sharp and accessible which makes the information easier to digest.

I found John Siblon’s piece on black people’s place in British history very challenging and I also enjoyed Peter Ford’s article on nineteenth century justice. Other stories that stuck in my mind were tales of farm workers and the piece concerning school log books. But I found two features particularly engrossing.

In second place is Janet Keet-Black with what I found to be a charming account of the history of the Reading Wagon — a gypsy living wagon. I have seen one at the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading so I have to confess I had a particular interest in the subject matter. But Janet’s writing is crisp and clear and she presents her information in an easy style.

But the winner is Neila Warner with her account of ‘rough music’ in the nineteenth century. Being a newspaper editor I usually think the best story of the day is the one most people talk about — sometimes it may just be a small downpage piece. I have been telling everyone about rough music as Neila’s article was a great yarn about how wife beaters were treated in rural communities. It made me chuckle in places and I was hooked from start to finish. Her writing has a good pace and really brings the tale to life.

Congratulations to Neila, and to all the contributors to this fine magazine.”

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created 8th December 2003