Meeting Summaries

Summaries of many past meetings are available on this website. A handful of examples appear below.

Many more summaries can be read in the Members' Area.

Every current member of Berkshire Family History Society can access the Members' Area. Note that before you can do so, you need first to register on this website — it is very quick and easy to do this.

What my DNA test told me

Newbury Branch meeting Wednesday 12th June 2019

Speaker: Tony Hadland

Tony Hadland first took a DNA test to discover whether or not a family story of Spanish ancestry was true. The results placed him in haplogroup M, together with a map showing this group to be prevalent in India and the Far East, but absent in Europe. This confirmed what he had suspected: in Victorian times it was apparently not unusual for dark skin of Indian inheritance to be passed off as Spanish, southern European heritage being apparently more socially acceptable than Asian. (His wife’s DNA test did incidentally, reveal a strong possiblity of hitherto unsuspected Spanish ancestry.)

Read more: What my DNA test told me

A grandmother's legacy

Newbury Branch meeting Wednesday 8th May 2019

Speaker: Jenny Mallin

The talk was based around a 175-year-old book of recipes, which Jenny Mallin had inherited from her mother. It was old and tattered, as it might well have been, having survived five generations.Jenny introduced her five great-grandmothers who, together with their families, had lived in mainly Mysore and the south of India.

Amongst other things, her mother had looked after Benazir Bhutto when Benazir was a child, and thought that she was difficult to control.

She finished with the partition of India. As her whole family were Anglo-Indian, there was a dilemma about where to go. In the end her parents decided on Britain, where they had to adapt to life without servants, and strange foods. Jenny was born in London after they arrived.

We then sampled the food which Jenny had brought for us, including some shortbread, which tasted just as it should.

The Liddiard Family

Newbury Branch meeting Wednesday 10th April 2019

Speaker: Karen Rogers

Karen Rogers began her one-name study of the Liddiard family 25 years ago, in the course of which she has identified 26 different spellings of the name. She is not constructing pedigrees, but collects instances of the name and attempts to fit them into Liddiard family branches.

         The death certificate of one of her own forebears, William Liddiard, described his cause of death as “hanged”, which prompted her to research his life further.

Read more: The Liddiard Family

Enos Molden: the life and death of a country policeman

Newbury Branch meeting 6th March 2019

Speaker: Judy Rous

Enos Molden was born in 1843 in the Wiltshire village of Lydiard Millicent, and joined the Wiltshire Constabulary in 1861. He was just over the minimum age of 21 for joining, met the literacy standard and, as a five-foot-ten-inch labourer, more than met the height requirement.       

Constables of the time were issued with a thick serge uniform, greatcoat, boots, cap (later replaced by more protective helmets), whistle, lamp, truncheon, notebook and pencil. The greatcoats were notorious for absorbing rain, for which there was plenty of opportunity, as most policework was conducted on foot, in all weathers. Duties included meeting the first and last trains at the local station to keep an eye on criminal comings and goings, and to watch out for signs of epidemics in farm animals, as well as the usual tasks of preserving the peace.

Read more: Enos Molden: the life and death of a country policeman

Lord Craven and his problems with the Commonwealth

Newbury Branch meeting 13th February 2019

Speaker Dr Manfred Brod

William Craven was born in 1608, the eldest son of a self-made Lord Mayor of London who died in 1618. William’s inheritance included the manor of Hamstead Marshall, a number of Downland villages and other vast land-holdings scattered around the country.

Baron Craven of Hamstead Marshall was a soldier who chose the Thirty Years’ War to pursue his military career. Within this wide-ranging conflict he fought for the cause of Elizabeth, daughter of James I, also known as the Winter Queen, whose husband had lost his briefly-held kingdom of Bohemia.

Read more: Lord Craven and his problems with the Commonwealth

Jack of Newbury

Newbury Branch meeting 9th January 2019

Speaker: Dr David Peacock

Jack of Newbury is a legendary figure of early Tudor England. However, you have to get the right one, out of several, including four generations of the same family where the heir was named John.

The first two of these, John Winchcombe I (d. 1520) and John Winchcombe II (d.1557) were both clothiers, and in early Tudor England to be a clothier meant that you were responsible for organising the production of woollen cloth at a time when 90 per cent of England’s exports consisted of woollen cloth.

John Winchcombe II had at least 250 sheep of his own at Greenham, but he also acquired wool from thousands of sheep across a wide area. Locally this included Kingsclere, Enborne, and the Berkshire Downs. He ran his own dye house in Newbury, using woad as his major dye and purchasing it by the ton. He employed his own carders to card the wool and there is documentary evidence that suggests that there may have been 70 or more of them. He used fulling mills at West Mills in Newbury, and produced thousands of cloths called Kerseys each year.

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