Jan 292015

For those of you who haven’t yet seen last weekend’s HangoutOnAir to launch our 2015 Migration Project, you can now catch it on YouTube. We’re going to approach this project in bite-sized chunks where you can pick and choose how much you want to investigate, so hopefully as many members as possible will be able to fit this into their busy research plans.

Other starter material is now available as well, which participants can add to throughout the year:

  1. Check out the Migration Forum. Just sign into the website and go to the Forum to start swapping ideas with others who are trying to find out more about their places.
  2. Also check out the Project page where you’ll find ideas for getting started in the Inspiration List and an already extensive list of books and websites to help build context. You’ll also find a timeline for major British immigration waves – if you’re studying a place other than in Britain, why not add a timeline for your region?
  3. We’ll have other HangOuts on migration on a quarterly basis, so if you’re not feeling comfortable with how to use this channel yet just send a note to Janet and she’ll be sure that someone gets in touch to give you the basics on a one-to-one basis. HangOuts are held each month, so you may find other topics of interest as well as migration!
  4. All participants are encouraged to prepare articles for the Destinations newsletter on what they’re finding or what they think might be useful to others. Suzie is already beginning to gather articles for the next issue, so please get in touch if you’d like to contribute.

During the HangOut we discussed some ideas for getting started, such as:

  1. Set down some of the key questions you want answer about migration for your place.
  2. Dig into Histpop.org or other relevant population websites to find out what happened with the population of your place and compare it to other places.
  3. Understand the routeways of your place – roads, rivers, canals, railways – that might help you to see the most likely routes for migration to and from your place.
  4. In addition to your population and routeways information, start a list or notes on context for your place that you add to throughout the year, things like the economy and occupations, legislative change, religious influences and the like that might have impacted migration.
  5. Start listing those motivations that ‘pulled’ or ‘pushed’ the people of your place to migrate.

Every couple of months we’ll discuss more ideas to build the ‘big’ picture of migration for our places. And we’ll also be sharing ideas on how to track down the stories of individual migrants, which no doubt will interest many of the project participants.

Hope to hear from you and Happy Hunting!

Kim Baldacchino

Jan 252015

Blog Image 25 Jan 2015

With the new year only a few weeks old, many resolutions made have already gone by the wayside. I find that the best way to keep resolutions is to rename them goals and then cut them down into bite-sized pieces that are easily accomplished. Creating a rewards system for goals reached gives positive reinforcement to continue knocking things off your list.

Give yourself time to daydream. Menial tasks such as housecleaning or yard work give the mind time to rest and wander off into other areas. This is the perfect time to ruminate on where you would like to go with your study. Be realistic in your goal-setting. I like to start with a large goal and work it down until I can do a small piece in a short time. With several small children and a full-time job, time management becomes crucial for me in order to create goals that make sense.

My goal this year is to complete my in-depth report for my OPS in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. It seems like a year is a long time, doesn't it? But considering that I've been a member for at least that long and haven't done it...well you get the idea. Have you done an in-depth report on your study? If not, check out the terrific webinar on the Society's YouTube channel given by Janet Few on how to accomplish this. As a result of this talk, I now have a checklist of items to begin my report.

Of course, now I need to look at each task and break it down into smaller and smaller pieces that I can accomplish in those times when I have a few minutes or more to work every day on it. So, essentially, my first task is to break down my list of tasks.

Do you have a goal for your OPS this year? Perhaps it's just to review your project and see what else needs to be done. Be sure to join the monthly hangouts for OPS on our YouTube Channel. You never know what discussion might spark an idea.

Christine Sharbrough

Jan 172015


Have you ever wondered about the individuals who move in to and out from your place? Do you have questions about where they came from or why they moved out?

Following on from the excellent work by Alex Coles, who guided our shared endeavour on the First World War for 2014, we are ready to embark on our migration shared endeavour for 2015. We will be launching the project with a hangout-on-air on 23 January, which can be viewed by all. We will shortly be uploading ideas, resources and suggestions for activities to the Members’ Area of the website, under ‘Projects‘. This is of course a shared endeavour. Although we have some knowledge and experience of migration studies, we do not have comprehensive, worldwide knowledge of sources and resources that might be helpful. Please do recommend additional articles, books and websites that might be useful for this project. Head over to the migration project section of the Forum and make your suggestions under the ‘Migration Shared Endeavour Suggested Resources’ thread.

The hangout-on air will be an opportunity to discuss and develop the plans for the project. We will begin by looking at gathering population statistics and examining the route ways that migrants may have taken. We will also consider the best ways for project participants to exchange information. You don’t have to attend the hangout to take part in the project; we will be putting suggested activities and ideas on the website each month. There will also be regular updates and opportunities to exchange information through Destinations.

We have complied an initial list of book, articles and websites that are relevant to this topic. This will be available shortly in the members’ area. We know that there are many more useful resources; please do email your suggestions to the webmaster.

Ashford Local Area in miles jpeg

Janet Few

Jan 042015

One of our members, Janet Barrie, has challenged us to compile the biography of one resident of our place for each week of 2015, making fifty two residents to research in total. Several members have taken up the challenge, or opted for the less daunting twelve residents in twelve months. Some are publishing these on their own blogs or websites, others are offering examples for us to include on the Society blog and you may also see some in future issues of Destinations. There is also a thread in our Forum, where members can discuss this challenge and encourage each other.

Here is the first contribution for the blog. If you would like to offer one (or more) of your biographies for us to publish please email chair@one-place-studies.org

John Martin Andrew of Berriew, Montgomeryshire

Known as Martin, he was born on 7th January 1885, at a place known as The Camp, at Berriew, and was one of eleven children born to Mr & Mrs John & Mary Andrew. Martin went to Bettws School until 1896, then transferred to Dolforwyn School in Abermule, until May 1998 when he went to work as a farm labourer locally.

In 1901 he is to be found in Llangurig, at a farm called Cilgwrgan Fawr, then on 11th November 1905 he joined the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. His military service isn’t very distinguished – in May 1906 he deserted, and was missing until he surrendered in October, facing Court Martial, having also lost his equipment, clothing and regimental necessaries – sentenced to 28 days detention and 5 shillings & 6 pence stoppages. He served in Malta for two years, then was transferred to the Army Reserve in October 1908, and “taken on strength”, which probably means he was free to return home until mobilisation.

It is thought that he spent a few years back in Montgomeryshire, including a spell as a farm labourer at Cwmdockin in Bettws Cedewain, and a time in Canada, where some of his siblings had emigrated, before being mobilised on 5th August 1914. He served in France for almost the entirety of the war, until sent back to blighty in April 1918. During his service he was wounded in the back, and in the leg, hospitalised in Normandy. He gained the Bronze Star, British War & Victory Medals, also gaining a Lance-Corporal stripe in March 1915 (although this was removed in November 1915 for absence without leave).

After being given home leave over Christmas & New Year 1917/18, he was posted back to France, but went missing sometime in April. The family was notified he had been ‘presumed to have died on or since 11th April 1918’. This is now forever verified on the War Memorial at Ploegsteert in Belgium.

Peter Watson

Dec 242014

How was Christmas celebrated in your place? Would the inhabitants have collected Yule logs and evergreens to decorate their homes? What would they have eaten during Christmases past? If your place is in an area that experienced waves of in-migration, perhaps by people of different cultures, what customs did they bring with them from their native lands?

Many British villages had their own local curl, or carol, that would be performed by the resident Waits, who would go from house to house to sing. Does any record of a local carol survive for your place?

Illustration from John Taylor's  The Vindication of Christmas, 1653

Illustration from John Taylor's The Vindication of Christmas, 1653

Wassailing was a custom that was long associated with Christmas. Wassail comes from the Saxon greeting ‘waes hael’, or ‘be well’. The response, ‘drink hail’, means ‘drink and be healthy’. Wassailers would travel from house to house, wishing their neighbours well and hoping that cake and ale would be distributed. This was often a practice reserved for Twelfth Night. A traditional wassail brew, especially in the west of England, was Lamb’s Wool, a corruption of ‘La mas ubal’ or apple fruit day. This was made from warmed ale or cider, sugar and roasted apples or crab apples; spices and cream might be added. Commonly, in cider producing areas, wassailing, or apple howling, also formed part of a ceremony to keep evil spirits from the orchards during the following year. A rowdy procession would follow the apple king and queen from orchard to orchard blessing the trees. This was accompanied by shouting, the banging of drums and muskets being fired over the tops of the trees. Were any of these customs practised in your place?

How have Christmas celebrations in your place changed over time? The English Civil War saw many changes in Britain. The very name, Christ-mass, had Catholic overtones and for this reason, the Puritans wanted to rename it Christ-tide and mark it only by fasting and prayer. A directive of January 1644/5 stated that only Sundays were to be regarded as holy days and that all other ‘festival days, vulgarly called Holy Days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued’. Mince pies, which were at this time filled with meat and rosewater, were traditionally an oval shape, to resemble Christ’s manger. This led to them being outlawed as idolatrous. Parliamentarian soldiers attempted to enforce the ban on Christmas celebrations by confiscating festive food and removing decorations. This prohibition was reiterated in an ordinance of June 1647, which also attempted to establish the second Tuesday of each month as a secular holiday to give workers a break. In the 1650s, more legislation forbade Christmas services from being held on the 25th of December and businesses were expected to open as usual. What people did in their own homes largely went unnoticed but there was some public defiance to the ban. In Canterbury, what became known as the Plum Pudding Riots broke out. Market traders refused to open on Christmas Day and instead played a mammoth ball game with thousands of participants, calling for the return of Christmas or the restoration of the monarchy. Christmas celebrations resumed under Charles II but they were not as lavish as those of the first half of the seventeenth century.

Did the inhabitants of your place accept these changes or rebel like the residents in Canterbury? Of course it is often very difficult to find out how Christmas was, or was not, celebrated in the more distant past. For more recent times, look for newspaper reports of Christmas celebrations, or chat to older residents to find out about local traditions. Are you keeping a record of current traditions, such as markets, carol services and social events? Are there customs from the past that could be revived?

Listen to our December 2013 Hangout-on-air for further suggestions.

Winter in Buckland Brewer

Winter in Buckland Brewer

Janet Few

Some of the above is taken from Few, Janet Coffers Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors, Family History Partnership (2012).