Apr 182017

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. It's time to head north to the Orkney Islands with today's tour guide Jane Harris.

O is for Osmondwall. It’s not actually In my place, but as it was the only graveyard in the area until around 1883, many people from my place are in it.

My place is North Walls and Brims, in the island of Hoy, Orkney. Osmondwall, or Ousna as it is commonly known locally, is in South Walls, on the shores of Kirk Hope. All three form part of the parish of Walls and Flotta.

Ousna has quite a history. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, it was there that Olaf Trygvesson, a Viking leader, compelled Sigurd the Stout, Earl of Orkney, to convert to Christianity in 995. The ungentle conversion was fairly short-lived it seems.

The graveyard at Ousna reflects the history of North Walls and Brims in several ways. Towards the shore is the mausoleum built by the Moodies of Melsetter, who owned most of Walls from the 16th until the early 19th century. More humble gravestones testify to the strong seagoing tradition of the area, revealing information that in at least two cases would have been very hard to find otherwise: William Robertson died at Riga (Latvia) on 24 June 1846; Jemima Ross, wife of Captain George Bruce, master mariner, interred in St Helena; 1866. Jemima spent most of her short life in North Walls while William and his family were born there.

Not only is there a strong tradition of seagoing, but there is also a history of saving lives. The Longhope Lifeboat Station was established in 1874 at Brims. In March 1969 tragedy struck when the entire crew lost their lives on a rescue. All eight were men from Brims or very close by. Their memorial at Ousna, the bronze statue of a lifeboat man looking out to sea, is strikingly poignant.

Around 40 Commonwealth war graves collectively bear witness to the importance of Lyness, North Walls, as a naval base in two world wars.
Life itself could simply be hard. Margaret Sabeston’s gravestone also commemorates six of her infant children, no names given. She was the wife of John Gray, Miller, Rysay, and died 31 December 1841 aged 37. Rysa(y) or Risa is in the north of North Walls, a fair boat journey away from Ousna. That final journey is echoed in the boat under sail lightly incised into her gravestone.

Unlike many older graveyards, Ousna is still in use. There is even a Facebook group with photos of some of the stones and stories about the people on them.

Apr 172017

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. Head to Rillington where Pam Smith has some chapels to tell us above.

Bethesda Chapel, Lowmoorgate, Rillington

In my place of Rillington, North Yorkshire, there were three nonconformist chapels. The first to be built was the Wesleyan Chapel in 1805 on Railway Street, which is now Lowmoorgate. The next to be built in 1818 was the Independent Bethesda Chapel and a Grade II listed building which is also on Lowmoorgate (pictured above). The third was the Methodist Church (Primitive) built in 1880 on Westgate. Rillington accommodated approximately 700 people in the 1851 census, and together with the Anglican Church of St. Andrew, the nonconformist inhabitants were involved in keeping the faith in a variety of ways.

To read more about the chapels, members should check out the March 2017 issue of Destinations in our members area.

Apr 152017

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge and today it's Bratton Clovelly's one-place studier Kim Baldacchino.

With voter records, BMD registrations and censuses, the 19th and 20th centuries were fairly straightforward in my place. Then with parish registers going back to 1555, freeholder lists, deeds and various other sources, even the 17th and 18th centuries started to emerge. But eventually I fell off the cliff. A few tax lists, an occasional muster roll, a clergy list and not much more when I tried to make some sense of medieval times. That is, until I discovered the manor rolls. How much information such a small set of documents can hold.

Fmanor rollsor my parish of Bratton Clovelly, Devon, there were ten court rolls at the Devon Heritage Centre from 1377-1684. I had the rolls digitised and then translated over several years to spread the cost but they turned out to be a goldmine of information. For example, before getting the rolls translated I only knew the names of 14 people in the parish before the 1500s based on one lay subsidy. In contrast, the manor roll for 1408-09 alone had the names of over 150 people, probably reflecting the great majority of males in the parish over the age of 12 and a number of females as well.

There was lots of descriptive information on people:

Of Sir Thomas Wyes (3d) of the honourable Order of the Bath, knight, the heirs of Sir William Kirckham (3d), knight, Sir Shilston Callmadie (3d), knight, John Moore (3d), esquire, and John Dynham, esquire, free tenants which owed suit then and made default. (1627)

And on happenings:

(The Bratton tithingman) presents that Blythe Blakegrove raised the hue and cry justly upon Roger Brode (6d) … Roger Brode beat the aforesaid Blythe with 1 staff (4d) … Roger beat the aforesaid Blythe, to the effusion of blood (6d) … (1377)

On sustaining the community:

The tithingman (of Bratton) presents that John Skedemur (2d), Walter Roberd (4d), Thomas Clovele (6d), William Uppecote (6d), John Veyse (3d), John Roue (6d), John Aylecote (6d), Henry Vysak (6d), John Miller (6d), Thomas Langeworth (6d), Robert Colyn (6d), brewed ale and sold it contrary to the assize … William Lobet (12d) and Richard Valeys (6d) are common tapsters and sold ale and broke the assize. (1377)

Or not sustaining it:

Robert Clerk refused to sell ale when he had it to sell. Therefore he is in mercy. (1431)

Even a bit of a scandal (for a quiet place like Bratton Clovelly):

The bailiff is in mercy because he did not attach William Southeo, by the pledge of H Estelake, to answer to the lords as to why he stands accused because he keeps a certain woman in his house suspiciously. She lives against etc. And he should be attached. (1552)

The National Archives, working with county record offices, is making a lot of progress on the Manorial Documents Register. There’s an introduction at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/manorial-documents-register.htm and the register can be searched at http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/manor-search. Your record office may know of other documents held locally, possibly even some that have been translated. Then it’s just that little matter of teaming up with the right people to figure out how to unlock the information in them.

Apr 142017

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. Today Alex Coles ponders a subset of her one-place study of Wing in Buckinghamshire.

Wing isn't just Wing, you know. In My Place is Wing village itself, then the hamlets of Ascott to the east, Crafton to the south, Cottesloe to the west, Burcott to the north, then nestled in along the road from Wing to Burcott is the hamlet of Littleworth.

When you visit Wing today most of these hamlets are not really noticeable as housing has sprung up to fill the gaps between them, leaving just one large village mass, but of course they were completely separate neighbourhoods amongst the fields at some stage or they wouldn't have separate names. Some of this would happened in living memory - when I visited Wing in 2013 I was informed by a friendly lollipop-man standing on the corner of the Littleworth road that "all those houses" (with vague wave at the nearest buildings) weren't there when he was a boy.

Different housing styles on different streets may be a good visual clue as to when a street first established itself. While it's wedged firmly up in Wing now, with just that stretch of road bearing the name Littleworth indicating the old hamlet, Littleworth must have been a clearly distinct place in its own right as far back as at least 1227, when it was known as Litlengeworth. Its history as home to a subset of my Wing folk is definitely longer than the late 19th century terraced housing (on one side of the road) and late 20th century (on the other) would suggest.

Littleworth Wing postcard

The infamous misspelled postcard published by local postmaster Cleaver (if you look closely you'll spot the waterpump in the centre)

Hamlets also raise an interesting question for a prospective one-place studier. If your potential place has hamlets, is the combined place a little on the large side to comfortably wrangle when researching? Should one perhaps start with a one-place study of the hamlet first, then expand once the core elements of the hamlet have been explored? For what it's worth I jumped in and took on the whole shebang. It is good to sometimes sit and contemplate just a hamlet on its own though - after all, in times gone by it certainly was a community in its own right.
Sportsmans Arms pub in Littleworth Wing Buckinghamshire

Any self-respecting hamlet needs its own pub - the Sportsmans Arms, 1868-2014
photo (c) Alex Coles 2013

Apr 132017

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. It's time to visit Gatineau in Canada with our host Brenda Turner.

K is for the Kellogg family, one of the early pioneer families who are buried in my special place, the West Templeton cemetery in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. It is a family I knew very little about until I was happily landed with the letter K.

The earliest Kellogg burial we know of was that of Hiram Johnson Kellogg, who was born in Vermont, USA, in about 1803. That Kellogg family links back to Connecticut and New Jersey well before the American Revolution of 1776. This was documented in a 1903 book on the history of the Kellogg family by Timothy Hopkins, a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and based on Kellogg family records and reports mostly compiled by the family itself. It shows the family originated in the UK in the Braintree in Essex area.

And why would that Kellogg American family had migrated into Canada? Well, they were part of a wave of about 30,000 American migrants who moved to Canada from the US between 1792 to 1812.

Following the loss of the United States after the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the British Government wished to avoid similar independence agitation in Canada, and the 1791 Canada Constitutional Act was passed to help accomplish that. That Act legally established the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec respectively), and created legislatures to levy taxes to support area courts and civil administrations, thereby lessening the Imperial financial burden of supporting the colonies. It also ensured the religious freedom of Quebec Catholics to practice their own religion, and legally adopted French heritage civil law, unlike the other provinces of Canada, which operate under common law traditions. It also limited the power of the provinces, though, and strengthened political dependency on Great Britain. In doing so it probably sowed the seeds for rebellion in the next 50 years, but that is another story.

Cheap land was being offered in these two new provinces, and those 30,000 American migrants moved north to claim it. Some of those migrants were considered “late Loyalists”, such as Quakers, who wanted religious freedom and freedom from serving in militias.

Another of those migrants was Philemon Wright, born in Woburn Massachusetts, who fought in the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1777 under Captain John Woods in the Massachusetts Militia. Wright moved north between 1798 and 1800, bringing with him five migrant Woburn families. He had determined that the group's best opportunity presented itself on what is now the Ottawa River, where the Gatineau and Rideau Rivers join it, very close to where I have always lived. Falls on two of the rivers presented power sources for mills, and the third, the Gatineau River, flowing directly south, provided a direct route into many thousands of acres of wild and mature hardwood forests.

Wright gained many acres in land grants in Lower and Upper Canada by 1810, and many others were claimed by his wife and sons. The requirement to swear an oath of loyalty to the British King did not hinder Wright’s land petitions in Britain’s colonies of the Canadas. These grantees were more land-hungry than fervent Independence-seeking settlers, more fleeing the high American taxes which resulted after the War of Independence to pay off the revolution’s debts. And Wright was very lucky. By 1806 the Napoleonic Wars had resulted in the blockade of British ports by Italian, French, Spanish, and Danish governments, and most of the timber sources in Europe proved unavailable. Canada's vast forest resources became instantly lucrative. Without those forests how could the British have built its ships, won its wars, and expanded and managed its burgeoning Empire?

By 1803 Philomen Wright had founded what was then called Wrightsville, after himself, and is now the City of Gatineau, Quebec, with a current population of about 300,000. Long surrounded by farmers' fields and lonely by isolation, now the location of my West Templeton Cemetery is within the City’s borders and surrounded by suburban homes.

The West Templeton Cemetery's Kellogg family is representative of a major northwards migration after the American Revolution, of American families into the British colony of the Canadas, hoping for a better life.

Hiram Kellogg gravestone in Gatineau