Oct 172019

Amongst the resources on the website is the register of members’ studies. Whilst it is interesting to see where different studies are in progress (hello, fellow Lancashire researchers!) the real value to me lies in the links to members’ websites. This lets me click through to see how other members have approached organising both their studies and their websites. I’ve gained a lot of good ideas poking around these sites.

We often say there is no one way of approaching a one-place study and of course this is true. Our approach varies with time, money, proximity to our place, resources available, historical interests and a host of other things. However it could be argued that there are actually only two ways of approaching a one-place study.

1. The organised way
Whichever way a study is tackled, it is done in an organised and systematic manner. Resources are sourced logically, transcribed completely, stored and referenced systematically You know what you have done, what needs to be done and can locate a specific piece of data within a few seconds.

2. The random way
One could just stick the word ‘not’ in front of all the above. Resources are collected piecemeal, transcribed incompletely or inaccurately and you can never find anything when you need it. Half way down transcribing a will there dawn the sinking feeling that you have seen this one before. This is confirmed when you save the document and are met with ‘a file of this name already exists, do you want to replace it?’

A confession.

Whilst not as random as that, I have had to acknowledge that my approach has been rather closer to the second than I would like. There are a number of half-transcribed documents lying around and I’m sure I have a copy of that map. Somewhere.

So in order to sort out my study I’m going back to the beginning. This has two stages, running roughly in parallel:

1. The ‘what do I want to do’ stage. This involved the purchase of yet another notebook, or actually two. In the first I jot the random notes/references/ideas which come to me as part of the study. In the second I have a strategy. Mine is based on Janet Few’s “Putting your ancestors in their place” (if you have a study based in England and Wales I cannot recommend this too highly. No, she hasn’t paid me to say that.) Within that it may not matter where you start but start somewhere, study it systematically and document it.

2. The ‘what on earth have I already got’ stage which has involved indexing all my resources including provenance and formal references. Within this I have separated primary sources, generic secondary sources, pictures and reconstructions/recollections. I have started with paper documents, am moving onto computer files then, (dear Lord help me here) photographs.

After these stages I will be in a position to cross-reference strategy and reality.

Does all this matter? In a sense no. I’ve had great fun for the last 10 or so years and still have a logical and well organised study. In a sense yes, as doing it properly in the first place would save a lot of time now.

If you are just starting a study or feel that yours could do with a makeover then members can find a couple of very helpful articles in the current issue of Destinations in the Members Area of the website. First is Janet Few’s article on beginning a one-place study from scratch. The second is Alex Coles’ on conducting an OPS at a distance which is also useful for those who live more locally. Not yet a member? Join us and give them a read!

Janet Barrie

Sep 242019

Of course a 'one-place study' is just what it says it is - a detailed look at the people and events in a particular place. What has surprised me (though perhaps shouldn’t have) is the extent to which studying my place has included material from other places too.

The first aspect of this is the extent to which people from my place were involved in other places too. One obvious example is WW1 and WW2. Those of us who did the shared endeavour on WW1 back in 2014 will have come across soldiers whose lives were affected by, and sometimes ended in, other places. There are a number from my place who fought at the Somme, others will have links to other battlefields. 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the start of WW2. I haven’t researched residents from my place in WW2 yet but am sure they will have been involved.

Another example is that of migration, both in and out. Migration within the UK is quite common but look further afield too. One of my OPS residents moved from Middlesex to Springhill via, amongst other places, Brantwood Ontario where he held property. He served in the Canadian cavalry reserves which was tarted up as 'considerable active service abroad' to enhance his reputation in Lancashire. The area around my place saw considerable migration to Utah under the influence of the LDS church whilst Janet Few has discovered that virtually an entire community moved across the pond from her place to found a new community under specific religious principles.

The second aspect is that events in your place can impact on distant places or be reported in them. I idly entered the name of my wider area into Trove (the National Library of Australia's excellent database: https://trove.nla.gov.au/) with no expectations when up popped a reference to a by-election result from the local constituency in 1892. Although a vote in an insignificant part of East Lancs, it was fought largely on Irish home rule and the election of a candidate sympathetic to home rule led to ructions which were reported in far-away Aus.

Both WW1 and migration were the topics of previous shared endeavours and if you missed them first time round the resources are available to members in the members-only area.

So people and events from our one places impact on and are affected by those in other places. Cast your research nets wide!

Janet Barrie

Jun 292019

In our first trip out as a Society for some time we booked a stand at THE Genealogy show in the NEC in Birmingham earlier in June, gathered together a group of willing (!) volunteers and headed off to Birmingham with boxes of resources. I was a bit taken aback at being asked to hire high-viz jackets for those involved in setting up and produce a risk assessment in which I promised not to use ladders (shhh... no mention of climbing on a chair...), but the set-up day was literally that, setting up with forklift trucks whizzing around constructing stands and scenery.

Society for One-Place Studies stand at THE Genealogy Show in Birmingham UK in June 2019

We were given a stand in a good location (close to the coffee trolley!) and so had plenty of footfall during the two days. The exhibition consisted of work from a number of members on their studies so there was a good range of interests, techniques and approaches demonstrated. Janet Few’s photograph album illustrating her place with houses and residents over time was well received, as was Peter’s map work and Alex’s project extracting an item from the local Wing newspapers of 150 years ago. There were many cries of ‘ooh - that’s a good idea’ as people looked at the resources and many left inspired (but sadly with no more time.. if only!).

We chatted to a huge number of people over the two days and found that many people hadn’t thought of doing a one-place study but were interested in the idea. A number of folk commented that they couldn’t do a study because they didn’t live near their place, so Alex’s Wing work was useful there too to demonstrate that yes, this is possible even from the other side of the world. Another group of people were actually doing an OPS but didn’t know it had a name. Others had started an OPS in the past and were inspired to pick it up again. Janet Few kindly brought a number of copies of her book ‘Putting Your Ancestors in their Place’ which generated a lot of interest too. If you haven’t got one then there are just a few copies left.

Many thanks to Peter, Jacqui, Janet F and Kirsty for their help in making this all happen and to those who shared study resources and ideas for the stand. We are going to do it all again next year so save the date - June 26th-27th 2020 in the NEC in Birmingham - and we’ll see you at #THEGenShow2020.

Fifteen people signed up as new members at this year’s show. Welcome to you all, we look forward to sharing your discoveries and learning from your journey.

Janet Barrie

May 062019

As part of my one-place study for the village of Wing in Buckinghamshire, I’ve been reading the local newspaper, the Leighton Buzzard Observer, each week on the 150th anniversary of its original publication. In the 4th May 1869 instalment there were multiple mentions of Wing, but one in particular caught my eye.

report of conviction of John Lathwell for drunkeness in the Leighton Buzzard Observer 1869

While not all one-place studiers have an ancestral link to their study place, most do, and I do too – my ancestors include some of the Lathwells of Wing (as well as many other families residing there throughout the 19th century). I have a master family tree drawn up of all the known Lathwells of Wing, so my first step after reading the report of this court case was to check to see if it was MY John Lathwell or another John Lathwell mentioned. I was somewhat relieved to confirm that my John Lathwell had died in 1863, and his son John had died as an infant, so it wasn’t my John disgracing himself during a funeral. The other major branch of Lathwells in Wing included just one John alive in 1869, so it’s reasonable to assume that he is our man. As an aside, according to the records for Aylesbury Gaol available on the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies website, that John later did a stint there for theft, and they even have a photo of him!

I then got curious about this incident itself. Whose funeral was it? Why was he drunk? Was this his way of mourning a loved one, or was he just a random drunk guy stumbling by disturbing the proceedings?

The parish registers of All Saints Church should hopefully be able to answer the first question at least. I’ve transcribed all the burials from 1813 to 1909, so I checked my records and the only burial on 15th April 1869 was for Susanna Attwood, aged 76, of Wing. Who was Susanna Attwood? The name definitely rang a bell, so I checked the census for 1861 for any clues and found her together with her husband Richard, innkeeper, living on High Street. Of course! The census may not have named the building they were living in but I now knew why I recognised the name. Richard and Susanna were the proprietors of the Cock Inn, and I had spent time last year researching the Cock as part of the Society’s Shared Endeavour project on Built Heritage.

Richard and Susanna Attwood were from the villages of Lillingstone Lovell and Lillingstone Dayrell respectively, rather than being Wing natives, and I couldn’t find anything in my records to suggest a connection between the Attwoods and the Lathwells beyond innkeeper and imbiber. And perhaps this is the answer as to why John Lathwell was drunk – a tribute, of sorts, to his favourite pub landlady?

Alex Coles

Apr 122019

Most of us have mysteries associated with our place. Relevant to our shared endeavour are mysteries around our founding families, Who came here first? Why did they come here? Where did they come from? What was life like in those early years?

We all have mysteries in our ongoing studies. Who did ...? Why did they do that? When was this building built? Who owned the land at this time?

And so on.

For some of us, the very name of our place raises questions. For my place it’s not its current name - Springhill is clear enough. Rather it is the name by which the area was previously known, Deadwenclough. Etymologically that is also straightforward. A ‘clough’ is defined as a ‘gorge or narrow ravine’ (Colllis), but locally is used to describe small brooks which haven’t cut the countryside to that extent. ‘Quene’ is an old northern word for woman and is thought to come from the Old English cwen. Lowland Scots however has a similar word, ‘quine’, thought to be of similar entymology and still in use today. ‘Dead’ means, well, not alive.

So we have a place name which roughly translates as ’the stream of the dead woman’. That raises lots of questions...

Firstly, why is it called that? Presumably a dead woman was found in the river at one stage.

When did this occur? Early sources of the area are very limited as the broader area was subject to Forest Law until 1507. However it was probably never used for hunting and certainly was used for cattle rearing in the late Middle Ages. A late 19th century gentleman’s history of the area refers to ‘Deadwinclough’ as holding one of the two local pinfolds in 1324 so it was obviously some time ago. Unfortunately he didn’t cite his sources very well.

Where was it? There are two brooks (Balladen Brook and Parrock Brook) in the Deadwenclough area, both of which were sparsely inhabited in the 16th century. The pinfold was known to have been near the latter brook in the 16th century so it may have been that one. This runs for about 2/3 of a mile before flowing into the river at the valley bottom to any attempt to locate a site is both tentative and very vague.

Who was she? No idea.

How did she come to be there? Wouldn’t I just love to know!

What is interesting is that this was thought sufficiently uncommon for it to be immortalised in the name of the area. It remained the official name for the area until roughly the beginning of the 19th century when it changed to the much more conventional ’Newchurch’. ’Newchurch’, of course, isn’t new but that’s another story.

Does anyone have unsolvable mysteries in their place? Even better, does anyone have any ideas how I can solve mine?

Janet Barrie