Nov 082019

In the UK the party political conference season is in September and this year it passed off with the usual mixture of hot air and bluster.

The Society's conference is usually in October or, as in this year, November. As in previous years the conference is related to our Shared Endeavour and the presentations will relate to our theme of Founding Families. They will share their experiences of researching the founding families in their places, some of the techniques used, and some of their findings.

I have attended all the previous conferences to date and found them to be both inspirational and challenging. Way back in 2014 when our Shared Endeavour was WW1, Kim Baldacchino shared a beautiful way of presenting data relating to some of the soldiers she has researched, arranging small images of resources inside a transparent laminate to group them in an unusual manner. I intend to 'borrow' that idea next time I have to do a poster display...

At other conferences Peter Cooper has demonstrated some of his findings from aligning maps to scale and matching grid references and relating these to on-the-ground findings and to LIDAR findings. LIDAR refers to the use of lasers to measure distances to reflective surfaces and hence to glimpse remains under the surface of a place. Peter has merged these to good effect and confirmed the presence of a disused track in his place of which there is no trace now visible on the ground. Peter demonstrated both high-tech web-based means of comparing his maps and a more feasible method for the technically challenged - collating them together in a book!

There have also been guest appearances from yours truly but the less said the better...seriously, I remain grateful both for the opportunity to discuss my study in the company of like-minded people and to receive friendly and constructive feedback from those more experienced than I am. Fancy sharing your findings in future years? Please get in touch - we don't bite.

Whilst face to face conferences are a great opportunity to meet and chat, in these days of busy lives and with an increasingly international based society, this year we are trying something different. Rather than meet at a physical location we will be meeting online, using the Legacy Family Tree Webinars platform, with real-time discussion of the presentations as (or, rather shortly after) they are delivered. So we will meet (virtually), chat (definitely), and be encouraged and inspired to look at new ways of approaching our studies.

The conference will be held on November 16th commencing at 3pm GMT. Links will be sent to members shortly beforehand, and you're welcome to join any or all of the sessions, including the AGM at 5.30pm. Grab a coffee, pull up a chair and join the fun!

Janet Barrie

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: 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