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

Mar 082019

Founding families, those intrepid individuals who were in at the beginning of our places. For Springhill the obvious place to start is with the tenants of the area (then known as Deadwenclough) when the area emerged from Forest law in 1507. These were Jurden Brugge, James Crawsha, William Holt and Thomas Crawsha, of whom hopefully more in later blogs. Jurdan Brugge in particluar was not over-enamoured by general neighbourliness or fairness.

However these men weren't the first to live in the area and a document of 1295/6 (cited in Shaw, Royal Forests of Lancashire) lists the vaccary keepers for Rossendale (of which Springhill is part) as Henry of the Estock, John of Pycoppe, John son of Odousa, Robert of Couhoppe, Richard of Dunnockshae, Richard of Bencrofte, Thomas of the Estok, Henry of Houghton, William of Dynley, Alan of Rocliff and William son of Andrew.

Not much to go on there then.

Of these, Henry of the Estock is named as 'Sub-Insturator for Rossendale'. He was also the tenant of the pinfold in Deadwenclough (one of two in Rossendale, and about 50 yards south of Springhill) in 1324. Elsewhere he is recorded as Henry of the Stocks so his name may indicate his profession rather than his origin.

Pycoppe may be related to Pickup Bank on the moor east of Blackburn. Couhoppe is Cowpe, now a village south of the river about a mile away. Dunnockshaw is between Rossendale and Burnley, Houghton near Bolton and Rocliff not far from Rochdale. Bencrofte and Dynley I don't know.

I don't think I've much chance with John son of Odousa and even less with William son of Andrew. Any ideas?

By 1305/6 the vaccary tenants were William on Dynlay, John of Cleges, Richard of Dunnockschae, Henry of the Stocks, Alan Franceys, Haney of Berdeshul, Thomas of the Stockes, Henry of Dynley, William Cronschage, Henry of the Reved and Robert of Couhope.

There had obviously been a degree of movement in the 7 years between the two lists, with five of the tenants being the same and six being new. Henry of Dynley and William of Dynley may have been brothers, or father and son, or…

Life on the East Lancs moors must have been pretty hard and pretty dreary at times in those days. The weather is wet and windy, the land boggy and doesn’t grow anything much, distances are long. I wonder who chose to come and live in those areas and how they managed in cold, draughty cottages. Whilst subject to forest law it was mainly used for cattle rearing for oxen.

I think I’ll leave them there for the moment and see what I can make of the 16th century. Unfortunately the local registers don’t survive from that far back so it’s off to the manorial records to see what can be found there.

Janet Barrie

Feb 222019

I know, you thought the next RootsTech event was in Salt Lake City, didn't you? Surprise! If you're #NotAtRootsTech next week you can enjoy some of their sessions streamed live to you on your couch (or viewing "platform" of your choice) in your pajamas (or whatever, it's technically clothing-optional). We're not sure if they are replaying these livestreamed sessions while they are "closed" each evening, but if you are in an inconvenient timezone or simply busy next week the good people at RootsTech do make these available to view after the event (this year there's a virtual pass giving you access to a further 18 recorded sessions too). Hold your own mini-RootsTech event in your own house!

One-place studiers, here are some live-streamed sessions we have our eye on:

Wed 27th Feb 11:00 a.m. MT Hear Them Sing! Social History and Family Narrative - "how to contextualize ancestors’ lives with social history research and use it to inspire others"

Wed 27th Feb 1:30 p.m. MT Uncovering Family Stories with British and Irish Historic Newspapers - "how to make the most of the stories contained within this huge resource [at FindMyPast]"

Fri 1st Mar 4:30 p.m. MT The Research Road Map: Your Path to Success - "how having a good plan is essential to making progress in your research and making it less frustrating"

Sat 2nd Mar 11:00 a.m. MT Jake Shimabukuro - "World renowned ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro will be the keynote speaker" [List-maker's determination of potential relevance to one-place studies is final and no correspondence will be entered into. OMG have you heard this guy play? #ukegoals]

Sat 2nd Mar 3:00 p.m. MT The Silent Language of the Stones: Reading Gravestones through Symbols and Carvings - "symbols and statues tell stories of the deceased, including family relationships, religious affiliations, military service, occupations, and society memberships"

Check out the full streaming schedule at For those OPSers with a UK study working on this year's Shared Endeavour, note that the additional Virtual Pass will include Nick Barratt's session on Sources for British Medieval and Early Modern Genealogy.

See you #NotAtRootsTech!

Alex Coles

Jan 122019

This week I agreed to do two talks to two different groups on two very different subjects. As those who know me might have guessed, one of the talks was about mapping - to my local Huntingdonshire history society. I used the title above and concentrated on some of the stories I have explored when looking at and comparing maps of my One Place (Holywell-cum-Needingworth).

I showed old small scale maps and talked about three interesting stories they raise:
• Was there a (parish) Church/Chapel in Needingworth? (as well as in Holywell)
• Were there two roads to Holywell? (there is only one now)
• Why does the High Street bend?

I also showed old large scale maps, that a local fund had helped me get scanned, and OS 25 inch maps. I used my mapping system (M4OPS) to look at different buildings, fields, boundaries etc in the parish and had identified 57 places of interest. During the talk we looked at a few of these to see how they had changed over the years.

We had interesting questions at the end of the talk, and several people there expressed an interest in helping me explore the stories in more depth.

If anyone would like to see the presentation it can be found here, and the list of web references can be found here. If you would like to do anything similar in your own One Place, feel free to contact me at

Peter Cooper