Jun 182021

April’s blogging and social media prompt was #OnePlaceWorship, and while some very small places might not have a designated place of worship within their boundaries, it's more common that our places have more than one. Off to church and chapel we go, then...

First up, it's time to get jealous of Springhill's bounty of riches - take a tour of the 51 (no, that's not a typo) non-conformist chapels, meeting houses and burial grounds.

Don't feel bad - even if you just have one place of worship it'll still prove interesting to research as these postings about single churches from the 1870s demonstrate. Long Buckby Wharf's Mission Church opened in 1875, while the Burcott Congregational Union Chapel in Wing turns 150 this year (or would, if it were not now a residential home), and local newspapers kindly provided very detailed writeups about the establishment and opening of both.

Photos of Rillington's beautiful places of worship were shared in a Twitter thread, along with details from the 1851 ecclesiastical census to show the relative sizes of their congregations.

We also have some contributions from the wider community highlighting interesting resources and research projects. The Victorian Commons tells UK one-placers where to find information about the religious affiliations of their Victorian MPs. Over at The National Archives, Audrey Collins tells us about the 1851 ecclesiastical census and their volunteer transcription project for this.

We know some of you are still busily working on your #OnePlaceWorship contributions. Make sure you post a comment below with a link to your completed masterpiece!

Alex Coles
One-placer for Wing Buckinghamshire

Jun 122021

March’s blogging and social media prompt was #OnePlaceWomen, and for a one-place study it's hard to know where to start with that topic - after all, around 50% of the residents of our places meet the criteria and once you start digging there's plenty of interesting stories illustrating what life was like for them. Here are some of those stories.

Who can resist researching a woman with a name like Fedora Parthenia Pickles of Yuin Reef? Certainly not Emmerson Brand, who tracks Dora from the eastern state of Victoria in Australia all the way across the country to Western Australia.

Staying Down Under for the moment, Sue Wyatt looked at Elizabeth Allanby nee Cumming who stayed on with her young children in Sorrell, Tasmania, after being widowed in the mid 19th century. As well as the eleven children, there were two farms and a newly-granted land parcel to keep her busy.

Julie Groom found Geraldine May Soames, president of the British Elkhound Society AND president of the British Goat Society, in her place of Long Buckby Wharf. Not into animals? She also researched bone manure merchant Beulah Thompson, dressmaker and shopkeeper Charlotte Groom, painter of canal ware Matilda Woodhouse (CW suicide), and wife and mother Elizabeth Leeson.

Liz Craig gave a very moving report of two stories of concealed births in her place of Dunster in Somerset, along with further information about the phenomenon of concealed pregnancy. Sarah Escott and Sarah Davis were both pregnant in a time when there were very few good options open to them and a happy healthy outcome for mother and baby just wasn't likely to happen (CW child death).

Helen Finch (Sticklepath OPS) looked into Amy Beatrice Prickman, quartermaster and emergency nurse for the Okehampton Military Hospital during World War One. She also channels Auntie Kate, Kezia Ching - both on her blog, and in person in this month's Society webinar.

Over in Springhill, Lancashire, Janet Barrie told us more about three women: Mary Ann Ashworth and Bathsheba Davenport, 19th century philanthropists, and Lydia Trillo, 20th century computing lecturer.

Chris Joliffe explored the life of "ordinary" ancestor Eliza White in a two-part series: Part 1 and Part 2.

Lastly, why study one woman when you can study them all? Elizabeth Walne looks at under-recording of women's work in census records using Cransford as her case study.

Alex Coles
One-placer for Wing Buckinghamshire

Apr 262021

There has been an amazing response to these prompts, far more than I initially realised, which is why I’ve split the round-up into two posts. If my maths is correct, which frankly is debatable, there are 35 Tragedies posts and 13 Joys posts from 22 places. So if we could have some more #OnePlaceJoys to balance it out, that would be great please! Please contact me if I’ve missed you off this list and I’ll get you added.

Joys are mixed in with tragedies again and it is sorted alphabetically by place name.

Dunster in Somerset, England (Liz Craig)

Concealment of Birth. This very sensitive and detailed post looks at two case studies and the issues surrounding both the concealment and the treatment of the women.

North Walls and Brims, Orkney, Scotland (Jane Harris)

Tragedies. As Jane says “Island communities were only too familiar with loss of life at sea, not least fishermen.” The most famous loss for the community was the loss of the Longhope Lifeboat and all her crew in 1969. The sea was not the only cause of tragedy though...

Picture courtesy of Jane Harris

Numurkah in Victoria, Australia (Jenny Scammell)

Numurkah Railway Tragedy. In 1905, a buggy with 6 passengers was hit by a train at Allan’s Crossing. Sadly 3 of those passengers were killed, 2 seriously injured and only 1 survived unscathed.

Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, formerly Northamptonshire, England (Our Journey Peterborough)

Dr Comissiong’s Misfortunes. Peterborough’s first BAME doctor, Dr Joseph Watson Comissiong ran his own practice, was a surgeon, a ‘man midwife’, coroner, and vaccination officer but his personal life was filled with tragedy.

Richmond in Maine, United States (Eric White)

Mourning Marshall Spring Hagar. Lawyer, judge, senator, and ship builder, Marshall Hagar made a fatal error of judgement while trying to retrieve his valise from a moving train.

St Day in Cornwall, England (Lesley Trotter)

The St Day Calamity. 5 young women and girls lost their lives in an explosion at the Unity Safety Fuse Manufactory in Tolgullow, and were buried together in the St Day churchyard.

Springhill in Lancashire, England (Janet Barrie)

OnePlaceTragedies #1 Eliza Tattersall. The death of baby Eliza and her mother Ann highlights the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth in the 1800s.

OnePlaceTragedies #2. Tragic events in the collieries part owned by John Ashworth of Springhill.

#OnePlaceTragedies, #OnePlaceJoys and #OnePlaceThreats The effect of the collieries on the local environment.

Sticklepath in Devon, England (Helen Shields)

A concealed pregnancy.  A newspaper report of a concealed birth and the discovery of the body of a stillborn baby girl.

The Toddler’s Tale. The leat, or small stream, through Sticklepath is the cause of the first tragedy to befall Thomas and Annie Finch.

Double #OnePlaceTragedies. The tale of Leslie Finch, a little lad who was very popular and well-liked, and who possibly had Down’s Syndrome.

#OnePlaceJoys Devon Potato Chopper – for Hash Browns? How to make a hash brown properly and with the correct tool!

A Distressing Miner’s Accident Part 1. For 30 hours, the colleagues of John Croote worked in very tense and trying conditions to try and rescue him from under a fall of gravel and stone. Sadly, their attempts were unsuccessful and John became the first victim of a fatal mining accident at Sticklepath in over 30 years.

Part 2 of the Miner’s Accident  has a #OnePlaceJoys lovely and intriguing photograph of Captain Jobling, the manager of the mine where John Croote died.

Part 3 is a #OnePlaceJoys report on the athletic achievements of Mr Jobling.

The Victorian Commons, History of Parliament’s House of Commons, England

From typhus to trains. The Victorian Commons creates biographical entries for English Members of Parliament 1832-1868 and used the #OnePlaceTragedies prompt to bring together some of the more unusual deaths in their records, including the Abergele railway disaster in 1868.

Turners Retreat and Woodlands Place in London, England (Chris Jolliffe)

A baby’s breakfast. Baby Thomas’ untimely death and a condescending coroner in a tragedy of its time, but still relevant today.

Tyneham & Worbarrow in Dorset, England (Martin White)

@TynehamDorset  The London owner of Sheepleaze House at Worbarrow Bay fell to his death from the balcony of his London home in 1926.

Waters Upton in Shropshire, England (Steve Jackson)

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 1). Part 2  and Part 3 #OnePlaceJoys  A spectacular retelling of the entertainments that took place to raise funds for injured railway porter and gate keeper John Preece. With lyrics and embedded videos – relive the evening’s entertainment in full.

Public domain image from Pixabay.

John Preece, his bravery, and his terrible injuries.  Steve wrote about John’s accident and his bravery for a guest post on the Railway Work, Life and Death project.

The Death of William Lloyd. William’s life was not a good one, known as a tramp, taking whatever shelter and employment he could find. He died as he’d lived, on his own.

Wing in Buckinghamshire, England (Alex Coles)

The Bowden Murder, 1856. A very tragic tale of the murder of baby Jane Bowden by her grandmother Maria who had become seriously mentally unwell, and was later admitted to Bedlam Hospital in London.

Yuin Reef in Western Australia, Australia (Emmerson Brand)

#OnePlaceJoys Joy at Yuin Reef. The wedding of Reginald Fremlin and Edith Brand with a fine meal and dancing into the early hours.

A Tragedy at Yuin Reef. Humfray Roy Hassell’s preventable death in the Yuin Reef mine.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to February’s prompt of #OnePlaceTragedies. It is sad and difficult reading at times, but these are important stories that have directly affected our places and the people within them, and are now remembered and the people honoured. Do read the #OnePlaceJoys posts as well for some light and happiness, because we all need that in our lives too.

Julie Groom
One-placer for Long Buckby Wharf

Apr 192021

February’s blogging and social media prompt was a tough one. #OnePlaceTragedies was not a topic for everyone understandably, especially given the current worldwide situation. The posts that have been shared are very moving, and show how a tragedy can affect both the community and the place. Many thanks to everyone who felt able to write a post for this prompt.

To bring some light into the darkness of the tragedies, a bonus prompt of #OnePlaceJoys was introduced to add a little levity and happiness. I’m going to include both prompts in this round-up, just so we’re not swamped with misery and grimness.

This post is part one of a round-up of those stories, set out in alphabetical order of place name.

Aldenham in Hertfordshire, England (Dave Annal)

The story behind the stone. The dangers of playing on a frozen pond, and the headstone recording the deaths of 3 children and their mother in 1880 that led to the story being discovered.

Axedale in Victoria, Australia (Jennifer Jones)

Axedale - Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Fatal Accident at Axedale 1886. Farmer James Conroy fell over the culvert at Axe Creek, after spending a few hours in the local Perseverance Hotel.

Deaths of Two Children 1874. Newspaper reports of two unrelated babies who died a day apart.

A #OnePlaceJoys post on the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Railway Disaster Inquest 1900 and Disaster: New Years Day Excursion to Axedale Station 1900. ‘A shocking railway fatality’ when a vehicle was crossing the railway line when it was hit by a train carrying children on a Sunday School outing.

Badingham and Cransford in Suffolk, England (Elizabeth Walne)

One-Place Tragedy. School mistress Annie Backhouse came from Bradford originally, and came to Badingham to teach around 65 children. The open fire in the schoolroom was the cause of her death, horrifically over 2 months after the accident.

Batley in Yorkshire, England (Jane Roberts)

A St Mary’s School Sensation. Rumours abound about the sudden death of 12 year old John Woodhead – was it pneumonia or did the school teacher strike him?

Hidden Behind a Name. William Townsend or McManus? A very well researched tale of William’s life and death in service on 2 March 1916 at the Somme.

Bledlow in Buckinghamshire, England (Julia Wynn)

Bledlow Tragedy. The brutal murder of farmer John Kingham, and the ensuing court case. Who was responsible for his death?

East Lulworth in Dorset, England (Martin White)

@EastLulworth Moses Roberts, 33, a carpenter, was sadly killed at East Lulworth on 29 Dec 1848. He was cleaning out Brand’s new oven when the arch fell on him.

Great Ellingham in Norfolk, England (Heather Etteridge)

Horseplay in the Village after School Board Election with Fatal Consequences. A simple trapping of his hand in a trap (cart) led to lockjaw and death for labourer Charles Halls. The trap was being used to drag the clerk of the School Board round the village in an unusual local tradition.

Long Buckby Wharf in Northamptonshire, England (Julie Groom)

The canal at Long Buckby Wharf - Photo courtesy of Julie Groom

This is my study and with a canal and a railway, I unfortunately had far too many tragedies to choose from. I have added some #OnePlaceJoys to balance it out.

A double funeral. My great great grandparents Edward and Elizabeth Groom.

#OnePlaceJoys A sumptuous repast... Brewery employees are treated to a sumptuous repast in celebration of their Director’s marriage.

Sad fatality at Long Buckby. 2 young children were drowned in the brook and had an unexpected tribute paid to them.

#OnePlaceJoys Local success... a local chap won prizes at the Crystal Palace International Poultry Show.

Stanley Major. The youngest of the family, Stanley was the third  Major lad to die while in the service of the Army.

#OnePlaceJoys Daventry Horticultural and Floral Society  The young ladies of the Wharf took the prizes for best device in cut flowers.

Sudden death from apoplexy. Eli Marriott’s sudden death left a widow and 8 children berefit.

#OnePlaceJoys Harvest Thanksgiving. The first Harvest celebration in the new Mission Church.

Accident on the London and Birmingham Railway. Blacksmith John Tilley was killed by a train near the Wharf.

Part two of the round-up coming shortly!

Julie Groom
One-placer for Long Buckby Wharf

Apr 142021

After quizzing Pam Smith (Rillington OPS and Thorpe Bassett OPS) last week, today we head further north. Our destination is North Walls and Brims, Hoy, Orkney, and our interviewee is Society member Jane Harris, who conducts the one-place study of that location.

We start once more by asking for a fun or interesting fact about our guest – what have you got for us?

Huw Stephens, former Radio 1 DJ, is one of my former (French) pupils.

What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

I studied the 1861 census population of North Walls and Brims for my project on the Strathclyde University postgraduate genealogy certificate and I’ve never really left those people behind. My father, who dearly loved his native island, died while I was working on the project so it’s partly a tribute to him too. What keeps me going? My own curiosity and the handful of folk who supply me with random fascinating information from time to time.

When did you start your one-place study?

I finished the initial project in 2009 and have moved on from there in fits and starts.

If you were starting your OPS now, with the benefit of hindsight what (if anything) would you do differently?

If I were starting again, I’d be collecting memories and photos as fast as I could; so much is disappearing. Then I’d be making them available to stimulate more recollections. I’d also have a good look at the different software offerings to see what would enable me to make the best use of time and reduce the notebooks and bits of paper.

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourites and why?

That’s a hard one. Censuses, obviously, as that was my starting point and also because they give a snapshot overview as well as fascinating detail. Kirk Session records too – I have an index for the years when they record more than just Church business – from membership details to morality cases, there’s a lot there. I’m fortunate that the local newspaper, The Orcadian, reported in some detail the proceedings of the Crofters’ Commission (later Scottish Land Court) so a much less common source. The almost-verbatim records give voice to crofters applying for a rent reduction with detail on how long they had been in the croft, what they, and often their fathers or grandfathers had done to improve it, as well as little on economic conditions sometimes. There’s humour as well, like my great grandfather’s answer when asked what other income or work he had: “What do you expect a man of 75 to do?” The application records survive but they lack the colour of the hearings’ reports.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

As I said, I started off with the 1861 population of North Walls and Brims, so making the connection between one of them and people I knew or knew about is quite exciting. Rather surprising really for someone who as a child found adult conversations very boring with all the “Wasn’t she a sister of...” and “Didn’t he marry...”. Ah well, age catches up with us all.

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

ScotlandsPeople, ScotlandsPlaces, National Library of Scotland Maps and The Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845 (far more than statistics) for a start. An overlooked site? Maybe HistPop, I’ve found it very useful for context for my place: census reports for the whole of Scotland (and England and Wales), breakdown of statistics by county and so on; Registrar General’s annual reports for Scotland as well as for England and Wales; legislation and more. The site is often “busy” but there is an alternative.

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’d try and kill two birds with one stone so it would be Hugh Rosie or Ross, my x2 great grandfather. I’d want to know when exactly his family moved from Stroma, Caithness, to North Walls and why (was it the clampdown on smuggling?); how did life in North Walls compare with life in Stroma; what changes did he see in the 55 or so years he lived in North Walls, did life get any easier. I’d also want to get the exact locations of some of the crofts that have now disappeared.

Your random question is: What was the last book you read?

Seven Sacred Spaces by George Lings.

Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting as Covid-related restrictions are lifted?

The local ScotlandsPeople hub!! Orkney, France, any Scandinavian country.

Thank you Jane for telling us about yourself and your one-place study with some great answers to our questions!

Photos supplied by Jane Harris.

Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member? Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton