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

Dec 232018

Boy, it has been A Year, hasn't it? When there is so much drama going on in the outside world it can be hard to summon up the mental energy for more personal pursuits like one-place studies. But the holiday season does shake things up for a wee while, hopefully mostly in a good way, and our holiday wish for you is that the change in routine helps you shake off worries and reset yourself. Your one-place study's residents aren't going anywhere, you can catch up with them next year! Whether you're gazing out at snow or sand, we hope you find a little bit of time to yourself, to relax, and just maybe think of nothing at all.

Alex Coles

Dec 072018

I was reading Janet Few’s book, Barefoot on the Cobbles, on the train recently. It is a work of historical fiction based on true events which involved people from one of her study places (Bucks Mills, Devon) and adjacent places. It is interesting to read her descriptions of the way of life in a community very different from my place.

Her novel got me thinking though. I wonder if anyone else is studying a place which features in works of art of any nature?

Now Bucks Mills isn't a large place by all accounts but is larger than Springhill's 12 houses. Thinking over life in my place, I don’t think that the major landowner having his name taken in vain in an attempt to procure some rabbits is going to form the plot of a blockbuster. Neither is a novel based on the two nieces of the said landowner’s wife disputing the terms of her will all the way to the Chancery courts going to win the Man Booker prize, though it did lead to some very interesting Chancery documents and (praise be!) a map showing who lived were in 1898. This confirmed that there were indeed two different Cross Cottages within 100 yards of each other... great. Similarly is 'the bad character of Francis Pilling' in the 17th century worth more than a couple of hundred words (he left his wife in labour and moved in with another woman)? My place has its usual share of small town news - reports of inquests, drunken behaviour, failing to maintain highways and the like, but nothing earth shattering. They were mainly solid Churchmen or Godfearing Baptists with the odd Quaker thrown in.

Expanding to the wider community, I can't think of any nearby town or village which has featured in a novel. The murder of an elderly, allegedly cantankerous widow by a cross-dressing lesbian half a mile from here has been reassessed recently ("Odd Man Out" by Denise Beddows). Maggie "Bill" Allen was hanged in 1949 after a trial of 5 hours and a jury deliberation of just 15 minutes. She was one of the last women to hang in the UK.

Other than that, I’m struggling. For those who like smutty innuendo there is the "Rawtenstall Annual Fair" which takes an alternative take on 19th century fairground attractions. For those whose tastes are more spiritual then there is a hymn tune named after Waingate, the next village on the hillside.

Is anyone studying a place which feature in the arts? Alternatively, has anyone got any good stories of life in their place worth of a retelling?

("Rawtenstall Annual Fair" by Lee Nicholson is on YouTube for the interested)

Janet Barrie