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Wakefield & District Family History Society
                            Wakefield & District Family History Society
On Saturday 4th August Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Civic Society, gave a talk on Blue Plaques of Wakefield. This is a voluntary organisation and a   registered charity. It is mainly concerned with public buildings.
This means reviewing town planning in order to ensure that important buildings are preserved and to ensure that the new designs put forward that will enhance the city. Talks, lectures and guided walks are conducted by members of the Civic Society.
News letters are available online and publications can be purchased that include Blue plaque walks and others that highlight buildings of architectural interest.
Kevin explained what is entailed in creating a new plaque. A site is chosen that has some historical significance, either a particular use or someone well known lived there; then the wording has to be determined; funding to be found [ each plaque costs about £300] and finally the unveiling ceremony.
We were then given a guided tour of the 33 plaques around Wakefield by use of an overhead projector showing photos of the plaques in situ and then a building or person
Associated with a plaque. The first ones were unveiled and sponsored by the Chantry Rotary in 1988 and included one on Wakefield Bridge and one for the former Mines Rescue Station on Ings Road. The first one by the Wakefield Civic Trust was 1995. The most recent was unveiled this year for Trevor Hatherton a past president of The Royal New Zealand Geographical Society.
Usually a plaque sited for a person who is deceased the exception is one for David Storey, author and playwright, who is still alive.
The talk was well received being delivered by Kevin in a clear, informative and humorous manner. Testimony to the interest in the subject was shown by many questions being asked by members present.
The next meeting is September 1st when Sheila Dixon will talk on Titanic and the Wakefield Connection. Enquiries to the Secretary Ron Pullan 01924 373310 or

On Saturday 7th July the Society held its Annual General Meeting. Before the formal part of the proceedings began the President, Ian Stamp, referred to the usage and importance of the internet when researching family history but that we shouldnt neglect the aspect of oral tradition. He was of course referring to stories passed on down by grandparents and other family relatives. Many of which attain the status of legend but ones that might have elements that could prove useful to the family historian.
 The formal part began with the Chairman, Carol Sklinar, reflecting on the past year and in particular emphasised the success of the joint venture with the Outwood Community Video Club and the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition held in June at the Outwood Memorial Hall. This was officially opened by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, David Dinmore, and was also attended by the new Mayor of Wakefield.
The rest of the formal part of the AGM was concluded with a vote of special thanks to Maureen Hambrecht who had for long been the Editor then Assistant Editor of the Societys journal. She expressed a wish to step down but claimed that she would still attend meetings and hoped to make contributions in any way possible.
This was followed by a slide show given by Tony Banks of the Outwood Video Club.
These consisted of photos taken of the exhibits and of personnel who attended the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition on June 19th.
The next meeting will be held on August 4th when Kevin Trickett will talk on The Wakefield Blue Plaque Scheme.

"Registration, Past, Present and Future" by Barbara Dixon
On Saturday 2nd June Barbara Dixon, a retired Superintendent Registrar, explained how civil registration came into being in July 1837. The General Record Office became responsible to Parliament for the registration of births and deaths. Marriages were registered but were not a legal requirement. In the past registration would have been made at a local office. In the future we will have central databases and multi points to register which will enable registration to be made anywhere in England and Wales Also applications for certificates will be made online but the traditional method will still be available.

Registrars were unpaid and their earnings came from the sale of certificates until 1935. Certificates were hand written but later copies could be made by Xerox. After1874 both names of parents could be on birth certificates even though they were not married. Previously only the mother’s name was on a certificate. After 1969 Abandoned Children’s Registers were introduced.

In the future we learned that there will be no need for birth certificates in order to apply for a passport or driving licence. Much more information will be made available such as death certificates having both parents names plus occupations where relevant. Marriages today can take place in any civil registered buildings other than just churches and will soon be available in any non licensed building. Time constraints will be removed [ between 8am and 6pm]. Civil ceremonies between same sex partners do take place today but probably sometime soon a church marriage will be possible between same sex partners. Other changes mean that birth dates occur on a marriage certificate rather than just ages. Terms such as bachelor and spinster will be replaced by the term single.

There was a great deal of information given by Barbara of which only a distillation has been given however an extended question and answer period testified to the fact that many in the audience found her talk very informative and interesting.

Next meeting is 7th July when the AGM will take place plus a talk by Tony Banks on the Jubilee exhibition held at the Hall and on how Wakefield has changed over the last 60 years. Enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310

"Untangling a Petyt Pedigree" by Gillian Waters
On Saturday 5th of May the meeting was opened by the chairman, Carol Sklinar, who announced that the Federation of Family History Societies had awarded a certificate of Commendation for the presentation of our journal, The Kinsman. This was in the small society category. Elsie Walton, editor and vice chairman was asked to step forward to receive the certificate.
Our guest speaker, Gillian Waters, with the aid of slides proceeded to show how her research into family history could lead often to frustration in an effort to get to the truth. It was while trying to untangle a branch of her family tree, the Petyts, that she began to realise that it was not all that it seemed.
Starting with the Yorkshire branch of the Petyts in Skipton Gillian referred to ‘A History of Skipton’ by W H Dawson published in the 19th century. An entry showed that the Petyts had links with the Norman conquest. This certainly excited Gillian. However she was suspicious when reference was made to Guisley and Bolton Abbey.
Subsequent research did not turn up any such link. There was mention of a William Petyt and Skipton Castle but Gillian’s attention was drawn back to Dawson.
A list of dates of baptisms of children was given plus dates of several marriages. But they did not fit. Gillian later found out that a William and Mary Petyt had both been married before and had several children each. This William Petyt had been involved in business and acquired wealth and then trained as a lawyer.
He eventually moved to London where he attended Grays Inn and gained influential friends. This led to his being appointed as chief archivist at the Tower of London and drawing up of important documents. One such explained the action that led to the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
There later developed confusion over William’s design of a coat of arms that was shown to have been taken from a family of Petyts from Cornwall whose line had died out in the 14th century. But the Herald’s College had not been set up until the 15th century! Gillian also referred to T D Whitaker’s History of Craven which showed that the Petyt pedigree did not fit and was too simplistic especially when reference was made to links with King Arthur!
Links with the Petyts of Kent and their pedigree also revealed inconsistencies in relation to descriptions of occupational activities and relationships.
Gillian is still trying to prove if deliberate lies were told or falsehoods created or perhaps elements of truth are to be found. Maybe information had been passed on that was hearsay, wrongly interpreted or even embellished. A lot of work has and continues to have been put into Gillian’s research of the Petyts. But she also endeavoured to point out the pitfalls of family history particularly with links that are post Conquest or even Arthurian!
Next meeting is 2nd of June when Barbara Dixon looks at ‘Registration past, present and future’. Enquiries to Ron Pullan Secretary 01924 373310

"Tips on Tracing Irish Ancestors" by Lynne K Schofield
            At our meeting on 7 April about 90 members enjoyed an explanation by Lynne Schofield of ways to research Irish ancestry. Lynne, a family history tutor, reminded us that, contrary to the accepted dictum, not all Irish records have been destroyed. Although many Census records, including the enumerators’ books, were pulped by the government, and large numbers of Parish Records were lost in the notorious fire at the Dublin PRO, there are still plenty of other ways to trace your family.
            Most researchers will be starting with a record from England, perhaps a census form which says “Birthplace - Ireland”. Even if a town is given you have to remember that the English enumerator is writing what he heard spoken in a broad Irish accent, and the answer to “where are you from?” may not be the same as “where were you born?” Often immigrants tend to live in a small area, so it could be useful to search neighbours for clues to a town in Ireland. The National Library of Ireland has a surname index which shows the concentration of surnames in different areas.
            Working from the name of a town, parish or county, there are records available at the Registrar Generals’ Offices in Dublin and Belfast, in the PRO, Dublin or PRONI, Belfast, the National Library of Ireland in Dublin and the National Archives of Ireland, also in Dublin. It has to be remembered that Ireland was one country before 1922.
            In addition to the Parish and Census records there are other very useful records such as; Griffith’s Valuation (to assess liability for poor rates), Diocesan censuses, Tithe applotment books and lists of tithe defaulters as well as the usual school records, Poor Law records, land registries and local directories.
            Many of these records are now available on-line, either at the Record Repository’s own site, often at no cost, or at pay sites such as Ancestry or FindMyPast. Lynne recommended “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” by John Grenham as perhaps the best reference book for Irish genealogy.
            While acknowledging that Irish family history research does present its own special problems, Lynne showed that there are ways to make progress.
Some useful web addresses: : The National Library of Ireland

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