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Wakefield & District Family History Society

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Last Meeting

The Borthwick Archive and Cause Papers
The Borthwick Institute for Archives and Cause Papers. Gary Brannan was the guest speaker on 6th August. He reminded us that this body, which began in the city of York in 1953, moved to its present location at the library in The University of York 2004. The records that can be accessed date from 1267 and cover what was the Diocese and Province of York. This meant a good portion of northern England. Records include parish registers, wills, marriage bonds, bishops transcripts and Cause papers. Many can now be accessed online with Find My Past. These can also be viewed on microfilm at the Borthwick and after studying the indexes for wills etc you can download them to your USB. The oldest Wakefield record is from 1375 which is a will by Richard Bunney and lists all his worldly goods and names the beneficiaries. There is an online catalogue which includes business records of the chocolate manufacturers of Rowntree and Terrys. Then there are some hospital and health records. Then Gary began to explain the meaning of Cause Papers which he guessed quite rightly few had ever heard of. These date from 1300 to 1858 and refer to Church Court Records. All manner of cases were dealt with by the Church until 1858 when the State took over. Gary recounted a particular case with reference to a dispute in Wakefield in 1821. The details reflect a social history of the times when description of the streets, yards, occupations and actual words spoken by the defendants etc. Even the weather was commented upon. Gary emphasised that such records are a must for genealogists because they not only give dates but provide an insight to the way our ancestor’s lived. Much of Gary’s delivery was received with laughter but also provided much useful information. Next meeting is 3rd September when Alan Humphries will talk on’ The Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.’ Enquiries to: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
Ordinary Shitlington folk in Exraordinary Times
The AGM was opened by the Society’s Vice President, Deborah Scriven on Saturday 2nd July. The Society’s Patron, Lord St Oswald, followed by reflecting on the part that his great grandfather and other members of his family had played in World War One. Once the formal part of the AGM was dealt with Christine Hewitt our guest speaker began by announcing that she became involved in ‘grave spotting’ relatively recently. Beginning with her research at the National Mining Museum when she became interested in a commemorative plaque at Shitlington just a few miles south of Wakefield. The name of this mining village has since had the ‘h’ dropped after a protest movement developed in 1929 and now is known as Sitlington. The plaque had three names that Christine became particularly interested in. These were Fred Earnshaw, Eliza Ann Hampshire and Leonard Shire. So with the aid of her lap top and projector Christine showed copies of census returns, photos, birth marriage and death certificates, World War One medal certificates etc. Fred Earnshaw 1895-1916 worked in a timber yard before joining the Lincolnshire Regiment. He was killed on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the start of the Battle of the Somme. His name appears on a roadside memorial stone near Midgley along with three others killed including his uncle. The timber yard of Earnshaws is still in business today. Eliza Ann Hampshire 1876-1932 at the outbreak of the war was still single. She volunteered to join the VAD [ Volunteer Aid Detachment]. She was a nurse assistant and tended the sick and wounded at Wentworth House in Wakefield. This is today part of Wakefield Girls’ High School. She lived on until the age of 59 when she was admitted to Leeds Infirmary with a liver disease from which she eventually died, Leonard Shires 1894-1917 Was a blacksmith’s striker at a local forge. He joined the King’s Own Light Infantry and lost his life at Sanctuary Wood near Zillebecke. Christine’s interest in her subject was both heartfelt and moving because she was able to bring the her subjects to life of real but ordinary people living and dying in extraordinary times. The next meeting is 6th August when Gary Bannan will talk on’ Borthwick Archives and Cause Papers.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan Secretary: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
The Role of the Lord Leiutenant of West Yorkshire
The Role of the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. On Saturday 4th June our guest speaker was Kevin Sharp. He is the clerk to the Lord Lieutenant based at Bramham near Leeds. The role is unpaid and dates back to the reign of Henry VIII. He appointed a number of Lords to act as Lieutenants in order to help in the protection of the realm. The current holder for West Yorkshire is Dr Ingrid Roscoe. She has a Vice Lord Lieutenant and about sixty three deputies. This may seem an a lot but in 2015 the office was involved in over five hundred engagements. Kevin as her clerk is involved in coordinating the meetings that lead to the various functions that the Lord Lieutenant or deputies might be involved. These include being in attendance when a royal visit occurs plus Remembrance ceremonies, investitures such as for the BEM and Citizenship Ceremonies. Of the latter there were one hundred and twenty five in West Yorkshire in 2015. All these have to be dealt with by the prime minister and his cabinet before being passed to the Queen. Kevin also deals with the meetings and the documentation generated for commendations regarding a 60th wedding anniversary of a couple, an individual’s 100th birthday or to discuss which charities might be supported. Kevin has met the Queen on a number of occasions as well as other members of the royal family and had some amusing anecdotes to recount. On one occasion the Queen had returned from a three week tour of the USA which meant travelling through several time zones. On her return she attended a function in West Yorkshire. A guest at a civic reception was heard to ask the Queen if she suffered from jet lag. After a moment’s pause she replied, ‘No,’ then added, ‘Do I look as though I do? Prince Philip once paid a visit to Leeds Kirkgate market and as he was being shown around, paused by a butcher’s stall. He noticed a lady peering closely at what was to offer on the stall. He suggested she might purchase some sausages! Kevin outlined some of tasks that involved the Princess Royal, Prince Charles and other members of the royal family. Then concluded by suggesting that if anyone fancied attending the Queen’s Garden Party they could have their name put forward and if justified by the Lord Lieutenant’s office it could become a reality. The next meeting is July 2nd when our patron, Lord St Oswald will attend the AGM. This will be followed by a talk by Christine Hewitt on ‘Ordinary Shitlington folk in extraordinary times.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan, Secretary: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
A Batchelor's Delight
A Batchelor’s Delight. It is always a delight to welcome back one of our favourite speakers, Anne Batchelor. Her brief was not only to show how to carry out family history research but also how to make it fun. She reminded us not to forget the many dead people in a family tree because every living individual is a result of such people. Each one could have an interesting story to tell. Anne brought a large array of documents and photos to display which were accumulated over the years and enabled her to put together her story. Anne referred to a TV programme called ‘ Roots’ in which an African American traced his ancestry back to West Africa. This inspired her to trace her roots which was helped by a family bible that had entries from 1527 which noted the death of Andrew Batchelor. The documents that Anne accessed, such as census returns, wills and parish registers, enabled her to discover the occupations her ancestors had from straw plaiting for hats, a musician who played at the court of Elizabeth I and a gardener of the Rothchilds. She also unearthed a villain who broke into Shandy Hall home of the author, Lawrence Sterne, and stole ‘socks, food and some silver spoons.’ He was eventually caught and sent to a House of Correction. Anne loves solving problems that are thrown up by her research. These have also enabled her to visit many parts of the country associated with her family. Anne was born in Leeds but her parents had links with York while many ‘Batchelors’ came from Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Thus proving that our ancestors often had to travel in order to find work. Anne not only enjoys solving her personal family history puzzles she is also delighted when helping others. A TV programme, Timewatch, which Anne helped to make, can be accessed on You Tube by typing in ‘A Batchelor’s Delight.’ Next meeting is June 4th when Kevin Sharp will explain the ‘Role of the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire,’ which is also the month of the Queen’s birthday. Any enquiries to Ron Pullan, Secretary: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
Early Asylum Life
Early Asylum Life. On Saturday April 2nd David Scrimgeour gave a talk based on his recently published book, ‘Proper People,’ which is an account of life of some of the patients admitted to the West Yorkshire Pauper Lunatic Asylum between 1818 and 1869. This institution was in Wakefield and would later become known as Stanley Royd Hospital. David’s interest developed when researching his family history he learned that his great grandmother had died in 1919 in an asylum in Scotland. Living in Wakefield and passing the Hospital many times his interest in the subject of mental health grew. He also realised that there was a wealth of material on the subject he could access at the West Yorkshire Archives in Wakefield. Using case notes from ledgers David gave examples why people might be committed, how they were treated and finally show what happened to them. First example given was Hannah Brierley who was arrested for receiving stolen goods but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity as it was discovered that she had previously tried to destroy herself. She was admitted to the asylum but the staff became convinced that she was in fact sane. She was given a position of trust as a nurse and was released four months later. Another example was John Walker who had spent some time in Bethlem because of insanity. He was later released and in 1850 he was on trial for stealing a pair of boots and held in York Castle gaol. Again he was deemed to be insane and then sent to the Asylum in Wakefield. There he got into trouble through fighting. He promised it would not happen again and following a few months of good behaviour was released. However he was returned to prison to continue with the original sentence. It would be five years before he got into trouble again which resulted in transportation to Australia. Several other cases were described but David then touched on the procedures used to treat inmates in the hope of curing them. These included clamping an individual in a chair which was then raised from the ground and quickly rotated to induce vomiting, electric shocks were administered and purging by using various emetics such as rhubarb. The latter was used to help William Winter who suffered from constipation. It is recorded that upon receiving a warm bath he parted with a stool measuring four feet five inches! Those admitted could spend a few weeks in the Asylum or several years but forty nine years for one patient was the record. David’s delivery was often humorous but one that dealt with great sympathy and understanding. He was only able to briefly touch on the lives of the many that he researched. His book is a testament to the intensive work he has done, one that can be enjoyed by the academic as well as the general reader. Next meeting is May 7th when Anne Batchelor’s talk will be ‘ A Batchelor’s Delight.’

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