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Newsletter – 11th May 2024

 

 

Ancestry agrees new digitisation deal with NARA

The Truth about Rev Hyma Henry Redgrave

Bavarians at the gate?

GRO website closed for routine maintenance this weekend

Missing marriages: have the GRO blundered?

Key information about the England & Wales censuses

Ancestry DNA offer ENDS SUNDAY 12TH MAY

Review: Women In Policing

Bourn again

Gardener’s Corner

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press

 

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 29th April) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search between this paragraph and the next (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):

 

 

To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's FREE, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!

 

 

Ancestry agrees new digitisation deal with NARA

There might be billions of records online, but there are many more which are virtually inaccessible for researchers, either because they have not been digitised or because they have not been indexed or transcribed.

 

This week Ancestry announced a new collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration.

 

In the first phase of the project more than 65 million records will become available on Ancestry's website, including WWII U.S. Morning Reports, draft cards from the Korean War era, Naturalization and Immigration records, Asian American records, and Native American records.

 

 

The Truth about Rev Hyma Henry Redgrave

I didn’t expect to be writing about the Rev Hyma Henry Redgrave again – or at least, not so soon.

 

You may recall that Rev Redgrave (1860-1958) was the uncle of ‘Roy’ Redgrave, the scion of the Redgrave acting dynasty (see this article in the 24th April issue), but I first began my research into this branch of the Redgrave family when I read of the death of Hyma’s daughter Angela Redgrave last month at the age of 106 (see these articles in the 17th April issue).

 

Tip: if you didn’t read the earlier articles I recommend you do so before continuing, as uncovering the evidence in the sequence that I did turns a rather sordid tale into the sort of mystery that any family historian would be proud to solve.

 

This week an eagle-eyed member of the LostCousins Forum spotted three 1920 articles about Rev Redgrave in a weekly publication called Truth (which seems to have been a forerunner of Private Eye – searching the publication for the word ‘scandal’ produced over 11,000 results!). We’ll look at what those articles revealed in a moment, but first I wanted to find out whether the magazine had reported on him previously.

 

Note: all of the images in this article were created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD and are used by kind permission of Findmypast

 

I discovered that Rev H H Redgrave had been mentioned in Truth 8 years earlier, and it’s quite important – not only in the context of what the magazine wrote in 1920, but also in relation to the facts that were revealed during his appearance before the Consistory Court of Lichfield Diocese in 1913.

 

The living of St Paul’s, Burslem did not provide a large income for the incumbent – despite the town having a population of over 40,000 only 3% of them attended the parish church, possibly because of the large number of non-conformist churches in the area.

 

In 1911 there were 6 people living in the vicarage: the vicar and his wife, two unmarried daughters aged 20 and 21, and two people described as servants – it must have been difficult to make ends meet, and yet  in 1913 the vicar admitted to the court that he had purchased not one, but three houses for Hannah Gater, the girl he had ‘adopted’ with whom he was accused of having an improper relationship. (You may recall that despite the fulsome denials of any adulterous relationship, it later transpired that Hannah had been pregnant with his child at the time of the hearing!)

 

Taking those property purchases into account one does have to wonder whether the author of the Truth article on the left (taken from the 26th May 1912 issue of Truth), was on to something when they hinted that Rev Redgrave might have been less than scrupulous about the funds raised for the relief of striking miners and the potters who were laid off as a result of the strike, and called for audited accounts to be published. A similar suggestion was made in the 11th May 1912 edition of John Bull magazine, which reported how – after the strike – the vicar had circulated a printed letter hailing his own achievements.

 

The article also reveals that having successfully collected funds to support one cause, Rev Redgrave embarked on a new appeal, this time to raise funds to support the training of impecunious students at the theological college now known as Cranmer Hall, part of St John’s College, Durham. Redgrave had taken the position of Principal of the institution in 1910, soon after it was established, even though travelling between Durham and his parish in Burslem must have taken about 5 hours each way.

 

I’m sure there were many whose character was unfairly impugned by magazines like Truth, but in this case we have the advantage of being able to look back at Rev Redgrave’s career with the benefit of hindsight – it’s difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt, even without knowing what he was up to in 1920.

 

You will recall that after the Consistory Court found Rev Redgrave guilty of four (out of seven) charges of immoral conduct the Bishop of Lichfield deprived him of his living; he also lost his position at Cranmer College. The 1921 Census showed that Hannah had borne 5 children since 1913, of whom the 4 eldest were shown in the census as having been born in Quebec, Canada; these included Angela (shown as Gracie) who recounted that she had been born in Church End, Finchley at a college – possibly Christ’s College – where her father was employed, and that they moved to Watford when she was a little girl. We know from the census that in June 1921 Redgrave was a ‘clerical schoolmaster’ at the London Orphan School in Watford, which in that year absorbed the Royal British Orphan School, previously based at Slough; it seems possible that because all the younger men had gone off to war, he was able to find work at another college despite his record.

 

The new evidence reveals more of Rev Redgrave’s character. The newspaper clipping, which is the last of the three articles about Rev Redgrave to appear in Truth during 1920, repeats the story which formed the substance of the previous two articles: Redgrave was once again writing begging letters – but this time there was no doubt who the beneficiary was to be, he asserted that he needed £40 to enable him to obtain his furniture from the warehouse where it was stored.

 

The earlier articles had also referred to the fact that he had been living in Buckhurst Hill, Essex under the name Capt H Woodward since the beginning of 1919, whilst this final article reveals that this deception led to a second court appearance, this time before Stratford magistrates, where he was charged with unlawfully wearing the uniform and badge of a Captain in the Middlesex Regiment.

 

But more importantly, the articles provide a clue to where we might find the birth registration of Hyma and Hannah’s 4th child, Kenneth:

 

 

The date of birth tallies precisely with the date shown for Kenneth Redgrave’s birth in the 1939 Register, so there’s no doubt it’s the same person – even though the 1921 Census shows him as 4 years old. Hannah Gater has morphed into Anne Woodward.

 

Although Redgrave could have been shown as the father if both he and Hannah had registered the birth – even though they were not married – they chose not to go down that route.

 

The next child, Barbara, who was born in Watford just before the 1921 Census, was registered as if she was the legitimate child of the couple – even though they still weren’t married. As for the births of the three eldest children, their birthplaces remain a mystery. Perhaps the next step is to write to Christ’s College in Finchley in the hope that they can tell us if and when Hyma Henry Redgrave worked there?

 

Finally – for now – I had an email from Lynda whose uncle bought the rectory at Stow Bedon, in the parish of Stow Bedon with Breckley, where Hyma Henry Redgrave ended his ecclesiastical career.

 

The Grade II listed property seems to have escaped the war unscathed, which sadly can’t be said for the church, which – with the adjoining school – was damaged by a German landmine in November 1940. According to a November 2020 article on the  website of the Wayland parishes, which include Stow Bedon, inaction by the Rev Redgrave (who by November 1940 was 80) resulted in further damage – the church remained ‘a roofless and windowless skeleton’ until 1949, by which time Redgrave had finally retired.

 

 

Bavarians at the gate?

Distinctive forenames can make it much easier to research our ancestors – provided the information we’re starting with is correct. This example of an 1898 marriage entry sent in by Marcia was a reminder that these clues aren’t always what they seem!

 

 

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone with the first name ‘Barbarian’ – and that middle name Lucas is also a useful clue. But for many years Marcia struggled to find Joseph’s birth, even with the help of a professional genealogist.

 

To cut a long story short, there was a family story about a German connection, so Marcia wondered whether Steel might have been an Anglicised version of a German surname. Eventually she realised that her Joseph was the son of Lucas and Carolina Steidel

 

 

I expect you’re wondering where the name ‘Barbarian’ came from? It turns out it wasn’t a name at all – Lucas Steidel came from Bavaria, so what the registrar had heard was ‘Bavarian’, not ‘Barbarian’.

 

Note: Lucas Steidel sometimes used the name ‘Wolfgang’ – in fact, he married in 1860 as Wolfgang Steidl.

 

 

GRO website closed for scheduled maintenance this weekend

This morning I was met with this message when I attempted to visit the General Register Office website:

 

 

On previous occasions I have expressed the hope that scheduled maintenance would result in new services or other enhancements, but so far my hopes have always been dashed. Still, it would be nice to think that this time they will incorporate some of the improvements to the index searches that I suggested 8 years ago!

 

Perhaps more likely is that they are adding births and deaths for 2022 to the respective indexes – these are well overdue.

 

 

Missing marriages: have the GRO blundered?

It has been known for some time that there are tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of births and deaths which are missing from the GRO’s recompiled online indexes, and available through their own website (when it’s working).. Fortunately we don’t need to rely on them, because we still have access to the original quarterly indexes.

 

However when it comes to marriages, whilst there are local indexes which cover specific areas, and there are parish registers which cover a fairly high proportion of marriages in the 19th century (but a much smaller share in the 20th century). the GRO’s quarterly indexes are the only source which covers the whole of England & Wales.

 

So it was disturbing when Jane wrote to point out that there is an entire page missing from the fourth quarter marriage indexes for 1969: there is a gap between MCVEY (the last entry on page 808 of the index) and MADDOX (the first entry on page 809). This applies to all online copies of the index, at every site that I have been able to check.

 

Although the index was produced by a computer, the page numbers have been added by hand so the gap isn’t immediately obvious. It doesn’t help that the indexing protocol changed between 1968 and 1969 – in 1969 names that began with MC were indexed as if they began MAC, but that wasn’t the case in the previous year.

 

So far as I know this omission hasn’t been spotted before – the volunteer transcribers of FreeBMD would have been most likely to notice the gap – but I don’t know whether the GRO’s own copy of the index has the same deficiency.

 

Note: if anyone lives close to one of the libraries which host the ‘official’ GRO indexes you might like to check whether they show the same omissions. The locations are: Bridgend Local and Family History Centre, City of Westminster Archives Centre, Manchester Central Library, Newcastle City Library, Plymouth Central Library, the British Library, and the Library of Birmingham. Thanks to Jeff who has confirmed that the error is in the index at the British Library.

 

 

Key information about the England & Wales censuses

Looking through back copies of The Amateur Historian I came across an article from the Summer 1963 issue which had an intriguing title: The Unprinted Census Returns for 1841, 1851 and 1861 for England & Wales. The article had been written by Maurice Beresford, whose name I knew from The Lost Villages of England which, coincidentally, I rediscovered while tidying my study this week.

 

The word ‘unprinted’ in the title intrigued me, and I soon discovered that he was referring to the census schedules that we now look at online, but which in 1963 were only available for inspection at the Public Record Office.

 

Maurice Beresford was Professor of Economic History at the University of Leeds, and the journal that he was writing for later became The Local Historian (the journal of the British Association for Local History), so his audience would have been familiar with the reports published by the Home Office (and later by the Registrar General) which provided statistics from the census. However, unless they were also genealogists  (I’m not sure the term family historians was used much in those days) they might never have needed to consult the enumeration schedules that are our ‘bread and butter’.

 

All of the back issues of The Amateur Historian and The Local Historian can currently be read free of charge on the BALH website and/or downloaded as PDF files – you’ll find them here. You might want to download issues for the last 3 years as these are normally only available to members.

 

That 1963 article is well worth reading. One of the publications mentioned is an official 1951 publication  about the censuses which you’ll find here, in the Internet Archive – and although it’s primarily about the censuses from 1801-1931 it includes a copy of the 1951 Census Household Schedule, which I have uploaded to the Peter’s Tips page at the LostCousins site.

 

A more recent article, from May 2013, was written by a Canadian LostCousins member, Dr Donald Davis – it concerns his discovery of a cache of 1841 household schedules that had somehow survived destruction, and is essential reading.

 

Tip: an article by Richard Hoyle in the Spring 2022 edition of Local History News, also published by the BALH is entitled ‘Keep your pdfs safe: the future needs them’. The article is aimed at authors, who generally produce a PDF version of their book before it is sent to the printer, but it might equally be aimed at users of online PDF documents, since they can easily disappear (or the links can stop working). Whilst it’s often possible to find a document in the Internet Archive, that usually requires one to know the title. So download PDF documents to your own computer while you can, just in case they’ve disappeared the next time you want to look at them!

 

 

Ancestry DNA offer ENDS SUNDAY 12TH MAY

Until Sunday 12th May readers in Australia and New Zealand can save at least $30 on DNA tests from Ancestry.com.au – please use the link below so that you can support LostCousins when you make your purchase (if it doesn’t seem to work at first, log-out from Ancestry then click the link again).

 

Save up to $44* on AncestryDNA® and give Mum the gift of her family story. *AUD Offer ends 12 May 2024.

 

There’s also an offer in Canada – again there are big savings on DNA tests, but you’ll need to be quick:

 

Give Mom the gift of her family story. Save up to $65 on AncestryDNA®. CAD. Offer ends 12 May 2024.

 

Note: although this is billed as a Mother’s Day Sale, anyone can take the AncestryDNA test. And you don’t have to decide in advance who’s going to take it – so if you’re keen to make the most of DNA discoveries you might want to do what I do, and order an extra kit so that you have it on hand when you need it.  

 

 

Review: Women In Policing

There was a lot of interest in my article in the last issue about the first female police officers, so when Peter Ashworth wrote to recommend a book that he had recently read I persuaded him to write this review:

 

Women In Policing was advertised on the Police History site and appeared to be a really good read, especially as some of the contributors were or had been serving officers. The other parts had been researched thoroughly by other authors and so I took the plunge and requested a copy.

 

It starts with the very earliest records of wives of policemen helping out to search women prisoners, and dealing with children brought to the station house lost, found or found committing crime.

 

It goes on to record how the very first volunteer policewomen started as an independent unit, not controlled or governed in any way by the chief constables and with a purpose of patrolling to keep women safe on the streets. They had no powers but were not deterred by this, instead offering advice and being a uniform presence on the streets. Several different women police units were formed, some by ex-suffragettes, but all with the same common purpose.

 

Initially chief constables rejected the idea of taking them on as female versions of the all-male constabulary, but they proved their worth in the community and offered a valid help to the male officers. Eventually most forces took a few on, begrudgingly at first, but their numbers grew until every force had its share of women officers.

 

I enjoyed the book from cover to cover and found so much more than I anticipated when I bought it: there proved to be a whole history that I knew nothing about. I bought my copy through the Police History Society as a member. Published by The History Press it is priced at £20. 

 

© Review copyright Peter Ashworth 2024

 

The good news is that you can currently buy the book at a significant discount at Amazon.co.uk – please follow the link below so that you can support LostCousins with your purchase:

 

Amazon.co.uk                            Amazon.com                                         Amazon.ca                     Amazon.com.au

 

 

Bourn again

In the last issue I followed up my article about female ‘bobbies’ with an article about Lilian Mary Elizabeth Wyles, the first female detective. The article included a copy of her 1885 entry in the GRO birth register, which indicated that she was born in Bourn.

 

Many of you will be aware, as I certainly was, that the name of the Lincolnshire town is spelled ‘Bourne’ these days, but I decided to stick to the contemporary spelling, not least because the title of the article was more eye-catching.

 

However, it wasn’t until a couple of readers wrote in to point out my supposed error that I did any research into the timing of the change. It transpired that the GRO began using the 'Bourne' spelling for the registration district in 1893, though I don't know what prompted the change, nor have I checked birth register entries from that year to see whether this coincided with a change in spelling of the town by local registrars.

 

There also seems to be a change in spelling in the Lincolnshire Chronicle during the 1890s – in some issues the new spelling is used in articles, whereas the old spelling might still appear in advertisements.

 

It's more difficult to tell exactly when the clergy of the parish church adopted the new spelling as the handwriting is so poor in the late 19th century. It's definitely 'Bourn' in the earlier records, but by the 1890s it's 'Bourne'. There also seems to be a period when one cleric uses the old spelling and one the new.

 

Note: spelling was not considered important in England until comparatively recently, and whilst the stabilisation of spelling may have coincided with an increase in literacy, it’s little more than a coincidence (bear in mind that even William Shakespeare used different spellings of his own name!).

 

 

Gardener’s Corner

My wife has put together a special gardening article for the first newsletter of our 21st year….

 

Thanks, first of all, to those of you who attended my Q&A session earlier this year (or submitted questions and later watched the recording). With members attending from across the world, I must admit that my research skills were tested in interesting ways, such as how to improve a dry, sandy riverbed to create a viable garden.

 

But though I was nervous about the challenge, I did learn a great deal and would like to thank all those who posed such fascinating questions.

 

As usual Peter has provided a separate page for the main body of my article – but as this is the peak season for discounts I’ll quickly share some links to some of the sites that I use:

 

Gardening Express

Gardening Direct

 

There are more links and lots of tips in the rest of the article – you’ll find it here.

 

 

Peter’s Tips

I don’t suppose you followed the link in the last newsletter to a YouTube recording of Easier Said Than Done, a fantastic 1963 record that never made it in the UK? Experience has shown that many readers of this newsletter don’t click on the links – perhaps because they’re reading a hard copy, or don’t have an Internet connection at the time.

 

One person who didn’t need to click on the link, but did it anyway, was Pat – who wrote to tell me:

“When I left school, I worked near Shepherd's Bush as a Junior Secretary. On Friday, pay day I would sometimes wander around the local market. There was a record stall that had unusual 45s, they had a large hole in the middle, and the vendor would give a black insert so that you could play them on a record player. It must have been 1963 when I purchased ‘Easier Said Than Done’ by ‘The Essex’, I loved it straightaway. Thank you for the memory, and the excellent Newsletter.”

 

My own very first record purchase was also an ex-jukebox 45 – at the horrendous price of 6s 8d a new record was out of the question, but 2s or 2s 6d was just within reach if I saved. That first record was one of numerous 1959 recordings of Seven Little Girls Sitting on the Back Seat – mine was by the Lana Sisters, one of whom later became better known as Dusty Springfield – and, as you can see, I still have it.

 

Now all I need is the plastic insert – though if I remember rightly, provided you could position the record on the turntable sufficiently centrally it wasn’t essential.

 

My late father was a great music lover, although his main love was classical music; Dad would have been 108 last Monday, but died a few weeks short of his 95th birthday. Goodness knows what he would have made of the way that the Eurovision Song Contest has gone over the past decade or so, but I suspect he would say “Bring back Katie Boyle!”.

 

I don’t know what my father’s first record purchase was, but I do know that when he met my mother the popular song Chewing a Piece of Straw had recently been released, and the notes that accompany the title words became our whistled family call-sign.

 

Little details like these about our forebears help to add colour to our family history – but will you remember to pass on the information to the next generation (or, at least, write it down)?

 

Note: talking of Katie Boyle (1926-2018), did you know that she was born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali dei Principi di Francavilla?

 

 

Stop Press

The GRO site was still unavailable at 2.30pm on Monday - it's unusual for scheduled maintenance to exended beyond the weekend.

 

 

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2024 Peter Calver

 

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