Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Miser of Mayfield

William Luck was buried in Mayfield in 1704 and as his burial record shows he was worth a bit more than expected - especially as he was getting handouts from the parish in order to get by:

13 [Dec 1704] Willm Luck had Releife of ye Parish Dyed with Eighty pounds by him

According to Measuring Worth ( his £80 is equivalent of between £11,000 (based on standard of living value) to more than £1 million (based on economic value).

The discovery of that money must have had the parish officials gnashing their teeth!  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

One thousands years of criminal justice

Yesterday the Keep held one of its lunch time talks; this one was given by Christopher Wittick and was looking a thousand years of criminal justice in Sussex.

Chris looked at the history of our justice system from trial by battle in the post Conquest period through to Henry II's Assize of Clarendon which saw the start of trial by jury and eventually the development of the Quarter Sessions and the Assizes.

It was only a short talk so there was little time to go into any detail but it was interesting  for me to see that early on crime was seen as affecting only the person against whom the crime was committed (and his/her immediate family), it was only in the 12th century that people began to feel that crime affected all of society.  

As always it is the gruesome details which stick in one's memory; hanging was always the more generally accepted method of execution but in the Cinque Ports, including Hastings, they had a far more locality based method - they threw people off the cliff!  Also for a short period in the 16th century poisoners could be executed by boiling - apparently it was first used in 1531 after the Bishop of Rochester was served poisoned porridge!

It was an excellent talk and I look forward to their next one.  None appear to be scheduled at present but keep an eye on their events website.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A woman's place

I have just signed the petition to have mothers names included on marriage certificates, something I feel very strongly about.  In this day and age it is ludicrous that mothers are not included - not just to help the family historians of the future but far more importantly to recognise we are just as significant as our spouses - and in many cases it is the mothers who are primary carers in their children's lives.

Having done that I was then reading the Sussex Advertiser from the 8th July 1851 and came across the following entry:

Distressing case:- At the termination of the magisterial proceedings, a poor
woman named Martin appealed to the Bench under the following 
circumstances - She stated for months past she had been a martyr
to the ill-treatment of her husband.  She had been married for 15 years
had had several children and yet he not only refused to contribute
to their support but would frequently beat her in the most unmerciful
manner; the last time had had done so having been on Friday week.  Her
object was to preserve herself from his ruffianly attacks and she therefore
sought the advice of the Bench.  Mr Deane said that the proper course
would have been to have obtained a summons against the man after
the assault on the day mentioned by the woman.  So long a time had
now elapsed that the only suggestion he could make was that she had
better let him do it again (laughter).

Unbelievable!  Well, they were only 'ruffianly attacks', that doesn't sound too bad at all. At least once the Bench had stopped laughing and enjoying themselves they did agree to bring her husband in front of them to answer for his conduct.

I guess Mr Deane would not be in favour of mother's being given equal billing on the marriage licence!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

All Saints Church in Buncton has to be one of the prettiest churches I have visited and it is certainly one of the most photogenic.  It also has one of the nicest approaches - there is a rather muddy path (there is no road access) down the side of a small valley, over the bridge and up the other side, with almost no sound except for the birds singing away in the trees , then around a corner you'll find the church in one of the counties most tranquil and peaceful locations.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Pipewell Gate, Winchelsea

The Pipewell or Ferry Gate was built in the early 14th century along with three others to allow access into the new town of Winchelsea.  The road from this gate led down to the ferry across the river Brede.  The gate was destroyed in 1380 during a French raid but rebuilt in around 1404.  

Sunday, 30 March 2014

1939 National Register

Researching our ancestors over the last 100 years can sometimes be much harder than researching them 200 years ago.  

The last available census is the 1911, when the 1921 census is released in 2022 that will be it until the 1951 census is released in 2052 (by which time I will, no doubt, be with my ancestors!) as the Second World War saw the destruction of the 1931 census and prevented the taking of the 1941 census.

But now Findmypast is working with the National Archives to digitise and make available the 1939 Register which was taken towards the end of that year in preparation for the issuing of identity cards and ration books.  It will be invaluable resource to help to fill in those 30 years between 1921 and 1951.

To learn more see Findmypast

To be kept up to date on progress

If you don't want to wait two years you can, in some circumstances, apply for the information now from here

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mass Observation

                                                                        The Mass Observation collection is part of the archives at the Keep and it is very different type of record to those I am more familiar with as a genealogist.

Mass Observation started because there were several events of national importance around 1936/7 such as the abdication of Edward VIII which were endlessly discussed by politicians and in the newspapers but the voice of the man in the street was unheard.  The idea behind the Mass Observation was to find out what was happening with the everyday folk.  It was to some extent a middle class study of the working class but the result is an amazing collection of records, diaries, images and documents that would not have survived if  a small group of young men had not decided to undertake an anthropological study of 'ourselves'.

Mass Observation ended in the 1950's as its focus moved more towards consumer behaviour and away from social study but in the 1970s its collection of material came to Sussex University where it was made available to researchers.  A lot of books have been published as a result of this information, and even a film - Housewife, 49 - which Victoria Wood wrote and starred in based on the diaries kept for the Mass Observation by Nella Last.

Interest in Mass Observation was revived in the 1981 and there is now a panel of nearly 500 people who are asked to write on a variety of topics.  That the information is always provided anonymously is thought to encourage the panel to write truthfully and to give details that they might not normally admit to.

12th May 2014If you would like to add to the archive you get the chance in a few months time - in 1937 everyone was invited to write a diary on the 12th May (which turned out to be the coronation of George VI) and this is being repeated this year - everyone who wants to can write a diary of their day from the moment they get up until they go to bed that night.  Whilst it is unlikely to be as eventful a day as 12th May 1936 turned out to be, it is the very ordinariness which provides the insights into our daily life's which we can leave for our descendants to look at and be amazed.  After all if it was not for the Mass Observation Project we wouldn't know that in 1943 liking your spouse was thought to be more important (61%) to loving them (21%) if you wanted a happy marriage or that real coffee (as opposed to instant) came into our lives in Christmas 1986.