Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Site update

The outstanding marriage records have been put online this week to complete the records for the years 1750 – 1849. That means that the project to transcribe the parish registers is now at the halfway stage, and work is now underway on the third phase of this project, but I think that progress may be slow due to the age of the documents and the difficulty in reading the writing.

After I field trip to Rushton Spencer St Lawrence last Wednesday, luckily one of the sunniest days of the year so far,  the project to record the memorial inscriptions has again taken a small step forward with the addition of another 49 MIs to the sight.

As the memorial inscription project is dependant on fieldwork and so reliant on suitable weather conditions, it is something only gets worked on in the summer months so over the next 3 – 4 months I hope to move this project forward and hope to add 100 – 200 more inscriptions.


WindmillOn Tuesday we visited Avoncroft museum of historic buildings, partly as an afternoon out and partly as a research trip to see what style of buildings may have been seen around Rushton at different times.

The Avoncroft museum is an open air exhibition of historic buildings including traditional agricultural buildings, industrial workshops and furnished houses all of which have been rescued and rebuilt on site. The museum opened to the public in 1967 and now exhibits 25 historic buildings and structures from an 18th century Cock Pitt, through to a 19th century Victorian Mission Church and Windmill.

The buildings which are of particular interest to me are the Toll House, which was built in 1822 at Little Malvern, Worcestershire and was part of the Upton-upon –Severn Turnpike Trust. The two story brick building has a living room and a scullery on the ground floor and two bed rooms on the first floor. The angled facets of the buildings front ensured the best possible view of the road in both directions. The earth closet in the garden was used to serve to toll house on its original site.

The Nailshop especially as the Mitchell family were nail makers for many years. This nailshop came to the museum from Sidemoor in Bromsgrove and comprises of a family workshop including two forges and a central ‘brewus’ or wash house.

tudour merchant houseThe timber framed Tudor Merchant’s House was built in 1558 by the Lylley family of dyers. The building has been reconstructed to look much as it might when first built. The timber frames is of oak jointed and pegged together and infilled with wattle and daub. Externally the infill panels are coated with limewash. The plan follows that of the traditional Medieval Hall House with both front and back doors opening into the cross or screens passage. The hall, which is open to the rafters, would have originally have had a hearth in the middle of the floor. However this was moved probably in the 16th century and the great timber smoke stack inserted into the floor of the chamber over the screens passage. The stairs leading to the upper floor of the cross wing were also inserted at a later date. Originally, access was from one of the two smaller downstairs rooms, which would if the owner were a merchant have served as his shop and office. interior of merchant houseThe upper chamber often referred to as a solar would have served as a private retiring place in the daytime and a bed chamber at night for the owner’s family. The foundation stones visible at the lower end of the house indicate the possible location of a service wing that did not survive. In 1962 the house was demolished, and a local group saved the timbers, leading to the first exhibit at Avoncroft in 1967.

The Granary from Temple Broughton, Worcestershire is a late 18th century grain store with the elm frame supported on brick piers, the space underneath would have been used as a cart shed.

cruck-frame barnThe Cruck-frame Barn which was built during the 16th century at Cholstrey Court Farm, near Leominster in Herefordshire. The crucks are made of black poplar whilst the rest of the frame is of oak infilled with split oak pales. At harvest time wagon-loads of corn were brought back to the barn and stored in one of the bays. During autumn and winter months, corn was threshed on the hard paved floor. The grain was separated from the chaff by being tossed in the draught between the two doors (a process known as winnowing). The threshed straw was stored in the remaining bay.

The pond in the foreground of the picture was constructed in the 1970s and is typical of a Worcestershire farm pond. In the mid 1990s it began to loose water and in the summer months would often be dry. During 1997 the pond was deepened and puddled with clay to form a watertight seal which allowed the pond to rapidly refill with water.

Anyone wanting to visit the museum should visit their website for more details and opening times, if you enter the postcode B60 4JR into a satnav it will get you close enough to the museum to follow the signs to the entrance.

100 years of baptisms & burials now online!

I have just put another five years of baptisms and burials online which means that there is complete coverage for the period 1750 – 1850, with work on the marriage records now underway.

The replacement search engine is also undergoing beta testing at the present time and I am hoping to have it go live sometime in May. It has the look and feel of a Google search but as it is under my control it can be updated each time a put new records online without having to wait for Google to crawl the site and update its links.

Website update

Fifteen years of baptisms and burials have been added recently, with another ten years likely to be added by this weekend, making a total of 90 years worth of baptisms and burials available online, requiring only two more visits to the SRO to complete 100 years. The outstanding marriage registers will be transcribed straight after the completion of the baptisms and burials.

I have also this month started to participate in LostCousins one place study project, the idea behind this is I suppose to make a greater wealth of information available to users of their site and so generate extra revenue for them, from my point of view it should bring extra traffic my way from people who have a genuine interest in the information that I have available online.

Finally now that I have a sufficient amount of information available I have commenced the one place genealogy project for the parish – apart from the Buxton family which will be for the whole of North Staffordshire. I am however faced with two major dilemmas;

1. How to organise the study in such a way as to make it easily manageable.

2. The amount of information to include and how to best present this information.

My ideal would be to obtain funding so that I can have an application developed similar to the one used by Genes Reunited, so that it would be possible to visually navigate through the families in the parish. However in the absence of such funding I have been looking at alternative methods, and the one that I am currently considering, having trialled the complete genealogy reporter, would be compiling reports on specific surnames in response to individual requests sent through the contacts page. The amount of information to make available comes into question with this method, obviously for data protection reasons no information would be provided on anyone born less than 100 years ago unless it is proved know that the person is no longer living. With a web app I would just include dates and places of birth/baptism, marriage and death/burial, however in a report it is so much easier to include additional information such as occupations, residence etc, and if I do include this extra information should I charge a nominal fee of say £2 to gain some sort of return form my time spent researching, especially as the information would be freely available onsite if anyone cared to carry out the research themselves.

Problems with CS3 & a major project

I suffered what Adobe refer to as “The licensing subsystem has failed catastrophically,” with all of the Adobe software that I own so for a time a lost the ability to use photoshop, illustrator, dreamweaver, fireworks, indesign etc. Luckily however it did not impact to much on the updates to the website that I had planned for this week although it did cause me a bit of a head ache to say the least.

Anyway new to the site this week are another 5 years of parish records (baptisms & burials, there were no marriages record for this period) and a modification to the gallery to make it is easier to navigate now that a second gallery has been added.

Although I’m not sure if it will ever make it onto the internet in the form that I want (unless someone develops a web app pro bono for me, as I would have no idea where to start,) I have started a major project to produce a family tree for the whole of the parish for the years 1700 – 1901, based on the research that I am currently undertaking.