Reports of Meetings at Chelmsford


June 2019 Morning session
Bishopsgate Institute and its Collections
by Stefan Dicker
Bishopsgate Institute opened its doors to the public on New Years’ Day 1895 with the aims of providing a public library, public hall and meeting rooms for City of London workers. This establishment is still flourishing today.

Stefan, who works at the library, gave us a well-illustrated humorous presentation through its history and collections. For the "inside story" of this archive please see the December 2019 edition of the Essex Society for Family History membership magazine.
Colleen Devenish ESFH 6279
April 2019 Morning session
Essex Archives on Line - the Essex Record Office
by Ian Boreham
The Essex Record Office (ERO) building holds thousands of documents of great value to family historians researching Essex connections so it is important for members to become familiar with the ERO online database - Essex Archives Online.

All ERO records can be accessed free of charge by visitors to the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford. For those unable to visit the archive their catalogue can be SEARCHED remotely however to gain further functionality a user has to register or purchase a subscription. The subscription can be daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. For detailed information please see .

Ian Boreham , who is the ESFH Archivist, gave an in-depth illustrated overview of various aspects of the Essex Archives Online database using as an example Charles Clerke, who was a Captain in the Royal Navy, and who died attempting a fourth voyage around the world with Captain James Cook.

He demonstrated how to search for a subject and rationalise the results. Catalogue searches may bring up graphical images which can be seen only as a small image however to view a larger image, in most instances, a subscription is needed. He showed us how to save the image to our own computer using Microsoft Windows Notepad (found under Windows Accessories) and how you could use the nomenclature of the ERO document in a file name. He emphasised the importance of having an organised file structure on your own computer.

When Ian presented the Essex Archives Home page (which has the Document reference and Search box on the top right hand side) he indicated, by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, a heading entitled User Guides which can be seen on the left hand side of the screen. These guides cover the topics researching family history, house history, classic vehicle history and using electoral rolls. Under the heading User Guides at the very top of the page there is also a User Guide on understanding Parish Records.

At the bottom of the same page Ian explained the functionality of the orange, turquoise, red and blue icons. The orange "cloud" button allows access to the FREE Essex Sound and Video Archive and, by downloading a free software product called SoundCloud as instructed, you can listen to recordings of individuals talking about many aspects of past Essex life. The turquoise button takes you to their Twitter feed, the red to YouTube and the blue to their Facebook page. There is also a strapline "Read our blog" which when hit enables you to read the ERO blog site and subscribe free of charge to receive regular blogs.

Ian explained that documents could be ordered in advance of a visit or when you arrived at ERO. For details regarding visiting ERO please see
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
April 2019 Afternoon session
The Women Who Crewed the Narrow Boats during WW2
by Denis Padfield
Denis introduced his presentation by explaining the history of how, before the outbreak of the Second World War, narrow boats and barges had been manned largely by families.
Their life style was unique as they worked and lived on their boats and thus they developed a canal "culture" as they travelled up and down the waterways delivering bulk commodities like coal, grain, cement etc. Often their barges and narrow boats were drawn by horses along the tow paths. In Essex we had the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Canal which ran from Springfield Wharf in Chelmsford to Heybridge Basin a total of 13.75 miles.

Many of us are familiar with the term Land Girls, women who worked the land during WW1 and WW2, but how many of us realised that approximately 45 women aged 18-35 worked on the canals and waterways during the years 1943-1946 manning the narrow boats. Given the nickname "Idle Women" after a book by Susan Woolfit printed in the 1940s, the nickname was a play on the letters IW which were the initials of the Inland Waterways which appeared on badges they wore.

During the Second World War in the UK there were approximately 3500 miles of navigable waterways much of which connected large towns and, luckily for the narrow boat crews, were not targets for Hitler's bombs. The intrepid women who volunteered for this type of work had to be very fit and healthy and would have to get used to zero home comforts. They volunteered from all social backgrounds and took a six week training course before being allowed to man the crafts and receiving pay of £3 per week for crewing.

In addition to controlling two vessels - an average narrow boat was approximately 72 feet long which had attached to it by rope a smaller craft called a butty (unpowered) behind, the three women crew would have had to handle the opening and closing of lock gates and, when required, to "walk" the boats through dark tunnels. This involved lying on ones back and walking along the inside brickwork of an unlit tunnel propelling the craft. The combined carrying volume of the main vessel and the butty could be approximately 70 tonnes of cargo which had to be loaded and unloaded at the required destinations. Once the two vessels were fully loaded they floated only 4 inches above the water line.

Denis mentioned the names of several of the women who volunteered and so contributed to the war effort by taking up this strenuous unusual work, including Miss Daphne March and her mother Margaret, Daphne French, Kitty Gayford, Evelyn Hunt, Audrey "Steerer" Harper and Anne Blake.

Further reading and photographs regarding these women can be found on the Canal and River Trust website where you can find information about visiting all UK canals. There is a canal museum in London
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6237)
March 2019 Morning session
The British in India by Peter Bailey
by Peter Bailey
Peter Bailey is the President of the Families in British India Society and gave us a very detailed introduction to the sources for research. His Society has a website which is a must-view for any reader interested in this subject. Here are the main points of his presentation:-

Most biographical data on European residents of British India & South Asia (1600-1947) are lodged in the India Office Records at the British Library
Most official early records of British India relate to the East India Company and government employees (Traders, Civil Servants, Military, Maritime)
Non-government employees required recorded authority from the East India Company to travel and work in India (1660 to 1858)
The significant records of Baptism, Marriage and Burial are currently being made available on line by the Church of Latter Day Saints at
The Families in British India Society organisation (FIBIS) is transcribing as many additional records as possible to enable researches to obtain data.
FIBIS is also controlling the build-up of their 'FibiWiki' for researchers to understand the background to the lives led by their ancestors in British India.
In addition to the above mentioned websites current major sources on line are:-       (highlight, then right-click then 'Go to')

Relevant literature includes:-
Biographical Sources in the India Office Records by Ian A Baxter
Researching Ancestors in the East India Company Armies by Peter Bailey
British Ships in India Waters: Their Owners, Crew and Passengers by Richard Morgan
Researching Ancestors in the Indian Army 1861-1947 by Peter Bailey
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
March 2019 Afternoon session
Changing Face of Basildon Borough over the last 150 years
by Ken Porter
Ken Porter, a local author and member of the Basildon Heritage Society is a native of Basildon. He started his presentation by quoting from Arthur Young (agriculturist 1741-1820) reminding us that several hundred years ago Basildon and the surrounding countryside had been a land of wheat, sheep and marshes.

The population of Basildon in the 1881 Census was 157 people. Similarly, the surrounding villages of Langdon Hills, Pitsea, Vange, Lea Chapel and Laindon had very few residents, consisting of populations of 231, 266, 272, 3 and 233 respectively.

Following a combination of poor harvests, imports of American grain, and the lack of investment in improving the poor quality of the South Essex heavy clay, eventually many farmers gave up working the soil and it was sold off cheaply for building land. The opening of the direct rail link between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness in 1888 and social changes that allowed Londoners more leisure, resulted in many visiting the Essex countryside for the first time.

From the 1880s land speculators, including Frederick Francis Ramuz (Mayor of Southend on Sea 1898-1900), started auctioning off large tracts of poor agricultural land, divided into small plots, and later known as "plotlands" to the people in East London. The plots were snapped up at between £5 and £10 each. Further speculators, including London-based land developers, local developers like Harry Foulger and Thomas Helmore at Laindon, James Humm and Robert Varty at Vange and Pitsea, sold plots of land to hordes of ordinary London folk. As the area had a lack of local authority controls the buyers erected all types of buildings for their weekend retreats and eventually many moved to live permanently in these areas.

In 1931 the population of Laindon had increased to 4552, and Lea Chapel to 3002.

By the mid-1930s this haphazard development was causing concern for the Billericay Urban District Council whose problems were compounded during and after WW2 by further people fleeing from their bombed-out London environments and settling in the area. A wide range of facilities including made-up roads, drainage, lighting and sewerage were absent. Unable to finance the restructure of the area Billericay Urban District Council schemed with Essex County Council to persuade the Government to designate the area as a "New Town" hence using the resources of central government to clear the area and create a place called Basildon New Town, located between the existing towns of Laindon and Pitsea.

The Basildon Development Corporation was born and therein lies another story.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
February 2019 Afternoon session
Fighting the Authorities and the 60's Social Revolution
by Alan Goldsmith
Alan explained that he grew up in the 1940s and his teenage years were spent just over the Essex border in Bishops Stortford Hertfordshire.

He started his talk by comparing his teenage years of the 1940s and 50s in England with that of teenagers growing up in the 1960s. He felt his generation had been the last to be brought up to be obsequious and servile. By the late 1960's England had experienced a social revolution resulting in young people becoming less constrained and able to enjoy 'pop music', liberalised sex, the joys of alcohol and in some cases (but not many) drug-taking.

After trying several jobs at the age of 18 he started in the music profession by managing a local band and after a few years he became a pop music promoter putting on concerts mainly in Braintree, Great Dunmow and surrounding districts.

He regaled us with many anecdotes of the 'celebrities' he had promoted, including Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Dionne Warwick and the Southend band, Procol Harum, to name but a few. He wrote about his life in a book entitled "Giving it Both Barrels" published in 2003 and which is still available. He progressed to the staging of events like music festivals at stately homes and air shows.

In 1968/9 he bought approximately 15 acres of land which had a small piece of an ancient wall on it. Evidently this was from the remains of Stansted Mountfitchet Castle. His dream was to build a medieval wooden fort on the site and open it to visitors. He then began a five-year fight with the local authorities before opening an authentic looking Norman wooden castle as a tourist attraction. The attraction is still open for part of the year and has attracted thousands of visitors over the subsequent decades. Details can be found at

Alan was a very entertaining and able speaker although I did feel his talk would have been enhanced by the use of some photographs.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
February 2019 Morning session
Quality Perfect, Prices Lower
by Allison Foster - Sainsbury Archivist
For details of this presentation please see the August 2019 edition of The Essex Family Historian.
January 2019 Afternoon session
Historic Timber Framing - A Medieval Carpenters Art
by John Walker
John is a member of the Essex Historic Building Group and shared his extensive expertise, with examples of timber framed buildings from Essex, and Suffolk.

He explained the production of wattle and daub, and showed us how timber was cut, to be shaped by axe. It would take over 300 oak trees to build one farm house, and 50 acres of woodland could produce enough wood to construct one farm house every 6 years. Four carpenters would take about 6 months to build the structure, and they were so rightly proud of their work that they often left their personal marks on show within the building.

From the 15th century "jettied" houses and shops became popular, where the first floor protruded over the ground floor by 2-3 feet, much of the supporting timbers for this would be exposed and highly decorated. By the 17th century this style became unfashionable and many such buildings were given brick facades, with Georgian styles windows and doors. We were shown examples of Essex timber framed buildings like Fyfield Hall Fyfield, Harlowbury Manor Harlow, and Cann Hall Clacton. These types of building can also be found in East Street Coggeshall, and Bridge Street Writtle.

John finished his informative talk by suggesting that anyone requiring more information should contact the Essex Historic Building Group via their website
Andrea Hewitt (ESFH 6398)
December 2018 Morning session
It's 1918 and Women Have the Vote
by Helen Matten
Helen Matten presented her illustrated lecture regarding part of the history of the enfranchisement of women in the UK in a very original way.

She took on the guise of a middle class fictitious woman called Dorothy Inkpen-Tappitt and, wearing the Suffragette colours of Purple for Dignity, White for Purity and Green for Hope, she retold the story of the struggle of women to gain the vote up until 1918.

Taking a comprehensive look at the history of this long drawn out campaign in the one and half hours available to her Helen managed to highlight the key political and social implications of the cause. She gave a history of some of the key campaign groups, including the NUWSS, and WSPU, their key leaders and main objectives - particularly articulating their differences.

The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) was formed in 1897 from numerous local women's suffrage societies. Its leader, Millicent Fawcett, became one of the most prominent middle class women campaigning peacefully for the vote.

By the early 1900s the Suffragists were flourishing with a rising membership and an efficient nation-wide organisation. By 1914, the NUWSS had approximately 54,000 members, the majority being middle class, respectable citizens.

The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was a women-only political movement and leading militant organisation campaigning for women's suffrage from 1903 to 1917. It was formed on 10th October 1903 in Manchester by Emmeline Pankhurst, her daughter Christabel and Annie Kenny. Their motto was "Deeds, not Words" and their purpose was votes for woman but, unlike the NUWSS, this group were prepared to use extreme physical tactics including violence against property, disrupting public speakers, hunger strikes, damage to golf courses etc. to achieve their goal. In bringing their cause to the attention of the public some of their members are remembered for their martyrdom including Emily Davison who, deliberately or not, tragically died in front of the King's horse on Derby Day 4 June 1913. Helen informed us that the jockey had taken his own life in 1951.

Helen dotted her lecture throughout with anecdotal stories including those involving women who tried to avoid being counted in the 1911 census. Some hid overnight in the shops belonging to the NUWSS. Many woman did write comments on the forms which can be seen today and evidently approximately 3000 tried to avoid the census count altogether, including Kate Perry Fry who tried to hide out at the Swan Commercial Hotel in Maldon but inadvertently let out why she was there thus defeating her objective.

It was a very comprehensive and informative presentation.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
December 2018 Afternoon session
Seasonal Customs and Traditions in Essex
by Mark Lewis
Our speaker was Mark Lewis, a folklorist and part time university lecturer, and his subject was "Seasonal Rituals in Essex". He took us through a fine gallop throughout the county and the calendar. His aim is to "hold fast" to both ancient and recent rituals. For January he described corn dollies from Essex, a "ring tesset" and a "bell tesset", which were made from the last of the harvest and were said to be a home for "the spirit of the harvest". Later in the month occurred "Plough Monday" at Little Totham. In April there was a "Mud Race" at Maldon. For May, throwing "kitchels" a type of bun on Mayor's Day at Harwich. Each June there was a "Nepton" distribution at Barking of payments to the poor, started by the charitable Ann Nepton.

July brought out a story of the famous Oak Tree at Fairlop and the annual fayres held beneath its branches. Then there was pilgrimage at Bradwell. Also in that month the Dunmow Flitch ceremony, dating from 1104, but it was likely that the bacon was awarded from 1445. The year, not the hour!

September's story was about oysters from the bed of the river Colne, a First Friday Lunch and, following a proclamation of 1256, Colchester held First Friday Feasts of oysters. These became so expensive that the local labour Party showed its disregard by holding a simultaneous Fish and Chip supper for those who could not afford oysters. For October we heard the tale of the "Whispering Court" at Rochford, when the Earl of Warwick, suspicious of the loyalty of his tenants, founded a ceremony that went on for nearly 300 years until 1892.

Also in the autumn was held a "Horseman's Sunday" at Romford and other locations, celebrating our equine friends. November was the time of the Lopping Wood events in Epping Forest. Mark ended the year with a December event: the Brightlingsea, "Choosing Day" in honour of its Cinque Ports status. "Boy Bishops" were elected in Berden from medieval times and this strange ceremony was now being brought up to date in Chelmsford Cathedral. Finally the saving of bell ringer's hats at Great Bromley, an event still featured.

It is enough to record the names and locations of these rituals, to report the reasoning behind them, as explained by Mark, would require far more space than this report can command.

If interested, please do some research yourselves!
Fred Feather (ESFH 366)
November 2018 Afternoon session
Hylands House in the Great War
by Linda Knock
On a bright November afternoon, this talk was given by Linda, a familiar figure in the audience at Galleywood, but today she entertained us with her knowledge as a volunteer at Hylands House located outside Chelmsford. More information may be found at (Hylands Estate)

As the Great War began the current owners of Hylands House were Sir Daniel and Lady Gooch. Sir Daniel was away with the good ship "Endurance" on polar adventures and their son Lancelot Daniel was training to be a naval officer. On 14th August 1914 Lady Gooch permitted her home to become a military hospital, with five 20-bed wards and, whilst the weather was clement, there were wards in tents in the garden. The 48th (South Midland) Division, which was an infantry division of the British Army, used the under-canvas facilities for its wounded men. Within a few weeks the house was visited by King George V, who also went into Chelmsford.

The age of the patients was set at between 19 and 40 but patients with senior non-commissioned ranks could be admitted up to 50. Amongst the early arrivals were 30 Belgian soldiers. One year later Lord Kitchener attended a ceremony there on 7th August and presided over a parade in Chelmsford and a dinner at the "Saracens Head" hotel. In excess of 1500 soldiers were treated at Hylands Military Hospital. Linda had done a fine job of researching the life of some patients. Among the dead were 2 Belgian soldiers with interesting graves in the local cemetery. The temporary hospital closed on 1th April 1919. Sir Daniel and Lady Gooch also mourned the death of Lancelot, their Midshipman son, for whom a window was commissioned in nearby Widford Church.

A fine talk and we can be sure that we will, in time learn more about this significant Chelmsford house and its occupants.

Fred Feather (ESFH366)
November 2018 Morning session
Essex in London
by Eric Probert
Eric started the talk by showing us a map of London today, with the boroughs which were formerly Essex, highlighted. He then went on to talk about each borough mentioning the main towns and giving us the website for their registry offices, museums and libraries.

A full slide show of the talk is available on Eric's website which may be found by clicking here.

Former Essex boroughs include:-
Barking & Dagenham which includes Becontree and Chadwell Heath as well as the afore-mentioned towns.
Havering covering Harold Hill, North Ockendon, Rainham, Romford, Upminster and Wennington.
Newham covering Canning Town, East & West Ham, Forest Gate, Plaistow, Silvertown and Stratford.
Redbridge covering Barkingside, Chingford, Goodmayes, Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford.
Waltham Forest covering Chingford, Highams Park, Leyton, Leytonstone and Walthamstow.

Other sites recommended were:
     * Essex Records Office, SEAX Catalogue    (
     * London Metropolitan Archives click here   (london-metropolitan-archives)
     * Essex Society for Family History    (ESFH)
     * East of London Family History Society    (EOLS)
     * Waltham Forest Family History Society     (WFFHS)

The following local and specialised history societies were mentioned - Chingford Historical Society, The Great Eastern Railway Society and The Brewery History Society.

Eric recommended a visit to Essex or London libraries where it is possible to view local collections, registers of electors, newspapers and magazines with the additional benefit of free access to Ancestry and Find My Past web sites.

Other libraries available both to visit and view online being:
     * Society of Genealogists Library
     * National Archives Reference Library, Kew
     * Bishopsgate Institute Library    (

The final part of the talk covered the various family history forums, chat rooms, message boards and miscellaneous websites available.

An excellent talk - thank you Eric.
October 2018 Morning session
I am delighted to report that our Open Day was a success, helped by it being a lovely sunny day. Our objective of making our Society better known was achieved with our signing-in sheets showing 162 attending, of which 68 were visitors. Thank you so much to everyone who promoted the event for us especially member Susan Wilson, who was our 'voice' on Radio Essex.

Tom Doig our Speaker on Photo Dating, who stepped in at the last minute was excellent and his one-to-one sessions on dating vintage photos held in the afternoon were very popular. Our Help Desks were busy, we signed up some new members and sold some CDs.

A big thank you to Essex Records Office who sent along Lawrence Barker, one of their Archivists, and Diane Taylor, their Conservator, enabling visitors to find out about the best way to store their photographs.

Our other Exhibitors, see list below, were also very busy and added to the success of the day:
* East of London, Felixstowe, Hertfordshire, Kent, Romany & Travellers and Waltham   Forest Family History Societies.
* Friends of Historical Essex and Essex Society for Archaeology and History
* Canadian Ancestry, The EurekA Partnership, Tollesbury Ancestry Group
* Galleywood Heritage Centre, Leigh Society and Writtle Archives
* John Everett with his copies of vintage Essex photos

Lastly thank you to Galleywood Heritage Centre staff for all their assistance and providing such excellent refreshments.

All in all an excellent day!
Meryl Rawlings Secretary (ESFH 6639)
September 2018 Morning session
London Metropolitan Archives
by Louise Harrison
For details of this lecture please see the March 2019 edition of The Family Historian.
September 2018 Afternoon session
Poverty, Protest and Riot - Essex Farmworkers - Part one 1800-1850
by Ted Woodgate
Ted Woodgate's talk was fascinating. Nearly everyone attending had a farm worker amongst their ancestors. He referred to the literature and paintings depicting bucolic scenes but poverty and desperation were the truth. The average wage for a farm worker in the 1830s and 1840s was 9 to 10s per week and there were six or seven children to feed. After the Napoleonic Wars Essex was at the forefront of new technology and the farmers and their tenants did well whilst the farm workers did not. Corn Laws were introduced with the price of corn artificially high for thirty years. The Luddite weavers and clock workers were smashing the new machines and the farm workers were smashing the threshing machines, all fearing for their livelihoods.

In 1816, labourers in Sible Hedingham smashed threshing machines and other farm implements and five young men were sent to the house of correction in Halstead where the residents rescued four of them. The constables could not put down the riot and the yeoman cavalry were also beaten back. Some rioters claimed sanctuary in St. Andrew's Church and the Colchester Dragoons took seven days to quell the riot. 1822 was known as the Bread and Blood Year. Throughout the 1830s the riots continued, machines were smashed, hayricks and barns torched, the upper classes attacked and animals maimed.

Letters, signed by the fictitious Captain Swing, were sent to farmers forbidding their use of threshing machines. The name Captain Swing came from the action of the flail used traditionally to thresh corn. On Boxing Day 1830 the inhabitants of Rayleigh were called to extinguish a hayrick fire - John Ewing, a 34 year old labourer, was heard to say "it is as it should be". On this evidence alone he was arrested, tried and hanged at Springfield Gaol but he received full Christian rites at his funeral at Rayleigh church indicating that maybe some in authority thought he had been made a scapegoat.

In North West and North East Essex there were Captain Swing riots. Following riots in Kirby-le-Soken 36 men were transported to Tasmania some for seven years and some for 14 years. 1834 saw the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs unfold. Five of them, upon return to England, took farm tenancies in High Laver and Greensted but in 1841 they emigrated to Canada.

In 1836 a Union of Farmworkers appeared in the Tendring Hundred, claiming to have 1,200 members. Fees were 1s a month with 1s a day to be paid to a member on strike or locked out. They demanded a wage of 12s a week plus £6 for the harvest and a sliding scale of weekly charges reflecting the cost of living, but the Union collapsed. The 1840s were known as "the Hungry Forties". Conditions worsened and in spite of the threat of transportation or execution the unrest continued. In 1846 Sir Robert Peel repealed the Corn Laws resulting in a boom for the farmers who invested in machinery, making huge sales and profits. As in any workplace there was a hierarchy with the horseman at the top, then the ploughman down to the farm boy.
I can't wait for Part 2 of the lecture from Ted in 2019.
Janice Sharpe (ESFH 5841)
July 2018 Morning session
Making the Most of a Computer for Family History
by Eric Probert
Eric Probert offered his suggestions to use computers to maximise research and complement your family history searches.

Eric focused on word processing, the Internet, Social Media and Family History on CD and DVD particularly noting the many free resources available. He highlighted three databases for recording people including TreeView v2, Family Historian v6 and RootsMagic v7. He suggested selecting one of these as a master. All three feature free demonstration versions. Eric encouraged members to check out the various genealogy software reviews for all the products.

For storing, indexing and organising information Eric recommends Custodian 4 (formerly Custodian 3) for a One-name studies database.

There are numerous CDs and DVDs available covering many family history topics.

Concerning Internet mailing lists, mostly hosted by RootsWeb and Yahoo, both sites offer a wealth of information. "You name it in Family History and there's a mailing list for it" he stated.

Message boards, which are basically discussion group forums are also worthwhile. Even though they can overlap with mailing lists, CuriousFox and RootsChat are very powerful facilities.

Eric also cautioned members not to neglect access to The National Archives (TNA) web site for family history knowledge and these were his suggestions to keep up with developments in family history:

Subscribe to newsletters, they are free e.g. Lost Cousins which has first class information
Read Blogs and Twitter
Publish your family history on the web
Listen to podcasts (lectures online) and webinars (interactive lectures online)
Read magazines - for example one can often find subscription offers like 5 issues of WDYTYA for £5

Of course, keep reading books like Susan Fifer's Family History for the Older and Wiser and Mark Heber's Ancestral Trials.

Eric has summarised his lecture - see then go to the Family History tab followed by the Talks tab and then hit on the presentation with the title Making the Most of a Computer for Family History.
Tracy Webb - visitor from the USA
July 2018 Afternoon session
Wind and Water - A brief history of Milling
by Peter Jones
Peter Jones was our afternoon speaker and without delay took us back to the era when there were no crops, but variety of grasses, which one clever forebear decided to grind and taste. From this incident came our daily bread. The discovery that grain could be ground to make a mixture called meal must have been extremely important because raw wheat is not particularly nice to eat. This mixture was so coarse it had an appalling effect on everyone's teeth. For a long time meal was used to make only porridge or gruel until the technique of baking was discovered.

Peter then took us through a history of milling, the various methods of extracting grains. He then described in detail machinery used to get the best products and later financial advantages. Depending on geography the "millers" used water power, wind power, mechanical and engine power and electricity to produce the fine products we enjoy.

The earliest archaeological evidence for wheat seeds crushed between simple millstones to make flour dates to 6000 BC. The Romans were the first to grind seeds on cone mills. Gradual developments in milling techniques, especially the introduction of the rotary mill around 1000BC, meant improvements in flour for baking. Eventually in the 11th Century watermills and windmills enabled real progress. In 1879, at the beginning of the Industrial Era, the first steam mill was erected in London. Then, as now, the object of the baking was to convert flour into an enjoyable, ready to eat foodstuff.

Many of the common machines, such as the roller mill, were developed by the 1900s and are still in use in present-day mills. Watermills and windmills usually added beauty to our landscape, and Essex was for many years covered with splendid types. This county still enjoys a plethora of attractive mills.
Fred Feather (ESFH 366)
June 2018 Morning session
Galleywood History
by Susan Wilson and Phil Black
Susan and Phil gave a joint presentation on various aspects of Galleywood history using 35mm slides. Most of the source material is available to the public, in the Heritage Centre archives in Galleywood.
The name Galleywood derives from the old English "gafol wudu" and was first recorded as a settlement in 1250 AD as Guelwode or Gavelwode deriving from the Old Saxon "gavol" or rent. Galleywood has evidence of Roman and Saxon activity in the area, however this lecture started with a Napoleonic Defences map of the early 1800s.

There followed an illustration of the Galleywood racecourse map of 1928, perhaps the village's main claim to fame. It can be said that it is the only horse racing course which encircled a village church in the country. Racing started here circa 1759 and ended in 1935. (In the August 2017 edition of The Historian we featured a review of the book Full Circle by David Dunford, which records the history of horse racing in Galleywood).

The next few photographs were of the Rous Inn, now a private house. This former public house was named after Admiral Rous who was Lord of the Admiralty in 1846. His hobby was horse racing and he was a Steward of the Jockey Club from 1838 until 1877 during which time he was a frequent visitor to the Galleywood races. In addition the Rous Inn was the site of a murder in 1899 when the publican, Samuel Crozier, killed his wife for which he was executed at Chelmsford prison on 5th December of that year.

The following slides were all connected with the parish church of St Michael's and the Rev Carey De Lisle who was vicar of the church for over 30 years.
The talk proceeded with photos of the buildings financed by Lavinia Keene, widow of John Keene, Director of the Pearl Life Assurance Company. She was a local benefactress responsible for many local amenities. Keene Hall is named after her and is still in use today.
The presentation drew to a close with details of famous inhabitants of Galleywood including Monte Rey, entertainer, Peter Seabrook, international gardener and Markland Barnard who was Gentleman-at-Arms to Queen Victoria.

At the end of the talk the Galleywood War Memorial was mentioned which commemorates people of the village who died in WWI, WW2 in addition to 9 civilians and 2 other men who lost their lives in other conflicts.
Readers might like to know that there is an article on the Barking and District Historical Society web site where there is more about the life of Lavinia Keene - see
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
June 2018 Afternoon session
A History of Crittall's
by Christa McDonald
Christa McDonald, from the Silver End Heritage Society, replaced the advertised speaker.
Silver End, just outside of Braintree was to become part of the 'Garden City Movement' built for employees of Crittall, and was to act as a showcase for their products. It was the inspiration of Francis Henry Crittall.

Born in 1860 Francis Henry Crittall was the son of Francis Berrington Crittall and Fanny Godfrey. Francis, one of ten children, had a hard early life. He became a blacksmith, working 77 hours a week in his father's ironmongery shop in Braintree. The Essex earthquake of 1878 caused a great deal of damage to North Essex, providing much work for Crittall's. In 1879 his father died, and after a few years the business passed to Francis from his brother.

As a result of Francis seeing his mother struggling to open and close their wooden windows, he developed his steel window design, and in 1884 Francis started producing metal windows for homes and businesses. Crittall's built their first factory in Braintree, which had a workforce of over 200 by 1900, mainly producing metal window frames which contained the 'Fenestra Joint,' which they patented in 1905.

Having created a very successful worldwide business by the early 1920's, in 1926 the company was able to build a new factory at Silver End on a 220 acre site with initially, 52 houses for employees. Built in a concrete block style, they had light and airy metal windows.

Crittall's had a policy of employing injured ex-servicemen, and the village had its own doctor, nurse, dentist and barber's. The family were very passionate about the welfare of their workforce. Silver End was supplied with electricity, and workers were able to rent, part-own, or own their homes. By the 1930's all of the homes had inside bathrooms which was unusual for the times.

Eventually a village hall and even a department store were opened, selling quality products at reasonable prices. A hotel and sporting facilities were also built.

Though the use of composite window frames lead to the closure of the Silver End factory, Crittall windows are still manufactured in Witham. In 1970 the Silver End village was sold to the local council, if you want to know more, the Silver End Heritage Society is housed in the village hall. Opening times are 10.30 -12.30 on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays in the month, or see
Andrea Hewitt (ESFH 6398)
May 2018 Morning session
Lost Cousins
by Peter Calver
At the Chelmsford branch meeting in May, I listened to Peter Calver describing his 'Lost Cousins' web site. I had heard his talk before some years ago at the Southend and Harlow Branches. These were during the early days of his site and I was sceptical about the usefulness of his method.

This time I decided to give it a try. Over the years, I have found quite a few distant cousins in a variety of ways. I thought it might be interesting to find out if any of my known cousins turned up, quite apart from the possibility of finding new ones.

I went home, registered for the fee of £10 per annum and began to enter the required data. This is simply the reference for ancestors, as they appeared on the 1881 census. Data entry into a well laid out form is simple. It retains repeated information within a household to minimise the amount of typing needed. I put in the first of my Young ancestors, the household including my great grandfather, his parents and siblings. I hit the 'Match' button, and immediately, I was told that I had a match on the whole family. I added my other lines, including everyone with a blood connection. By the time I had about sixty names completed, I had four matches.

When a match is found, one is shown the initials of the other user and invited to contact them through the site. If the other party responds to your invitation, you are told their name and a dialogue can begin.

The match with the Young name was from someone new, although the exact link remains to be confirmed.

I was pretty sure that I recognised the initials of the second match. My instinct was correct, the match turned out to be a fellow ESFH member whom I had got to know many years ago.

Similarly, with the third, with whom I had corresponded back in 2007 before Lost Cousins began.

The fourth is from the line of the husband of my great great great-aunt, so a relative by marriage only.

Within a couple of weeks, my four matches have all responded.

All in all, I have been favourably impressed by the site and will await possible further contacts as more people register and add their data.
John Young (ESFH 6399)

DNA by Peter Calver
After completing his presentation regarding his Lost Cousins web site Peter moved on to how DNA testing had helped him solve a family history relationship puzzle after 15 years of researching.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing examines the genetic code that is carried in every persons DNA. Except for identical twins, each person's DNA is unique. That is why people can be identified using DNA fingerprinting. Peter proceeded with his presentation with a detailed biology and chemistry account of genetic DNA.

Summarising a Y-DNA test - this is used by men to trace their direct paternal line. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son (just as surnames tend to be) and so a Y-DNA test is the tool for the job if you wish to research your paternal line. If you have identical DNA with another person there's a good chance that a common ancestor lived quite recently. The mt-DNA test - this is used by both men and women to trace their direct maternal line. While the mt-DNA is passed from a mother to both her daughters and her sons, it is only her daughters who will, in turn, pass it on to their children. The autosomal test - this is used to test the DNA you inherit from all your lines of ancestry - I believe that AncestryDNA uses autosomal DNA test so it covers both the maternal and paternal sides of the family tree.

There is a huge growth in the number of commercial companies offering DNA tests to help family historians, and there are numerous articles available regarding the pros and cons of each supplier's products.

When considering a DNA test it is best to decide what you are trying to achieve and read the background information provided by all the companies offering the type of tests you want. The tests and time to complete the analysis varies. Your results are compared to the database held by the instigator of the test so the more people that have completed the test with that particular supplier the larger the percentage chance of finding a "match" with other people in their database. All companies offer different results reports. Some companies store your results indefinitely, others for a set number of years.

Unfortunately Peter selected his slides for this audience from a larger slide presentation and I felt some of his message were lost including the way his own DNA result helped him solve a family mystery - I will have to pay more attention next time!
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
May 2018 Afternoon session
History of Surnames
by Charlie Haylock
If anyone has ever attended a Charlie Haylock presentation you will know that it is impossible to portray in words the essence of this true entertainer who has a regular monthly show on BBC Radio Suffolk. On this particular Saturday he was competing with a royal marriage however he still drew a very respectable number of people to the Galleywood Heritage Centre. I cannot describe here the humour he brings to his lectures however I can tell you that his interaction with the audience and the telling of anecdotes throughout his talk makes for much laughter from the listeners.

Before 1066 surnames as we know them did not exist and you were recognised by your warrior reputation, e.g. Wolf, Elf, Boar by the place you came from, occupation, or nickname which was not necessarily complimentary.

After 1066 with the invasion of the Normans and the beginnings of their taxation system hereditary surnames became favourable and gradually surnames started to get recorded firstly in the Doomsday Book followed by various other documents like Manorial Court records etc. By 1400's it was vulgar not to have a surname.

As a result of the English speaking peoples being a mixture of many races the English language has inherited a variation of sounds for the same letter derived from different languages and Charlie entertained us with different pronunciations of various individual letters, or combination of letters, from our alphabet. The letters U W F and V are typical of letters that evolved from their original source into the English language where they are intermingled in a variety of ways.

Nowadays there are four main types of surnames derived from location, occupation, nick names and Sons and Family of. Other derivatives of surnames crept in like Oath surnames, Crusader surnames and Huguenot surnames. Charlie then read from a list of audience surnames and gave suggestions as to their origins.
Click here if you would like to see these.

For more information about Charlie, where he is performing and the books he has published visit
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
April 2018 Morning session
ESFH website and SEAX explained
by Ian Boreham
Ian said it was four years since the society's own website was revamped, and several things have been added or improved. He began by showing us what's available to all visitors, such as About Us, Contacts, Local branches, ESFH events and Help wanted (including how to ask for help when you reach a Brick Wall). He took a longer look at some of the search services, especially the gazetteer. When he came to searching the Church records (baptisms, marriages, burials and monumental inscriptions) I was impressed to see there is a photo of every parish church in Essex. Ian moved on to the Parish Map of the county, from where you can find more information about each parish. As the detail required him to log on, he did, explaining that every member can do so. Apparently if you've forgotten your password you can click a button to get a reminder sent to you. As we offer a means of contacting others about who we're searching for, Ian showed us how to update our own interests as well as search for others. He ended by showing us how to search the entries in the Church Records via the Genealogy Database.
That didn't leave much time for looking at Essex Archives on line from the Essex Record Office, known as SEAX - which he looked at so quickly it was difficult to take notes.
Another session is needed.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)

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