Reports of Meetings at Chelmsford


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)
March 2018 Morning session
The Inland Revenue Survey 1910

The Lloyd George Domesday Survey of 1910-1915
by Gill Blanchard
The morning talk at the Galleywood March meeting was given by Gill Blanchard, a professional genealogist from Norwich. The sub-title was "Lloyd George's Domesday".
At that time Lloyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gill described this attempt to obtain tax money to fund such schemes as the newly proposed Old Age State Pension by taxing the assessed 'gain' in value, over time, of land holdings.

All land holdings in England, Scotland, Wales and the whole of Ireland were to be mapped, visited, described, measured and finally, valued to establish a base-line. This tax worked on the premise that over the following 10 years the land would rise in value without the owners' own labour. All land (with some exemptions for farms) would be assessed. Any rise in the land value over the following ten years would then be taxed by the government. Gill speculated on how unpopular this would be if imposed on today's house prices. A house valued at £300,000 in 2008 might stand at £400,000 in 2018. Now imagine finding a percentage tax on the £100,000 difference for each house owner. Think of that being implemented during the years of the Great War!

In England the survey was completed by 1915, in Scotland and Wales not until 1920. As a tax it was never implemented. The results have not always survived, Essex is one where it is only partial. Many of the available results are in The National Archives, but some are in record offices and some can be viewed on commercial genealogical websites, for example   Some have been lost through wartime bombing, but those remaining give family historians a unique insight into the ownership, occupiers and a physical description of houses and more complex properties. Those for Scotland and Ireland (North and South) are held in those countries. Some have been mis-labelled.

Gill demonstrated the material, which consisted of Field Books, with the exciting details they contain, and the accompanying maps. She also showed a Valuation Book. Her examples came from Kent and from Suffolk. A determined researcher will find much in such documents to illustrate the life of buildings, their owners, and occupiers in this period.

An underused resource for members to consider.
Fred Feather (ESFH 366)
March 2018 Afternoon session
'Tracing Your House History'
by Gill Blanchard
for the details of this lecture please see Gill's article in the August 2018 edition of The Family Historian
February 2018 Morning session
by Meryl Catty
Meryl, a vastly experienced family historian, stepped in at short notice to deliver the Saturday morning lecture.

She addressed a dilemma that faces many family historians when researching - do they continue with all their family-linked research work or do they go off on a 'side track' when they see something that catches their interest in related or unrelated documents?
It appears that many of us veer off course if tempted by curious facts.

Over the years Meryl has read and collated many odd comments in official documents which she shared with us. Meryl started by recounting her research finds regarding bigamists, in particular, Lieutenant Thomas Thompson who initially married an actress in 1800 and then Honour Price in 1802. She then moved on to present odd entries from clergymen found in parish baptisms, marriages and burials registers. Often the comments by the clergy can be interpreted as disapproving, like the baptism in Suffolk in February 1681 where the vicar had written 'two base children of a common whore'. In one instance in 1687, on 31st January in Colchester, the vicar detailed the birth of what we now would describe as Siamese twins. Sometimes the clergy left sentences regarding the weather conditions and detailed unusual natural occurrences such as earthquakes, floods and violent winds. The vicar of Roydon in Essex wrote about the harsh winter in 1783/1784 complete with cooking recipes.

Meryl spoke at length about the giving of peculiar names by parents to their offspring. In 1628 at St James Clerkenwell Elizabeth Susanne Grist decided to name her child Aristotle Grist. Evidently in the late 1800s there was a fashion to use family names as Christian names which resulted in children living with peculiar sounding combinations of first and surnames like Hopeful James of Westminster.

The census returns are other documents where occasionally the enumerator added his personal comments. In 1851 in Newport Pembrokeshire the enumerator had left comments regarding a man of 104 years "he is the only centurion living - bedridden - got all faculties".

More peculiar comments came from many other written sources including newspapers and journals, Board of Guardian notes, Settlement papers and details in wills where, from the grave, the person had tried to stipulate certain terms and conditions. Her presentation and recounting of these 'side tracks' made for an entertaining lecture.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
February 2018 Afternoon session
Darling Daisy - Countess of Warwick
by Margaret Mills
Our afternoon talk was about the famous socialite Frances Evelyn Maynard, later Lady Brooke and Countess of Warwick. Born in 1861 into a 'good family', she was known as Daisy and, at the age of 4, was left a fortune by her grandfather. It was suggested that, for a time, she was accompanied everywhere by a footman, as a precaution against the fury of her 'left out' male relatives, who had expected the money to come their way and, after the will was read, had flung breakfast food at the deceased's portrait. She was soon established as a beauty and 'came out' into society in 1879. She was a friend of Queen Victoria's youngest son, Leopold, and tipped as a possible wife to him: this did not come to be, and Her Majesty was thought to be 'Not Amused' 

In 1881 she married the Earl of Warwick and lived with him in Warwick Castle, in their London home, and in their Essex home, Easton Lodge, near Great Dunmow. In what was apparently a very open marriage she bore five children, but at least two were rumoured to have been fathered by her many lovers. She was said to be very kind to her staff but had a fierce temper, she was a society gossip, known as 'Babbling Brooke'. Her cycling hobby engendered the song 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do.' She was almost certainly a long-term mistress of the Prince of Wales (Edward VII). She spent large sums of money on the spacious gardens of Easton Lodge. Her extravagant lifestyle was criticised in a socialist newspaper, by the editor Robert Blatchford. She stormed into his office and there was an hour long confrontation, soon after which she adopted strong left-wing principles and became known as the 'Socialist Countess'. Easton Lodge was severely damaged by fire in 1918 allegedly started by a 'pet monkey carrying a lighted candle'.

Her poor control of money meant that her fortune disappeared. After her husband died she wrote her story as 'Life's Ebb and Flow'. She died in 1938. The gardens deteriorated during World War 2 and the estate was sold. Others have since worked on restoring the gardens. For details of the dates the grounds are open to the public see

Margaret finished a thoroughly enjoyable presentation with a poem that may be said to fairly represent the life of Daisy.
"My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends; It gives a lovely light!"

Fred Feather (ESFH 366)
January 2018 Afternoon session
The Early History of Tudor Education in Essex
by Tony Tuckwell
On a dark winter's afternoon Tony set the scene for his talk by taking the audience back to early medieval times when life was dominated by the supremacy of the Christian God.

The medievalists ventured to declare authoritatively that the purification of departed souls was through fire. This was the doctrine called Purgatory. The avarice of many clergy led to the painting of vivid frescoes on church walls, showing the torment of lost souls and the declaration that by paying for the chanting of a given number of masses living friends might lessen or end the sufferings of departed loved ones no matter how sinful they had been. As a result of this doctrine a very large number of chantry chapels were established by wealthy families all over England where they employed priests, and endowed additional altars where masses in propitiation for the sins of the departed were sung. Priests eked out a living and ended up subsidising their income by starting schools in the chapels teaching Latin grammar. Chelmsford Cathedral had its chapel on the north side of the church bestowed by the Guild of Mountney. This chantry was probably established by Sir John Mountney (of Mountnessing) his family was of great note from the reign of Stephen to that of Henry VIII.

After the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry it was logical that his son King Edward VI would follow his example and seize the lands and riches of the chantries so in 1547 he introduced the Chantries Act. This act supposedly redistributed their wealth to the wider community, including the formation of schools, however by 1550 only two schools had been reendowed. The brave action of Thomas Leven, Master of St Johns College Oxford, who preached a sermon to the young king, where he criticised him, supposedly resulted in a significant number of grammar schools coming into existence. This included the King Edward Sixth Grammar School in Chelmsford, these days referred to as KEGS.

From the beginning in 1551 the school saw four Essex knights as governors. All from the most powerful families in the area including Tyrell, Mildmay and Petre. Tony then went on to detail the history of the school, narrating stories involving famous and infamous pupils and teachers. One story told of the death of a boy in the 1620’s. For readers who would like to know more about the history of this institution I refer you to Tony’s book 'That Honourable and Gentlemanlike House', a history of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, 1551-2008. Tony Tuckwell was Headmaster of KEGS from 1984 to 1999.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
January 2018 Morning session
Cherchez La Femme - tracing the Female Line
by Helen Matten
The intriguing title "Cherchez La Femme" headed a very up-market presentation by Helen Matten at the first Galleywood Meeting of 2018. In front of a packed audience she entertained them to a comprehensive ninety minute talk sub-titled "What was her name again?" Helen offered many paths for researchers, including details from a "mother" family tree, where each generation showed a different maiden name. She included references to divorce (women sometimes kept their married name afterwards), to career paths and education. Her sub-titles included "Yellow Brick Road" (Education) "Tracing Servants" and "The Girl next Door"

She said that "Middle Class" girls and "Working Class" women often had different aspirations from marriage and that both family and family work ethos influenced where to look for a partner. Helen featured widows, annuitants, the Workhouse and the right and wrong questions to ask, then Wills and other legal documents, nicknames which confuse and clues from pictures. An extra bonus was information about suffragettes, how they were named by the then "Daily Mail," and the fact that some refused to give details for the census. She quoted a case from Maldon where a woman hid in her room at the Swan Hotel to avoid appearing in the census, but was entered into it by the hotel keeper. She then showed how she identified the boycotter by using family history investigation techniques.

There was so much interesting information that there was little time for asking about women who went to the colonies on assisted passages or joined the "fishing fleet" to find a husband in India. Perhaps on another occasion!

A good morning's listening.
Fred Feather (ESFH 366)
December 2017 Afternoon session
Christmas on the Home Front 1939-1945
by Mike Brown
Mike Brown is always a popular speaker at our branch meetings, so the hall was very full for his December lecture. Before he began his talk Mike was busy setting up three tables where he placed memorabilia related to the Second World War, with particular reference to life on the Home Front. He used these articles throughout the afternoon to illustrate his talk and they included such things as gas mask cases, helmets, books, toys, knitted swimming costumes, ration books etc.

After summarising how Great Britain became embroiled in a war with Germany he spoke about some of the preparation plans which were actioned by the government before war was officially declared. These included the passing of the National Registration Act on 1st September 1939. This Act required all citizens of the country to register their details so that they could be issued with an identity card, green for adults and brown for children under 16 (cards were issued within a few week of a baby's birth).

On 3rd September 1939 war was declared. Mike detailed how this affected the everyday lives of citizens. In keeping with the title of his talk Mike then went on to explain how being at war affected the 1939-1945 Christmases. Xmas 1939 was part of the period in time known as the "Phoney War" i.e. war had been declared but the threatened threatened invasion had not happened. Life did not change very much for many except for a series of restrictions like the black-out, carrying of gas masks etc. so Xmas 1939 was similar to previous years. However by Xmas 1940 rationing had been operating for some months so products like sugar, butter, margarine, bacon, and many other foods were rationed.

Clothes rationing began in 1941. As the war progressed shortages began to bite, war time Christmases became make do and mend times. By 1945 toys were hard to find in shops, decorations and trees were scarce and shortages were extreme for Xmas 1945.

Germany surrendered on 7th May 1945 and the next day VE Day (Victory in Europe) was declared. Street parties were organised although food was in short supply. Little did the population realise that rationing would continue long after the war had finished. Right up until 1954 in fact.

Mike really brought home to the audience, many of whom had been children during the war, the hardships of general life and especially Christmases during those years however he also highlighted how resourceful citizens had been.

Mike's lecture was thoroughly enjoyable, sprinkled with humour, and gave any one listening an entertaining social history lesson.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
November 2017 Morning session
Gedcom Decoded
by Charlie Mead
As usual, when he presents on a technical topic, Charlie Mead gave the audience a clear and concise presentation on GEDCOM – the file standard that defines how genealogy data is recorded.

Family historians need to be aware of this standard as it can be used to transfer genealogical data from one genealogy program to another.

Charlie provided an excellent handout, the electronic version of which can be downloaded as a PDF file from:
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
November 2017 Afternoon session
Essex Churches - Then & Now
by Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith is the librarian for the Essex Archaeology & History Society which can be found at

He came to show us images of present day Essex churches compared to those in a very early photographic collection the ESAH inherited many years ago, which he recently rediscovered. This collection of old photographs consists of 638 images taken between 1870 and 1910 and he brought along several of the original albums for us to examine.

His presentation included approximately 30-40 photographs of churches and he assured us that this was the first of two lectures. If practical, when taking the present day photographs, he tries to assume the same position that the original camera operator would have taken.

The church pictures he selected for this session covered the whole county – the churches are too numerous to detail here. After hearing his lecture I shall never again, when looking at a mid-nineteenth century marriage certificate, assume that I know what a particular church looked like. Many of them had changed.

For those of you who missed the lecture you really did miss a gem - your only consolation being that in due course the old photographs will be digitised and held at the Essex Record Office.
Colleen Devenish (ESFH 6279)
October 2017 Morning session
Land Tax Assessments
by Eric Probert
Land Tax Assessments are Annual Lists of Owners and Occupiers of Land and Property with rental value and tax amount, sometimes including a description of the property. Eric showed a slide of the 1831 Land Tax Assessment for Purleigh and coincidentally the first proprietor was James Bond who is related to two of our former Chairmen, David Ennifer and John Young.
Eric explained that:
* In 1798 the Tax was 4 shillings in the pound and owners of property of rental less than one pound per annum were exempt.
* Standard Forms were introduced which included a brief property description.
* In 1798 the annual tax payment could be avoided by a one-off commutation payment equivalent to 15 years tax known as an exoneration or redemption.
* The Assessments are arranged by County, Hundred & Parish & sometimes alphabetical order of owners.
* They were levied from 1693 through to 1963 in many places.
* Whilst you will not find relationship, mainly only the heads of households were listed, you will by way of the value of the property get an idea of people's wealth and by looking over numerous years gain an idea of our long people lived in a parish. Possibly also find occupations by property description but the names of properties were rarely given.
* Occupiers are not always listed separately for example a row of cottages could say 'John Brown and Others'.

Eric then showed us a Comparison with Census Returns & Registers of Electors for Purleigh using the Assessment of 1831 and Register of Electors for 1833. The population was 1,044 with 45 tax payers and 37 electors.
Tax Assessments can be found in County Record Offices and on FamilySearch. The TNA has complete Assessments for England & Wales for 1798. Class IR23 in 129 volumes and Parish books of redemptions for England & Wales, 1799 - 950. Class IR22 in 247 volumes. The 1798 set is also on Ancestry.
Eric demonstrated how to search for Land Tax Assessments at TNA, on Ancestry, SEAX and FamilySearch - examples of which can be found on his website as well as a list of abbreviations and an alphabetical list of Essex Parishes with their Hundred.
Eric's website: Click Talks and finally Land Tax Assessments for Family Historians.
Finally, Eric recommended the book 'Land and Window Tax Assessments' by Jeremy Gibson, Mervyn Medleycott and Dennis Mills which is available in our Research Room Library.
An excellent and very informative lecture.
Meryl Rawlings ESFH 6639
October 2017 Afternoon session
Dengie Hundred Coal Miners
by Kevin Bruce
Kevin Bruce is a member of the society and lives on the peninsula. He particularly emphasised events at Tillingham and backed up his talk with sumptuous statistics. His tale featured the "lot" of agricultural labourers and began in 1873.

Apparently some farmers were suggesting that their labourers should work from 6am to 6pm for 6 days and receive 11 shillings a week for doing that. There had been unrest in the Dengie Hundred from 1834, and throughout rural Essex, and a group of activists under "Captain Little" were opposed to this thought. However, a number were arrested before they could organise a protest and appeared before a Chelmsford court. They received 12 months imprisonment, a light sentence for those days, but by nowadays thinking, Draconian.
Farm labourers learned that "in the north" coal miners could receive 24 shillings a week and that they were wanted in Durham and others were sought to go to Queensland. Their union told them of a 12 shilling gratuity for the former and £1 for Queensland. Many took the 110 day cruise to Australia and one of them later became mayor of Rockhampton.
So many went to Durham to work in the mines that there was an "Essex Row" of miner's dwellings in the area of Butterknowle. The census revealed 1038 people born in Essex (married men had been particularly sought), 261 worked in the coal industry and 30% of the total were from the Dengie ("No" said Kevin - "The Dengie Hundred or the Dengie Peninsula)".

Kevin answered a number of questions from listeners with Durham connections, about these workers lives and the way they travelled "north."
A good talk.

Fred Feather ESFH 366.

Note from the Editor of The Historian, Colleen Devenish, - Kevin's original study can be read in Essex Harvest published by the Essex Record Office in 2003 and which is still available from the Record Office. The book, subtitled A Collection of Essays in Memory of Arthur Brown, includes works by 10 other writers and covers subjects including John Player, Gentleman of Saffron Walden 1823-1832 by Jacqueline Cooper, Guilty as Charged, the trial of an Essex Swing Incendiary by Michael Holland, Thomas Churchman Darby and his steam digging machines of Pleshey by Brian Bourn amongst others.
September 2017 Morning session
by Ian Waller
Ian Waller, as always, gave an excellent talk explaining the various possibilities for a child that has gone missing from the records. Children born out of wedlock were often turned out - in the twentieth century they would be put up for adoption.

Adoption became a formal legal procedure on 1 January 1927 and all adoptions since that date appear on a Register. The adoptee or the next of kin can obtain the original birth certificate. Prior to that date adoptions were often informal. The child could be fostered out, farmed out or sold. The death of an unwanted child was often not registered in spite of the fact that registration became compulsory in 1875. A child might be sent to the workhouse or to a ragged school.

Alternatively, a child admitted to a foundling hospital would have a change of name and be re-baptised in the new name. Here a child would learn a trade leading to an apprenticeship or to enlistment in the armed services. A bastard was barred from entering the professions in Victorian times.

Baby farming was a profitable occupation, as a fee of £10-12 was required. The "farmers" preferred sickly children, aged under two months, who were then kept drugged with laudanum and fed milk watered down with lime resulting in the death of the child (or in some cases just being done away with). Babies were found in the Thames, weighted down with bricks. Children were also sold and there would be many advertisements in the national newspapers and their names would be changed.

As well as charitable funded orphanages, there were those run by religious or occupational groups and institutions for those who had broken the law or otherwise gone astray. On the whole institutional care was good - certainly better than being on the streets without clothes, shoes and food or ill-treated. The Waifs and Strays Society was formed in 1881 and cottage-type homes were set up for the children where a strict routine was followed. The children would be fostered out until the age of seven. Admission and Logbooks often survive and can be found in local record offices. Ian recommended the following website:

Ragged schools were founded in 1818 and staffed by volunteers. It should be remembered that in Victorian times an orphan was defined as a child who had lost one parent. Some children were sent to an industrial school to remove them from bad influences. Here they were taught lessons in the morning and a trade in the afternoon. The records of the industrial schools are prolific. Boys might be sent to a training ship and they then went into the Merchant or Royal Navy. Their training ship records would be included with their service papers.

Children were sent abroad to Canada or Australia without the knowledge of their parents - this went on from 1619 and did not come to an end until 1967. The children would attend schools run by The Farm School Movement where they would be trained to work on a farm. Records of child emigration can be found at the National Archives.


September 2017 Afternoon session
by Yvonne Lawrence
Yvonne Lawrence from Chelmsford Museum traced the history of Chelmsford, a town which grew at the junction of the Rivers Chelmer and Can. The Romans built a small town known as Caesaromagus on the site of Moulsham, halfway between London and Colchester. It had a wooden bridge but after they left, it rotted away and the river crossing moved to Writtle. Both Writtle and Moulsham were worth more than Chelmsford in the Domesday Book.

Maurice, Bishop of London built a bridge over the Can joining Chelmsford and Moulsham during the reign of Henry I - building bridges was considered an act of piety - resulting in the traffic which used to travel through Writtle being diverted to Chelmsford. In 1199 a royal charter was obtained for a weekly market to be held on a Friday near the bridge. Farm produce, timber and wool would be sold at the market.

By 1377 there were 240 adult inhabitants. Taxes were imposed to pay for the Hundred Years Wars which led to widespread violence - this was known as The Time of the Rumour. Stalls grew outside the houses leading to the market and in time these became shops. The Bishop was granted the right to hold an annual fair. By 1380 the town was expanding northwards towards the uplands.

The railway came to the town in 1843 and in 1888 Chelmsford became a borough.

Thomas Mildmay was a mercer who by 1524 became one of the richest men in the town . He was a member of the Court of Augmentation and was involved in valuing the assets of religious houses at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

He took out a lease on the former Friary at Moulsham and bought the manor there which had 1,300 acres, 200 tenants, a mill and duty to maintain the bridge. The existing manor house was demolished and a grand Tudor house built. Thomas died in 1566. Only five of his fifteen children survived him. His fourth and youngest son, Walter, became Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Benjamin Mildmay replaced the Tudor house with a neo-classical one, commencing building in 1728. By 1804 the house needed extensive repairs. During the Napoleonic Wars soldiers were billeted in the grounds of the manor. Sir Henry Mildmay was not enamoured of this and left. The house was demolished in 1809. No part of the estate could be sold owing to an entailment in the will of the first Thomas Mildmay and so it remained intact until 1839 when an Act of Parliament had been passed which permitted the breaking up of the estate. This freedom allowed for the growth of the town on the south bank of the river.

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor and engineer who came to England in 1896 and is world-famous for his work on long distance wireless transmission. In 1898 he bought a factory in Moulsham and later had a factory built in New Street which had its own railway sidings and two high aerial masts which were dismantled in 1935 as a danger to aeroplanes.

The Marconi Company provided wireless equipment and operators to the Titanic. The two wireless operators stayed at their post when disaster struck - only one survived. Dame Nellie Melba came to Chelmsford to make an historic recording which was broadcast from the Marconi Radio station.

In World War II the Marconi factory became a target for German bombers. In the 1960s Chelmsford was a boom town and it is now a city.


July 2017 Morning session
Researching your Ancestors 1939-1945
by Robert Parker
Robert started by telling us about his interest in family history and that he runs the web site where he details information regarding his research services, training courses, guidance coaching, talks etc

At our meeting he was speaking about tracing family members during the years 1939-1945. He informed us that there were many UK sources, both free and chargeable, with data from that period of time even though it was during the Second World War. Many of the sources came about as a direct result of the war. He concentrated on the following topics: Military, Home Guard, Evacuees, Census and Other Sources. He highlighted each year between 1939 and1945 and informed us about the record sets available, how they help family historians and where they were located.

He also gave us details of links regarding background history to the Second World War including and Paul Reed's Battlefields of WW2 see

The data sources he mentioned are too numerous to list here however he suggested that members of the audience could leave their email address and he would send them his presentation. True to his word a few days later I received the details along with answers to a few outstanding questions taken from the floor after his lecture. For those of you who were unable to attend the presentation and would like a copy of his slides if you contact him at his email address (see above) and request a copy of his 1939-1945 presentation he will email it to you.

He gave me a timely reminder that many of the web sites he mentioned are regularly updated so it is advisable to consider signing up for their free email newsletters.

I have certainly not explored several of the data sets mentioned including the index to the UK Women's Land Army 1938-1950 (giving details of the name, address, date of birth, demob date etc of the women who joined) and the 1941-1943 National Farm Survey (known as the Second Doomsday book) providing information on farm land, farmers and labourers. Both these resources are available at the National Archives at Kew.

Thank you Robert for a lecture full of information both for the beginner and seasoned family historian.
Colleen Devenish ESFH 6279
July 2017 Afternoon session
Turnpike Road and Toll-houses
by Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor is a Conservation Architect and the author of several books published by Polystar Press regarding toll-houses in England.

He started his lecture by describing the turnpike system of tolling roads that began in England at the beginning of the 17th century. Before that time road upkeep had been the responsibility of the parish, reinforced in 1555 by an act of Parliament "for the mending of highways". One of the early turnpike roads resulted from an Act passed in 1663 empowering the justices of Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire to erect a gate in each county and levy tolls on the Great North Road.

By 1706-7 this form of payment for the use of many main roads was established. Eventually turnpike trusts were set up to collect the tolls, to improve and maintain the roads. The trustees of the trusts usually consisted of local gentry and they sanctioned the building of small toll houses for toll house keepers at the toll gate. The keeper's job came with the constant inconvenience of being awakened in the middle of the night and the danger of robbery and assault. Many contrived to cheat their employers and the road users.

By 1750-80 in England most main roads were under the care of nearly 4000 trusts however the emergence of the early railways meant that most of the turnpike trusts could not compete so they gradually dissolved and were taken over by the formation of highway districts under the Highways Act of 1862.

Many toll houses that remain today date from the early 19th century and have a form that is recognisable - the half-hexagonal edge with windows giving a view in each direction down the road, the hipped roof often with a prominent overhang to the eves and area of wall above the central window where the toll board would have hung.

Patrick illustrated his lecture throughout with very good photographs and illustrations. He concluded his talk with photographs of what he considered to be genuine Essex toll houses. He also presented photographs of imposters i.e. buildings that looked like toll houses or properties that had names like Tollgate Cottage. A few toll gate houses in Essex have been preserved for prosperity - like Shenfield and Colchester which are Grade 2 listed buildings. Others remain at Little Waltham, North Weald Bassett, Norton Heath, Thundersley, Newport Bridge, but many have been destroyed. For those of you who want to read more about this subject please see Patrick's book The Toll-houses of Essex.

There is also an excellent web site which is a mine of information see
Colleen Devenish 6279
June 2017 Morning session
Call-on, Containers and Mummified Cats
by Vicky Holmes
Vicky Holmes, archivist, is based at the Museum of London Docklands, where she has responsibility for the Port and River archives. Vicky was aleady aware of our Society as she had worked at the Essex Record Office a few years ago.

She started her talk by telling us about the origins of the Pool of London from Roman times - the Pool is the stretch of the river Thames along Billingsgate on the south side of the City of London and up to London Bridge. Trading ships came up the river to unload their dutiable cargo at one of twenty quays. Ships waited days for favourable winds, high tides and berths before customs officers could inspect their goods.

West India merchants were the first to identify the costs incurred to their business by these delays and so decided to construct a secure, deep water basin off the busy waterway. They instigated their own dock by the cutting of the West India Dock across the neck of the Isle of Dogs in 1801 followed by the opening of Commercial Road in 1803. Eventually the West India Dock (consisting of three docks) was built surrounded by walls, and covered 295 acres. Other companies followed suit and docks were built including East India, Surrey Commercial Docks, St Katherine's etc. All these docks were in the hands of private companies.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) was formed in 1909 and is a non-profit making organisation. In 1909 they took control of the dock companies consisting of 15,000 employees, 2,700 acres of water and 46 miles of docks. In 1922 the headquarters of the Port of London was opened in Trinity Square Tower Hill London and was one of the most impressive buildings in London. It is still standing today however it is no longer the headquarters of the PLA.

There is no space in this article to discuss the reasons Vicky gave us for the demise of the London docks suffice to say the docks of London were all closed by the late 1960's after which they were redeveloped.

It is the records of the private companies and the PLA that make up the Port and River archives at the museum.

The Museum of London was instrumental in collecting memorabilia with regard to London dock history and amassed some 30,000 artefacts - from a mummified cat to industrial cranes. Funded by lottery money, the Docklands Museum was opened in 2003. The museum holds large quantities of material, including estate documentation, working files, minute books, 40,000 photos, saved from the private port companies - although much of it is not searchable by the public.

All enquiries regarding family records should be sent in writing to Port and River Archives Museum of London Dockland West India Quay London E14 14AL or sent to including the full name, full dates of birth/death and estimated dates of employment of the person you are looking for, as well as any documentary evidence that the person worked for the PLA or private dock company. The person you are seeking must be deceased. For enquires regarding living people please contact the museum to find out how to proceed with your enquiry.

Click here for the information sheet entitled Tracing Family History in the Port and River Archives.

Vicky packed many facts into her talk and it was well illustrated. Thank you Vicky for an enlightening talk which has certainly spurred me to visit your museum.
Colleen Devenish ESFH 6279

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