Colchester reports


January 2019 – Computing for Family History

Our session this month should have been a computer problem session led by David Cooper. However David was unwell. At short notice David Eniffer, very ably assisted by Paul Stirland, was able to offer a presentation on aspects of computing for Family History.

We looked at software for storing your information. One was Family Tree maker which was used by most of the group. This had been unavailable for a while but was now up and running again.

David also showed us how to start a power point presentation and not to be afraid to try things out. Someone then asked what ‘Gedcom’ was which David explained. After that there was some discussion on different subjects, ‘snipping’, the website ‘Bing’ for photos and the fact that ‘Google’ has a photo site which is quite useful.

This was a very useful and interesting session. David and Paul were well thanked for their efforts.
Gill Peregrine

December 2018 – Christmas Social

This month as usual was our Christmas social. Paul and David devised some fiendish quizzes.

One of Paul’s was pictures of famous people connected to Essex and one of David’s was to guess the population of various towns in Essex at the time of the 1851 census. This was multiple choice quiz which should have made it easier. Strangely it didn’t. Some of the answers were quite surprising.

After this we enjoyed a seasonal buffet.
Gill Peregrine

November 2018 - Tales of Mersea Island by Jan Williams

Jan began by mentioning Mehalea, the book by Sabine Baring Gould, who was vicar of East Mersea from 1871-1881. In his book he talks about the flora and fauna of the island, its proximity to the sea and gives a real feeling of the island.

The Strood connecting the Island to the main land was built during the 7th century. There are tales of many people who have experienced the ghost of a Roman Centurion who walks from the public house the Peldon Rose to the Mersea Mound.

This mound was excavated in 1912 and a glass bottle containing ashes was found at the bottom. It was found to be Roman. It was taken from the island but has now been returned and is in the Mersea (

It was the Romans who discovered the oysters which have been a great food source for hundreds of years

There are of course many tales of smugglers and of witchcraft.

Jan ended her talk with two tales. Beauty and the Beast adapted by S Baring Gould and The King of Colchester’s Daughter.

These were delightful and rounded the talk with a very fitting end.
Gill Peregrine

October 2018 - The work of our ancestors

We had booked Meryl Catty for a talk but unfortunately she was unwell.

Three of us from the branch committee decided give a short talk about the work of an ancestor.

I began by telling the group about the “Sir” in my family tree. He is linked to me, as he was married my great grandfather’s brother’s daughter, quite a distant relative but still important. He was Sir Benjamin Charles Stanley Martin.

Vice Admiral Sir Benjamin Charles Stanley Martin KBE Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was a Royal Navy officer who was the first boy from the Royal Naval Hospital School Greenwich to reach flag rank in the Royal Navy. He was also the first officer from the lower deck to become a Rear-Admiral in modern times. He was captain of HMS Dorsetshire which was a heavy cruiser of the County class of the Royal Navy and in 1941 assisted in the operations against the German battleship Bismarck. After intercepting the damaged Bismarck Dorsetshire applied the coup-de-grace with a final torpedo attack which sank the battleship at 11am on May 27. Martin received a DSO for his actions that day.

Pauline then spoke to us about Thomas Maddock who had begun a friendly society in Bristol. He ran the Fox Inn which was where the society held their meetings. He later became a cycle dealer. He invented some parts to improve cycling. His Society became The Oddfellows Friendly Society.

Later she also told us about John Walcott (1754-1831), her 4 times great grandfather, and was very active as a naturalist. He wrote and illustrated several books which are in the British Library. Pauline was able to show us some of his excellent bird illustrations.

David used a presentation that he had but had adapted for today. It was titled “Brother Harry”. He began life as a draper’s apprentice but joined The Shakers in England. He lived for many years in the New Forest in a tent. The group often upset their neighbours as they were ‘different’. The aspect that upset people the most was their trance like dancing. They were moved on and had several different places some they were turned out of, so much so that they were disbanded eventually.

This turned out to be quite an interesting afternoon, so we might do something similar later next year.
Gill Peregrine

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