Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Could this 1915 photo help locate Briton's Camp, St Albans?

During the Summer of 1915 a large tented military camp was established in fields in the St Albans area but its location is uncertain. A great many pictures exist but apart from showing the soldiers, the tents and open fields there had been an absence of identifiable landmarks. ... until now ...

Chris Bailey is researching the Lincolnshire Regiment and has also been puzzling where the 2nd/5th Lincs spent the summer of 1915. He has provided seven pictures taken when they were based in the St Albans area, which I have added to the end of the Briton's Camp page. Two of the pictures of the camp include distant images of a number of buildings (possibly set along a road) including one which could be a factory with a large chimney. This suggests that the camp was close to a built up area.

Other pictures, all believed to be of the St Albans area, contain identifiable features. One shows a line of railway carriages and a different factory. Another shows the troops in procession in a built up area.

I assume the "Baths in the Roman Trenches" is at Beech Bottom.

If anyone can identify the location of any of the pictures Chris would be love to know and I will also label the pictures accordingly.

Either comment below or use "Ask Chris" on the main web site.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Email Problems

Yesterday my software diverted an email into my spam box - nothing unusual about that as it happens several times a day. However it seemed at a quick glance to be a genuine request for help on a family history problem (surname may have been CHILD). So I clicked on the "not spam" button and it vanished - and I can't find it anywhere on my computer or on the server. So apologies, whoever you, were but I am not able to reply.

This may also be a good time to remind you that if you send me an emailed request and want a reply make sure that your system will accept my reply. So systems seem to be set up to treat as spam anything they don't recognize and I know at least one recent message I sent didn't get to the questioner for this reason. 

The Census Enumerator strike back

19th November

The Enumerator Strikes Back
(A look at the census enumerator's work)
by David Annal

Talk starts 3 pm at the Woolmer Green Village Hall

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Improved Facilities for Birth and Death Certificates

The General Registry Office ( has now launched a new search (and order) facility for historic birth and death certificates based on what is actually on the certificate rather than the old indexes. In addition the birth index from 1837 now gives the mother's maiden name while the death index gives the age at death.

I decided to test it out using information from the Phipson One Name Study I carried out in the 1980s = which involved manhandling hundreds of heavy Victorian indexes when they were in St Catherine's House, in London. There indexes were later used to produce the online FreeBMD. For details of my tests see below:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Don't Forget the Midwife ... Some useful Sources

Nurse Elizabeth Phillips
Where a village like Preston is well covered by a local historian with an excellent web site such as A History of Preston in Hertfordshire I am delighted as I can relax as there is no point in duplicating what is already online and I can simply point the visitor to the appropriate URL., and pass on useful updates via this newsletter.
Philip has just posted an interesting account of Preston's first midwife which makes interesting reading - and includes some interesting general information on childbirth and midwifery. It also highlights two useful sources of information I had not considered.
The first is that Ancestry have now included some information on midwives to add to there collection of useful sources.
The second relates to the Hertfordshire Cohort Study - which is a major clinical research study based on the finding of records of births and early infancy for children born in Hertfordshire between 1911 and 1939. Records were kept of child's name, data and weight at birth, together with weight at one year, vaccination history and first school at five, and some other detail, and this can now be related to what happened (and in many cases is still happening) later in life. Similar records were probably kept elsewhere but have not survived, while most, but not all for Hertfordshire have survived. I remember, many years ago, there was a news article in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette about the discovery of a book of old maternity records which had been saved from ending up in a skip and how useful they would prove to be. However I had not realized how important they were.
None of my immediate family are part of the study as my mother was born in Hemel Hempstead in 1908 and while I was born in St Albans in 1938 the St Albans records have not survived - and in any case would not have included information on my weight at one year, etc, because my parents moved to SOmerset when I was 11 months old.
Of course the files contain medical information on living people so the detailed information, such as whether a child was breast-fed, is not yet available to genealogists but there are some interesting statistical findings.

Quite by chance the question of birth came up at the recent St Albans History Conference. Roger (who has previously corresponded with this site) asked a question, relating to Bernards Heath. I happened to mention I was born on the other side of the road, and he commented that he had been born at "Hazeldene" at about the same time. ... As it happens my son was born in a nursing home in Exeter but both my daughters were born at home in Tring, with midwife care and grandma (a trained nurse) available to help as necessary.

 So do you know whether your ancestors were born at home - or in a nursing home, or in a hospital, or did they go to their mother's house for the actual birth?