Sunday 18th June – Holidays and High Days.

Hi all

Am so excited – this time next week  will be all packed ready to head to Newcastle on the Monday to stay with my niece and catch up on some family history while I am there and hopefully get across to Southwick to lay some flowers where my birth fathers’ ashes are scattered.  Then on the 28th we will fly out to Spain for 11 well earned nights.  As many of you will know its been a tough couple of years for me health wise and thankfully I seem to be past that phase.

Naturally I shan’t be around to “admin” the website from the 24th June until 11th July.  I promise as soon as I get back I will get my head down and begin a focused catch up on the backlog.  Am sure the other admins will keep an eye an eye on things while I am sunning myself.

Susan has informed me that she and Michael have found some solutions to the website build.  Basically we are out growing the present platform we use and will be shortly moving the whole thing over to another platform.   This will happen in the main without disruption to the current website however there maybe a short downtime at some point so the move can be finalised this could possibly be up to two days all being well.   So fingers crossed and good luck to both Susan and Michael with this project.

On Friday night my partner and  I were fortunate to have been given tickets to see Fisher Stevens an Elvis Presley tribute act.  I was really surprised at how good he was and when he sang one song memories of my parents came flooding back and I ended up crying.  I did get a cuddle from the substitute King of Rock n Roll at that point but it got me thinking (a dangerous thing) as to how many of us when recording our family histories actually record trivial facts about ourselves such as what colour is our favourite, or where we had our best holiday, who is your favourite actor, etc.  When I get back I am going to compile a questionnaire to include some of these and add it to the downloadable section of the website templates.  Perhaps you could all think of three things to add to the questionnaire and e-mail me or tell me on Facebook etc.   I will also add the document to the files section of our Facebook page.

I would also at this point like to welcome any new OPC’s to the team.  I will update the vacancy file and who’s who when I get back from my holiday (did I mention I am going to Spain for 11 nights and not just to laze in the sun, I will be doing some cultural things too).  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will do another blog page when I get back to let you know all the things you missed when I was away.  hahahahaha.

I know I try to keep the blogs as light hearted as I can but I must make reference to what is happening in our country and other places around the world at present.  Sadly it is a dangerous world we live in and maybe we don’t realise how much this is impacting on our every day lives.  We all know that death is inevitable and that we all have lost loved ones at some point.  To lose anyone close from what we perceive as natural causes is hard to endure but to lose someone in tragic and avoidable circumstances is beyond imagination.

Our thoughts and prayers must be for those families and friends of anyone who has lost their lives from this onslaught of terrorist attacks around the world that we have faced this past year.  In the UK we have seen three attacks in almost as many months where loss of life has been indiscriminate and aimed at the general public enjoying their leisure time or carrying out their daily employment.  We have also witnessed the unbelievable tragic tower block fire where many lives have been lost in the most horrific way we can think of.   I know we are not alone in experiencing such atrocities and heart-rendering events.  It does bring it home as to what other people around the world have experienced in recent history.







Monday 1st May 2017 – Wow It’s Been Quite A While

Hello everyone and a big warm welcome to any new followers.

I can’t believe that we are into May already – Next Month Grahame and I are off to Spain for 11 nights with a two night stopover in Newcastle before we fly out – am so excited.

Its also been nearly 3 months since the last blog – but I have been really busy on the site preparing and rebuilding etc. etc.

The big news is that the site has moved server and although the timing went a little off target all was well when the site was able to be accessed again.

Susan, Michael and I are now working together on ideas to rebuild the website (well Susan and Michael are doing the planning – I just give the thumbs up and put obstacles in their way or even worse new options to consider.  No need to worry though as this will be done offline so the disruption will be minimal and it is only at the think tank stage.   We will keep you informed as to progress but in the meantime we are still adding to the existing site on almost a daily basis.  For what is new or updated check out the Stats Section of the Website Home Page.  During April their were 297 new or updated items of which the majority were new submission.

The Poll Book for 1832 for the North of the County is complete thanks to the efforts of John Pope and the South is in the process of being done by Maureen Withey – I have several parishes ready to upload but they are in that never ending queue – we still have over 1000 items ready for preparing to upload from submitters – plus there must be nigh on 3000 plus items sitting in folders awaiting someone to look at them to see what we can achieve.  Christine Brooks is working away at a few sets of items such as VAD Volunteers and a few other things she has found but as you can imagine doing the same thing over and over becomes a bit tedious so we are always working on a few different items.  I am at present adding a few of the Wiltshire men who served in the Metropolitan Police have completed all with the surnames commencing A.   Christine Brooks very kindly reminded me that there about another 10,000 to do.

I am awaiting a delivery of a Poll Book I have purchased for 1705 we had found a few odd pages floating about on auction sites but the book itself soared out of reach of our budget, however it would seem other copies are available and someone (book dealer) has printed copies for sale so we managed to get it a bargain price.

I must thank Claire Wickham Young for doing a few look ups and taking copies of items for me when she visited the Record Office at Chippenham recently.   Sadly she didn’t have as much time as she had hoped but has promised to do more when she next visits.  If anyone else is planning a visit and would be willing to get copies of a few things please let me know either via e-mail or on Facebook page – to steal a well known saying – Every Little Counts.

Also I must personally thank Jean Strong who has given up her role as OPC for Cricklade so that the curator of the local museum in the parish could take up the role – so welcome to Pam Debenham.   It was Jean’s idea to get the curator involved and hopefully Jean will continue to contribute to the website in some other capacity.

Once again thank you everyone who is contributing to the website, only the other day I was in contact with a Bradford on Avon Town Council employee who was amazed at what as volunteers we have achieved and that is all thanks to everyone who gives up there time to do their bit.

So that’s it for now – and Carry on Regardless





First of 2017 – Very Busy

Hi all

I know its February but as its the first Blog of the New Year I hope everything is going as you all planned.

For those of you who are linked to Facebook you will know that a few days after Christmas I cam down with that dreadful lurgy, cough and cold but not detected on lungs or chest.  Its just about gone now but I had a few sleepless nights,  This however wasn’t a bad thing as I did some catching up on items for the site.  Again if you are on Facebook you will see what has been uploaded over the last few weeks.   You can also see what’s new and amended by visiting the home page of the website and going to the statistics section.

Sadly we have received news that Jean Barnwell is to step down from her parishes she will be missed as a team member.  Of course we wish Jean well in whatever she is planning in the future and we hope she still visits us often.  One of her parishes has been adopted by Brian Fisk and we look forward to his contribution in the future.

So welcome Brian.

As some of you will know the downloadable template section was getting really difficult to manage and equally difficult to find the template needed amongst the long list available.  I am slowly going through updating the templates where required and linking the template to the actual page next to the description of what the template should or could be used for.  Hopefully it won’t take long to complete but you never can tell in this job.

As many of you will know last year was not a good year with the loss of David Palmer (late 2015) and Jan Oliver in the summer of 2016.  Jan’s website is still online but there are no plans to add any new material.  I am still working through the items that she donated for other parishes like Ludgershall which is another big project.

I am happy to report though that the backlog is now down to Mid November and more items are being cleared daily of course I am still working on other things too such as voters lists, apprentices, doctors and the probate index to name a few.

If anyone can lend a hand as usual you know where to get hold of me.

Am looking forward to the summer since its not a Blackpool holiday this year for me (well maybe later in the year to celebrate my 60th birthday) but our main holiday is 11 nights in Salou – I am so excited about vising Barcelona and Tarragona.  Other half thinks its going to be a boozy clubbing holiday but I hate to burst his bubble

Anyway its great to be back in the swing of things now but please don’t pile stuff on me just yet let me catch up a little more.







1st December 2016 – Guess What?

Yep You got it – It’s the best month of the year – It’s CHRISTMAS TIME

You know I just love it – take a look at Facebook and you will see for yourself.   I am pleased to say that the decorations have been up since the 22nd of November – (a tribute to my dad) – the lights will now go on every night until 5th January and all will be packed away on the 6th.  I will then start planning for the next year (I know I am mad but I am still a kid at heart).


For anyone new to this blog once more I am going to publish the letter that I wrote from a family history researchers point of view to that jolly man dressed in red (sorry to those who have read it before)  A Genealogists Letter to Santa

At this time of year  I must praise every one from our Website Users to Webmasters, Administrators, OPCs, Transcriber, Contributors and anyone who has supported our endeavours to provide free information for everyone to use.   I am so proud to be part of the project and its truly amazing the amount of information we have on our pages.  I still have probably a thousand items still to upload and link but that just goes to show how busy everyone has been – I just wish I had the time and health to do more and get everything online quicker I know I keep saying it but things are getting a little better.

From me personally there are a few people who I have to thank for assisting me and being there for me when I went through a really frustrating few months with my health.  – I am not going to name you individually as you know who you are.

So for everyone here is an Advent Calendar for you – I will edit the blog daily to add a new day or you will open all the windows before Christmas and then Santa won’t come to you on Christmas Morning

1st December                  2nd December                  3rd December

4th December                5th December                    6th December

7th December                8th December                     9th December

10th December               11th December                  12th December

13th December               14th December                 15th December

16th December               17th December                 18th December

19th December                 20th December               21st December

22nd December               23rd December                24th December





October 23rd 2016 – Halloween Looms

Hi all

Have you missed me.  (Do not answer that)

I have been pretty busy this last few weeks.  Loading new materials, sorting a few parish pages , making sure everyone who wants to be involved with the project are in fact still active along with other duties such as cleaning, entertaining, shopping, preparing for Christmas (yes you heard right).  Plus I had been a little on the down side since my beloved Stoke City had not started the season that well.  Oh yes of course and selecting a hotel etc. for our holiday to Spain next year (first time abroad with my partner Grahame as he had a fear of flying.  Of course the fear is still there but he is determined to fly now especially as we would lose money now if he doesn’t).    We finally settled for the Oasis Park in Salou flying out of Newcastle and the end of June 2017.  It will be a great opportunity for me to spend a couple of days with family in Washington (Tyne & Wear) and catching up on recent family history (there have been several new additions to the tree to add over a few years which I must gather the dates for).

After the annual team review I am glad to say that we have retained most of the team and have gained one or two more donors and transcribers.  Just wish I could gain several more hours in the day but I am having to limit the amount of time I bash the keyboard as my hands are not working at 100% yet.  Am sure once the heating goes on more often I will be able to spend more time typing etc. as the warmth seems to make my hands and fingers more flexible.

Over the past few weeks thanks to John Pope prepping items for me we have been able to load quite a few Voting Lists for the South Wiltshire parishes for 1832.

At present I am prepping a churchyard survey for Colerne submitted by OPC Alison West which should go online by Sunday of next week.   John Pope has prepped a lot more items for upload which will go online over the next few days.  I feel a lot more positive about ow the web site is building again now, however I still have a really large back log of items which I am working through.  My own transcribing has been firmly put on the back burner for a while.

It seems really strange that Halloween is looming once more.  Sadly I have not had a chance to create any more compilations of spooky happenings in the county.  There is still a week to go though so may come up with one or two.




Sunday September 17th – Guest Blogger

Hi all

As promised I am not going to bore you with my shenanigans this week.  After making a plea on our Facebook page Roy Stockdill kindly agreed to put a piece together about his Wiltshire roots.

For those of you who do not know Roy, he is a retired journalist having worked for many years on several local and national newspapers on what I believe are a number of subjects over his career.  I first “met” Roy through an article he wrote for a well known family history magazine in which he featured the Wiltshire OPC Project.  Which after publication caused an influx of new followers and members, so thank you Roy for that.

Before I publish his offering for this blog I would just like to remind anyone who hasn’t got back to me about the annual team review that I would appreciate knowing by the end of the month if you wish to retain your parishes.  I have received quite a few staying and only two so far have retired.  The two retirees being Rog Jones who is based in Amsterdam and has relinquished Stanton St. Quintin and Seagry and Lynn Leggett has given up Yatton Keynell due to ill health.  We thank both for their much valued input to the project and wish them both well for the future.

Now back to Roy and his article.



From Yorkshire Back to Wiltshire

A Journey of the Past

 WHEN my wife and I married in Coventry 53 years ago it never occurred to us that we might both have lines of descent from contiguous Wiltshire parishes, no more than five miles apart and in one case only a mile apart. My ancestry was almost entirely from Yorkshire, or so I thought at the time, and my wife Stephanie’s was mostly Warwickshire.

However, when I began to research both our family histories in the early 1970s a truism of genealogy reared its head at an early stage: that the farther back you go in time and generations, more counties and more towns and villages enter your family tree and you find yourself with ancestors in places you’d never thought of looking!

For me, the realisation that I was not 100 per cent a Yorkshireman came when I discovered a pair of paternal great grandparents, Andrew YOUNG and Sarah MEAD, who were married in 1852 at Rodden, a district of Frome which lies right next to the border with Wiltshire. Andrew was from Gloucestershire but Sarah had been born at Frome. Tracing them through the BMD records and censuses found them having many children, including my grandmother Harriet YOUNG who was born at Twerton, a suburb of Bath, in 1865. However, in 1881 they suddenly appeared in Bradford, Yorkshire.

It became apparent that my great grandfather Andrew, a weaver, must have taken his family up to the West Riding in order to find work in the booming wool and textile mills of Bradford at a time when the West Country cloth industry was dying, due to the heavy competition from the new technology of the woollen and cotton mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

My great grandmother Sarah MEAD, a wool spinner, was born at Rodden on the outskirts of Frome in 1829. It transpired, however, that her father, my great great grandfather Philip MEAD, had been born at Bratton, the village that lies immediately beneath the Iron Age hill fort of Bratton Camp and the famous White Horse, about 1796. The censuses of 1841 and 1851 told me that Philip had moved just across the Wiltshire-Somerset border to become a factory foreman at Rodden.

Getting my Mead ancestors at Bratton farther back proved problematical, since Philip’s father, James MEAD, born about 1764, sometimes also used the name of PAIN. He married Mary GIDENCE at Bratton in 1789 and baptised children in both surnames. I found a marriage at Bratton in 1760 of John MEAD and Martha PAIN and my researches suggested that James was probably born illegitimate to a sister of Martha’s and adopted by John and Martha Mead, hence his use of the surnames Mead and Pain.

Having found my own Wiltshire line, I turned to my wife’s family tree. Most of her ancestors were from Warwickshire, specifically Coventry, Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden. However, she had clear recollections as a schoolgirl of visiting relatives, uncles and aunts and cousins, at Westbury Leigh, Westbury. Armed with this information, I found the marriage at Westbury in 1881 of her great grandparents, Henry HALL and Mary Ann DEW. The 1891 census revealed that Henry had been born at Trowbridge and Mary Ann at Dilton Marsh, so my wife’s lines from Wiltshire were clearly established.

The surname DEW turned out to be fairly prolific at Dilton Marsh, with many folks of the name appearing in the censuses. Mary Ann was born in 1858, the daughter of Robert DEW, a railway labourer, and Charlotte JONES. I was able to trace the Dews back to an Abraham Dew (1732-1821), my wife’s 6x-great grandfather. But what intrigued me particularly was that Dilton Marsh is barely five miles from Bratton where my Mead ancestors came from!

It got even more intriguing when I discovered that Stephanie’s great great great grandfather, Eli HALL, who was born at Trowbridge about 1812, lived for many years at Edington which is no more than one mile from Bratton! Eli was a shoemaker and appeared in a number of directories at Tinhead in the eastern part of Edington parish. Could my ancestors at Bratton and my wife’s at Dilton Marsh and Edington have known one another? It is such a small and very rural part of the world that it seems likely in the 18th and 19th centuries. We sometimes joke about discovering one day that we are umpteenth cousins!

If anyone recognises any of the names and thinks they might be connected to my wife or myself feel free to e-mail me at:


Roy has given me permission to publish this item on the various parish pages on the website too.  Once again thanks you.



Thursday 8th September -Annual Team Review

Hi all

By now you should have all received an e-mail asking whether you wish to continue as part of the OPC team.  This is something I do every year as our lives change so does the amount of time and commitment you have available to other things.  The review is by no means meant to pressurise anyone into being active its just the opportunity to allow people the choice.  Personally I don’t wish anyone to quit the project as everyone has a role to play and their input no matter how small or large is a valuable resource.

Roger Jones, who is based in Amsterdam has decided to relinquish his parishes of Seagry and Stanton St. Quintin,  Roger is based in Holland and has been a member of the team since almost the very first incarnation about ten years ago.  His time and input has been invaluable, however he has promised to keep in touch with the project and will let us know of anything interesting he finds.

If you haven’t received the e-mail then please let me know if you wish to remain as OPC’s if by the 31st September I haven’t heard from you then I will assume you are either no longer interested or that communication has been lost and the parishes will be put back up for adoption.

As part of this review please also consider sending me a profile and photo – too many of you are far too shy and silhouettes are not flattering  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its good for users to put a face to the name.

At present the website is beginning once more to outgrow the facilities we use to create the site which you all contribute to and of which I am so so proud.   Susan and Michael Pearson are exploring new ways of moving forward and our at present working on the website platform to bring it up to date and certainly more admin friendly.

Richard Cresswell will I hope be able to work with Susan and Michael with ideas since he also has a background in web design.  I am a firm believer in making use of all available resources and am sure Susan and Michael will agree and welcome input from Richard.

Thanks to all who have so far replied to the e-mail 15 of us are so far remaining and no doubt over the next few days we will get more still willing to play their part.

By the way I forgot to mention its only just under 108 days to Christmas – if you don’t believe me take a look at the countdown clock