With the country now technically no longer in lock down but we’re now being asked to stay alert, it has felt like a more ‘normal’ week albeit more like a school holiday week than a school week. I must say with the lovely weather we have had this week, there has been little homeschooling and more ‘nurturing’ in our house.
Whilst James has done a small amount of school work – practising writing and some maths games
we have mainly concentrated on out mental health, getting out and about a little – visiting and exploring Chilworth Gunpowder Mill trail where the kids loved playing pooh sticks in the stream and enjoyed a lovely walk through what seemed like a wilderness with the area largely being left and being a little overgrown (especially around the picnic area), learning about grinding stones and dragons teeth.
We also spent a day at the beach this week (Littlehampton a 22 miles drive) whilst we hoped it might be quieter than next week when it is half term! it was the hottest day of the week and although it was quite busy there was plenty of space and (most) people were sensible and mindful of the 2 metre rule. We had a lovely day and it was nice to just have a normal family day out with a picnic.
James has also been very busy building with his knex …. i’d almost say he’s obsessed with it!
Coming up to the end of the week we are reminded that come Sunday we should have been flying off to Greece for our weeks sailing holiday which has now of course had to be postponed for a year 😢. So how do we console ourselves and make it feel like a staycation rather than just another week? With a new swimming pool for the garden – yes swimming pool not paddling pool! OK so we may have gone a little over the top with a 12 foot pool 🤣 but the smaller ones were all out of stock and the kids just couldn’t wait … although I’m not sure who was more excited about it me of the kids! 🤣🤣🤣 Its already been worth the money even if we have to wear wet suits on the colder days!!!! 😍and so looking forward to spending a lot of time in it over the half term week!
So here’s to week 10, bank holiday Monday, half term week, and looking forward to a return to a ‘new’ normal with James back at school and Rose back at nursery (albeit only two days a week for Rose). I’m not getting into that debate …..
Another week has gone by but at least now we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel after the slight easing of the lock down rules last Sunday evening. I could ramble on now about everything that has happened on the covid-19/lock down/stray alert/media speculation causing the so called public confusion – I certainly wasn’t confused by the message! But I won’t ramble on as this is not a place for political debate but a blog recording my family’s experiences of covid-19.
What I will say is that I will be sending my son back to school on 1 June (or whenever they reopen) because what is clear is that this virus is not going away, we are going to have to adapt our lives and learn to live with it. Waiting for a vaccine – that may never come – is not an option, I for one do not want to put my life or my children’s lives on hold. Even if there is a vaccine, the virus is not going away, the only disease ‘successfully’ eradicated by vaccination is small pox, and there will no doubt be a major debate and concern about any vaccine (as there still are today about many of the long standing vaccines) meaning many people and children won’t get vaccinated in any event (I have seen such comments in social media), so lets start getting back into a new kind of normal as soon as possible.
I know this will be controversial and I can understand why some parents will not wish to send their children back to school and if we had anyone in our household in a high risk group then my view would be different so I certainly will not criticise any parent who does not send their child back to school when they reopen – it really does have to be an individual family decision.
Anyway, a part from me having a minor bump in the car (with an parked unattended vehicle) because the electronic handbrake failed in my rush to do something 😱🤦♀️🤬 which shook me up a bit, it has been a pretty ‘normal’ week. We have learned about Oceans with @maddiemoat, @gregfoot #letsgolive, made a rock pool, build a coral reef, painted more rainbows (they were fading fast in the sun!) and ocean pictures for out front window. James has been practising his writing, and building k’nex whilst Rose has been hibernating in her ‘Frozen’ tent 🤣🥰
Today (Sunday) we had our first trip out in the car a little bit further afield to get a change of scenery for the afternoon, the first time we have been out of our village of Cranleigh for over 8 weeks! And what a lovely afternoon explore and adventure we had round the historic 13th century ruin of Waverley Abbey, finding the largest Yew tree I have ever seen! Check it out below!
So, here is our week in pictures…..
and here’s looking forward to week 9 of lock down, and what will hopefully be our last week of homeschooling……
Well, we are now at the end of week 7 and I almost forgot to write this weeks blog! Its been a bit of a tough week, not with the kids bit because I have been feeling exhausted and for three days my joints were aching – I felt very old! It did go through my mind that it may be this horrid virus but I developed no other symptoms and was fine after three days so I put it down to age/hormones/stress/life….🤣🤣🤣
My schooling for James this week revolved around VE Day although he did do some of his ‘proper’ school work. It was great – he learnt some new (difficult) words, such as fighting, celebrate and liberation. He also learnt who Winston Churchill was. I don’t think he really understood what WW2 was all about but he understood what VE Day was about – or PE Day as Rose (aged 3&1/2) says 🤣 I think they were just looking forward to the afternoon picnic tea on Friday afternoon in the front garden – something different.
I must say I found the day rather emotional, 2 minutes silence remembering my granddad and all my relatives who lived through WW2 in whatever capacity; listening to Winston Churchill’s victory speech and singing THE song of WW2 “We’ll meet again” … a song so appropriate for many times but especially in these times not knowing when we will be able to visit my parents again and/or vice versa. It’s going to be an emotional reunion when we can. I think!
It has been a lovely week weather wise, meaning lots of playing out in the garden and some long (well for the kids anyway) walks, from home of course.
What has been making my blood boil this week is the media… Its them not the politicians that are reporting speculation which some people take as gospel and truth and causing all the confusion the media say the public have about the lock down message at the moment. They are not reporting facts but speculating on what changing may be brought is and then they criticise the government and ask the same stupid questions time after time to get the same answer because there is no other! They try to trip the politicians up and twist everything they say. The public would not be confused as the media suggest we are (I’m not – stay at home remains the message as I write this…what happens later is another thing!) if they stopped reporting such speculation! It does not help the confusion!
Anyway, less of that! Here’s our week in pictures …….. ration books, air raid shelters, hop scotch, Morse code, baking…..and playing football in the street! What was really nice as well, is that his best friend, Lucy, lives in the cul-de-sac across the road from us which had their own social distancing street party to which we were invited for a short time allowing the kids to play football together – with us continuously enforcing the social distancing rule on them which was OK until we said goodbye and James and Lucy wanted to give each other a hug – the funny elbow handshake made up for it 🤣 It was great to see them have half an hour of ‘almost’ normality 😘💕
Graeme and James even found time on VE Day to repaint our front door and garage door….
Now we wait to hear Boris’s plans at 7 pm tonight for our slow move out of lock down 🤞 for a back to school date (albeit likely part time until the summer holidays)
In recognition of the 75th VE Day anniversary I decided to look further into the roles my grandfathers, and great Uncles played in the war. The information I have to date is simply a starting point as I have not a yet applied for any of their service records from the MOD, thus much of the information is from oral family history, casualty records available online and papers held by family members.
My Paternal Family
My paternal Grandfather, Claude Richardson, was one of two children of Thomas and Sarah, his older brother being Wilfred (known as Wilf). Claude was born 1917 and Wilf in 1912 so at the start of WW2 they were 22 and 27 years of age respectively. Wilf was described in the 1939 Register as a Butcher and thus exempt from conscription and he married in 1940. Claude was unmarried and is not found in the 1939 Register. His occupation at the start of the war is unclear due to lack of records at this stage.
As yet have I have found little information on Claude’s WW2 service other than what my Dad and Aunts have been able to tell me. I should really request his service record from the Ministry of Defence. Those should provide me with details of his service number and regiment and I should then able able to carry out further research at the National Archives (TNA) when they reopen.
Whet we do know is that he was in a Driver in the Royal Engineers and based in the desert in the Middle East where his time in service came to an abrupt end (more about this below)! His service record and war dairies (available at TNA) for his regiment may help confirm exactly where he was.
One story my Aunt remembers being told by her father is that he was once driving somewhere in the desert and offered a chap a lift. After dropping the chap off, when Claude arrived at his destination he realised the chap had left a little box behind. When Claude opened it there was a set of electric hair clipper inside. He was unable to return them to the chap and brought them home where they were put to good use by my Grandmother, Claude’s wife, Annie, in her post war hairdressing business which she ran out of the Railway Tavern in Hensall, Yorkshire, where they lived.
Another story he told was that one day whilst he was taking a ride out into the desert (possibly on a motorbike) he came across some Nomads and ended up having tea with them! He thought they were of some notable standing because of the riches around them. He recalled this as “some experience!”.
I suspect he was a popular man in his regiment. Claude wasn’t a smoker but still got his ration of cigarettes to hand out to his friends!
Claude’s service in WW2 came to an abrupt sometime in late 1941 to early 1942. No one can recall the exact dates/year although again no doubt this would be evident from his service record when it is obtained! How? Well, one night he and another Royal Engineer, Claude Didcot, set off (not sure where they were going) having being told to be careful because there was a road roller parked on the road without any lights on. Well, they weren’t that careful because they crashed, ending up in hospital!
Claude (my grandfather) had two broken legs and I believe he was in hospital for about a year bother out in the field and then back home in England. He had both legs in plaster and my Aunt recalls him telling her that when the plaster came off it was ripped off taking all the hairs that had grown underneath with it! Claude was not amused and wouldn’t let them take the second plaster off, instead sitting there himself with a razor blade cutting at the hair for a good few hours!!!!
I can estimate the time when this accident took place as on his return home, he wrote a letter to a friend, Gordon, who at the time had been missing for 19 months – in fact he was a Japanese prisoner of war. I have a copy of the letter and whilst it is not dated he refers to his impending marriage to Annie (they married 2 August 1943). He also describes his accident
“…I had a very bad motor accident, Run into a Road Roller at night time, had seven fractures in all. So I was sent home, and now I have been given my discharge.”
It gets me quite emotional reading the letter. I never actually knew Claude as he unfortunately died 13 months before I was born, but I did know his friend, Gordon, who was also a friend of my maternal Grandfather.
It is believed that Claude returned home on the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary had her maiden voyage on 27 May 1936 as a passenger liner, however with the outbreak of the WW2 she was converted into a troopship and was used to ferry Allied soldiers during the conflict.
My great uncles on my paternal grandmothers’ side, George Robert Sayner (known as Bob), Samuel Sayner and Francis Sayner (known as Frank) (3 of 9 children!) were all described as builders in the 1939 Register and nothing appears to be known within the family of any them being involved in WW2 in the forces. Given their occupations, they may have been exempt from service.
My Maternal Granddad, Horace Huddlestone, (we called min Grandpa) was the youngest of four children of Arthur and Annie, 3 boys and 1 girl! Horace was born in 1914, his two brothers Claude and William were born in 1903 and 1909 respectively.
Out of the three of boys, Grandpa was the only one to be conscripted and serve in WW2.
My Nannie and Grandpa were married on 27th February 1937 and their first daughter (my maternal aunt) was born just over 4 months later giving birth to my maternal aunt on 9th June 1937 that being just less than three months before the outbreak of World War 2. The 1939 Register which was essentially a population count ‘census’ carried out on 29th September 1939 to help with recruitment to the armed forces, shows grandpa as a Coal Merchant Haulage Contractor and nannie an ‘unpaid domestic duties’. Grandpa was age 25 at the start of the war and was subject to conscription under The National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939 which was enacted by Parliament on 3 September 1939, the day the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of the Second World War.
There were exemptions to conscription and a man could apply to defer being called up, which is exactly what grandpa did on the grounds of his self-employment as a coal merchant. In a letter to grandpa from the Ministry of Transport dated 9th November 1940 (after the start of the Battle of Britain which began on 10 July 1940), which states
“the Minister has recommended that enlistment should be deferred in your case in order to afford you an opportunity of finding a substitute or otherwise of meeting the position which would result from immediate calling up”
His official notice from the Minister of Labour and National Service dated 18th September 1941 states that he would not be called-up before 15th March 1942. It was probably hoped that the war would have ended by this time! However it was shortly after this, on 7 December 1941 that Japan invaded Pearl Harbour with Britain and America declaring was on Japan the following day.
In the meantime he took his turn at incendiary duty during local air raids. There is one story that on one of his duties on Eggborough Hill with another local man, he had taken his rifle with him to shoot some rabbits. The local policeman turned up, who although he knew grandpa well, insisted on seeing his gun licence which of course grandpa did not have on him. The policeman escorted grandpa home, in the middle of his incendiary duty, to see his licence. When they got home, I’m not quite sure what happened but the story goes that grandpa offered the policeman a drink (alcohol of course!) and started chatting, but the time they had finished the policeman had forgotten all about the gun licence and never did see it…I’m sure grandpa had one though!
Grandpa was called-up on 16th July 1942 into the Royal Engineers as a ‘Sapper’. He completed his military training on 15th September 1942 and Military Transport Training on 12th November 1942. Grandpa was due to be posted to Japan but as he was boarding the ship to leave England he collapsed with nerves and was admitted to hospital in Glasgow for a number of months before he was well enough to continue his service. As a result he was then posted to Gairloch in Northern Scotland serving in the 910 Stevedore Company where he worked as a driver loading and unloading ships in secret locations. He was extremely lucky as he had friends and acquaintances that were posted to Japan and ended up in Japanese prisoner of war camps, which would no doubt have been my grandpa’s fate had he boarded that ship. I doubt he would then have been the same man I knew and loved. Victory in Japan took place on 2 August 1945 after the invention of the atomic bomb earlier that year which was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.
He had many stories of his time in Scotland which he would tell with fond memories. I know of one sapper he became good friends with, George (I don’t know his surname unfortunately so I cannot trace his family) who was from Sheffield and with whom grandpa kept in contact with for some time after the war. We found one letter from George amongst grandpa’s papers.
I’m sure they would get up to all sorts of tricks although I know grandpa was ‘as straight as a die’; the soldiers and sailors he would meet off the ships in port would bring all kinds of goods (contraband!) to shore and ask grandpa to send on to their families, items such as fur coats, chocolates, nylon stockings etc. Usually items which were in short supply in the war. My aunt remembers being sent some fancy chocolates and nannie receiving stockings but she knows there could have been much more. No one would have ever known or been able to say anything had he kept goods and sent them home, on the other hand I am proud that he was an honourable man and made sure anything he was asked to send was sent to who it was meant for.
Grandpa remained in Scotland until the end of the war being transferred to the Army Reserve on 26th January 1946. During his service, grandpa’s Service Record Book shows he had a number of periods of leave but most notably he was granted 9 days compassionate leave at the end of July 1944; the beginning of November 1944 and the end of January 1945. These periods were likely due to his mother being poorly and died at the end of January 1945, being buried on 30th January 1945.
My great Uncles on Nannie’s side were Fred Oldfield, William Oldfield, Tom Oldfield and Earnest Oldfield (4 of 10 children)! Earnest was the youngest of the nine children having been born in 1935 thus he was only 4 at the start of WW2. Fred and William were the two eldest having been born in 1911 and 1913 respectively. My grandmother, Mary, was next (born in 1915) then Tom was the fourth eldest being born in 1918. So, Fred, William and Tom were 28, 26 and 21 respectively at the start of WW2.
Both Fred and William are found in the 1939 Register: Fred was married and described as a Farm Horseman Heavy (he was a heavy labourer) and William was living with his parents and described as a Maltster Labourer. Fred and William did not serve in WW2 as their occupations (farmer and butcher respectively) exempted them.
Tom, however is not found in the 1939 Register and my mum knows that he did serve in WW2. Little is known about his service without obtaining his service records and researching the war dairies at TNA for his regiment. However, we do know he was in the Royal Army Service Corp and was evacuated from Dunkirk following the Battle of Dunkirk which took place from 26 May to 4 June 1940.
The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps of the British Army responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air despatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery (but not ammunition, military and technical equipment, which were the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps); administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.
Tom never spoke of his experience in Dunkirk but my mum is aware that he was significantly affected by this experience. However, he continued in service and was later posted to the far east. Nothing further is known. Again, it is hoped his service record may shed some light on this, at least provide his service number and regiment details to be able to research the appropriate war diaries with the TNA reopens.
I must say I am a little surprised that out of eleven of my male ancestors who would have been eligible to serve in WW2, it appears only three actually did and only one of those served on the front line but all survived, never, as like most who served and witnessed the atrocities, to really speak about their experiences.
My Husbands’ ancestors
On my Husband’s side of our family, not much is known about their efforts in WW2 although many of the ancestors would have been too old to serve in WW2 being older than my grandparents.
His paternal grandfather, Harold, who was the oldest of ten children (including eight boys) was a printer and aged 46 at the start of WW2. Conscription only applied to males aged between 18 and 41 years. He in fact died after been hit by a car in the blackout on 23 December 1940 living in Poole, Dorset.
Although I have not conducted details research into the 7 brothers, they all appear in the 1939 register and all work in the transport industry in one way or another, and whilst there would of five out the either brothers were of conscription age we have found no evidence any of them served in the forces in WW2 and it is likely they were all employed in exempt occupations.
His maternal Grandfather, Bertie Laming, was the younger brother of two children and sadly his older brother died shortly before the start of WW2 at the age of 37. Bertie was aged 29 at the start of WW2 and in the 1939 register is described as a Clerk. It is said that during WW2 he was a mechanic on Lancaster bombers (land based), a far cry from being a clerk!
We have found him on the Forces War Records website which tells us his service number and that he enlisted at either Uxbridge, Gloucester or Penarth. In Bertie’s case it is likely he enlisted at Uxbridge as he was living Willesden, Middlesex, according to the 1939 register.
The record also tells us that he joined after May 1940 servicing in the Royal Air Force. This is certainly likely to be the case. Bertie married Helen Duell in 1939 and gave birth to their only child, my mother-in-law July 1940.
The Forces War Records website also states “militia”. The militia were essentially the special reserve, suggesting Bertie had previously received some military training. I think to find anything more out about him, we will need to apply for his service record! This is definitely a bit of a mystery!
Bertie survived to the grand old age of 82 dying in November 1992 in Weybridge, Surrey.
Well, we’re now into week 6 – gosh its actually gone quick really, its doesn’t seem like 6 weeks looking back!
We definitely started with renewed energy this week! Monday was a busy day. It started with James missing BBC bitesize for the 5 – 7 year olds because I went out early to get a bit of food shopping but he did see the 7 – 9 year old 20 minute lesson which was really interesting as it was about Henry VIII and his 6 wives – who knows the acronym D B D D B S? – I’ll leave it to you to work out!
It led to a bit of a family history lesson with me explaining that in many ways we had a lot to thank Henry VIII for as without his creation of the Church of England, we may not have many of the records we now use in family history research, in particular parish registers and records! That is where my lesson ended (well he is only 5!) but of course Henry VIII also has a lot to answer for – persecution of Catholics etc but who knows how history would have unfolded had it not been for his stubbornness to divorce Catherine of Aragon? An interesting thought!
Anyway, here’s a few pics and videos of our week….
So it has possibly been the best week so far despite the rain! I think the fact we’ve had all the mini maker stuff to do has helped! Treasure hunts for numbers and letters round the house have gone down well 👍 We even found a brilliant website were you can watch various animals live in aquariums, nature reserves etc! We were watching Tigers on Tuesday afternoon!
I’m also starting to think ahead to next week and the 75th VE day celebrations, I don’t know what the school have got planned but I really hope they have a VE Day themed homeschooling pack for us …. if not well, I have found loads of brilliant resources online and I intend to have a week of VE Day themes for the kids – colouring, creating bunting, baking some 1940’s recipes, songs etc. I’m quite excited about it!
I also want to spend some time preparing details of what my husband and my grandparents did in WW2 …watch this space for related blogs!
One source for researching your ancestors beyond the 19th Century is the records of the Manorial Courts. You would be forgiven for thinking that only landowners may appear in such records however this is not the case! From the time of the introduction of the manorial (or feudal) system by William the Conqueror to, in some cases, the 20th Century, Manorial Court records can provide a significant insight into our ancestors and how they lived their lives.
The Manorial Courts, were essentially the ‘local government’ for their area, both in terms of what would we would think of today as civil law and administration and in terms of minor criminal offences. Of course what were criminal offences in those days may no longer be deemed as criminal offences today.
The ‘heyday’ of Manorial Courts could be said to be from around the 12th/13th Century to the 16th Century when much of their local government functions were taken over by the parish, however the manorial system remained in place until the 20th Century with regard to ownership and occupation of property, generating a great number of records with much genealogical value.
The most useful records are those of the Court Baron. The Manorial Court dealing with minor ‘criminal’ offences was the Court Leet, also known as the View of Frankpledge.
Court Baron (13th to 19th Century)
The Court Baron was the principal manorial court, where the everyday business of the manor and its community was conducted. Typically, the court sat every three weeks, and was responsible for enforcing: local manorial customs and ensuring they were not breached; local agricultural practices; resolving minor disputes and debts disputes between tenants or between the lord and his tenants; and dealing with the transfer of property rights. The court would be overseen by the Lord of the Manor or more often their Sheriff sitting with a jury, made up of local tenants.
It was the jury’s role to declare and create (when necessary) manorial custom, to present offenders to the courts, act as witnesses and decide issues of fact before the court. Often known as a ‘jury of inquest’ adopted by the manorial court from the king’s courts.
Jurors would be fined (amerced) for not attending and even “for failing to perform their duty properly (which might mean failing to present or wrongly doing so) …. as in Sandal in 1348, when the jury were amerced for putting their verdict ‘in the mouth of one insufficiently knowledgeable’. They could also be punished by attaint for wrongful verdicts. It is perhaps not surprising that in the manor court of Wakefield in 1316 John Swerd gave 6d for leave to retire from the inquest jury”
The Jury was described by Harvey as “a group of usually about a dozen local tenants, free or villein; where a single court met for more than one manor, or where a single manor included several vills, there might be more than one jury, and sometimes a separate jury would be chosen for court leet business.”
How they were selected can be difficult to discern. “They are generally spoken of as ‘elected’ though we know nothing of how this took place. They seem to have been elected before the actual sitting of the court, for we find men fined for their absence. In some rolls a long list of names is given, and marked ‘Nomina juratorum’, and it may be that these were a panel from which the twelve sworn jurors were chosen.” 
Studies conducted of different manors and their court and jury systems suggest that each manor had their own system for electing jurors; some jurors were elected and served for many years; others elected different jurors either each court session or annually. Certainly, form the records I viewed for assignment 1 it appeared the jurors were selected at each court session.
In the Court Baron, customary/copyhold tenants were usually obliged to attend; in some manors, it was mandatory for Free tenants to attend.
It is likely jurors were the most prominent, respected of the tenants, possibly including officials such as the reeve who themselves were elected from and by the tenants. Jury lists can therefore depict social standing; jurors were often elected for a particular reason, such as their knowledge of the customs of the manor, whilst others may have been elected because of where they lived “often drawn from the actual vicinity of the matter in question,…. Other juries were composed of the men from one or more neighbouring vills; others again were carefully selected, apparently, so as to include representatives from all the vills of the manor”. Perhaps the selection of jurors was determined by the matters they had to deal with at the court session.
Because of the nature of the business undertaken by the court, many tenants will be named routinely for a variety of reasons – they may appear as officials or jurors, noted as absent, with or without leave, or they may be fined or amerced for some minor offence. The fines were recorded with details of the incident that gave rise to them in the court roll.
In the records for the Manor of Gomshall Towerhill in Surrey (records held at Surrey History Centre) there are cases concerning acts against customs of the manor, providing names and details of the cases, including a case against a tenant for his failure to keep a gate in repair, and others for failing to keep a ditch and a highway is repair.
In the records for the Manor of Gomshall Towerhill in Surrey (records held at Surrey History Centre) there are cases concerning acts against customs of the manor, providing names and details of the cases, including a case against a tenant for his failure to keep a gate in repair, and others for failing to keep a ditch and a highway is repair.
The Court Baron also dealt with the ownership/occupation of property, thus its records also include details of transfers of property which had be approved by the Lord of the Manor, including and particularly on the death of a tenant (I will look at the ways in which property could be owned/occupied in my next blog).
The records of the court baron therefore contain particularly valuable genealogical information including names, dates of death and marriage, family relationships, occupation, status, address. Roll calls name those that died since the last court sitting and presentments include deaths of copyholders with the names of heirs.
These records are usually located in County Records offices but the Manorial Document Register searchable on the TNA discover website (Discovery) provides the location of many manorial records. Some may still be held in private hands and many estates which continue to exist today, which were originally manors.
Court Leet (13th to 19th Century) aka View of Frankpledge
The Court Leet was essentially the manorial ‘criminal’ court of law sitting largely to determine those who had offended against the behaviour expected and agreed upon by the community as decent conduct.
Most of the offences brought before the Court Leet often resulted in ancestors making several appearances in their lifetimes with names, details of offences and fines etc being recorded in the various records. Records may also include family relationships, occupation, status, address.
In the records for the Court Leet for Gomshall Towerhill manor there is a case concerning a husbandman who was accused of stealing (“gratis juxta”) grapes of the abbot to the value of 20d. He pleaded not guilty. The record includes the name of his wife and gives some details of his history of his time as a tenant. It appears he may have been trying to graze his cows and sheep on the land which is described as 1000 acres.
The court Leet also became known as the view of frankpledge when members of a tithing (a group of 12 men responsible for the good behaviour of each other) were held answerable for any poor conduct or damage done by another member.
The court was held every three weeks with the records written in Latin until 1734 which generally follow a set format with standard phrases. Most of these courts had died out by the 18th century, their work having been superseded by the criminal courts.
Again the Court Leet was overseen by the Lord of the Manor or his Sheriff sitting with a Jury or homage. The Jury was usually made up of local freeholders, copyholders and leaseholders. Individual names can be found in the essoins (excuses) made by people for not attending and the amercements which record fines made against those for offending against the laws of the manor.
Manorial Court Rolls
The court rolls are perhaps the most important records from a genealogical view point as they can be used to trace an ancestor from their first tenancy through their heirs to the last of their descendants to hold the tenancy, including where ancestors moved and/or died.
The rolls (originally in rolls of parchment but often later in books) are the records of the business of the courts, essentially the minutes. The records can include status, trade or profession, livery, relationships, heirs and marriages and often name in-laws of ancestors. Signatures may be found in the records on most originals rolls and can be used to as evidence of literacy and existence at the date of the court’s meeting.
In the Court Baron, it is in the court rolls where property transactions (usually the surrender and admission of changes in tenancy), details of any fines paid and any relationship between the old and new tenant along with their ages, were recorded.
The fines or amercements imposed by the courts were also recorded in Estreat rollswhich include the names of the tenants, their offences and the amount paid.
From about the 14th century lists of tenants and the amount of rent in cash and/or produce they paid were recorded in Rentals or Rent rolls. They set out in detail exactly what was to be demanded of every landholder/occupier on the manor.
These recorded each tenant and their holdings along with their customary obligations as set out in “the custom of the manor”.
An extent was a list of every building and piece of land on the demesne (the land retained by the Lord of the Manors), but also included every labour service and rent due from tenants. Many Extents go further and cover all of the manor or large areas of it and not just the demesne.
Presentments are the steward’s contemporaneous written record he made as the court proceedings took place courts which were then written up in the court rolls or books as a fair copy. In many cases these contemporaneous records can include petitions by those claiming the right to be admitted to tenure along with their signatures or marks and signatures of witnesses which can yet be a further aid to identification or confirmation of existence of an ancestor.
I can’t believe we’re into week 5 of lock down, and three more weeks until there may be able change. I’m really hoping the kids will go back to school for the last half term (at the beginning of June). I think they will after all they have (or at least primary schools have) in a number of Europe countries (or are planning to in the next couple of weeks). It would be so nice for the kids to see their friends and end their school year properly before the summer holidays, which the government have already said will not change.
For now it’s back to homeschooling for 6 weeks until half term. BBC Bitesize started today with small chunks of curriculum based education aimed at specific age groups. James loved starting the day with that this morning, even Rose watched it! Another bonus this week – we get two slices of Maddie Moat – Lets Go Live in the morning and the new series of her “Do You Know” series on cbeebies. She really is brilliant, even I learn so much! 😁
Also will do our best to follow the timetable set by the teachers this week in the hope that it gives us a bit more structure….maybe not to the day but at least to the learning!
It was also time on Monday to make the now unavoidable trip to the supermarket to do some food shopping – we have managed two weeks but the cupboards were getting rather bare😂 Lunchtime is definitely the best to go – no queue and plenty of stock – there was nothing I didn’t manage to get albeit that on some items I had to buy a more expensive version but at least we should be ok now for another two(ish) weeks! It’s amazing how much more food we go through when we’re all home 24/7!
We did have a great time making paper mache and covering an empty plastic bottle – recycling 👍 Can you guess what we’re going to make…..all will be revealed later in the week when it’s dry and possibly coloured……….
The homeschooling theme for this week is the wonderful story “We’re going on a bear hunt” – so we recreated it….
This was great fun, they went round about 4 times! I did film them three times but this was the best. It was hilarious! They also did maps and a James did a story board….
Well, it’s Wednesday already – half way through the week – and homeschooling continues with sharing and halving
With yet more cake and bun baking too! At least the weather is warming up again albeit windy! We seem to be getting into a routine this week of homschooling in the morning with play/creative time in the afternoon (largely anyway!).
I did enjoy a run this morning on my own and I bet my personal best for my little 5k circuit – 22 mins! (previously 25 to 30 mins) Definitely getting fitter (I think!🤣) although really felt the hayfever this morning though in my breathing….whilst I like the warmer sunny weather I hate the pollen that comes with it!
I also managed to get my first watercolour painting done today in my little book I got at xmas – out in the garden whilst watching the kids play 😉 I am impressed with myself as never really been that good at painting!
So it’s now Sunday and the end of week five of lockdown and week 1 of the summer homeschooling term! What a week it has been. James seemed to lose interest in schooling after Wednesday even though we’ve only really been doing school work in the morning!
Not really sure what we have done in the second half of the week! Thursday morning Rose had a screaming melt down when we were moving the trampoline – I stood her on the mat we have on the ground round the ladder to the trampoline and she started scream because of ants – there were none about but she really lost the plot! 😱😵 She is turning into a bit of a diva at the moment! Maybe she’s missing the one to one attention she had got used to on the days she was at home with me and James was at school….. its hard to give each of them that one to one attention at the moment – both here all the time with just me most of the time to do things with them even though Graeme is working at home. I find I’m getting so tired by the latter half of the week. Why can’t they just do things on their own without needed one of us to interact with them all the time. I’m sure when I was a child, my brother and I didn’t have mum and dad playing with us all the time???
School are setting work in a different way this next week, rather than been in year groups it will be by key stage so we will see what that brings and whether it helps James maintain more interest in school work for longer. Waiting for the information to go on the website – why they wait until what feels like mid morning on a Monday to put it up and not on a Friday so we can get organised is beyond me and frustrating but hay ho! Lets just hope they;re back at school part time in some way after spring bank half term!
Easter Sunday was hard for me – I was extremely tried having spent Saturday night in the tent with Rose – she slept brilliantly. Me – didn’t sleep a wink! 🥱😴😥 BUT, here we are at the start of the 4th week of Covid-19 lock down. It’s Monday 13th April 2020 – Easter Monday – and my last day to get some research done before Graeme is back at work (from home) tomorrow and I’m back in charge of the kids 🤣😂
It started well, getting back into running after a week off because my knees were suffering from too much playing on the trampoline with the kids! and having my own brick wall break through which felt like a minor eureka moment – those family researchers will understand I’m sure! A great start to the week. Now I need to go through the rest of my 300+ DNA matches and family tree and check where there may be errors in my early research or new leads to trace family further back. I think I’ve already found on error which I need to follow up!
I also started to get organised with paperwork, printing off and cataloguing numerous lecture/workshop/webinar notes from various events last year – many from Rootstech London which, despite having a ticket, a missed because the kids were both poorly and just wanted mummy! Still haven’t read most of them but at least now there is more of a chance with them printed off – I hate reading stuff on the computer screen!
Also getting a bit more organised ready for revision for my IHGS exam which is supposed to take place on the 13th June – still no definite decision if/when it will go ahead or be postponed until later in the year/November. I was really psyched up for it before all these new restrictions on our lives, with a revision timetable set out for when the kids should have been returning back to school/preschool next week (after the Easter hols) and in some ways I still hope it goes ahead sooner rather than later but on the other hand, I really can’t see when I’m going to get any meaningful revision in at the moment until the schools are allowed to go back so also hoping it is postponed!
As for the kids, well they’ve not been too back this week. James joined me for my run on Wednesday morning – he was on his bike not running with me! 🤣 It did slow me up a bit and I’m not sure it will happen every time but it was good for him I think.
With the weather not been quite as sunny and warm this week we’ve been inside a bit more. James has got back into doing a bit of school work and has really enjoyed the dino week with Lets Go Live with Maddy and Greg making his own fossil rocks and mummy and baby dinosaur
I have also had them back in the kitchen baking…..oh the diet we will all be on when life starts to get back to normal 🤣🤣🤣
We’ve also been making a different use for jenga blocks and started a new lego tower challenge
On Friday morning, James decided he wanted to try and run with me rather than cycle along with me….he managed half a km! 🤣 and decided he’d come on his bike with me in the future…but at least that’s his physical education sorted! 🚲
The weekend gave me a chance to catch up and complete my revision notes, spurred on by a virtual AGRA South Central networking meeting on Friday. After a few technical glitches! it was lovely to see everyone and catch up. Looking forward to more in the future until we can all meet again in person. I feel rather ‘out of’ the genealogy world at the moment, with little time and space to crack on with revision leaving me feeling rather deflated about the whole thing! Hopefully some virtual revision sessions can be organised with my revision group and spur me on again!
I did get time for a further look at my DNA ancestors over the weekend and checked out some of the virtual family tree live lectures – so sad that such a great event had to be cancelled in the fantastic building that is Alexander Palace. There will always (hopefully) be next year.
I am getting there (I think) with understanding the DNA ancestry although, to be honest, I’m really not that interested in it other than to break down any brick walls. It is great for checking your traditional research is correct, but again going back in time, the connections are only as good as the paper trail research. It is always tempting to accept research of others where there are a large number of trees with the same information but there is always the risk that many of those trees have just copied from each other and not actually done the paper research themselves….if there are no sources, do not accept it …is my motto! Do the research yourself, otherwise what fun is there in it?
I also got to practice some calligraphy – I won’t say ‘skill’s yet as they are definitely in training! Although I discovered that to practice properly I do need some proper calligraphy paper that does not cause the ink to bleed…..amazon shopping! 🤣
I also finished my first Nathan Dylan Goodwin novel “The Missing Man” which I was bought for my birthday. A great read thoroughly enjoyed! Can’t wait to get started on my next – “The Stirling Affair” also bought for my birthday 😁 I guess I know what sill be on my xmas list!
Monday is the start of the summer school term, so it’s back to homeschooling…..lets see how this goes!
My maternal grandmothers paternal family have always been a mystery in our family. My great grandfather was Fred Sheard Oldfield. His mother, May Ann Turner was married to Tom Oldfield but he was not named on the Fred’s birth or marriage certificate.
We also could not figure out where the name ‘Sheard’ came from. However, after my recent studies and further insight into how names came about (and in many ways probably still do) and my research into his mother, Mary Ann, found her living as a ‘House keeper’ for Fred Sheard in the 1901 census, the conclusion drawn was that Fred Sheard was most likely Fred Sheard Oldfield’s father.
It was also discovered that Fred Sheard was lodging with Mary Ann’s brother in the 1891 census. Fred Sheard was said to be born in about 1863 in or around Huddersfield, according to the census returns.
But how to find his parents? There were just too many possibilities to be sure of the right family based on traditional records research alone. So, unfortunately my Nanna died is 2012 so the closest relative I could obtain a DNA specimen from was her youngest sister, my great aunt Janie, who my mum is very close to. She was very willing and the test was carried out in Summer 2019. It has however taken me until now to get round to studying those results and searching for a DNA connection to try and resolve this brick wall.
This morning, East Monday during the Corona virus lock down 2020, I decided to tackle it and what a eureka moment! Within minutes I had found DNA matches with a number of cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd including some of them being 1x or 2x removed) to my great aunt…and these were on her paternal side with the common ancestor being my great x4 grandfather through the mother of Fred Sheard 😁😍🧬
This has enabled me to locate his mother and father using traditional research methods – Ann Goldthorpe and Joseph Sheard who married in 1843. Fred was their youngest child of five. Unfortunately as yet there does not appear to be any DNA matches through the paternal side, Joseph, but traditional records research names his father as David. There are a number of possible alternatives for which couple are his parents – David and Mary or David and Hannah. I think it is David and Mary but there is insufficient information, being prior to useful census records and the introduction of civil registration, to confirm this. They all live in a similar area!
So, another small brick wall is built on this paternal side, although I am sure as more DNA results are available this will be broken down – or further traditional research at the archives when I can travel to Yorkshire on the other side of these Corona virus times!
What I doubt I’ll ever find, is a photograph of Fred Sheard 😢
In the meantime it is on to checking the rest of my DNA matches 😊
Well, this has been a tough week, particularly the first half. I was tired, tetchy and tearful but some good did come out of it – a heart to heart with my son, James, who so far has generally been really good and strong but he finally had some tears with me on Tuesday lunchtime opening up to missing his friends, school and his teachers. It is so tough for all of us but for those in reception class, just starting out in their school life and finding their way in making friends, it must be hard to have that all suddenly taken away from them. It is going to be a sad end to their first year at school unlikely to return before the summer break and therefore missing out on some important summer events such as school sports day etc.
I did really help him though when later that afternoon, one of his friends who lives just near us was going for their daily exercise with her family and we were able to stop them and have a chat (across the road of course). It was lovely for James to see her.
One thing that wasn’t helping my mood and ability to cope was hubby working from home in our conservatory which is open plan to our kitchen and a thorough fare to the garden. Also many of the children’s toys etc are in there. And whilst it may not have bothered him, it bothered me! The constant not knowing if he was a video call and trying not to make too much noise was beginning to strain on me…..So I banished him and his home office to our sons bedroom where there is a desk which my son never really uses yet and he con continue working in peace with us know that when he’s out of the room he’s having a break and we can make as much noise as we want downstairs. This really has helped the second half of the week.
God it’s so tiring though constantly trying to think of things to entertain them both and maintain that entertainment. our three year old daughter, as with most three year olds, has the concentration span of a gnat 🤣🤣🤣🤣. On Thursday I set out an obstacle course for them in the garden …they loved it but it only held their attention for about 20 mins (wow that long some may say!) and rather than me being able to relax and watch them, I think I found it more exhausting than them following them around resetting all the obstacles…….hmmm
I also discovered how to make paint. Paint is generally banished from our house because of all the mess they make – they do have a small set of watercolour each. we had bought a long roll of paper for them to use in the summer outside for messy painting but I hadn’t got around to buying any paint yet…..so why not make your own – all you need is sugar, salt, cornflour, water and food colouring. It went a bit lump but they didn’t mind, made a lovely mess with foot prints and did keep them entertained for quite a while!
It’s Easter Saturday as I’m writing this and it feels like a Sunday, in fact yesterday even felt like a Sunday…everyday feels like a perpetual Sunday at the moment! It’s been a long week! I’ve actually ventured out to the supermarket this week – twice! And yes they were both for essentials – the second to try and get stuff I couldn’t get the first time and plan for the next week! I’m still getting used to how much more food we are going through with everyone been at home 24/7! Still not flour though 😪 And now were are out of plain flour and bread flour.
I can cope without both for now but the kids really enjoyed making their own pizza base for tea on Thursday and their own bread rolls for their bbq burgers yesterday! They also really enjoyed making chocolate crispy buns 😋😋😋
In many ways it is great to have such lovely weather at the moment, the kids can play outside. As it was Good Friday they couldn’t wait to get started on the Easter egg hunts round the garden and start tucking into their Easter eggs – well in these strange times why not start early its Easter weekend, why wait until Sunday! They have 2 eggs each so the rule is they can have half an egg a day over the 4 day weekend (not to be eaten all at once though) and before they get any they have to complete the egg hunt and James has to spell out the word(s)/phrase they make up! Make them work for their eggs!!!!
I spent Good Friday sat outside in the garden with the computer yesterday doing some work … daddy is not working which means I can catch up on things I want to do!…. which was great because it meant I could still watch what the kids were doing to with daddy – mainly putting the tent up so James and Daddy could sleep in it last night! We weren’t sure how that would go as last time they tried it neither got much sleep (it was two years ago though so James was only 3 years old). Thankfully both got a good night sleep – better than me in fact I was too hot and just could not get to sleep after being woken up early in my slumber because Rose had fallen out of bed!!!!!
What was lovely, was the sound of an Owl hooting on our tree in the middle of the night 😃🦉
It was also lovely to skype my parents again and see that they are keeping well and not going out – well they are of course enjoying their own garden and getting cracking on jobs which may otherwise have been left until later in the year – or not got done🤣 They should have been spending Easter down here in Surrey with us but that is of course just not to be. I really hope we can get to see them over the summer and it is not Christmas before we see them which would be a whole year….living 200 miles away from us in Yorkshire it may still be difficult to see them once the lockdown measures start easing😪
And oh I am so fed up of the journalists and others asking the government when they are likely to be eased……just look at Italy and Spain who have been in lockdown almost twice as long as us and only just starting to think about it…and then Wohan where is all began – three months in and they are just easing back into a ‘normal’ life yet other regions of China are only just seeing the worst of the virus….come on guys stop asking the same old questions when you know the answers! I am sure the government are discussing and planning for easing the lockdown but are not going to say anything about them for fear some of the public might think its OK to flout the rules…even more so than some have still been doing! I’m sure the politicians are growing tired of the same old questions!
And whilst on the note of politicians, great to hear our PM is on the mend and able to walk a short distance….home before you know it but please ease yourself slowly back into the job of PM! 😘
The down side to this nice weather – HAYFEVER – with a vengeance!!!!! James is particularly suffering all of a sudden but hopefully the medicine will help slowly. I always find it takes a while for the antihistamines to really help control hayfever symptoms 😌
So I said I was outside in the garden working on my computer yesterday – one of my many tasks to work on my own family tree – going through all those new Ancestry hints, updating checking and amending information and records – I found a couple of errors but nothing major thankfully. I covered up to and including my great x3 grandparents – concentrating on my direct line for now! Its a long job – and that’s just the records on Ancestry – I also use Family Search and Find My Past websites! And then there’s the DNA results to go through – 300+ possible distant cousins! 😮🤣 But first of all to finish the remainder of my great grandparents (x4, x5 etc)! So let me get cracking……..
Happy Easter Everyone – a very different one not to be forgotten!