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Read All About It!

Wed, 20/02/2019 - 08:20

I do love historic newspapers and I’m always amazed just how many of my ancestors (or anyone’s ancestors for that matter) get into them! They are such a wonderful resource and so many are now online that it is just too tempting to get side-tracked by the wealth of stories and trivia that they supply.

For example, when searching the British Newspaper Archive my friend and genealogical partner in crime, Jill, recently found a wonderful article from 1891 relating to the street where she lived, which detailed a tragic death of a woman who succumbed to a heart attack after a slightly ill-judged feat on an American Trapeze (the American Trapeze appears to have been more like a Zip Wire than a circus trapeze). The lady in question, who appeared to have been more amply proportioned than might have been advisable for this rather hazardous entertainment, had been slightly injured, a fact which came out of the coroner’s inquest. This inquest was reported in great detail in the newspaper – right down to the “He Said, She Said” minutiae of the court in ascertaining whether the injury was a contributing factor to her death. It was a fascinating, if somewhat bizarre, account.

It’s easy to forget in this age of social media and instant news that in addition to headlines and reportage, newspapers were once a local repository for gossip and scandal. The smallest events were reported and names listed for a variety of reasons. For example, let’s look at agricultural labourers.

I’ve a great fondness for our ag lab ancestors but appreciate that it can be difficult to trace them sometimes. However, after a number of years studying the movement of agricultural workers from a village on the Hampshire/Surrey border, I’ve discovered that many of them appeared in local newspapers for a variety of reasons.

Considering that agricultural labourers worked exhausting jobs for horrendously long hours and earned little money, it is not surprising that they kicked back at the weekend, which could often involve a fair amount of drinking and possibly a little good natured (ahem!) gambling. Beer was relatively cheap and easy to obtain and therefore it was fairly inevitable that drunkenness fuelled a lot of disagreements until fights broke out or horseplay turned to something more serious. Newspaper reports suggest that quite a number of rural workers cut loose at the weekends to indulge in drinking and occasionally fighting.

Headley is a Hampshire village which borders Surrey. It was (and still is) a primarily agricultural area and the majority of its 19th century workforce were involved in agriculture in some form or fashion. However, newspaper reports show us that despite its tranquil, rural appearance, its inhabitants were not above kicking over the traces after a hard day at work. For example, publican James Marshall was fined for not just being drunk but allowing drunkenness on his licensed premises. James Burrows had his leg broken in a drunken row in October 1884; in the same year George Fullick was fined for drunken behaviour with several companions; Richard Birmingham a labourer, was charged with being drunk and creating a disturbance at Headley in 1887. Again, in the same year, William Bone of Headley charged with being drunk while in charge of a horse.

Possibly one of my favourite Headley incidents was a report in 1887 when Frederick Coombes, alias Heather was charged with being drunk and incapable (and I quote):

Defendant: I was not drunk. You said I was and I said “Well, then, I can’t help it”. He was fined 6d and 6s costs.

It’s an interesting line of defence, albeit not a terribly successful one!

Our ag lab ancestors didn’t just spend their time drinking too much and fighting, they were often reported in the newspapers for good things too! The Hampshire Chronicle of Saturday 9 November 1861 reported that the 2nd prize for the under 18 ploughmen was taken by a George Brown, ploughman for Mr J R Neate of Northington Farm, using a Tasker’s Plough, and that John Holley, G Tiddy and C Knott all walked away with prizes in the “Four Sorts of Vegetables grown by Farm Labourers Only” category in the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Horticultural Society Annual Exhibition (Hampshire Chronicle 20 August 1887).

In addition to the British Newspaper Archive, 19th century newspapers and Welsh newspapers can also be searched online (don’t panic, some are in English!). You can also search a variety of Australian and American newspapers through the Trove website and the Chronicling America website at the National Library of Congress, respectively.

Searching the newspapers can be very rewarding and it is wonderful to use online newspapers in that you can search for people and events by name. However a word of caution!

The reason we can search newspapers, etc by word is that the system uses something called Optical Character Recognition (or OCR). Now, OCR is a pretty amazing thing BUT it is not infallible. OCR doesn’t READ the documents; it simply looks for images or patterns and shapes of words. For this reason, it doesn’t always pick up on text which is in italics or if the quality of the original is poor. Newspapers (generally) are printed on cheap, recycled paper and deteriorate quite quickly. Newsprint fades over time and if the originals were not kept well, the ink eats into the paper causing ‘bleeding’. Some newspaper offices kept their bound ‘back copies’ in damp cellars, which caused even more problems.

Coupled with this, some of the datasets used previously microfilmed images, which again distorts the image slightly. It’s not a great cocktail and OCR is not great on picking up on fuzzy images!

Also, some OCR doesn’t always pick up words written in capitals or italics. Given that the names of many petty criminals and witnesses are often written in italics, this can be a problem. Try searching for the village or area your ancestor came from, or browse specific newspapers from specific dates. Who knows, you may find a trapeze artist of your very own!

Happy Researching!

PS: Don’t forget, you can search the British Newspaper Archive free of charge here at Surrey History Centre. We also hold a variety of Surrey newspapers on microfilm for you to explore.

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Farewell Rosie

Tue, 19/02/2019 - 14:12

“Where has the time gone?”… This seems to be my most frequently asked question this month as my time working on ‘The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote’ project at Surrey History Centre draws to a close. I have been involved with the project for just under 18 months but I have much to reflect on in that short time as I think back to the many things we have accomplished.

Rosie with students from Winston Churchill School, Woking (click images to enlarge)

At the beginning of the project I worked with playwright Grant Watson to run a series of school workshops with students from three local secondary schools to produce a radio play podcast about the suffrage movement in Surrey. In the first session the students visited us for a behind-the-scenes tour of Surrey History Centre and a first-hand look at the records we hold relating to the women’s suffrage campaign. As I explained to their astonishment just how different life was for women, not so very long ago, in terms of education, pay, opportunities, expectations and voting rights, the importance of this project truly began to resonate with me. Passing on these stories to the next generation became incredibly important.

Grant and I then visited each school individually where the students reimagined debates around votes for women in the classroom involving characters from a broad range of viewpoints and backgrounds. The final piece was captured at a recording studio in Woking where some students took speaking parts and others enjoyed making the sound effects.

Fittingly, the play was launched at Epsom racecourse where we were able to lay flowers at the plaque which commemorates the spot where suffragette Emily Wilding Davison famously stepped out onto the race course at the 1913 Derby and was knocked down by the King’s horse, Anmer, leading to fatal injuries. I had never visited this significant location before so I was moved to see it in person and share that experience with the students.

Students at the Emily Wilding Davison plaque with Rosie and Grant, Epsom Racecourse, 8 May 2018

Shortly afterwards I was invited to attend the Vote 100 reception at the Houses of Parliament where I began to get a flavour of the level of interest and passion people had for the topic. I knew I wanted to do the suffragettes and suffragists of Surrey justice by sharing their stories through the project and I was delighted to discover that there would be an audience eager to hear them.

With this in mind I set about cataloguing some of the important records held at Surrey History Centre. One of my favourite things about being an archivist is that you never stop learning and this project has been particularly enlightening. Through enhancing the catalogue of the papers of Haslemere suffragist Dorothy Hunter (1881-1977) I discovered what it must have been like to stand up for what you believe in as a young women in the early twentieth century.

Miss Dorothy Hunter, nd [c.1890] (SHC ref 1260/84)

Dorothy Hunter was the daughter of Sir Robert Hunter, co-founder of the National Trust, who had a highly successful career as a ‘girl orator’ (public speaker) between 1904 and 1910. By the tender age of twenty three, Dorothy had gained a reputation as an authoritative speaker on free trade and the enfranchisement of women who ‘could not fail to throw light on any subject’. Her papers include newspaper cuttings which give us an insight into her talents as a speaker (SHC ref 1260/33). One even went so far as to describe her as ‘what the Americans would call “a spellbinder”’. I was disheartened to see that some other newspapers chose to dedicate their column inches to her feminine appearance. In 1906 the Daily Express observed, ‘it was not only that she spoke well but she looked so young and charming. Her figure is girlish, and her hair is fair and pretty. She wore a simple white blouse, and no jewellery of any kind, and seemed almost like a schoolgirl’. This child-like description felt so unjust when she was tackling issues of such importance but indicative of the time. Nonetheless, her determination is inspiring.

On 22 July 1913 she spoke at a public meeting held in North Street, Guildford, to celebrate the arrival of suffragists travelling through the county to Hyde Park on the Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage. It was thought to be the largest public meeting ever held in Guildford with a crowd numbering 8,000 people. Dorothy gave a half hour address but the mood of the audience very quickly took a rowdy turn with some men loudly singing “Oh, you beautiful doll” over her speech. Before long the police closed the meeting for fear of riot as there had been much heckling and the speakers’ wagonette had nearly been overturned. This important moment in Guildford’s history was reimagined by the students in the radio play which really brought to life the challenges that suffragist women faced – often mistaken for militant suffragettes or simply disregarded for their femininity.

I will be leaving the project to return to my former employer Berkshire Record Office in Reading where I have accepted a permanent role as Archivist. I will very much miss working with the team at Surrey History Centre and I certainly won’t forget the inspiring campaigners in Surrey that I have learnt about during my time here. I will have to make sure I visit the site where Dorothy Hunter addressed the crowd at the Reading Women’s Suffrage Society in 1907 whilst I’m exploring the area.

As I pass the University of Reading I will also think of the intriguing letter Dorothy received from fellow suffragist Katharine L Hart Davis of University College, Reading, in 1907. Katherine wrote, ‘Alas! My little “suffragette” lived about 2 wks happily in the Laboratory & then suddenly & totally disappeared – I missed her sadly!’. We can only assume ‘suffragette’ was a name for a lab rat or pet but it caused amusement in the office nonetheless! I have found in my career that archivists carry all sorts of unusual stories or anecdotes with them, collected from the various papers that they’ve worked on, and I certainly won’t forget some of the tales I have picked up here.

Rosie at the Houses of Parliament

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues Di, Juliet, Robert and Mike for their support and encouragement from day one of the project. Working at Surrey History Centre has provided me with fascinating insight into how archives can engage with the local community in new and innovative ways through projects such as this and long may it continue!

Although I will be leaving there are many elements to the project that will continue on. Holly will be returning to her role as Project Officer for the final stretch so please do contact Surrey History Centre at shs@surreycc.gov.uk or 01483 518737 with your enquiries or if you have any information about the women’s suffrage movement in Surrey that you would like to contribute to the project.

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The Mystery of Oatlands Park Gates Part 2

Fri, 15/02/2019 - 10:30

The following has been written by a guest blogger, Chris Reynolds, who started at SCC as Historic Buildings Assistant last year. Chris advises SCC on what makes historic buildings important and how works may affect their significance. The below case was generated as a result of work funded by the residents of Lakeside Grange with a contribution offered by the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust and Elmbridge Borough Council.

3903/1 Photograph of the Oatlands Park Gates c1890. Copyright: Surrey History Centre

In the last blog we looked at the case of the Oatlands Park Gates, a Grade II listed set of gates described as dating from the early 19th century. Following paint analysis carried out on the railings, it was established that the gates were relocated from the end of Oatlands Drive to their current location when the Oatlands Park Hotel opened in 1858. At this time the gates were raised in height and decorative scrollwork inserted into each arch. However, while the blog identified why the gates were relocated and altered, it did not explain the other mystery revealed as part of the paint analysis report: The railings had layers of beige and grey paint, more typical of the mid to late 18th century; not in keeping with the information in the list description. The aim of this blog will be to try and establish when the gates were erected and who designed them.

SHC PX155/52 Engraving by Letitia Byrne of Oatlands Park Gates. Copyright: Surrey History Centre.

The earliest image we have for the gates dates from 1822 and was engraved by Letitia Byrne. Finding information earlier than this date is challenging and relies more heavily on archival research. This is particularly case with maps which become more sketchy prior to Tithe Maps of the 1840s. Estate maps are often a useful source, and in this case one exists showing Oatlands in 1788 when it was purchased by the Duke of York (SHC 2784/51/4/18). The road layout is similar to that on the Tithe Map and sale plans of the 1840s, suggesting the gates were in place by that point.

The only map earlier than the 1788 estate map is Rocque’s map of Surrey published in 1768. Again, this has the same layout as the estate map, suggesting the gates were in place. Furthermore, there are a couple of small black dots on the map either side of Oatlands Drive which could be the gate piers, but concluding this is the case is a dubious assertion at best. Instead, it is necessary to look at the various landscape architects who worked on Oatlands Park during the 18th and 19th centuries to see if their design can give us any clues to their origin.

Rocque’s Map of 1768 showing two small black dots either side of Oatlands Drive, possibly the gates although it is highly unlikely. Copyright: Surrey Historic Environment Record

In his review of the park, Nikolaus Pevsner noted that the gates most likely dated from the late 18th century when Henry Holland rebuilt parts of the house following a fire in 1794. However, there does not appear to be any evidence that Holland did any work aside from rebuilding the house. Other examples of Holland’s gates and lodges, such as the lodges at Claremont House nearby or Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, differ radically in their design, suggesting that Holland could not have been responsible for the work.

Lodges for Claremont House designed by architect Henry Holland have very little similarity with the Oatlands Park Gates. Copyright: C Reynolds

A more likely architect would be the notable landscape designer William Kent. Kent had strong links with Henry Pelham-Clinton, the 2nd Duke of Newcastle, who commissioned work at Oatlands Park from the 1740s. Some of the most notable examples of Kent’s work were carried out at Stowe during the 1730s where he built a range of structures including the Oxford Gate, an image of which appeared in a collection of his work published by John Vardy in 1744. Notably, the design of the gate is almost exactly the same as that engraved by Letitia Byrne in 1822. Therefore, it would not be surprising if Kent designed the gate, particularly as he wrote to the Duke of Newcastle’s wife in 1745 stating that he was ‘glad to contribute anything that may be a pleasure in assisting adorne your place’ (Newcastle Collection Ne C 3111).

Image of ‘A Gateway with it’s [sic] Plan for Lord Cobham’ of Stowe from ‘Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent’ by John Vardy (1744). No Copyright

So does the publication by Vardy mean the gates were designed by Kent? Well… no. Work on Oatlands Park started around 1747 and Kent died in April 1748 so his involvement is highly unlikely. Instead research by garden historian Michael Symes suggests that much of the work at Oatlands Park was carried out by Kent’s assistant Stephen Wright. Wright worked as a measurer from 1741 and took over Kent’s work following his death in 1748. He was perfectly placed to take over the work on Oatlands: he was Clerk of Works at Hampton Court Palace from 1746, had the same post at Richmond New Park Lodge from 1754, and worked at Claremont for the 1st Duke of Newcastle from 1750.
Symes notes in his research that Wright appears in the Newcastle family financial accounts in relation to Oatlands from 1757 and also designed the grotto at the estate (demolished in 1947). Significantly, Wright copied features from Stowe designed by Kent and rebuilt them at Oatlands, including the Temples of Venus and Ancient Virtue. On this basis it would seem most likely that Wright copied the design from the Oxford Gate at Stowe.

The central piers at Stowe School are the same as those at Oatlands Park. The Copyright: Entrance to Stowe School by Steve Daniels

Much of the original Oxford Gates at Stowe was lost when they were relocated and now only the main piers survive. One could argue that the drawing was mislabelled as Stowe and was actually of the gates at Oatlands. However, this argument is dashed by evidence at another estate owned by the Duke of Newcastle: Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. Less detailed accounts for this estate survive, but it is clear that Wright was involved by 1769, sometime after Kent had died, and notably during the period when the Drayton Gate at the estate was constructed. The gate is yet another copy of the original Oxford Gate by Kent featuring the same vermiculated banding, voussoirs and finials. This demonstrates that Wright had a history of re-creating Kent’s work and it would not be unusual for him to have constructed the gates at Oatlands Park. On this basis there is enough evidence to conclude Wright constructed the gates based on a design by William Kent.

The Drayton Gate at Clumber Park is another copy of the original Oxford Gate. Copyright: Entrance to Clumber Park by Graham Hogg

The mystery of the Oatlands Park Gates is an excellent example of how a small piece of analysis can lead to a fundamental re-evaluation of a heritage asset’s significance. Prior to having paint analysis carried out, it was assumed that the Oatlands Park Gates were early 19th century gates in their original location. As these blog posts have shown, this is far from the case. Not only were the gates moved, but their form was also changed to accommodate their increase in height. The railings also date from much earlier than expected and are rare examples of Georgian ironwork, installed during the landscaping of the Oatlands Park Estate in the 1750s and 1760s. Perhaps most exciting of all is that the Oatlands Park Gates were built to the designs of notable landscape architect William Kent and overseen by his assistant Stephen Wright. This provides us with valuable information about the history of the Oatlands Estate but also relationship between architects and their assistants. Hopefully, examples such as the Oatlands Park Gates will encourage other owners to have paint analysis carried out and reveal information about the history of their properties.

The post The Mystery of Oatlands Park Gates Part 2 appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

The Mystery of Oatlands Park Gates Part 1

Tue, 12/02/2019 - 15:20
By Chris Reynolds
Historic Buildings Assistant

It is sometimes the case that an unusual or scarcely employed analytical technique can reveal hidden information about Surrey’s heritage assets and lead us to completely re-evaluate their significance. In this blog post we look at the mysterious case of the Grade II listed Oatlands Park Gates and what paint analysis revealed about their history.

The Grade II listed Oatlands Park Gates are located in front of the Oatlands Park Hotel. Copyright: C Reynolds

Earlier this year the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust offered a grant to have paint analysis carried out on the railings of the Oatlands Park Gates. Little was known of their history and it was assumed that they were later replacements. The use of paint analysis offered a rare opportunity to find out whether any of the railings were original and how they had been altered over time.
Paint analysis is a fascinating technique which examines fragments of paint under high magnification with a polarising light microscope to identify paint layers. This information is often lost when railings are sandblasted before being primed for a new coat of paint. Analysis provides vital information about the colour schemes used by Georgian and Victorian architects and challenges the assumption that all railings were historically painted black. In this instance the report showed a range of colours had been used since the railings were erected and that the first colour scheme of the gates in their current form was dark green.

Layer of paint fragments under high magnification. The green, grey and beige (stone) colours are at the bottom. The first layer of green for the gates in their current form is seven layers from the bottom above a layer of white primer and a dark grey undercoat. Copyright: C Hassall Paint Analysis

To our surprise, the results showed something unexpected: the railings with the gilded finials (in the centre and in both arches) had earlier paint layers than the overthrow scrollwork. This included green, beige (stone coloured) and grey layers of paint. This suggested two things: first, the overthrow scrollwork in each arch was later than the rest of the railings and secondly that the railings with the gilded finials could date from the mid to late 18th century as beige and grey paint is a key dating feature from this period. This was particularly surprising as the list description for the gates said they were from the early 19th century (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1377452). Further research was needed to clarify when the gates were constructed.

The overthrow scrollwork on the gates was not original, but the sections with gilded finials (left) were. Copyright: C Reynolds

In the first instance we turned to historic maps to see if they could provide any information about the age of the gates. While they appeared in their current location on Edward Ryde’s 1864-65 survey of Walton and Weybridge (SHC 602/Roll 6), there was no sign of them, or the road they are located on, on the 1843 Tithe Map. So where did they come from?

EM 2.1949 Sale plan of Oatlands Estate, showing lots into which estate was divided by Messrs Driver (1846) showing the location of gates in Weybridge. Copyright: Elmbridge Museum

This part of the mystery was solved by a chance discovery. The owner of Oatlands at this time, Edward Hughes Ball Hughes, fled to France in 1829 to avoid his creditors and instructed his agents to sell off parcels of land. One of the maps showing land sales, dated 1846, included the positioning of the gates near Weybridge at the modern day end to Oatlands Drive. Other contemporary reports also provided evidence that the gates were in this location at least until the early 1850s including references in Felix Summerly’s Pleasure Excursions: Walton and Weybridge (1847) and William Keane’s Beauties of Surrey (1849). It would therefore seem likely the gates were relocated when the house opened as a hotel in 1858 and the overthrow scrollwork inserted at this time.

Further evidence for this was found in research carried out by local historian M E Blackman. Blackman transcribed a tender from a J A Willans [sic] dated 22nd July 1830 for works to the gates at the park. This was for:
Cleaning down the Portico at Jones’ Gate, repairing the stonework to [the same] and five other gates, rehanging the gates and repairing the [same] and the locks. Painting over the palisades and the gates and wings of the [same]. Three oils and finished green. £18. 0s. 0d.’

This layer of green paint can be seen in the paint analysis report and is the last layer of paint before the scrollwork was inserted, confirming the scrollwork could not pre-date 1830. However, what the report does not tell us is why the scrollwork was inserted in the first place.

SHC 6516/2/173 Chertsyana Volume 2: Drawing Showing the Entrance from Weybridge to Oatlands Park. Copyright: Surrey History Centre

SHC PX155/52 Engraving by Letitia Byrne of Oatlands Park Gates dated 1822. Copyright: Surrey History Centre.

The information became clear from drawings held in the Surrey History Centre. In 1822 the Duke of York opened Oatlands Park to members of the public and produced a guide of features to see, including the Entrance from Weybridge (SHC 6516/2/173). Another image engraved by Letitia Byrne from the same date (SHC PX/155/52) shows the gates in more detail.

On the whole these drawings are largely the same as the gates in their current form, the key difference being that an extra plinth has been added to the gates to make them appear grander. This change in height meant the railings with the gilded finials at the sides would have been too small to fill each arch. For this reason it was necessary to insert the scrollwork which can still be seen today.

Edited photograph showing which elements of the gates were inserted (red) when they were relocated c1858. Photograph edited by A Dearlove

The paint analysis carried out on the Oatlands Park Gates revealed information about their history which had been hitherto unknown. Not only were the gates not in their original location, but they had also be been altered to make them appear grander. This information would not have been obvious without the paint analysis report which highlighted that some sections of railings had more paint than others. However, at this point in the research it was still unclear why the railings had layers of beige and grey paint as these were more typical of the mid to late 18th century. This required more archival research and will be the subject of the next blog post.

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Working Women

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 07:49

Working Women

Portrait taken at Langdale Studio, Westway, Caterham. Standing woman wearing nurse’s uniform (labelled ‘Lane’), 1903 (SHC Ref 4209_3_134_35)

My friend is taking an online course with through Royal Holloway, University of London on the History of Women’s Rights. It looks fascinating and, of course, very topical just now. As she was telling me about the course, and as we are both ridiculously obsessed family historians, we got to chatting about the women in our own family trees and their place in a very male dominated society.

Among my friend’s 18th and 19th century female antecedents are a pawnbroker, a publican, a nurse, a milliner and one ran a Ragged School. In my own family, my great-grandmother ran a theatrical boarding house and my grandmother danced in a chorus line.

We are often guilty of assuming that women played a fairly minor role in the workplace but that isn’t always the case.

Just for fun (yes, I know, I’ve an odd notion of what is ‘fun’!) I started to play around with a few statistics gleaned from the census on Ancestry.co.uk.  The 1911 census is good to look at because people were describing their own occupations. Some of these have been amended by the enumerator but by and large, we get a far better picture of what people actually did than previous census returns. Out of a sample of 39,523 working women living in Surrey, I found the following:

Not surprisingly, most of the women are working in service but there are some other occupations which indicate that women are playing a pretty important role as breadwinners. Now, please don’t take these figures as anything but a bit of playing around on Ancestry.com as I’ve been very broad with some of my searching and not checked every single entry, but it does rather make you realise that there are some interesting women out there!

(Incidentally, before everyone writes to tell me that ‘Dressmaker’ was a euphemism for a ‘lady of the night’ I have assumed that they are mostly telling the truth!)

It’s hard to garner any similar statistics from the other census returns but I did make a search for female servants in other years with the following results:

It’s interesting that there is a sharp rise in domestic servants in the latter part of the 19th century. There was a severe agricultural depression in the second half of the 19th century which may well have prompted women who would have normally worked on the land to seek employment elsewhere. It is worth remembering that even fairly low income families would strive to employ a servant so the market for female workers in this respect would have been fairly good.

The social historian Pamela Horn has written several books on servants and their place in 19th century society and I thoroughly recommend raiding your local library for them as they make fascinating reading!

Prior to the 1911 census, women were at the mercy of the enumerators and much the same as ‘Ag Labs’ their precise occupations tended to be largely ignored. I suspect that unless they were widowed or single, their contribution to the household economy was glossed over and thus we probably have any number of married women who simply don’t show up as workers.

However, women have always worked in one capacity or another. I suspect that many 19th century married women, despite the conventions of the time suggesting otherwise, were involved in many other occupations and certainly many took in washing, minded children and went out char-ring.
The further back we go the more difficult it is to find any evidence of women’s occupations but wills can be a good source.

When Ann Burgen, widow of John Burgen of Bermondsey [Pawnbroker] died in 1730 she left “…to my sister Mary Adams wife of Cornelius Adams of Bermondsey, mariner all money and all my goods to be managed by her in business of lending money on pledges which I now follow…”. You can see a full transcription of this will here at the History Centre or online at www.findmypast.co.uk. The will doesn’t mention sums but seems probably that Ann was leaving a fairly respectable amount.

These are the documented instances of women working but, as I have outlined above, I think it is safe to say that women were doing a lot more than dusting off cobwebs and raising children in their lives. It’s just a shame that it’s a difficult one to prove!

Has anyone found any interesting women’s occupations in their research? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy Researching!


PS:  Thank you to everyone who braved the icy weather to join us on the Researching Your Family History Online workshop last Saturday!  I had a great time (despite the frosty conditions) and hope you did too!  Don’t forget that there are lots more family history workshops on offer on the Surrey History Centre website!

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LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) History Month 2019

Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:36
History II – Peace, Reconciliation and Activism

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) History Month takes place every year in February and celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. This is an opportunity to learn more about the histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Surrey and elsewhere.

The national theme for 2019 is ‘History II: Peace, Reconciliation, and Activism’ marking the 100th anniversary of the official end of the First World War. Our display looks at homosexuality during the First and Second World Wars and features Surrey’s famous LGBT men and women who supported the war effort at home and abroad, including Dame Ethel Smyth, Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney, JR Ackerley, Robert Graves, Harry Daley, Noel Coward, Dirk Bogarde, Alan Turing, Terence Rattigan, and EM Forster.

At Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND during normal opening hours in the foyer at Surrey History Centre.

Click the image to download a pdf copy of the poster.

Free display in foyer from Wednesday 6 February to Thursday 28 February.

Contact Surrey History Centre for more details:
130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6ND
01483 518737 (Tues-Sat)
Email: shs@surreycc.gov.uk

See our latest newsletter for details https://mailchi.mp/f297ed3b3b85/latest-news-and-events-at-surrey-history-centre-2031373

Read more about Surrey’s LGBT icons during the First World War.

The post LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) History Month 2019 appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Robert Graves (1895-1985) – poet, author and pupil at Charterhouse

Tue, 22/01/2019 - 12:10

Robert Graves, 1914 (Permission of Charterhouse School Archive)

Robert von Ranke Graves was the author of the famous war memoir Goodbye to All That (1929). Born in Wimbledon, the 1901 census records the Graves family as living at 1 Lauriston Road, with a cook, lady’s nurse, sick nurse, children’s maid and a parlour maid.

Graves attended King’s College School, Wimbledon before entering Gownboys House at Charterhouse school, Godalming, as a Junior Foundation Scholar in 1909. He was bullied because of his German connections and his friendship with a younger fellow choirboy. In response, Graves learnt to box and joined the school poetry society. Many of his early poems were published in Charterhouse’s magazine, The Carthusian.

War service

Front cover of Charles Mundye (ed), Robert Graves War Poems, 2016

Graves left Charterhouse on 28 July 1914, four days after his 19th birthday. He was inclined to pacifism but just a few days later, on the outbreak of war, he was granted a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. On the Western Front in late 1915 Graves met the poet Siegfried Sassoon; they began reading each other’s poetry and even discussed the possibility of living together after the war.

On 20 July 1916, after a bloody trench engagement in the Battle of the Somme, Graves, now a captain, was so badly wounded that the official military record reported he had ‘died of gunshot wounds’. His family were informed, but in fact Graves had survived and had been sent back to England to convalesce at Queen Alexandra’s Hospital, Highgate. Here, he was shocked to read his own obituary in The Times and quickly submitted a notice to say that he was in fact alive! Whilst convalescing, Graves’ first volume of poetry, Over the Brazier, was published. He returned to duty but in 1917 was hospitalized with shell-shock. He was seconded to garrison duty and in late 1918 survived Spanish Flu.


Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves by Lady Ottoline Morrell, September 1920
© National Portrait Gallery

Graves blamed the public school system for institutionalising homosexual behaviour. It has since been argued that he was not bisexual but a man who ‘went straight after dabbling with homosexuality’, though some believe that he chose to present a heterosexual front because homosexuality was illegal at that time and if discovered could result in a criminal record.

The intensity of the early relationship between Graves and Sassoon is documented in their letters and biographies, and demonstrated in Graves’ Fairies and Fusiliers (1917). Sassoon remarked upon the ‘heavy sexual element’ within it. Through Sassoon, Graves also became a friend of the war poet, Wilfred Owen.

Graves married Nancy Nicholson, sister of the artist Ben Nicholson, in late 1918 and they had four children. However, by 1926 they had formed an unconventional ménage à trois with the American poet, Laura Riding, who accompanied the family to Egypt. Graves’ memoir Goodbye to All That included details of his life at Charterhouse and the First World War and was published in 1929 and soon after this Laura and Graves moved to Majorca. Here he wrote his most successful historical novel, I Claudius. The relationship with Laura did not last and Graves later married Beryl Hodge, the wife of his literary partner, Alan Hodge; they had four children.

Front cover of Robert Graves’ memoir Goodbye to all That, 1929 (private collection)

Graves died at the age of 90 in 1985, in Majorca. His name is commemorated on the War Poets Memorial in Westminster Abbey.

Graves’ poems, letters, photographs and war service records can be viewed online at The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, based at the University of Oxford.


Charterhouse School hold Robert Graves’ school records and The Carthusian magazine https://www.charterhouse.org.uk/about-us/charterhouse-history/about-us/charterhouse-history/archives

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive features copies of Robert Graves’ correspondence and poems http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/

Godalming Museum have a web page featuring Robert Graves’ local links with Charterhouse School http://www.godalmingmuseum.org.uk/index.php?page=robert-graves

Robert Graves features in the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ project database https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/1424123

For discussion of Graves’ war service see https://fantastic-writers-and-the-great-war.com/war-experiences/robert-graves/ and http://archive.camdennewjournal.com/gulliver-error-graves

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The Cross and the Great Camp

Mon, 21/01/2019 - 16:35

Situated within the remains of an 19th century artillery redoubt is a memorial cross (SHER 10986) erected to the memory of Queen Victoria following her death on the 22nd Janurary 1901. The memorial also commemorates the time The Queen reviewed her troops on the common on the 21st June 1853 at what was known as the Great Camp.

Queen Victoria Memorial Cross, Chobham Common Photo Copyright A.Dearlove

What Was the Chobham Common Great Camp?

By the middle of the 19th Century, within Britain, there was a growing concern and growing tension with Russia, which would ultimately result in the Crimean War in 1854. During the preceding year to the outbreak, there were discussions regarding the prospect of Britain having to field an army in Europe. These highlighted a concern about the uncoordinated state of training among the different branches of the army since the Napoleonic war (Stevens 2003). Therefore, following the suggestion of a coordinated training camp by the Prince Consort, it was decided that Chobham Common would host the first large scale manoeuvres conducted by the army in Britain since the Napoleonic war, with a precedent for this camp being the Bagshot camp of 1792 (Stevens 2003).

Between June and August 1853 over 8000 men, 1500 horses and 24 guns mustered on the common for a programme of drill, field operations and parades. The great camp had two forces training for a month each and consisted of four Regiments of cavalry, three Battalions of Foot Guards, three Batteries of Artillery, Royal Horse Artillery Troop, Company of Sappers and Miners and a pontoon train (Stevens 2003).

James Wyld 1863 Map of entrenchments (Wyld 1583)

The units involved were:

1st Division
Encamped 14th Encamped 14th June until 14th July 1853

1st Regiment of Life Guards.
6th Regt. Of Dragoon Guards (Carbineers).
13th Light Dragoons.
17th Regt of Light Dragoons (Lancers).

Rifle Brigade
2nd Battalion.

Foot Guards
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
1st Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards.
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.

38th Foot Regt (1st Staffordshire).
42nd Royal Highland Regiment.
50th Regt Queens Own.
93rd Royal Highlanders.
95th Foot Regt (Derbyshire).

Royal Artillery
Troop of Royal Horse Artillery.
9 Pounder field Batteries.
6 Pounder field Batteries.

Royal Engineers
Sappers & Miners.

2nd Division
Encamped 14th July to the 14th August 1853

Royal Horse Guards (Blue).
2nd Royal North British Dragoons (Scots Greys).
4th Queens Own Light Dragoons.
8th Kings Royal Irish Light Dragoons (Hussars).

Foot Guards
2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
2nd Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards.
2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.

7th Royal Fusiliers
19th Foot Regt (1st Yorkshire North Riding).
35th Foot Regt (Royal Sussex).
79th Highlanders 88th Foot Regt(Connaught Rangers.

Royal Artillery
Troop of Royal Horse Artillery.
9 Pounder field Batteries.
6 Pounder field Batteries.

Royal Engineers
Sappers & Miners.
(Stevens 2003,Wyld 1853)

The manoeuvres would overall improve discipline and prepare the army for operation in the field for the first time in 40 years. Due to the size of the manoeuvres this attracted a large crowd with special excursions to watch the spectacle, alongside a number of local business being utilised by the Army Quarter Master General to supply the troops (Stevens 2003). A number of local stalls selling refreshment were also set up to cater for the spectators (Stevens 2003).

The Queen’s visit

The Queen’s visit On the 21st June Queen Victoria and the royal party arrived to review her troops. It is estimated some 100,000 people came from all over to spectate. The queen’s journey was by train to Staines, where she then travelled by open carriage to the Camp. By 9 o’clock that morning the troops on the common were at their allotted place and at 11 o’clock the Royal Standard was hoisted, signalling the arrival of Her Majesty. The queen then proceeded with the review of her troops, having mounted a dark bay horse with rich gold trappings. The entire royal procession passed each regiment in turn, all presenting arms, with the bands saluting with the national anthem (Stevens 2003). Following the end of the inspection, the Queen and the royal party retired to their viewing position to watch the manoeuvres and the battle. Following the conclusion of the fight, the entire force with their bands formed up, marched past the queen back to their camps. In total the review and the battle took 2 hours and at 3 o clock the royal party left for Staines (Stevens 2003).

Following the Great Camp

The Great Camp would prove to be a success with lessons and camp craft skills being developed by the soldiers, as well as testing the logistical capability of supplying and manoeuvre an army of this size in the field (NAM 2019). Experience gained here would be used the following year in the Crimea. The legacy of the success of the Great Camp was that further large scale manoeuvres were conducted with Chobham common being utilised in this way in 1871.

1871 Manoeuvres Plan of entrenchments (ILN 1871)

The training camp involved the construction of fortifications in the form of redoubts with connecting trench systems and rifle pits, extending across much of the Great Camp. These considerable earthworks can still be encountered today, with the Chobham memorial cross erected within the site of one of the redoubts.


A number of earthworks are still present and can be seen on aerial photographs of the common but can be difficult to see on the ground due to vegetation. With the increase in the use of a technique called Light Infrared Detection and Ranging or LiDAR theearthworks become far more visible. The video below shows a map of encampment overlaid onto the LiDAR survey. The artillery redoubt can clearly be seen where the cross is situated. The line of craters to the north are Second World War bomb craters from a stick dropped by a Luftwaffe bomber, with First World War Practice Trenches just visible next to these (Webster 2017). Due to the temporary nature of the predominantly tented Great Camp, little appears to survive today. With the memorial erected in memory of Queen Victoria we have a lasting monument to a grand event that performed a significant role in the history of the British Army during the 19th century,  aand that had an impact on the landscape and history of this part of Surrey.


Wyld’s 1853 Map overlaid onto 25cm Surrey Heath LiDAR survey (©Bluesky International Limited)

For Further Information

If you would like to know more about Chobham Common please visit Graham Webster work on mans influence on Chobham Common here: https://chobhamcommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/mans-influence-170806.pdf


Bluesky International Ltd, 2016, 25cm LiDAR Survey of Surrey Heath ©Bluesky International Limited

Illustrated London News , June to August 1853 and September 30th 1871 editions, https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/titles/illustrated-london-news Accessed 16/01/2019

National army Museum, 2019, https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1999-09-39-1 accessed 22/01/19

Stevens, Phil, 2003, Great Camp Chobham Common 1853, Surrey Heat Local History Club.

Wyld, James 1853 Plan of the encampment at Chobham Common with surrounding area. Surrey Historic Centre Ref M/2

Webster, Graham, 2017, MAN’S INFLUENCE ON CHOBHAM COMMON.https://chobhamcommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/mans-influence-170806.pdf. Accessed 16/01/19

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A blue plaque commemorates the Dorking suffragette campaign

Fri, 18/01/2019 - 14:46

Coinciding to the day with the centenary of the first general election at which women were allowed to vote and to stand for election to Parliament, a blue plaque was unveiled on Friday 14 December 2018 on the wall of number 43 Howard Road, Dorking. This house was at the centre of one of the local campaigns of the suffragette movement over a century ago.

Kathy Atherton unveils the blue plaque. Jackie Rance, who read a speech by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence is on the right
(image: Surrey History Centre)

The plaque was unveiled by local historian Kathy Atherton, who has been researching the impact of the suffrage movement in the Surrey Hills for the past ten years and appropriately wore the suffragette colours. She told how the centenary of 2018 had prompted the resurrection of the blue plaque scheme by the Dorking Society in conjunction with Dorking Museum, with money for the plaques raised by crowdfunding. The first was unveiled in July to mark the Holmwood home of prominent local suffrage and peace campaigners Emmeline and Fred Pethick-Lawrence. The Dutch House, which the Pethick-Lawrences had renamed The Mascot, also became the country retreat of Mrs Pankhurst’s militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Kathy welcomed the opportunity to celebrate two women who directly contributed to women being able to vote and told how this house in Howard Road featured in the events that led up to it.

In 1912, Fred and Emmeline were convicted, alongside Mrs Pankhurst, of conspiracy to commit criminal damage following a window-smashing campaign in London. After their imprisonment, the government sued the couple for the costs of their trial, put the bailiffs into their Holmwood house and sold the couple’s possessions at public auction.

To protest at this injustice, the WSPU ran a 6-week-long campaign in Dorking and the surrounding villages. The Dorking and Holmwood campaign was run from 43 Howard Road by Charlotte Marsh, a national WSPU activist and organiser, and Helen Gordon Liddle, a suffragette hunger-striker who wrote a fictionalised memoir of her time as a suffragette in prison, ‘The Prisoner’. From this house, local and national speakers were sent out into the town and villages over a six-week period in the run up to the auction sale at the Mascot, drumming up sympathy for the Pethick-Lawrences and outrage at the government’s actions, all reported in the press.

The plaque at 43 Howard Road, Dorking (image: Surrey History Centre)

“This is the first blue plaque to a woman in Dorking,” said Kathy, unveiling the plaque. “I just hope it will be an inspiration to the rest of us, in whatever our area of activity, when we pass these plaques to feel that these women didn’t give up and succeeded by their determination.”

Dorking Museum’s Jackie Rance, dressed as Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, read extracts from Emmeline’s speech that had been delivered on the day of the auction, where she quoted Milton – “O Liberty thou choicest treasure”. The assembled company offered three cheers for Emmeline.

The Museum gave thanks to the present owner of 43 Howard Road, Veronique Pelissie Madsen, for her hospitality and the local businesses run by women who contributed to the celebration, with Dorking Deli providing the cakes, Too Many Cooks the tea, coffee and cups and the Vineyard the glasses.

The crowd assembles (image: Royston Williamson)

To find out more about Charlotte Marsh (1887-1961) and Helen Gordon Liddle (1875-1956) visit the Dorking Museum website here.

To find out more about the Pethick-Lawrences you can watch a video produced by Dorking Museum in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London and the Citizens 800 project called Suffragettes in the Surrey Hills: The Pethick Lawrences on YouTube here.

With thanks to Dorking Museum, Kathy Atherton, David Burton and Dorking Advertiser for providing the text

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Coincidences and Communication!

Fri, 18/01/2019 - 09:20

Here’s an interesting coincidence; I have a colleague here at the History Centre who’s grandmother worked in the same factory as an ancestor of mine in Leigh in Lancashire.  What are the odds that two people meeting in a Record Office in Surrey might have that connection?

Similarly, I met another friend and colleague here at Surrey History Centre, who travelled with me to Yorkshire where we discovered we both had relatives living in the same village at round about the same time, just a couple of streets apart.  What are the odds of that?  Even more remote since she came from Essex and I was born in Greater Manchester!

We discovered yet another link.  My husband is related to the South African writer Olive Schreiner, who had a bit of a crush on the same friend’s great-grandfather’s half-brother, mathematician Karl Pearson.  Tenuous?  Maybe … but fun!

Has anyone else had similar experiences?

I was once working here in our Search Room and realised that two different people were researching the same family in the same area.  I cautiously asked them both (separately) if they would be interested in meeting the other and they both agreed.  It turned out that although they had never met, they shared the same great-great grandmother.

It’s all about communication.  Family Historians are generally fairly gregarious people who love to chat, tell stories and dig out bits of information.  This love of sharing information, along with generous access to the internet means that we can reach out to people across the world, many distantly related, and swap stories, photographs and family trees.  I’ve received numerous research ideas and suggestions from other people’s stories and I suppose that’s a bit why I write this blog – to pass on any ideas or resources that I think others might find useful.

But what happens when it all goes wrong?  How many times do we see things on other people’s family trees on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch, and see mistakes – often compounded from tree to tree.  This happens when people simply ‘hoover’ up information and add it to their trees without checking to see if it even has relevance to their own research.  It is very irritating (and I think rather rude) particularly if you want to be generous and share your information with fellow genealogists.  It smacks of being taken for granted.

My mother once gave me a piece of sage advice: she said that you cannot expect everyone to think the same way you do.  Often their standards might not come up to yours but on the other hand, you might not come up to theirs.  She was right (of course; mothers usually are!!) and if we apply this to our techniques of sharing, we might be a little more forgiving.

In the meantime, you can take certain precautions to ensure that if you are wanting to share information, you don’t simply throw everything out onto the internet and then grumble when people take advantage or misuse it.  For example:

  • If you are uploading a family tree onto any site (mine is on Ancestry.com) do take time to read the Ts&Cs. Often by uploading information you are making it the property of the website concerned but there might be ways to make this less so.
  • You can upload a tree onto Ancestry.com and make it private. People can still see that you have something on Eric Scrunge and all the little Scrunges but they need to contact you in order to obtain any further information.  They can’t just whoosh it into their own tree.
  • You can just upload part of your family tree. This means that you only share what you want to

I’ve found some amazing stuff on the internet!  Really fantastic stuff and I do feel that it’s nice to put back something too.  Uploading family trees, perhaps contributing to Find A Grave.com or even going onto RootsChat and offering advice is a nice way to do this.

So by sharing and collaborating we can hope to produce some more coincidences.  I would particularly like to find that coincidentally I am related to a multi-millionaire who just happens to be looking for a beneficiary.  Well, we can all dream!

Happy New Year and Happy researching!

PS:  Don’t forget there are lots of family history courses starting at Surrey History Centre this spring.  Visit our website for more information, indexes and lots more!

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Struggling to say Goodbye to Suffrage!

Thu, 03/01/2019 - 12:31

Rosie, Di and Holly at The March of the Women Community Day.

Hello again and a Happy New Year to all our readers. It has been a while since I last wrote a blog but felt it was important to give you all a bit of an update on what Rosie and I have been up to over the last couple of months.

Well November was very busy with the final preparations for our March of the Women Community Day. That week our team stayed late, had event related dreams and prepped as much as we could in the run up to the big day. Somehow, in the end, everything came together, the Suffrage Selfie booth was a hit, the Suffragette flag cake was devoured with just enough left for one piece each at the end of the day and the day was a healthy mix of talks from authors Elizabeth Crawford and Tessa Boase and local historians Kathy Atherton and Carol Brown, with an excellent extract of ‘While the Cat’s Away – The Ragtime Suffragette’ from LynchPin Productions to revive us all post-lunch. We received only positive comments from the speakers and attendees of the event and would once again like to thank all those who came and worked with us to make the day such a brilliant success.

At the beginning of December Rosie and I were back on the road again with our portable project boards to the University of Kent for their symposium ‘100 years+ of the women’s movement in Kent, Sussex and Surrey’. We have presented at a number of conferences this year but Kent was voted one of our favourites during a rather rainy drive back to Surrey. There was a small attendance to the conference but the friendly and welcoming atmosphere was unmistakable and made for an excellent day of discussion and debate.

Staff and Volunteers of The March of the Women project.

In the run up to the 100th anniversary of the first women voting on 14 December, Surrey History Centre had their volunteers Christmas Mingle. This was a perfect opportunity to say thank you for all the hard work our volunteers have done researching and indexing the suffrage movement and the first time we had been able to get a number of our volunteers in one place since our trip to the London School of Economics (LSE) Women’s Library back in August.

The following day we had been invited to do a ten minute talk at LSE’s final suffrage event ‘Suffrage Stand-Up’, where we were on the bill next to historian Dr Naomi Paxton and Ros Ball of the UK Government Equalities Office. I gave the talk on six notable women we have been representing during the project, including some of the anti-suffrage campaigners, as despite their opposition to the vote they were still strong, powerful women.

Holly presenting at Suffrage Stand Up, LSE.

And so that was our last two months of the year for The March of the Women project, but it was also my last two months as Project Officer as I will be finishing in January 2019. This year has gone by so quickly it is hard to believe that it has actually been a year, yet so much has changed. On a serious note I have developed so many transferable skills, that now as I am job hunting, I feel I can meet the required experience needed for a new challenge. Outside of work I have continued this development passing a practical driving test in July, shortly followed by buying a purple car which could only have one name, Ethel, after Ethel Smyth who has been at the centre of the project from the beginning!

The thing I will miss most, has to be the excellent contacts I have made from such a friendly community of other suffrage projects and researchers. From attending so many conferences, events and digitally through Twitter, there are faces and names that kept appearing so that it was like meeting up with old friends and did not feel like work.

I can honestly say I could not have had more fun this year, travelling around Surrey and beyond representing those brave women and men who stood up for democracy so that 100 years later I could have the right to vote. And so at least until 2028 for the centenary of the Equal Franchise Act, this suffragette is hanging up her sash.

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Scandal and Fraud!

Thu, 20/12/2018 - 13:42

I’ve really enjoyed indexing the returns of prisoners in the quarter sessions and assizes (now available on our website) and although some of the stories are rather sad, some are quite funny and some quite intriguing.

Take the case of Francis Alexander McCaull Smyth. In November 1912 he appeared before the quarter sessions court for falsifying an entry in a marriage register and obtaining (by false pretences) a cheque from a Canon in the diocese. I was intrigued by the story and decided to investigate further.

I searched the newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive (also available here at the History Centre) and found a little more information.

According to the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of Monday 25 November 1912, a charge was made against Francis Alexander McCaull Smyth, 40, a clerk in holy orders, of Dale-grove, Finchley. He was accused of unlawfully inserting in a marriage register, at the Church of John the Baptist, Old Malden, a false entry relating to marriage, and, further, with obtaining the sum of £7 by false pretences from the vicar of the parish, the Rev. Canon Dover.

Smyth appeared in the dock in his clerical attire and it was stated that he was for a period of two months curate in the parish of Old Malden. On being arrested the accused (it was stated) said: “I did it to obtain money for my family. I paid the rent with the cheque. I did not want to take the marriages, but I could not very well get out of it. It does not affect them; that has been decided.” It appeared that he presented himself as “the Rev. W. White, Bucks Vicarage, Wiltshire.” When challenged with this, Smyth told the court ” I have a particular reason for giving Mr. White’s name. It would do as well any other. If I gave my own name, I should be unable get work. If I gave the curate’s name, I should simply be asked for the name of my vicar; I had to give the vicar’s name. All I did was to get work.” He remanded until Friday, and despite pleading guilty to obtaining the money by false pretences (which his defence lawyer said was to save his wife and children from starvation) he was sentenced to three months imprisonment.

This seemed a little harsh for a first offence – and by a man of the cloth to boot – that I decided to investigate even further.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory of 1908 certainly confirms that he was a curate at Holy Trinity East Finchley, and had been there since 1901.

According to information gleaned from the census, Francis Alexander McCaul Smyth was born in 1872 in Wimbledon. He was one of at least 8 children born to a Stewart Smyth from Ireland. The 1891 census shows him living with his parents and family in St Mark’s Vicarage in Wimbledon where he is listed as a Cambridge undergraduate and living with 6 of his brothers and sisters.

On 16 August 1900 he married Ada Marion Scratchley in Lincolnshire, and the couple went on to have four children:

• Stewart Peter McCaul Smyth, born 1901 in Grimsby RD Vol 7a Page 627
• Audrey Christine McCaul Smyth, born 1903 in Barnet RD Vol 3A Page 397
• Terence John McCaul Smyth, born 1906 in Barnet RD Vol 3A Page 414
• Philip Telford McCaul Smyth, born 1907 in Reigate RD Vol 2A Page 207

By 1911 (according to the census) the family are living in Witton in North Walsham, Norfolk where they were certainly affluent enough to keeping a general servant.

Still no solid clues as to What Went Wrong!

However a brief perusal of the Times Online (free to anyone with a Surrey Library Card) showed that this wasn’t the first time the Rev Smyth had brushed against the authorities. In March 1909 a report entitled Ecclesiastical Intelligence states:

We are asked to state that the Bishop of Southwark pronounced sentence on February 3 last in the case of the Rev F A McCall Smyth lately curate of St Mark, Reigate, who had been found guilty of a charge of immorality made against him in the Consistory Court of the diocese under the Clergy Discipline Act, to which he had pleaded guilty. The sentence declared him to be incapable of holding ”preferment” as defined by the Act.

A later entry in the Barnet Press of Saturday 3 April 1909 reads:

The Rev F A McCaul Smyth, formerly a curate at Holy Trinity Church, East Finchley, has been “unfrocked”. He was found guilty of a charge of immorality made against him in the Consistory Court.

The offence was committed while Mr Smyth occupied the curacy of St Mark’s Reigate, and after full inquiry, the Bishop of Southwark formally declared him incapable of holding preferment as defined in the Act.

Hmmm! I’m guessing that I would have to plough through the records of the Consistory Court to get any further details, always supposing that I would be allowed access to them. I’m sure that the Church of England are not keen on their ‘dirty dishes’ being washed in public! It does explain why he was treated somewhat harshly on his second offence, as I suppose technically he was guilty of two types of fraud.

However, according to his entry in the Cambridge University Alumni (available through www.Ancestry.co.uk) seems to suggest that this slight hiccough in his career didn’t really hold him back.

According to this entry, Francis Alexander McCaul Smyth of Queen’s University, Cambridge matriculated in 1890 and served in the Essex Regiment for a time. He was Professor of Languages at the Foreign Office, Vienna, 1913-23 and at the Vienna police school, 1917-34. He was also Dozent at the veterinary College, Vienna. Chancellors Dollfuss and Seipel were amongst his pupils.

It also states that his wife, Ada Marion was the youngest daughter of Arthur Scratchley, Fellow of Queens’ and a barrister of the Inner Temple (to my mind, this rather belies the image of a starving family which he used as an excuse for his fraud trial!). He was still living in Vienna in 1952.

I couldn’t find any reference to his death but if he died in Austria, that might be a little difficult to track down. I found further references in newspapers to suggest that he was a keen cricketer and played the organ – but that was all. His son, Stewart, married and had children but died in September 1978. His daughter, Audrey, married and was living in California in 1996.

I found a reference to Francis’s son Terence enlisting in the Royal Australian Navy in the Second World War in Sydney (service number 17298) but interestingly gives his next of kin as his mother, Ada, not his father. He died in South Australia in 1968. It would appear that his brother Philip also emigrated to Australia where he married and became a leading light in the Dickens Society!

Time prevents me from taking this any further but I would be fascinated to know more about Francis and especially his life in Austria. Did he stay during the war(s)? Was he interned? Did he stay married to Ada or did that marriage fall apart?

Has anyone else found an intriguing story? I can thoroughly recommend searching criminal records to find one!

Happy Researching!

PS:  Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and lots of exciting finds and breakthroughs in your 2019 research!

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“O! Lovely Surrey! There is nothing like it”: Christabel Pankhurst in Ewhurst

Thu, 13/12/2018 - 16:03

Dame Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958), daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and co-leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union, was a central figure in the women’s suffrage movement. This charismatic and highly intelligent suffragette was a talented speaker who did not refrain from encouraging militant forms of protest in the pursuit of votes for women.

During the height of the campaign, Christabel edited The Suffragette (renamed Britannica in 1915), the newspaper described as ‘the official organ of the Women’s Social and Political Union’ and on 14 December 1918, in the first national election after women were granted the vote, she stood as candidate for the Women’s Party (formed by Christabel and her mother). Although she was unsuccessful (she had only three weeks to prepare between the passing of the Bill that allowed women to stand for election to the House of Commons and the vote taking place), this Graduate in Law with First Class Honours made history as one of the first women to stand for election.

Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Lambert Weston & Son, bromide postcard print, circa 1905, © National Portrait Gallery. Reproduced under licence

Following the defeat she retreated to rest at a cottage she rented called High Edser in Ewhurst, Surrey – the address where her name appears in the 1918 and 1919 Electoral Registers. In a new biography, Professor June Purvis describes Christabel’s time here – including her habit of sleeping outside to take in the country air (interrupted by rain on more than one occasion!).

Professor Purvis explains that she would often meet with Marion Wallace-Dunlop while in the county. Marion was the first suffragette to go on hunger strike during imprisonment and lived in the nearby village of Peaslake. In a letter to Marion on 4 Oct 1917, Christabel enthused, ‘for getting ideas for the ensuing campaign. O! Lovely Surrey! There is nothing like it’.

1916 Ordnance Survey map (25 inch Surrey sheet XXXIX.8) showing High Edser in Ewhurst. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (https://maps.nls.uk/index.html)

Following the outbreak of war, in 1915 her mother Emmeline had announced that the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) would help the ‘war babies’ problem by adopting baby girls born to single mothers whose fathers were on the front lines. Emmeline had adopted four babies herself (Kathleen King, Flora May Gordon, Joan Pembridge and Elizabeth Tudor) and appealed to WSPU members to follow suit or offer financial support. Elizabeth Tudor (named by Emmeline after Queen Elizabeth I but known as simply ‘Betty’), was later adopted by Christabel and accompanied her to Ewhurst in 1918.

In the summer of 1919 Emmeline brought the other three to live temporarily at High Edser with Christabel and four-year-old Betty. While there Emmeline was visited by Ethel Smyth, suffragette, composer of The March of the Women and Woking resident. Having been a tomboy in her youth, Ethel was horrified to see how the Pankhurst children ‘flitted about like fairies, offered you scones with a curtsey, and kissed their hands to you when they left the room’. Professor Purvis writes that Ethel assumed Christabel must be behind these airs and graces at first but soon suspected Emmeline to be the culprit!

Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright, 1909, © National Portrait Gallery. Reproduced under licence

By December 1919, Christabel could no longer afford the rent of High Edser and she was forced to give up the cottage. From there Christabel and Betty spent a period of time staying with various friends as they continued to try and make ends meet, including a brief stay at Abinger Hatch Hotel in Abinger, before moving to California in 1921.

High Edser still stands and is now a B&B retaining much of the charm that must have drawn Christabel to the property a hundred years ago. You can visit the website here: http://www.highedser.co.uk/.

The Mary Evans Picture Library hold a photograph of Christabel Pankhurst in Ewhurst, c.1925, featured on their website here: https://www.maryevans.com/landing.php?ref=10117367. By this date she would have long since left Ewhurst, and the chimney in the background does not belong to High Edser, so we can only assume that this photograph was taken whilst revisiting the area. If anyone has any information about this, we would love to hear from you!

Mural at Woking Train Station by Roger Hoare and Allan Potter, 1993

You may have spotted the large mural outside Woking train station depicting a parade of Edwardian shops on the route to Surrey History Centre from the station. On the steps outside Robinsons you can see a figure of a woman stood next to a ‘Votes for Women’ poster. When I first spotted this, I was delighted to see the suffrage movement represented here in Surrey. It wasn’t until I was a few weeks into the project that it struck me how familiar the image of the woman was and it occurred to me that this was in fact Christabel Pankhurst herself.

I don’t know the story behind why Christabel was chosen to be a part of the mural but as I make my way past it this December, on the anniversary of the first election in which women could vote and stand for election as a member of Parliament, I will look over and think about this incredible suffragette, her story and her connection to “lovely Surrey”.

You can access Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography by June Purvis (2018) and a copy of The Suffragette, 13 June 1913, at Surrey History Centre in our reference library collection. You can also view Surrey’s Electoral Registers on Ancestry.co.uk in our searchroom. Visiting information can be found here: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/culture-and-leisure/history-centre/visit.

Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography by June Purvis (2018)

(Please click the images to enlarge)

Surrey County Council consultation on Libraries and Cultural Services

You may be aware that Surrey County Council has launched a number of consultations on the future shape of some of its services. One of these consultations is on Libraries and Cultural Services of which Surrey Heritage is a part. At present the proposal is to reduce the Cultural Services budget (covering Libraries, Heritage, Surrey Arts, Adult Learning and Registration) by more than half – from £8.7 million to £4 million over the next two years unless its public value is clearly stated. We are encouraging everyone to complete the short survey and give their views on the value of our work. Please click on this link to find out more about what is proposed and to take you to the survey itself. Although the main focus of the survey is Surrey’s library service, Surrey History Centre is very much part of the review, so take advantage of the two free text boxes in questions 2.1 and 4.3 to tell the Council what you think about the county’s Heritage service and its future shape and role in meeting the Council’s priorities. Please share the news with your friends and anyone else who may be concerned by what is proposed.

The post “O! Lovely Surrey! There is nothing like it”: Christabel Pankhurst in Ewhurst appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: “Torn From Home”

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 14:51
Stoatley Rough School

Imagine leaving your home for a new country to live with strangers and never knowing if you would see your family again.  For many children and young people sent away to escape Nazi persecution In the 1930s and 1940s, Britain became their new home.  Here they were cared for in homes, hostels and schools, often by dedicated teams of people who helped to give them a new life and new opportunities.

One of the schools in Surrey that provided a home for these children was Stoatley Rough in Haslemere.  Opened in 1934 as a ‘German-English school’, it initially catered for children who, for political or racial reasons, could not be educated in their native country. The establishment of the school was mainly due to the efforts of three remarkable women: Marjorie Vernon, Bertha Bracey and Dr Hilde Lion.

Marjorie Vernon (1887-1961) was the daughter of Arthur Lewis Leon, a member of the London County Council and of the Surrey Education Committee.  Her mother, Marion Grant, undertook social work and was treasurer of the Haslemere Liberal Association.  In 1897, Stoatley Rough was built for the Leon family at the far end of Farnham Lane.  Arthur Leon died in 1927 and, following Marion Leon’s death in 1933, Marjorie Vernon made Stoatley Rough available to the Society of Friends.

Since the end of the First World War, the Society of Friends in Britain had run an international Quaker relief programme in Germany.  Bertha Lilian Bracey (1893-1989) had spent several years in the 1920s as a youth worker for the Friends in Nuremberg and Berlin, followed by two years as the British Friends’ representative in the International Secretariat in Berlin.  When Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, Miss Bracey became general secretary of the German Emergency Committee of the Society of Friends in Britain.

Dr Hilde Lion

In December 1933, the Society of Friends was approached by Dr Hilde Lion (1893-1970) with plans to open a small school in England for German refugee children.  Dr Lion, a Jewish academic, had been dismissed in May 1933, from her position as director of an academy for women’s studies in Berlin, and came to England in November of that year.  Bertha Bracey introduced Dr Lion to Mrs Vernon and, following the fundraising of some £500, Stoatley Rough became the home for Dr Lion’s school.  Mrs Vernon and Bertha Bracey remained closely involved with Stoatley Rough, serving on the of the school’s council, committee and board of governors.

Stoatley Rough School opened in April 1934, offering bilingual education, with the aim of improving the pupils’ English so that they could continue and complete an education that had been died to them in Germany.  Quaker educationalist, Isabel Fry, agreed to manage the school for the first few months, then continued to support the school as a committee member.  Along with Dr Lion as principal, the school’s first teaching staff were Eleonore (Nore) Astfalck, who ran the household course and took on the role of housemother to the younger children, and Johanna (Hanna) Nacken, who taught the practical and handicraft subjects as well as being the school’s bookkeeper.  Both women remained at Stoatley Rough until 1946 when they left to help with the post-war reconstruction of Germany.  Deputy Head and friend of Dr Lion, Dr Emmy Wolff, joined Stoatley Rough in 1935 where she taught German language and literature.

Stoatley Rough School in 1935

Stoatley Rough School’s first pupils were two small refugee boys and five older refugee girls.  The separation of brothers from sisters was considered detrimental and, consequently, the school operated as a co-educational establishment with a full age range.  By spring 1936, following the passing of the Nuremberg Race Laws the previous year, there were 31 pupils at the school.  As the situation in Germany continued to deteriorate, many parents made the difficult decision to uproot their children from home to a safer place, unsure of whether they would see them again.

The Lindemayers, a German Christian family of Jewish origin, sent their three children to England, with their oldest daughter Edith attending Stoatley Rough School in 1937.  The parents’ correspondence with their son and daughters was published as ‘A Thousand Kisses – the letters of Georg & Frieda Lindemayer to their children 1937-1941‘ (2006).  Full of affection and concern, trying to understand their children’s new lives, they clung on to the hope that they would be reunited someday.

It gives me more and more pleasure to get your letters.  Very gradually I’m getting to know Stoatley Rough through them, and I’ve actually got quite a clear picture of much of the school.  Don’t lose sleep over the fact that you can’t speak enough English yet.  It will all suddenly fall into place!” (Frieda Lindemeyer in Dusseldorf, to her daughter Edith in England, 5 April 1937)

Georg and Frieda died in a concentration camp in Minsk in 1941.

In March 1938, Stoatley Rough School received an influx of refugee children from Austria following the country’s annexation.  By 1939, pupil numbers had risen to 81 and, at the outbreak of war, there were 90 students, of whom 50 had left parents behind in Germany.  A former pupil, Wolfgang Elston, described the school as ‘an island of sanity where children could go through all of the stresses of growing up in safety and security’.

Recognised by the Ministry of Education in 1940, Stoatley Rough continued as a school after the Second World War, its intake gradually changing to disadvantaged British children sent by local authorities.  The school closed in 1960 on the retirement of Dr Lion, when it was purchased by The Ockenden Venture and renamed Quartermaine.

Click here to see a detailed illustrated history of the school (which was part of an exhibition at Haslemere Museum).

Hans Goldmeier (1928-2002)

Hans Goldmeier was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on 20 July 1928.  In April 1939, he and his brother Rolf were sent to England where a cousin had arranged for the brothers to be cared for by a Jewish family in Sunderland.  Later that year, Hans’s parents, Isidor and Erna, were also able to come to England and settled in London where Erna worked as a nursemaid.  On the outbreak of war, Hans and Rolf were evacuated to Bellerby, a small village in the Yorkshire Dales, where they lived with the Scotts, a farming family.

In April 1941, Isidor died of a heart attack.  Erna secured work in Guildford and successfully applied for a place at Stoatley Rough School for her younger son, Hans, so that he could be nearer to her.  The older son, Rolf, attended an ORT (Jewish education and vocational training) school in Leeds.  Hans stayed at Stoatley Rough until he passed his School Certificate with Matriculation in 1944.

Hans Goldmeier (front row, 2nd from left), Stoatley Rough, 1940s

A year later, in February 1945, Hans, his mother Erna and brother Rolf emigrated to the USA.  Before he left England, Hans wrote to Dr Lion:

On one hand I’m very much looking forward to being in U.S.A., but on the other I’m very sorry to leave a place which has been my home for nearly 3½ years.  It took me a long time to get used to Stoatley Rough, but when I did, I liked it very much.  The good education I received will benefit me for the rest of my life and I shall always remember the place where I got it.  I must thank you and all the other teachers very much indeed for all the trouble you have taken over me.

Once in the USA, Hans became John Goldmeier, qualified as a social worker and spent most of his career at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

John’s papers were donated by his daughter to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington DC which has kindly provided Surrey History Centre with digital copies of the collection.  The collection includes Hans’s Stoatley Rough school reports, his written essay, ‘D-Day in a School in the South of England’, correspondence from Hans and his mother Erna to Dr Lion, photograph albums, a typescript autobiography and ‘Stoatley Roughians’ newsletters.  The records are available to view on CD at Surrey History Centre (SHC ref Z/635).

Stoatley Rough website

Since the end of 2018, we have been fortunate to host the content of the Stoatley Rough Historical Trust website on our Exploring Surrey’s Past site.  The website was originally created by Peter Neivert for a ‘Stoatley Roughians’ reunion in Haslemere in 2004; Mr Neivert’s mother, Ilse Kaiser, was a pupil at the school from 1939 to 1944.

The website offers a fascinating and thorough insight into life at Stoatley Rough and the people who worked and studied at the school.  As well as an illustrated history of the school, there are photographs of pupils and staff, film footage of the school taken in c.1938, the memories of Hans Loeser, a pupil at the school from 1937 to 1939, and photographs of the school reunion, 2004.

A further collection of photographs of Stoatley Rough School staff, pupils and buildings will be added to the Exploring Surrey’s Past website at a later date.

Other records and bibliography

The main archive of Stoatley Rough School, 1923-2000, is held at the London School of Economics Library.  The records were held by Dr Lion after the school closed, with the intention to produce a history of the School, but it was never written.  After Dr Lion’s death in 1970, her colleague Louise Leven deposited the records in the LSE library.

Other related records held at Surrey History Centre

Papers relating to the closure of Stoatley Rough School and its subsequent lease to Ockenden. Includes Ockenden Venture correspondence with St Mary’s Convent and Dr Hilde Lion. Also correspondence concerning the organisation of a work camp to prepare the building for use, 1959-1964 (SHC ref 7155/5/13/1)

Correspondence with Dr Margot Kogut regarding reunion of former Stoatley Rough pupils (‘Stoatley Roughians’) and unveiling of plaque at Quartermaine, 10 Nov 1990. Includes news cutting. Also letter from former pupil researching history of school (SHC ref 7155/5/13/10)

Papers relating to Stoatley Rough School, Haslemere: signed visitors’ book on the occasion of the ‘Stoatley Roughians’ reunion in Haslemere, Nov 1990. Correspondence between Ailsa Moore and Michael Johnson of Reigate concerning the Stoatley Rough reunions, 2011 (SHC ref 9642/27)

Photograph taken At the Stoatley Rough School reunion and plaque unveiling: Nov 1990 (SHC ref 9642/51)

DVD of reunion of former pupils of Stoatley Rough, produced by Patricia Ellis of Wizard Video Productions, whose husband was a pupil at Stoatley Rough.  45 minutes, Oct 2004 (SHC ref Z/560/3)

Stoatley Rough School newsletter, number 20, 2000 (SHC ref Z/560/4)


GOLD, Michele M. Memories that won’t go away : a tribute to the children of the Kindertransport. Kotrim, 2014.

LEVERTON, Bertha and LOWENSOHN, Shmuel. I came alone : the stories of the Kindertransports. Book Guild,1990.

LOESER, Hans F. Hans’s story. iUniverse, 2007.

MOSKOVITZ, Sarah. Love despite hate : child survivors of the Holocaust and their adult lives. Schocken Books, 1983.

MOSS, Christophe (ed). A Thousand Kisses : the letters of Georg and Frieda Lindemeyer to their children, 1937-1941. Bloomsbury, 2006.

WOLFENDEN, Barbara. Little Holocaust survivors and the English school that saved them. Greenwood World, 2008.

The post Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: “Torn From Home” appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Sorting, Cleaning, Indexing and so much more!

Thu, 06/12/2018 - 14:59

We’re stock-checking for the next couple of weeks and having to do all those jobs we’ve been putting off because we can’t do them when we are open to the public. This is not always the best fun, I can tell you. It often involves intense physical work (re-shelving documents) cleaning documents (which can be filthy work) tidying book-shelves, sorting and tidying maps, catalogues and microfiche – I think you get the picture. It’s like housework on a huge scale!

The heritage assistants have a variety of tasks they undertake during this period and one of mine is to identify new sources to index and put on-line. I supervise a wonderful group of volunteers who are working tirelessly at indexing the Board of Guardians poor law records – particularly the minutes. The minutes don’t list everyone who passed through the auspices of the Boards of Guardians but they do mention quite a few people and can be an invaluable source. But where to go next?

Invariably, whatever I think is a useful source to index is not going to appeal to everyone. However, I’ve started two indexing projects – one to index the magistrates court records for the First World War period and the other the list of vagrants as compiled by the Quarter Sessions.

Magistrates Court records contain a variety of information, although it has to be said, not in any great quantity. However, I have been finding out a few useful things they contain which you may find interesting:

1) Applications for child support – where the father is often listed by name! Great for those people frustrated by the lack of a father’s name on a birth certificate
2) Soldiers: mainly those arrested for kicking over the traces on a Saturday night but occasionally for desertion or assault, etc. Usefully, they occasionally give the regiment they are with and even in some cases a service number
3) Applications for extending licences for a variety of clubs, pubs, trading on racecourses, etc. These can give a lovely bit of colour to our ancestors’ lives!

There are also, of course, a variety of petty misdemeanours which to our modern eyes seem quite trivial. Countless people were brought before the magistrates for having no lights on their bicycles, no dog licences, inadequate lights on cars, etc. During the war years it seems to have been difficult to balance the whole car lighting question. There are some people fined for not having lights and others fined for too many lights. I suspect a motoring historian could illuminate (ha! ha!) me on this?

Therefore you won’t get a huge amount from magistrates’ records but they can provide some useful ‘nuggets’.

Similarly with vagrancy records. Vagrants have been classed in different ways over the years but in the 18th century they included those who were not settled in a particular parish (for more information on Settlements see my blog of 22 September 2017). It was the duty of the parish constable to evict from the parish anyone who didn’t have a right to be there (that is, either not gainfully employed, not having right of settlement or not having the necessary paperwork to entitle them to stay). They would be taken to the parish boundary and escorted over the border and left for the next parish/county quarter sessions to sort out. Rather a harsh solution and not always terribly effective, as you see the same names recurring again and again.  Like the Magistrates’ Court records, they don’t give a huge amount of information but they do give the parish that the unfortunately vagrant was evicted from, where they were sent to and more importantly, their settled parish. Mind you, some of the spellings are a bit creative and I’m guessing that this was because the quarter sessions officials simply hadn’t heard of half the places they were being told – or couldn’t understand them.  Aberistwith [Aberystwyth] is a classic example of a dodgy entry, although to be fair, I think the officials made a pretty good stab at spelling it!!

We would love to hear suggestions about what records you would like to see indexed. We can’t always promise that we are able to keep up with demand but it does help us to understand what people would like or find useful.

Happy Researching!

PS: Do look at our lovely Advent Calendar on our Facebook page (https://en-gb.facebook.com/surreyheritage/). These include some of the wonderful images in our 70th Birthday Celebration Booklet.

The post Sorting, Cleaning, Indexing and so much more! appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Panel 12: The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 15:47

An estimated 2 million women replacing men in employment during the war was a key factor in obtaining the vote. New Zealand born Noeline Baker, who had co-founded the Guildford branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, worked with the London Society for Women’s Suffrage register of voluntary women workers, the Surrey Women’s Farm Labour Committee and the Women’s Land Army. In 1920 she received a MBE for her war work.

Women munition workers at Broadwood piano factory
(SHC ref 2185/JB/72/8)

David Lloyd George replaced Herbert Asquith as Prime Minister in 1916 bringing a more liberal stance and arguments for women being enfranchised could no longer be ignored. On 6 February 1918, after 52 years and 16,310 petitions to parliament, the Representation of the People Act finally granted the vote to women over the age of 30, if they occupied property to the value of at least £5, or were married to a man who met the property qualification. The vote was also extended to all men over the age of 21. Many women campaigners still did not qualify. Suffragette Lilian Lenton recounted how ‘I didn’t vote for a very long time because I hadn’t either a husband or furniture, although I was over 30’.

At Last! Bernard Partridge illustration for the NUWSS, 1918 (The Women’s Library collection, LSE ref TWL.2002.222)

The first national election in which women voted took place in December 1918. The previous month The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women to stand as a Member of Parliament. Constance Markiewicz was the first elected female MP (Sinn Fein) although she did not take her seat, and it was not until 1919 that Lady Nancy Astor became the first female MP to enter Parliament. Surrey elected its first female MP, Virginia Bottomley (Conservative) for South West Surrey in 1984.

However, it was not until 1928 that the Equal Franchise Act granted the right to vote to all men and women over the age of 21, which was lowered to 18 in 1968.

The March of the Women project team at the ‘Processions’ march in London, 10 June 2018

Surrey’s road to the vote has been long but it is filled with the inspirational stories of local women and men who fought for the voting rights we enjoy today. Women now participate in every sphere of local and national politics and community governance.

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

The post Panel 12: The March is Over: Women get the Vote! appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Panel 11: Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 15:46

Bertha Broadwood, 1880 (SHC ref 2185/296/37)

Many women who were campaigning against the vote were active in their local communities and held positions of power and influence in society. Some felt that that their influence could be applied in the local and domestic sphere without the national vote.

Bertha Broadwood of Capel was the daughter of Henry Broadwood of the famous piano manufacturers, John Broadwood and Sons. She was a philanthropist who took an active interest in politics, community matters and the education of the working classes, setting up the Cottage Benefit Nursing Association in 1883. Despite her ventures outside of the domestic sphere, she did not believe women should have the vote. Bertha was a committee member for the Dorking Branch of the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League and in her notes expressed disapproval of ‘female faddists’ who ‘kick and scream and chain themselves to railings’. She wrote, ‘all this fatigue, excitement and struggling worrying after the vote and vast expenditure of something like £15000 in 3 years seems such [a] pitiful waste of energy and money when help and workers [are] so sorely needed for Hospitals, Waifs and Strays’. She was invited several times to engage in discussion at meetings of the Leith Hill and District Women’s Suffrage Society but always declined.

Etta Lemon, 1913 (SHC ref 6918/1/4/4)

Margaretta (Etta) Lemon MBE of Reigate was a co-founder of the all-female organisation that became the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Renowned for public speaking, she lobbied for legislation to protect wild birds against the fashion for wearing feathered hats which she claimed was ‘murderous millinery’. Etta was deeply involved in her local community, serving as Mayoress of Reigate in 1911-1913, and as chair of the local Women’s Temperance Society and Red Cross. Like Bertha, she was an anti-suffragist and believed that to give women the vote would ‘work irrevocable mischief to human progress, to the British Empire, and to women themselves’. Etta headed a branch of the East Surrey Anti-Suffrage League and in a letter to the Surrey Mirror, dated 27 June 1908, she encouraged those ‘desirous of combatting the Women’s Suffrage movement’ to contact her.

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

The post Panel 11: Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Panel 10: The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 15:44

NLOWS badge, nd (The Women’s Library collection, LSE Library, ref TWL.2004.609)

As the suffrage movement strengthened so did the opposition, with groups, including many women, campaigning countrywide against women gaining the right to vote.

Women were already able to vote in local government elections and could be elected to local boards and councils. For anti-suffragists this showed that women did not need the parliamentary vote because they could already participate in their natural sphere of ‘domestic’ politics. The Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League was founded in 1908 in response to a petition signed by 37,000 women who believed that the vote would ‘destroy, rather than add to’ their influence in local government. The League was led by author, Mary Ward (known as Mrs Humphrey Ward), who lived for a short time in Haslemere.

NLOWS postcard by Harold Bird, [1912] (from the collection of Ann Lewis and Mike Sponder)

In 1910 the League merged with the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage to form the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage (NLOWS) which had branches across Surrey.

The 1911 annual meeting of the South East Surrey branch of the NLOWS was reported in The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser. The report stated that in November 1910, a postal canvass was made of the 906 women municipal electors of Reigate Borough as to whether they supported votes for women in national elections. 199 women were in favour, 338 against and 369 votes were either neutral, not returned or not counted on other grounds. The group took this to be a ‘satisfactory result’ and declared that ‘the majority of women municipal electors in the Borough did not desire the Parliamentary vote’.

Many people became alienated by the militant tactics used by the Women’s Social and Political Union. Local newspapers reveal moments of public anger towards the suffragettes. In November 1906, the crowd at the Guy Fawkes Carnival at Brockham cheered when the guy ‘which represented one of the suffragettes with a placard in front on which was inscribed Votes for Women’ caught fire.

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

The post Panel 10: The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Panel 9: Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 15:43

On 4 June 1913, the most infamous event of the suffrage campaign occurred at the Epsom Derby. Emily Wilding Davison entered the track at Tattenham Corner and attempted to attach a ‘Votes for Women’ banner to the King’s horse, Anmer. Tragically Emily was trampled, suffering fatal injuries. She never regained consciousness and died in Epsom Cottage Hospital on 8 June.

Postcard showing damage to the grandstand at Hurst Park Racecourse, June 1913 (Elmbridge Museum, Elmbridge Borough Council, ref 319.1994/3)

That same night and unaware of Emily’s death, suffragettes Kitty Marion and Clara Elizabeth Giveen set fire to the grandstand at Hurst Park Racecourse, West Molesey. Kitty and Clara were arrested in Richmond two days later and tried in Guildford on 3 July. They were found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in Holloway Prison, where they immediately went on hunger strike and were released under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act, recuperating at a house in the Surrey Hills.

Emily Wilding Davison memorial issue of The Suffragette, 13 June 1913 (SHC Library Collections)

The suffragettes honoured Emily Wilding Davison’s ultimate sacrifice by accompanying her coffin on a procession through London and dedicated an entire issue of The Suffragette to her.

While the Women’s Social and Political Union was supporting the militancy of their members, their suffragist counterparts in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) opposed the use of direct action. An advertisement was published in the Surrey Mirror and the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser in June 1913 stating that the NUWSS ‘disapprove of the sensational methods of militancy’.

Militant action continued into 1914, with the church in Chipstead targeted with a smoke bomb in June. This prompted other churches to take out insurance policies against suffragette activity. However, following the outbreak of war in August suffrage action was halted and Emmeline Pankhurst advised women to support the war effort by entering the workplace. The Surrey Advertiser reported ‘that the militant suffragettes had decided to refrain from their evil works’. In return the government declared an amnesty for suffragettes, pardoning any political offences that they had not already served time for. Apart from a small minority, suffragists and suffragettes alike rallied behind the war effort and turned their energies to the same goal.

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

The post Panel 9: Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Panel 8: Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 15:41

Emmeline Pankhurst, c.1910 (The Women’s Library collection, LSE Library ref 7JCC/O/02/090)

By 1913 the suffragettes had stepped up their militancy from window-breaking to more extreme tactics such as arson and explosions. In Surrey, race courses, railway stations, cricket clubs, and golf courses were targeted. In that year alone Surrey Constabulary dealt with three suffragette bombs.

On the morning of 19 February 1913 a bomb exploded at the weekend golfing retreat being built for the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George at Walton-on-the-Hill. There were no casualties as none of the workmen were on site but around £500 worth of damage was caused (nearly £55,000 in today’s money). Those responsible for planting the device were never identified. However copies of The Suffragette newspaper were found at the scene and Emmeline Pankhurst had spoken locally. Emmeline was arrested by the Dorking Division police and imprisoned for procuring and inciting women to commit offences contrary to the Malicious Injuries to Property Act, 1861.

Extract from Surrey Constabulary papers relating to the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst (SHC ref CC98/11/3)

WSPU Hunger-strike medal presented to Elsie Duval. The enamel bars represent periods of force feeding (The Women’s Library collection, LSE Library ref 7HFD/D/21)

In the early hours of 20 March 1913 an empty house in Englefield Green, belonging to Lady White was nearly totally destroyed by arson. Elsie Duval and Olive Beamish were later convicted and sentenced to six weeks in Holloway Prison where both women immediately began hunger strike. Under increasing pressure to resolve the situation while not letting a hunger-striking suffragette die in prison the government rushed through the Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act. More commonly known as The ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act, this allowed for a prisoner’s release when they were weak and re-imprisonment when they had recovered. Elsie was the first person to be released under the Act.

Surrey Constabulary papers relating to the bombing of Oxted Railway Station (SHC ref CC98/11/2)

During the night of 3 April 1913, a bomb exploded the gentlemen’s toilet at Oxted station causing minor damage. The police report names the identity of the suspects but the case was never solved. As a result of this incident all railway stations and tunnels were patrolled to prevent further attacks. Years later, Frida Kerry, wife of Harold Laski, a known activist and friend of the Pethick Lawrences, admitted responsibility for the bomb.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

The post Panel 8: Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues appeared first on Exploring Surrey's Past.