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REPORTS


MARCH 2018 Image
The March meeting of the Frome Family History Group welcomed Jenny Pope to give us an idea of How Manorial Records can help with our Family History Research.

The origin of manorial records is not defined but may have started as early as Roman times. An index to most records, The Manorial Documents Register, is held at the National Archives in Kew. The records themselves may be held in local record offices or in private hands; the MDR provides brief descriptions of documents and details of their locations.

Jenny described the two most common records to be found, the Court Baron and the Court Leet and view of Frankpledge. The main business of the Court Baron was the resolution of disputes involving a lord's free tenants within a single manor, to enforce the feudal services owed to the lord of the manor by his tenants, and to admit new tenants who had acquired copyholds by inheritance or purchase, for which they were obliged to pay a fine to the lord of the manor.

The Court Leet dealt with civil matters including to enquire regularly into the proper condition of watercourses, roads, paths, and ditches, to guard against all manner of encroachments upon the public rights, whether by unlawful enclosure or otherwise. It also sought to preserve landmarks, and overlook the common lands, to guard against the adulteration of food and to inspect weights and measures. Frankpledge was a system in medieval England under which all but the greatest men and their households were bound together by mutual responsibility to keep the peace. All men over 12 years of age were organised in the system for mutual surety.

Jenny described her involvement in the project by the Wiltshire Family History Society to summarise the manor records held at the Wiltshire Record Office and to make them available to more people. Many of us are not able to read Latin or old handwriting making a summary a useful tool in the quest to find information on our ancestors. The manorial court records team have completed their first two titles, for Hilmarton & Goatacre and Holt. Both are available as downloads through Genfair or in hard copy from WFHS.

Chris Featherstone



FEBRUARY 2018 Image
Frome Family History group welcomed author Wendy Worley to their February meeting. Wendy described how researching her family history uncovered several stories about her grandfather that she was unable to verify or explain further even after extensive research. Having admitted defeat she decided that the stories would be the basis of a novel.

The novel was published in 2017 with the title of Echoes of Friendship and is loosely based on letters her grandfather received from a German soldier and the story of a cousin of her grandfather, Piper Findlater, who won the Victoria Cross.

As a former school librarian Wendy wanted to write her novel from the perspective of a teenage boy called Andy who visits the World War One battlefields to learn more about his great-grandfather, Matthew. The World War One soldiers, Matthew and his cousin James, were affected differently by the story of Piper Findlater whom they met as children. Matthew hears the melody of the fearless piper. James wants to emulate his valiant bravery. When war comes James is quick to follow the hero's lead. Matthew, nicknamed Mac by his comrades, finds salvation through his friendship with a German POW, Hans. They discover a common bond that surpasses their country's enmity. Andy faces his own demons in the shape of the Squaddies, a gang of bullies who taunt him at school and on the school trip. The Anglo-German friendship echoes down the years when Andy befriends a German student, Sophe. He tells her the story of Mac's friendship with Hans.
Wendy was thanked for a most enjoyable evening.

Chris Featherstone



JANUARY 2018 Image
Following a short ABM our treasurer, Gerry Burdall, gave a very well received talk on the Loss of the Royal George in 1782. Gerry began by describing the building of this ship which was the most powerful vessel in the world. It took eight years to build and took 4,000 oaks. Some reclaimed timber was used from HMS St Andrew 1702 and The Royal Anne 1727. The Royal George was launched on the Thames in Woolwich in 1756 and travelled to Portsmouth where a crew of 850 joined her.

Gerry went on to describe the conditions on board for both officers and seamen. Whilst the conditions seemed hard for the seaman they were able to rely on three meals a day and not an inconsiderable amount of alcohol. The Royal George carried 100 42lbs guns and went on a number of successful trips. It was refitted in 1782 and joined the fleet in Portsmouth ready to go to Gibraltar. Shore leave had been cancelled and, as a result, wives and children were allowed on board accompanied by around 100 Portsmouth "ladies" making a total of around 1200 people.

A decision was made to repair a faulty inlet valve and the guns were moved to the other side of the ship causing a severe list. Water started to rush in where seamen were loading rum barrels and an officer was informed. The officer chose to ignore the warnings and the Royal George keeled over on its side and sank in 10 minutes. 255 people were saved but 900 drowned despite the ship being in comparatively shallow waters in Portsmouth. The mast was visible in water until the ship was blown up in the 1830's.

Gerry finished by explaining that as a child he was given a book on the Royal George by his father that was bound in wood salvaged from the ship. He still has that book.

Chris Featherstone



OCTOBER 2017 Image
At their November meeting, Alan Campbell from Frome Film and Video Makers entertained the Frome Family History Group with a series of old films from their collection.

The audience enjoyed a variety of topics such as willow basket making, peat cutting, the Frome carnival in 1937 and the restoration of Rook Lane Chapel. The films last from about five minutes to twenty minutes and show a way of life sometimes long since forgotten.

The film that caused the most amusement however was the one on cider drinking! Another favourite was the "gladding" film, a pastime that is only practised in Watchet where terrier type dogs extract conger eels from the mud.

Alan was thanked for a most enjoyable evening.

Chris Featherstone

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