The ‘Ghost’ of Reading Cemetery
Cemetery Junction entrance (courtesy of

The ‘Ghost’ of Reading Cemetery

SHOCKING SUICIDE – A man named Robert Ghost, lodging at a cottage in Brook-street, committed suicide on Tuesday afternoon by cutting this throat. He was a pensioner, and latterly had been in a low desponding way, but it was not anticipated that he would lay violent hands upon himself. He partook of a hearty dinner on the day in question and was left alone in the house about half-past two o’clock

What did You do in the Great War?
Edith Blackwell Empire Day Certificate (J Barrett)

What did You do in the Great War?

This phrase was often used to shame men who didn't fight in the Great War, but what of the women and children in those times? I have already researched the exploits of my Berkshire male ancestors in the Great War (BFH vol. 39 December 2015) but when I was recently handed a certificate given to a young girl in 1916, this set me thinking about what children did to help the war effort in those times.

Henry Marriage Wallis – a Reading Benefactor
HM Wallis (Courtesy of Reading Local Studies Illustrations Collection)

Henry Marriage Wallis – a Reading Benefactor

Henry Marriage Wallis – although a name likely to be unknown to many – had several prominent roles during his time in Reading. Henry died on 10 November 1941 leaving his substantial estate (£27436 11s 9d – equivalent to over £1million in 2018) to his three surviving children.

Ancestors in Debt
Marshalsea Gates by Russel Kenny (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Ancestors in Debt

Debt has at least as long a history as the concept of money: long before personal banking became the norm, every community has had a few individuals who lent out money to their friends, family and associates.


Tiny St Nicholas Church, Sulham, packed for the 2019 Remembrance Service

Tiny St Nicholas Church, Sulham, was packed for the 2019 Remembrance Service where special tribute was paid to Winifred Helen Burtenshaw. The congregation heard the Revd Heather Parbury describe Winifred’s life before the outbreak of war and her subsequent service and tragic death as a VAD.

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Berkshire Family History Society works to meet the needs of those researching their ancestry across the UK and overseas – as well as those looking for former relatives in historic Berkshire.  You do not need to be a member to benefit.

The society offers:

  • Research Zone in central Reading that is free to use and open to all

  • Free access at The Centre for Heritage and Family History to online resources like FindMyPast, the 1939 Register, The Genealogist, the British Newspaper Archive and Ancestry (the worldwide edition)

  • Regular free help and advice sessions

  • Meetings in Abingdon, Bracknell, Newbury, Reading, Windsor and Woodley — open to everyone

  • Online discussion list for members  informed answers to research queries and advice from experienced researchers

  • Members’ Area with data and other information not readily accessible elsewhere

  • Indexes and transcriptions of Berkshire’s historic records on CD — parish registers, probate documents, monumental inscriptions, maps, First World War history and more

  • Quarterly magazine, the Berkshire Family Historian, for members

  • a chance to join in project work, recording, transcribing and helping to preserve records

  • Links to the research experience, advice and support of members worldwide

  • Opportunities to volunteer and so help others with their family history