Our quarterly journal "Berkshire Family Historian" (free to all members) is packed with information.  Some of the most interesting contributions are Members’ articles about their genealogical journey and the things they unearthed during the research.

Here is our archive of those articles.  It’s a constant work in progress, with new articles being added each quarter, and older ones over time as we extend the archive back to the earliest days of the journal.

We’ve thrown in a few articles from organisations such as the Berkshire Record Office and – unashamedly – some plugs for products you can buy from the shop to help your research

What price a wife?

Penny Stokes takes a look at a long gone substitute for divorce

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William Watkins Waite and his travelling family

Fred Waite tells the story of a much-travelled ancestor – William Watkins Waite and his travelling family

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Breaking a brick wall

Richard Croker explains why he joined Berkshire Family History Society

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From Reading to Adelaide

Dennis Grover follows his paternal great-grandather Fred Grover’s journey to Australia

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The workhouse’s impact on the life of inmates

Gillian Hazell tells us of her grandmothers’ life. Frances Ellen Marshall was born in 1894 to single mother, Elizabeth Marshall, an inmate of Wokingham workhouse, situated in Barkham Road.

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The Truth?

Richard Brown shares an example of why you should verify all the stories you’ve been told

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George Thomas Barlow

Michael Barlow shows how much detail can be found from military records and how this enabled him to tell his grandfather’s story

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Do you have an interest in Jewish Genealogy?

Jewish genealogy is even more exciting than general genealogy, because it forces you to understand history, geography, new languages, new alphabets as well as social history. There were no Jews in this country between 1290 and 1657 so an ancestor of yours must have come to the UK from some other “old country” be it in Eastern Europe, Germany, Holland or elsewhere.

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My Father’s War

In May 1939 the Military Training
Act was passed by the British Parliament. This required every man aged 20 or 21 to present themselves for 6 months military service. My father, Leonard Sidney Frank Walter was drafted into the Militia on 17th July 1939 – just after his
21st birthday. This is his story

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Lambourn Family and “Dear Ma” Postcards

When perusing about 160 postcards that had been in the possession of my paternal grandmother and her mother, from the beginnings of the 20th century, I realised that they held secrets and clues that other family history sources do not hold

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Women’s Suffrage: the cause in Reading

February 6th 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of The Representation of the People Act, which extended the vote to all men over the age of 21 and to those aged 19 and above in the armed forces. However, more significantly, it gave the franchise to women, specifically those who were aged over 30 and who met the £5 property qualification.

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Black and Asian merchant seamen in the First World War

In 1914 Britain had a maritime empire. Goods, people, materials and ideas moved by sea. Nearly 2/3 of the food and drink consumed in Britain came from abroad. This global maritime supply network – that fed and fuelled civilian and military populations – was key to the First World War.

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Brick walls in a lineage?

There are obscure documents which, if discovered through a name search in archival catalogues, can reveal remarkable details of a person’s character and life, and perhaps assist in breaking through a brick wall in the parish and probate records. This was my experience when seeking to ascertain the parentage of one of my 8x great grandfathers, Richard Pinnell of Upper Lambourn (Uplambourn in many early records).

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St Joseph’s Convent in Reading celebrates 125 years but some of its pupils are missing!

In October 1894 four nuns from The Congregation of Sisters, which had been founded by Mother Marie Madeleine Postel in Normandy, made a difficult journey to Berkshire. After landing at Southampton they took the train to Farnborough. The hard-working Sisters, facing some local discrimination, created their school in an old outfitters shop in about ten days; it was dedicated to St Joseph.

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The Great Road to Bath: did it lead to health or depravity?

In an age when gentlemen and ladies often neither dined together, or shared the same church pews, Bath’s communal facilities must have come as quite a shock for the first-time visitor. When Edward Ward visited the famous city he observed a startling and deeply unattractive picture of the middle classes taking to the waters.

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Unfinished Business

Early in 2014, I set about the task of identifying all the men on the Roll of Honour in St John the Baptist’s Church, Caversham, my church. I aimed to complete this by 11th November 2018 – but I have failed. There are 56 names on this Roll of Honour

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Sheep Farming In Patagonia

An article about the connection between two families from West Berkshire who came from very different backgrounds, but both resided in the Newbury area at the end of the nineteenth century, and their links with Patagonia.

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Burghfield War Memorial

The recently published survey of the Burghfield St Mary Memorial Inscriptions (BRK0287) contains lists of the 55 men who were killed in the two world wars. This article describes the techniques used to try and identify the people behind the names not listed, and also records the 31 other people, with connections to Burghfield, who died in these conflicts.

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Evening Classes at Shaw Farm, Windsor

An aunt showed me a bible belonging to her grandfather Alfred Purton. Inside was an inscription from Queen Victoria …

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Peasemore, St Barnabas Parish Regsters

Peasemore, St Barnabas Parish Registers CD includes full transcriptions of Baptisms 1538-2006, Banns 1727-1948, Marriages 1540-2003 and Burials 1538-2007

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Berkshire Baptisms (3rd Edition)

Over 400,000 baptisms from 156 parish and non-parochial registers of the “old” Royal County of Berkshire. Update available for first and second editions

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Wokingham Baptist, Methodist and Free Churches Burial Grounds Monumental Inscriptions CD

This CD lists the names of over 1600 people names and holds transcriptions of their monuments and memorials within both churches, the Baptist churchyard and joint Free Churches burial ground.

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Bearwood, St. Catherine Monumental Inscriptions 1815 – 2019 CD

Bearwood, St. Catherine Monumental Inscriptions 1815 – 2019 CD lists the names of over 1,600 people, and holds transcriptions of their monuments and memorials within the church and churchyard. There are photographs of every extant monument and interactive plans to show the locations of the memorials.

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Childrey, St Mary Parish Registers, 1558-1928 CD

Childrey, St Mary CD includes Baptisms 1558-1927, Banns 1755-1912, Marriages 1558-1928, Burials 1558-1883

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How to Write Up Your Family History

I began writing up my family history about twenty years ago. I wanted to turn my research into a story which included something of what life might have been like for my ancestors. One driver for this was an eager audience within my family who, I suspected, would be quickly bored by a list of dates and places.

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Dating a Photograph – an Unusual Approach!

Mick Henry becomes a detective to date this image. For some years I have had a photograph of a shop my parents worked in and the property they lived in which was attached to it, in Shurlock Row. We think, because of the angle of the shot, it was taken from an upstairs room over the road from the property, maybe Mortimore’s Stores.

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A Most Extraordinary Coincidence

David Moseley tells us what can happen when you search the internet. Family history can sometimes throw up some interesting stories and coincidences. One evening in 2017 I came across a notice in the London Gazette which surprised and intrigued me.

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Missing Pieces of the Jigsaw – Second Cousins Once Removed Unite!

Liz Butcher tells how a chance email brought a new relative and answers. Imagine my delight when an e-mail arrived one evening via Ancestry.com asking if I had any information to help with a family tree.charming person who had contacted me – Anne – proved to be my previously unknown second cousin once removed and there followed an exchange of information from which we both benefited.

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A Drake Dynasty or the Richard and Roger Saga

Paul Bryant unveils his confusing lineage: In the September 2018 edition of the Berkshire Family Historian there was an interesting article on the Civil War and its protagonists. Of course, there were many other side events taking place that are of more interest to the family historian.

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What Happened to Albert?

Lynne Smith tries to unravel a family mystery: Albert James Henry Peever/Cope/Kalvi was the brother of my paternal Grandmother Nellie (nee Cope).

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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

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Queen Victoria’s Visit to Bracknell, and The Relief of Mafeking May 1900

I recently posted some pictures on the Bygone Bracknell Facebook page. Members helpfully identified the locations, and there was a great deal of interest in two particular images dated 19 May 1900 and featuring many Union Jack flags.A faint caption said “Queen Victoria passed through … Celebration of Relief of Mafeking, S. Africa”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Olivia Colman, the Bazett family and the Reading Connection

Katie Amos follows up on an episode from the 2018 series of Who Do You Think You Are?

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Sulham Village – The War Years – Part Three

In this the final instalment, Jean Harland continues her recollections of living in a rural village during World War

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James Benjamin & Charles Collie Butler: Soldiers of WW1 – Part 2

What then happened to Charlie? Charlie had concluded his letter of 22 October 1915 by informing his parents from Plymouth […]

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A Witchcraft Accusation in 17th Century Reading

In 1634, Reading was a medium sized town well positioned for trade with good water and road transport links. Woollen […]

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Kintbury St Mary Parish Registers CD

Kintbury St Mary CD includes Baptisms 1558-1953, Banns 1754-1932, Marriages 1557-1981, Burials 1558-1972.

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News from the Berkshire Record Office

What new archives are now available at the BRO? What’s going on at the BRO? World War One Exhibition

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The Royal Berkshire Medical Museum and Archive

The Museum is open to the public on the first and third Sundays in the month from 2.00pm to 4.30pm. It is open at other times by arrangement for group bookings (please phone 0118 9549371). See below for specific archival enquiries.

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Berkshire War Memorials Edition 2

This updated version has added approx.150 more memorials including many Commonwealth war graves. Of the CD content 56% now has images including all the new memorials and many more of the Edition 1 entries. The disc provides a variety of finding aids. Edition: 2018

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The Impact of the English Civil War on Berkshire’s Records

For many family historians the issues with parish registers during the English Civil War and Interregnum are a brick wall. Catherine Sampson explores these issues in the parishes in and around Reading, and also highlights a few of the many opportunities within this period.

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How do I find my Irish ancestors?

It is a popular belief that researching your Irish ancestry is not for the faint-hearted. Drawing on recent research, Derek Trinder offers a brief overview to help you to start a journey into your Irish ancestry

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James Benjamin & Charles Collie Butler: Soldiers of WW1 Part 1

James and Charles Butler both responded in early 1915 to the call to arms and volunteered for army service. Jim was 17 and Charlie was 15. They were amongst some 2½ million men who joined the British army voluntarily between August 1914 and December 1915. This is their story

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Reading Local Studies Illustrations Collection

The Reading Central Library’s illustration collection is one source of photographs that the Berkshire Family Historian uses to illustrate its articles. In case you hadn’t realised that such a thing existed, or that it is easily viewable online, and that you can have your very own copies too, here is a little bit more about it.

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Ancient Oak? – a postscript

I came to the article ‘Ancient Oak?’ by David Wooldridge and saw that it was about HMS Foudroyant. I thought “I remember seeing Foudroyant moored in Portsmouth Harbour when sailing there in the 1970s and 80s. It was a dismasted warship of Nelson’s era used as a training ship.”

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ANCIENT OAK?

A rather splendid clock and barometer mounted in a wooden anchor graced a wall in my Grandmother’s house and was regularly tapped by everyone passing through the middle room. One day my Grandmother told me that the wood was oak from a famous warship. Here is the tale of a once famous ship – HMS Foudroyant

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