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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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”.
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 – 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.
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.
What then happened to Charlie? Charlie had concluded his letter of 22 October 1915 by informing his parents from Plymouth that “we are going at 12 o’clock this morning”. We learn later that his Unit had been posted to Egypt. He sent to his young brother Jack a Christmas card showing camels and a desert […]
In 1634, Reading was a medium sized town well positioned for trade with good water and road transport links. Woollen cloth production employed nearly one third of the town in the early 17th century and some people made a lot of money. There was a decline in this trade over the century with depressions in […]
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
Wills are a valuable resource for family history researchers and are particularly important once the research progresses back into the parish registers and we no longer have the censuses to provide confirmation of family groupings. Berkshire Probate Index: an index to the probate documents of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire 1480 to 1857
This new edition is almost half as large again as it’s predecessor (published in 1998), with 74 articles on Berkshire’s history (and pre-history) from the Palaeolithic period to the twenty-first century, each accompanied by specially-drawn maps in full colour, and with numerous illustrations. Most of the original articles have been revised and updated, and many […]
The museum at the Thames Valley Police Training College at Sulhamstead contains an exceptional collection, including uniforms and equipment, and accounts of notorious crimes committed in Berkshire in Victorian times. The Metropolitan Police Force was created by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel in 1829, but it took another 27 years before counties and boroughs established their own police forces. Reading was more progressive than most towns, establishing its own force in 1836.