Report on Presentations by Members

by Bryan Pledger

The story my sister told me by Peter Beaven

Peter started with “Once upon a time” and said “when my cousins came to see us they used to talk about Budleigh Salterton.  His sister had a story about this family that a mother and daughter travelled by coach and stayed overnight.  The young lady was in a four poster bed and during the night she left the room and then came back but in the morning found there was a man in her bed so they had to get married.
He discovered the birth of Mary Strickland on the LDS Family Search web site which stated she was born in Buddleigh Salterton but baptised in St Michael Paternoster Royal London.  Actually she was registered at the Methodist Register Office in Paternoster Row, near St Paul’s.

In the memoirs of Charles Gardner it talks about the marriage of Grace Lea who stopped the night at Salisbury and left her room and returned to wake up to find a strange man in her bed and she married him. In Samuel Stickland’s story he noted that the door of his bedroom was opened by a girl so he got up and left the room. They had several children and with every fairy story lived happily ever after.


Victor and his wives by Stuart Ingram

Stuart described the research of the Burgess family of his cousins and the 1939 Register had Lily Burgess’s married name as Bachelier.  The cousins told him that her husband was Victor Bachelier, a Frenchman, and he was previously married to Lily’s aunt, Harriett French!  He and Lily were visiting the Burgess family, in Essex, when the war started and stayed until the end.

A search of the web site found a detailed tree of the Bachelier family with exact dates and places listed.  The records of Victor’s death in 1947 in Paris contained full names and dates of his first wife, birth, parents, his age, address, and that he was a retired cavalry officer.  His second marriage was to Lily in 1924, also in Paris, with a full record of his previous marriage, their births, parents and the witnesses.  Before that there were Harriett’s death in 1922, Victor’s marriage to Harriett in 1910, both in Paris, and his birth in Calais in 1859.  Older records are more difficult to read but the standardised wording helps.

The French état civil dates to the Revolution, 40 years before English registrations, are hand-written (later typed) not just forms and very detailed, though some things we have are missing – e.g. cause of death, or the informant’s relationship.  These “French BMDs” are well worth looking for if you have a good idea of the place and date.  The archives are all local (town or département) and for most the only index is the original one in each register – so knowing the date and place matters a lot.  There are big gaps (Paris before 1870, most censuses) and few national resources and, of course, they are all in French.  If you have a possible candidate to look for Stuart will help.


Henry Lea 1822 -1890 by Michael Rea

Michael showed us a 1912 document produced over a period of 5 years by Bradford solicitors for the purpose of

determining all the beneficiaries of the Will of John Lea his 3x great grandfather who died 45 years previously.  Unusually, the Will stipulated that the estate be distributed equally between all the issues of his four grandchildren living at the time of the death of the last grandchild irrespective of which generation they belong.  There were four grandchildren, Henry Lea who married in 1851, Emma married in 1850 who shortly after emigrated to Australia, William (G Hunter) who married in 1858 and Mary married in 1857 who emigrated to New York.

The last survivor was Michael`s great grandfather William G Hunter who died in 1907.

Executors found Henry had 15 descendants living in the Reading area, Emma 48 in Australia, William 7 in London and Mary 11 in New York.  The total sum available was £3,002 and thus the 81 beneficiaries got £37 each and Michael’s mother, who was 12 years old at the time, bought a piano with her legacy.  A Hunter family member gave Michael some interesting letters from the 1850’s including one from Henry Lea to William, giving him £8, it being the last unless he “became a changed man” and there was a pledge by William written on his wedding day, 7th August 1858, to henceforth abstain from drink. 

The 1881 census showed that Henry Lea was a “traveller in biscuits” and with his association with Reading probably worked for Huntley and Palmers.  In the archives of that company held in The Museum of Rural Life, Michael discovered a pamphlet entitled “Henry Lea of Reading” detailing a sketch of his life and a photograph.

His headstone in the Quaker burial ground in Church Street states he died 20th January 1890 aged 67 and that his wife Louisa died 17th March 1901 aged 76 years.

After the break Bryan Pledger gave his Anniversaries 2019 Quiz with the winning team and all the presenters being given a present for their contribution to an enthralling evening showing the depth of knowledge and work undertaken by the Branch members.

January 2020

Picture of Sandra Barkwith

Sandra Barkwith