Monday, 29 December 2014

The burial of Elizabeth Grisbrook 30 December 1804 at Bromley

The burial register of Bromley for 1804 (see Kent Online Parish Clerks transcript records that 37 year old Elizabeth was buried on the 30 December 1804 at Bromley. For many that would be sufficient information as part of family history research.
Bromley Archives holds many volumes of the funeral accounts of Dunn and Sons (Upholders) or Funeral Directors as we now refer to them. The forthcoming transcript series to be published by Kent Online Parish Clerks during 2015 adds information to this burial. The account books were kept from 1803 and Mister Grisbrook's account 37 in Folio 1 for £5-13s-6d requires an extra deep grave to be dug and a small deal coffin for still born to be buried on that of Elizabeth who we infer died in labour. The grave would also accommodate other family members in future. John and Elizabeth's other children may be found in the transcript series for Bromley.
In 1804 in other funeral accounts we discover a fee of 5 shillings for bell tolling at Bromley a winter deep grave excavation cost 7 shillings a sixpence whereas a summer one cost four shillings and sixpence or less and some wealthy deceased had a lead inner coffin with a wooden outer. This form of burial required 8 bearers and they required refreshments which were provided at approximately a shilling a head.
It is easy to overlook such records in our desire to record generations on a pedigree;often worthwhile to search the catalogue of local Archives and to look for "other records" transcriptions from Online Parish Clerks work in those records at Archives.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Red Cow Hayes Lane Hayes Kent

As I review the transcript of the medical records of Doctor Thomas Ilott my attention was drawn to the people contained in the prescription ledger resident at the Red Cow 1809-1812.
Most local public houses are well known but the Red Cow of 1809 has long disappeared and I was intrigued to look at both the name and location.
In 1751 when the noted Mrs Elizabeth Montague took the lease of a house at Hayes;Rachel Knowles blog about her may be read here. Visits to her home at Hayes enabled her friends to enjoy "wholesome fare of brown bread, sincerity, red cow's milk,which afford good nourishment to mind and body".
I find the reference to local red cows interesting and the lease of the house in Hayes is also of interest because when Mrs Montague ended William Pitt took over the lease and eventually had a house built in Hayes where his son William (the Younger) was born.
I find the hints that local cows were red in the eighteenth century significant in the choice of name for a local hostelry.
The references to the Red Cow and residents there contained in the Ilott prescription ledger are therefore valuable in our knowledge of a local hostelry in Hayes Lane now long forgotten.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

John Bowdler of Pickhurst Manor

One of the prominent families contained in the medical prescriptions ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott Surgeon of Bromley is that of John Bowdler who resided at Pickhurst an ancient manor house which was within the parish of Hayes Kent.
The Ilott account is of interest due to Ilott's treatment of a number of members of the family.
John Bowdler (the elder) 1746-1823 had inherited a fortune when his eminent banker father died in 1785 and lived in Hayes for the years 1809-1811 covered by the Ilott Folio C ledger;the account is carried over in to Folio D which does not survive but covers 1812 onwards.
John's brother Thomas and sister Harriet or Henrietta Maria Bowdler were authors of the expurgated version of 24 Shakespeare plays in the 1807 The Family Shakspeare which was to give to the English language the phrase to bowdlerise. For more detail see Thomas Bowdler entry Wikipedia
 For further biography of John the elder derived from the Dictionary of National Biography see John Bowdler Wikipedia
Ilott treats with the prescription of Orange Peas or Citrus Aurantium John daughter Elizabeth Bowdler throughout 1809 and 1810. Elizabeth dies on 4 December 1810.My blog outlines the discovery of this unique prescription in the folio orange pea (citrus aurantium)
Also treated in the same period by Ilott are John's two sons who are eminent in their own lives.
John Bowdler the Younger 2 February 1783-2 February 1815 a lawyer and posthumous author and poet who in 1810 developed tuberculosis and spent two years in Southern Europe during his illness. It is possible that his uncle who had practiced medicine in the previous century before travelling widely in Southern Europe may have influenced his itinerary but as Ilott treats him in 1810 before he leaves for Europe and again in 1811 and the episodes of treatment presumably lead to the decision for him to leave London for Europe and subsequently to reside with an aunt near Portsmouth. His father published posthumously John the Younger's "selected Pieces in Prose and Verse". An 1818 review of this by William Roberts The British Review and Critical Journal 1818 contains some biographical detail of his childhood and legal career.
Thomas Bowdler the Younger 13 March 1782-12 November 1856 or Reverend Thomas Bowdler MA  was at the time of Ilott's treatment still a curate but was to become a Prebend at Saint Paul's Cathedral in the years prior to his death. It is likely that his wife Phoebe is also referred to in Ilott as "Mrs Thomas B".

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lady Byron at the Clock House Beckenham

As I have worked through the fragmentary medical accounts of Thomas Ilott surgeon of Bromley to produce transcripts I have examined the various Byron material which is in the loose accounts folder at Bromley Archives.
Although now conserved the medical account on a fragment of paper for Lady Byron's househould under reference 617/7b is on the reverse side of an account for a Mister Vidler of Beckenham.
In 1824 Ilott treated members of her household:
Sir R in the account refers to lady Byron's father Sir Ralph Noel 6th Baronet who was to die in 1825.
Miss in the account refers to the 8 year old  Augusta Ada Byron daughter of the Poet Lord Byron and Lady Byron or Anne Isabella Noel.
A seperate account for 1824 called Lord Byron reference 617/8 refers not to the poet but to George Anson Byron who was treated by Ilott on 16 May 1824. George Anson Byron (8 March 1879-1 March 1868) was cousin to the poet who succeeded to the title after the poets death on 19 April 1824. He was a career naval officer see biography
The visit to Beckenham by George Anson Byron within a month of the poet's death is captured in the Ilott account.
Also in the Bromley Archive is the letter written by Lady Byron on 12 December 1825 from Hastings which is accompanied by a draft for £40 for "attendances and medicines to my father and myself". In this letter she replies to Ilotts concern for the health of Augusta Ada Byron. In reply Lady Byron describes her daughter's health "appears so completely re established that I hope we shall not have any reason to regret her removal from the sea-side". She goes on to describe that she herself had benefited from the stay at Hastings. She signs the letter A Noel Byron.
Ada her daughter is known to have suffered a number of childhood illnesses after the care provided by Ilott which it seems reasonable to infer included removal from Beckenham to the sea side. At this time Ada had received much of her day to day care from Judith Lady Milibanke Lady Byron's own mother. Ada was later to become a mathematician and writer who is known for her work on Charles Babbages Analytical Engine. She wrote about the first algorithm to be carried out on a machine and is nowadays regarded as the world's first computer programmer. More of her childhood can be found here
The Bromley Archive material has been paper conserved but both Lady Byron's fragmentary account and her letter have lost part of the original page and characters. The account number is damaged and the right hand side of her letter is irregular and lose part of the word re established but the whole letter has been transcribed.
Lady Byron is referred to in other sources at Bromley in connection with her residence at Clock House.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Reverend J.R.Brown Rector of Lyons County Durham

As transcription of the Bromley Kent parish registers works through early twentieth century records it is worth noting the presence in the Ancient Parish of Bromley Saint Peter and Saint Paul of the rector of Bowes (or Easington Lane) County Durham apparently on a regular annual basis.
In the marriage register for Bromley from 1895-1904 Reverend Arthur Gresley Hellicar is Vicar and John M Tamplin is curate. Other clergy from Bromley parishes conduct marriages also on an occasional basis but a regular signature of Brown appears each summer.
Both Tamplin and Brown are prone to mistakes in the register which are corrected by their initials;whether as a result of Hellicar's vigilance or the intervention of the Bromley Superintendent Registrar is seldom clear.
Brown's signature appears each August/early September from 1897 and it is intriguing why he should visit Bromley annually. He clearly is challenged by some local street names and names of people!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Freelands Bromley dog

In 1810 the Freelands Widmore Bromley mansion was occupied under a lease by Charles Boone Esquire.
He was a patient of Doctor Thomas Ilott and the various members of the household which had a dairy maid, gardeners and domestic servants. In the Folio C prescription ledger of Doctor Ilott both in 1809 and September 1810 Ilott provides a prescription for a dog clearly billed in the account ledger.
It was not unusual for a surgeon who was also a skilled apothecary to use lotions or creams which could treat both humans and animals and vetinary science had not at that time developed distinct from medical practice.
In 1809 Charles Boone paid a total of £29 to Ilott for household medical care and prescriptions;in 1810 £41 5shillings of which one shilling was for care of the dog.
In addition to the dog treatment the account is significant in identifying Charles Boone as resident from 1809-1811 in a period when several occupiers leased the mansion. Some years later Freelands was sold.
Th incident of the dog has provided Bromley Archives with additional material for November 2014 explore archives Twitter week. The transcripts for Ilott are a work in progress for online publication in 2015.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The occupation of Upholder: Dunn and Company Funeral accounts

The Bromley parish registers contain many ancient crafts or trades and it becomes clear to the transcriber of the complete series of registers that some trades found in the early history of the town persist to the twentieth century.
As I transcribe marriages in 1895-1905 marriage register I am reminded of one of these by the entry of Upholder.
In each century I have transcribed entries relating to this ancient trade. The Worshipful Company of Upholders of the City of London can trace its origins back to earlier days of Craft Guilds which concentrated on the high quality of  workmanship and of English manufactured goods. The Worshipful Company elected wardens from 1360 onwards who had a duty to inspect the quality of goods and from 1474 had power to seize goods in the City of London which were of inferior quality.
The Bromley references in early records to Uphouldesterr and Uphelderr and later as Upholder are applied to Upholstery in the town and one of the most influential businesses Dunn and Company (later H G Dunn and Sons Limited) of Market Square was founded on such trade. It later expanded from drapery and Furniture sales and delivery to removals and storage as well as Funeral Directors in the nineteenth century. The craft of Funeral upholstery was well established within the Guild memberhip and Dunn'sis  a good example of both crafts maintained side by side.The business included cabinet making,funeral directors,drapery soft furnishing auctioneer and valuers; all part and parcel of the Upholder.
The Worshipful Company of Upholders website includes much of the craft history.
Kent Online Parish Clerks have an agreement with Bromley Archive to transcribe the Dunn and Company Funeral Directors Account ledgers in 2015. These records from the nineteenth century until the Second World War are detailed accounts of funeral arrangements and include details of who paid the funeral account. The first account book dates from 1803-1807; the final surviving ledger is for 1934. The accounts include many funeral societies from the City of London to benefit a wide variety of occupations. The first 11 books will cover the period to 1918. It was only in 1914 that Herbert George Dunn registered the company as H G Dunn and Sons Limited.
The pilot transcription sampled the card index compiled by Jean Rawlings for the period 1803-1839. The arrangement of cards and references to account pages was found to be problematic and the aim is therefore to compile a complete index for each volume of accounts. This will avoid the problems of one card containing seperate burial accounts and account names which lead the searcher to incorrect volume and pages.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Downe memorial to those who died in World War 1

In rememberance this month of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1 or as the Brass memorial plaque in the parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin puts it the "Great War" I visited the Tower of London to see the installation entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red with 888,246 hand made ceramic poppies covering the moat.
The war dead of Downe are commerated in the parish church and are listed. Helpfully the Imperial War Museum web site Lives of the First World War is being developed for Downe and has the oppurtunity for anyone to develop biographies of each man  and remember individuals Downe War dead
I am happy to have purchased one of the ceramic poppies which will be removed from the installation after 11 November 2014 on behalf of Kent Online Parish Clerks and hope that in future it can form part of the village remberance.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Beckenham Resurrectionists

Beckenham churchyard experienced a problem for several years in the 1800's and the euphemism Resurrectionists was applied to the practice of disinterring bodies after burial and removal to the medical schools of London for dissection.
The Beckenham Parish accounts and Vestry minute records cite several incidents and Robert Borrowman in "Beckenham Past and Present" published Beckenham 1910 records the memories of at least one body reinterred at Beckenham.
Beckenham has one of the oldest Lych Gate roofs in the country. Lych gates or Corpse gates originated around the 7th century and were the point at which clergy met the funeral congregation and began the last rites for the deceased. The larger gates had a shelf for the corpse to rest upon. Most surviving lych gates are from the 15th century. However the Saint George Beckenham gate roof dates from the 13th century. The sides and foundation were restored by a grieving father in 1924 to commemorate the loss of two sons in the First World War and a plaque commemorates the restoration. The roof however is over 700 years old.
The church was originally built in the twelfth century and remained as a medieval church until it was taken down and the current town church was built in 1885-1887 by local architect W, Gibbs Bartleet. The tower was added in 1902-3. It's predecessor had suffered fire damage on 23 December 1790 when the medieval shingle spire was struck by lightning and burnt down causing damage to the church also.

In 1818 the Beckenham Parish Accounts record an entry for 11 shillings "paid 2 men for watching the Church 2 nights". The Watchers used to hide in the beams of the old Lych gate.
On 24 November 1822 certain bodies were removed from the churchyard;the perpetrators were apparently identified but no record of punishment survives and Borrowman records several examples of grave watching of recent burials.
The Vestry Minutes record that in 1823 William Arnold Parish Clerk was suspected of being complicit in removal of bodies and that by unanimous resolution that there was no grounds  whatsoever for giving information about burials of being involved with the theft of bodies. Arnold was exonerated by the Vestry.
Borrowman includes the memories of Beckenham people who describe an incident around 1826 of the burial of a schoolmaster followed next morning of the churchyard discovery of burial clothes and the coffin being found empty. The son of the deceased travelled to London and searched all of the hospitals and is said to have identified the partially dismembered corpse which was returned to Beckenham for reinterment.

Friday, 17 October 2014

A population record of Beckenham 1821

In the course of background research about Beckenham Parish in the 1800's to accompany my transcript of Doctor Thomas Ilott's practice prescription ledger I located the account about 1821 of the population record of Reverend Andrew Brandram curate to the parish. Brandram went on to become Rector of Beckenham and produced the following statistics. I think he was probably compiling a requisite report in 1821 as parishes were asked to do so every ten years for early population statistics. Bromley has a surviving return in one volume of its registers.
The population of Beckenham Parish is recorded as 1180 people 558 Males and 622 Females. Of the over 60 population Brandram records that there were 27 males and 39 females aged 60-70;16 males and 16 females aged 70-80 and 4 males and 6 females aged 80-90 years of age.
There were 196 inhabited houses and 15 houses "building" 3 of which were inhabited. The population contained 214 plowmans families 77 persons employed in agriculture and 46 employed in trade manufacture and handicraft the remainder of 91 not in these two categories.
This valuable population information lies behind the population figure for 1821 in published sources and the total figure on the Kent Online Parish Clerks Beckenham Parish page.
Beckenham had been the home of  William Merrick Surgeon who was highly regarded not least by the poor of the parish who mourned at his funeral in 1818.
From 1809 Doctor Thomas Ilott provides medical care to many of the major households and tradespeople of the village as well as being paid by the parish to care for the poor see Parish account transcript As I continue to transcribe household accounts it is evident that Doctor Ilott delivers the children of labourers and gentry alike and was inoculating children.
 Beckenham had from 1811 had many people suffer from typhus and scarlet fever as the burial register reflect.
Unfortunately research of Beckenham Baptisms and Burials prior to 1813 involves a heavily fire and water damaged register which has lost large areas of pages and water damage has washed away ink losing substantial areas  of information. The Ilott ledger records date of delivery of children and it is therefore possible to retrieve some partial entries from the Baptismal information where the date of birth is still visible. In one such example an older child of the family is baptised on the same day.
The Ilott ledger is therefore a significant record for searchers of Beckenham families in the early years of the nineteenth century.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Bromley Mister Pickwick

Charles Dickens published the 20 monthly instalments of his first novel between April 1836 and November 1837entitled The Pickwick Papers or the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club,Containing a Faithful Record of the Perambulations,Perils,Travels,Adventures and Sporting Transactions of the Corresponding Members. Since then there has been a well documented tradition in Bromley that the original Mister Pickwick was based upon Robert Booth Rawes who with other mebers of his family lead a boarding school for boys.
The Pickwick Papers contains  within the Travels and Perambulations" an accurate description of coaching inns. Bromley had both stage coaching inns and several generations of the Weller family stage-coachmen. One wonders how familiar the 24 year old Charles Dickens may have been with Bromley and whether he had encountered the Wellers?
Rawes Academy was founded as a boarding school for boys as early as 1730 and was situated in Bromley High Street. There is no extant record of the founder however it is believed the Rawes family became involved in the 1780's. The Rates Books for  1787/8 assess messrs Booth and Rawes in the sum of £100 and various record sources identify Richard Rawes as churchwarden in 1789 so there is documentary evidence of his involvement in the school in the 1780's.
Other members of the family joined the school so that by the time of his retirement Richard had been succeeded by Robert Booth Rawes and William and Joseph Rawes and the Rawes Academy was a well established Bromley institution. Richard Rawes died aged 72 and his burial register entry in 1814 describes him as a Gentleman.
In the surviving 1801 Census of Bromley Kent Online Parish Clerks transcript  Richard Rawes Academy contained 124 males and 9 females and it is reasonable to conclude that over 100 boys were boarded. Bromley was a pleasant country town with good coach connections and had attracted reputable surgeons to the town and had attracted Jane Austen to describe the Bell Inn favourably in Pride and Prejudice.
Medical care for the Rawes Academy is documented in the dispensing and accounts ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott whose surgery was in the High Street facing the Bell Inn.Doctor Ilott between 1809 and 1811 records treatment of many named pupils and occasionally staff members.The Rawes account is headed Messrs Rawes's Academy in the Folio C ledger deposited at Bromley Archive.
Whilst we may never know of Dickens familiarity with Bromley,the Wellers or Robert Booth Rawes there are many references in local history of the town to the tradition that the author drew upon Robert Booth Rawes in his first novel for Pickwick.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Black history of Bromley

I noted in my transcription of the parish registers of Bromley that there are clear references to Black servants in the 18th century.
The fashion for servants can be found from the reign of Elizabeth I who in 1596 complained about the number of "blackamoores".
In Bromley which had many large houses in need of servants the burial register for 1744 records the burial of Rose a servant girl in the household of Mister Henry Revel and in 1751 Thomas described as the son of  a Negro Woman is buried in the parish churchyard.
It will surprise some nowadays to find the size of the black population in Britain in the mid 18th century to be as many as 10,000. Although there are few records of households in the Bromley district prior to the 1801 census which survives there are recorded local births and burials to reflect the mid eighteenth century immigration through slavery. To learn more of this period see National Museums Liverpool site.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Help Save the Hulton Archive

The Friends of Lancashire Archives need assistance to help save the valuable Hulton Archive.
The major archive of the Hulton family near Bolton was deposited at the Lancashire Record Office in 1943 for safekeeping. It is a well catalogued and preserved family and estate archive of local and national significance.
The current owner of the Hulton Archive wishes to sell it and the Friends of Lancashire Archives aim to raise the £95,000 purchase price by the end of November 2014 see Friends of Lancashire Archives appeal.
The ways in which you can support the appeal are here.
I hope that the appeal which I support will succeed in retaining the archive in Lancashire where in the 70 years of conservation and preservation effort lancashire County Council have worked well to keep the Archive in Lancashire.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Darwin Wild Pursuits Around Downe

On 17 September 1842 Charles Darwin and his pregnant wife moved into Down House and resided in the village until his death.
To coincide with the date author Ewa Prokop publishes Darwin's Wild Pursuits around Downe; 14 short stories each based on a conversation between Darwin and an animal. For further detail on Ewa's book read the mad about Charles Darwin blog
Ewa has previously written about Downe in Shropshire and Downe:Two Landscapes Darwin held Dear Amazon page and spent 18 years living in the village and serving as a conservation officer involved in the world heritage site bids in 2007 and 2010. I enjoyed Ewa's earlier work and although her new book is imed at a younger readership value her local knowledge of the village.
My Downe parish register transcripts are online at Kent Online Parish Clerks  Downe page. The delayed Baptismal register from 1812 will be published in future. I had hoped that this register would receive the support of Family Search but they withdrew from a cooperative Indexing agreement and I have now reworked material.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley page

The concept of a single page for all parishes in Bromley Kent and transcripts for all registers is simple to say but has involved a great deal of effort to achieve.
Complete transcripts for Bromley Holy Trinity were completed in 2013 and as I begin proof reading the marriage registers for the last years of the nineteenth century in September 2014 the transcripts for Saints Peter and Saint Paul from 1558-1900's are on target to be completed by December 2014.
In addition the rare 1801 census and the growing "other records" links to the practice prescription and accounts ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott 1809-1814 followed by the index to Doctor Ilott's day book of visits and consultations into the 1830's will be added in the year ahead.
I am about to begin to transcribe the Dunn and Company Funeral Directors Accounts ledgers from the early 1800s onwards.
Other parishes formed from the Ancient parish will then be transcribed and added.
Over time the Bromley page Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley will offer researchers a comprehensive series of records from the early history of the town and parish to the twentieth century.
I echo the expression of the rumbustious actor Brian Blessed who said "You can feel them. It starts sinking into your DNA molecules.You can feel them growing within you". I believe that feeling is common to many who research their own family members but it certainly has been my experience as I have tried to decipher the witness signatures on marriage register entries or read other register volumes.
I am grateful to the staff at Bromley Archives and Local Studies Library for their support in undertaking work on dozens of volumes of registers and other records to produce the transcripts available online to a worldwide audience.
Now in my 45th year of transcribing records I am grateful to achieve this collection and receive emails from so many research organisations.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Prescription:Orange peas

As I complete the transcription of the prescription ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott I came upon a Hayes Kent household where for several months alongside other treatments Orange Peas are prescribed.
Ilott was both an Apothecary and Surgeon and treats the unidentified "Miss" for most of 1810 in a number of visits.
When this blog first appeared I was contacted by someone who informed me that local pea growing included an old heritage seed variety of local pea which could be made into a soup or broth similar to lentils. They also offered to provide further information which did not arrive;nor has any response been forthcoming on subsequent enquiry. I have now discounted their suggestion.
The original and tantalising find lead me to question what medicinal prpoerties were in mind when this repeated prescription was made in 1810  along with other treatments?
I am indebted to Carol Westway Librarian at the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society for providing partial answers to these questions.
We are in 1810 referring to Citrus aurantium which is described in the Lexicon Pharmacetium as The Seville Orange Tree here. There is also an entry in the 1846 A Cyclopedia of Domestic Medicine and Surgery about the Seville Orange Tree here.
Carol also points that a modern title in the RHS Lindley Library Medicinal Plants of the World by Ben-Erik van Wyk (2004) says that parts of the Citrus aurantium (including fruits) come under the therapeutic category of  "appetite stimulant,aromatic,stomachic" and this appears to match other items prescribed by Ilott.
There remains no precise knowledge of the condition that Ilott was treating from entries in the ledger although each item is priced if supplied or prepared. There is also a puzzle as this female "Miss" (which Ilott applies to females 8 years and up in 1142 accounts)  is unique in having such a prescription.
Certainly the description of the phrase Orange Pea contained in one recent publication  referring to Orange Peas with an Oxford English Dictionary earliest reference in 1857 provides evidence that the knowledge of therapeutic or medicinal properties was not common and suggests that Ilott was using skills he had acquired in training to treat the young Hayes woman.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Bromley Trenail maker

As I was transcribing a Bromley marriage register at Bromley Archives I found the occupation of trenail maker recorded.
Spelling varies from trenail treenail,trennel or trunnel but the wooden peg or pin was  used in boatbuilding and construction. Because wooden pegs grip tighter as water is absorbed and there is no chemical reaction as in a metal nail driven into wooden joints, planking on ships benefited from this method of fixing.
In many wooden frame buildings trenails are visible projections from joints in the timber.
I reflected on how many occupations recorded in the Bromley marriage register 1837-1848 related to the Thames ships and ship construction.
The places of abode also reflect families of Thames Watermen, coal whippers  see my blog and shipping and naval occupations.
Bromley  was home to several captains of ships both navy and East India Company, Royal Marines (usually recorded as at Greenwich) Fishermen seamen and even one Petty Officer from the asylum at Greenwich.
I recall also that Keston parish includes a Fishing boat Captain in the registers.
All Bromley Transcripts are published online at Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley page.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bethlem Museum of the Mind and relocated blog

The Bethlem Heritage blog has moved and is now part of the new website for the Museum of the Mind see Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Asbestos removal has delayed buidling work on the Museum which is now planned to open in December.
My evocation of a 19th century inmate of Bethlem for "the noble sin of drinking" was filmed some time ago and once it has emerged from  digital post production editing in East London will hopefully take up residence at the Museum to greet visitors.

Doctor Thomas Ilott Surgeon Prescription Accounts Ledger

Bromley Archives and Kent Online Parish Clerks have entered into an agreement to transcribe the surviving accounts ledger which covers 1809-1812. The Project is scheduled for completion in 2015 and will involve online publication as well as providing searchers at the Archive with an electronic index of persons named in the practice accounts. The index will also describe some treatments offered. This additional index within years of the rare survival Bromley 1801 census will provide additional information about residents of the town and district.
Thomas Ilott came to Bromley in 1808/9 and Horsbrugh in Bromley: From the earliest times to the present century describes him as a surgeon.
One of the challenges facing me as I conduct a pilot sample of over 1100 named accounts in the ledger is to learn more of Thomas Ilott life before his successful practice in the town. The Ilott father and sons were to provide medical service to the town and district including the poor of several parishes for most of the 19th century. Thomas died in 1849 and was buried in the parish churchyard not far from his home. His will mentions the surgery coach house and stable and a fine Georgian House on the corner of Church Lane and Market Square . The footprint of this faces the Old Bell in Bromley High Street and part of the land forms a Bank to the present; the remainder was acquired to build Medhurst's department store.
His partner in the practice Doctor Robert's wife bequeathed to Ilott Beechfield in Widmore Lane which passed to one of Ilotts sons James William Ilott who made it his home until his death in 1897. Edward Ilott M.D. Surgeon another son lived at 2 Dunbar Villas according to an entry in Strongs Directory of Bromley 1866.
Thomas Ilott was born in 1780 at Broadwell in Oxfordshire and the parish register records his christening.
I am very grateful to  the Archivist and Records manager at the Royal College of Surgeons for establishing in the Societys Examinations Book 1800-1820 that Thomas Ilott  was examined for a Diploma on 16 March 1804  and paid a fee of 15,,15 (sic) which I take to mean 15 guineas.Some 4-5  years later he arrives as a surgeon in Bromley and the accounts and prescription register records that he possessed both skills as an apothecary, set fractured bones in plaster and was accomplished in obstetrics as he records the delivery of children as well as regularly carrying out dental extractions. It is known that one of his grandsons qualified at Barts and this is suggestive that this is where Thomas also trained.
In Hayes Ilott is conducting smallpox inoculations within 8 years of David Jenner writing of the efficacy of inoculation. The burial registers of parishes in the Bromley district indicate the scale of death from smallpox. Ilott was therefore well trained and aware and his work in parishes which employed him saved many young lives from disease.
There is also evidence of Ilott prescribing electrical therapy;this in years before the stethoscope was devised as a wooden stick to listen to the heart in action.
I have learned a good deal about the fairly primitive medical practice of the 1800's and Ilott had a substantial income.
The ledger is in good condition but had not been examined for several years and recent daily handling have reduced the initial dust and odour; I have found it essential to wear gloves as leather rust on the covers and the danger of paper cuts were present. The volume is large but the inks are well preserved and pose few challenges for the transcriber.
I am interested to try to discover how Ilott entered medical practice;it is quite difficult to trace medical qualification  in the 1800's as over 30 institutions may have trained a practitoner usually by apprentice to a surgeon or physician. Further research is being undertaken to try to identify if possible Ilott's career prior to Bromley.
The Transcripts of all record series relating to Ilott including correspondence with Lady Byron is available at the Bromley Parish page Kent Online Parish Clerks under "other Records". It is in three parts for household accounts.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Coal Whipper of Bromley

In the 1862 marriage register of Sts Peter and Paul Bromley the father of the bride one William Hunt is described as a coal whipper.
Coal Whippers were employed in the Port of London to discharge coal from vessels by carrying baskets from ship to barges. The manner in which they were recruited according to Gladstone's account given to the House of Commons in August 1843 (see Hansard coal-whippers Bill debate August 1843) was by publicans who profited greatly from the practice. Gang leaders were called basket men and relied in most cases on publicans to provide them with both baskets and labour. The conditions of coal whippers had long been a problem for Parliament and the City of London. In 1797 an application was made to parliament and in 1803 the Coal Whippers Act had attempted to prevent publicans from employing men but had been ineffective; in 1807 a strict monopoly placed hiring in the Court of Aldermen. Then in 1831 the House of Commons attempted to influence the publicans domination of working conditions but failed and in 1838 the Commons attempted to have men paid on board ship. After 5 years this had failed to influence conditions.
Gladstone as President of the Board of Trade quoted the number of coal ships unloaded in London by publican recruited labour as:
1841     3690
1842     4000
In 1843 the Coal Vendors Act established a central office of Employment ending the practice of the heaviest drinkers obtaining work from publicans and others. A contemporary description of the London Coal trade can be read here.
Sir Henry Mayhews account of the coal trade of London here also describes the period before the Act.
William Hunt  the coal whipper referred to in 1862 would have witnessed changes in the Pool of London as a result of these long awaited reforms to one of the hardest occupations in the capital.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Bromley Kent medical practice of Doctors William Roberts and Thomas Ilott circa 1808

William Child was the town's medical practioner until his retirement in 1807 after William Roberts had joined him in practice. Thomas Ilott who came from Oxfordshire joined Roberts in 1808 ( it is believed).
The practice at this time covered a wide part of what is now referred to as South London and provided medical care to various parishes in the district.
Bromley Archive holds a fascinating glimpse of medical practice at that time as well as a valuable record of households and named individuals close to the rare survival 1801 Census of Bromley transcribed at Kent Online Parish Clerks.
The Archive holds a very large ledger book with 1141 entries and several other items arising from it under reference 617. The ledger is one of four and originally was catalogued as volume C but the label on the spine to denote this has been lost. The pages contain continued references to an earlier account referred to as "B" and carry over to a further volume "D". We therefore have one quarter of the known ledgers of the practice from this period of history.
Illott is named;Roberts is not and the ledger is catalogued as his accounts ledger. Medical practice is recorded in abbreviated medical Latin so a home visit is recorded as "iter" was not charged for and a limited number of recurring treatements are referred to.
The doctors charged one guinea for delivering a child "delivery" and 10 shillings and sixpence for smallpox inoculations. They syringed ears and extracted teeth "dent" and treated fractured bones or dislocations often referred to as reduc. or  medical latin reduco. Their limited range of medicinal prescriptions include pain relief tonics (robor. or roboro) plaster (emp. or emplastrum),drops,linctus,pills,powders,ointments,draughts,mixtures,purgatives and iron tonics or wines.
The doctors were contracted to provide care for the poor of several parishes including Cudham,Hayes,Keston,Knockholt and Orpington and the established tradesmen of the town and various parishes are named. Large households from Chislehurst, Downe,Keston,Leaves Green and Wickham are featured and patients in London,Newington and Dulwich are included.
Notable and titled householders including the Attorney General (Sir Vicary Gibbs) and the wife of the poet Lady Byron were attended by Doctor Ilott. In the collection of practice material under reference 617/25 a letter from Lady Byron from Hastings mentions her health and that of a daughter. She had at the time separated from her husband George 6th Baron Byron and stayed for a time in Beckenham with her daughter Ada. The practice has a loose account under reference 617/8 for Lord Byron who was the poets cousin George Anson Byron and the successor to the title on the poets death in 1824.
The neglected record provides a link to Bromley's census householders and named servants enable a picture to form of households of notable townspeople and families in surrounding parishes.
Under terms of an agreement between Bromley Archives and Kent Online Parish Clerks I will be transcribing this valuable record for online publication during 2015; the resulting index will also be available electronically for searchers at the Archive. The ledger has not been microfilmed.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Settlement records for Bromley

Bromley Archives record of the month for May 2014 feature settlement records. These often neglected record sources can be very useful in researching seventeenth century persons onwards as despite repeal of the Settlement Act in 1834 the principle of settement remained until 1876.
Settlement can be defined as a legal right to Poor Relief arising out of a settled place of abode. The 1601 Poor Law Act laid out that a person was legally a settled inhabitant of a parish after abode for one month, so that Parish vestries began to operate an unofficial system of refusing relief to paupers who had settlement elsewhere.
In the 1662 Settlement Act the principle was established  that anyone entering a township and occupying a tenement worth less then £10 per annum may be removed by parochial Overseers of the Poor acting on the authority of an order made by two Justices of the Peace who had examined the individual on oath. Under such orders constables would escort the person to his original place of abode. If a person managed to stay for forty days he obtained settlement at the new abode.
From 1685  the person was required to submit written notice of residence to the Overseers. However in 1691 the forty days were made to commence from publication of  the notice in the parish church. It is from 1691 therefore that most surviving records of removal begin.
The main records relating to Settlement are:

  • An Indemnity Certificate given to a pauper by his own churchwardens
  • The Examination of a pauper by church wardens or magistrate prior to a Removal Order. This refers to family and circumstances and can contain a great deal of useful biography.
  • The Removal Order,made out in duplicate a copy  for each parish the application made by the Overseer to two Justices of the Peace.
  • Quarter Sessions Records of appeals against removal order,sometimes with a counsels opinion on the matter.
  • Vestry minutes and accounts or correspondence of overseers and constables. 
The Bromley records on display are Examinations of John Barton and William Costin before Justices of the Peace from a volume of Bromley Petty Sessional Division Examinations dating from 1770-1777 which is coincidentally the period of Baptismal Register I am completing as part of my work to publish the complete Parish Register series for Bromley. Settlement records are a useful resource for some ambiguous entries in the Parish Register.
In part I have blogged on these records as a an email enquiry sought to understand what record a catalogue reference referred to. Bromley Archive has various records relating to Settlement including Vestry records for several parishes affected by an individual's Settlement examination and The Justices decisions.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bromley Baptismal Register 1812-1829

The Baptismal register has two features which are unusual in parish records.
The first is a double decker entry which the Reverend Henry Smith D.D. employs,that is to say that the register number is used for two different persons entry. This was a technical infringement of the requirement to enter a single entry for each individual. Since returns from the Parish Register were required to the Home Office for population totals to be maintained there was a purpose in this legal requirement and since the Reverend Smith had occupied the living of Minister of Bromley since 1785 it is puzzling that in the final two years of his ministry he should develop this spasmodic entry system. He is replaced in 1818 as Minister.
Entries from 1816-1818 are affected.Baptisms on different dates outnumber those on the same date. The Minister of Bromley has a neat hand and is capable of producing very small characters so that all entries are legible. My thought on first encountering such tiny hand writing was that during the Napoleonic wars sailors often produced such miniature hand writing and I wondered whether the Minister had learned the skill from them.
His successor is Reverend James Edward Newell who served as curate previously in the parish. I presume he retired from ministry in 1826 after which date he does not sign the register. He leaves an extraordinary record in the blank pages after the 1829 baptisms are completed.In two pages and "with great care" he provides two tables,the first recording baptisms marriages and burial totals for each year and the second tables analyses by age ranges each event. I have to admire the careful preparation of the data (presumably in retirement) and the value of the record in submitting information for 1831 population details.
The Civil parish of Bromley has population data has been compiled by academic research and  recorded as follows:
1801      2700
1811      2965
1821      3147
1831      4002
1841      4325
1851      4127
1861      5505
1871      10674
1881      15154
1891      21684
1901      27354
1911      33646
1921      35052
1931      43832
Mottingham was an extra parochial area until 1857 ;it became a civil parish in 1866 see civil parish history of Mottingham
Both of these aspects of the register are leading to a revision of the Bromley Archives catalogue entry.
The transcripts now complete are joining my other transcript work for Bromley Bromley Transcripts Kent Online Parish Clerks.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fellmonger of Bromley

The fellmonger is an ancient occupation and dealt in hides and skins (especially sheep skin) and was also involved in preparation of skins for tanning. The references to a leather trade in Bromley in the trades or professions column of the Bromley parish registers from 1813 would explain why Robert Durling is described as a fell monger.
I first encountered fell mongers in research in Lincolnshire and there is an excellent illustration of local feel mongers at Bourne in the Bourne Archive see Fellmongery in Bourne Licolnshire
The ancient guilds or companies of skinners and glovers were associated with fell mongers who belonged to one of the most ancient guilds or companies and the restrictions that these imposed by their bye laws led in 1835 to the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 (5 7 6 Wm.IV.,c.76.) sometimes known as the Municipal reform Act an Act of Parliament that reformed local government in England and Wales.
The Company of Fellmongers in richmond Yorkshire is a reformed company in recent times and their heritage is described at Company of Fellmongers website

The Higler of Bromley Common

The Common has its spile and bavin makers, hawkers pedlars and other descriptive occupations for the travellers.
An  1829 entry in the Bromley parish register of Baptisms gives John Ballard the occupation of Higler. In other parts of the country this is spelled Higgler.
The clergyman responsible for this entry also spells maltster as malster so allowing for his spelling we can say the John was someone who bartered goods and therefore haggled which gives rise to the occupational name. Whilst I have transcribed the parish register volumes for Bromley I have not encountered another higgler in the parish.
In the 1820's the Common had been enclosed but a large part of the settled hamlets at Barnet Wood and Skim Corner which can be traced to medieval houses were occupied seasonally by travellers.
The gypsy and traveller population of the commons areas to the south east of London and all of what is now the London Borough of Bromley from the medieval  parish records is emerging in the Kent Online Parish Clerks collections. There is a clear history of seasonal settlement resulting in permanent residence from the 19th century onwards. An examination of parish burial records discloses the traditional brick lined grave for Romany burials and the modern borough has designated areas for traveller families. Although some of these have been closed ( Green Street Green) and redeveloped by the local authority there remain many local residents who can trace Romany and traveller ancestry.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The 1801 Census of Bromley

I undertook transcription of the rare survival 1801 census in 2013 at Bromley Archive. My transcript has been been online at Kent Online Parish Clerks see 1801 Bromley census. Bromley's population in 1801 is 2700 people.
Prior to the census taken on the 10 day of March the parish was asked to make another return from its registers.
The census reflects those who provided the census information  Henry Smith, D.D., Minister; Edward Latter, Vestry Clerk; John Pepper and L. Ashworth, Churchwardens; Samuel Floyd and [given name illegible] Chalkley, Overseers.
The Home Office stated "A correct return of the Baptisms,Burials and Marriages of the year 1800 is peculiarly requisite,as being the connecting Link of the series of Parish Registers with the Enumerated Population of 1801 and subsequent Enumerations.
The draft form has been left inside the flap cover of the bound Bromley Composite Register number one which covers the years 1558-1715 for some events. The form requires the number of Baptisms Burials and Marriages for three year clusters for:
1571  for which only baptisms survive.

This crude sampling of population shows the town was growing slowly, however against this growth trend there are a number of distortions. Present within the ancient Parish were a significant number of travellers particularly on Bromley Common. The burial register reflects also a number of deaths from those staying at the Bell and White Hart Inns which were large stage coaching Inns on the 10 mile road to London Bridge to the north and Tunbridge ,Tunbridge Wells and Hastings to the south east. in addition nurse children (including children identified from the Foundling Hospital in London) are introduced to the parish and baptismal registers include adult baptisms and reflect baptism of Londoners often so described. There is therefore a shifting non resident population as well as residents of the town.
The three year clusters do not reflect the years of highest death rates during epidemics. Bromley records plague deaths more than 20 years before the Great Fire of London.
Bromley appears to have been a relatively slow growing population in a rural market town on a major coach staging a short distance from the city of London. It was not until the coming of the railway that large growth appeared much later.
The civil War touched Bromley but there is no record of any conflict in the town; the upheaval centred on evicting the Bishop of Rochester from his Palace and the installation of Puritan clergy as Ministers. Eventually the Bishop returned to the Palace and the registers return to normality with  little disruption.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The origins of Mason's Hill Bromley

The origins of the name for Masons Hill are unknown. That much is clear. However the name was in use in the early years of the parish registers as two entries in the baptismal register for 1564 record the name as a dwelling for the Erly and Humfrie children baptised in April and May of that year.
One of the early buildings in Bromley History became known as Ravenscroft. In the 1594 will of Anthony Calthorpe (20 April 1594) he bequeaths "to Johane my wife my mansion house at Masons Hill in Bromley which I lately bought of one Pope."
Anthony Calthorpe was born in 1522 and appears to have been a member of the Mercers Guild in the City of London (he leaves plate to the value of £10 to them in the will).He had a large family of 7 sons and 9 daughters and died 19  July 1594 and was buried in Bromley Parish Church. A commemerative brass marked his grave and when his wife died her will with a codicil direct that she be buried "in the chancell of the Parish Church of Bromley, as near the body of my late husband as may be".
The Calthorpes appear to have resided on the site of Ravenscroft;the date on Ravenscroft's gable 1660 clearly implies the earlier building was removed.
Mason's Hill in the sixteenth century was largely farm land and by 1673 it is referred to in registers as Stubarfields or Stubberfield's Farm. The farming had by the nineteenth century ceased and the buildings became known as Sparke's or Clarke's Cottages, implicitly referring to their occupants.The Cottages are known to have been pulled down in 1877.
Mason's Hill Pond lay on one side of the highway and was used by passing horses for water and by carmen to "plim" their wagon wheels when shrunken in dry weather.
Mason's Hill linked town and common and on the right hand side of the hill leaving town stood an ancient Inn. The Rate books prior to 1697 only show rate levied on land but in 1706 they record a house,stables,barn orchard and meadows "at the back called Tygor Grove". This implies that the house was called the Tiger. Certainly by 1729 the burial of Richard Joans is recorded in the Parish Burial register as  "ostler at the Tiger's Head,Mason's Hill".
The later rebuilding has left modern day Bromley with a buildng called the Tigers Head (although in recent years this has been rebranded) and adjacent Tiger Lane now surrounded by the housing development which replaced the Bromley Cottage Hospital site with the demise of the Hospital on the land.
Whatever the origins of the name,Masons Hill has been part of daily Bromley life for centuries.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Closure of Cardiff Central Library Local Studies Unit

The sad news that as part of a budget cut for 2014-15 Cardiff Central Library made budget cuts of £500,000 including the closure of the Local Studies Library with transfer out of the city to Glamorgan Archives. 3 librarian posts are to be lost;library help desks reduced and the library closed for one weekday per week.
Cardiff is now the only city/large town in the UK without a Local Studies Unit; ironic since the Library in the city dates from 1861 with evidence of a Local Studies Unit since 1882.
Cardiff sadly has a history of regarding the heritage collection of rare books as a potential source of funding for new premises; after a public outcry worldwide amongst academics the heritage collection was transferred to Cardiff University as a jointly funded initiative by the University Welsh Assembly Government and the Higher Education Funding for Wales.
It appears at present that from 1 April all primary archive holdings will be moved to Glamorgan Archives. This cut is part of a total cuts package of £50 million forced on the Council by the central government funding announcement.

Monday, 17 March 2014

St Mark Aperfield register history and the origins of Biggin Hill

 The curious feature of the development of Biggin Hill is that it did not exist on a map until the twentieth century but was not planned as a settlement nor did it have settlement. It was simply farm land forming part of the Manor of Aperfield (first recorded as Apuldrefield).

As an unplanned and unregulated twentieth century development the fields and estate houses expanded in the early years of the twentieth century.
Documented are an ancient Biggin Hill Farm (on all sides of the junction between Main Road and Jail Lane) and the unfenced land bordering the road near the "Black Horse" was Biggin Hill Green but the present town was not planned as a new settlement but owes its development to the sale of plots of land by Frederick Henry Dougal of 148 Merton Road Wandsworth who bought at auction in 1895 the Aperfield Court Estate including the estate buildings and Aperfield Court itself . As the land acquired was not subject to any form of Building Regulation he proceeded to draw up numbered plots to sell to the public. The existing roads Main Road,Stock Hill,Polesteeple Hill,Norheads Lane and Oaklands Lane were unaltered and existing hedge boundaries simply had a parallel fence added to form access to the plots in fields on both sides. The only new roads needed were in places where the field boundaries did not permit plots on both sides. Flint and chalk are readily available from local pits in the area and this was simply compressed by steam roller to form a surface. Horse chestnut,lime and poplar trees were planted to create avenues.

                                                            Frederick Henry Dougal

Dougal looked at the names of SW18 to create Melody,Melrose,Rosehill and York Roads as well as Lebanon Gardens and East Hill. Elsewhere Royal Christian names Victoria,Edward,Alexandra and Arthur and descriptive names like Hillcrest, Highfield, Belvedere and The Grove were chosen. Dougal favoured the name Biggin Hill  to be included in his advertising of Aperfield Court Estate,Biggin Hill Westerham Road Cudham Kent.
As the 250 plot lands were acquired rapid settlement took place and local firms began to erect many wooden bungalow style buildings. The former estate brick buildings  sold at a premium but the plots of land were affordable as weekend homes. In 1914 a bungalow in Saint Mary's Grove was rented by Madame Clara Novello Davies,founder and conductor of the Royal Welsh Ladies Choir and her reputation as a singing teacher brought to the plots around the "Singing Colony". In a Romany Caravan on the plot of his mother's bungalow the young David Ivor Davies later Ivor Novello came to live. The "Singing Colony" also attracted an artistic community and Noel Coward had a weekend home in the 1920's. Biggin Hill was under the direct flight path taken by the German Gotha bombers bombing London to the North and ended the Singing Colony during the First World War. The Royal Flying Corps were attracted to land at 600 feet above sea level and soon established what was to become the most famous fighter airfield (RAF Biggin Hill) of the Second World War.  The RAF station added further to to development of housing and population growth.
The Vicar of Cudham during Dougal's planning to market land was Reverend H.A.Curtis. In 1903 he presided over one of the first meetings of plot owners with the purpose "to consider whether some further provision could be made for the spiritual needs of Biggin Hill". In response Dougal offered to donate land at the corner of Main Road and Polesteeple Hill to erect a Mission Church and a further £25 contribution.Other donations enabled a newly formed Committee to work on acquisition of a Mission Church.
Within a year a temporary iron structure at the time manufactured by Boulton and Company Norwich was built at a cost of £230 and the dedication service by the Lord Bishop of Dover took place on 21 January 1904. As a temporary structure St Marks was not a parish but it did have Baptismal  register from 1907-1924. Marriages could not be held there until 1937 and the first marriage register covers 1937-1947;earlier marriages for Biggin Hill will be found in the Cudham Parish Marriage register. Kent Online Parish clerks will transcribe the Baptismal Register for Saint Mark in 2015 for online publication.
The remarkable story of the permanent church site and construction is told in the Moving Church as the deconsecrated and disused church in Davey Street Peckham was moved brick by brick to Biggin Hill.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The early register of Bromley Parish and the effect of "the wars among ourselves"

As I am working through the earliest parish register to transcribe births marriages and deaths it occurred to me that although microfilm is a wonderful media for preservation it has pitfalls for the transcriber.
I have just had the experience of seeing images obtained from Derbyshire Record Office at Matlock after FamilySearch Indexing treatment of the early parish register for BLAYDON entries. Imaginatively these have been rendered as a number of names PARDONE being but one example. The comparison between a digital image from microfilm and the permitted ultra violet image of the same entry from the damaged original parish register clearly yields BLADON entries.
I work from original parish registers and have used Ultra violet lighting for many years. Microfilm is a flat one dimensional image; handling the original and being able to control light sources and magnification enables the experienced transcriber to produce a consistent transcript. FamilySearch does not seem to realise the limitations of volunteers seeing only a handful of images. It appears that the margin for error in their material is therefore increased. The search for the correct surname is fruitless; the original parish register yields dozens of results.
Bromley has an original register which is a composite register in which Baptisms marriages and burials are mingled in a series of pages in a sort of chronological order which becomes more established when it is rebound into three sections in 1652.
The original purpose of the parish register was set out in 1538 by Henry VIII as part of his Reformation of the Church.Elizabeth I further ordered that a Register Book be provided in every parish to record the births death and marriages in the parish. Thus the first volume of the Bromley Parish Registers bears the title:
"The Register of Bromley in Kent,begun Anno Domini 1558,was all new bound w[ith] addicons of new leaves,Anno Domini 1652".
here the transcriber handling the volume has an immediate advantage of the context of each sequence of pages ; the microfilm view has limited context.
Also within the heading there is an entry:
Baptisms, 29 November 1558-13 January 1715
Burials, 13 November 1578-27 July 1678
Marriages,24 January 1575-31 January 1734.
The register is remarkable in recording events during the anarchy of record keeping during the Commonwealth and I know of no recorded history of conflict in the town. The baptismal register contains an entry on the only page apparently affected by upheaval.The Minister of Bromley Parish from 1640-1646 was Richard Antrobus, The year which contains fewest entry is 1644 and a 1646 entry has been inserted into a page which had been drafted for that year. The 7 leaves of the Commonwealth years baptisms are with the exception of 1644 and 1645 reasonably consistent and may represent all baptisms; in 1844 there are only 7 entries including the christening of  Richard Antrobus' own son given the name Richard. The page contains an entry "this was the register in the wars among ourselves". The last months of the year maintain an order and 11 entries are recorded for the following year 1645; 1646 has 22 entries and thereafter the record appears to represent a full record of baptisms.
In 1646 Richard Antrobus was replaced as Minister. According to Lambeth Palace records on 18 April 1646 John Harvey replaced Antrobus who had presumably drafted a page for entries for 1644; the 1646 insertion of  a baptism onto the 1684 page is presumably the hand of Harvey.
On 22 August 1648 Harvey is replaced by Joseph Jackson; in the same year Henry Arnold begans his ministry which runs from 1648-1662.
Bromley is unusual in maintaining greater consistency in records than other parishes in the district and therefore offers greater record sources than other parishes nationally.
I am also indebted once again to the work of Arthur Gresley Hellicar one of the 19th century long serving Vicars of the parish for his description of the contents:
"There are eleven leaves of the Register filled with Baptisms in Queen Elizabeth's reign,over 850 in all,as there is an average of 39 on each side of a leaf. The Baptisms in James I's reign fill 8 leaves(making 624): those of Charles I 7 leaves (546); those of the Commonwealth 7: and those of Charles II,12 (936)"
The transcript is undergoing several stages of proof reading to resolve some issues in the marriage register and will be available later this year at Kent Online Parish Clerks. The marriage register has some entries in the 1600's which need context to narrow the year of the event. It is interesting to see the variant spellings of the surname which becomes fixed as JEWEL[L] in different hands and to see that surnames can shift in different hands within a few years difference.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Joseph Wells(1828-1910) professional cricketer

Joseph Wells (14 July 1828-14 October 1910) was born at Penshurst,Kent.
Joseph occupies a place in Bromley history; he is the fisherman who caught the last 2 pound trout in the River Ravensbourne. It is hard to conceive nowadays that the Ravensbourne was a fishing river. The demise of angling was as a result of the construction of the Gas Works. These had an underground ammonia tank which sometimes overflowed into the Ravensbourne. The Gas Company were successful in winning  a legal action brought to try to maintain fishing and the Ravensbourne like the London rivers Fleet and Wallbrook ceased to be the stocked river it had been. Nowadays it is largely hidden. To read more of the river see Friends of Beckenham Place Park
His uncle was Timothy Duke, a cricket Bat and Ball Manufacturer, the Duke family had begun making cricket balls in 1760 at Redleaf Hill Penshurst as a domestic or cottage industry.
Joseph appeared in 1856 at Bromley Cricket Club and in partnership with Richard Stubberfield,a police constable, revived the local club after a period of decline in population and activity in the town. From 1857 to 1869 Joseph was one of the professionals of the West Kent Cricket Club.From 1869-1872 he played for Bickley Park Club.
Joseph married Sarah Neal, a former domestic servant and they were to have four children.
Their youngest child nicknamed Bertie was Herbert George Wells. His christening is found in the Bromley Parish Register  entry 684 on  21 October 1866 and Joseph in described as a China Dealer. The shop was acquired as a result of an inheritance and also sold sporting goods. The shop was later acquired by Medhurst's and its site became part of the large Medhurst store later a branch of Allders of Croydon and currently trading as Primark.
The shop premises were at Atlas House 47 High Street Bromley but at the time Joseph was a professional cricketer for Kent. The shop failed in 1877 when Joseph fractured his thigh.
As can be seen from Joseph's Wisden Obituary he achieved the feat of being the first bowler to achieve four wickets in consecutive balls whilst bowling for his county at Brighton against Sussex in 1862 with his fast round arm bowling style. The Wisden obituary is online here.
Joseph's cricket career statistics reflect that he played county cricket at the age of 40 see Cricket Archive.
Joseph's inabilty to support the family resulted in all four children entering apprenticeships whilst Sarah re-entered domestic service as a lady's maid at Up Park House near Hastings in Sussex. The couple were separated as a result of the employer's stipulation that her post did not include accommodation for Joseph or her children.
However when her son H.G. Wells had failed in 2 apprenticeships he was allowed to stay at Up Park House. His mother was to be instrumental in H.G Wells entering a pupil/teacher post.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Doctor Henry Smith D.D. and the 1791 church theft.

Within the burial register I have just transcribed for Bromley Saint Peter and Saint Paul is the Reverend Henry Smiths account of a major theft from the Parish Church.
"0n the night of  the 13th April this year,1791,the vestry-room door was broken open,and the chest of deal,in which the plate was kept,was robbed of the following articles:one large flagon with lid fixt;one quart chalice,one rich chased chalice and loose cover,with a straining spoon,one large paten and one small paten;the above were all gilt;the gold fringe from the pulpit and the Communion hangings;one large damask table cloth,and two damask napkins.
It appears, from every observation, that the perpetrators of this sacrilegious deed must have secreted themselves in the Church during the morning service,for there were not the least traces of violence upon the doors,wall or windows. They let themselves out of the Church by unscrewing the locks of the doors leading to the gallery at the East end,which must be done on the inside.
A bottle of Tent wine was taken out of the cupboard and drunk which makes me think there were more than one,and I indeed can hardly imagine one person to have courage sufficient to carry him through such a Diabolical Enterprise."
There appears to have been no one apprehended for the theft....unless anyone has a record of conviction away from the Bromley Area.
The transcript was published online this month at Kent Online Parish Clerks Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley Parish page. All of the Bromley parish transcripts will eventually be available on a single page.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bromley Saint Peter and Saint Paul parish register transcripts go online

Kent Online Parish Clerks have added further transcripts. All of the parish registers form Bromley are on a single page here.
The addition of two burial register volumes now means that all burials 1678-1855  are now available. If you are using Firefox as a browser you need to right click on a link and select "Open in new tab to get the link to open for you.
Work is continuing to finally prepare the  transcript of two volumes of marriage registers for publication later this year as well as the earliest Composite Register from Christenings Marriages and burials.
I am happy to say that my transcription work is slightly ahead of schedule for Bromley albeit there are thousands more entries awaiting transcription.
The transcripts are dedicated in memory of the late Bob Rubie A.G.R.A. A.G.P. whose practice specialized in the family history of railway worker families. Bob had researched most of the Southern and London,Chatham and Dover rail staff families. Bromley was an important part of these railway companies and it seems fitting that this large transcript history should recognize Bob's work.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Update on the Royal Bell Hotel Bromley

One of my most popular blogs concerned the Royal Bell Hotel and subsequently I have included other references in blogs about Bromley Postmasters history. As I have explored archive material both at Bromley and elsewhere the Royal Bell Hotel's importance to life in the town over centuries has emerged and I hope in future to blog about original research in some historical contexts.
I was saddened to hear the scale of damage to property although considering the neglect in recent years and the severe weather conditions affecting many inhabited homes it is not altogether surprising to find that the structural survey has identified some serious problems. The survey is described at Bromley Arts and community website.
As can be seen there is an asbestos removal issue to clear a collapsed basement ceiling following significant water ingress. The scale of dry rot and treatment is also established for the first time. There is a daunting challenge ahead but at least Social Investment Business have extended until June 2014 their funding.
Amanda Hone and her committee continue to work towards rescuing the building and bringing it into Community Ownership as both a community pub and arts space.
One useful way to follow and support this initiative is through the Facebook page Campaign to Establish a Permanent Arts and Community Space in Bromley.
It is encouraging that agents for the property are working with the community in view of the threat to the building.
I look forward to further developments in conserving the building and future community use with interest.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Thank you to Yandex users

I had little idea that when I began to blog that I would reach such a wide international audience.
The blog has for some time had traffic from Eastern Europe and last week Lithuanian readers joined for the first time; the blog is read in the Russian Federation and Ukraine also and a constant traffic from Germany. This did not surprise me as I had previously corresponded with professional researchers who work across Eastern European boundaries.
With Kind permission of Vladimir Nechiporov from Moscow I thought that this picture would indicate a  day on the Moscow river. Vlad is a gifted photographer and took this image with his fingers exposed briefly!
I have now received emails from 4 people who found my blog using Yandex which is I am told the largest search engine on the internet.
Since I write from the perspective of a Kent researcher in Archives it is useful for me to know that the transcripts I prepare from records at Bromley Archive are of interest to an international audience.
Before blogging I was aware of the international connections of prominent families from Downe parish in Kent but blogging has enlarged that interest in the history of the Bromley District and I am encouraged by emails and comments from readers of the blog.
The growing volume of traffic took visitors to the blog over 1000 and I seem to have over 40 visits daily during January.
As Kent Online Parish Clerks produces a larger volume of transcript material this year I will be monitoring the apparent settlement of people from many nations in the town of Bromley. I am aware of many nationalities from completing the burial register transcripts.

Frost Fair:When an Elephant walked on the Thames

In the course of transcribing parish registers for the parishes in and south of Bromley it has been fascinating to find evidence of mariners dockers and Thames based employment listed. I recently examined details of a docker buried at Bromley whose funeral director's account book showed in the 1814 account that a dockers friendly society had paid for the burial. I found the Museum of London Docklands a useful resource for my research surrounding Thames Lightermen earlier this century and so the current exhibition at the Museum concerning the Frost Fairs on the river see Museum of London Docklands attracted me.
I can do no better in this blog than the BBC magazine article about Frost Fairs here. The exhibit at the Museum runs until Sunday 30 March. The Museum is easily reached at No.1 Warehouse West India Quay E 14 4 AL (use Docklands Light Railway West India Quay). I commend the Museum and this exhibition.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Bethlem Museum and Museums at Night

Sadly Bethlem and the development of the Museum of the Mind scheduled to open this year came second in voting with over 2000 votes for the services of portrait photographer Rankin. The competition was won by St Ann Allotments in Nottingham.
Bethlem blog has more details and has information about their forthcoming talk about the work of Frank Kuralek. See Bethlem Heritage blog
I look forward to the work of the photography project at Bethlem.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bethlem Photography

I spent a day recently at Bethlem Gallery looking at the current exhibition which opened earlier this month and as always the Gallery is of interest with images taken by the Bethlem Gallery artist Max Reeves.
My visit followed an invitation and a blog which you can read here at Bethlem Heritage blog.
 Currently the Museum and Archive are among contenders for a visit by Rankin in the Museums at Night 2014 online vote. I have happily supported Bethlem Museum in this and you are able to vote here. It seems fitting that Glasgow born Rankin should come to 21st century Bethlem with it's rich heritage of photographic images incorporated into patient treatment.
The support for Bethlem is strong but I would urge any reader of this blog to vote.
The Bethlem Heritage blog has featured this month several of the hospital archive photographic images see 19th century photographic images

Monday, 20 January 2014

An epetition for UK residents to HM Government concerning the 1921 Census for England and Wales

The national  census for 1921 of England and Wales is vitally important to family historians worldwide. Given the loss of 1931 and 1941 national census a generation of growing future family historians will have to rely on data in the 1921 census to assist them for decades. The next available census is the 1951 census scheduled for release in 2051.
In view of this I have supported an e petition and would encourage any UK resident to do so as well to ask the Government to relax the 100 year rule on public release so that this data could be partially released before 2022. The 1911 census was partially released early with sensitive details not visible but enabling the household members to be identified.
I am  grateful to Ian Hartas at his UKBMD site for offering me the link for the e petition 1921 census epetition and would urge all with an interest in family history to support the petition. You can opt to be kept informed by email of the progress of the petition.
I have a personal interest in the 1921 census as it is the only remaining record source likely to identify a severely disabled child who was cared for by my maternal Great Aunt and her husband. My Grandfather's brother who died in 1918 was father of the illegitimate child whose mother could not cope with a severely disabled child (surname unknown). I have a picture of her at the couples wedding but neither the registration district or local authority has record of her and we could not identify a burial place. We do know the given names by which family members knew her but this was not the name used officially.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Clergy in the parish registers of Bromley,Kent

The work of transcriptions in many volumes of a parish register is painstaking, challenging and yet it is possible to perceive something of each person who makes the record.
As I have handled material from 1578 to the early years of the 20th century I have noted various signatures in the registers.
In this blog entry I want to mention the two longest servants of the people of Bromley and place them in a context of succession.
I note that in 1603 James Dyer calls himself Curate of Bromley as a holder of the living.
In 1607 there is a signature of John Preston and in 1620 Jasper Carrow is also entered. By 1634 Richard Rathbone or Rathbourne signs. These fragmented periods of ministry are firmer when the Vestry records are considered. Henry Arnold signs the parish register 1648-1662 and there is record that he was elected at a Vestry to be Parish Minister in 1653. Simlarly the names of Stephen Grasscombe  Minister1678-1681;1682 George Wilson;1686 and Edward Roman 1686 appear.
Succeeding Henry Maundrell and Samuel Bowles comes the first long serving Minister Harington Bagshaw who signs as Vicar. Bagshaw was Chaplain at Bromley College and it is common for the chaplains of the College to sign entries in the burial register. Harington Bagshaw held the College Chaplaincy from 1696-1734 and was also Rector of Woolwich. Prior to the destruction of the ancient parish church a memorial stone recorded this information. Harington and his wife Abigail had a son Thomas who succeeded his father in 1734 as Chaplain to Bromley College and remained as such for 54 years,until 1787 and was also Vicar of Bromley from 1744-1785. He was also Rector of Southfleet.
The Bagshaw's father and son bring an order to the earlier anarchy of record keeping although the burial register becomes disorganised over several pages in the period 1738-1740,before order is restored. Thomas Bagshaw was a contempary and friend of Samuel Johnson,contributing to additions to Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language published on 15 April 1755. You can read this dictionary online Johnsons dictionary online .Johnson's acknowledgement to Thomas Bagshaw for his assistance included "If many readers had been as judicious,as diligent,and communicative as yourself my work had been better". I think that this compliment might equally be applicable to both Bagshaw's service to the widows of clergy at Bromley College and the town and parish.
Thomas Bagshaw died in 1787 and Boswell mentioned that he resigned the living of Bromley parish shortly before his death.
His curate Dr.Henry Smith assumed the living from 1785 and remained Vicar of Bromley until 1818. He in turn was succeeded by a curate James Edward Newell from 1819-1826 in which year he signs the register as Minister of Bromley. From 1826 until 1865 Newell is absent from signing the register and appears to be living in retirement.
In 1865 the register is signed by Arthur Gresley Hellicar M.A. who had great influence in the expanded town and Anglican Church building;his brother acted as architect for one of the churches under construction. He arrived as curate became Vicar until his death in 1904. He was an influential figure in the town and was Chairman of the Science and Art School. He also purchased the iron church from Ryde and had it erected as a chapel of ease in Park Road on land leased for the purpose and was opened in 1872 and the parish register records imediate use. Baptisms during a period of rebuilding to enlarge the parish church seating capacity take place at St John the Evangelist, Park Road.
Meanwhile land for a permanent church was purchased in Park Road and a separate parish Church of St John's was created out of the ancient parish in May 1880.
The Reverend Hellicar was an antiquarian and took great care of the parish registers in his keeping, describing in great detail the contents and recording annual totals of baptisms and burials. It is of enormous value to me in transcribing the volumes to have a record of how many entries in each year my transcript should contain and the discovery of entries in unlikely places within bindings accounts for the totals that Arthur Hellicar left for me!
The preservation of records today rests in no small measure on the care of these men to maintain the records. I find it moving to note that Reverend Hellicar baptised illegitimate children privately unless the parent requested baptism with other children of the parish publicly and I note the numbers of adult baptisms and whole family baptisms conducted by him. These all suggest a man of faith, sensitivity  commited to bringing others to faith in Jesus Christ.

Monday, 13 January 2014

"To stand in a white sheet" and the penance of Ann Chapman

I  grew up in a time when the phrase to stand in a white sheet was still used as a proverbial term for penance.
In the parish of Bromley we see a perfect explanation of the penance being carried out.
Ann Chapman was a widow,who in her widowhood had relationships with several men and this promiscuity had become known in the town. It is worth remembering the presence of the Bishop's Palace,Bromley College and its chaplain and of course the parish and vestry in a small rural town. The Diocese of Rochester had at time within the Archdeaconry of Rochester one Worshipful Francis Simpson,Doctor of Laws. He summoned Ann Chapman to do public penance and this is documented in detail. I believe this to be quite rare that a surviving written account can be found.
Horsburgh attributes the written document to the ownership of Phillip Norman 's antiquarian collection.
"The said Ann Chapman widow,shall come to the said church on Sunday,the twenty eight day of October in the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy at the tolling of the second bell to morning prayers, and shall stand in the porch of the said Church from the tolling of the said second bell until the second lesson be ended,Bare headed,bare legged and bare footed,having a white sheet over her wearing apparel,and holding a white rod of an Ell long in her hand after the manner of a penitent sinner and the second Lesson being ended she shall come into the said Church and stand in some convenient place near the Minister's Reading Desk."
The procedure then required Ann after the Nicene Creed had been read to make a public confession of her misconduct and repeating after the Minister the following;
"I Ann Chapman do in the presence of God and this congregation humbly and penitently confess and acknowledge that having not the fear of God,and being seduced by the Temptations of  the Devil and my own Lusts have lived incontinently and committed the foul sin of Fornication,having had a bastard or base begotten child born of my body whereby I have greatly offended Almighty God,endangered my own Soul,and given an Evil example and scandal to all good Christians for which Offence I am heartily sorry,and do humbly beg pardon of God and this Congregation for the same, and do promise (God assisting me with His Grace) never to offend in the like manner again, and I beseech this Congregation to pray for me and with me to say Our Father which art in Heaven and so forth."
The Minister was Thomas Bagshaw,his curate John Brett and they together with Samuel Cutson Overseer of the Poor were required to return sworn certificates within a specified date to the Registry of the Archdeaconry  of the Diocese of Rochester.
Such a certificate was produced in good time to the Registry and signed by the three men to attest that the prescribed penance had been performed.
This is a rare survival of a written account of such a penance being performed under the direction of a Diocese and the clergy and Overseer producing sworn certificates to a Diocesan Registry of such public penance.
Copyright (c) Henry Mantell 2014

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The mystery of an 1877 private baptism

The final entry in Bromley Saints Peter and Paul Baptismal register 1867-1877 is a mystery. The entry contains only a First name Reginald date 20th October and an address of  Kingston Terrace Bromley and is entered by a curate as a private baptism.
Since the entry ends one volume of the register I presumed the curate intended the entry to appear at the beginning of the next volume,but it does not.
There are two registered births in the Bromley Registration district for 1877 earlier in the year which are possibilities but  are much earlier in the year that a private baptism months after civil registration is a remote possiblity.
So baby Reginald remains a mystery and the entry is enigmatic.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Kent History Centre at the Kent History and Library Centre Maidstone

Although my efforts are mainly focussed at The Library Bromley which is home to Bromley Archives and local studies material in a library setting I also need access to material at Maidstone.
I have been disappointed in visits to Maidstone in 2013 as it appeared to me that archive material was remote and more difficult to access. Ordering material used to be a responsive service. Unless documents were ordered prior to arrival the online catalogue posed problems and I suspected that it was incomplete;experience reinforced by other regular researchers in Archives. I had the experience of library staff being unfamiliar with the document I wished to view. This is one of many other problems now under discussion with the Centre management team.
The Kent History Centre User Group are now actively pursuing these issues and other feedback see Kent archives user group
I have some concerns about the Library Bromley but document production is rapid and the staff are skilful in responding to the wide variety of requests made on them and the service.
The online catalogue within CARN is of high standard and is readily updated.
The major problem at Bromley is that archive material is produced on a gallery seating which includes Library general use . The facilities are noisy;the gallery area is immediately above the repositoned main desk with no enclosed or quiet space to examine documents. Add to this the noise of mobile phone ringtones and conversations and computer use for music and film and it becomes very difficult to progress in transcription work in early record sources,an already painstaking task.
I have seen a deterioration in conditions for the researcher and professional genealogist in both these settings. The modern "Library" approach brings an emphasis  on media access which poses challenges for the archival researcher.  Maybe after 44 years of archival research I am a lone voice locally in regularly using and experiencing difficulty in working with original documents. It would be useful if each Archive consulted its users. Maidstone is doing just that and the experience reflects difficulties relevant to other Libray based facilities.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Bromley Postmasters 1685-1897

As I was walking past the Old Post Office in East Street Bromley I began to wonder how old the postal service was. I did some research and came up with some information.
From an act in 1710 (under Queen Anne) the prior system of postal delivery by private individuals was superseded and the transportation of letters was placed under the direction of a Postmaster General.
In 1783,mail coaches were instituted as the means of delivery and remained until the coming of the railways. The Penny post was introduced in 1840 and the postal service became more complex.
In Bromley prior to the introduction of mail coaches, the town was well served by horse carriers,cart services and coach services to London,Tunbridge Wells and Hastings and therefore the first Post Master dated from 1685.
1685-1687      Wm.Crumpe who lived neat the Bell Inn.
1687               Thos.Bennett,landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1688-1692      Thos.Godden,described as such in rate books.
1693-1695      Edmund Millington,Parish Clerk.
1696-1720      William Waldron
1728-1735       Mr. J. Lawson,referred to in rate books.
1736-1752       Wm.Wood
1752-1753       Martha Wood
1754-1774       Wm.Stich,who was a local landowner in the town.
1775-1783       John Phillips,landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1784-1786       Thomas Palmer,successor as landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1787-1788       James Wilson,Landlord of the Bell Inn.
1789-1796       William Francis Peachey.
1796-1802       Hugh Hair,Draper's in Market Place;Vintner in High Street.
1802-1811       Ann Hair;Hugh's widow.
1812-1839       John Acton,who took over Hair's wine merchant business.
1839-1857       Samuel Poole Acton,son of John.
1857-1876       Joseph Bradley Shillcock,Chemist in the High Street.
The coming of rail services at two railway stations to the north and South of Market Square replaced the need for John Palmers Royal Mail Coaches.
After 1876 the appointment as Bromley Postmaster became a sole occupation and premises were needed. The original Post Office was on the East side of the Market place and the Post master from 1876-1897 was William Hewick. In 1877 he established the Post Office on the west side of Market Square and it remained there until 1897.By 1879 the Office employed 3 telegraph boys,3 indoor postal staff and 16 outdoor delivery men.
William Beale was Postmaster from 1891-1897  when the Post Office relocated to East Street to the building now referred to as the Old Post Office. It was this building that aroused my curiousity. The Royal Mail closed the premises in the last decade;counter service is now provided within a branch of W.H.Smith in the High Street. Mail for a large part of the borough is now sorted at Dartford with local deliveries from a distribution centre in Orpington at the rear of the High Street Post Office.