Society meets at 19:30 on the fourth Thursday of each month (except
August and December) at St Peter's Church Hall in Wisbech unless otherwise
stated. There is a map of the
centre of Wisbech to show the location of the hall.
have a full programme, including speakers, members' evenings and outings.
An archive of reports of previous
years meetings is available.
& Waterways around Wisbech |
Religious Houses of Medieval Lincolnshire
-part 2 |
Orders 1601-1900 “Surnames” |
Cole Brian Jones
& baptisms in 1800's |
& About - Crowland or Long Sutton |
& surveys 1910 |
+ The History of Education |
+ Maureen Nichols
History of My Family & Barroway Drove |
Social evening. Displays . Competitions. Buffet.
Grandma Didnít Want Me To Know!
Account of Outwell
& Quackery But No Ducks!
Somerville Retíd GP
Tale Of Dr Quicksilver
Clements Church Outwell
AGM & Talk
History Day, St Peterís Church Hall 10am -4:30pm
FHS & Wisbech Library - Commemorative WW1 Display In The Wisbech
Social Evening Buffet, Quiz, Displays & Competition
Religious Houses of Medieval Lincolnshire
speaker this month was our popular member Brian Jones, who was
giving his talk entitled “The Religious Houses of Medieval
Lincolnshire” Part 2, a continuation of the talk originally
given over 2 years ago.
Brian explained the many changes taking place from the early years
between 600 – 700, when the Danes invaded Lincolnshire and
gradually altered every Religious House by 870,followed by the
Saxons who then took over, until in 1066 the Normans changed the
face of Religion for the next 500 years.
Lincolnshire alone had 120 Monastic sites, including 15 Abbeys;
35 Priories; 13 Alien Priories; 23 Hospitals [hospitality sites];
17 Friaries; 4 Colleges and 2 Cells, all having a specific roll
to play. The various Abbeys were ‘Closed Orders’,
the monks were not allowed to leave once they had taken their
vows. The Priories, always positioned outside the confines of
the towns were able to give food and shelter to travellers who
arrived after the town gates had shut for the night, and were
also responsible for managing and directing the financial affairs
of their particular order. The Friars went about within the local
community, giving care where needed and preaching for donations,
they ‘took the message’ to the local community. Colleges
There were a large number of different Monastic denominations
including Cistercians [White ], Franciscans [Grey] Augustinians,
Carmelites, Dominicans, Benedictines etc. all originating mainly
from France or other parts of Europe. The only English Order in
Lincolnshire were the Gilbertines at Sempringham Church.
Some of the Orders were very wealthy indeed. The Cistercians,
based to the west of the county in the sheep rearing countryside,
sent vast quantities of wool to the continent and with the money
raised from the wool trade built many beautiful buildings. Boston,
being a sea port also had great wealth from trade of varying kinds,
while Stamford, situated on the River Welland and also on the
Roman road linking the east coast to the Midlands had further
trading opportunities with Calais, and other European ports.
Lincoln, being a land-locked City, needed to find other ways to
raise money for its Religious Houses. Lincoln Cathedral was not
monastic, it was purely a place of worship.
The Gilbertines at Sempringham Church were finally recognised
in 1165 and were paid by King Henry II to take in eight Welch
princesses and keep them secure, to prevent any chance of a Welch
uprising against his rule. Princess Gwladys became a nun there
and the presence of the others is documented by their headstones
to the side of the church.
Other ways of raising money included paying for Absolution by
endowing a church!! Raising tolls on Causeways to upkeep the causeways
and keep the change!! Preaching ‘The word’ to the
masses and encouraging donations for ‘blessings’ and
for sins forgiven etc.
During the 1300’s there was great prosperity in the country,
but the wealth declined during the 1400’s . Many towns and
cities were ravaged by fires and the wooden buildings were lost.
in the 14th Century, due to the plague and the shrinkage of monastic
life other buildings fell into disrepair and were ‘re-cycled’
by the local population, so very few remain to-day. Crowland Abbey
was the only one ‘re-founded’ and was the main power
base in Lincolnshire.
speaker for this month was Brian Jones,who filled in at very
short notice for Ann Cole who had transport problems.
The topic for Brian’s talk was “Surnames”, and
what they could tell us about the past and the meanings of many
names in use today.
Before the Normans arrived in England, people did not have surnames,
but were known by nicknames or descriptive names e.g. Red , Black
etc. Today there are more than 45000 different surnames in England.
30% of Welsh population are named Jones while 6% of the rest of
the U.K are called Jones making it the second most numerous name
in U.K. Smith is still the most numerous name.
Brian had, naturally, researched the name of Jones and found that
it originated in Huntingdonshire in 1279. as a surname.
was not until 1400 that hereditary surnames were handed down through
the male line.
Immigration and migration caused many name changes as there were
no forms to fill in, and many people decided to make new lives
for themselves by simply changing their names. So some names may
not have disappeared, but instead have just been changed at the
whim of the family, for reasons best known to themselves!!
Descriptive names e.g. John the butcher became Mr Butcher, and
descriptive nicknames were recorded as true names e.g. Mary of
the woods became Mary Woods.
Many Irish and Scottish names were derived from the Gaelic, and
spelling and dialect gradually altered many names.
In the early days of immigration surnames indicated the origin
of the person : Beamish from Bohemia; Hannay – Hainault;
Janeway – Genoa; Moore – Morocco; Brisowe –
Bristol or Burstow ; Vyse – Devises.
Others denoting origin were: Surtees – on the Tees; Pickersgill
– stream with pike in it; Hope or Holme – raised in
the Fens; Burn or Bourne – stream; Fleet – stream,
river , estuary; Sike or Sykes – marshy stream.
Many community names became surnames: Chapman – shopkeeper;
Latimer – interpreter; Leech – physician; Barker –
tanner; Jenner – engineer; Milner – miller; Bannister
– bath keeper; Pargetter – plasterer; Arkwright –
maker of arks and chests, while Mason; Thatcher; Fisher etc. were
descriptive of industry.
Names such as King, Pope, Bishop, Monk and Abbott were nicknames
or travelling players of mystery or religious plays, who played
the same roll each year as they travelled about the country.
Many thanks to Brian,who in his inimitable way, provided an interesting
and amusing evening for all the members of the FFHS.
& Baptisms in the 1800's
speaker for the May meeting was Tom Doig who, once again, gave
a fascinating and informative talk; this time the topic was “Birth
and Baptism in the 19th Century”. Tom is a Social Historian
with a particular interest in the rôle of women in 19th
century rural communities. He illustrated his talk with references
from his local area of North Hertfordshire and further afield.
The whole point of marriage was the production of children: there
was, therefore, no stigma attached to the bride being pregnant
at the time of the wedding. Some estimates put the number of pregnant
brides as high as 50% in the Ag Lab section of society –
this would be much lower in the middle and upper classes. There
was however stigma attached to not being married at the time of
the birth. Unmarried mothers without means of support might well
end up in the Workhouse. Induced miscarriage was not uncommon
and was inherently dangerous.
There were certain women who were “allowed” to have
illegitimate children. Tom referred to a Sarah Robinson from his
own village whose profession is given in the census as “female
barber”. There is a painting of Sarah with her children
outside her cottage with her children on May Day. Sarah had several
children: all the boys went on to be apprenticed and the girls
all went into domestic service, at a time when employment was
not always available. Sarah owned her own property and was able
to support her family although she was an unmarried mother. Tom
also talked about some of the May Day traditions that prevailed
in the 19th century including dancing round the Maypole and a
version of trick or treat where the children took May Sticks round
to ask villagers for treats.
Tom then went on to talk about the arrangements that were necessary
for marriage. The legal part of marriage was the publication of
the Banns, by being called or bawled by the Parish Clerk on three
consecutive Sundays in church after the end of the service or
in the market square of specified towns (eg: Wisbech and Kings
Lynn but not Peterborough). The Banns are read by the Clerk and
then signed by the Minister. Technically the couple were married
once the third set of Banns had been read; the bride did not attend
the church services where the banns were called and there is a
tradition whereby the groom and his supporters leave the church
by the South door following the third reading and the groom crosses
over a mop or brush to greet his bride and her friends. This is
known as marriage “over the brush” and at a time when
money was in short supply this meant that the couple did not have
to pay for the further costs of a church wedding which would have
been a further 5s. The marriage lines (a signed record) would
be kept carefully by the bride. The cost of reading the Banns
in 1820 was 7s 6d for three readings (about ¾ of a week’s
wage) and this would be double if the couple lived in different
parishes. Some vicars came to an arrangement between themselves
to allow couples to “live” in one parish so only one
set of Banns would be necessary. This is why it sometimes seems
that the bride and groom are living together. If the parishes
were too far apart for an arrangement to be made the bride and
groom might opt for a marriage by licence which would cost 10s
which was 5s less than two sets of Banns.
Tom then went on to talk about some of the traditions surrounding
childbirth. A woman was not expected to go out of the house for
a month before the expected birth (confinement) and for between
4 and 6 weeks after the birth. A monthly nurse would come and
stay with the expectant mother until the baby was on its way at
which time the she would summon the midwife; this could be done
by hanging a cloth out of the window or by lighting a bonfire
at night. The monthly nurse would then move on to the next household.
The room for giving birth would be set up in a specific way with
the doors and windows shut and a fire lit and a bucket of water
at hand. (In Scotland all the windows and doors were opened.)
The midwife would be accompanied by two Gossips – from God’s
Sibs – whose role was to bring the mother up to date with
all the local news. As soon as the baby was born the baby would
be given to the Gossips who determined the sex of the baby and
checked for obvious signs of disability or deformity. An obviously
damaged baby would be disposed of using the bucket of water. Some
problems such as blindness or deafness were not obvious at birth.
The midwife would burn the placenta on the fire – there
was however a tradition in Fenland of cooking the placenta in
an omelette and feeding it to the new mother. (!)
A baby could not be baptised in church until it was at least four
weeks old but a sickly baby could be baptised by the midwife and
the registration of the baptism was made in church at a later
date if the child survived. In the case of illegitimate babies
the Gossips were also supposed to ascertain who the father was.
The names given to 19th century babies tended to be those from
the Bible, Saints, monarchs and family names; some names like
Asa could be for either sex (sometimes this is not obvious at
birth) and the names Martha and Matthew are sometimes used in
The new mother was allowed to return to society four to six weeks
after the birth and after the churching service – in 1820
the Minister and Parish Clerk each cost 1s 6d about 30% of the
average Ag Lab’s weekly wage. This was a cleansing service
as required in Leviticus 12: vv2-7.
Yet again Tom brought the past to life with his insights into
19th century marriage and birth customs.
ABBEY & ST. GUTHLAC.
On a cold & rainy evening our speaker & guide Brian Jones,
with his umbrella up, welcomed about twenty members & friends
in the car park next to Croyland Abbey in the town of Crowland
Lincs. Although it was our June meeting it didn’t stop raining
during our visit inside the abbey & on the town tour afterwards.
Inside the Abbey we were able to see pictures describing the life
of St. Guthlac & Brian elaborated on this with detailed information
& on the history of the Abbey.
In the roof of the chancel we were shown the green man, the pagan
symbol of fertility and inside the main door the alcove next to
the font where the priests would wash their hands before carrying
out Baptisms. The abbey itself has been destroyed & rebuilt
many times & the ruins outside showed us how large it was
in the past.
St Guthlac was born about 673AD and died & was buried at the
abbey on the 11th April 714, a date which he himself predicted.
He was of noble stock being a prince, & as a young boy he
was very pious.
After about eight years fighting in wars he became very remorseful
& decided to enter a monastery. He entered Repton & has
his head shaved.
After two years of penance & great attention to his monastic
duties he decided to carry out the greater penance of the Fathers
of the Desert .
For this & with two companions he took a boat to the lonely
fenland isle of Croyland.
Fifteen years of solitude & rigid penance with fasting during
daylight hours followed.
With only bread & dirty water taken in the evening he was
often ill & delusional with the ‘evil one’. In
spite of this Guthlac started to be the recipient of extreme powers
sanctity became famous & brought many pilgrims to his cell
& one Bishop Hedda raised him to the priest hood & consecrated
his humble chapel.
spent part of his exile with Guthlac .After Guthlac died he appeared
in a vision to Æthelbald & told him that one day he
would be King.
tour of the Crowland town included several interesting buildings
including the three arched bridge which used to span three rivers
which still run underground today.
July meeting is about Maps & Surveys 1910 by Liz Carter
MAPS & SURVEYS - LIZ CARTER
a very warm evening a good number of members & guests listened
to Liz detailing the history of survey maps. Originally they were
ordinance maps for military use & these were the bases for
the 1910 survey maps.
Liz demonstrated three internet sites of these surveys & with
the scale of 6 & 25 inches to the mile they showed every detail
on a town map.
These surveys were used for Tax purposes & we saw hand coloured
charts with letters used to denote buildings with their precise
description in a ‘code’ i.e. house B&T- meaning
a house made of brick & tile & numbers used as reference
to areas of land large & small.
Surveyors would visit a site & take detailed descriptions
of all buildings & measure land & an appropriate rate
of tax was realised.
After the 1914 war large estates were often broken up to pay death
duties, & in1920 the rating office took over.
Often rate books can be found in the local archives giving details
of owner /occupiers, the address & description & valuation
of a property & the rates paid.
As Liz explained if you knew where a relative lived you could,
through the rate book, & with the reference numbers, find
out if they owned the property where they lived, if land was attached
& a description of the house.
The field book, again available in archives, would give detailed
description of the physical condition of the house, the number
of rooms & would give the value of the property, land &
easements i,e, paths & poles etc – the value & whether
the owner agreed to the result of the valuation.. This talk was
very informative & the large Walsoken Rate book 1925, on loan
to our Society,& Liz’s maps etc were on display &
helped us to understand the rating system.
No meeting in August but important dates for us are;
14th Sept. Heritage Day at the Octavia Hill Museum Wisbech, where
the society will have displays of local well known people &
offer help with research.
26th Sept . Our AGM followed by a talk by our President Wim Zwalf
28th Sept. Our Family History Day form 10am - 4pm in St Peters
Church Hall Wisbech
Our own members will be there to do look ups & give advice,
plus visiting Family History Societies, Help in our local Museum
to use their facilities & the local Library where there will
be lessons on how to use the internet & the library facilities
& also on line help for Military questions.
Refreshments available all day.
HISTORY OF EDUCATION FOR FAMILY HISTORY - Maureen Nichols
Zwalf should have been our speaker after our AGM but the birth
of a new granddaughter called himself & his wife away, to
look after the family.
As the Society was aware that this occasion may coincide with
his talk Bridget had an alternative speaker on standby.
sharp knocking drew our attention to the speaker’s table
& there in the guise of a teacher was Maureen Nichols.
evening children” said teacher. “Good evening Mrs
Nichols” we replied in the familiar sing song way of children.
‘Now sit up straight & no talking, we are going to talk
stated off in the 18th century when teaching was done in Latin
grammar & only boys attended school & payment was required.
were established with Oxford being the first, followed by Cambridge.
King Edward V1 established three Grammar schools free to those
who could not pay.
In 1780 Robert Bailes commenced a Sunday school in Gloucester
where the pupils attended church from 10am to 12 noon for lessons
& in the afternoon repeated the Catechism until 5pm.
then spoke of Ragged schools which took in destitute boys &
taught them a trade for free, although sometimes a few pennies
were found towards the cost by the family. Later schools also
were Dame schools which Maureen described more as a childminding
service. The older pupils taught the younger ones &, in some
cases these pupil teachers went on to become teachers. Red brick
schools, appeared first in Liverpool, so called for the colour
of the building bricks, & not thought of too highly as the
name was often used in a derogatory term.
1880 the Law stated that all children between the ages of 5 to
10 years must attend school to be taught the basics of reading,
writing & arithmetic & school boards were set up. In the
19th century. The University college of London was established
in 1826 & Kings college in Durham.
1944 the Tripartite system was established, the grammar schools
where academic subjects were taught, secondary schools where pupils
were taught practical skills & secondary technical schools
where pupils were taught scientific & technical skills .
Maureen mentioned special places of education such as Harrow where
the speciality was sport.
are school records such as admission lists, names of teachers,
attendance records & punishment books available at local museums
& libraries & some can be found in Record Offices.
the end of Maureen’s talk we ‘children’ were
invited to tell our own school day stories. These were many &
varied, from having blackboard rubbers thrown at us, being rapped
across the knuckles with a ruler, suffering the cane, & being
made to stand in the corner.
It was also mentioned that 2 weeks off school were given to children,
legally, so that they could help with the potato & strawberry
talk took us down memory lane & she is awarded 10 out of 10
& a gold star!
speaker for October is Vicky Howling .
Her talk is called - My Family & Barroway Drove.
FAMILY HISTORY DAY. 2013
We were pleased to see the sun shining as we opened the doors
on our Family History day on September 28th. The many visiting
Societies soon had their displays ready & a steady stream
of visitors throughout the day made all the hard work of organising
by Bridget, the committee & our helpers, worthwhile.
were greeted at the reception desk & advice was available
to direct them to the various venues.
This year we combined our day with the facilities available at
the Wisbech Library & the Wisbech & Fenland Museum close
by St. Peter’s Church Hall.
The museum holds film of registers of all the local churches as
does the library,
The library staff gave talks on how to use their facilities for
Martin Edwards was also based in the library, where he was able
to get on line for research of all things military & was kept
the large hall the various visiting Societies offered specific
help covering their own areas & Tom Doig gave his interpretation
on old family photographs. Brian Jones was able to give advice
from his vast knowledge & In the smaller hall our own society
members had fiche & reader, lap tops & printers &
were able to help several people.
sustain us through the day Linda kept us all supplied with refreshing
cups of tea & coffee & there were delicious Ploughman’s
lunches & cakes for sale.
was very pleasing to hear the kind comments from all the people
who had been helped during the day.
A date for your diary,
Our next Fenland Family History Day will be September 27th 2014.
FAMILY & BARROWAY DROVE - Vicky Howling.
earlier times Barroway Drove was in the fen marsh, but on higher
ground & dry during the summer months. The land was eventually
improved by drains known as tongs. The village is mainly one long
Vicky said she had always lived in Barroway Drove except for a
few months, after which she was glad to come home. She had always
been interested in family & local history, and after speaking
to her father & doing some research she found, as we all have,
that it took a lot of her time.
She got married & when the children were at school, she spent
time with her like-minded friend researching & visits to the
Norfolk record office, & found her roots back to Gt.Gt.Gt
G parents living In the Drove, which was often referred to as
Vicky gathered stories from her father & local people &
this enhanced her knowledge of the history of Barroway Drove.
It was previously known as Bardolph Fen & to enhance his self
esteem the lord of the manor decided he needed more recognition
for his work & decided to name the place Lords Drove &
Lady drove. The locals didn’t accept the name Lords drove
& decided to call the place Barroway Drove (although Lady
drove still exists) the name thought to derive from the lattice
wheel barrows that men used to carry peat out of the drove towards
Nordelph & eventually to the barges at Welle.
At the time of the Queens Golden Jubilee she hit on the idea of
celebrating this with a pictorial display of local people, buildings
& events in the village hall. Helped by her friend and the
local school children during the summer holidays, models were
made of their homes & various buildings & laid out on
a plan of the Drove. The event proved very successful.
There was a tale of a murder in the village in the early 1900’s,
but as with all stories told through time the facts were often
enhanced. Vicky researched the occurrence & found a newspaper
report which said that the man coming home from the pub, died
in coma after a head injury which was caused by being pushed over.
In 1944 a plane crashed in fields nearby killing the pilot - again
researched by Vicky.
Vicky said that the local Church & chapels, post office, shops
& pub have all gone or closed & the only facility left
is the village hall.
She hopes one day to write a booklet about Barroway drove to sell,
the proceeds going toward the village hall, and her research continues.
She brought with her a marvellous collection - many pictures,
reports, census, maps & drainage plans which the members &
guests enjoyed looking at & it seemed that some of the members
were able to give Vicky more history of Barroway drove.
Our November meeting is the festive social gathering with a buffet,
a quiz, displays of War memorabilia & the displays which were
on show at the Octavia centre for Heritage weekend.
Drove History. - Vicky Howling
Drove is a small, elongated village just outside Downham Market,
in Norfolk,and Vicky Howling has lived there for most of her life
[apart from a few months spent in King’s Lynn] and her family
have lived there since the early 1800’s.
Her G.G.G.Grandfather had a house built there for his retirement
in 1886, so several generations of the family have been raised
in the village.
Vicky spent a lot of her formative years in the company of her
Grandmother, who had many tales and stories to tell her, but she
died when Vicky was 17.
Although she enjoyed and remembers many of the tales, Vicky regrets
not asking more questions at the time.
When she married in 1989, Vicky moved into her Grandmother’s
house filled with lots of family memorabilia.
Some time in 2002 at a meeting in the village hall a Jubilee Committee
was formed and Vicky was part of that committee.
The project was to organise a display of the history of Barroway
Drove, and Vicky and a friend set about collecting as much information
concerning the village as possible.
Her father had many old photos, as well as a vast store of memories
to start them on their way.
There followed many trips to Norwich to look up details in the
Norfolk Records as less information was available on the internet
in those days.
The Display proved very popular at the Jubilee event, and other
people added points of interest for Vicky to follow up.
Vicky has taken her village display to other venues, and her next
project or aim is to write a booklet about her findings, possibly
But researching village or family history is an on –going
situation, and Vicky became so engrossed in the local history
that she has continued expanding her research, and has traced
events going back to the late 1500’s. These include:
The state of the surrounding land, mostly waterlogged during the
winter months until some drainage work was carried out before
1600.[ So before the main drainage of the Fens carried out in
The various owners of the land including the Beaupre Estate and
the Hare Estate. How the various lanes came to be named, Lords
Drove and Lady Drove.
The Tong Drains and their uses. The lattice work barrows used
to transport the peat away, and probably the source of the name
Not to mention the many and varied tales, both true and not necessarily
entirely true, which abounded over the years.
One of these tales concerning a ‘murder’, may have
further repercussions, as the newly elected Chairman of the Fenland
Family History Society hastened home after the meeting to inform
her unsuspecting husband that there was evidence of murder in
his family.!! So watch this space, there may yet be a sequel to
the Barroway Drove History.