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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

The Greenwood Tree – June 2023

The theme of the June issue of The Greenwood Tree was Poor Relations – The Struggle to Make Ends Meet. Editor Paul Radford previews the edition which will be mailed to members at the end of May and which SDFHS members can already view or download from the Members’ Area of the Society’s website.

Greenwood Tree 48-2 June 2023

There are several unusual stories in the Poor Relations edition though by no means all of them involved poverty as such. Ted Udall did some deep research into the desperate plight of the Dorset labourer in the mid-19th century and uncovered a letter to the newspapers from the Rector of Durweston, Rev Sidney Osborne, in which he stated that, due to their conditions, the labourers were “brought to the lowest possible state of existence, physical and moral.”

Trick bike
Trick Cycle

Vanessa Oliver tells the remarkable story of Thomas Ensor, founder of the Dorchester Market and son of a mayor, who was wed to three sisters despite the legislation of the day which prohibited marriage to the sibling of a deceased wife.

Jill Prime came up with the delightful tale of trick cyclist Sam Brown who toured through Dorset perched atop a 16-foot bicycle known as the ‘Eiffel Tower’, drawing crowds wherever he went.  

Sandford Orcas
Sandford Orcas Manor

Roger Guttridge takes a peek inside the supernatural world and examines whether they really were 14 ghosts, as claimed, haunting Sandford Orcas Manor, former home of our late president Sir Mervyn Medlycott.

Somerton Market Place
Somerton Market place

John Townson relates the story of Henry Hardstaff who rose from being the butler at a Somerset mansion to owning the property after inheriting it from his former employer.

Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell

Bob Kelley, tongue in cheek, argues the case for Thomas Cromwell to be made the patron saint of family history researchers.

In the latest of our series in which The Greenwood Tree interviews an invaluable contributor to our Society or its magazine, the subject is Janet Lute, who started out on a treasure hunt to find out what happened to an ancestors’ fortune and finished up producing an invaluable database on emigration from Somerset to the colonies.

Regular features include Somerset Spotlight, this time on Somerton, the SDFHS Photo Project, What the Papers Said and Letters to the Editor.

Paul Radford

Member and Guest Blogs Welcome

We welcome guest and member blog posts on any topic with a family history connection and invite you to send your contributions, which should include photo/photos, to the editor Barbara Elsmore