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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

The Greenwood Tree – May 2016

The May edition of The Greenwood Tree will be mailed to members this week. The Editor, Bob Barber, gives a preview of the contents.

GT May 16 coverThe rather startling front cover of the May issue of The Greenwood Tree highlights an important new venture by the Society: The Somerset and Dorset Photographs Project.

Photographs are an important part of family history, triggering and cementing memories of the past, as Barbara Elsmore described in a previous post. A major new initiative for the Society has been the establishment of a database of photographs, supplied by our members, of people and places with a strong connection to Somerset and Dorset. On pages 50 and 51 Barry Brock describes the origin and launch of the project and you can see some of the first batch of photographs that were brought into the Photographic Open Day held in March. More Open Days are planned with the next one on Saturday 8 October and it is hoped that the regional groups will also get involved locally.

Mike Whitaker, our Dorset Spotlight contributor, turns author with an article on church bands. Before the introduction of organs and standard hymnals in the 19th century many churches had bands and quires (choirs), often accommodated in a gallery at the west end of the church. Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree focuses on a vicar’s intention to replace the band with an organ. Winterborne Abbas church has a memorial to William Dunford, who was a long-serving member of its choir and band, and the clarinet played by his father, John Dunford, is displayed in the church.


Newspaper cutting

‘Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser’ 26 March 1873

We conclude Wendy Morgan’s account of the life of Rev. James Hunt, who was hounded out of his parish at Northmoor Green, Somerset for being too ‘high church’. He was seldom out of the news, including an occasion when he was assaulted by his wife. He was later sent to prison for illegally colluding with his wife to obtain a divorce. Nonetheless, he still seemed able to gain employment, and eventually returned to Northmoor Green after an absence of 30 years.

Another Somerset man, Robert Eyton of Cannington, was the subject of a remarkable obituary in the Taunton Courier in 1828. Although ordained, and styling himself Rev. Eyton, he never held a living, and despite considerable wealth, lived the life of a miserly misanthrope. Nancy Wilson tells the story.

There are three short pieces on surnames, and articles with connections to some unusual names. John Templeton describes the life and business of a Poole merchant, Robert OKE, and Richard Scott write about his research into Anthony THOROLD, a gentleman of Lyme Regis. Thorold is a surname more associated with Lincolnshire, and we go out of area again with Patricia Spencer’s account of a Dorchester woman, Sarah Jane HOSKIN, who married a Cornish miner and moved with him to Millom in Cumberland (Patricia’s home town). Sarah’s husband was killed in a mining accident, and for a while she may have run a school in Millom. Sarah’s background is complicated, and Patricia outlines her attempts to make sense of the confusing evidence.


A old view of Millom showing how the town was dominated by the Ironworks and slag heap (now reduced and landscaped). Courtesy of Millom Discovery Centre. http://millomdiscoverycentre.co.uk/

The conditions for those working in heavy industries like mining were grim, as they were for people reduced to seeking assistance in the workhouse. Arnaud Aurejac-Davis gives us an insight into conditions from the viewpoint of his ancestor, William CAVE, who was relieving officer in the Cerne Abbas workhouse in Dorset in the years immediately after the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.


Cerne Abbas workhouse (built 1836) c. 1930

There are plenty more articles of interest to Somerset and Dorset family historians and all the regular features are here. Ann-Marie Wilkinson’s Computer Corner deals with the future of the genealogy program ‘Family Tree Maker’, following Ancestry’s decision to end supporting it. We continue with extracts from the members’ on-line Forum and have a longer than usual People, Places and Problems section. The Somerset Spotlight is the first part of a description of the north Somerset parish of West Harptree; the Dorset Spotlight falls on Broadmayne. There is group news and information about their meetings as well as a list of events at the Family History Centre in Sherborne. What the Papers Said, Looking Back, book reviews as well as other news items makes for plenty of reading. I hope you enjoy this latest issue of The Greenwood Tree.

Bob Barber

Editor, The Greenwood Tree

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