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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society


Putting Somerset on the early photographic map

Somerset’s first professional photographer was someone about whom relatively little is known, even amongst photographic historians He was Thomas Sharp (1806-1896), who was born in London, but who lived much of his early life in North Devon This blog post records our efforts to have Sharp recognised as the photographer responsible for a portrait which until now has been credited to Roger Fenton, perhaps the best known early photographer Photograph: Major-General Charles Ashe Windham -...

‘Chilliswood’ Connection

Your recent feature on house histories in The Greenwood Tree reminded me that amongst my grandfather’s (Leonard Guy Bradfield) possessions was a set of 1913 auction particulars for ‘Chilliswood’, a residential estate in Trull, near Taunton in Somerset I often wondered why he kept these and whether there was any family connection with this house It was a substantial estate In its centre was a Tudor manor house dating from 1594, along with gardens and a tennis court There was also a...

A Century in Chancery – the legal battle between two families.

In earlier times marriages were often business arrangements between families rather than the love matches we are used to today Marriages were associated with ‘marriage portions’ (dowries), often involving land and other property Such settlements could often be disputed if circumstances changed People went to extraordinary lengths to maintain ownership of land and to keep it ‘in the family’ A case in point is the extraordinary and complicated legal battle between the FULFORD and...

Historic Migration from the West Country

I must preface this article by stating that I am no expert on migration – this post is merely a transcript of my notes on the recent seminar, held to mark the 20th anniversary of a similar event held in Lyme Regis in June 1998 I hope I have done the talks justice The seminar was a full-day seminar and gave an excellent over-view of migration from the West Country Examples from all West Country counties were mentioned, as were all the main destinations – America, Canada, Australia and New...

Emigration from the West Country

It is now twenty years since the successful ‘Dorset and the New World’ event took place in Lyme Regis in June 1998 when more than 250 people attended, including a group of Americans from the Mary & John Clearing House who happened to be in the area at that time The Mary and John was the ship that sailed to Dorchester, Mass in 1630 carrying settlers from Dorset, Devon and Somerset The voyage was arranged by the Rev John White, the vicar of St Peters, Dorchester The speakers in...

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