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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...

Discoveries from a Clevedon Photograph

A portrait of a couple in a farmyard, with the photographer’s name given as Sydney Shaw of Alexandra Road, Clevedon This was a ‘cabinet card’ photograph that my colleague Allan Collier had acquired several years ago, as part of our project on the photographers of Somerset, and published by the Society in 2018 as “Secure the shadow : Somerset photographers, 1839-1939” Based on the format of the photograph, and the style of dress being worn, we estimated this to be somewhere about...

The 1642 Protestation Returns

One of the things I thought I could usefully do during lockdown was to transcribe some of the wills and other old documents that I’d collected over the past few years I’d never made much progress with this as I’d found most of them unreadable; partly because they were often in Latin but mainly because of the early English scripts in which they were written Despite having attended excellent workshops led by the SDFHS Secretary, Ted Udall, on ‘Reading Old Documents’, I hadn’t put...

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