What working for Gloucestershire Archives Has Taught Me, by Sally Middleton

On the eve of my retirement, it’s a chance to look back at the last (almost) 6 years, and see what I’ve learned.

I was new to heritage, when I arrived, and new to archives. I’d always worked with communities, or individuals, but around social justice or in a therapeutic context. I hadn’t seen, or understood, quite what an impact heritage can have on people and communities.

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Women’s History Month – Naomi Patterson

For our last post during women’s history month we’ve taken our information from the Barton and Tredworth community heritage site. This was set up during one of our community partnership projects, looking at the lives of local people. Read below for an insight into Naomi’s life and follow this link to listen to audio clips of her describing her experiences: https://www.bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/blackhistorymonth/naomi-patterson

Naomi Patterson came to Gloucester from Jamaica in the 1960s. She came to join her husband William who had travelled to the UK several years earlier to work at Gloucester Foundry. After her long trip, one of Naomi’s clearest memories upon arrival is remarking to her husband about how many factories there were in Gloucester, not realising that she was in fact looking at the terraced housing of Barton and Tredworth.

She also clearly recalls the first meal William made her when she arrived – freshly cooked mackerel and a glass of stout! Naomi and William lived with family in Barton and Tredworth before getting their own home, and in this collection of audio clips, Naomi recalls some of her experiences and her memories of the area from the time of her arrival. (Click on the link above to listen)

Since coming to Gloucester, Naomi has had several different jobs, raised three children and now volunteers at her church, the United Reform Church and also the Black Elders’ Luncheon Club. ‘Mrs P’ is still very much a part of her local community and a well known personality in Barton and Tredworth.

Naomi Patterson 1
Naomi Patterson

Women’s history month – Quarter sessions

The Quarter Sessions is a collection of accounts regarding mostly petty everyday crime. Last year we went through and picked out various cases that mentioned women, which you can read here: https://gloucestershirearchives.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/maligned-marginalised-and-misunderstood-blog-3/

There’s plenty more material to look through though, such as the case in 1741 concerning Mary Smith. It’s a settlement case, meaning they were trying to find out where she belonged and which parish was responsible for looking after her. According to her statement, she was

‘about 63 and was born in Shaftesbury in Dorset. She married Jeremiah Smith forty years ago and lived with him for twenty eight years. They travelled the country with earthenware as their living. She has gained no parish of settlement since her husband died.’

Such a short statement for such a long life lived. By the sounds of it, she travelled all over the country and would have met a much wider variety of people than most others did, especially women who would be expected to stay in or near their home most of the time.

White document with black inked handwriting

Other records follow the same themes of settlement, theft, and assault against women. There are rarely happy stories in the petty sessions, this was after all where crimes were heard.

In 1738, Andrew Phipps of Berkeley accused Daniel Pick of assaulting his daughter Martha and tearing her apparel on Dursley Fair day. Q/SD/1/1738 A year later Mary Jagger stated she was

‘travelling from Minchinhampton to Cirencester on her husband’s business with Laurence Chidsley, a barber of Tetbury, as her guide. Chidsley pulled her off her horse, violently assaulted her and stole a silver pair of buckles which he still has’.

Neither case goes into much detail and it’s difficult to find further examinations that might tell us how the cases were closed.

White document with black inked handwriting
White document with black inked handwriting

Without a doubt the most common way a woman appeared in the quarter sessions was in cases of bastardy. Women would be hauled in front of the courts and told to name the father of her unborn (in some cases already born) child, so that he would be charged for their welfare instead of the parish. Such is the case in 1738 when Elizabeth Thorn appears. The case states that she is 28 and born in Cowley and has had no settlement since birth. It goes on to say

‘She is with child by Francis Tomlinson with whom she has cohabited for two years. She has sometimes begged but mostly got her livelihood from travelling about selling phisick.’

This one is interesting as it gives a bit more detail, and rarely are the women in these cases said to be living out of wedlock with the fathers for any length of time, which begs the question why weren’t they married? Where was her family? It also mentions she travelled around ‘selling phisick’ – so she did try to fend for herself in some way, and had enough knowledge of herbs and plants to make a living out of it. Who taught her this knowledge – was she particularly skilled? Of course, she isn’t asked any further questions than who the father of her child is, so we’ll never know.


The marginalised voices of women in the justice system hint at so much history yet to uncover, waiting in the archives to be discovered.

Women’s history month – Fielding and Platt workers

In the second week celebrating women’s history month, we’d like to highlight some local women in the workforce.

One of our partner projects was all about Fielding & Platt, an engineering firm from Gloucestershire started in 1866. You can see all about the company and the lives of the people that worked there here: https://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk/

Black and white photograph of the women working at Fielding & Platt, Second World War

One particular page we’d like to highlight today though is this one about the woman who worked there, see here: https://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk/content/works/fielding-and-platt-in-world-war-ii/fieldings-female-workers-during-world-war-ii

Daphne Collier was one of these women. To listen her memories of working at the engineering firm, check out the link below: https://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk/content/people/people-general/daphne-collier

Daphne Collier

Women’s History Month – U. A. Fanthorpe and R. V. Bailey

To kick off woman’s history month in the UK, every Friday in March we’ll be bringing to light women in Gloucestershire, often overlooked or under appreciated.

This week’s new arrival for our local studies collection was ‘From Me to you – Love poems’ by U. A. Fanthorpe and R. V. Bailey. The authors were a couple who lived together in Wotton Under Edge until Fanthorpe’s death in 2009.

From Me to You, Love Poems

Ursula Fanthorpe was a teacher at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and went on to run the English department there. She later left that job to work in a hospital and started publishing her own poetry in 1978.

Rosemarie Bailey met Ursula when she was also working in the English department at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Later, she worked as a University lecturer in Bristol.

They first lived together in Merthyr Tydfil, before moving to Wotton Under Edge in Gloucestershire. Both have spoken about their faith in the Quaker community, and how accepted they felt in it, which features in this book. Neither indicated which poem was written by whom, calling it a kind of ‘comic modesty’.

We think it’s fitting that Gloucestershire Archives should hold a copy of this book for future generations to peruse and learn about the life and love between these two women which inspired these poems.

You can find it by searching in our local studies collection, under B739/60038GS.