Tracking the owners of land in 1873

On a shelf in the Frith Room at the Heritage Hub are two large, fat, blue-bound tomes labelled ‘Return of owners of land 1873’.  They tell us that the Returns were ‘Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty’ and were printed in 1875. The first volume contained English counties from Bedford to Norfolk (so included Gloucestershire) and the second Northampton to Yorkshire West Riding, also the Welsh counties. London was not included. The information was arranged in two sets of seven columns on each page. They record the surname of the owner in alphabetical order in each county, followed by christian name(s) and title, the address of the owner, the amount of land owned in acres, roods and perches, and the value in pounds and shillings. Nearly a million names were listed, 37,705 in Gloucestershire.

You have to admire the compositors of the time who set up the type, back to front in the ‘forms’ which could then be inked and printed. You have also to admire the clerks in the Civil Service who coped with the varieties of hand-writing on the returns from each Poor Law Union in the country, as were the returns transcribed by a willing and persevering band of volunteers for Lloyd George’s attempt to tax the increasing value of land. The Unions were the effective local governments of the time. Jean Gibbons has searched for some of the mysterious addresses in 1873. ‘Rhirdeville’ –  nothing else said –  was Rhodeville in Leckhampton. Other house names, too, were given without stating the place.

Owners of land did not necessarily live where they owned land. Ninety-five people lived in Cheltenham, and owned land  in Gloucestershire varying from 1 acre to nearly 2,000 acres; Richard R C Rogers owned nearly 3,000 acres. Thirty-six people lived in Bath. The really big land-owners, like Lord Fitzharding at Berkeley Castle (18,264 acres ) or Lord Sherborne at Sherborne Lodge (15,773) owned land in many other places. 

At present we are transcribing those owning 10 acres or more: 3,281 names.

by Anthea Jones, Gloucestershire Archives researcher

New Book Stock – January 2020, by Sue Constance

There is a fascinating array of books on the New Book Stock shelves in the searchroom at the moment.  Most of them were published and added to stock during 2019.

This is just a small selection of items available for research at Gloucestershire Archives.Gloucestershire Archives is always grateful to receive items in printed or digital format to enhance stock.

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Its Festival time again!

Next week is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  If you carry out a search of the phrase Three Choirs Festival on our online catalogue you get 579 hits, including programmes, musical scores and printed histories of the Festival and its key performers.  The Festival was originally called the music meeting and was in existence by 1718.  If you’re visiting it don’t forget that you can see any of the items listed on the catalogue here at the Heritage Hub, as long as you give us prior notice of the items you wish to see.  You can either order documents directly through the catalogue, or by emailing archives@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

The Heritage Hub is making its own contribution to the Festival by hosting two talks, both of which are free to access without prior booking, and are specifically timed to avoid events on the Festival programme.

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Controlling archival ferment: the West Country Breweries Collection at GA, by Mike Bevan

Gloucestershire Archives has been stock checking, listing, enhancing and structuring the collection ready to being fully catalogued into CALM, with the help of volunteer Amber Patrick, also a member of GSIA (Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology) and an expert in the Maltings Industry. Is she partial to an amber ale then? No, she doesn’t drink beer!

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub’s nearest pub, which has a West Country Brewery plaque on the exterior

The series of photographs taken of the staff at the brewery is an interesting feature which can be useful for family history reseachers, looking for relatives employed by the brewery. Another good set of photos are of b/w inn signs which again allow locals to identify with their specific landscape and memory; and connecting their local pub with an image of what the sign would have looked like in the past.

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Port of Gloucester Crew Lists all ship shape thanks to volunteers!, by Ann Attwood

Mags and Terri with repackaged D3080 boxes

Working 1 morning a week from November 2015 to October 2018, Margaret and Terri ploughed through 44 large boxes coming across mutinies, shipwrecks and desertions along the way.

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Blogging a Building 22 – New signs of life, by Kim Kenny

After a period of hibernation the Heritage Hub building project has come back to life. On 1st April 2019, our new contractors, Beard Construction, took over from where Lakehouse left off.  Beard is aiming to complete the building project by August 2019.

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Playing around with place names

Sometimes we like to have a bit of fun with local place names, in between helping people with their research and all the other things we do. Once we made up the cast list for a melodrama (including Maisey Hampton, our heroine, Stanley Pontlarge her hard-up clergyman uncle, Acton Turville, a cad and a bounder, and Temple Guiting and Clifford Chambers, a pair of unscrupulous lawyers…) – although we never actually managed to write the melodrama itself.

Another time, we found ourselves explaining the pronunciation of various place names through the medium of limericks. It was back in the days before blogs and suchlike, and we never got round to sharing the results, but I’ve used several of them as reminders to myself on how to pronounce the places concerned, and I thought it would be nice to share them now – and to challenge all of you to write some of your own!

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Happy 40th, Gloucestershire Family History Society!

The Gloucestershire Family History Society (GFHS) was founded 40 years ago this April. As we all know, 40 is a significant birthday (hang on though, if 60’s the new 40, that only makes them 20… Move on! Ed) and so it was only right and proper that this milestone was marked by a special event.

And so, on Sunday 28 April, we were joined by around 250 people who came to see the GFHS in their smart new home at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub- a pleasingly high number as lots of people had heard about the event on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.  Some 40 GFHS volunteers were on hand during the day to welcome visitors and show them the Resource Centre.

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Mysterious happenings in 17th century Gloucestershire

A very peculiar unsolved missing persons case took place between 1660 and 1662 in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. On 16 August 1660, a 70 year old man, William Harrison disappeared! He was steward to the Lady of the Manor and left his home to walk two miles to Charingworth. His manservant John Perry was sent to look for him, neither returned by the next day. So his son Edward Harrison was then sent to look for the pair, and on his way, of course, he meets John Perry, who had not been able to find his master; so they head for Ebrington and heard that Harrison had been there the previous night (he was going to see a tenant).  During their return to Chipping Campden they heard that some of William Harrison’s items had been found on the road locally; including a hat slashed by a sharp implement, a bloodied shirt and neckband.

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Howlers from the archives – or, the Gloucestershire Archives Christmas Quiz!

In my post yesterday I promised you two treasures from the Hicks Beach family archive. Ellice’s Victorian Christmas cards were the first, but for the second I want to take you nearly a century further back in time to the 1820s, where we meet Ellice’s great-aunt Jane Martha Hicks Beach and her book of riddles.

Jane Martha was the youngest sister of Ellice’s grandfather William, and after William’s wife (also called Jane) died, she helped him bring up his children. Jane was the family’s maiden aunt until she was 47 when she married a man called Edward St John, and she was known as “Aunt Jane” to at least two generations of the family. Ellice will have known her, as she didn’t die until he was seven years old.

Jane was a talented artist and was interested in botany and photography; the collection also includes some of her sketchbooks and photographs. She also seems to have had a fairly keen sense of humour, as the riddles in her book will show you. Many of them don’t make sense to modern eyes, some of them rely on early 19th century cultural knowledge, and some of them are a bit of a stretch, to say the least, but some of them still make sense (and are groan-inducingly funny) today. We have been posting some of them on our social media this last week, with their answers, but to entertain you over Christmas week, I thought I’d put together a few without their answers for you to puzzle over. Answers will follow in the New Year! Continue reading