Wednesday, March 28, 2007

NWOCP Newsletter No 6

Hello Folks

Two more grandchildren, but this time there is a connection. The grand daughter is actually the youngest transcriber I have ever recruited! Her mother says that it will keep her away from The Sims! We will see......

In the last month we have uploaded:

HO107/1164 Hundred of Alderbury. Pat Mahoney (Aus)
HO107/1180 Hundred of Kinwardstone. Peter Eastman (UK)
HO107/1185 Hundred of Selkey. Carol Patios (Aus)

[All 1841 checking done by our web site host, John Pope (UK)]

RG101277 Malmesbury. Sue Flower(UK) & Phil Pike (UK)

RG101882 Swindon. Jane Brown (Can) & Phil Drew (Aus)
RG101886 Sue Flower (UK) & Ray Smith (UK)

Four people have dropped out and two more have joined. I am still worried by lack of contact with a number of you. If you haven't written to me in the last two months, please drop me a line. If you are not actually going to do what you have volunteered to do, please post the disc back to me.

At the last Free Census rebuild we had contributed 95,922 records - good going for 14 months. This includes five of the 1841 Hundreds. Of course, the NWOCP web site contains a lot of 1841 records that have yet to be uploaded to Free Census.

Don't forget - please drop me a line!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How quiet it was!

Taken in 1904.

The other day I was sat at the top of my long narrow garden, drinking coffee & smoking a small cigar. I suddenly noticed that I could hear the cries of three buzzards soaring above the village. Young buzzards often stay with their parents for a couple of years, so I expect this was a family group.

I live in a very small Cornish village called Mitchell. First mentioned in a court case in London in 1235, it used to be called Medeschole. The court case confirmed the landowner’s charter to hold an annual market here. Medeschole was an artificial borough created to sit on a cross roads. In the 13th century many such boroughs were created in England and the English parts of France. Our cottage is in the middle of a terrace of granite houses built about 1850 for workers in the giant lead mine at Wheal Rose, about a mile north of the village.

Behind the cottages are long narrow gardens, about 20 feet wide and 120 feet long. Typical working class gardens they would have had a flower area, a rather larger area for vegetables, a few fruit trees and possibly, a sitting out area with a patch of grass. At the top of the garden is a stone privy complete with thunderbox. A long walk on a winter night.

What has this got to do with buzzards? Well, the A30 lies a few hundred yards north of us and in the garden there is a constant background noise from the traffic. It never ends and usually you just ignore it. I could hear the buzzards because there was a break in the traffic. It set me to thinking about how quiet it must have been here when Medeschole was young.

There was a chapel here and although it fell down about 400 years ago, it is known it had a bell. So that would have tolled at set times. The nearest church is over two miles north, so you wouldn’t have heard that very often. There was a blacksmith at the other end of the village, so you might hear the banging and clanging from there.

There would have been some noise from the Stanna Way, which ran through the village. There would almost certainly have been a few drinking establishments. Just to the west of Mitchell is a very large hill and no doubt the carters etc would have needed a drink after the descent and one before tackling the hill if going westwards.

Overall, it would have been very quiet, above all because there would have been very few people. An estimated 25,000 in the whole of Cornwall in 1086 and 35,000 in 1377. Current population is approaching half a million!

Nothing but the cries of the buzzards

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yet another rant from Cornwall

Democracy in Cornwall

Who are the voters in Cornwall? First of all, there are the Cornish, people born here of parents born here of parents born here…….. There was a debate in the local press at the time of the last census in 2001 and a well-known protagonist of “Cornishness” ended up saying that if you lived here and felt Cornish – you were Cornish.

Only about half the electorate are Cornish (however you define it); the other half are like me – blow-ins as some rude lady once said. However, many of us have lived here for a long time, and unlike many of the Cornish, we have chosen to live here. So, I will call us the Cornwallians.

As we all have a single vote, any major change should aim to carry us all with it. Which is where what I call the “Western Ghettoists” go wrong. They want enforced Cornishness and they also want the rest of the UK to pay for it. A very unlikely arrangement!

At the moment in Cornwall, we have seven layers of government. At the top is the French government in Brussels. Unelected by us and remote and untouchable. And unloved. Below them comes the Scottish government in London. Roughly speaking most of us don’t like them at all. Below them is a regional assembly. Unelected and situated in Swindon or somewhere up there. Nothing to do with us and also disliked.

Finally, we reach Cornwall. Sitting in Truro is the County Council, overall rulers of the county. Heavily constrained by the three layers above them and increasingly secretive. We get to vote on them every 4 years, but we always return the same people. Odd that, as no one has much time for them.

Below them are the six District Councils. These are the nuts-and-bolts people. They collect the rubbish, maintain the street lights and so on. We get to vote for them, but don’t care much for them. Most people think they cost too much.

Right at the bottom are the Parish Councils. Also elected, they have few powers but they usually have to be consulted and they are required to consult us – the voters – and we are right at the bottom.

How does all this work? Well, in my small village (now 150 households), a developer wants to build a row of five houses. At the village consultation no one was in favour. The Parish council advised against. The District Council voted it down and it went to appeal. An unelected bureaucrat in Bristol, who probably doesn’t even know where we are, has approved the plan. Democracy it is not!

Now, the Scottish government is thinking about yet another re-organisation of local government. The paranoid section of the press thinks this is all part of a secret plan by the French government in Brussels. But it is probably just something governments do when they are desperate to do something. They have called for helpful suggestions.

The County Council wants to abolish the District Councils. The District Councils want to abolish the County Council. They both claim their plan will save money. We know it won’t. But it doesn’t matter what we want – because we are not being asked. The County Council has conducted a telephone poll of 1000 people and says they like its plan. Really? Who are these people? Are they all council taxpayers?

What this shows is that democracy in Cornwall is in short supply. The voters are irrelevant to these people. I don’t have any solutions – well, I do – but they won’t be adopted.

As a last resort, perhaps taking one in ten of them out and shooting them might help!

Nothing to do with census returns!!!!

This lady is a distant Aunt of mine called Catherine Delaney.

From the census returns, I knew that a great great grandmother of mine was born in Gibraltar. She stuck out like a sore thumb in the returns for Birmingham. I viewed the parish registers for the main (and only?) RC church in Gibraltar for a likely period - and there she was. Shout of joy that caused the customers of the Mormons in Helston to gather round. Some kind lady in Cheltenham translated the abbreviated priestly Latin for me and I discovered that her father was a corporal in the 94th Regt of Foot. I also found she had a brother.

I found a lot of information on the IGI - but it was placed there by a member of the Church and there didn't seem to be any way of contacting him or her.

My next step was to pay a researcher to look for Cornelius Delaney in the army records at Kew. Two lots of £25 bought me a great deal of information about him. A search of the Army records also turned up another 4 children, all born to another wife.

Catherine Delaney was born about 1835 on a ship off Malta. Her father's regiment had moved from Gibraltar to Malta and was now on its way to India. He didn't spend much time there and was back in Ireland by 1836. He managed to fit t being busted from Sgt to Private for being drunk on bathing parade!

I posted my Delaney details on the Delaney message board and much to my surprise got responses from two ladies in Australia. It seemed I had lots of relatives out there! The whole family had gone to Tasmania on a convict ship, the SS Rodney. Cornelius was an Enrolled Pensioner Guard. Catherine married a convict (or ex-convict) in 1851 and soon after that, the whole lot of them moved to Victoria. She died in 1913 and this photograph is said to have been taken shortly before her death.

One of the Australian respondents on the Delaney message board put me in touch with the Mormon source. She was an 82-year old lady living in Sidney. She had a computer but didn't use the internet. We exchanged information and we both ended up with much better family trees. She had been studying Cornelius and his family for 60 years! By the way, this made me look at the IGI in a different light.

What a life Catherine had! Three long sea voyages when they were very unhealthy. I don't suppose that Tasmania was very safe in 185o either. Yet she lasted 78 years! They made them differently in those days!

I sometimes look at her picture and wonder what she would think of me.......

A final note is that Cornelius is another of my Irish brick walls. Although I know where he was born and when, he isn't on the parish register. Lots of Delaneys, but not mine.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

COCP Newletter No 19

Hello folks

This week we have completed 7 more 1871 pieces plus 3 1881. They should all be online soon. The number of 1851 parishes being worked on has fallen to about a dozen. Shouldn't be long now. The February rebuild of Free Census showed that we have completed and uploaded 1,500,741 returns.

At the moment there are ten people checking 1881 returns and it is this project that is the subject of this newsletter. This transcription was given to us and is not in the FC format. It has to be reformatted before it will go into the FC checking software. The transcription is a good one and most of the problems in checking stem from the reformatting that has had to be done.

Schedule numbers and page breaks are inserted arbitrarily because there are none in the transcription. Often, where a page break comes in the middle of a schedule, the change is not being noted. Checkers must check the header detail for every household and keep an eye open for changes during a schedule. There is also a problem with lodgers. Enumerators should have treated them as a separate household. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't. Even where the enumerator got it right, the non-FC transcribers frequently ignored the separation of landlord's family and any lodger.

The transcription does not include the uninhabited dwellings and public buildings. Free Census requires they be inserted. This involves inserting a new record. The header detail of this new record will reflect the previous household unless the checker changes it. Ths comment also applies to volunteers checking the other years.

The occupational field in the donated transcription is more generous than FC allows. During reformatting the occupational data is often split and part of it is dumped in the notes field. Checkers cannot edit the transcriber notes field, but they can tidy up the occupational field. By the use of judicious abbreviations you can get the information into the limited space available. If you are uncertain of what is allowed, browse the existing returns on our web site. Our aim should be to produce something that is correct, makes sense - and looks nice!

We have now completed the 41, 61 & 91 returns; the 51 is almost complete and about 60% of the 1871 is done. More & more work is going to be 1881. I have just spent 3 days validating a single 1881 piece!

Finally, a reminder that we are transcribing "as is". It doesn't matter if the Enumerator is wrong - we want to record his words. Place names, surnames, relationships - it doesn't matter - get down what he wrote. Leave notes if it will help. If I don't think researchers will understand our finished work, I will write a note for them.

All in all, things are going well. Another couple of years and I can retire and grow cabbages. Or something.