Still Here.

Just a quick post to let you all know I’m still here. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been on holiday and am neck deep in my latest research project. It also didn’t help that my PC died on me (in fact it went with a bit of a pop!)

This current gentleman turned out to be a local hero as well as a WW1 soldier. I’ve found more newspaper articles on him than pretty much all my other researched lives put together and I’m in the midst of collating it all into a timeline so that I can write a short (but much longer than usual) biography of his life.

I’ll post all about it in the next week or so.

George Wilfrid Tate

My latest contribution to the 1000 odd catalogue of WW1 lives research is George Wilfrid Tate:

George Wilfrid Tate was born on the 15th of August 1898, the eldest of George and Annie (nee Stamford) Tate’s five children. He was baptised on the 10th of October 1898 in Beverley Minster.

George Tate was a police constable in the Beverley Borough Police Force, an occupation that George Wilfird would, eventually, take up. George joined the force in 1897 and, after being promoted to Sergeant in 1913 and winning a small monetary award in 1914 for showing courage and professionalism in stopping a runaway horse in Saturday Market Place, he left the force in 1915 after a series of cases of neglect of duty and a warning to give up drinking.

George Wilffrid was already a member of the Territorial Force, in the 5th Yorkshire Territorials, Private 1618, when he enlisted in the 3rd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment on the 24th of March 1914 as private 220261. He was a machinist and a mere 15 years and 6 months old.

By April 1918 George Wilfrid was in France, acting as a stretcher bearer in Wimereux, when he suffered a gunshot wound to his left leg and was invalided back to England, where he spent several months recovering in Brighton, before resuming light duties.

By the end of the war George Wilfred Tate was a Lance Corporal and for his efforts was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the The Territorial Force War Medal .

After the war, on the 11th of April 1924, George Wilfred married Elsie Violet Whittaker in Bridlington Priory Church. At the time he was a Police Constable, a position he still held in 1939, only by then he was serving in Beverley while Elsie was living in Bridlington on Midway Avenue.

Their son Dennis Leonard W Tate was born on the 2nd of June 1924 and went on to marry Vera Jefferson in 1954.


Breaking Down Walls – With Help

You know those walls you hit in your research? The ones where you’re looking for a John Smith, son of John Smith etc? Well this week I finally broke down two of them and one of them was indeed a John Smith.

For quite a while I’ve known that my 5th Great Grandfather, John Smith, was the schoolmaster of Keyingham and that he married someone called Mary and they had several children, including another John who was my 4th Great Grandfather. But that was where it stopped. I had no idea where John Smith came from, or even when he died or which particular Mary he married.

I had come across a marriage licence/bond from 1807 (which I have ordered a copy of) and seen John Smith listed as schoolmaster of Keyingham on Baine’s directory of 1823. After 1823 though, everything goes blank.

That is until I stumbled across a burial in Preston whilst looking for something else. It was John Smith, aged 52 and, the exciting bit, the schoolmaster of Keyingham, being buried in Preston churchyard in 1823. No wonder everything was blank after that. Buried with him was his wife Mary, who died in 1860, aged 84.

I know it only gives me their ages, but the ages more or less match what the index says is in that marriage bond, so, fingers crossed, somewhere on there will be that magic word “schoolmaster”. I’ll let you know.

The second wall is a bit more definite. This one involves the tale of two vicars. The first being the Reverend Thomas Atkinson, first curate and then vicar of Sancton and Newbald, born in 1751 in Kirkby Ireleth, Cumberland, and my 6th Great Grandafter. Thomas married Jane Fisher in a place called Lorton. That was all I had to go on and not a sniff of any parish records from Lorton.

Thankfully I found a historian (whose name I will not drop) local to the area online and he sent me transcripts of the parish records pertaining to the name Fisher. He highlighted the marriage in question and the baptisms of all the Jane Fishers, except for one. I queried why he thought that particular one wasn’t relevant, as I matched up the father, Thomas Fisher, with a Monumental Inscription I had found for a Thomas and Ruth Fisher in Lorton. Thomas Fisher was the curate of Lorton (which kind of fits things), and I am descended from Ruth Atkinson (a long shot I know). Anyway, the historian said that the two Thomas Fishers were not the same as the father’s occupation would definitely have been noted on the baptism, which it was not. He was probably right.

So that was that. I had quite a few Jane Fisher’s to choose from, and she could have been any one of them.

Months later, more than a year I think, I came across a probate for the Reverend Thomas Fisher of Lorton, dated 1800, the year on the inscription I had found, on Find My Past. I’d ordered probates before from Borthwick in York, but hadn’t realised you could do the same with Lancashire/Cumberland records. Anyway, I sent for it, more on a hunch than anything. It cost a little bit more than Borthwick and they send them in the post on a CD rather than via email, but they were pretty quick. Less than a week anyway.

When I looked at the document I was expecting it to have been a waste of time but I ended up doing a little happy, victory dance. The Reverend Thomas Fisher is definitely my 7th Great Grandfather and that baptism is definitely Jane Fisher. Not only does he mention her in his will (she died before him), he mentions Thomas Atkinson, clerk of Newbald (which he was at the time the will was drafted in 1790), he also lists all of their children in age order, Ruth Atkinson included.

So I was right, but I would never have got there at all without the help of a local historian from Lorton.

PTE. William Bugg

I have finished researching my latest WW1 life and started another already. This is the life of William Bugg:

William Bugg was born in 1883 in Thearne, the third of James and Fanny (nee Etherington) Bugg’s ten children, only seven of whom survived into adulthood.

On the 29th of Januaray 1905 William married Fanny Palmer, the daughter of a beckside labourer. Later that year their daughter Doris was born and, in 1908, after they had moved to Hull where William was a lighterman, Mavis came along but sadly died the same year and, in 1910, Claude was born. Claude passed away in 1911. In 1912, Ida was born.

William and Fanny continued to have children through the war and afterwards. In 1916 Horace came along and another Claude in 1918. 1921 saw the birth of James and 1923 Dora. Freda was born in 1926 and passed away in 1931. Jean, their last child, was born in 1929.

William enlisted as private 4213 in the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 10th of September 1917 but was sapper 333057 in the Royal Engineers when he was discharged with a silver badge on the 9th of January 1918.

For his part in the war William was awarded, along with his silver badge, the British War and Victory Medals.

William’s brother, James, was killed in action while serving with the 12th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment and is remembered on the Beverley War Memorial.

After the war William and Fanny moved back to Beverley where William was a keelman on the beck and a keel captain by 1939 when they were living at 5 Sparkmill Terrace. Many of their children were married in the Minster.

Ida married Robert Sidney Pougher, a clerk and the son of a local painter, in 1932. Horace, in 1943, while a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, married Vera Hardcastle of Bolton, a private in the Auxillary Territorial Service. Their wedding was covered by the Beverley Guardian the same week. In 1951 James, a machine operator at the time, married Mabel Dukes of Morley’s Yard, the daughter of the late William Dukes, a tailor. Also in 1951 Jean married Arthur Patrick Farnell, a 23 yeard old brass finisher from Cranbrook Avenue in Hull. Arthur’s father was a master mariner.

William Bugg passed away in 1942 in Beverley, the only thing to mark to his passing being a thank you for the sympathy note from Fanny in the Beverley Guardian.

On a side note, William’s brother, Harold Etherington Bugg, earned a place in history in 1947 when the Beverley Guardian ran a snippet about him and the first Beverley Race meeting of that year. Harold was a shoemaker and it seemed he’d had a habit of displaying racing tips chalked on bends of leather hung outside his Beckside shop. He’d been doing this since 1913, but rarely had a flutter himself. His tips for that particular day were Star Blossom, Game Kid and Orach.

Data Protection (oh and fairies, yes really)

I know I said this post would be about my allotment, and it is, kind of.

I’ll start at the beginning, and my first allotment which was a starter plot, half the usual size. I outgrew that and moved on to a full sized allotment four years ago. This new allotment was a proper mess at the time and took a lot of cleaning up. I have no transport and no way of getting waste from the allotment to the local tip and so I ended up with lots of sacks of rubbish to get rid off.

Over the years I’ve taken it home a carrier bag at a time and binned or recycled it piecemeal but, up until last week there were still about four large rubble sacks full, all rapidly degrading, against the end of the shed. So I was quite surprised when I got to the plot at the weekend to find that the whole lot had disappeared.

Only it hadn’t, not completely anyway. I found it dumped by the allotment gates, along with piles of other rubbish from other, newly, cleared plots. Having asked the site rep what was going on I was told he didn’t have a clue either. I presumed it was a new plot holder, perhaps confused by the layout of the plots and thinking they were clearing their own plot (the ones either side of mine are empty), but the rep didn’t know of anyone new. Anyway, ignoring the suggestion to simply put it down to the rubbish fairies (dumping it where it was is technically fly-tipping), I contacted the local council.

It wasn’t them either, but there was a new plot holder, who they contacted and, apparently, it wasn’t them either. In short they told me not to worry about it, the council would clear the mess away, and that was an end to it.

So, why is this post entitled Data Protection? Well, that was at the very end of the conversation. I asked them to let the rep know about the new tenant (right next door to me by the way), and they replied that they couldn’t. They were not allowed to tell him that there was a new plot holder because of data protection.

I know, I know. You spotted it too. They told me!

I gave up on the conversation. It was starting to go around in circles anyway and I didn’t really fancy explaining data protection to them. They could have told the rep, they could have shared things like names and contact details with him, he technically works for the council, albeit unpaid, and the information is vital for him to run the site properly. If he doesn’t know who has a plot, then how does he know who should be there?

Anyway, I have in the end decided that it really was the allotment fairies, who the council will now clear up after and will, under no circumstances, ever admit to the site rep that they even exist. To protect their personal data, obviously.


I’ve been keeping chickens for a few years now. They used to get a regular mention on my old blog and, as I’m between research projects at the moment (I’ll be starting something new next week), they’re going to show their faces here too.

I’ve six at the moment. Three are about four years old and the other three have only been with me for a couple of weeks now are just at the point of laying and have, finally, settled in.


Settling In

Settling in new chickens can be a noisy and violent affair. Chickens are pretty nasty, vicious things at the end of the day, to each other anyway. It’s always best to add at least three to a flock, one on it’s own is going to get badly beaten as the pecking order is re-established. Always make sure you’re there to step in if things get too nasty and keep some anti-peck spray and gentian violet spray to hand. The first to stop any really bad pecking and the second to treat any wounds. I know it sounds a bit wild and cruel, but it’s in their nature and it’s what they do.

In this case all six chickens piled in for a fight that lasted mere seconds until only one of the old birds and one of the new ones were left battling it out. I kept an eye on them until one had run off in submission then left them too it. With the exception of the odd noisy reminder now and then, things calmed down almost immediately and they have now all settled in. The old bird who was in charge before still is.

One took a little longer than the others to realise that the big box with the perches was where she was supposed to sleep, not on the top of a gate in the main run. After a couple of nights of picking her off her preferred perch and putting her to bed properly, she finally got the idea. It’s normally best to introduce them at night to avoid this problem by putting them straight to bed but, by necessity, I had to put these new birds into the run first thing in the morning.

Chickens always get ill and mine are no exception. You can always tell when one is under the weather. They kind of hunch up and tuck their heads in. I call it assuming the position. If they are still enough and not eating it’s usually a sure sign they’re about to fall off the perch altogether (chickens have a habit of dying at the drop of a hat).

I noticed one of the new birds looking a bit slow and fed up, her breath a bit raspy. She was still eating and I had to put effort into catching her, so she wasn’t about to drop dead, but her breathing sounded awful, a kind of bubbling rasp, and her eyes were filled with foam. I’d never seen this before so looked up the symptoms. It turned out it could have been either Gape Worm or a simple respiratory problem (ie: a cold). Either way, a sick chook needs to be isolated from the rest of the flock. So into the polytunnel she went, in a makeshift cage (which wasn’t as spartan as it looks in the picture). I checked her throat for worms and she was clear, so I cleaned her eyes with antiseptic wipes and gave her food and water with chicken spice and poultry tonic and left her to it.

The next day she looked and sounded a lot better. The day after she laid an egg and tried to break out of the cage. Her raspy breath was back to normal and her eyes were clear. I just wish I could shake of a cold so easily. Anyway she went back in with the rest of the birds, all better, and then another came down with the same symptoms. This second bird was one of the older ones and shook off the cold overnight. In fact she did break out of the cage and I had to chase her around the polytunnel, though I forgot to close the door so she put herself back in with the rest of the flock. I guess she was feeling better.


Next post will probably be the last life I researched, or perhaps something Grow Your Own related, or maybe both.

Creative Upcycling

Just to show this blog is not all about history and research, indeed now that the nights are getting lighter and the weather warming up a bit, my life becomes much more gardening, or rather grow your own, orientated, with research being done in the gaps, so to speak.

Anyway, I got creative the other weekend. After decorating the kitchen I decided I needed a new noticeboard and quite fancied a wine rack on the wall as well.

I had just had a load of stuff for the garden delivered on a pallet and so, using a little of my allotment mentality and a bit of waste not want not, I broke it up and used the very good hardwood that it was made from.

The notice board is pretty much just a frame with the cork sheet from the old one stuck to it and the wine rack is, well a wine rack. The lettering was done with some little kid’s sponges and some paint left over from doing the bathroom the other week. The white blocky bits are my contribution to internet censorship.

It’s my first attempt at upcycling (if that’s what it even is), but I don’t think it went too bad. What do you think?


Next blog, assuming I don’t finish some research off or complete a novel first, will almost certainly involve chickens.