Friday, 25 January 2013

The Great Fire of Norton

An article written by David Burt on the Norton Village website

The Great Fire of Norton, Thursday 3rd April 1788, was reported in the Bury and Norwich Post of Wednesday 9th April 1788.

The part of the village which was destroyed was from Church Lane to Norton Hall Cottages on the north side of Ashfield Road. The following is an abridged version.

The fire started at between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning in a back parlour of a shop belonging to a Mr Samuel Chapman and is thought to have been caused by a blower being left on the fire. The shop, dwelling house and office, together with a newly erected, neighbouring bake-house, were completely burnt down. A very strong wind was blowing from the west and the flames took hold of buildings next door belonging to farmer Mr Booty.

His farmhouse was slightly damaged, but his barn, stables and out-houses were completely destroyed along with all the farming implements and a quantity of hay and straw. The next farm to be destroyed was that occupied by Mr. George Burt. The farmhouse was damaged and all adjoining buildings, barn, stables and out-houses were consumed, together with a cow and two calves, 100 coombs of corn and 15 tons of hay.

(A coomb was a very large farm sack which held 4 bushels or 32 gallons. Beans (dense stuff), 22 stones weight. Wheat (fairly heavy) 18 stones. Barley (Not so heavy) 16 stones. Oats (the lightest grain)12 stones).

The fire then transferred to another farmhouse also owned by Mr. Burt. This was completely destroyed along with all outbuildings. The fire then badly damaged Mr. Ship's and Mr. Grimwood's houses, their barns, corn and hay being destroyed. Mr Ellis' bake-office and stable were burnt to the ground along with nine cottages which were the homes of fourteen poor families. They are in great distress as most of their furniture was also lost to the flames.

In all 20 families have been made homeless, but what is worse, is that none was insured, except the shop where the fire started.

The exertions of Mr. Alderman Patteson of Norwich, the principal land owner of the village and The Rev. Orbell Ray of Tostock are worthy of praise. They have asked for subscriptions from neighbouring villages to help those who have lost so much. It is greatly regretted that so many people had not taken steps to insure themselves from such a calamity, especially as the cost is so trifling in comparison to the loss.

April 16th. We are happy to hear that an accurate account of the losses sustained by the late dreadful fire at Norton is being prepared to be laid before the public and there is little doubt that a liberal subscription will be obtained for the relief of the unhappy sufferers.
April 23rd. Meeting held at The Pickerel, Ixworth, Tuesday 15th. Present:- Sir John Moore, Bart., Thomas Preston DD., John Godbold Esq., Thomas Pemberton, Clerk, and others.

The damages which were occasioned by the fire in the Parish of Norton were taken into consideration and after strict examination of the sufferers, and of their estimates, the loss sustained in corn, hay, furniture and other effects, EXCLUSIVE OF BUILDINGS, was found to amount to £617. 13s. 9d. It was then resolved that a committee be formed and an advertisement be placed in The Ipswich Journal and Bury Post asking for donations from the Hundreds of West Suffolk. John Patteson and Rev. Orbell Ray were chosen to distribute any funds raised among the sufferers.

June 17th 1788, Ixworth. The gentlemen who formed the committee after the fire in Norton have the satisfaction of informing the public that due to the great generosity shown, the funds raised have been more than adequate to meet the estimates of the sufferers. Mr Patteson and Rev Ray will oversee the full amount being paid to each claimant, immediately. A meeting will be held at The Pickerel on Tuesday July 15th at 12 o'clock, to consider how any surplus funds should be disposed of.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Brinkley family of Suffolk

The last couple of evenings I have spent researching the family of my brother-in-law Barry Brinkley whose ancestors came from Suffolk.
This is an email I sent to Barry this evening summarising my research:
Hi Barry
This is a quick summary of my research this evening.

Family of your dad Jack Brinkley (Samuel John)
I found all the brothers and sisters you mentioned

Beau was named Marjery V Brinkley
Charlie was named Henry Charles born 1909

Winifred M was born in 1910
Victor G born in 1911

Frank born 1915
There was another 8th brother you didn’t mention - Harold born 1917 who died in Oxford in 1940

Daisy E born in 1919
Ivor L born 1921

Percy born 1923
Cecil F was the one who died at Dunkirk aged just 19 (born 1925)

Leslie born 1927

The parents of this family (your grandparents) were:
Samuel James Brinkley (born at Norton in 1883) and Ellen Fisher (born at Norton in 1887)

Samuel had 1 sister (Mary Jane Brinkley born 1879) and 5 brothers:
Walter, William, Charles, Albert and Bertie

William died at Flanders in 1917

Your grandmother Ellen Fisher
Was born in 1887 and had 4 sisters and 1 brother:

Henry, Rosaner, Amelia, Alice and Sarah   

Their parents (your great grandparents) were
Henry Fisher and Alice (it could have been Alice Bloomfield Osbourne – but I need to confirm that)

Henry had 6 brothers and 4 sisters and his parents (your great great grandparents) were Robert (born 1815 in Wetherdon) and Amelia (Born 1826 in Portsmouth) Fisher

Your Brinkley great grandparents were
Samuel James born in Norton in 1855 and Mary Ann Claxton born in Flimpton in 1859

As I said in one of my emails, there is evidence the Brinkley family going back into the late 1400s but I won’t go into that right now.

On your mother’s side

Vera’s sister Joyce was actually named Ella Joyce P Elsey born in 1921 in Bosmere
I’m still looking for records for their brother Ernie

Can’t find any other siblings at the moment but there could be some

Vera’s parents (your grandparents) were Frank H S Elsey born Finningham in 1889 and Eva Dorothy Howlett born Finningham 1894
Frank had a brother James (b 1901) and 2 sisters Emily Rose (b 1904) and Ellen Elsie (b 1907)

However, I think these were his step siblings as they all had the surname Aldridge except for Frank who had his mother’s maiden name Elsey. Her name was Roseanna H Elsey (born 1872 in Occold) and the father (or step father) was John Aldridge (born 1868 in Mellis).
I’ll try and confirm the relationship of Roseanna and John at some point – they are your great grandparents.

I’ll give you another update over the weekend as I’m working my way through the Howlett family which is also quite large and at the moment I can get back to your great great grandparents, Charles Howlett (born 1823 in Chelmondiston) and Harriet T Shilling (born 1825 in Gillingham, Kent).
Hope this is interesting.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Caribbean Family History Group - Solihull & Birmingham

Dear Member/Researcher/Group Friend,

Our next General Group meeting is planned for next week, Saturday, 26th January 2013 at Solihull Library - our normal location. (Homer Road, Solihull, B91 3RG - Entrance Library Square from Touchwood shopping centre and up to first floor (contact number for heritage section = 0121 704 6934. To contact us at the group - try 0121 688 3206)
Two meetings will be involved - a training session covering some aspect of research (between 12 -2pm) and then a research session (between 2-4pm) where you can continue your research and be aided by any group personnel or fellow researchers who are there and able to do so. The end time, of 4pm, will be prompt in terms of assistance because we need to review the session and be sure we leave on time.
Once again their will be a minimum £3 contribution for the training and assistance provided - All funds will go towards us continuing to grow the microfilm collection that is at the library -
We were hoping to deliver a workshop on using Family Search for Caribbean records, but our intended lead instructor is planning an all day birthday celebration! - as you do! ;-) so we are having a rethink! Watch this space for the outcome of that. ...or send us a request - which we will try to act on.
At our last meeting we did a workshop on the beginner's basics: -
  • completing pedigree charts
  • using a free family history software package and
  • being organised to do your research.
This went down well and can be reprised if felt helpful. Another relevant area that could be covered is how to effectively use the birth marriage and death indexes and register microfilms that we have available. I will also be looking at what we can do with still giving a '' session. Jamaican records are well progressed on the site (though they have a long way to go - birth indexes are complete. However there are a number of islands with images of the microfilms online which have not been indexed - essentially viewing complete microfilms online.
Do feel free to come along on that day even if only to do your own unaided research. Also do feel free to come and do your research at the library at any time, once you have found your research 'feet'/confidence.

Carlston Walters
Chair - Core Committee
Caribbean Family History Group - Solihull & Birmingham

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Plan of St Peter's Place, Ladywood c.1800

The Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society

In 1902 the Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society was founded and this front page of The Fold, its magazine, lists the homes it managed.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Share your memories of historic Black Country venues

The Public in West Bromwich are calling for people to share their memories and photographs of old cinemas and dance halls in the Black Country as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded Project.

‘Places and Faces’, which will be exhibited in 2013, will provide visitors to The Public an opportunity to discover more about the social and cultural history of old entertainment venues in the Black Country from the people who remember them.

Project facilitators, local historians Laurence Hipkiss and Brian Dakin, will work with volunteers from local historical societies, schools and community groups to capture people’s memories of the borough’s old heritage - showcasing them in one of today’s most exciting and inspiring community venues, The Public. Through a range of workshops, talks and research, the project will lead to the development of new skills and empower others to learn about and participate in their local heritage.
If you have a memories of cinemas and dance halls in the Black Country, email or call 0121 533 7161.

Linda Saunders, Managing Director of The Public said,

“Places and Faces will not only provide a great opportunity for local people to discover more about the history and heritage of the region but also reminisce about times gone by.”

For more information about exhibitions at The Public visit or call 0121 533 7161