Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Brett Family and Non-Conformity, Part 1
At the beginning of the summer, I decided to explore the non-Anglican religions in Norfolk, England to see if my family in the market town of Swaffham might be involved. Because they were agricultural laborers and thus poor, they might have had a tendency to leave the Church of England (COE), either before or after they immigrated to the U.S. and Australia. In the chart below, I summarized the results by listing my GGGrandfather, Thomas BRETT, and his five daughters, including my great grandmother, Eliza BRETT LEWIS:

Baptisms & Marriages-
Norfolk, England
Religion as Older Adult-UK/USA/Australia
Thomas Brett, father
Church of England
Universalist (USA)
Sarah Brett Blyth
Church of England
Church of England (UK)
Rachel Brett Barker
Church of England
Universalist? (USA)
Hannah Brett Parsons
Church of England
Methodist (USA)
Susan Brett Griffin
Church of England/Particular Baptist
Church of England/ Wesleyan (Australia)
Eliza Brett Lewis
Church of England
Methodist (USA)

While living in England, all six family members were baptized and five were married in the COE. Susan BRETT was married in the Particular Baptist chapel. The five who left the UK were active and buried with rites of non-conformist denominations.
Thomas BRETT married Martha HAYLETT in Great Dunham, NFK on 8 Dec 1823 in the Church of England (COE) parish church. They lived in Swaffham, Thomas' home town, and had 7 children baptized in the COE parish church: Sarah (1824), Rachel (1826), Hannah (1829), Susan (1832), Thomas (1835), Eliza (1837), and James (1839). Martha HAYLETT BRETT died in 1850, and her burial is recorded in the COE register. The three eldest daughters married in the COE church in Swaffham. 

James’ birth, Martha’s death and the three girls weddings happened after 1837 when civil registration began so the fact that the events are recorded in the COE registers may be evidence that they were faithful COE members at those times. According to the 1851 Religious Census, there were non-conformist groups in the parish, if they had an inclination to participate.
On the other hand, between 1754 and 1837 all marriages had to occur in the COE to be recognized. This would include Thomas BRETT’s marriage to Martha HAYLETT in 1823. The COE was reluctant to marry people who had not been baptized in the church. The daughters may have been baptized in the COE to avoid future problems.

Then Susan BRETT married Allen GRIFFIN on 5 Mar 1854 at the Particular Baptist Chapel in Swaffham, the first documented evidence that I have found that anyone in the family had non-conformist tendencies. This couple emigrated to Australia in 1855, declaring themselves as Baptists on the ship’s manifest. However, the baptisms of their many children are recorded in the Wesleyan and two Anglican churches. The ministers at Susan and Allen’s funerals were listed as Wesleyan and Methodist respectively.
Who were the Particular Baptists: Baptists are set apart from other protestant groups because they believe in adult baptism by immersion. An Englishman founded this religion while in the Netherlands. One of his followers came back to London and established the first Baptist chapel there in 1612. About twenty years later, there was a split – one group was called the General Baptists and the other the Particular Baptists. The latter sect put a greater emphasis on predestination.

By 1851, the Particular Baptist Chapel in Swaffham, NFK was on White Cross Lane in its own separate building. Founded in 1823, it had Sunday Schools in two other locations.

Thomas Sr., Thomas Jr., Eliza, James, Hannah and her husband, John PARSONS, and her children arrived in the United States in 1854. Thomas Sr. died in upstate New York on 11 March 1875. The funeral was held two days later at the Universalist Church at North Ridge, Niagara, NY, and he was buried in a community cemetery behind the church, a second incidence of non-conformity.
It is in the lives of Thomas’ children, especially his five daughters that the religious diversity is further illustrated. His oldest daughter, Sarah BRETT, is the one exception. She married William BLYTH or BLIGH in Swaffham, remained in Ashill, Norfolk, England, and seemed to record events in the Church of England records throughout her life. Her first husband’s burial and her remarriage were recorded in the parish register also.

Note: This family’s immigration and religious beliefs are the subject of two future blog posts.
  ©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Happy about Past and Upcoming Opportunities

Happy Thanksgiving!

-I am thankful for my fledgling ‘career’ in genealogy, especially that I can write this weekly blog, mostly without stress to meet my self-imposed deadline.
-I was pleased with my Beginning Genealogy class at the Lifelong Learning Academy in Sarasota, Florida. Eight weeks gave most people time to meet their initial goal.

-Several groups in Florida took a chance on a relatively new speaker. Thank you to the Englewood and Sarasota genealogy groups for their faith and attention. I think they know a little more about reading a deed now.
-I enjoyed meeting my sister in Cincinnati for the NGS conference, May 9 – 12. We had a good time and loved Fountain Square and the Underground RR Museum. By a stroke of luck, I was selected to be an official blogger for the event. I found it really hard to write with a such tight deadlines and when exhausted. I need the gift of stamina soon.

Hot News for 2013 (1)
Ohio Genealogy Society – Annual Conference

Expanding Your Ancestry Through Technology
25-27 April 2013, Millennium Hotel, Cincinnati

I will speak twice on Saturday afternoon: Accessing Land Records Online, Deeds: An Insider’s View.

Hot News for 2013 (2)

The Lifelong Learning Academy, Sarasota, Florida – Intermediate Genealogy: Researching Abroad

Beginning the week of January 7 for eight weeks - $75 plus a parking pass www.thelifelonglearningacademy.com

                        From the soon to be published catalog:
You are ready to search for your ancestors abroad, if you have previously taken a beginning genealogy course and have conducted extensive research with records here in North America. We will develop a research plan and strategies to find your ancestors so come to the first class with a person’s name and village of origin in a European country.

If you will be in the area, please consider taking this course. Most genealogists learn about advanced topics by attending society meetings, reading and researching on their own. Here is a rare chance to interact with others on your level in a supportive atmosphere.
Hot News for 2013 (3)

South Bay Genealogical Society, Sun City, Florida
Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013

"Basic English Research"

Meetings at the South Shore Regional Library and the year’s programs are listed on the website.
Hope you can make it to one of my talks or classes.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: National Burial Index

Yet another source of death/burial information is the National Burial Index (NBI) for England and Wales. This project of the Federation of Family History Societies is a finding aid to over 18.4 million burial records taken from Anglican parish, non-conformist, Quaker, Roman Catholic and cemetery burial registers that are held by local repositories, family history societies and groups. For an overview of the content, the process used to create the NBI and the area of coverage, consult www.ffgs.org.uk/projects/nbi/nbi-overview.php.

The project started in 1994 and published its first 5 million+ results in 2001. “The majority of the records cover the period from 1813 - 1850 but the index does extend significantly in both directions from these dates.”

The latest edition, the 3rd, is available on CD from FFHS or is online as part of the Parish Records Collection 1538-2005 at www.FindMyPast.co.uk.  Find My Past is a subscription site that also has a pay per view plan. Considering the high postage costs you might incur ordering the CDs, Find My Past may make sense. You can purchase the CDs from the National Archives online bookshop. They were recently offered at the sale price of £25.
Another relevant website is www.findmypast.co.uk/content/ffgs/nbi. Besides a description of NBI, there is much information about burial practices among the religions of the UK. The section begins with the intriguing statement, “There are traditionally three types of Christians in England.” It then goes on to talk about the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Non-Conformists. It ends with a paragraph or two about Non-denominational and Atheist Burials.

I know I have faithful readers who may think that over the summer I have said most of what there is to say about non-conformity in the UK. Do NOT believe it! Please go to this website and enjoy!
©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Burial Grounds for Non-Conformists

I have written about cemeteries as I have given details about non-conformist movements, the Quakers and the Jews, during the summer and fall. To summarize, all towns had a cemetery controlled and paid for by the Church of England (COE) with local taxes, and other denominations owned their own burial grounds. In the U.S., we would call all of these ‘private’ cemeteries and be baffled that the government paid for those owned by the COE. Are there any places in the UK that correspond to our ‘public’ cemeteries where anyone can be burial no matter what their faith or lack thereof? Yes!

Thanks to the September 2012 Norfolk Ancestor, I know that the first non-denominational cemetery in the UK was in Norwich, the seat of the county. The Norwich subgroup of the Norfolk Family History Society took a tour of it last June.
The Rosary Cemetery was originally a five acre market garden, and then it was purchased by Thomas Drummond, a retired Unitarian minister. The first burial took place in 1821, and it was not wildly popular. However, gradually more people began using it so that by 1900 about 18,000 burials had taken place. Later, an additional five acres plot was added. It is located on Rosary Road in the eastern area of the city, off Yarmouth Road. The cemetery was operated by a private board of trustees until 1954, when it was purchased by the city.  

A website to learn more about its history and burial customs generally is found at: www.heritagecity.org/research-centre/social-innovation/rosary-cemetery.htm. Topics of general interest include: body snatchers, water contamination and high death rate. In a section called ‘Restrictions on Dissenters,’ there is a nice summary of how difficult burials were for those not affiliated with the COE.
©2012, Susan Lewis Well