Special Edition 23 April 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Forget me Not

Welcome to this special edition of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage newsletter.

At this difficult time we wanted to keep you in touch with what the Archives and Heritage Service is doing. Staff and volunteers are working hard from their new desks at home to keep projects going and to support vulnerable individuals and communities across Staffordshire wherever we can. Find out more below.  


The Learning Room

The Learning Room Blog

Staying in Touch with our Volunteers - The Learning Room Blog

Last week we launched our new blog called ‘The Learning Room’. We will post ideas on the blog about doing research at home. There is already a guide to looking at maps online, more guides will follow. In addition there will be a palaeography course led by Jim Sutton, a special section by Prof. Alannah Tomkins on the History of Medicine. Find out more at https://shcvolunteers.wordpress.com/


Project Update: Bawdy Courts

Travels in the 16th and 17th centuries: one explanation for ancestry brick walls

Those of us working on the Bawdy Courts project have often been surprised by the extent to which ordinary people travelled in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Bawdy Courts blog we featured a young Derbyshire man trapped in an unhappy marriage who went with the army to Portugal in 1589 via training at Twyford then stopping at Portsmouth and Southampton before setting sail from Plymouth. Last week you may have seen the Roving Bigamist blog (https://lichfieldbawdycourts.wordpress.com/bawdy-courts-news/) about the serial bigamist who travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of love (if you haven’t seen it I would definitely recommend a read). While men travelled to escape marriages (or make illegal marriages), women often travelled some distance to have illegitimate children: Ann Alsop of Gnosall was sent by her brother to the Dolphin Inn in Tamworth to have her child in 1611; Elizabeth Nicklin of Stone was sent by her lover to have her child at Cheadle in 1684. Ann Fox of Whitgreave was taken to Dublin by her father to have her child in the 1680s, her brother was said to be the father of the child. Is it the greater family scandal that influences the distance travelled or is it down to wealth? The Foxes were a fairly prominent local family of famers and lawyers.

The best source of information about these travels are the witness depositions, because the witnesses often reveal their own personal histories too: where they were born, where they worked and where they live now. I came across an example of this in a 1661 defamation case. Margaret, wife of Walter Webster took Thomas Cooke, a Shenstone locksmith, to court on a charge of slander. Thomas is accused of saying, 'she is a base jade and a queane: shee is a theife and hath been a theife of a longe standinge .................'. The rumours of theft had dire consequences because Margaret’s landlord, Mr Brandreth, threatened to dismiss Walter from his service and turn the couple off their tenancy. The witnesses in the case are all local Shenstone people as you would expect and they include a husband and wife, John and Sarah Barton, both aged 29. After making initial statements they are asked further questions (interrogatories) to test their reliability as witnesses. The first question asked is where they are from. These images give Sarah’s response and then John’s response and you will see that neither of them was from Shenstone originally. In each image you need to look at the second line down under the title for the phrase ‘she was borne…’ and ‘he was borne…’. John is described as a cordwainer (shoe maker) at one point but in this image another word is used (for those who like a palaeography challenge).

B-C-5-1661-5 Sarah Barton

B-C-5-1661-5 Sarah Barton

B-C-5-1661-5 John Barton

B-C-5-1661-5 John Barton

The mobility of individuals can making tracing family history in this period difficult since parish registers rarely say if someone has moved into the parish from elsewhere. If anyone would like to help with our research, it would be interesting to see if we can find if John and Sarah settled in Shenstone and had a family there, using the Staffordshire Collection on Find My Past. A marriage entry might be a challenge as its likely to have taken place between 1650-1660 when many parish registers can be patchy, but it’s worth a try. It should be possible to search for a baptism for John though since we have such unusually precise information, but you would need Ancestry for that. Let me know if you have any success or if you draw a blank! Email rebecca.jackson@staffordshire.gov.uk. We will report back findings in a blog post.

Service Update

Working from Home and Supporting our Communities 

The Archives and Heritage team continue to support communities across Staffordshire at this very challenging time. Staff are working at Food Distribution Hubs helping to get food to extremely vulnerable groups, manning call centres to deal with requests for support and helping with shopping and deliveries to vulnerable households with special dietary needs. 

When not engaged on these activities the team continue to work on funded projects and respond to enquiries. There is a greater emphasis on reaching our audiences, readers and volunteers through our social media channels. New resources continue to be added to the Staffordshire Pasttrack website we are working on improving our online catalogues and indexing work together with work on our NLHF bid. Regular  building, security and environmental checks are also being made to ensure our collections stay safe.



The Archives and Heritage team have been getting creative again and produced a couple of new challenges for you this week. There will be more in next week's edition. Good luck!

Place Names Crossword

Place Names Crossword 

Can you solve the Place Names crossword? You can look at http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/ to help.

Across 1. Farmstead where pears grow 6. Swine ford farm 8. Lonely cottage 9. Cod's nook of land

Down 2. Tutta's fortification 3. Church nook of land 4. Butter hill 5. High wood 6. Landing-place ford 7. Hillock

Staffordshire Steeple and Tower Challenge - Week 2

Staffordshire Steeple and Tower Challenge Week 2

Brainteaser Solutions

Elizabethan Wordsearch Solutions

Elizabethan Wordsearch Solution

Did you manage to find all 10? 


Steeple and Tower Challenge 

The answers to Week 1 of the challenge are: Abbots Bromley & Audley.


Staffordshire Day

Staffordshire’s community spirit will take centre stage for this year’s Staffordshire Day, which is still set to go ahead on Friday 1st May. The event will be online-only, with a series of activities live-streamed and broadcast on social media. Details of this year’s Staffordshire Day programme can be found here.  

Libraries Update

Libraries may be closed due to coronavirus, but they still have a lot to offer.

We all know how valuable reading can be for our health and wellbeing and to help us all Staffordshire Libraries are offering access to a range of FREE online resources and newspapers & also an eLibrary with a wealth of eBooks, eAudio & eMagazines to choose from. If you are not already a member you can easily join online here.

Libraries are also staying active on social media, keeping us all up to date with news and information from the world of books and culture as well as sharing what authors, publishers and others are doing to keep us informed and entertained.

You can follow them on Facebook (search for @StaffordshireLibraries) and Twitter at @StaffsLibraries

Our aim is to keep you updated with the latest developments and events. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please use the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of this page. 

Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


Manage your subscription tothis newsletter or unsubscribe here