Special Edition 30 April 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Spring flower

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

Tomorrow, Friday 1st May, is Staffordshire Day. This year it is being celebrated online.  We are sharing lots of content over our channels so keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for more. We have also launched our YouTube channel - find out more about that below. 


Movie film

Staffordshire Day 2020 - On Screen

Join the Archive and Heritage Service on our YouTube channel for poems and films about Staffordshire's history. We have 3 poems read by Mal Dewhirst On Your Doorstep - Perton; On Your Doorstep - Uttoxeter and On Your Doorstep - Cannock. There are also films about the County's 2000 year history including St Werburgh's Last Journey 875 which is part of the #StaffordshireMoments series. Have a look at our channel StaffsHistoryCentre to find out more. 


Stoke-on-Trent City Archives Online

Access Minton in Lockdown at Stoke-on-Trent City Archives

Stoke-on-Trent City Archives has created a special lockdown series, A Tweeted History of Minton, which you can follow @MintonArchive on Twitter and on the Minton Archive blog. This is based on an incredible manuscript found in the Archive which charts the company’s history from the birth of its founder, Thomas Minton, to 1968 when Minton merged with Royal Doulton. Watch the story unfold in a series of easy-to-follow bitesize chunks @MintonArchive, through the #WadsworthsHistoryofMinton hashtag, and in weekly round-up blog posts at www.themintonarchive.org.uk/blog. Even though users aren’t able to physically visit this amazing Archive at the moment, the catalogue can still be accessed and users can still enjoy images of designs, photographs and interesting documents, fully-browsable volumes, and in-depth articles.

The Learning Room

The Learning Room

The Latest from The Learning Room Blog

Bored? If you are, why not test out your palaeography skills on our blog site. Jim Sutton will also mark your work if you wish, a good chance to practice before we get back to the real thing - https://shcvolunteers.wordpress.com/category/palaeography/


Research Projects Update

The Staffordshire Quarter Sessions Rolls Project 

The Quarter Sessions rolls (1581-1800) are the records of court cases heard at Stafford, 1581-1800, on a wide range of civil and criminal offences, from the failure to maintain highways to serious assault with firearms. For decades they were the preserve of academics, and for the earlier period only accessible to those with Latin and a knowledge of the law. Thanks to the dedicated work of the Quarter Sessions volunteers they are now accessible for all from 1799 right back to 1642. This fascinating and previously underused collection can now be searched on Gateway to the Past by surname and place by family and local historians and by terms for those researching social and criminal topics. There are now over 15,460 catalogue entries, some brief and others with long descriptions of offences from witness depositions. You can search for more-or-less any term and get a result, (among the more unusual crimes are ‘regrating cucumbers’ and ‘regrating a beef’s heart)’. The project has been running since 2010 and has made enormous progress. A full article to celebrate 10 years will appear later this year.

The original project did not look at the Latin documents in the rolls. Some classes of document, such as indictments were in Latin until 1732 when the court moved over to English. Other documents such as the witness depositions were in English right from the start. In 2014 Jim Sutton began work on writing descriptions of the Latin indictments within the rolls from 1732 working backwards. Just a week before the lockdown he completed his last roll, 1581. In total he looked at 547 rolls. An amazing achievement.

Jim working on the Quarter Sessions Project

As Jim says, the rather daunting looking documents are a treasure trove of information about the individuals being indicted, giving their abode, occupation or status and sometimes details of family. The charges offer a window on society. The most common offences are assault, riot (often just a brawl) and theft. In the latter category, exact details of the goods stolen are given, along with their values. Some offences reflect national politics, the singing of Jacobite songs in the street for example. Jim noticed numerous entries relating to hedge breaking, trampling grass and corn from which we can conclude local opposition to enclosure in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Religious change and non-conformity can be tracked through indictments of clergymen and through the lists of those failing to attend church, running to many hundreds of names. Jim carefully transcribed all the names with their parishes for those wanting to track recusant/Nonconformist ancestors. Other types of offence include unlicensed alehouses, cottages constructed without the statutory four acres of land required, and forced entry into the property of others. In these cases the names of fields and enclosures are given in some detail. There were some civil offences for which whole communities could be indicted, especially for the failure to maintain and repair roads and bridges.

Jim working on the Quarter Sessions Project

To search the catalogue of Quarter Sessions rolls go to Gateway to the Past (www.archives.staffordshire.gov.uk). Using the advanced search facility put Q/SR in the 'Doc Ref No' box and 'Indictment' in title and any other search term in 'Any Text'. Searching for vagrants there is an intriguing charge against a gentleman of 'being a common host of vagrants, idle persons and evil doers in Heathhouses and Longnor to the annoyance of the King's loyal subjects'. To widen out your search to the full content of the rolls back to 1642 leave the title field blank. Look for Q/SR and plague (it’s difficult not to) and find in 1647 the petition by William Blount of Branston in the parish of Burton Upon Trent who had been beaten and wounded by Robert Clarke of Burton. Blount was unable to bring witnesses as there had been an outbreak of plague and they could not leave.

Jim’s 6-year project has brought the Latin indictments into the light and will be further enhanced with an index of people in the indictments for the Staffordshire Name Indexes website. We expect to see a great deal more use of the Quarter Sessions indictments as a result. He says, ‘these records contain so much valuable material on the structure of society that they deserve to be much more closely examined than they have been hitherto. I found it a very rewarding task’. The result will be of outstanding value to researchers for decades to come.



Some new challenges for you to try this week. Good luck!

Fashion Terminology Crossword

Can you solve this crossword which is drawn from items in the County Museum's  historic dress collection?

6. An undergarment which gave shape to the back of a dress in the 1880s (6)
8. A major Stafford shoe manufacturer (5)
10. A wardrobe staple for women? (6,5,5)
11. A skirt, not a car, popular in the 1960s (4)
12. A decorative fabric often made using bobbins (4)
1. A French word for a small handbag popular in the 18th century (8)
2. A neck cloth or tie worn by men (6)
3. Closely fitted inner bodice stiffened with whalebone (6)
4. A wire framed cage used to support a dress in the 1860s (9)
5. Fashion style introduced by Christian Dior in 1947 (3,4)
7. A popular bright colour developed as a chemical dye from coal tar by a Mr Perkins in the 19th century (6)
9. Knitted jacket named after an earl (8)

Costume Collection Crossword

Roman Numerals Sudoko

Despite being a puzzle made up of numbers, Sudoku doesn’t require you to be a mathematical genius - it’s all about simple logic and deduction!
In each of the four grids above there are empty spaces: your task is to fill in these spaces with the correct numerals.
There are only three rules to help you work out which numerals go where:
- Every row of 9 numbers must include all the numerals 1 to 9 in any order
- Every column of 9 numbers must include all the numerals 1 to 9 in any order
- Every mini-grid (the darker 3x3 grids) must include the numerals 1 to 9 in any order

Roman Numeral Sudoko

Staffordshire Steeple and Tower Challenge - Week 3

Staffs Steeple and Tower Challenge week 3

Brainteaser Solutions


Place Names Crossword Solutions

Across 1. Perton 6. Swynnerton 8. Onecote
9. Codsall
Down 2. Tutbury 3. Eccleshall 4. Butterton
5. Hanley 6. Stafford 7. Cannock

Steeple and Tower Challenge 

The answers to Week 2 of the challenge are: Swynnerton and Baswich

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.  

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