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Blackwood – Older records for family historians

The members were captivated by a talk by Kia Michael and Gareth Thomas from the Gwent Family Archives on 13th November 2018. The amount of information available was truly mind blowing. It was an insight into the social background of people living before census records started in 1841.
These are invaluable resources for people with family roots in Gwent.

Mr Thomas’ first examples came from Personal Name Indices and the names of John Hodder Moggridge in 1823 and William Welsche in 1361.  These names then led on into details of their lives including their wills.  In the latter case, written in Latin but with English transcription.  He then spoke on Quarter Sessions Records which were in use from the 14/15th century until 1790.   These were held at Epiphany (6th January), Easter, Midsummer at the ‘Feast of the Translation of St. Thomas the Martyr’ (7th July) and Michaelmas (29th September).  The sessions were run by magistrates of the same standing as members of parliament and covered judicial and administrative matters.  Burglary and Drunkenness came under judiciary while cases of alehouse licenses and supervision of bridges, highways and gaols under administration.  The above information is included in Minute Books going back to 1830 andRecord Books back to 1700.

Mr Michael then took the floor to talk on Parish Records and the Poor Law. There are many sources for Parish Records found in Overseers Accounts, Vestry Minutes, Removal Orders from Parishes, Settlement Papers and many others. The first Act on the Poor Law was made in 1597 and allowed for two Justices of the Peace, meeting annually, to appoint Overseers of the poor for each parish. A revision of the act in 1600, required that overseers should be chosen from farmers and substantial members of the parish. The 1662 Settlement Act permitted parishes to remove newcomers to their place of settlement.

Finally, Mr. Michael spoke on the use of Title Deeds which are available in many varied types. They are concerned with the legal ownership and tenure of property and the Archives hold a large collection obtained from solicitors and large estates for example.  Freehold, Leasehold and Copyhold were given as types of tenure with Copyhold showing copy of the rolls before being phased out in 1925.

Gwent Archives hold many historical records including among others, parish records, bishops transcripts, estate records, manorial records, taxation records and enclosure maps and awards and Mr. Michael invited and encouraged the members to visit.  He concluded to applause from an appreciative audience.

By the time our speakers were finished and the questions from the audience were answered, there was hardly time for our usual raffle and tea and biscuits.

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