Blackwood – When is a name not a name?

This evenings’ meeting could have been a bit of as disappointment. Because of a clash with other events, we had to change our usual meeting date from the second Tuesday of the month to the first. We were also moved from our usual room to another on the school complex. Our scheduled speaker had to cancel because of ill health. So, there was much activity behind the scenes. However, the evening turned out to be a memorable one, for all the best reasons.

Elizabeth Gillespie kindly changed her visit from November to April. Her talk entitled “When is a name not a name?” held us all spellbound as she revealed her search for the origins of the surname HUNTOLD. The name did not appear anywhere else in the UK except in her family tree. She took us on a tour of her family tree, which highlighted the lengths she had gone to, to solve this mystery. She went all the way back to the 1841 census, which gave her the first clue. With the knowledge that the family had roots in Yatton, Somerset, she found an entry for Thomas Owld. On looking at the original birth certificate she found the name Hunt had been added apparently as a second Christian name. Later to be joined together as Huntold when they moved to Aberdare. Her search had been complicated by the fact that this name had been intermingled with the name of Bishop over the years and was not cleared up until the early 1900s.

The surprise package that came out of this wonderful exposé, was that, while the talk was going on, one of our members, Wendy Davies, was becoming more and more excited, when it became obvious that her family tree was connected to that of Elizabeth. It turned out that their great great grandmothers were sisters.

Blackwood – Regular Meeting

Before we got on with the business for the evening, Hillary read out the notices. The most important of which was that, due to the school closing for Easter, the April meeting is to be brought forward a week. So please note next scheduled meeting will be on the 4th April at the usual time. Liz gave out a list of ideas for trips and asked members to fill in a form to say which if any they would be interested in.

Once the formalities were over & after some early problems with the computer, we were treated to an interesting insight into the “Tucker Family” given by Pauline Weaver. She related how a failed attempt to get Cilla Black, to include her search in the TV series, prompted her to do her own research. The outcome was a trip to the USA & a subsequent meeting with a long lost relative.

The rest of the evening was devoted to family research. A mother & daughter searching for an elusive member of their family, ably assisted by one of our experienced members & thinking about joining.

I had a few words with one of our regular members. I asked him what his interest in family history was. I was surprised at his answer. He had little interest in family history, but enjoyed the atmosphere at the meetings and came with a friend, because he was on his own and looked forward to some company. That says a lot for the branch I think.


Newport- Workers, Warriors and Waywards

Feb 22: Workers, Warriors and Waywards  by Peter Strong

We had a very interesting talk by Peter Strong about the role of women in helping the war effort in Monmouthshire during World War Two.

The area had been suffering from depopulation but many were returning- possibly thinking that South Wales was safer than South East England or the Midlands being more distant from the German air bases.

Women played a vital role in filling positions vacated by men, who had been called up to the military. They worked both in heavy industry (chiefly munitions and arms manufacture) and also in food producing agriculture in the Land Army. Since women still had to look after their families they spent long hours each day performing this double role. (The Workers)

Peter also mentioned the women who even served in the armed forces (the warriors) but balanced the picture by mentioning those whose main interest was philandering- particularly with US soldiers (the Wayward)


Newport – Inn Signs

Newport Branch Meeting: 2017 January 25

For our first meeting of the New Year we had a return visit from Mr Bob Trett. His subject was “Inn Signs” and their origins. Many date from very early times and have their origins in Religion, Royalty, Trades, animals and many other ways of life. The “Three Horse Shoes” would indicate that you could rest and eat in the Inn while there was a blacksmith near by to replace your horse’s shoe (the third shoe) if required. Many signs were about local aristocratic families. Mr Trott brought along a good selection of slides to illustrate the many different subjects and the artists who painted them.


Help Desk – Ebbw Vale Library

Members of the Ebbw Vale & North Gwent branch will be at Ebbw Vale Library on Thursday, 5th January from approximately 10 am to 1 pm. This is our usual help desk that has been running rather successfully once a month for the last few months.  So, if you want some help tracing your family and ancestors, why not turn up?