NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.






If you are anything like me, sooner or later your research in England will bring you to wonder what the difference is between beerhouses, inns and taverns, brewers and maltsters and the like.  (I also wonder why so many of my forbears were ‘licensed victuallers’ at various fine establishments!!)


I decided it was a question worthy of the rootsweb Essex mailing list and did I ever tap into a subject ‘very dear to the heart’ as one lister commented!!  Below is a representation of some of the answers and we’ll finish off with a ‘ghost story’ of an old inn, relayed to me by Lawrence from Essex.  Thanks to Dave, Mick, Adrian and Lawrence for sharing their knowledge with Essex listers.



Beerhouses were effectively just a shop licensed to sell beer and ale only, not wine or spirits.  These would often be set up in the front room of an ordinary house, sometimes with just a barrel of beer, a pump and a few glasses.  This is where the term ‘public house’ or ‘pub’ came from.  A beerhouse was likely to have brewed their own beer and ale at the back of the premises.


Off-licences sold beer and ale to be taken off the premises only.


An inn, similar to a tavern would be a place, probably purpose built, providing food and spirits, and usually lodging, where coaches would often stop and travellers would stay overnight.  A stable would be usually on offer.  Taverns tended to be in seaside towns or places with large navigable rivers with sailors and bargemen as customers.  Inns on the other hand, would tend to be on the main coaching routes and in towns.  Both provided the same function as each other; the difference between an inn and a tavern is mainly in the name.


A few establishments would buy in beers from a range of brewers, and would therefore not be tied to any one brewer – these were called freehouses.


Billets were usually temporary accommodation for soldiers.


A maltster would buy in barley from farmers and by soaking and careful treatment caused the grain to begin to germinate, converting the starches to sugars.  Much skill was required to know when to stop this process and then roast the grain to dry it.  Light roasting for a light beer and various degrees to very dark roasting for the darker ales.  This process was done in a purpose built building called ‘maltings’.  These were often sited near major hop growing regions which had good transport links to their customers, often rivers and canals in preference to roads.


A brewer bought the malt from the maltster, cracked it and steeped it in water to extract the sugar.  The resulting liquid was then fermented to make ale with hops being added if making beer.  Some publicans or innkeepers would brew their own beer.  A brewer was a wholesaler or middle man, often supplying one local pub or estate.


The term ‘licensed victualler’ suggests someone who would run a pub, inn or tavern rather than a beershop or the like.  Today we might use the term ‘restaurateur’.   The word ‘victuals’ refers to food more than to drink.  An old timer might have been heard saying to youngsters “did you 'ave yer vittals this morning?” - i.e. “did you eat your breakfast?”  Most pubs sold food of one sort or another in the old coaching and railway days.


So why is it that there were so many establishments selling so much beer and the like?  Well here’s a theory – the beer was safer to drink than the water!  The alcohol in the beer would have killed off many of the organisms that could cause serious illness.  So tip back a glass of the amber liquid and tell yourself it’s for the good of your health!!

Noeline (Jan 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




Thank you to Lawrence Greenall of the Waltham Abbey Historical Society, Essex for this tale.


In a shady nook, there once stood an ancient wayside Inn, known as “The Rose and Crown”, which was formerly a farmhouse.  This ghost story, relating to the inn is taken from a manuscript history of Upshire written about 1890 by Wm. Winters. 


“There was once a gentleman of Essex named Woode, who shocked his more superstitious neighbours by jesting at what he called their weak minded notions about ghosts and spirit visitors. He one day came to this quaint farmhouse, in its solitary nook, on a visit to his old friend, the proprietor, who it seems was in trouble, and greatly needed a generous friend’s advice and aid.  And on a dull misty evening in March, when the gloom of the twilight was thickening in the low sitting-room, and the corners nearest the small low windows were already dark, he sat with his mournful friends in quiet talk. The wind was moaning drearily outside, and the rain dashing in fitful gusts upon the glass. The host and his wife had been bewailing a noble fortune wasted.


“Mournfully they talked of when they would be turned out of the home, where they had passed so many happy years, and enjoyed so many merry meetings. They recalled memories of the dead, who had shared their pleasures. Strange noises came in hoarse, faint whispers from the neighbouring forest, suggesting weird thoughts of ghosts, and supernatural terrors. The hostess left the room to send in candles, and about three minutes after a fearful crash mingled with shrieks rang through the house. Mr. Woode alarmed, arose; the husband - his nerves already unstrung - remained seated, trembling so that for a few minutes he was unable to move.  At last he mustered courage and hastily ascended the stairs followed by a frightened maidservant.


“Mr. Woode, remaining at the room door, heard directly after another fearful shriek, and leaping up the stairs, nearly fell over his host, flat on his face upon the landing, in a pool of blood. The serving-maid was beside him in a fit. On the stairs above, all bedabbled with crimson smears, lay the mistress!  To her he first gave attention, carrying her into the kitchen while he pumped for her a glass of water. To his horror, application of the pump handle brought not water but a blood red stream! Bathed in icy perspiration and trembling, full of fear and horror, the unbeliever again applied to the pump. Again the glass was filled with crimson fluid, and again he threw away its loathsome contents, but still the pump handle banged and creaked.


“Gradually the red became pink, and the pink paler, and at length pure water filled the glass. He was using this to bathe the lady’s face, and pouring a little of it into her mouth, when the terrified husband and maidservant came in, and the other servants quickly joined them.


“The lady’s recovery explained all. She had some choice cherry brandy, and to preserve it from the greedy harpies of the law she had put it in a row of jars on the shelf of a disused cupboard, which contained also the trunk of the pump below. While reaching on a tiptoe to bring down a jar for her guest, the rotten shelf gave way, the jars were smashed, and the crimson fluid poured over her, and down the trunk of the pump; hence her shrieks and her fall. Mr. Woode had been pumping out not, as he thought, blood, but cherry brandy and water. The host had stumbled up the stairs, and the blood in which his face reposed was from his nose. The frightened maid had tumbled fainting over him, and that is the ghost story of Copt Hall Farm.”


Noeline (Jan 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


7 Golden Rules for Absolute Beginners


If you are new to family history these principles will help you to get the most from your pursuit.


1                    Work Backwards:  Whatever you do in your research, start with yourself and work backwards, generation by generation.  Verify your sources.

2                    Be Organised and Honest:   You must be systematic and organised – you’ll collect a lot of information.  Start with a simple filing system using A4 binders and loose leaf pages and subject dividers.  An index card file for each family name, member and events is useful.  Have somewhere to keep certificates and documents.  While your record keeping might be methodical, to be truly worthwhile it must also be honest.  There are always skeletons in the cupboard to a greater or lesser degree.  Don’t ignore them.

3                    Start with your Relatives:   Get as much information as possible from your relatives.  Gather together, or take copies of all available birth, death and marriage certificates of family members or ask them for at least the approximate date of births, deaths and marriages.  Talk to as many relatives as possible, including the elderly ones.  Many will be reluctant to tell of some events.  Make good notes.

4                    Set your Sights:   Make up your mind as to where to concentrate your research.  It’s better to start with yourself, move to your parents and grandparents and then choose a branch to follow.

5                    Understand Surnames:   Surnames are usually derived from one of four basic roots:  a place, occupation, from a patronymic relationship or nickname.  The less common the name, the easier the searches usually are.

6                    Classes and Societies:   It is always worth joining a family history society or more than one.

7                    Use Technology:   This is not a necessity but can be a great help.  A computer is an efficient tool for storing, copying, sharing and presenting data, along with word processors, email, internet, scanning and printing.  There are several programmes designed to help you draw up and publish your family tree and history.  The internet has a great deal of information.  Remember to double check any data you find on the internet or any other sources.


This information has been taken from “The Complete Family Tree Hand Book”  This book can be purchased through Paper Plus.  It comes with a free CD 

Nola (Feb 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.





Backing Up

“Beep, beep, beep, beep”

What is ‘backing up’?

Backing up is computer lingo for creating a duplicate copy of information held on your computer.


No Computer?  Read on – this principal applies to all!!


Why is it important to back up?

Can you imagine how it would feel if all your hard work over the years was suddenly lost?  All that research, all those irreplaceable photos, certificates and family stories, addresses of contacts, your lists of research repositories etc.  The items essential to building a picture of our families are many and we can very quickly build up a great amount  of  important  information,   much  of  which  may  be  stored on computer. 

There are many ways to unintentionally lose information on a computer.  A child (or adult) playing, power surge and lightning and sometimes computer equipment just fails.  None of us are immune to the effects of flood, fire and earthquake. Your insurance would hopefully take care of the everyday necessities but what of your genealogical research and irreplaceable family photos and memorabilia? 


It is always stressed how important it is to ‘back up’ your files on your computer.  Few of us do it regularly, if at all.  Get in the habit of backing up frequently.  If you regularly make backup copies of your files and keep them in a separate place, you can get some, if not all, of your information back in the event of something happening.  Consider getting a gene friend to store a back up disc at their place, and do the same for them.  ‘Sensitive’ material could be lodged with your lawyer, or in a bank deposit box.  Always produce a paper copy of important information.  Scan your old photos and store both on your computer and on a back up disc.  Original photos can be stored in a fire proof container, metal files etc.  Remember to use suitable storage which will not damage any original material, e.g. acid free papers etc.


If you don’t have a computer, it is still very worthwhile making copies of your important information, photos, etc.  We can readily and inexpensively reproduce material today.  The more copies you share with family members, the more likely you are to be able to regain your hard work in the event of disaster striking.


*      SAVING

When you first click ‘Save’ on a new document, the ‘Save As’ dialogue box prompts you to name and save.  Usually we select a folder within ‘My Documents’ and from then on, when you (frequently) save as you work, this is saved to the same place.   This is, in effect, saving to your hard drive.



First of all, decide where your back up copy is to be held.  Making another copy (backing up) to your hard drive is definitely NOT SUFFICIENT.  It is important to aim for a system that can be stored ‘off site’.  Some options are:


3.5” micro disk – the old ‘floppy’ can be used although these hold much less information than a CD and other methods.  Many older computers do not have a CD-RW drive.  You can read a CD on them, but you cannot write to a CD, so this may be your only option. You can buy a CD writer for some older computers.


CD - many newer computers have a built in CD-RW drive.  RW? - “read-write”.  These hold up to 700MB


DVD - Similar to a CD – holds still more information


External hard disk drive - again holds heaps and heaps of info


Also available is online storage service which lets you save files online (not something I’d be comfortable doing, personally). Writing to CD’s (also called ‘burning’) is probably the most suitable system for the average computer user.


*      Day to Day Backing Up

Get in the habit of holding a floppy, or re-writable CD in the computer when you are working.  Before you close a document and also when you are finished for the day, do a final save to the hard drive as usual then with the document still open, click ‘File’, then ‘Save As’, then in the Save As dialogue box, click on the down arrow by the Save In - folder name (top left).  From the drop down menu,  select the appropriate drive   e.g.  3½ Floppy(A) or DVD/CD-RW (D) or (E) etc.  Click save.  Your work is now also saved onto the floppy or CD.  You can save to floppy or re-writable CD over and over again.  Think of this daily backing up like brushing your teeth - only takes a minute or two and is a very good habit.


Ordinary ‘Read-Write’ CDs are not rewritable, but are inexpensive so when full, use another.  When no longer needed, they make great bird scarers when suspended by string!!



Windows XP has a backup wizard - go to Start All Programs Accessories Systems Tools and go from there.  However, regardless of what version of Windows you are using, you can manually make a backup copy of any file or folder by following these steps:


1                    From My Documents simply highlight and right-click the file/s and/or folders that you want to back up.  Then click Copy from the menu.

2                    Now go to My Computer and right-click the disk or external hard drive where you want to store the backup copy, and then click Paste from the menu.

3                    Now simply follow the process to write the CD or floppy etc. 

Easy isn’t it?  If you have never done it before, I recommend doing a complete back up of everything in ‘My Documents’ which is where most people keep all their information, including photos in ‘My Pictures’.  Then regularly back up key files on which you have been working, from time to time doing the whole of ‘My Documents’ again, doing a ‘finalised’ data disc say, weekly.  ‘Finalised?’ – see below.

NOTE:  Not all computer programmes you may use save to ‘My Documents’ by default e.g. some genealogy and accounting programmes.  Check where they are located and that they are also being backed up.  You can back up your email programme – check in with a computer expert for advice on that.

NOTE:  It is important to make certain that your backup CD’s are ‘finalised’.  Ensure that the backup has worked by checking if they can be read on another computer (always check them for virus’ etc before running on someone else’s computer).  If your computer dies completely or needs ‘re-formatting’, you would be very frustrated if you found that your back up discs were useless and they could only be read by the computer which wrote them – now kaput!!

For further help, ask a computer friend to guide you through the steps, or join a computer class, or contact a computer professional.

Noeline (March 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



Following on the theme of last month on backing up material, here’s a handy hint in the case of a disaster which we hope never befalls anyone.  If you’re flooded out or have a house fire, chances are you will have wet paper items.  Don’t despair and discard them all.  Try putting freezer paper (a special paper, slightly textured, which does not stick) carefully between each page and place in your freezer.  Then contact National Archives, Hocken Library or your local library for advice on what to do next.       

Bob (Apr 2006)




Many years ago my Auntie Jessie, Mum’s older sister, gave me a little book, “Genealogy of the WISDOM Family”.  This book gives Mayflower Descendants.   This prompted me to look on the internet for passengers on the Mayflower and I found my ancestor Digory PRIEST.  There are many pages of information about the Mayflower on the web. The ship finally landed at Plymouth, USA on the 26th of December 1620.   Digory died shortly after on the 1st of January 1621.  He had left two daughters back in Holland and I am descended from Mary, the eldest.


Sarah, the mother of my Mary remarried after Digory died (her 3rd marriage) and her husband, two daughters from her marriage to Digory PRIEST, and a son arrived in Plymouth, USA in the boat “Anne” on the 10th July 1623.  A record of that sailing is also on the internet.  Daughter Mary married a Phineas PRATT, and here my book let me down.  For a long time I could not get any further until I worked out that Mary and Phineas PRATT’s son, Joseph was the next in line. He had another Mary (not Jane as the book said) and she married Joseph EDMONDS and their daughter Mary married a Joseph SCOTT.


It was here I had more trouble, until I finally found Mary and Joseph’s children, Mary & Lucy.  At that point I was beginning to think there was yet another Mary, but this one had the wrong children so would not fit in.  Mary and Joseph EDMONDS’ other daughter Lucy married Henry WISDOM, and they had a William Henry, who married Mary ELLIOT.  Alonzo was the 12th child born to William Henry and Mary ELLIOT - it was Alonzo who came to New Zealand in 1868.  I found another very interesting account (32 pages) of the journey out to New Zealand on the brig ‘Emulus’ - a day by day account of the voyage to Dunedin written by one of the passengers.  There is also an account in the Otago Witness, 19 December 1868.


Alonzo’s 4th child, Jessie Edith, was my Grandmother who had died by the time I was born.  My mother Florence Margaret can also be found on the internet.

June (Apr 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



A Brief History of the Mayflower Pilgrims

The Pilgrims were a group of English people who came to America seeking religious freedom during the reign of King James I. After two attempts to leave England and move to Holland, a Separatist group was finally relocated to Amsterdam where they stayed for about one year. From there the group moved to the town of Leiden, Holland, where they remained for about ten years, able to worship as they wished under lenient Dutch law.

Fearing their children were losing their English heritage and religious beliefs, a small group from the Leiden churches made plans to settle in Northern Virginia, as New England was known at the time. In August 1620 the group sailed for Southampton, England, where other English colonists who hoped to make a new life in America met them.

They planned to make the crossing to America in two ships, the ‘Speedwell’ and ‘Mayflower’. However, after many problems the ‘Speedwell’ was forced to return to England where the group was reorganized. In their second attempt to cross the Atlantic, they boarded the ‘Mayflower’ in September 1620 bound for the New World. They arrived as winter was settling in and endured significant hardships as they struggled to establish a successful colony at Plymouth.

In time their colony flourished and lead the way to establishing religious freedom and creating the foundations of the democracy Americans enjoy today. Their celebration of the first Thanksgiving has grown to become a festive national holiday.



Listed here are a few sites which have information on the ‘Mayflower’, including a Mayflower Descendants Society.   National site for this lineage society of descendants from those Pilgrims on the Mayflower voyage of 1620 to the shores of America's New England colony    Genealogy information & resources for Mayflower passenger descendants. Find your ancestor in The Complete Mayflower Descendant,  Volumes 1-46 Rootsweb also have a message board devoted to the Mayflower descendants.


(Apr 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




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