New Talk – Explore the Parish Chest

I am giving a talk for the Society of Genealogists… come with me to discover the treasures of the Parish Chest…

Parish registers are not the only treasures created by the parish. As well as having an ecclesiastical function, the parish was (and is) the smallest civil administrative unit in England and Wales. As a result, the parish generated a wide range of documents that go beyond the registering of baptisms, marriages and burials.

Discover hidden gems within the churchwardens’ accounts and vestry minutes, learn about the social economics of your ancestors’ parish with Poor Law administration records and unearth scandals and tragedies in the bastardy bonds.

(Photo is Dore Abbey’s Poor Box)
10th November online, book now as the best seats go early!

Autumn Events at Herefordshire Archives

Monday 12 September at 2pm

Local film maker Ian Lewis will be presenting A Parcel of Time. This lovely film, shot over two years, depicts daily life in the village of Hope Mansell and reflects on the changes affecting this rural community. The afternoon will include an opportunity to discuss the film with Ian. This is a free event but please email to let them know if you would like to attend.

Monday 10 October at 2pm

Marking the 350th anniversary of its building, the Almeley Quaker Meeting House will be the subject of a talk by Kitt Byatt on . Kitt will reflect on the local presence of the Quakers in the 17th century, their persecution and their key involvement with the establishment of the colony of Pennsylvania.


HARC’s exhibition for autumn will be  Fold Lines, a varied response by local artistic to our local landscape, in particular around the random intersections of folds in maps. The exhibition will run from 6 September to 23 December.

My Ancestors – Allan Jasper Brodie Brookes

Whilst researching my great grandfather Allan Brookes ( the man in the front row in the peaked cap), I was intrigued to learn that he was born just next door to where I went to secondary school. His father was head gardener at Lugwardine Court and Allan was born in Garden Cottage Lugwardine in December 1891 to Allan Albert Brookes and Anna Maria Brookes nee Ward. The family were still there at the time of the 1901 census when Allan was joined by a brother Wilfred.

By 1911, the family had moved to Acton Villas, Venns Lane, Hereford (next to the thatched cottage) and Allan had begun his career as a lawyer’s clerk.

He signed up in March 1916 and had previously served in Army Service Corps as a Lance Corporal and also served in the 53rd Welsh. At the end of August 1914 the 53rd Welsh were based in Northampton and this is when I believe he met my great grandmother Annie Louise Tanser. Later, he was a driver for the 479th company 11th Northern Division. the Somme.

Home 6/3/1916 until 30/06/1916
France 1/7/1916 until 16/12/1916
Home 17/12/1916 until 25/4/1917

Allan kept his links with the army throughout his life, as we shall see and i believe he was a member of the Territorial Army after war had ended.

Although he is not mentioned on my grandmother’s birth certificate ( probably because he was not present at her birth in Northampton in October 1916), she was given the name Gwendoline Betty Brookes Chamberlain which indicates to me that he was the father. My great grandmother had a complicated romantic history and her eldest son was only 5 years older than Allan. After searching high and low, although they called themselves man and wife, I cannot find a marriage and it is most likely that Annie was still married to her first husband. the couple went on to have another child together, a son, Allan John Brookes, who was born in Hereford in 1920.

1921 saw Annie, Allan, children John and Betty and her sons Terry and Arthur living in 8 Grove road Hereford. Allan was Clerk to the Ministry of Munitions at Rotherwas and he kept a connection there as the 1939 register lists him as being a Sergeant at the Royal Ordnance Factory as well as being a commercial clerk. By the time of his death he was a staff manager at the Three Counties Hotel, Hereford ( a different one to the one now).

Allan died in January 1955 of a Cerebral haemorrhage/hypertension. He was in the bath when the stroke happened and Mum remembers the door being locked and them having to break it down to get to him. She remembers him as a quiet, respectable man who was always well turned out. He is buried with my great grandmother in St Martin’s Hereford.


Saturday 10th September 2022

Herefordshire Archives Records Service

Rotherwas, Hereford

10-00am – 4pm

All of the society library is being held at the HARC currently, so this will be available on the day for research along with the other research information that they would normally have at a Family History Fair

Herefordshire Strays Index

Burial Indexes and Monumental Inscriptions

There will also be demonstrations on using the on-line information on the HFHS website, such as:

  • Herefordshire PDF publications
  • Herefordshire National Burial Indexes (Inc as yet Un-Published Indexes)
  • Herefordshire Marriage Indexes
  • Exchange Journals

52 Ancestor: Uvedale Davies

This week’s #52Ancestors is “How Do You Spell That?” When I first read my 3 x Great grandfather’s marriage certificate, I couldn’t make out his father’s first name. In my research since, I have seen it spelt in various imaginative ways in indexes including Uvidale and Uredale but my 4 x Great grandfather was called Uvedale Davies.

Baptised in Mansel Lacy, Herefordshire on 18th August 1776 to Thomas and Mary Davies, his unusual first name has made researching his life a bit easier in a county full of Davies’ ! I believe he was named after Uvedale Price who was Lord of the Manor at Foxley (in Mansel Lacy) at the time and author of Essays on the Picturesque.

Uvedale Davies had an interesting career trajectory. He started off being a carpenter and records show that he was apprenticed to a carpenter, Richard Morgan in Mansel Lacy in 1790.

By 1802, he was living at Hope under Dinmore and was taking on apprentices himself. Indeed his son, my 3x Great Grandfather was a cooper so continued a family tradition. However by 1841, Uvedale had become a clock and watch maker in Weobley, Herefordshire. I’m not sure how he would have picked up this trade but perhaps he had an aptitude for fixing and making intricate things and decided it was a more lucrative career.

Uvedale was an entrepreneur. In 1851 he was also a carrier to Hereford leaving his home at Weobley at 8 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays and returning from the Red Lion, Victoria street Hereford at 5 pm. From 1859 he returned from the Maidenhead Inn Eign Street.

On 22nd March 1799, Uvedale was married to Ann Munn in Mansel Lacy and they had one surviving son, George before Ann died. George and his sons became clock and watch makers and repairers. His second marriage, to my 4 x Great Grandmother, Harriet Gardiner was on 15th August 1814 in Hope under Dinmore and they had 5 children.

Uvedale died at the age of 86 on 23rd January 1862. Apparently there is one of his long case clocks on display at Weobley museum which I hope to go and see

52 ancestors – Annie Louise Tanser

This weeks #52Ancestors theme is Females and the first person that came to mind was my great grandmother Annie Louise Tanser , known to my Mum as Nanny Brookes. Mum described her as being very proper with her furs and her corsets made at Gus Edwards in Hereford High Town. Mum used to do her chores and shopping and if there was any discrepancy in the money, then she would dock it from what she gave Mum for doing it. When looking into her life, I discovered a complicated life which still leaves unanswered questions.

Annie Louise Tanser was born in Leicester on 01 March 1879 to Mary Ann ( nee Hutchings) and Thomas Tanser. Her parents were from Northampton and they soon moved back there. She was christened on 12 June 1883 at St Edmunds Northampton with sisters Frances and Ellen and attended Military Road school in Northampton for a few years. I think life must have been difficult for her as a child. her father was up in court on numerous occasions for breaching the peace and also for assaulting her mother. the couple were to get a legal separation in 1909.

Annie was 17 when she first got married, to Ernest Chamberlain in St Michael & all Angels Northampton. I say first was married but although she was to refer to three men as her husband in her life, this is the only legal marriage I have been able to find and i believe Ernest was still living when she was with these other men. In fact in the 1901 census she is living with James Garfirth in Rushden Northamptonshire and says that she is his wife. In 1911 she is back being Annie Chamberlain.

Her working life and indeed that of her family was to revolve around the shoe trade which may well be the subject of another post! However I believe That in 1916 when he was stationed in Northampton, Annie met the man she would refer to as her husband, my great grandfather Allan Brookes. By 1921 Annie had moved to Hereford and was living with Allan as his wife. Some of her children remained behind in Northampton but some came with her and Annie later ran a boarding house in Castle street. Finding her children was a challenge for me as they were all given slight;y different surnames:

Joseph Walter Chamberlain b 1896 in Northampton ( who would only be 5 or so years younger than his stepfather Allan)

Florence Josephine Ada Chamberlain b 1899 Northampton ( known as Ada)

Ernest George Thomas GARFIRTH b 1901 Northampton

Lily Garfirth Chamberlain B 1903 Northampton

Nellie Garfirth Chamberlain B 1905 Northampton but died in 1906

Alfred Frederick Garfirth CHAMBERLAIN b 1907 Northampton( known as Terry)

Arthur Wilfred Garfirth CHAMBERLAIN B 1910 Northampton ( he grew up believing he was Arthur Brookes until he needed a birth certificate. later changed his name by deed poll to Brookes)

Gwendolin Betty Verdun Brookes CHAMBERLAIN B 1916 Northampton (my grandmother)

Allan John BROOKES b 1919 Hereford

It is through Annie and her daughter Lily that I have my tenuous claim to fame as being related to Martin Chambers of The Pretenders. Annie died in 1968 in Hereford and is buried in St Martins church in the city.

English Land Tax Records

This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Landed and as my family don’t seem to have owned much property between them, I thought I would talk about English Land Tax records in general.

Originally brought in in 1692/3, records can exist up until 1963 but generally the time period that provides the best evidence is that from c 1780 until 1832. From 1780 payment of land tax could be evidence to qualify to vote in a General Election. Thus, duplicates of land tax assessments for the county were lodged with the Clerk of the Peace. The introduction of electoral registers in 1832 rendered land tax records unnecessary for qualification and so after this date were not as assiduously kept.

Land tax records usually form part of Quarter Sessions records at your local archive and are organised first by county , then Hundred and finally parish. So it is important that you know which hundred your parish comes under. Hundreds in Herefordshire are listed here: and there are also other counties listed. A Herefordshire map is here Remember that property does not necessarily stick to parish boundaries so one farm may be listed over more than one parish and landowners may have properties in various counties.

Land tax records list:

Landowners ( proprietors)

from 1772, Occupiers

Sometimes the name of the property

How much tax was liable

However there are a few caveats. A proprietor may not necessarily be a freeholder but a long lease holder and an occupier could be a tenant or a sub-tenant. Also some occupiers are missed off altogether or lumped together as “labourers’ cottages” without necessarily mentioning the labourers by name. These things do vary from parish to parish and over time. Some assessments were filled in with more detail than others.

The same can be said for names both of individuals and properties. Sometimes a full name will be listed, other times just Mr Jones. Properties can be easily identified in some records and not in others. Take these two examples from Peterchurch in Herefordshire.


Mr Williams for his own                                            0          4          0

Landlord:         Mr Williams

Tenant:            Edward Pritchard                                2          3          4

Tenant:            Mr J Lanwarn                                      2          2          0

Landlord:         Samuel Waring

Tenant:            Mr Hughes                                        3          6          0


Landlord:         Sir G Cornewallis bart

Tenant:            Thomas Williams                              0          4          6

Land:               Dorston

Landlord:         Henry Allen esq

Tenant:            James Lewis                                     1          3          0

Land:               Dragon’s pool

Landlord:         Mrs Phillips

Tenant:            Martha Lewis Lionshale                    2          16        0

Tenant:            Martha Lewis Woods                        0          10        6

As the list is annual it can be possible to trace arrival and departure dates of an individual to a parish. Change of ownership can possibly give you a clue as to the date of death of an individual. The amount of land tax paid was decided on fixed quotas for each county. For example the 4 most Northerly English Counties paid less than more Southern ones. This means that it is impossible to compare land values across the country. Generally speaking the rate was set at 4s in the pound. However even land of the same acreage could be taxed differently depending on its productivity.

In 1798 the Land Tax Redemption office was created and Landowners could pay a lump sum equal to 15 years tax or purchase government stock to be exonerated from tax. Owners of land that was valued under 20 shillings also stopped being charged land tax from this date.

Land tax records are useful in looking at how land was arranged in your parish. The name of a big landowner such as the Duke of Norfolk who owned land in Herefordshire, may lead you to look at their records for information on your particular area. Tithe maps and enclosure awards can also be used together with land tax records to give you an idea as to the location and extent of your family’s holdings. Some counties records are available online at Findmy Past or visit your local archives and have a rummage. You never know what you may find!

52 Ancestors – Who is Uncle Ran?

This week’s theme is Curious and the person that has provoked the most head scratching is Uncle Ran, not so much about his vital statistics rather than how he fits in with the family, if he fits in at all.

My Mum used to talk fondly of summer holidays spent at Uncle Ran and Auntie Annie’s farm, New House Farm, Little Dewchurch, just south of Hereford.. Sadly no longer there, it was accessed across two fields and had no electricity or running water. Mum remembers big feather beds and roaming the country singing the theme from Davy Crockett! Uncle Ran was described as being rosy cheeked with one tooth and “legs that wouldn’t stop a pig”. Ran and Annie had a daughter called Dorothy who apparently had moved away after her parents death.

We discovered that Uncle Ran’s name was in fact William Randall Davies. This seemed to fit in as my maternal great grandmother was a Davies. After finding his gravestone in the tiny church at Bolstone, accessed through a farmyard and over a gate, we found out that Auntie Annie was in fact a Violet Annie and also their birth and death dates. Uncle Ran had died in St Mary’s Hospital (which is just up the road from where I live now) of dementia in 1968. Having a rough birth date was a godsend as you can imagine how many William R Davies’ there are in Herefordshire and surrounding areas. He was born in 1890 in Llowes, which is just outside of Hay on Wye, to William and Agnes Davies. However his father was born in Talgarth and had no connection with “my” Davies family. Similarly, his mother was also born in Llowes and I have no connections there.

I thought then perhaps that Auntie Annie was the connection but finding their marriage was a nightmare. I tried tracking down Dorothy’s birth to get a mother’s maiden name but without a firm date of birth you’d be surprised at how many Dorothy Davies’ were born in Herefordshire in the 1920s. Eventually I found her birth and her parents marriage. William Randall Davies married Violet Annie Pugh in the December quarter of 1925 in the Pontypridd district. There are no Pughs on my tree and the only connection with Pontypridd is through my 2 x great Uncle Garnett Griffiths who moved there in the 1910s.

So I am left with a number of questions:

What is their connection with my family? Are they friends of the family and if so, how did they meet as they don’t seem to have connection with Hereford City and my family has no obvious connection with Llowes or Little Dewchurch.

What made Uncle Ran and his family move to Little Dewchurch? The 1921 census shows Ran still living at home with his mum and sisters in the Mill at Llowes and as Little Dewchurch is about 30 miles away, it doesn’t seem like a natural move.

It is one of the cases where I might never know the answer but will keep chipping away until the Eureka moment hits!

52 Ancestors – Major Griffiths

This weeks’ #52Ancestors theme is favourite photo. This, to be honest changes all the time but today it is this photo of my Mum and the family dog Major. My grandad spent a long time on the army so I’m sure it tickled him to be able to order a Major around even though Major was very much his own dog!

Major used to follow my aunts into town when they were going to work and sit outside barking until they came out with a treat. This was obviously preferable to being dressed up in a baby’s bonnet and put in a toy pushchair by my Mum!!

One Christmas day my Grandad took Major to the Gamecock pub in Hereford. Whilst there, Major managed to get drunk and Grandad left him there to sleep it off. However my Mum and aunts made such a fuss, Grandad had to drive round and pick him up before anyone would eat Christmas dinner. Thank goodness there were no after effects.

My grandmother used to be horrified as Major had a habit of stealing bread, bacon and other bits from the Co-op van. He never ate any of it but proudly brought it in to my grandmother.

All of this is despite the fact that my Grandad used to train German Shepherds and won awards for their obedience. Stories of Major always used to make me laugh and hence today’s photo. Gone but definitely not forgotten!