My Dearest Husband – My Darling Little Woman

Much has been written about George Frederick Tudor Sherwood, esteemed genealogist and Founder Fellow of the Society of Genealogists. The role he played in the early years of the foundation of the Society is immeasurable, hosting its early meetings at his offices in the Strand and as the first Hon. Secretary, later Hon Treasurer and then Chairman of the Executive. He worked fantastically hard and was one of the pioneering agitating genealogists in the early years of the twentieth century. Centenary013 George Tudor Sherwood obit thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.He died in 1958 aged 91 and his obituary in the Genealogists’ Magazine of that year is accompanied by a portrait photograph of a man with a reserved, almost diffident look. Many of the manuscript research notes dispersed within the Society’s Document Collection are annotated and numbered in Sherwood’s distinctive hand and originated largely from his professional genealogical practice.

Amongst the special collections of the Society of Genealogists can be found the single box of the Sherwood collection comprising notes on his own family history in Berkshire and Kent. The collection also contains correspondence, accounts and other family ephemera. There are photocopies of the touching letters from Sherwood’s son Ralph, Private in the 2/25th Cyclist and 3rd Reserve Battalion regarding his training and service in the First World. The originals of these letters were deposited with the Imperial War Museum in 2000. The collection description gives a rather terse account of a second set of letters in the files – namely “Correspondence between George and Sophia Sherwood (nee Gibbs) covering their courtship, marriage and George Sherwood’s work as a genealogist amongst other subjects”

Sherwood letter My Dear Little Woman2 Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.

The earliest letter is dated Monday 11 March 1889 and addressed to “My Dear Miss Gibbs” in which the 22 year old George, just beginning his genealogical career, arranges to meet 26 year old Sophia at Walham Green Station the next Wednesday assuring her

“I could have discovered the house without the slightest difficulty as I made a special point of finding out its exact position when at the British Museum today. Had it been otherwise could you imagine for a moment that the trouble would have been anything but a pleasure? My cold is, on account of your good wishes, fast disappearing, in fact I feel quite robust in anticipation of meeting you … yours ever George F Tudor Sherwood”Sherwood letter My Darling Husband thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.

The couple married later that year. They are kept apart much in life as George travelled extensively about the country for his business to look at records held in churches, libraries and local probate courts. He writes from Leicester, Nottingham, Canterbury and elsewhere often staying in local hotels. In one six month period during 1897, for instance, he visited Winchester, Wells, Andover, St Asaph and Peterborough. He writes of his unsuccessful searches.

“after a stiff day’s work at the Probate Registry – 10 to 5 – I have just finished tea – chop, mince pie and coffee – and a pipe. A cold sleety, windy night … With another day’s work I shall finish, but I am afraid in regard to Hadden the search will not give us the information we want …

… How is my little woman getting on? I hope tomorrow evening to get a train that will land me home not later than 10. “

 

Sherwood letter Christmas 1891 thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.George and Sophia fall into the tradition of exchanging Christmas and Valentines letter each year. The envelope of the 1891 Christmas letter to Sophia is charmingly decorated with doodled heart shape shields. On the night before Valentine’s day in 1890 George writes

“My darling little woman

As you have just requested me to come to bed shortly in such beseeching tones and you think I might make it half past eleven, also taking into consideration that the little woman never has her own way, your valentine’s letter must of necessity be a short one. Need I say that the wish dearest to my heart is that we may be no less happy than we are now, each successive year bringing with it its own valentine in the shape of mutual affection, heath and peace of mind? For in the first place mutual affection is the talisman which in great measure ensures the last named, carrying with it toleration of each other’s failings and smoothing most of the difficulties in the path of life”

Several of George’s letters ask Sophia to forgive his failings. Their early years were a struggle together. There doesn’t seem to be much money in the life of a record agent. Debts are paid by borrowing from family and dipping into Sophia’s box. She sends him the key at one point imploring him to take the locket within. Separated frequently, they do miss each other terribly. Each spends time with their own aging parents and family and George is with his father, “the Guv” when he dies. In 1905 George writes from Somerset House “Of course I do miss you. I have been cold in bed at nights and slept badly”. George tries to keep house while Sophia herself is away but doesn’t seem to be very successful at keeping down the dirt or the mess of his working life and documents scattered around. By 1911 George has taken his office in the Strand where he is to host the Society’s inaugural meeting and presumably takes some of his working life out of what was to become the family home at 50 Beecroft Road, Brockley. However his rooms in the Strand were pretty soon overwhelmed by the growing collections of the Society of Genealogists that were housed there until 1914. George was editor of the Pedigree Register from 1907 “for authenticated genealogies and family history” and wrote extensively on genealogical matters and his genealogical business was finally taking off as he actively campaigned for greater access to public records.

The 1911 Census shows George and Sophia together at Beecroft Road with their 5 children, having been married 21 years. Their only son Ralph aged 19 is working with his father as a record agent. His sister May Sophia aged 20 is a pupil teacher. Presumably daughters Constance (16), Katherine (14) and Barbara (11) are still at school.

This happy marriage lasted 38 years until Sophia’s death in 1927 aged 64. By this time George was playing a prominent role at the Society of Genealogists as its “consummate administrator” and devoting much of his time to the development of the Society’s Great Card Index and D-Manuscripts (miscellaneous manuscript research notes arranged by surname, now known as the Document Collection). The letters between Sophia and George are just part of the Sherwood personal and genealogical papers found in one of the Society’s 350 Special Collections of family papers and genealogical research, and have been touched on only briefly in this article. They deserve to be read fully and transcribed as a personal history. The papers are, however, typical of what may be found in the Society of Genealogists’ Special Collections which are packed with personal papers, diaries, letters and photographs as well as pedigrees and genealogical notes.

Aged 62 George Sherwood met his 2nd wife Mrs May Ethel McIntyre nee Trinder at the Society. She was about the same age as his daughter May and had been a member herself since 1925 and secretary to one of the early Fellows. They married in 1929. George died in 1958 and an obituary appears in the Genealogists’ Magazine. Mrs May Sherwood returned to work for the Society as Archivist after her husband’s death and retired in 1966. Her own obituary in the Genealogists’ Magazine in 1975 shows George had been lucky again with his choice of partner as she was remembered for “the warm and friendly interest she took in everyone with whom she came in contact with and her genuine desire to help others with their problems. Added to this, her lively nature and robust sense of humour made her a most enjoyable companion at all times”. George and May were both profoundly devoted to the Society of Genealogists.

 

 

Sources

Society of Genealogists – Sherwood Collection

1911 Census

Family Matters. A History of Genealogy by Michael Sharpe, 2011

Society of Genealogists: A Century of Family History, Else Churchill, Nicholas Newington Irving and Roy Stockdill – eds, 2011.

 

 

Else Churchill

Valentines Day 2012.

 

 

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News just in from the Identity and Passport Service, the Government Agency  which is responsible for the General Register Office, reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has taken action against third party certificate websites

Identity and Passport Service has warned people ordering birth, death and marriage certificates not to be fooled into paying more through unofficial websites.

The Advertising Standards Authority has now upheld three separate complaints from the Registrar General about third party websites misleading customers into believing that they were ordering from the government’s own website.

The authority warned ‘UK Official Services’, ‘UK GRO Certificates’ and ‘Vital Certificates’ that they were in breach of the Committee of Advertising Practice code and that they must stop appearing or implying that they are the General Register Office.

Customers applying for replacement birth certificates can be charged up to £74.99 for an unofficial ‘express’ online service.

The same express service is £23.40 via the official IPS certificate ordering website through Directgov

www.direct.gov.uk/gro. The standard certificate service is available for even less – £9.25.

Welcoming the news, IPS Chief Executive and Registrar General Sarah Rapson, said:

‘The Advertising Standards Authority has sent a very clear message to customers and those companies that mislead them: there is just one official online certificate ordering service for England and Wales.

‘It is always quicker, cheaper and safer to deal directly with the General Register Office for certificate orders.

‘While other outlets can be found online, there is no reason to pay over the odds and I would urge customers to look at the official site first before ordering anywhere else.’

 

 

New number for certificate ordering

IPS has adopted a 0300 prefix for its GRO certificates enquiry number. The prefix 0300 replaces the 0845 prefix used in the previous number.

From 5 January 2012 IPS stopped publishing the 0845 603 7788 number for members of the public who wish to make an enquiry about, or place an order for, certificates. Customers who previously contacted IPS via the 0845 number are now being asked to use 0300 123 1837. This is a particularly memorable number as civil registration was introduced in England and Wales in the year 1837.

0300 numbers are exclusively reserved for charities and the public sector and for the majority of customers the cost of calling us will be reduced. Calls made to 0300 numbers from landlines and mobile phones are charged to customers at their network provider’s national rate and also form part of the inclusive minutes within the customer’s call package in the same way as calls to geographical numbers.

 

 

 

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Findmypast.co.uk to publish Canterbury Cathedral Records on the Web

 

Findmypast has announced its latest archive project to increase access to over a million East Kent  baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538. This is the first time that images of the original parish records from East Kent churches will appear online

 

 

Findmypast.co.uk has announced that it has been awarded a contract by Canterbury Cathedral Archives to publish online for the very first time historic records from the archive. The first phase of the Canterbury Collection project will see a browsable version of the parish registers of the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury go online in the coming weeks at findmypast.co.uk.

An estimated 270,000 images containing over a million entries will be published on the website, covering parish churches from a wide expanse of East Kent, including:

  •  the city of Canterbury
  •  the towns of Faversham, Wye and Elham
  •  Thanet
  •  towns along the east Kent coast stretching from Whitstable in the north round to Hythe in the south

The launch has been timed to coincide with the temporary closure of Canterbury Cathedral Archives for refurbishment, so that family historians and local historians can continue to enjoy access to these fascinating records until the Archives reopens in autumn 2012.

From the initial online launch in February, visitors to the findmypast.co.uk website will be able to browse through the scanned pages of the parish records to search for their ancestors. At the same time, findmypast.co.uk will start to transcribe the records, with a view to creating an index and making them fully searchable on the website later this year.

 

Canterbury Cathedral Archivist Cressida Williams, added: “Working with findmypast has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to expand access to these records to a worldwide audience. This resource will be a great asset for anyone with an interest in the history of this part of Kent.”

The Canterbury Collection will join an impressive array of UK parish records at findmypast.co.uk and available free in the Society of Genealogists’ Library, including records from Manchester Archives, Cheshire Archives, Plymouth & West Devon Record Office and Welsh Archives, in addition to over 40 million parish records from family history societies throughout the UK in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

Anyone wishing to be notified when the Canterbury Collection becomes available can register online at www.findmypast.co.uk to receive a newsletter.

 

About Canterbury Cathedral Archives

Canterbury Cathedral Archives collects, cares for, and provides access to, records relating to Canterbury Cathedral, the City of Canterbury, parishes in the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury, and other local institutions and families. The Archives closes on 31st January for refurbishment work, due to reopen in Autumn 2012. Findmypast.co.uk is working with the Cathedral Archives on ‘the Canterbury Collection’, made up of registers of parishes in the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury.

http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/history/archives.aspx

 

 

 

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Last chance to vote for Genealogy Rock Stars

Voting for the Anglo-Celtic  Connections Blog survey to determine genealogists of “rock star” status ends on Saturday 28 July

Many will be familiar with  SoG member John Reid’s excellent blog Anglo Celtic Collections. John is a stalwart of the Canadian genealogy community and certainly keeps attuned to news and events in the British and Irish Genealogy scene.

John has devised a  survey to determine rock star genealogists, women and men who give “must attend” presentations at genealogy conferences and/or write “must read” family history articles or publications.

 

Voting is now open. There’s more than one rock star so vote for as many as you want. it’s your opportunity to express your appreciation for the genealogists who wow you with their presentations and/or writing. Consider both style and content.

I note from John’s updates that the British community is  a little under represented amongst the the voters so we should make up for that. There are some excellent genealogy communicators from the English speaking world on this list (including several SoG members) and it’s a very interesting list of people to follow. Thanks to everyone who made nominations and congratulations to all who have been nominated.

As well as asking for your votes the survey asks basic questions on country of residence, gender and age range which you may respond to with “prefer not to answer.”

As John says – Please feel free to use Twitter, Google+, Facebook, blogs, emails, telephone, posters tacked to telephone poles, smoke signals, carrier pigeons and other publicity to encouraging voting which is planned to close late on Saturday 28 January.

 

START HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

 

 

 

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Findmypast publishes new 1881 census index for Scotland

I’m very interested to note that Findypast have just published a new version of the 1881 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk

The census recorded the population of Scotland at over 3.7 million in 1881 and they’ve freshly transcribed these records to ensure your ancestors’ details are accurately recorded.

The  1841-1871 Scottish censuses are already available on findmypast.co.uk. scot 1881 Findmypast publishes new 1881 census index for ScotlandYou’ll be keen to search the 1881 Scottish census for the ancestors you’ve traced in the previous censuses. If you haven’t been able to find your ancestors in the earlier Scottish censuses, now’s the time to search the 1881 census to see if they make an appearance.

The high quality transcriptions make it easy to discover the crucial details about your ancestors’ lives and will be interesting to compare this version of the index to that we have all been using for the last 10 years or so. Sadly it is not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the General Register Office for Scotland’s licensing regulations but anyone searching at the Society of Genealogists Library will be able to use our copies of the Scottish census films in conjunction with Findmypast Index. Of course Findmypast is free to use at the Society’s Library and our members receive a discount on the FMP subscription as part of their SOG membership benfits.

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