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Bethersden Parish Records: Newsletter No. 16. January, 2007. Kent, England

Newsletter No. 16. January, 2007

For more information about the Bethersden Parish Register Society and its records please contact Mr. Brian Robinson at Brian  [AT]  islandfarm [.] co [.] uk  Anti-spam has been employed in constructing the above email address.  Please remove the extraneous spaces as well as the sets of square brackets so that the email address looks like

Dear Friends,

        Having just written newsletter number 16 I can hardly believe it is 16 years ago that I took over as Chairman of the Society.  Since then, as you know, one of the primary objectives has been to find a permanent home for the Records but more of that later.

        During the last year our Records were subjected to an examination by the Diocesan Inspectorate.  The Inspector not only looked at the Parochial Records but also at those relating to the Village which are clearly more secular in content.  Since this was the first inspection with George [George Fraser, former Hon. Keeper of the Records] [it] is good that we passed without problems.  The next inspection is scheduled for 2011 but visits by the County and Diocesan archivists can be made at virtually any time.

        Following George's sad death his wife, Stella, asked that their third bedroom, which acted as George's study and bolt-hole, be cleared of Parish Records.  These included his own jottings and recent acquisitions.  In a rush of blood I agreed to undertake this and several months later places in my own home are now housing material awaiting attention!  I decided that since there was such a great wealth of material I would sort it into categories to be named and retained in archival type storage boxes.  Certainly George was well aware of what material was available and could find virtually anything that was required.  I do not have that ability;  hence the need for boxes with indices of contents and eventually a composite list being the key to our total holdings.  I should emphasise that the irreplaceable books and records will continue to be housed in the archival cupboard protected by the Church alarm system.  I have been fortunate in having help in what is clearly a considerable undertaking and sorting through piles of material would have been an impossible task for one person.

        St. Margaret's Church has always been the centre of Village life and once it became necessary to categorise a host of memorabilia, photographs and Village Records a permanent home where they would be more accessible became increasingly important.With co-operation and help from the Churchwardens and the Records Custodian Rev. Flewker we have been able to secure a place at the base of the Church Tower.  The funds of the Society enabled the purchase of two cupboards and the plan is that the boxes mentioned earlier will be housed here.  This is a great improvement on the previous situation and it does mean that for the first time the complete Records collection can be housed in one place.  I am sure all readers of this newsletter will recognize this will not happen overnight and many months of patient work lies ahead before the present collection can be considered "sorted"!

        During the past year we have had many enquiries requiring access to the old Registers including one from the United States concerning a certain ancestor William Wildman who sailed in the Mayflower to Cape Cod in 1620.  Our earliest composite book containing births, marriages and deaths appeared to contain a name Wildman although the quality of the "ink" had faded badly.  I contacted the Cathedral Archives Department and they are presently trying to confirm the name.

        Even earlier than the sailing of the Mayflower the will of a yeoman from Wissenden makes interesting reading.  He decreed that his executors sell

my messuage where I now dwell and lands thereto immediately after my death.  The money be used to pay the following sums:  to my wife Dorothy £20 on condition that she claims no dower in my lands and tenements.  If she refuses she does not get the £20!

Agnes Moone in 1565 ordered her husband,

Thomas to give to Agnes Kingsnorth a petticoat cloth of the price of 2s the yard.  To the widow of John Lye my best russet petticoat and my new smock.  To my sister Grace my next best petticoat, 2 old red petticoats and my 2 old smocks.

        In conclusion please note that the Annual General Meeting of the Society has been fixed for Sunday 24th June at 11:15 a.m. in St. Margaret's Church.

        With every good wish,

Yours sincerely,

Signed [Brian Robinson]

January 2007.

© 2000, Bethersden Parish Records Society