Tag Archives: Heritage Research Area

Forgotten Stories: a Birmingham burial register

The book I’ve chosen to write about this week is titled “SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793”, and is located with the parish registers in the Heritage Research Area. It is a facsimile copy of the original register. The original register (Ref: EP 41/2/1/2/5) is held in our stores; however, due to its condition, it cannot be served. Contained within this register is an insight into Birmingham life in the 18th century. This register is special because, uniquely, the cause of death is recorded. This addition allows researchers an insight into the difficulties of 18th century life for the people of Birmingham.

Surrogates of parish registers in the Heritage Research Area, floor 4, Library of Birmingham

Parishes would record information on burials in various ways. By the 1780s, however, there was an attempt to try and make recording more standardised with the production of the ‘Proposed Form of Register for Burials’ which was printed in the year 1781.

Proposed Form of Register for Burials in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

The format is a proposed one which seems to have been one of many trial formats. Despite this standardisation attempt, it seems that other parishes in Birmingham did not use this new system during this period, for instance St. Mary’s, Whittall Street. SS Peter and Paul began using the proposed format by about 1784, as seen in the registers.

The proposed format recorded date of burial, name of the deceased, names of parents, age of deceased, supposed cause of death and where buried. This burial register covers the first three years of the 1790s and during that time 550 burials took place within the parish of SS Peter and Paul. Of those 550, 329 were children, equating to 59 – 60% of the register. Of these 329 children (aged between 1 day and 17 years), 49% (163) were under the age of 12 months.

Burial entries of children in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

We can clearly see that the infant mortality rate was extremely high during this period, which must have had a significant effect on families.  The causes of death for children ranged from measles to Chincough (whooping cough), and from small pox to consumption. Probably the most unusual cause of death among this group is that of ‘teeth’ or ‘cutting teeth’; it seems unusual to us in the modern world as one would never think of teeth being a cause of death. However it seems that during the 18th century, ‘teeth’ was used as a term for ailments that were seemingly unknown, and which came at a time when new teeth were growing, but also could have been related to the processes by which pain was relieved. It should be noted all 10 entries of ‘teeth’ as cause of death are children between the ages of 7 and 18 months.

There are other types of entry which invite more questions than answers. For example, an entry dated 15th June 1790 for a Mary Bishop.

Burial entry for Mary Bishop, 17 June 1790 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

Her parents’ names are not entered and her cause of death is recorded as ‘Evil’. When I saw this my first thought was why evil? What had she done? I did some further research and discovered information on a disease called Scrofula, a type of tuberculosis affecting the glands. Scrofula was known as the King’s Evil and it was given this name because people believed it could be cured by the King’s touch. A case could be made for Mary Bishop having had Scrofula, and the death was simply recorded as Evil.

Another interesting case is that of Jacob, son of John and Mary Field who died at the age of 5 years and 3 months and was buried on January 4th 1791. His cause of death reads ‘Burned’.

Burial entry for Jacob aged 5, 4 January 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

This is curious. What happened to him? How was he burned? Was there a fire? Was it an accident? Given that no other family members were interred around the same time, does it suggest that there wasn’t a fire or that the rest of his family managed to survive.

There are many others I could mention, for instance on 19 July 1791, Samuel Jones was ‘Killed at Doctor Priestly’s’, aged 24 years old!

Burial entry for Samuel Jones, 19 July 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

It is possible that this gentleman was a victim of the Priestley Riots which took place in Birmingham between the 14th and 17th July 1791. The riots, it seems began as a protest to a dinner that was taking place at the Royal Hotel, to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille. Prominent dissenters, (protestants who did not conform to the Church of England) were targeted due to their support of the French Revolution and were seen as a direct threat. Violent acts of looting and burning of dissenter property were seen all over the city. There is a record of one man being killed during the looting of Baskerville House, however it may not be Samuel Jones. More research would be needed to connect this entry definitively to the Priestly Riots, although it would be interesting to do so. Also there is an entry for an unknown man who was found in a cowshed near Vauxhall and died whilst being conveyed to his lodgings. What happened to this man? Who was he?

Burial entry for a travelling man, 23 August 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

To still have access to these stories almost 230 years on is incredible. From records like this we are able to catch a glimpse of what life was like for the people of Birmingham in the 18th century. If you would like to come and view for yourself these stories, and more about the forgotten people of Birmingham, please come to Level 4 of the Library of Birmingham and speak to a member of staff.

Helen Glenn, Senior Archives & Collections Assistant

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A review – ‘The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton: Culture and Industry in Eighteenth-Century Birmingham’ by Susan E. Whyman

‘The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton’ by Susan Whyman (2018), Birmingham Collection, L 78.1 HUT

For those of an inquisitive or mildly curious disposition regards the history of Birmingham, the name of William Hutton is often synonymous with the publication of the first recorded history of a town which some seventy or so years after its initial publication in 1781 carried the titles of the workshop of the world and the town of a thousand trades.

In Susan Whyman’s biography of Hutton – The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton, the author provides a profile of a man who according to his own accounts was born into abject poverty in 1723, but who through a combination of entrepreneurial zeal, an autodidactic drive and sheer hutzpah managed to achieve wealth, purchase property and obtain literary fame by the time of his death in 1815. Hutton was the author of fifteen books, many now unknown apart from his history of Birmingham. Titles are diverse and include topics such as the battle of Bosworth Field, a history of Blackpool and an account of his infamous trek across Hadrian’s Wall whilst in his ninth decade.

In his early days in Derby, with assistance from his sister, Catherine Perkins, the young Hutton taught himself the noble art of bookbinding and then with financial support from a retiring minister moved to Birmingham in 1750. With a mind pre – set for business, Hutton established an early circulating library and subsequently sold cheap grades of paper. But I hear you cry : ‘Why choose Birmingham?’, when the assumption would have been more attractive and well established literary and print trade networks already existed in places such as London. Whyman suggests Hutton’s success was intermeshed, somehow symbiotic with the development of Birmingham’s economic and cultural prowess. Birmingham in the latter half of the eighteenth century was at the forefront of two significant forces of economic and societal change – the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment which together created an unprecedented level of opportunity and mobility for those such as Hutton who were in a position to take a risk, make a gamble.

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New Year, New Additions

Nicola Gauld. Words and Deeds : Birmingham Suffragists and Suffragettes, 1832 – 1918. (2018) 22.7 GAU Birmingham Collection

It’s that time again when we give you an update on the new additions we’ve made to our local studies collections in the previous 12 months. As usual, in 2018 we continued to accept donations and to make purchases of printed books which have been added to the Birmingham Collection, the Black History Collection and Military History. We have also added to the selection of books available to researchers in the Wolfson Centre. Feel free to browse through the list below:

BIRMINGHAM COLLECTION

Barnsley, David & Thompson, Shirley.
Against All Odds – The Carlson House Legacy. (2018)
41.34 CAR Birmingham Collection and L 41.34 CAR.

Barton, Gerry & Babb, John.
Who Does Want To Kill Anyone? The story of conscientious objectors in Mid – Staffordshire and the Black Country during the First World War. (2018)
75.7 BAR Birmingham Collection and L 75.7 BAR.

Brown, Joe.
Birmingham & West Midlands Railway Atlas. (2016)
47.39 Birmingham Collection & LF 47.39.

Chey, Katy.
Multi – Unit Housing in Urban Cities From 1800 to Present Day. (2018)
L 41.8 CHE.

Clifford, Naomi.
The Murder of Mary Ashford. The Crime That Changed English Legal History. (2018)
42.021 Birmingham Collection and L 42.021.

Cooper, Nancy.
Down to Earth : Memories of a young woman joining the Women’s Land Army in 1943. (2017)
75.8 COO Birmingham Collection and L 75.8 COO.

Crosskey, Sheila.
John Henry Chamberlain, the Birmingham architect and two of his grandsons.
LP 78.1 CHA. Level 5.

Crosskey, KSM.
The Story of Thomas Henry Moon, 1866 – 1944.
LP 78.1 MOO.

(ed.) Dick, Malcom & Mitchell, Elaine.
Gardens and Green Spaces in the West Midlands since 1700. (2018)
58.8 Birmingham Collection; L 58.8, Level 5 and 712.6 Wolfson Centre

Fisher, Michael.
Guarding the Pugin Flame : John Hardman Powell, 1827 – 1895. (2017)
78.1 POW Birmingham Collection and LF 78.1 POW.

Gauld, Nicola.
Words and Deeds : Birmingham Suffragists and Suffragettes, 1832 – 1918. (2018)
22.7 GAU Birmingham Collection; L 22. GAU, Level 5 and 324.623094 GAU, Wolfson Centre.

(ed.) Geater, Jacqueline. (ed).
Birmingham Wills and Inventories, 1512 – 1603.
Dugdale Society Vol. 49. (2016). B 942.48.

Gunn, Simon.
The public culture of the Victorian middle class – ritual and authority in the English industrial city, 1840 – 1914. (2007)
L 50 GUN.

Hall, Michael.
Bourne College, Quinton, The Story of a School. (2011)
L 18.31.

Hunt, Karen.
Staffordshire’s War. (2017).
942.46083 Midland Topography & L 96.

Johnson, Neil.
The Labour Church, The Movement and Its Message. (2017)
L 41.23 JOH.

(ed.) Lerwill, John & Haylor, Pete.
Billesley and Surrounds. (2018)
LF 92.7 BIL.

Llewellyn, Sheila.
Walking Wounded. (2018)
L 51.3 LLE.

Loach. P.L.
Marriages in the West Bromwich Registration District, 1837 – 1932 : GRO Page Range Table. (2017 Edition)
Quick Reference Shelves and LF 40.2.

Morley, Christopher.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Inspiring Musicians since 1886. (2017)
55.1 Birmingham Collection & LF 55.1.

National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.
Record of Church Furnishings – The Parish Church of St. Mary, Moseley, Birmingham. (2015)
LF 14.54 NAT.

Dr. Newson, John.
Solar Pioneers of Bournville. (2017)
LP 92.3.

(ed.) Noakes, Amanda.
What A Life! Peter Hollingworth. (2018)
78.1 HOL Birmingham Collection & L 78.1 HOL.

Phillips, Julie.
Birmingham at War, 1939 – 1945. (2018)
75.8 PHI Birmingham Collection and L 75.8..

(Sir) Price, Frank.
Being There. (2002)
L 78.1 PRI.

Reekes, Andrew.
The Birmingham Political Machine : Winning Elections for Joseph Chamberlain. (2018)
76 Birmingham Collection and L 76.

Roberts – Pichette, Patricia.
Great Canadian Expectations : The Middlemore Experience. (2016)
41.31 Birmingham Collection; LF 41.31 Level 5 and 362.732 Wolfson Centre.

Roberts, Stephen.
James Whateley and the survival of Chartism. (2018)
L 78.1 WHA.

Roberts, Stephen.
Recollections of Victorian Birmingham. (2018)
L 73.2.

Russell, Ben.
James Watt – Making the World Anew. (2014)
L 78.1 WAT, Level 5 and 621.1092, Wolfson Centre

Ryeland, Kenneth C.
Time Well Spent – Memories of a former apprentice motor fitter working for the railways in Birmingham, 1957 – 1963. (2016)
L 78.1 RYE.

Thorne, Stephen.
Birmingham English – A Sociolinguistic Study. (2003)
LF 51.9 THO.

Stephen Bourne. War to Windrush : Black Women in Britain 1939 to 1948. (2018). 305.48896 and A 305.48896.

BLACK HISTORY COLLECTION

(ed.) Adair, Christy & Burt, Ramsey.
British Dance : Black Routes (2017)
793.308996 & A 793.308996.

Andrews, Kehinde.
Back to Black – Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century. (2018).
305.896041 & A 305.896041.

Baucom, Ian.
Out of Place – Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity. (1999).
305.896041 and A 305.896041.

Bhimji, Fazila.
British Asian Muslim Women, Multiple Spatialities and Cosmopolitanism. (2012).
A 305.48697 Black History Collection.

Birmingham, David.
Trade and Empire in the Atlantic, 1400 – 1600. (2000).
325.34 Black History Collection and A 325.34.

Bourne, Stephen.
War to Windrush : Black Women in Britain 1939 to 1948. (2018).
305.48896 and A 305.48896.

Bourne, Stephen.
Mother Country : Britain’s Black Community on the Home Front, 1939 – 1945. (2015).
940.530899 & A 940.530899.

Bourne, Stephen.
Evelyn Dove : Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen. (2016).
782.42164 & A 782.42164.

(ed.) Donington, Katie, Hanley, Ryan & Moody, Jessica. (2016).
Britain’s History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery. (2016).
306.362094 and A 306.362094.

Falkenhayner, Nicole.
Making the British Muslim – Representations of the Rushdie Affair and Figures of the War-On-Terror Decade. (2014).
305.697041 & A 305.697041.

(ed.) Hall, Catherine, Draper, Nicholas, McClelland, Keith, Donnington, Katie & Lang, Rachel.
Legacies of British Slave-ownership. (2014).
306.362094 and A 306.362094.

Hussain, Khalad.
Against The Grain. (2012).
305.891412 and A 305.891412.

Malik, Zaiba.
We Are A Muslim, Please. (2011).
297.092 and A 297.092.

Moody –Turner, Shirley.
Black Folklore and the Politics of Racial Representation. (2010).
398.208886 and A 398.208886.

Satia, Priya.
Empire of Guns : The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution. (2018).
338.476234.

MILITARY HISTORY

Childs, David.
Growing Remembrance, The Story of the National Memorial Arboretum. (2011).
355.160941 Military Genealogy and A 355.160941.

Delve, Ken.
The Military Airfields of Britain – Wales and the West Midlands. (2007).
358.417094 Military Genealogy and A 358.417094.

Laura A. Millar, Archives – Principles and Practices. (2017) 027 Wolfson Centre.

WOLFSON CENTRE

Aston, Jennifer.
Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth – Century England. (2016).
A 330 Wolfson Centre, stack items.

Central England Quakers.
Meeting Houses of Central England Quakers. (2017).
289.642 Wolfson Centre and LF 18.6.

Cressy, David.
Coming Over : Migration and Communication between England and New England in the Seventeenth Century. (2007).
304.874042 Wolfson Centre.

Cressy, David.
Gypsies and English History. (2018).
942.004914 Wolfson Centre.

Millar, Laura, A.
Archives – Principles and Practices. (2017)
027 Wolfson Centre.

Heritage Research Area familiarisation session

As part of Birmingham Heritage Week, Archives & Collections are offering the opportunity to get to know the sources available in the Heritage Research Area on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

At this free event, staff will guide you through resources such as maps, electoral and parish registers as well as digital resources on Ancestry Institution and software for reading local newspapers.

Spaces are limited to 12 people per session and pre-booking is essential. To book, click here.

Saturday 15 September 2018, 11 am – 1 pm.

Please note this session is not aimed at answering specific genealogical enquiries.

Heritage Research Area familiarisation session

Following on from the great success of our previous  events, Archives & Collections are now offering another chance to get to know the sources available in our Heritage Research Area on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

At this free event, staff will guide you through our resources such as maps, electoral and parish registers as well as digital resources on Ancestry Institution and software for reading local newspapers.

Spaces are limited to 12 people per session and booking is essential. Please email archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk or speak with a member of staff on level 4 to make a reservation.

Wednesday 1 August 2018, 11 am – 1 pm.

Please note this session is not aimed at answering specific genealogical enquiries.

We are sorry to announce this event is now cancelled. Details of any future sessions will be revealed at a later time.

Library of Birmingham’s Black History Collection

During the existence of Birmingham Libraries, the Library of Birmingham has, over the years amassed a large collection of books which has been given the designation of the Black History collection. As the name suggests this collection does indeed contain material relating to black history but it also includes other topics including Asian History, Culture, Arts, the Black and Asian experience in the UK, and other diverse topics such as the climate and topography of the Indian sub-continent. The collection currently contains over 9000 books.  The Black History collection has grown from previous collections held within past departments of the library including Central Lending, Information Services and Archives and Heritage, with the library continually adding material to the collection. The collection is currently housed within the Archives and Collections Department of the Library of Birmingham.

This collection covers diverse subject areas including the history of Black footballers, for example Colouring Over the White Line by Phil Vasili [796.33408900] and Pitch Black by Emy Onuora [A796.334089];

Colouring Over the White Line by Phil Vasili [796.33408900] and Pitch Black by Emy Onuora [A796.334089]

and the history of well-known Asian politicians such as Nehru and Ghandi.

India from Curzon to Nehru by Durga Das [964.035 DAS], and an extract showing Ghandi with Lord and Lady Mountbatten

The collection includes Gazetteers, articles on the religions and customs of indigenous peoples and geographical descriptions and illustrations from numerous countries such as Africa, the Caribbean, India and the Indian Sub-continent, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal etc. For example, this illustration from the book Tunis it’s land and people by Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg from 1882 [961.109] shows the harbour of Tunis.

Tunis it’s land and people by Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg from 1882 [961.109] showing Tunis harbour

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Heritage Research Area familiarisation session

Following on from the great success of our previous three events, Archives & Collections are now offering another chance to get to know the sources available in our Heritage Research Area. Would you like to learn how the Heritage Research Area on level 4 could benefit your genealogical research?

At this free event, staff will guide you through our resources such as maps, electoral and parish registers as well as digital resources on Ancestry Institution and software for reading local newspapers.

Spaces are limited to 12 people per session. Please email archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk or speak with a member of staff on level 4 to make a reservation.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

11 am – 1 pm

Please note this session is not aimed at answering specific genealogical enquiries.

Our Heritage Research Familiarisation Session is now fully booked. If you haven’t managed to book on the session this time, we are planning to offer another one later in the year. Please check out the blog, the Lob website and twitter as well as posters located in the library nearer the time for confirmation of the date.