A member of The Federation of Family History Societies
St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall


Rossendale Branch Newsletter April 2011

Programme: 2011

Wednesday 6th April

Annual General Meeting

followed by a short talk from
Michael Hiluta.

Wednesday 4th May

Life in the Middle Ages

Stephen Moorhouse.

Wednesday 1st June

Records of the Poor.

Elvira Wilmott.

Wednesday 6th July

Rationing in World War I

Norman Hindley.

Research and Advice Sessions:

at Haslingden Library every Monday

5.30 - 7.30 pm

and Rawtenstall Library every Tuesday

1.30 - 3.30 pm

You will find us upstairs at Haslingden or Rawtenstall on the appropriate days, as indicated above. We may be able to do simple look-ups for distant members. When contacting us with an enquiry, please include your membership number.

The LFHHS Resource Centre.

The Society's Resource and Research Centre at 2 Straits, Oswaldtwistle, BB5 3LU is open every Thursday from 1.00pm - 5.00pm and the centre is now open on the 1st Saturday of each month 1.00pm. www.lfhhs.org.uk/download/index.htm

Coming Events

Saturday 15th May

Royal British Legion 90th Anniversary Celebrations

at Astley Park Chorley, 10.30 - 4.30

The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire will be attending as Patron. It is anticipated that there will be many stalls, including a Farmers' Market. Activities will include music from The King's Division Band. The Society will be represented. The LFHHS Chorley Research Centre will be open for military research only on that day.

All monies raised by this "Picnic in the Park" will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Admission is free.

Saturday 21st May 2011

LFHHS One Day Conference and AGM

at St. Cuthbert's Church Centre, Lytham Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 3AR

9.45 - 5.00 pm

Three Good Speakers. & Buffet Lunch.

Full details and application form in your February "Lancashire" Journal.

Cost £12.40 for the Conference & Lunch; without lunch £6.50.

This is a chance to meet old friends, make new ones and put faces to names. There will be an opportunity to exchange information etc. also a selection of books, CDs, and fiche which can be purchased or ordered.

Saturday 25th June

York Family History Fair

The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York 10.00am to 4.30pm £4.00

The Society will once again be represented at this Fair. Anyone willing to help on our stalls should contact Stephen John Ward. Society Chairman, or you can make yourself known on the day.

Don't Forget .

Until December 2011, there are disruptions to Lancashire Archives services due to essential plant replacement.

In April and May, there will be several days when some archives will be unavailable. There will be closure between June and October. For details: Tel. 0845 053 0021, or Email record.office@lancashire.gov.uk

LancashireBMD - Recent additions for the Hyndburn and Rossendale Area

22 March 2011 16, 871 Bacup Births (1895 - 1937)

Rossendale News Notes and Queries

In March we had a highly entertaining talk by Brian White entitled "Stick Around". Officially the talk was about walking sticks but in fact these were just hooks or maybe "crooks" on which to hang a series of humorous reminiscences.

In last month's newsletter we had an article entitled "Rossendale Militia List 1810" in which I explained how men were conscripted into the local militia by means of a ballot. I also gave some details of the huge numbers of young men who volunteered for the regular militia. I have since then received this very interesting article from Joan Read, in Canada, whose ancestor was one of these volunteers.

British Army Records and James Baron

A year ago I wrote an article which appeared in the Rossendale February 2010 newsletter, outlining my efforts to uncover information about my 2x great grandfather, James Baron. James, a weaver, was born c1784 and died on 9 April 1838 at Whitewall Bottom, near Newchurch in Rossendale, aged 54. The little information I had came from the baptisms of his four younger children at St. Nicholas, Newchurch, and the census records of the family which included his wife, Elizabeth, who was born in Ireland, as was their first son, John, c1827.

I had thought that James was born in Ireland as well, until Rita Hirst suggested that he might have come from Lancashire, spent time in Ireland with the army and returned home after his discharge. This suggestion led me into a whole new and much more fruitful area of research.

The first breakthrough came with the discovery of James' Army discharge papers on FindMyPast. The papers are included in the British Army Service Records 1760-1913, known as the Chelsea Pensioner records. These records are held at the National Archives, WO97 series, and are records of men, regular soldiers as well as officers, who were pensioned out of the British Army.

This was a marvellous find that revealed a wealth of detail, not only of James' discharge but also of his enlistment: "Gunner Driver James Bearon, born in the Parish of Newchurch, in or near the Town of Newchurch, in the County of Lancaster, enlisted for the aforesaid Regiment at Eastbourne in the County of Sussex on 29th October 1803 at the age of twenty for unlimited service." The Regiment at the time of James' discharge was the 5th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

James was discharged on 31st October 1825 in Dublin, suffering from chronic rheumatism. His conduct had been good. His pension was one shilling and a halfpenny per diem and he made his mark with a cross. There is even a description of him, as being about forty two, five feet six inches, light hair, brown eyes, fair complexion. He was a weaver.

But there was more to come. James was paid marching money for 26 days for his journey from Dublin to Eastbourne, his place of enlistment, and he was provided with a certificate for free passage from Dublin to Liverpool. Not only this, but his wife received marching money from Liverpool to Eastbourne, placing the marriage of James and Elizabeth, who was much younger, prior to this date.

This was breathtaking after so many years of searching. So much of the information corroborated and added to what I already knew. However, two items puzzled me: the spelling of the surname as Bearon, and the enlistment at Eastbourne.

Again Rita came to the rescue with her local knowledge. She pointed out that in Rossendale the name Baron was always pronounced Bear-on. James was illiterate, and if the person who recorded his enlistment information was unfamiliar with local spelling, he would spell the name phonetically as he heard it. That left the puzzle of Eastbourne. Why would a local boy, a weaver, travel to the south coast to enlist in the army?

As Rita wrote in her article in the March 2011 Rossendale newsletter, in 1803 there was a fear that Napoleon would invade Britain. Consequently, the Army of Reserve was formed in the summer of that year and troops amassed on the south coast. Men who were conscripted by ballot were allowed to find substitutes and the majority of men enlisted were substitutes.

Barbara Chambers has compiled an Index to Army of Reserve 1803, available on CD. Her website is http://members.aol.com/BJCham2909/homepage.html

Three James Bearons are on the list, including James Bearon, a substitute, who enrolled in the Royal Artillery at Brindle, west of Blackburn in Lancashire. The other two Bearon men enlisted into the 48th Foot at Rochdale and Manchester.

I can't say with certainty that James Bearon who enlisted at Brindle is my 2x gt grandfather but it is very likely that James enlisted in the Army of Reserve there and travelled to Eastbourne with his regiment. Many men enlisted in the area north east of Chorley. If he is the one, for whom did he substitute and why?

Some questions remain for further research. James and Elizabeth's first known son, John, was born in Dublin c1827, so the family stayed in Ireland for at least two years after James' discharge. It's possible that James tried to make a living as a linen weaver in Dublin. I think it unlikely that the family travelled to Eastbourne when they landed in Liverpool after his discharge from the Army. It's much more feasible that they travelled (walked?) directly to Rossendale. I hope to find a record of their marriage and the baptism of John when more Dublin records are available online, and I'm still searching for James' baptism.

Joan Read jread22@sympatico.ca

Anyone wishing to purchase Barbara Chambers' Books and CDs should visit the Genfair website. Just Google Barbara Chambers Army of Reserve.