75th VE Day 8th May 2020 – Remembering our ancestors in WW2

In recognition of the 75th VE Day anniversary I decided to look further into the roles my grandfathers, and great Uncles played in the war. The information I have to date is simply a starting point as I have not a yet applied for any of their service records from the MOD, thus much of the information is from oral family history, casualty records available online and papers held by family members.

My Paternal Family

My paternal Grandfather, Claude Richardson, was one of two children of Thomas and Sarah, his older brother being Wilfred (known as Wilf). Claude was born 1917 and Wilf in 1912 so at the start of WW2 they were 22 and 27 years of age respectively. Wilf was described in the 1939 Register as a Butcher and thus exempt from conscription and he married in 1940. Claude was unmarried and is not found in the 1939 Register. His occupation at the start of the war is unclear due to lack of records at this stage.

As yet have I have found little information on Claude’s WW2 service other than what my Dad and Aunts have been able to tell me. I should really request his service record from the Ministry of Defence. Those should provide me with details of his service number and regiment and I should then able able to carry out further research at the National Archives (TNA) when they reopen.

Whet we do know is that he was in a Driver in the Royal Engineers and based in the desert in the Middle East where his time in service came to an abrupt end (more about this below)! His service record and war dairies (available at TNA) for his regiment may help confirm exactly where he was.

One story my Aunt remembers being told by her father is that he was once driving somewhere in the desert and offered a chap a lift. After dropping the chap off, when Claude arrived at his destination he realised the chap had left a little box behind. When Claude opened it there was a set of electric hair clipper inside. He was unable to return them to the chap and brought them home where they were put to good use by my Grandmother, Claude’s wife, Annie, in her post war hairdressing business which she ran out of the Railway Tavern in Hensall, Yorkshire, where they lived.

Another story he told was that one day whilst he was taking a ride out into the desert (possibly on a motorbike) he came across some Nomads and ended up having tea with them! He thought they were of some notable standing because of the riches around them. He recalled this as “some experience!”.

I suspect he was a popular man in his regiment. Claude wasn’t a smoker but still got his ration of cigarettes to hand out to his friends!

Claude’s service in WW2 came to an abrupt sometime in late 1941 to early 1942. No one can recall the exact dates/year although again no doubt this would be evident from his service record when it is obtained! How? Well, one night he and another Royal Engineer, Claude Didcot, set off (not sure where they were going) having being told to be careful because there was a road roller parked on the road without any lights on. Well, they weren’t that careful because they crashed, ending up in hospital!

Claude (my grandfather) had two broken legs and I believe he was in hospital for about a year bother out in the field and then back home in England. He had both legs in plaster and my Aunt recalls him telling her that when the plaster came off it was ripped off taking all the hairs that had grown underneath with it! Claude was not amused and wouldn’t let them take the second plaster off, instead sitting there himself with a razor blade cutting at the hair for a good few hours!!!!

I can estimate the time when this accident took place as on his return home, he wrote a letter to a friend, Gordon, who at the time had been missing for 19 months – in fact he was a Japanese prisoner of war. I have a copy of the letter and whilst it is not dated he refers to his impending marriage to Annie (they married 2 August 1943). He also describes his accident

“…I had a very bad motor accident, Run into a Road Roller at night time, had seven fractures in all. So I was sent home, and now I have been given my discharge.”

It gets me quite emotional reading the letter. I never actually knew Claude as he unfortunately died 13 months before I was born, but I did know his friend, Gordon, who was also a friend of my maternal Grandfather.

It is believed that Claude returned home on the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary had her maiden voyage on 27 May 1936 as a passenger liner, however with the outbreak of the WW2 she was converted into a troopship and was used to ferry Allied soldiers during the conflict.

My great uncles on my paternal grandmothers’ side, George Robert Sayner (known as Bob), Samuel Sayner and Francis Sayner (known as Frank) (3 of 9 children!) were all described as builders in the 1939 Register and nothing appears to be known within the family of any them being involved in WW2 in the forces. Given their occupations, they may have been exempt from service.

Maternal Family

My Maternal Granddad, Horace Huddlestone, (we called min Grandpa) was the youngest of four children of Arthur and Annie, 3 boys and 1 girl! Horace was born in 1914, his two brothers Claude and William were born in 1903 and 1909 respectively.

Out of the three of boys, Grandpa was the only one to be conscripted and serve in WW2.

My Nannie and Grandpa were married on 27th February 1937 and their first daughter (my maternal aunt) was born just over 4 months later giving birth to my maternal aunt on 9th June 1937 that being just less than three months before the outbreak of World War 2. The 1939 Register which was essentially a population count ‘census’ carried out on 29th September 1939 to help with recruitment to the armed forces, shows grandpa as a Coal Merchant Haulage Contractor and nannie an ‘unpaid domestic duties’. Grandpa was age 25 at the start of the war and was subject to conscription under The National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939 which was enacted by Parliament on 3 September 1939, the day the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of the Second World War. 

There were exemptions to conscription and a man could apply to defer being called up, which is exactly what grandpa did on the grounds of his self-employment as a coal merchant. In a letter to grandpa from the Ministry of Transport dated 9th November 1940 (after the start of the Battle of Britain which began on 10 July 1940), which states 

“the Minister has recommended that enlistment should be deferred in your case in order to afford you an opportunity of finding a substitute or otherwise of meeting the position which would result from immediate calling up”

His official notice from the Minister of Labour and National Service dated 18th September 1941 states that he would not be called-up before 15th March 1942. It was probably hoped that the war would have ended by this time! However it was shortly after this, on 7 December 1941 that Japan invaded Pearl Harbour with Britain and America declaring was on Japan the following day.

In the meantime he took his turn at incendiary duty during local air raids. There is one story that on one of his duties on Eggborough Hill with another local man, he had taken his rifle with him to shoot some rabbits. The local policeman turned up, who although he knew grandpa well, insisted on seeing his gun licence which of course grandpa did not have on him. The policeman escorted grandpa home, in the middle of his incendiary duty, to see his licence. When they got home, I’m not quite sure what happened but the story goes that grandpa offered the policeman a drink (alcohol of course!) and started chatting, but the time they had finished the policeman had forgotten all about the gun licence and never did see it…I’m sure grandpa had one though!

Grandpa was called-up on 16th July 1942 into the Royal Engineers as a ‘Sapper’. He completed his military training on 15th September 1942 and Military Transport Training on 12th November 1942. Grandpa was due to be posted to Japan but as he was boarding the ship to leave England he collapsed with nerves and was admitted to hospital in Glasgow for a number of months before he was well enough to continue his service. As a result he was then posted to Gairloch in Northern Scotland serving in the 910 Stevedore Company where he worked as a driver loading and unloading ships in secret locations. He was extremely lucky as he had friends and acquaintances that were posted to Japan and ended up in Japanese prisoner of war camps, which would no doubt have been my grandpa’s fate had he boarded that ship. I doubt he would then have been the same man I knew and loved. Victory in Japan took place on 2 August 1945 after the invention of the atomic bomb earlier that year which was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.

He had many stories of his time in Scotland which he would tell with fond memories. I know of one sapper he became good friends with, George (I don’t know his surname unfortunately so I cannot trace his family) who was from Sheffield and with whom grandpa kept in contact with for some time after the war. We found one letter from George amongst grandpa’s papers.

I’m sure they would get up to all sorts of tricks although I know grandpa was ‘as straight as a die’; the soldiers and sailors he would meet off the ships in port would bring all kinds of goods (contraband!) to shore and ask grandpa to send on to their families, items such as fur coats, chocolates, nylon stockings etc. Usually items which were in short supply in the war. My aunt remembers being sent some fancy chocolates and nannie receiving stockings but she knows there could have been much more. No one would have ever known or been able to say anything had he kept goods and sent them home, on the other hand I am proud that he was an honourable man and made sure anything he was asked to send was sent to who it was meant for.

Grandpa remained in Scotland until the end of the war being transferred to the Army Reserve on 26th January 1946. During his service, grandpa’s Service Record Book shows he had a number of periods of leave but most notably he was granted 9 days compassionate leave at the end of July 1944; the beginning of November 1944 and the end of January 1945. These periods were likely due to his mother being poorly and died at the end of January 1945, being buried on 30th January 1945. 

My great Uncles on Nannie’s side were Fred Oldfield, William Oldfield, Tom Oldfield and Earnest Oldfield (4 of 10 children)! Earnest was the youngest of the nine children having been born in 1935 thus he was only 4 at the start of WW2. Fred and William were the two eldest having been born in 1911 and 1913 respectively. My grandmother, Mary, was next (born in 1915) then Tom was the fourth eldest being born in 1918. So, Fred, William and Tom were 28, 26 and 21 respectively at the start of WW2.

Both Fred and William are found in the 1939 Register: Fred was married and described as a Farm Horseman Heavy (he was a heavy labourer) and William was living with his parents and described as a Maltster Labourer. Fred and William did not serve in WW2 as their occupations (farmer and butcher respectively) exempted them.

Tom, however is not found in the 1939 Register and my mum knows that he did serve in WW2. Little is known about his service without obtaining his service records and researching the war dairies at TNA for his regiment. However, we do know he was in the Royal Army Service Corp and was evacuated from Dunkirk following the Battle of Dunkirk which took place from 26 May to 4 June 1940.

The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps of the British Army responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air despatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery (but not ammunition, military and technical equipment, which were the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps); administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.

My Great Uncle Tom is on the third (full) row, ninth man from the left

Tom never spoke of his experience in Dunkirk but my mum is aware that he was significantly affected by this experience. However, he continued in service and was later posted to the far east. Nothing further is known. Again, it is hoped his service record may shed some light on this, at least provide his service number and regiment details to be able to research the appropriate war diaries with the TNA reopens.

I must say I am a little surprised that out of eleven of my male ancestors who would have been eligible to serve in WW2, it appears only three actually did and only one of those served on the front line but all survived, never, as like most who served and witnessed the atrocities, to really speak about their experiences.

My Husbands’ ancestors

On my Husband’s side of our family, not much is known about their efforts in WW2 although many of the ancestors would have been too old to serve in WW2 being older than my grandparents.

His paternal grandfather, Harold, who was the oldest of ten children (including eight boys) was a printer and aged 46 at the start of WW2. Conscription only applied to males aged between 18 and 41 years. He in fact died after been hit by a car in the blackout on 23 December 1940 living in Poole, Dorset.

Although I have not conducted details research into the 7 brothers, they all appear in the 1939 register and all work in the transport industry in one way or another, and whilst there would of five out the either brothers were of conscription age we have found no evidence any of them served in the forces in WW2 and it is likely they were all employed in exempt occupations.

His maternal Grandfather, Bertie Laming, was the younger brother of two children and sadly his older brother died shortly before the start of WW2 at the age of 37. Bertie was aged 29 at the start of WW2 and in the 1939 register is described as a Clerk. It is said that during WW2 he was a mechanic on Lancaster bombers (land based), a far cry from being a clerk!

We have found him on the Forces War Records website which tells us his service number and that he enlisted at either Uxbridge, Gloucester or Penarth. In Bertie’s case it is likely he enlisted at Uxbridge as he was living Willesden, Middlesex, according to the 1939 register.

The record also tells us that he joined after May 1940 servicing in the Royal Air Force. This is certainly likely to be the case. Bertie married Helen Duell in 1939 and gave birth to their only child, my mother-in-law July 1940.

The Forces War Records website also states “militia”. The militia were essentially the special reserve, suggesting Bertie had previously received some military training. I think to find anything more out about him, we will need to apply for his service record! This is definitely a bit of a mystery!

Bertie survived to the grand old age of 82 dying in November 1992 in Weybridge, Surrey.

Our Family lock down blog week 6

Well, we’re now into week 6 – gosh its actually gone quick really, its doesn’t seem like 6 weeks looking back!

We definitely started with renewed energy this week! Monday was a busy day. It started with James missing BBC bitesize for the 5 – 7 year olds because I went out early to get a bit of food shopping but he did see the 7 – 9 year old 20 minute lesson which was really interesting as it was about Henry VIII and his 6 wives – who knows the acronym D B D D B S? – I’ll leave it to you to work out!

It led to a bit of a family history lesson with me explaining that in many ways we had a lot to thank Henry VIII for as without his creation of the Church of England, we may not have many of the records we now use in family history research, in particular parish registers and records! That is where my lesson ended (well he is only 5!) but of course Henry VIII also has a lot to answer for – persecution of Catholics etc but who knows how history would have unfolded had it not been for his stubbornness to divorce Catherine of Aragon? An interesting thought!

Anyway, here’s a few pics and videos of our week….

Games courtesy of Lets Go Live @maddiemoate

So it has possibly been the best week so far despite the rain! I think the fact we’ve had all the mini maker stuff to do has helped! Treasure hunts for numbers and letters round the house have gone down well 👍 We even found a brilliant website were you can watch various animals live in aquariums, nature reserves etc! We were watching Tigers on Tuesday afternoon!

I’m also starting to think ahead to next week and the 75th VE day celebrations, I don’t know what the school have got planned but I really hope they have a VE Day themed homeschooling pack for us …. if not well, I have found loads of brilliant resources online and I intend to have a week of VE Day themes for the kids – colouring, creating bunting, baking some 1940’s recipes, songs etc. I’m quite excited about it!

I also want to spend some time preparing details of what my husband and my grandparents did in WW2 …watch this space for related blogs!

Our family lock down blog week 5

I can’t believe we’re into week 5 of lock down, and three more weeks until there may be able change. I’m really hoping the kids will go back to school for the last half term (at the beginning of June). I think they will after all they have (or at least primary schools have) in a number of Europe countries (or are planning to in the next couple of weeks). It would be so nice for the kids to see their friends and end their school year properly before the summer holidays, which the government have already said will not change.

For now it’s back to homeschooling for 6 weeks until half term. BBC Bitesize started today with small chunks of curriculum based education aimed at specific age groups. James loved starting the day with that this morning, even Rose watched it! Another bonus this week – we get two slices of Maddie Moat – Lets Go Live in the morning and the new series of her “Do You Know” series on cbeebies. She really is brilliant, even I learn so much! 😁

Also will do our best to follow the timetable set by the teachers this week in the hope that it gives us a bit more structure….maybe not to the day but at least to the learning!

It was also time on Monday to make the now unavoidable trip to the supermarket to do some food shopping – we have managed two weeks but the cupboards were getting rather bare😂 Lunchtime is definitely the best to go – no queue and plenty of stock – there was nothing I didn’t manage to get albeit that on some items I had to buy a more expensive version but at least we should be ok now for another two(ish) weeks! It’s amazing how much more food we go through when we’re all home 24/7!

We did have a great time making paper mache and covering an empty plastic bottle – recycling 👍 Can you guess what we’re going to make…..all will be revealed later in the week when it’s dry and possibly coloured……….

The homeschooling theme for this week is the wonderful story “We’re going on a bear hunt” – so we recreated it….

This was great fun, they went round about 4 times! I did film them three times but this was the best. It was hilarious! They also did maps and a James did a story board….

Well, it’s Wednesday already – half way through the week – and homeschooling continues with sharing and halving

With yet more cake and bun baking too! At least the weather is warming up again albeit windy! We seem to be getting into a routine this week of homschooling in the morning with play/creative time in the afternoon (largely anyway!).

I did enjoy a run this morning on my own and I bet my personal best for my little 5k circuit – 22 mins! (previously 25 to 30 mins) Definitely getting fitter (I think!🤣) although really felt the hayfever this morning though in my breathing….whilst I like the warmer sunny weather I hate the pollen that comes with it!

I also managed to get my first watercolour painting done today in my little book I got at xmas – out in the garden whilst watching the kids play 😉 I am impressed with myself as never really been that good at painting!

So it’s now Sunday and the end of week five of lockdown and week 1 of the summer homeschooling term! What a week it has been. James seemed to lose interest in schooling after Wednesday even though we’ve only really been doing school work in the morning!

Not really sure what we have done in the second half of the week! Thursday morning Rose had a screaming melt down when we were moving the trampoline – I stood her on the mat we have on the ground round the ladder to the trampoline and she started scream because of ants – there were none about but she really lost the plot! 😱😵 She is turning into a bit of a diva at the moment! Maybe she’s missing the one to one attention she had got used to on the days she was at home with me and James was at school….. its hard to give each of them that one to one attention at the moment – both here all the time with just me most of the time to do things with them even though Graeme is working at home. I find I’m getting so tired by the latter half of the week. Why can’t they just do things on their own without needed one of us to interact with them all the time. I’m sure when I was a child, my brother and I didn’t have mum and dad playing with us all the time???

School are setting work in a different way this next week, rather than been in year groups it will be by key stage so we will see what that brings and whether it helps James maintain more interest in school work for longer. Waiting for the information to go on the website – why they wait until what feels like mid morning on a Monday to put it up and not on a Friday so we can get organised is beyond me and frustrating but hay ho! Lets just hope they;re back at school part time in some way after spring bank half term!

Week 4 Our Family lock down blog

Easter Sunday was hard for me – I was extremely tried having spent Saturday night in the tent with Rose – she slept brilliantly. Me – didn’t sleep a wink! 🥱😴😥 BUT, here we are at the start of the 4th week of Covid-19 lock down. It’s Monday 13th April 2020 – Easter Monday – and my last day to get some research done before Graeme is back at work (from home) tomorrow and I’m back in charge of the kids 🤣😂

It started well, getting back into running after a week off because my knees were suffering from too much playing on the trampoline with the kids! and having my own brick wall break through which felt like a minor eureka moment – those family researchers will understand I’m sure! A great start to the week. Now I need to go through the rest of my 300+ DNA matches and family tree and check where there may be errors in my early research or new leads to trace family further back. I think I’ve already found on error which I need to follow up!

I also started to get organised with paperwork, printing off and cataloguing numerous lecture/workshop/webinar notes from various events last year – many from Rootstech London which, despite having a ticket, a missed because the kids were both poorly and just wanted mummy! Still haven’t read most of them but at least now there is more of a chance with them printed off – I hate reading stuff on the computer screen!

Also getting a bit more organised ready for revision for my IHGS exam which is supposed to take place on the 13th June – still no definite decision if/when it will go ahead or be postponed until later in the year/November. I was really psyched up for it before all these new restrictions on our lives, with a revision timetable set out for when the kids should have been returning back to school/preschool next week (after the Easter hols) and in some ways I still hope it goes ahead sooner rather than later but on the other hand, I really can’t see when I’m going to get any meaningful revision in at the moment until the schools are allowed to go back so also hoping it is postponed!

As for the kids, well they’ve not been too back this week. James joined me for my run on Wednesday morning – he was on his bike not running with me! 🤣 It did slow me up a bit and I’m not sure it will happen every time but it was good for him I think.

With the weather not been quite as sunny and warm this week we’ve been inside a bit more. James has got back into doing a bit of school work and has really enjoyed the dino week with Lets Go Live with Maddy and Greg making his own fossil rocks and mummy and baby dinosaur

I have also had them back in the kitchen baking…..oh the diet we will all be on when life starts to get back to normal 🤣🤣🤣

We’ve also been making a different use for jenga blocks and started a new lego tower challenge

On Friday morning, James decided he wanted to try and run with me rather than cycle along with me….he managed half a km! 🤣 and decided he’d come on his bike with me in the future…but at least that’s his physical education sorted! 🚲

The weekend gave me a chance to catch up and complete my revision notes, spurred on by a virtual AGRA South Central networking meeting on Friday. After a few technical glitches! it was lovely to see everyone and catch up. Looking forward to more in the future until we can all meet again in person. I feel rather ‘out of’ the genealogy world at the moment, with little time and space to crack on with revision leaving me feeling rather deflated about the whole thing! Hopefully some virtual revision sessions can be organised with my revision group and spur me on again!

I did get time for a further look at my DNA ancestors over the weekend and checked out some of the virtual family tree live lectures – so sad that such a great event had to be cancelled in the fantastic building that is Alexander Palace. There will always (hopefully) be next year.

I am getting there (I think) with understanding the DNA ancestry although, to be honest, I’m really not that interested in it other than to break down any brick walls. It is great for checking your traditional research is correct, but again going back in time, the connections are only as good as the paper trail research. It is always tempting to accept research of others where there are a large number of trees with the same information but there is always the risk that many of those trees have just copied from each other and not actually done the paper research themselves….if there are no sources, do not accept it …is my motto! Do the research yourself, otherwise what fun is there in it?

I also got to practice some calligraphy – I won’t say ‘skill’s yet as they are definitely in training! Although I discovered that to practice properly I do need some proper calligraphy paper that does not cause the ink to bleed… shopping! 🤣

I also finished my first Nathan Dylan Goodwin novel “The Missing Man” which I was bought for my birthday. A great read thoroughly enjoyed! Can’t wait to get started on my next – “The Stirling Affair” also bought for my birthday 😁 I guess I know what sill be on my xmas list!

Monday is the start of the summer school term, so it’s back to homeschooling…..lets see how this goes!

My brick wall breakthrough

My maternal grandmothers paternal family have always been a mystery in our family. My great grandfather was Fred Sheard Oldfield. His mother, May Ann Turner was married to Tom Oldfield but he was not named on the Fred’s birth or marriage certificate.

We also could not figure out where the name ‘Sheard’ came from. However, after my recent studies and further insight into how names came about (and in many ways probably still do) and my research into his mother, Mary Ann, found her living as a ‘House keeper’ for Fred Sheard in the 1901 census, the conclusion drawn was that Fred Sheard was most likely Fred Sheard Oldfield’s father.

It was also discovered that Fred Sheard was lodging with Mary Ann’s brother in the 1891 census. Fred Sheard was said to be born in about 1863 in or around Huddersfield, according to the census returns.

But how to find his parents? There were just too many possibilities to be sure of the right family based on traditional records research alone. So, unfortunately my Nanna died is 2012 so the closest relative I could obtain a DNA specimen from was her youngest sister, my great aunt Janie, who my mum is very close to. She was very willing and the test was carried out in Summer 2019. It has however taken me until now to get round to studying those results and searching for a DNA connection to try and resolve this brick wall.

This morning, East Monday during the Corona virus lock down 2020, I decided to tackle it and what a eureka moment! Within minutes I had found DNA matches with a number of cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd including some of them being 1x or 2x removed) to my great aunt…and these were on her paternal side with the common ancestor being my great x4 grandfather through the mother of Fred Sheard 😁😍🧬

This has enabled me to locate his mother and father using traditional research methods – Ann Goldthorpe and Joseph Sheard who married in 1843. Fred was their youngest child of five. Unfortunately as yet there does not appear to be any DNA matches through the paternal side, Joseph, but traditional records research names his father as David. There are a number of possible alternatives for which couple are his parents – David and Mary or David and Hannah. I think it is David and Mary but there is insufficient information, being prior to useful census records and the introduction of civil registration, to confirm this. They all live in a similar area!

So, another small brick wall is built on this paternal side, although I am sure as more DNA results are available this will be broken down – or further traditional research at the archives when I can travel to Yorkshire on the other side of these Corona virus times!

What I doubt I’ll ever find, is a photograph of Fred Sheard 😢

In the meantime it is on to checking the rest of my DNA matches 😊

Our family history 2020 skools out for Coronavirus Blog Week 3 – a toughy!

6th to 12th April

The Countdown to Easter

Well, this has been a tough week, particularly the first half. I was tired, tetchy and tearful but some good did come out of it – a heart to heart with my son, James, who so far has generally been really good and strong but he finally had some tears with me on Tuesday lunchtime opening up to missing his friends, school and his teachers. It is so tough for all of us but for those in reception class, just starting out in their school life and finding their way in making friends, it must be hard to have that all suddenly taken away from them. It is going to be a sad end to their first year at school unlikely to return before the summer break and therefore missing out on some important summer events such as school sports day etc.

I did really help him though when later that afternoon, one of his friends who lives just near us was going for their daily exercise with her family and we were able to stop them and have a chat (across the road of course). It was lovely for James to see her.

One thing that wasn’t helping my mood and ability to cope was hubby working from home in our conservatory which is open plan to our kitchen and a thorough fare to the garden. Also many of the children’s toys etc are in there. And whilst it may not have bothered him, it bothered me! The constant not knowing if he was a video call and trying not to make too much noise was beginning to strain on me…..So I banished him and his home office to our sons bedroom where there is a desk which my son never really uses yet and he con continue working in peace with us know that when he’s out of the room he’s having a break and we can make as much noise as we want downstairs. This really has helped the second half of the week.

God it’s so tiring though constantly trying to think of things to entertain them both and maintain that entertainment. our three year old daughter, as with most three year olds, has the concentration span of a gnat 🤣🤣🤣🤣. On Thursday I set out an obstacle course for them in the garden …they loved it but it only held their attention for about 20 mins (wow that long some may say!) and rather than me being able to relax and watch them, I think I found it more exhausting than them following them around resetting all the obstacles…….hmmm

I also discovered how to make paint. Paint is generally banished from our house because of all the mess they make – they do have a small set of watercolour each. we had bought a long roll of paper for them to use in the summer outside for messy painting but I hadn’t got around to buying any paint yet… why not make your own – all you need is sugar, salt, cornflour, water and food colouring. It went a bit lump but they didn’t mind, made a lovely mess with foot prints and did keep them entertained for quite a while!

It’s Easter Saturday as I’m writing this and it feels like a Sunday, in fact yesterday even felt like a Sunday…everyday feels like a perpetual Sunday at the moment! It’s been a long week! I’ve actually ventured out to the supermarket this week – twice! And yes they were both for essentials – the second to try and get stuff I couldn’t get the first time and plan for the next week! I’m still getting used to how much more food we are going through with everyone been at home 24/7! Still not flour though 😪 And now were are out of plain flour and bread flour.

I can cope without both for now but the kids really enjoyed making their own pizza base for tea on Thursday and their own bread rolls for their bbq burgers yesterday! They also really enjoyed making chocolate crispy buns 😋😋😋

In many ways it is great to have such lovely weather at the moment, the kids can play outside. As it was Good Friday they couldn’t wait to get started on the Easter egg hunts round the garden and start tucking into their Easter eggs – well in these strange times why not start early its Easter weekend, why wait until Sunday! They have 2 eggs each so the rule is they can have half an egg a day over the 4 day weekend (not to be eaten all at once though) and before they get any they have to complete the egg hunt and James has to spell out the word(s)/phrase they make up! Make them work for their eggs!!!!

I spent Good Friday sat outside in the garden with the computer yesterday doing some work … daddy is not working which means I can catch up on things I want to do!…. which was great because it meant I could still watch what the kids were doing to with daddy – mainly putting the tent up so James and Daddy could sleep in it last night! We weren’t sure how that would go as last time they tried it neither got much sleep (it was two years ago though so James was only 3 years old). Thankfully both got a good night sleep – better than me in fact I was too hot and just could not get to sleep after being woken up early in my slumber because Rose had fallen out of bed!!!!!

What was lovely, was the sound of an Owl hooting on our tree in the middle of the night 😃🦉

It was also lovely to skype my parents again and see that they are keeping well and not going out – well they are of course enjoying their own garden and getting cracking on jobs which may otherwise have been left until later in the year – or not got done🤣 They should have been spending Easter down here in Surrey with us but that is of course just not to be. I really hope we can get to see them over the summer and it is not Christmas before we see them which would be a whole year….living 200 miles away from us in Yorkshire it may still be difficult to see them once the lockdown measures start easing😪

And oh I am so fed up of the journalists and others asking the government when they are likely to be eased……just look at Italy and Spain who have been in lockdown almost twice as long as us and only just starting to think about it…and then Wohan where is all began – three months in and they are just easing back into a ‘normal’ life yet other regions of China are only just seeing the worst of the virus….come on guys stop asking the same old questions when you know the answers! I am sure the government are discussing and planning for easing the lockdown but are not going to say anything about them for fear some of the public might think its OK to flout the rules…even more so than some have still been doing! I’m sure the politicians are growing tired of the same old questions!

And whilst on the note of politicians, great to hear our PM is on the mend and able to walk a short distance….home before you know it but please ease yourself slowly back into the job of PM! 😘

The down side to this nice weather – HAYFEVER – with a vengeance!!!!! James is particularly suffering all of a sudden but hopefully the medicine will help slowly. I always find it takes a while for the antihistamines to really help control hayfever symptoms 😌

So I said I was outside in the garden working on my computer yesterday – one of my many tasks to work on my own family tree – going through all those new Ancestry hints, updating checking and amending information and records – I found a couple of errors but nothing major thankfully. I covered up to and including my great x3 grandparents – concentrating on my direct line for now! Its a long job – and that’s just the records on Ancestry – I also use Family Search and Find My Past websites! And then there’s the DNA results to go through – 300+ possible distant cousins! 😮🤣 But first of all to finish the remainder of my great grandparents (x4, x5 etc)! So let me get cracking……..

Happy Easter Everyone – a very different one not to be forgotten!

Our family history 2020 skools out for Coronavirus Blog Week 2

30th March

Well, here we go week 2 of schooling at home and the last week before the Easter Holiday begins….but I think the school work will continue throughout otherwise I’m not sure we’ll get back into it…and Dad is still working from home throughout so may as well. Every day at the moment feels like the school holidays really 😏

It was little frustrating this morning because James was keen to get going but the second school pack did not become available until about 930 …. ok that doesn’t sound late but when they’ve been up since 6 and raring to go ….its late!!!!

The other frustrating thing today was the weather….turned rather chilly and overcast with rain in the afternoon. Kids didn’t want to go outside so much today so entertaining them inside provide a little more difficult today. I did manage to get them our for a walk/bike ride in the afternoon before the rain came 👍 Typical Rose though, set off on her balance bike and about 200 metres later she wanted to walk!!!!! 😣

Me, well I managed to get enrolled on two transcription programs – one for the National Archives (Royal Navy 1st WW seaman service records) and one promoted by Who Do You Think You Are? magazine with Ancestry (transcribing various criminal records). Looking forward to getting started. I also enrolled on a free course about creating a social media marketing campaign with FutureLearn and the Pharos course “Deeds and Disputes” with Susan Moore to learn more about Chancery Court records and land disputes and the courts, the courts being of particular interest to me and an area I specialise in in respect of family history….starts 11 May so something to look forward to 😃

The good news of the day was our Sainsbury’s food delivery following an email invitation I received from them on Friday to do an online delivery shop ….I’ve never been so excited about a shopping delivery …and we got toilet rolls and soap this time 👍🤣🤣🤣

The bad news….Graeme is on reduced hours and salary of work – 4 days a week (flexible spread over the week given he’s working at home!) and 80% salary – so may have to tighten our belts a bit, but the good news about this social isolation and distancing is that we’re not spending any money taking the kids out etc so we may save money anyway !!!!!🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Day 12 31st March

My daily exercise was in the form of an 8k run down the Down’s Link bridle path – really glad we live so close to it, great run. I guess there was one event worth reporting…..I decided to cut my own fringe – not quite sure what my hairdresser would think but I think it’s not a bad job

…. not confident enough to tackle my sons yet though – think his dads clipper may come in use there! Thankfully Rose’s hair can just keep growing for now!🤣👍

Some school work was done…. and Rose practised her cutting skills

1st to 5th April

Well, I’ve decided to do weekly blogs from here on in…. Our days just aren’t exciting enough to do daily ones but of course if something exciting happens it will be a highlight! 😝

I must comment in the lack of April fools jokes about coronavirus… Whilst they would be in very poor taste I was expecting to see some on social media but I didn’t 😃

It makes me sick to think of those disrespectful ignorants who have been spitting and coughing and peoples faces and they deserve the maximum penalty of 6 months in prison!

Also pleased the police have been handing out fines to those flouting rules as long as they are not too heavy handed with them.. Its not a money making exercise! Although to go out just to buy Easter eggs for the kids is not and essential shop! By all means buy them with the rest of your shopping but don’t risk disease just for Easter eggs! Your kids will not thank you for infecting them and the rest of the family!

What else has happened this week?

For the second Thursday running at 8 pm the country united in ‘Claps of Keyworkers’. Great to see so many of our neighbours out and lots of banging and clanging on pots and pans and cheers. I’m not sure if this is going to be a weekly event….and I’m not sure it should be…after a while does something like this not lose its sense of support and just become a ‘tradition’… and we know how lots of traditions end up losing their meaning???? Also, will people get ‘fed up’ of doing it and no longer turn out? Don’t get me wrong, it is a great show of support for our NHS, carers, teachers, supermarket/food store workers, chemists, delivery drivers, factory workers and all who are having to go out to work to keep the country going but when you then start seeing people trying to start campaigns for ‘claps for our children’ because of the way they are getting on the adjustments to their lives I just think it starts getting a bit silly?!

Again, don’t get me wrong it shows just how resilient our wonderful children are but having specialised in domestic abuse as a family law solicitor, I now all too well that for many children this is not a time to be clapping them because they will will be suffering. Yes schools are there for the most vulnerable, but what about the many children who fall below that radar but are vulnerable? And that is taking me away from the point and not a discussion I will get involved in now.

Needless to say I think the clapping, if it continues every week, although I will join in, will lose its effect and so important meaning.

Sunday evening and two news highlights – the Queen making a speech to the country, only the sixth time in her 68 reign that she has done so on any other day but Christmas Day. I have read many comments online both good and bad about her speech….essentially she is like marmite – you either love her or hate her – that is to say you are either a royalist or not! Oh how that harks back to the commonwealth gap years!!!! Anyway, one statement stood out for me, as I think it did for many others, and along with the reference to her childhood address to other children, it was a reference to war – this time it is a world war against a virus rather than other nations of the world….. WE’LL MEET AGAIN… a catchphrase and song synonymous with World War Two and now perhaps coronavirus.

And not longer after her speech…..another news update – our PM Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital for ‘routine’ tests following his continued battle with coronavirus. No he hasn’t taken a turn for the worse but is not recovering as expected, still having symptoms 10 days after testing positive. This is our PM, who I think has, thus far, done a sterling job leading the country through such difficult times. He has listened to his advisers, taken the steps necessary when necessary and has not tries to down play the seriousness of the situation or failed to follow his own advice to the rest of us….unlike Mr Trump, Mrs Calderwood…….I know from reading many comments online that even those who did not vote for him have supported him and praised him for his leadership in these hard times. I think he has proved himself as our PM and not the buffoon many people thought he was. God speed to your recovery Mr Johnson and hope to see you in press conferences again soon x

We’ll Meet Again 🌈❤

We’ll meet again

Don’t know where

Don’t know when

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Keep smiling through

Just like you always do

‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

Photo by Marta Branco on

Our family history 2020 skools out for Coronavirus Blog Week 1

20th March 2020

Here goes, my first blog to record my thoughts, feelings, life events and provide my children and their future generations with a first hand account of these life changing events. WARNING these blogs may include controversial comments, thoughts, feelings etc – I’m not going to apologise this is my personal blog so please do not take anything I say personally, but you’re welcome to comment if you wish – I won’t take it personally! 😉

What a year 2020 is turning out to be! Lots of ‘I never thought I’d………….’ see the supermarket shelves empty, be standing in a queue outside at the chemist to collect a prescription (two in at time policy), see the churches close even on a Sunday, see a world at war against a virus!

People are quite rightly anxious and scared and maybe it will help us a little better appreciate how our ancestors felt and what they went through with those even worse announcements and events of the past – WW1 and WW2. Whilst not underestimating the impact of this nasty virus and completely agree with the steps our government is taking, I do want to put some perspective on all this – we are hearing growing numbers of cases every day and yes those numbers are large but in terms of percentage of population – whether you look at it nationally or globally – the number of those affected are less than 0.05%:

UK Population – Government statistics Mid 2018 66.4 million (estimated 2020 67.8 million World population Review)

With the measures put in place, if everyone adheres to them, the UK hope to control Coronavirus to an estimated 20,000 people infected

Percentage of the population… do the maths! ……… 0.029% for those who can’t!

Without the interventions they estimates 250,000 would be affected …. 0.36% of the population.

Don’t get me wrong, it is certainly no the case that I am not concerned, although I not necessarily concerned about my immediate family (children, husband and myself) I am concerned about my parents (being in the high risk groups of over 70’s although they do not have any of the health risks). They live 200 miles away from me, I haven’t seen them since Christmas and now our plans for them to visit us over the Easter are gone! They recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and we were going to have a family celebration. Now I don’t know when I will see them again! I am just thankful that my brother only lives 40 miles away from them! And thankfully they are a bit tech-savvy and we can skype.

My father-in-law who will be 89 this year had a stroke at Christmas but is now thankfully home. They live in the same village as us so that’s not such a worry.

As for my children, well the schools will be out this afternoon until who knows when (I suspect September). Here is one of those ‘I never thought I’d….’ moments – home schooling my children! At least mine are only 3 and 5 and not at a critical stage of their education. My task of teaching them the basic building blocks at a young age is not as daunting as for many. My heart goes out to all those due to sit their sats, GCSE’s (including my nephew) and A level exams. Whilst this is an important stage in your life, just remember health and happiness are so much more important and once you’re at university or in work those grades get long forgotten. You will get thorough this and you will prosper. It may feel like all that hard work was for nothing now, but it will still all stand you in good stead for life’s future adventures.

As for me personally……..

21st March

Well, I have to say I don’t think I’m going to have difficulty homeschooling for the first few weeks, James started pestering to do the work they have been sent home with as soon as he got home yesterday! And I have given up counting the number of times he has asked this morning……its the weekend!!!! But to pacify him and prepare home for Monday he has helped me set a timetable …lets see how well we stick to it!

Family History will of course be covered…and I think the games and crafts will include some ‘helping mummy spring clean the house’ and a bit of gardening! ha ha

We’ve been to our local shops to spend the kids book tokens before they close. Made me quite cross! We were doing our best to comply with the social distancing advice but looking round many people are clearly still ignoring advice. Walking past the local butchers shop the queue was just the same as usual, no one was standing the recommended 2 metres apart which would be quite feasible! And there were groups of friends (young and older adults!) just stood as normal having a chat. What is wrong with people not listening to the advice! We all know the advice – no one surely is going to be offended if you stand away from them!?! Thankfully in the post office (I wanted to post a parcel) the queue was short and we were able to maintain the distance, we just moved if someone got too close! ha ha

Seriously people, this next week we will face shop closures, queuing to take you turn to be allowed into the supermarkets and the possibility of martial law if the advice is not taken – we have already seen the start of this with the closure of pubs, clubs, leisure centres etc. We will be faced with Italian lock down.

I was please to hear from the CEO of Sainsburys this morning that they are going to increase their opening times specifically for the over 70’s, vulnerable and to include those in the keyworker sectors in particular those NHS workers who have struggled to get food after they have finished a long shift saving lives and caring for those afflicted by this horrid virus! They need to be kept nourished to continue their amazing work. Conversely they will reduced they normal weekly opening hours to help with the stocking up of shelves and protect their staff. I think this is certainly a move in the right direction!

We may face many of these restrictions on our lives for up to a year, varying to a lessor and greater extent, to control ‘spikes’ in the virus and manage and sustain the NHS. Lets just all work together so that the worse restrictions stay in place for the shortest time as possible.

For us, save for food if I can’t shop online, this was our last trip to the shops. Thankfully we have a large garden for the kids and some lovely walks on our doorstep to get out into the fresh air and get some exercise. But we will be keeping our distance from everyone else, I might even get a stick 2 metres long to take out with us! ha ha

We’re off into the garden this afternoon to have some fun and spring clean the kids outdoor toys …. this may get rather messy! ha ha

Firefighting practice!
Washing their outdoor toys

Looking forward to some warmer weather 🙂

Happy Mother’s day

22nd March

Or should I say Mothering Sunday.

Maybe not my best photo but it was 7am!!!!

What a lovely sunny morning in Surrey perfect for a morning run. Maybe people are starting to take note of the social distancing, the few people I passed all made an effort (as did I) to keep the prescribed (and more where possible) away from each other.

Had a lovely relaxed morning then, coffee followed by a long Skype call with my mum and dad and Sunday roast cooked by my lovely husband. Just a normal mothering Sunday here! Went for a little walk this afternoon to exercise the kids and say happy mothers day to my mother in law – from their drive! Please be assured we did not be go in or get close to them (father in law was asleep!) We are keeping them safe!

So, the home schooling (well, doing the work set by the teachers!) starts tomorrow morning and my son still seems as keen as ever to get on with it. Got to love him, he really does enjoy school and learning, how lucky are we. Two weeks and then we will still have an Easter break from learning…..if he’ll let me he he

I’m so impressed with his reading and writing, he’ll be helping me write our family history and as part of his schooling I may even get him to write in this blog 😉

Here’s to a relaxing rest of Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday as it should correctly be known from the its origins of when people would visit their “mother” church on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, three Sundays’ before Easter. It gradually became a day when domestic servants were given the day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that entire families could gather together, often been prevented from doing so on other days due to conflicting working hours

It is not hard to see how, as the dominance of religion and the church declined in recent centuries, and in particular the latter half of the 20th Century, this religious tradition evolved into the mothers day we know today.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stay safe, keep you mothers (and fathers) safe and have a lovely day.

I can’t go without saying I’m glad to hear the news today that Sainsburys are allocating priority online slots for deliveries to the most vulnerable groups. Conversely it is very saddening to hear the National Trust have taken the decision to close their parks essentially due to people taking advantage of their kind offer to open their parks for free to all without taking on board the advice for social distancing! I hope those who spoiled this generous offer from the National Trust are suitably disgraced with themselves! The beeches and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty will be the next to close if people continue to behave in such an irresponsible way. As for complete lockdown….Whilst I would urge the government to now put the country into lockdown, at the rate it is going I don’t think it will be necessary as shops are taking the decisions themselves to close and it won’t belong for the loved ones of those who have failed take the advice of social distancing will start to show symptoms and people then may start to take all the advice seriously. Clearly seeing what is happening in other countries is not sufficient.

I now know of two families who have been directly affected by this illness – one losing a close family friend to the illness, one whose entire family (two adults and two children) has had the illness and have expressed how nasty it is – thankfully they are all recovering well.

23rd March

So here are a few photos of our first day of schooling at home! I’m not sure I will survive this! Very hard work trying to split myself in two to keep both children entertained at the same time, eldest needing help with his school work and youngest wanting me to do something else with her most of the time – I tried to get her to do easier versions of what James was doing, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

But at least the sun was shining and they kept going outside to play. The house was not wrecked but my brain is fried! Didn’t help that every one with kids was trying to access the online resources this morning meaning many just weren’t working!

The timetable essentially went out of the window in terms of timings but we did get in some phonics, crafts, numbers, writing and reading – so somehow we did cover all the essential learning elements! wow!

Just asked my son how he has enjoyed his first day of home schooling – GOOD! ha ha He might not say that tomorrow – when he asked what craft they could do tomorrow I told him the art and craft of spring cleaning his room!!! ha ha ha

ME – I need a drink! On the plus side, Sainsburys came with my delivery and only a few items missing – bet you can guess which ones – yes loo roll, soap, baked beans (one of the kids staple foods!), tinned tomatoes ….. and the very nice bottle of wine I ordered for my birthday treat on Friday! Lets hope I get out to find a replacement at some point!!!!! Oh and the picture frame finally arrived for me to put together my mum and dads golden wedding anniversary present (a family tree surrounded by photos from their wedding) which I will now need to send them as we won’t be seeing them any time soon 😦 I’ll post a photo when its complete 🙂

I am also very glad I got my IHGS course completed and that the exam is likely to be postponed – if today is anything to go by I won’t get much revision or other work done!

Hopefully it can only get easier as we all get more used to it. We have no choice, lockdown is coming and I’m guessing tomorrow seeing as the PM’s daily press conference was cancelled because they were having a cobra meeting……..and the shops are all making their own sensible decisions to close but continue online shopping, hmm online shopping was taking over before – now it really will take off and will our high streets ever recover? Or will we start to shops turned into living accommodation??? Potential huge long term changes to some areas of our lives. Food for thought!

25th March

Well i’m writing day 5 blog this morning (day 6) as I just did not get time yesterday! What a busy day, tiring but good. The kids were really well behaved (mostly!) and the day went without any shouting, telling off or arguments! What an achievement! 🤣

There is no wonder I was tired by the end of it…the day started with me enjoying a 5k run out in the gorgeous sunshine (my one daily exercise) followed by joining the kids doing the Joe Wicks morning kids PE session. Then, I must have spent an hour or more in total (sporadically throughout the day) bouncing with the kids on the trampoline….my poor knees!

As for schooling, well James managed some maths (basic addition👍), writing, reading and phonics. We skipped the craft today but came up with a longer term craft we can do over the coming days and weeks – the kids collected lots of sticks a few weeks ago and they are still in the garage in a bag so, we have asked all our family members to send selfies to us and we will create a twiglet family tree. Not quite sure when this will start but we shall see 🤣

We also managed a good clear out and tidy up of James’ room – he can now use his desk again so I can hide him away to do school work if Rose starts to pester him. I’m just wondering how long it will stay like that! Roses’ room is next on the list….

I must say I think we are very lucky that the weather has vastly improved for the schools closing, they are spending much of their day out in the garden which is great. I say make the most of it whilst the weather lasts 🤞 schooling and learning can be increased on those rainy says that will no doubt come at some point. Perhaps mother nature is looking down on us all and having sent this nasty virus to test us, she is giving us a little help to survive this lockdown period.

For me, I even managed to get some research done for a friend who has been waiting ages for me….it is a freebie and she knew it wouldn’t take priority but now I would like to get it done for her and then I can get on with some of my own family research. I have a few of my own family history projects to crack on with – getting to grips with a DNA test and analysing the results; and writing more of our family history biographies.

25 March

Another good day, pretty uneventful day today in the Pettyfer household, although I didn’t think it was going to be this morning waking up with what I thought was going to be a migraine but thankfully, some string pain killers and a lay down for an hour in a dark bedroom seemed to knock the worst of it on its head.

Another sunny day so the kids were happy spending most of the day outside in the garden👍😁 after an online ballet class this morning.

Our craft session today was baking – my birthday cake for Friday and some scones hmmmm with jam and cream. Tomorrow’s craft will be decorating my cake! That could be messy 🤣

All this home schooling/learning has got me thinking about how our ancestors were educated …. or not. Watch this space, I feel another blog coming on! ……

26 March

Another uneventful day in our household. The kids have again spent most of the day outside but James did do some school work after lunch. He’s doing really well with basic maths 👍😊

Not really much more to report today but I can’t believe some of the news reports today, in particular some young people’s lack of respect and consideration for the older generation if anyone has read about the case in Ipswich of an elderly couple being spat on and attacked you will hopefully know what I am talking about. I am really pleased to hear the police and prosecution services are taking such incidents and those again key workers seriously and the culprits will be facing a prison sentence, it is absolutely beyond belief that in these times people think such behaviour could in any way be tolerated, not that such behaviour should be tolerated in any circumstances, but I am sure the police are taking it far more seriously given the risk of Covid-19….it could actually be the death of someone and that’s murder!!!!

But I won’t rant on!

For a bit of light relief I’ll share this brilliant and hilarious family tree related video….

27 March

Happy birthday to me!

Yep it’s that day of the year again when I celebrate being born. Rather a surreal day today in the circumstances and I have decided to be like the Queen this year and have an official birthday later in the year when a proper celebration can be had with friends and family – a celebration of birthdays (I’m sure there’ll be other friends and family with birthdays in this surreal time before the restrictions lift) and survival 😜 The alternative is to not age this year and celebrate this birthday next year – well our ancestors got away with not knowing their correct date/year of birth why not me! 😂😂😂

However Corona virus did not spoil my birthday. The kids made me lovely cards – I even got a handmade once from my hubby ❤ lots of cuddles and time out of everything else to just spend with them – I even let James off his school work for the day (don’t tell his teachers 😂)

I had a lovely long skype chat with my parents and we had a lovely long walk as a family despite the fact Graeme should have been working! 😂😜❤

Just a chilled out day, playing, enjoying the fresh air, watching Frozen II (my choice 😉) and a nice glass or two of white wine.

So well received genealogy related birthday gifts…..

So all in all, a lovely day 💕🎂

Although I will always remember that it was the day the PM got corona virus and the nastiness of some people really did show through…..I wonder how many people will regret some of their comments on social media in the future and how many people will fill out prisons because of their selfishness and stupidy!

The weekend (28/29th March)

Well, apart from the fact we couldn’t go out anywhere the weekend has been quite normal for us really.

Jobs round the house… Done with the kids helping out 👍

A family bike ride, the first one with James riding his own bike rather than on the back of me…. He managed 2 miles, half off road… Not bad for 5 year old 👍

And I started my family history biography book… A nice big project to keep me going and good practice for future client report writing👍

Pretty quiet relaxing weekend shame about the weather turning colder and windy! Where did the wind come from this weekend?🌪️🌬️☁️And yes even the odd spot of rain ☔and snow!!! ❄️☹️ Let’s hope its better weather during the week.

Persecution and toleration of Catholics (recusants)

Year Legislation Associated record sources
1534 Act of Supremacy Refusing to take Henry VIII’s Oath of supremacy and supporting the Pope became an act of treason. Parish registers and Parish chest records If there is a marriage and burial record but no baptism it may indicate a Catholic[1]; some clergy would make a note in the register is a person was a recusant.   Churchwarden accounts Churchwardens were responsible for bringing offenders before the courts and their accounts may provide details of recusants.   Execution records Recusants executed for treason can be found at the British Executions website[2]  (years 1100 to 1964) and at the Capital Punishment UK website:[3]
1549 1552 Act of Uniformity Act of Uniformity Clergy were given one year to adopt the Prayer book or face stiff penalties as would anyone speaking out against the Prayer book[4]: First offence – confiscation of income for a year and 6 months imprisonment;Second offence – 1 year imprisonment with no bail and then stripped of his church position;Third offence – life imprisonment. The 1552 Act introduced a revised Prayer book and extended the penalties to imprisonment for anyone attending other forms of service Quarter Session records­ (discussed below) Churchwarden accounts (as above)  
1554 Revival of the Heresy Acts Which had been repealed under Henry VIII and Edward VI: Richard II’s Letters Patent 1382Henry IV’s Heresy Act 1401Henry V’s Heresy Act 1414 Quarter Session records (see below) A lack of Catholics appearing in these records during this period demonstrates this period of toleration of Catholics.[5]
1559                 Act of Supremacy Reinstated the supremacy of the Church of England repealing the heresy laws Mary I had revived. Act of Uniformity The Book of Common Prayer was introduced, similar to the prayer book of 1552 but retaining some Catholic elements.  Clergy faced stiff penalties for failing to comply: First offence – forfeit their benefice for a year and 6 months imprisonment; Second offence – 1 year imprisonment with no bail and then stripped of his church position; Third offence – life imprisonment. Anyone speaking out against the Book of Common Prayer or attempted to disrupt parish services also faced penalties: First two offences – a fine; Third offence – life imprisonment Anyone failing to attend their parish church for Sunday service or on a holy day would be fined 1s[6] every time they failed to attend[7]. In 1563 the death penalty was introduced for priests who continued to hold mass. Those who continued to defend the supremacy of the pope had their property seized. Churchwarden accounts (as above) Quarter Session records  (see below) Execution records (as above)  
1570 Papal Bull [8]‘Regnans in Excelsis[9] Encouraged Catholics to be a heretic, releasing even those who had sworn the oath of supremacy from allegiance to the monarchy. The bull also excommunicate any Catholic obeyed the monarchy’s orders!  
1571 Treason Act It became high treason to bring any further papal bulls into England and to call the monarch a heretic or schismatic. Quarter Session records (see below)  
1581 Recusancy Act The penalties for recusancy increased: Fine of £20 per month Fine of 100 marks and a years imprisonment for hearing Mass From 1581 if anyone converted to Catholicism or attempted to convert anyone else to Catholicism, the penalty was death. A further Act was passed forbidding Catholic education of children. From 1586 failure to pay a fine would result in a recusant losing land they owned, a penalty which, from 1604 could be imposed in place of the £20 per month fine. Quarter Session records (see below) Pipe Rolls 1581 – 1601 Include the names and fines imposed on Catholics yearly; largely written in Latin and arranged by county; held by the Exchequer – copies provided to the Chancery. Available at: National Archives series E372[10] and E352[11] (not digitised)Catholic Record Society publication: “Recusants in the Exchequer Pipe Rolls, 1581-1592” by T. J. McCann[12] (not digitised) An index of Pipe Rolls is also available at the Pipe Roll Society[13]
1585 Act against Jesuits, Seminary Priests and such other like Disobedient Persons A further act to ‘force’ Jesuits[14] and Seminary priests[15] to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen. Failure to do so within 40 days was an act of high treason unless they left the country. Any person who harboured or knew of the whereabouts of a Jesuit or Seminary priest and failed to inform the authorities, would be penalised: A fine of 200 marks Imprisonment Execution if the authorities wished to make an example of the priest. Any Jesuit or Seminary priest who were or travelled overseas, had to return to England within six months to swear the oath of allegiance (within two days of their arrival) and swear to submit to the Queen, or face the penalties for treason. Once taken the oath, they were forbidden for a period of 10 years to come within 10 miles of the Queen without her personal written permission or face the penalties for treason. If they left England for more than six months their land would be forfeited. Quarter Session records (see below)  
1587 Act against noncompliance Anyone who refused to accept the authority of the monarchy and thus the Church of England and Book of Common Prayer, were not permitted to buy or sell land. Quarter Session records (see below) Pipe Rolls 1581 – 1591 (as above)  
1593 Act for Retaining the Queen’s Subjects in their due Obedience[16] Required all over the age of 16 years to attend an Anglican Church service. Failure to attend for a period of one month would result in imprisonment without bail, for such period as they refused to attend, as would their encouragement to any other person not to attend. If they continued to refuse to attend for a period of three months they would be removed and exiled from England and any other countries within the queen’s realm until and unless they were licenced by the queen to return. Act against Popish Recusants Catholics were no longer permitted to travel more than a five mile radius from their home. The penalty for doing so without permission was a loss of all goods, chattels, lands, tenements, hereditaments rents and annuities due to them during their life. This was however never enforced during the reign of Elizabeth I which ended with her death 1603 when she was succeeded by James I (James VI of Scotland). Quarter session records (see below) Recusant rolls 1591 – 1691 Specific Rolls recording names and fines of recusants in place of Pipe Rolls. Arranged by county, containing: 1. Land seized from recusants, detailing: Name of recusant;Rent due to the Crown;Description of land;Date of seizure;Name of commissioner affecting seizure of land;Memoranda Roll record authorising seizure of land;Name of Crown’s lessee (if any);Arrears;Total debt;Payments made; 2. Goods and chattels seized, detailing: Name of recusant;Amount of forfeiture;Articles seized; 3. Sheriffs charge and final audit 4. Enrolment of new convictions, detailing: Name and address of recusant;duration of recusancy;date of conviction;amount of debt Available at: National Archives series E376 and E377 (not digitised)Catholic Record Society publications: “Recusant Roll No. 1, 1592-3, Exchequer, Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer by M.M.C Calthrop [17]; “ Recusant Rolls no 2, 1593-1594. An abstract in English by Hugh Bowler”[18]; “Recusant Rolls no 3, 1594-1595 and recusant roll no. 4, 1595-1596. An abstract in English by Hugh Bowler”[19]
1604 Book of Common Prayer James I promised to “neither persecute any that will be quiet and give but an outward obedience to the law [nor to] spare to advance any of them that will by good service worthily deserve it”[20] he did made it clear that unity and uniformity of the church was his aim, proclaiming in July 1604 that all clergy were to fully conform to the Book of Common Prayer by 30November 1604.  
1605 And 1606 Popish Recusants Act (Following the Gunpowder Plot) Oath of Allegiance Forbidding Catholics practicing in the legal or medical professions, the military and from acting as guardians or trustees; Calling for them to swear a new Oath of Allegiance to the monarchy denying the authority of the Pope; Making it high treason to obey the pope over the monarchy, imprisoning those who refused to swear the oath. There was an incentive of £50[21] for those who identified priests and members of their congregations The rules also applied to any protestant who took a Catholic wife! Quarter session records (see below) Oath of Allegiance rolls 1606 – 1828 (see below)  
1610 Act extended the Oath of Allegiance To be taken by all Catholics over the age of 18 with penalties including: Imprisonment Loss of rent and personal property Persecution was also financial: £100 fine for failing to baptise a child within one month of birth by Anglican clergy; On marriage any property of the recusant bride would be forfeited; if she had none £100 fine was payable; Married women recusants could be imprisoned until the conformed or their husband paid to redeem them for £10 per month Quarter Session records (see below) Oath of Allegiance Rolls see below)  
` Taxation Charles I introduced a double rate on taxes for Catholics. Lay Subsidy Rolls (cover period 1275 to 1665) Record taxes imposed on moveable property (not land) from time to time. The name, village and parish of a Catholic can be identified as they had to pay double the rate. Available at: National Archives series E179[22] and E359[23];County record officesLocal Family History societies – e.g. West Surrey Family History Society have an ongoing project to transcribe the Surrey Lay Subsidy Rolls.
1626/7 Commission for Compounding with Recusants A commission set up to investigate concealed sources of revenue recusants may have had and any amounts available which could be recovered from poorer recusants. Convicted recusants were targeted by obtaining information from the quarter session records who had to bargain with the commissioners and usually agree an increased rent to lease their land which had been seized from them and in order to pay fines and arrears of fines.    
1643 Oath of Allegiance Charles I introduced a further Oath of Allegiance requiring all men over the age of 18 years to deny catholic beliefs. Those who refused lost most of their estates, both real and personal. Vow and Covenant 1643 Taken by members of the House of Commons and House of Lords – demonstrates lack of Catholics in official positions Solemn League of Covenant 1644 This was an agreement in which Scotland agreed to support the English Parliamentarians in their disputes with the royalists and was signed throughout England and Scotland – demonstrates support against Catholics Protestation Oath Returns 1641 – 1642 Provides names, village, parish and occupation of all those who took the oath and Catholics[24] who refused to sign. Remaining records cover about one third of the country. Available at: National Archives series SP28[25] or E179Parliamentary ArchivesSociety of Genealogy – for some parts of the countryLondon Metropolitan Archives – City of London and various London districtsCounty record offices  
1643 Committee for the Sequestration of Delinquents Estates/ Committee for Compounding for the Estates of Royalists and Delinquents A committee set up at the beginning of the civil war much like the earlier Commission for Compounding with Recusants. Their role was to seize and confiscate land from and/or impose fines on royalists, papists and recusants.  
1648       1650            Blasphemy Act[26] Anyone found guilty of blasphemy and/or heresy would suffer the death penalty unless they renounced. Blasphemy Act This act provided for less severe penalties: first offence – six month imprisonment;second offence – Banished from the country not to return without a licence Act repealing penalties for nonattendance at church It was no longer a legal requirement to attend the parish church. Penalties for blasphemy and heresy still continued. Quarter Session records (see below)  
1660 Declaration of Breda Issued by Charles II promising to bring religious freedom at the start of the Restoration. Although it appears this was not to include Catholics!  
        1661           1662                           1664                     1665 Clarendon Code – a collection of four Acts of Parliament designed to weaken the nonconformist movement including Catholics and Protestant nonconformist sects: Corporation Act Catholics[27] were excluded from official positions unless they swore the oath of allegiance, renounced the Solemn League and Covenant[28] of 1643 and accepted the supremacy of the monarchy. Act of Uniformity Required all clergy to be: ordained episcopally;renounce the Solemn League and Covenant;accept and preach the new Book of Common Prayer Catholics[29] were liable to three months imprisonment if they continued to preach in public or worked as a private tutor or schoolmaster without first obtaining a licence to do so from an archbishop, bishop or ordinary of the diocese. If clergy remained in office or attained office in the Church of England without episcopal ordination the penalty was a fine of £100. Conventicles Act Congregations of more than 5 persons (including the priest!) became illegal, even in private houses. The penalties for breach were: First offence – fine of £5 or 3 months imprisonment;Second offence – fine of £10 or 6 months imprisonment;Third offence – transportation for seven years to a foreign plantation (other than New England) The Five Mile Act Catholic[30] priests were no longer allowed to approach within 5 miles of any former parish or town save to pass through on the road. The penalties for doing so were: Fine of £40 Many were imprisoned for persistent offending resulting from the simple need to make a living! Quarter session records (see below) Oath of Allegiance Rolls (see below) Sacramental certificates (see below)  
1670 Conventicles Act [31] Increased the penalties: First offence – fine of £20Subsequent offences – fine of £40 Quarter session records (see below)  
1672            Declaration of Indulgence Charles II forced this Declaration through Parliament, legally enabling Catholics[32] to practice their religion by allowing them hold mass in private (nonconformists could apply for licences to establish meeting houses). However due to the strength of the continued anti-Catholic he was forced to quickly repeal it with the Test Act.  
1673 Test Act This reinforced the need for civil and military offices (including priests/clergy) to swear the oath of allegiance and supremacy of the monarchy and provide a sacramental certificate confirming they had taken Anglican Communion, which would be signed by the Anglican minister and churchwarden of the parish and further witnessed by two credible witnesses. This act did not apply to MP’s and peers. Thus a second Test Act was introduced. Oath of Allegiance rolls (see below) Sacramental certificates (see below)  
1676 Compton Census Churchwardens and Constables were ordered to provide a list of those attending Anglican services, including nonconformists and recusants over the age of 16 years to the local Justice of the Peace (JP) who then called on each person listed to take the oath of allegiance. If they refused the penalty was imprisonment. The lists became known as the Compton Census. Compton Census Largely numerical providing details of the places of worship and the size of their congregations demonstrating the distribution of religious sects, in particular parishes where Catholicism thrived or died. A small number may contain names of individuals.   Quarter session rolls (see below)  
1678            Test Act This required all members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons to make declarations against transubstantiation, invocation of saints, and the sacrament of Mass, with the effect of excluding Catholics from both houses, in particular evicting the five Catholic Lords from the House of Lords.   Estreat Rolls 1537 – 1837 Record fines and bonds due to the Exchequer following legal proceedings.   Nichil Rolls 1537 – 1837 Record debts due to the Exchequer where the sheriff attempted to collect but there were insufficient funds to pay.   Available at: National Archives series E362[33] (not digitised)  arranged by County
1687 & 1688 Declaration of Indulgence and reissued in 1688 James II was an openly Catholic King and made his own declaration of indulgence, suspending both the Test Act and other earlier Acts restricting religious freedom. James II began a policy of appointing Catholics to positions of power e.g. JP’s, MP’s and Lords-Lieutenants. Records include for example, at The National archives: Series C 216 “Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Admission Rolls of Officers[34] and Solicitors”  
1689 Toleration Act Allowed freedom of worship provided Protestant nonconformists swore an oath of allegiance[35]. Catholics were specifically excluded! The Clarendon Code Acts and Test Act were still in force. Oath of Allegiance rolls (see below)  
1692 Land Tax A double land tax rate was introduced for Catholic land owners. Land tax assessment and records Yearly records of tax imposed on owners whose land was valued in excess of 20s. Catholic land owners can be identified by the rate of tax they paid – double rate. Arranged by county, the records provide the names of the land owner, tenants and occupiers[36]; the name and parish address of the property; rental value; amount of tax due. Available at: National Archives series IR 23[37], IR 22[38] and IR 24[39]County Record Offices – duplicates: often quite difficult to find due to lack of transcription and indexing at local levelGuild Library – City of London records   Quarter Session records / estate papers / parish records Assessments prior to 1780
1696 An Act for the Better Security of His Majesties’ Royal Person and Government Following the attempted assassination of William III, the Solemn Association Oath had to be sworn by military personnel and civil officers of the Crown.   Association Oath Rolls Include those who refused to swear the oath such as Catholics. Many of the records contain original signatures, but they also include marks and listings made by clerks. Available at: National Archives series C 213[40], C 214/8-12[41], KB 24/1[42], KB 24/2[43]County Record OfficesLondon Metropolitan Archives (City of London and various London districts)
1698            Popery Act Enacted in 1700 the Act reinforced the laws against practising Catholics, the penalty for which could be “perpetuall Imprisonment”[44]. Further Catholics were forbidden from inheriting or purchasing land and could face fines for sending their children abroad to be educated. Quarter session records (see below)  
1702 1714            Security of Succession Act Security of the Sovereign Act Officials were required to take an oath denying the right of James II’s son the right to succeed the throne. Oaths of allegiance, test and abjuration roll (see below)  
1715            Papist Act In the wake of the Jacobite rebellion, everyone over the age of 18 was required to swear an oath of allegiance. Catholics were also required to register details of their estates, including documents such as Wills, conveyances of land and/or property with the county Clerk of the Peace. This was further reinforced in 1723 when Catholics refusing to swear the oath of allegiance were now required to register their names and details of their estates at quarter sessions or have their property seized. Seizure of property was overseen by the Forfeiture Estates Commission. Oaths of allegiance, test and abjuration roll (see below) Quarter session records (see below)   Close Rolls Sealed documents: By the Court of Chancery giving order and instructions to royal officials and subject;By private individuals to enrol documents such as deeds of land, wills, leases and quit claims amongst many other documents. Catholic wills should have been enrolled after 1715 and can provide names, addresses, occupations, details of family, land/property etc as set out in their enrolled wills. Available at: National Archives series C 54[45] and also PRO 31[46] (various subseries, for example, PRO 31/7/173  Extracts from Close Rolls) (not digitised)
1753            Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act Catholics were required to marry in an Anglican Church Parish registers – as discussed above  
1778            Catholic Relief Act The first Act towards toleration of Catholics enabling them to own land and freeing them from persecution, repealing the 1698 Act. Land and Property Records including Title Deeds Ownership of land/property and how they were conveyed. Documents will not themselves identify Catholics however where a person has not previously been registered as an owner of land, it may indicate they were Catholic. Records provide name, address, occupation, marital status of vendor and purchaser, description of land or property, family relationships (especially if land has been passed through generations), dates of death, wills and maps are sometimes attached. Available at: The National Archives – various records within division CP including:concords of fines in CP 24/1-CP 24/13feet of fines in CP 25/1 and CP 25/2notes of fines in CP 26/1-CP 26/14entry books recording the public announcement of fines in CP 27enrolments of writs for fines and recoveries in CP 28rules to amend fines and recoveries in CP 30books recording the king’s silver in CP 34 and CP 35recovery rolls in CP 43portions of broken writs of covenant files in CP 50, with the complete files in CP 55files of writs of entry in CP 56concords files in CP 61and enrolments of writs of entry in CP 65County Record Offices – Surrey History Centre has various conveyancing documents relating to individual estates/families.British LibraryLand RegistrySolicitors, (building societies and banks in later years)  Quarter session records Lack of further offences recorded of the nature set out in the 1698 Act reflects this new toleration
1791            Catholic Relief Act The second Act towards toleration of Catholics enabling Catholics to register and open their own chapels. Despite this, marriage and burials could still only take place legally in Anglican churches. Parish registers– as discussed above Catholic Church registers and records Newly opened catholic chapels began registers of baptism, confirmation, marriage and death. Baptisms registers include: Name of child and parents (inc mother’s maiden name)Date of baptism (and possibly birth)Names of godparents or ‘sponsers’ “Double” marriage records may be found: Catholics would have an Anglican service to “legalise” their marriage and have a Catholic marriage service which may be recorded in the Catholic registers. Marriage registers include: Names of bride and groom (inc brides maiden name)Names of witnessesOccasionally – ages of both parties, place of birth for bride and names of parents of both parties. The same principal applies to death/burials of Catholics who had to be buried at an Anglican church yard until 1852 (see below)[47]. Burial registers include: Name of deceasedOccasionally – age, name(s) of deceased wife and children It should be noted that these registers were usually in Latin until 1965. Available at: National Archives(see The Non-Parochial Registers Act below);County Record Offices (Catholic registers at Surrey History Centre appear to begin in the 20th Century (see The Non-Parochial Registers Act below);Diocesan Archives – For my local Diocese of Guildford they are held at the Surrey History Centre (County Record Office);Catholic Record Society – Catholic church registers published for various locations in various series;Catholic National Library – Mission Registers (listing baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths) amongst a large collection of Catholic history books and periodicals Quarter Session Records (see below)
1829            Catholic Emancipation Act Removed the majority of the remaining restrictions on Catholics allowing them to take up most public offices including parliamentary seats. Quarter session records (see below)
1836            General Registration Act Finally allowed Catholics to marry in their own churches and chapels although burials were still required to take place at Anglican churches. Civil registration certificates – birth, marriage, death in particular marriage certificate which will provide details of the place of marriage i.e. Catholic church/chapel
1840            The Non-Parochial Registers Act Following civil registration it was requested that the registers of nonconformist sects, including Catholics, be deposited with the Registrar General, however few if any were deposited by Catholics. These registers are therefore likely still be in the hands of the individual Catholic church. Catholic[48] registers deposited both in 1840 and 1857 at the National Archives can be found in: Series RG4: General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non-parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857 arranged by County and then alphabetically by placeSeries RG8: General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non Parochial Registers Commission of 1857, and other registers and church records. These registers are also available from
1852             Burial Act Catholics were legally able to establish their own burial grounds. Municipal cemeteries developed during this century and may have also been used for Catholic burials Burial registers of Catholic burial sites As pre catholic registers discussed above

Assizes/Quarter Session Records

Catholics were essentially criminalised. Quarter session records contain perhaps the largest collections of records providing details of Catholics (and other nonconformists) including (but not limited to):

  • Indictments and Presentments – Details of Catholics fined, imprisoned, banished from the country and sentenced to execution;
  • Sacrament certificates (see below);
  • Oaths of Allegiance including lists of those refusing to take the various Oaths (see below) (Chancery Court/Exchequer Court or King’s Bench division records if the person lived within 30 miles of London);
  • Declarations against transubstantiation;
  • Registers of names and estates of Catholics who refused to take the Oath of Allegiance following the Papist Act 1715, arranged alphabetically by county and town;
  • Records of land and property seized for failing to take the Oath of Allegiance and/or registering their names and estates;
  • Certificates of Roman Catholic Chapels and priests following the 1791 Catholic Relief Act

These numerous records can provide names, addresses and occupations of those Catholics prosecuted or who had land seized, or who registered themselves as required. They may include details of family members.

These numerous records are available at:

  • County Record Offices – Surrey Quarter Session records held at the Surrey History Centre include:
  • Session Rolls, 1661-1799, 1889-1915
  • Session Bundles, 1630, 1637, 1701 – 1888
  • Indictments
  • Estreat Books
  • Calendars of Prisoners: Surrey Sessions and Assizes
  • Land Tax Assessment Books
  • Registration of the Estates of Roman Catholics
  • Certificates of Protestant dissenting and Roman Catholic places of Worship and related documents
  • London Metropolitan Archives – Proceedings at the Old Bailey
  • Society of Genealogists e.g. calendars of prisoners, microfiche copies of summary convictions and other court records
  • British Library – including legislation, cases and traditional legal commentary
  • Local newspapers often reported on criminal proceedings

Oath Rolls and Sacramental Certificates

As can be seen from the table above, oaths of allegiance and supremacy were required to be sworn at various times. The oath rolls provide a list of names, addresses and occupation of those taking the oaths and frequently a list of those refusing to take the oaths. Both lists may include Catholics as some Catholics may have chosen to take the oath to avoid criminal proceedings. In particular if a Catholic wished to serve in an official office (military, parliament, courts etc) under following the Clarendon Code.

Those swearing the oath obtained a Sacramental Certificate as proof they had received communion in the Church of England.

Oath rolls began in 1606 and essentially ended with the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and abjuration under the reinforced Papist Act of 1723. The location and availability of Oath Rolls for 1723 can be found in the publication “The 1723 oath rolls in England: an electronic finding list” by Edward Vallance[49].

TNA series C 203/6 includes certificates naming those who failed to swear the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and abjuration as required by the Security of the Sovereign Act 1714.

After the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 Catholics were able to sign a new oath of allegiance which can be located at the National Archives series E169/79 – 83[50] and “The rolls contain the actual signatures of persons taking an oath and most of them state the form of the oath to be taken, together with the authorising statute…While a few of the rolls give places of residence, only one roll (E 169/80) includes full addresses”[51]. These have not been digitised and are only available at TNA.

There is also a wealth of records available at TNA series PC 1 (not digitised) such as:

  • Returns of Catholics for several counties PC 1/20/31
  • Roman Catholics: Lists of Roman Catholics who have taken the oath during 1796 PC 1/37/107
  • Roman Catholic Oaths: List for Westminster, London PC 1/40/130
  • Certificates under 31 Geo III, c 32 (1791) relating to Roman Catholics PC 1/2937
  • Returns of papists who have taken oath in accordance with Act of 31 Geo III PC 1/19/26/2

Sacramental certificates provide the name, address and occupation of the individual, the date sacrament was received, name of the church, name of the minister, churchwarden and the witnesses, and can be found at TNA series:

  • C 224 Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Sacrament Certificates 1673 – 1778
  • KB 22 Court of King’s Bench: Crown side: Sacrament Certificates Files 1676 – 1828
  • E 196 Exchequer: King’s Remembrance: Sacramental Certificates 1702 – 1827

There are also many other records relating to oath rolls at TNA, too many to discuss further and many of which may not be relevant to Catholics as they refused to swear the oaths, save, as stated above, some rolls do also contain lists of those refusing to swear the oath and thus those records should not be overlooked in any search undertaken.

Other records

Returns of Papists (Catholics)

These were censuses taken nationwide in 1680, 1705, 1744, 1767 and 1780 to record the number of Catholics in the country, arranged in dioceses by town/village. These were essentially used to identify Catholics and ensure the penalties in force at the time were imposed, hence lists of names can be found amongst quarter session records. Some of the returns record numbers but others record names, ages, addresses, occupations, family members and how long they have lived in the parish.

The 1767 return has been published by the Catholic Record Society and the 1767 return for London has been published by the Society of Genealogy.

[1] Or other nonconformist

[2] Accessed 6 April 2019

[3] Accessed 6 April 2019

[4] faced not just by Catholics but also nonconformist protestants

[5] John Rogers and around 300 other Protestants were burned alive during her short reign from 1553 to 1558 earning Mary I her infamous nickname “Bloody Mary”.

[6] Approx. £18 today using calculator on 30th March 2019

[7] that would have been one full day’s pay for a skilled tradesman (value at 2017) 30th March 2019

[8] Public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by the Pope

[9] Reigning on High

[10] Exchequer Pipe Office, Pipe Rolls

[11] Chancery, Chancellors Rolls

[12] Catholic Record Society Record Series 71 (1986)


[14] “The Society of Jesus is a religious order of men in the Catholic Church” –  (2 April 2019)

[15] Catholic priests trained either in England or abroad in seminaries after 1534

[16] Aimed at all nonconformist sects including Catholics

[17] Pipe Office Series, Catholic Record Society Record Series, 18 (1916)

[18] Catholic Record Society Record Series, 57 (1965)

[19] Catholic Record Society Record Series, 61 (1970)

[20] A. Dures “English Catholicism, 1558 – 1642” page 40

[21] Approx. £6,704.78 in 2017 National Archives currency converter

[22] Particulars of Account and other records relating to Lay and Clerical Taxation

[23] Exchequer Pipe Office: Account Rolls of Subsidies and Aids

[24] And anyone else but largely Catholics as the aim was to establish the number of Catholics in the country in order that they knew who to tax more heavily!

[25] Commonwealth Exchequer Papers

[26] This offence was not limited to Catholics.

[27] and other nonconformists

[28] An agreement made at the beginning of the Civil War by which the Scottish Parliament agreed to support the English Parliamentarians in their disputes with the royalists; both countries pledging to work for a civil and religious union of EnglandScotland, and Ireland under a Presbyterian–parliamentary system

[29] and other nonconformists

[30] and nonconformist

[31] The 1661 Act expired in 1669

[32] and other nonconformist sects

[33] Exchequer: Pipe Office: Estreats: Rolls and Nichil Rolls

[34] Including but not limited to lord chancellor, the solicitor general, the lord high treasurer of England, and the master of the rolls

[35] Quakers were to make a similar declaration

[36] Tenants and occupiers between 1772 and 1832

[37] Land Tax Redemption Office: Quotas and Assessments 1798 – 1914

[38] Land Tax Redemption Office: Parish Books of Redemptions 1799 – 1953

[39] Land Tax Redemption Office: Registers of Redemption Certificates 1799 – 1963

[40] Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Association Oath Rolls 1696-1697

[41] Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Rolls of Oaths of Allegiance and Test Oaths 1673-1889

[42] Association oath roll 1696 May

[43] Association oath roll 1696 June-July

[44] William III, 1698-9: An Act for the further preventing the Growth of Popery. [Chapter IV. Rot. Parl. 11 Gul. III. p. 2. n. 2.] section III, accessed 4 April 2019

[45] Chancery and Supreme Court of Judicature: Close Rolls

[46] Public Record Office records

[47] After 1871 many were buried in Catholic section of the community Cemeteries which began to develop

[48] And other nonconformist sect registers

[49] History Working Papers Project

[50] Exchequer: King’s Remembrancer: Oath Rolls: Papist Oaths

[51] (13 April 2019)


Websites accessed 30th March 2019

Websites accessed 1st April 2019

Websites accessed 8th April 2019

Websites accessed 13th April 2019

Websites accessed various dates between 30 March 2019 and 13th April 2019


W B Patterson            King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (Cambridge University Press 2000) (Google books)

E. Rose                        ”Cases of Conscience: Alternatives open to Recusants and Puritans under Elizabeth I and James I” (Cambridge 1975)

A. Dures                      “English Catholicism, 1558 – 1642” (Harlow 1983)

Coffey, John               Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England, 1558 – 1689 (Pearson Education 2000)

Herber, Mark               Ancestral Trails, Second Edition (SOG 2005)

Hey, David                 The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History (Oxford 1996)

Scott, Jonathan            A Dictionary of Family History (Pen & Sword 2017)