Chantry Bridge, Normanton All Saints Church, St Catherine's Font Belle Vue, Heath Water Tower, Sharlston Pit Wheel
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The Two Esthers
The guest speakers on Saturday 7th November were Shirley Levon and Lesley Taylor. They had researched the lives of two 18th century ladies who shared the same name, Esther Milnes. The research, initially based on twelve letters written by one Esther to the other, led to the publication of a book, “The Two Esthers.” The letters were written between 1771-1773 and were written by the elder of the two who was the widow of a prosperous merchant Robert Milnes of Wakefield. Her maiden name was Shore and originally came from Sheffield while the younger Esther was from a branch of the Milnes family in Chesterfield. The 18th century had seen a growth in letter writing due to increased literacy and the postal service had developed correspondingly. Women’s roles in this period was on the whole very much subservient to that of the man. However in the case of the two Esthers they were born in an age of ‘ urban renaissance’ and one in which rational and scientific thinking was developing in an era known as ‘The Age of Enlightenment. They were also from wealthy but also dissenting backgrounds. The elder Esther entered into correspondence with Esther from Chesterfield and the latter would often stay at one of the four Milnes family houses on Westgate in Wakefield. The letters shed a light on the social, religious and leisurely activities for this period but also often stressed the constant worry about personal health. Comments were made on leisure activities such as visits to the theatre, race meetings and attending chapel. The Milnes family were at the centre of the chapel community in Wakefield as well as being the richest ‘ gentlemen merchants’ in a city that was gaining wealth from the wool trade. Anyone wanting to know more about the social life in Wakefield and other northern towns and in particular the part played by wealthy women would benefit by reading the excellent book researched by Shirley and Lesley. Next meeting is 5th December when Ian Dewhirst will talk on ‘ Life in England during WW1. Enquiries to Ron Pullan:
From Merchants to Mansions
                            From Merchants to Mansions                           
The talk on Saturday 3rd October was provided by Norma Thorpe a volunteer at Nostell Priory near Wakefield. She is a room steward, a guide and researcher at Nostell. It is the latter role that led Norma to  carry out research on the property that came into ownership of the Winn family in the 17th century. The Winns were originally woollen merchants in London and a George Winn had been Draper to Queen Elizabeth I.
With his accumulated wealth George bought land and property in Lincolnshire at Thornton Curtis in the early part of the 17th century.
Norma’s brief was to provide an account of the pedigree of the Winn family from the purchase of land at Nostell in 1654 by George Winn up to the current 6th Baron, Charles Winn.
It was George Winn who was given the title of baronet in 1660 and it was his grandson, Rowland Winn 4th baronet who on returning from the Grand Tour in 1729 set in motion the building of the house we can see today which was started in 1731.
With suitable marriages, and in one case one that was regarded as not so suitable [a reference to the marriage of the 3rd Baron, Rowland Winn to the showgirl Eve Carew], the family’s wealth grew and additions were made to the property.
The 1st Baron created was another Rowland who in 1885 was also given the title of Lord St Oswald. The priory that had once stood near to the present building had been dedicated by the religious order to St Oswald.
The property was presented to the National Trust in 1953 and the Winn family maintain an apartment in the main building. The current Lord St Oswald, Charles Winn , is also our Society’s patron.
The next meeting is 7th November when Shirley Levon and Lesley Taylor will give a talk based on a book they are jointly responsible for ‘ The Two Esthers.’. Enquiries to Ron Pullan at:
Lewis & Clark: explorers of American West
In 1803 the USA President Jefferson initiated an expedition that would eventually lead to the settlement and exploitation of the rest continent which lay beyond the settled east. This vast area was made up of land recently known as the Louisiana Purchase and the Spanish territories of the south west. An area largely unexplored and unchartered.
A group of army volunteers under the leadership of Captain Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Lieutenant William Clark assembled at St Louis on the Mississippi in the autumn of 1803. Their objectives were to explore, to map and find a suitable route to the Pacific coast and establish a presence there before other European powers. Secondly they were to accumulate scientific and economic knowledge of the territory and study the wildlife, the geography and topography and make trade links with the Native Americans.
The expedition set off in the spring of 1804 and followed the Missouri and then the Columbia rivers through to what is now Oregon.
The expedition took two years and would gradually lead to the opening up of the West for settlement and development.
This story was recounted to our members by Susan Clark .[ No relation to William Clark]. Using a series of slides Susan explained how she and her husband and their friends, coincidently called Lewis, planned to retrace the route taken by the explorers at the anniversary of the expedition in 2004.
They took several weeks to complete the trip but retained many happy memories and recalled how they became minor celebrities once the many local people they met found out about their namesake heroes from England.
The next meeting is October 3rd when Norma Thorpe from Nostell Priory will tell us about the Winn family ‘From Merchants to Mansions.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310 email:
Deceased Online On Saturday August 1st Jamie Burges-Lumsden , the founding Director for, gave a talk that family historians would find very useful. He explained that his website enabled researchers to gain access to: computerised crematoria and burial records, scanned burial registers , photos of graves, memorials and maps of cemeteries. Jamie only started this work in 2008 and is obviously ongoing but already there are millions of records available. He advised that to start with a researcher should put in a name and a date and maybe an area of the UK or Ireland a deceased may have been buried. That part is free but a charge is made for a further search for a photo, burial record or memorial inscription. This can be done on an individual basis but for further research an annual subscription is available. There is data protection for more recent records which can vary depending on the authority providing the information. Other useful information that can be gleaned, that might not necessarily be immediately apparent, is the manner of some deaths might be inscribed on a headstone eg ‘drowned’ or ‘killed’ or records might show that there are more persons buried in a plot other than the one being researched. Records can also show where deceased ashes might have been scattered. Jamie’s talk was greatly enjoyed by those in attendance and the interest shown was evident by the many questions asked at the end of the talk The next talk is September 5th with Susan Clark on ‘ Lewis & Clark: Explorers of 19th century USA.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310.
AGM and ' A Story of Frances.'
On Saturday 4 July the Society held its Annual General Meeting. The Vice President, Deborah Scriven, who read out a prepared message from the President, Joan P Smith, who was unable to attend. In her message Joan congratulated the Society on its 18th Birthday. The first meeting took place in September 1997 at St Michael’s Hall, Westgate.It was held on the same day as the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales. A sad day but it was decided to proceed with the meeting which was well attended. The formal part of the AGM then took place. This included reports from the Chairman Chris Welch, the Treasurer David Tolfrey, the Editor Elsie Walton. The election of officers and committee members followed. There then followed a break in which refreshments were made available from a specially made cake for the occasion and soft drinks. Our special guest, Anne Batchelor, then recounted an intriguing story about her background which had the title,’ My name is Frances.’ This involved a great deal of research and detective work by Anne. It started in 1920 when a request was made for two children to be taken into care as the mother had died and the father felt unable to give them the care they needed. These were the grandparents of Anne Batchelor. Her mother, who was the 4 year old Frances was taken in care in York. While the boy, William, who was 2 years old was eventually sent to London. The care home that Frances was sent to in York was generally a happy period. Most records had disappeared but there was sufficient evidence left for Anne to arrive at this conclusion. Her father went to visit her as often as he could. The boy William spent time in a care home in London then Ipswich and then eventually in The Bede Home for Boys in Wakefield. He was earmarked to be sent to Canada but was deemed too puny for farm work. At the age of sixteen he decided to join the army in the Royal Fusiliers, who was killed in Italy in 1944. After attending an Armistice Day ceremony in London through the British Legion Anne met someone who knew her uncle William. Anne also was able to track down someone who at the same Home as her mother France in York which resulted in more useful information. Anne’s talk was a salutary one for all family historians in which she gave a number of useful pointers that researchers could also use. The next meeting is 1st August when J. B-Lumsden will brief us about ‘ Deceased online.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310.

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