Category Archives: Family History

Stories about former village residents; village archives to help with family history (baptisms, marriage banns, burial records, census returns)

April talk and Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 15th April 2015

7 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. start, at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping

Annual General Meeting

Ginny's shoebox full of Great Uncle Norman's letters

Ginny’s shoebox full of Great Uncle Norman’s letters

followed by an illustrated talk by Ginny Cook about her family history research and getting “Great Uncle Norman’s letters” into print.

Two years ago Ginny brought along to show the group a shoebox full of letters written by one of her relatives who emigrated to Australia before the First World War. Encouraged by everyone’s interest, she set out on a “self-publishing” project – putting the letters in order and transcribing them were just the beginning!

Everyone is welcome. This is a chance to meet up and review our past year. We promise to keep the formalities to a minimum. Refreshments are served, but there will be no charge as it is the AGM.

AGM agenda – 15 April 2015 and AGM minutes April 2014 can be read or downloaded.

The Deepings Remember 1914 to 1918

If you haven’t already visited the exhibition The Deepings Remember 1914 to 1918 – today is the last day!

The Deepings Community Centre in Douglas Road, Market Deeping will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sunday 9th November.

Mr and Mrs Roffe with their daughter Maureen Plant visit  "The Deepings Remember 1914-1918"  exhibition

Mr and Mrs Roffe with their daughter Maureen Plant visit “The Deepings Remember 1914-1918” exhibition

One of the visitors to a preview on Friday was 89 year-old Bernard Roffe, former resident of West Deeping and nephew of Richard Roffe, who died in 1917 at the Battle of the Dunes at Nieuport in Belgium.

The Deepings Roll of Honour poster gallery features 50 men (and some women) who served in WW1 – not only those who died, but many who came back and are familiar names in the area.  Many of their 21st century descendants have already visited the exhibition, so too have people who have come more recently to the Deepings and are interested in finding out how to go about researching their own families in the First World War era and to learn about the heritage of our communities.

Other areas of the exhibition include The Home Front, recreating a typical room-setting of 100 years ago; a Recruiting Room, with an Army Sergeant to persuade visitors to “join the Colours”; Memorabilia and Artefacts kindly lent by several local residents; and a roomful of World War 1 models made and displayed by the Spalding and Fenland Model Club. A display of work by students at the Deepings Academy includes one piece that has moved several readers to tears!

Refreshments today will be served in The Officer’s Mess (the Lionel Beck Room!) by Deeping St James Women’s Institute.

Visitors’ comments yesterday lead us to believe this is the best World War 1 exhibition ever!


World War 1 research: news from the West Deeping Front

We have had two workshops during July, looking at the various sources of information that will help us add more detail to the names on West Deeping’s First World War Roll of Honour.  Many thanks to everyone who came along – 14 of us altogether, with one or two who just popped in to see what we were doing.  For 2 or 3 people it was a chance to get some help with researching their own First World War relatives.

Looking through the 1911 Census information proved interesting.

  • West Deeping had a population of 302,
  • A high proportion of men worked on farms. In earlier censuses they were listed as “Ag. Labs” (Agricultural Labourers).
  • A significant number of men worked on the Great Northern Eastern Railway, as platelayers, signalmen and general labourers.
  • We can get a general idea of village economy – there were 3 public houses, a school, a baker, a butcher, a blacksmith, a carpenter and so on.
  • Jennifer and Liz who were looking particularly at the houses in the Row, off The Lane, were amazed to see a family of 11 living in a “2 up 2 down” cottage.
  • Although house numbering had not yet been introduced, we can work out which were the homes and families of the 45 or more men who were to enlist in the services between 1914 and 1918.

Matching the 1901 Census information to the 1900 Ordnance Survey map was the job that Anne and Melanie tackled. Some of the servicemen listed on our roll of honour were young enough to be still living with their parents and siblings at the time.  The result is as accurate as we can make it based on buildings we know were there over 100 years ago, bearing in mind that it’s not easy to work out from the map what is a separate dwelling or an outbuilding.  It helped to use other information sources such as deeds and indentures which name the occupants.

Baptisms at St Andrew's Church, West Deeping 1914

Baptisms at St Andrew’s Church, West Deeping 1914

The Baptism Register from St Andrew’s Church from the late 19th century proved to be particularly useful.  For some of our servicemen we have details of dates of birth and their parents and siblings.  The pages for the war years provided us with a couple of surprises – details of rank and regiment given as the fathers’ occupations tell us that the Roll of Honour has some gaps!  Details of our servicemen’s children and their wives’ names confirm some of the census information and show associations with the village even if the family has moved away.


Anstee J portraitOne of the servicemen commemorated on the plaque in St Andrew’s Church was Lieutenant Joseph Anstee.  He proved to be of particular interest to Ginny, as he lived at what is now her home – West Deeping Mill.  She trialled a data collection form kindly supplied by local historians working on the “Stamford Boys” project – to collect together all the information we have about an individual.  She also put together a “to-do” list, which included making contact with Peterborough Museum to track down a letter and certificate signed by King George V, sent to Joe Anstee’s parents at the end of the war.  The latest news is that thanks to Teresa and her contacts at Vivacity we are getting copies of the archives so that they can be displayed alongside Joseph Anstee’s story.

Vintage tea and cakes

Vintage tea and cakes

Great-Grandma’s crocheted table cloths and the silver tea service made our vintage tea more special.  Many thanks to Gill for the cakes and scones.

Thanks too – to the Heritage Lottery Grant for supporting the project.

The Deepings remember 1914 – 1918

West Deeping needs YOU!

The Deepings remember 1914 - 1918

Can you help us find out more about our First World War servicemen, their families and where they lived? You could discover who was living in your house.

Two workshops to look at the 1911 census and the 1901 map will be held at West Deeping Village Hall on Saturday 5th July and Tuesday 22nd July from 2-4 p.m. 

Everyone is welcome, especially students and those with I.T Skills, or just to find out what we are doing! Free-of-charge and vintage-style tea and cakes for all volunteers!

West Deeping Family History

Maggie Ashcroft writes:

A new section of the West Deeping Heritage Group’s website has been launched today – with an introductory page about the information resources we have which might help with family history enquiries. The first case study, ‘Finding the Wright links’ is an example of what can be discovered from our own village archives.  The research was prompted by the grand-daughter of one of West Deeping’s early 20th century residents, Emma Evelyn Wright. The fascinating twist to the story is the involvement of another related Wright  – it was Peter Wright who before he moved from the village, where he was born and brought up, indexed the burial records and re-drew the map of the cemetery in King Street.