Sunday 3 March 2013

Church Record Sunday - West Yorkshire Non-Conformist Records

I have gone down with a cold to add to all my other woes - but it's quite refreshing to be ill with something and actually know what it is! Ha!

Last night I couldn't sleep due to a sniffle (see above) so I started reading the next week's work for my Open University module "Understanding Global Heritage" (AD281).  This hasn't been the most riveting module I've ever done but the third book promises to be a bit more interesting in that at least two chapters are about war memorials - and that falls into the genealogy world paradigm.  I had to re-read a chapter on heritage in Castleford in Laurajane Smith's book "Uses of Heritage".  I say re-read because when the second course book skipped over it a couple of months ago I read it anyway because it's local to me ... Barnsley ... Castleford ... almost neighbours.  She's talking about how local communities have different ideas about heritage to the people in museums and other experts, and how despite there being very little left above ground that suggests Castleford has a 'heritage' the people in the town think very differently. 

A few years ago there was a series of programmes on Channel 4 called Kevin McCloud and the Big Town plan all about the improvements to the town, a new footbridge across the river, new parks, tidied up pedestrian areas and a revamped street market, that sort of thing - well that is mentioned in LJS's chapter.  Also mentioned is the Time team episode where they dig up various carparks and the edge of a football field and find evidence of the Roman settlement in Castleford. 

All well and good - but what has that to do with Non-conformist church records?  Well, you see the OH's great grandfather was born in Castleford in 1876, his family had been associated with Castleford for nearly 100 years and no doubt there are still plenty of Taylors in residence there who are related to my OH. 

Ah, ha - now you know why I read the chapter twice! 

When Ancestry released the West Yorkshire Records collection a couple of years ago the Taylors in Castleford were one of the first searches I tried - they've been fairly elusive up to now to be honest.  Partially because of the fairly common name and as it transpires, also because some branches of the family have been connected with non-conformity (that's the various Methodisms or non-Church of England forms of religion, just so you know). 

The main church in Castleford is All Saints, on the edge of the town centre, and plumb in the middle of the Roman remains from the looks of it.  Its records go back to 1600 according to Genuki, but there's an annoying gap in the deposited registers between 1782/3 and 1835.  There are Bishop's Transcripts (BTs) that cover the gap - and I guess that's where the records that appear on Family Search are from.  However the records Ancestry have put online are the ones in the West Yorkshire Archives, so the gap is there - glaring away at me, just like it did when I went to Wakefield years ago to first try and research this family.  Someday I guess I will just have to go back to Wakefield and look up the BTs the old fashioned way.

I was a bit disappointed therefore in the Church of England records for the Taylors on Ancestry, but things perked up when I tried a search for Taylor and Castleford in the Non-Conformist records.  The records don't fill the gap - well I already knew from Family Search that the early records I want are from All Saints, but there is a wealth of information that I wouldn't otherwise have found for a whole branch of the family.

Here's just one example:

Baptism record for Jack Taylor born 1849, Castleford - edited from a larger page so the headings are visible (from Ancestry)
I've uploaded this as large as I can so you can see all the detail and I've edited the page so that the relevant record is right up against the headings - Jack Taylor's entry was actually at the bottom of the page.  Not only does it give Jack's baptism date (May 6th 1849), but also his date of birth (Ok, it's the same in this example, but you get the idea) and his place of birth (Castleford).  His parents names are given (Joseph Taylor, Ann Taylor and even his mother's maiden name is listed (formerly Thompson), his father's occupation (Mariner) and, and I've never seen this before, the signatures of his parents - except that Jack's parents can't write and so their names have been filled in by the Minister and initialled by him so we would know that he'd done it.  Joseph Taylor was the brother of the OH's 3x great grandfather Matthew Taylor, and most of his children seem to turn up in a search of these records as well as the families of some of his children, the next generation on.

The record above appears in a chunk coded WC 28 that contains an assortment of records from various chapels including Ackworth, Adwalton, Badsworth, Batley, Beal, Brackenhill, Darrington, Ferrbridge, Pontefract,… I suppose it was scanned from a microfilm of mixed records, so the trick is to find out exactly which denomination and place of worship the record is from.  Skipping back a few pages of images the introduction to the section Jack's baptism appears in appears:
Introduction to the Pontefract Primitive Methodist Register in WC28 (from Ancestry)
I've really only just begun my investigation of these records - but I would recommend you try them - just because the rest of a family is Church of England doesn't mean they all were.

1 comment:

Wendy North said...

My family are from Castleford and at the time of the Channel 4 Regeneration Programme I was working with some Castleford schools on projects linked to the programme. Like your OH's family my mother's family were non-conformist, so your tip about records might be very useful (it's my brother that is researching the family history - I'm more interested in the family photos, though I think the two go together). I now live to the west of Barnsley, just inside the Barnsley MDC district.