I live in Rutland which is the smallest county in England and the records for this area are kept at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland at Long Street, Wigston Magna in Leicestershire.
My birth name is Wigston and from time to time I plan research on various groups of Wigstons in the Leicestershire area in the hope that over time I will be able to link them together and create a direct line to myself. I am interested in Wigstons who were living in Leicester in medieval times but recognised this might be just too much of a challenge due to the availability of records, their potentially poor condition and the fact they would be in Latin.
For this research, I chose to use the 1841 census online through Ancestry.com. By entering Wigston as a surname residing in Leicestershire, 35 individuals showed up, grouped in Barwell, Elmesthorpe (neighbouring village to Barwell) and St Mary. Iin this instance I chose the family group in Barwell headed by Thomas Wigston and as a secondary piece of research I also selected the family group in St Mary headed up by Joseph Wigston.
Thomas Wigston was aged 55 so therefore born about 1786, living with Miria aged 20, William aged 25, plus Harriett and Fanny both aged 10.
By viewing the actual record within Ancestry.com this information could be double checked before any further research took place. In particular, I was interested to check Miria’s name and from the image I could see that indeed her name was Miria. At the time of the 1841 census they were listed as living in Spring Gardens, in Barwell.
Preparation for the record office visit
From the County record office website at www.leics.gov.uk/record_office.htm I checked the process for accessing the library, do’s and don’ts, open times, directions and parking. As it has been some time since I used a record office and expect to be doing more research in this, and potentially other record offices, I took with me the correct means of identification so that I could obtain a CARN*.
I took with me, pencils, paper, my lecture, notes I had made from background reading on Parish Registers, and details of the two family groups concerned.
Just to be sure I did not have a wasted journey (it is 50 minutes away) I e-mailed the office to check on open times for a Saturday morning and also to check what parish records they had for Barwell. They responded with confirmation of the following records held in the office for Barwell:
Marriages: 1654-1993 (1986)
Burials: 1653-1887 (for later burials, see Stapleton)
I also consulted Phillimores Atlas which I found out is held at the local museum in Oakham, Rutland, where there is a small research centre. This helped to identify what records were available and where they were deposited along with a check on the parish boundary for Barwell.
The Phillimore’s showed:
Deposited register 1653-1993
IGI 1563 – 1856
Registrar at the Society of genealogists 1563 – 1640
No Boyds register
1837 – 1851 the parish came under Hinckley
No Pallots register
Visit to the County Record office
To be sure that I made the most of my visit, I consulted with one of the three staff members on where to find the parish records and how to use the fiche reader.
The index of what parish registers are available and where were kept in folders in alphabetical order. Inside the first folder which was A-BAS where typewritten sheets in clear pockets with the information such as what records were available on a parish by parish basis and a reference number. For Barwell the following parish registers are available:
Deposited with the record in 1973
|DE1330/1||Baptisms||1661-1717||Listed as on fiche (although a note has been added to the banns record indicating it is not which might indicate that it has gone missing)|
|Burials||1653 – 1717|
|Banns (not on fiche)||1779-1820|
|On checking with the staff, these records need to be ordered from the strong room so these will be checked on the second visit.|
|Notebook giving name, residence, occupation, religious denomination and ages of children of non Anglicans**||n.d (no date?)**|
I also consulted the booklet created by Leicestershire museums, art galleries and record service, ‘Handlist of Leicestershire Bishops’ transcripts published by the record office in 1987. This detailed the transcripts that had survived and were lodged with the County Record office:
Barwell including the hamlets of Elmsthorpe, Potters Marston & Stapleton –
1564 1571 1574 1576 1585 1596-7
1604 1606-9 1613 1617 1621-2 1624-9
1632-4 1636-40 1660-7 1669-81 1683 1685-8
1690-6 1699-1700 1703-11 1713-14 1716-18 1720
1722-4 1726-31*** 1732-51*** 1752 1754-1812 1813-36
***1731 not certain but probable. 1751 not certain, may be 1753.
Leicestershire was an archdeaconry which was included in the massive diocese of Lincoln before being transferred to the diocese of Peterborough until 1926 when it became a separate diocese in its own right.
Outlined below is a list of the records found for this family of Wigstons which were obtained by searching the microfiche highlighted in by ** above, original banns register books and microfilm of the bishop’s transcripts:
THOMAS WIGSTON born c. 1786 (according to 1841 census)
No baptism, banns, marriage or burial entries were found
MIRIA/MARIA WIGSTON born c.1821 (according to 1841 census)
Baptism was found for a Maria, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 11 October 1820, abode as Barwell and trade or profession of father was listed as framework knitter.
The burial register shows a Maria, daughter of Thomas & Sarah Wigston died in Barwell and was buried 8 April 1846 aged 25 years.
WILLIAM WIGSTONE born c. 1826 (according to 1841 census)
Baptisms were found in the parish registers although there were 3 illegitimate Williams. However, this would make sense if William was the first born, which I do not think is the case within this family.
On checking the Bishop’s transcripts a baptism entry was found for William on 8 March 1823. This does not accurately tie in with the estimated date from the census but this was not unusual. There were not normally any written records and so the census was reliant on memories and honesty. The census was also subject to rounding down ages to the nearest 5 years which would have meant that William may have been recorded as 15 not 18 in the census.
No further records were found for William using either Wigston or Wigstone as listed in the baptism entry.
HARRIET WIGSTON born c. 1831 (according to 1841 census)
Baptism was found for Harriet, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 8 July 1826, abode as Barwell and father’s trade or profession was listed as framework knitter. There is quite an age discrepancy but once again this could be down to the rounding of her age from 14 to 10.
No further records for Harriett were found
FANNY WIGSTON born c. 1831 (according to 1841 census), (were Fanny and Harriet twins or just born close together if you go by the census dates?)
A Frances Wigston was baptised 30 September 1829 to a Thomas and Sarah Wigston who lived in Barwell and again he is listed as a framework knitter. I am suggesting in this case that Fanny is a nickname for Frances. (please see http://genealogy.about.com/library/bl_nicknames.htm for reference).
In the banns register John Peace and Frances Wigston are listed – he as a bachelor of the parish and she as a spinster of the parish. Banns were read out on February 9 1851, February 16 1851 and then February 23 1851. Frances married John Peace on 24 February 1851, both were of full age and both listed as framework knitters.
John and Frances went on to have a son, John, who was entered into the burial register having died in Barwell as an infant and buried 29 September 1850. Having been named John after his father I would suppose that he was the first-born son.
The records above are what I found out about the family as identified in the 1841 census. In order to be thorough I checked for the name Wigston on all the fiche I viewed in case any were missing. In an age of high infant mortality and especially in a frame knitters community where fatalities were very commonplace I wanted to be sure none of them were missed.
A baptism record for Mary was found for 21 April 1810 in Barwell, to Thomas and Sarah Wigston.
Banns entry was found in the original register of November 1 1823 – 15 September 1839 which was ordered from the strong room. William Riley of the parish of Barwell and Mary Wigston of the parish of Barwell. Banns were read out on 29 July 1838, 5 August 1838 and 12 August 1838.
A marriage entry was found for Mary Wigston whose father was Thomas Wigston in Barwell on 14 August 1838 to William Riley, both of full age. She is listed as a framework knitter and he is a shoemaker. This was witnessed by Ann Wigston.
Baptism for Anne, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 29 June 1815 and Thomas is listed as a framework knitter.
In the burial register Anne is listed as being the daughter of Thomas and Anne and was buried 24 January 1841 in Barwell.
Baptism for George, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 4 May 1818 and Thomas is listed as a framework knitter.
A burial entry was found for George, son of Thomas & Sarah Wigston, living in Barwell. He was buried 7 May 1819 aged just 1 year old.
A baptism was found in the parish registers for Amey on 28 November 1812.
A marriage entry has been made on 30 April 1839 to William Lapsworth, both of whom were framework knitters. At first I thought the entry was for Anney but Anne Wigston was a witness so could not be the same person.
I double checked in the Bann register and there is an entry for William Lapsworth of the parish of Barwell and Amey Wigson (missing a ‘t’) also of Barwell and the banns were read out on 31 March 1839, 7 April 1839 and 14 April 1839.
William and Amey Lapsworth then had two children that I could find: John and Sarah (see below).
Amey Lapsworth died quite young and her burial record shows she was interred 20 August 1848 aged 35.
Baptised 16 May 1840 and William is listed as a framework knitter. Sadly there is also a burial listed – John, son of William and Amey Lapsworth living in Barwell, buried 6 May 1841 aged 11 months.
A baptism record was found for Sarah Lapsworth, 29 August 1842. No further records were found.
A baptism entry is made in the parish registers for 11 December 1807 in Barwell. A burial entry is made for John, son of Thomas and Sarah Wigston of Barwell. John was buried 25 May 1819 aged 11, giving him an approximate birthdate of 1808, although no baptism records were found.
What this research shows is that the parish registers themselves are a valuable source of reference but like many records, are not enough on their own and other reference material is often needed to corroborate the information which sometimes does not quite ‘add up’ or to fill the gaps within the records.
*CARN: County Archive Research network – a nationally recognised system of readers’ tickets for local authority record offices.
J Charles Cox The parish registers of England (Methuen 1910)
Nick Barratt Who do you think you are? Encyclopaedia of genealogy (Harper Collins 2008)
Mark D Herber Ancestral Trails (Genealogical Publishing Co 2000)
Stella Colwell The Family History Book (Phaidon Press 1989)
Cecil R.Humphery- Smith The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (Phillimore & Co Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition, 7 July 1995)