The Newsletter of
Pendle & Burnley Branch
Issue no : 4 - November 2001

Editor : Derek Mills


Now that the winter months are approaching and the nights are drawing in, perhaps some of our members would like to participate in the undertaking of some transcription work. We have numerous projects under consideration and if anyone is interested in contributing, would they please contact Ken Lupton or any committee member.

In some situations, where we have access to original records but are not able to borrow them for transcription purposes, we have arranged to photograph the information by the use of a digital camera. The information is then processed and edited via a computer and is eventually printed out to be bound into book form. Ken Lupton has negotiated with the trustees of Padiham Unitarian Church for the purpose of transcribing their records and we have successfully accomplished the initial stages.

On a more serious and disturbing note, I have to report that sometime in August, the colour and black cartridges in our printer at Colne library mysteriously disappeared. That equates to approximately 50s worth of software. We have therefore decided that while the printer is not in use, the replacement cartridges will be locked away.

Included in this edition, is a list of new books available in the branch library.

Please submit correspondence to be included in the Gazette, to the editor, Mr D Mills, 23 Hall Park Avenue, Cliviger, Burnley. BB10 4JJ


1   Projects
2   Query Corner
3   Life in the 16th Century
4   No plain Mr.Smith
5   Library Additions
6   Some Latin Expressions


Members are continuing to transcribe the baptisms at St.Paul's church, Nelson, St.Bartholomew's church, Colne, St.Peter's church, Burnley, St.James's church, Burnley and St.Paul's church, Burnley. Marriages at St Bartholomew's church, Colne, are in progress and the marriages 1871-1900 at St.James's church, Burnley and the marriages at Padiham Unitarian church 1874-2000 are completed.

The baptisms of 1813-1824 and the burials of 1813-1896 at St Peter's church, Burnley are completed and the baptism, marriage and burial records from 1566-1942 at St Mary's church, Thornton in Craven, are in the process of either being transcribed or have been partly completed. Most of the above records are available for research on the branch computer at Colne library.

Copies of the St Peter's burials 1845-1896 have been despatched for binding and should eventually be available in book form at our library at Colne. The records then will be available for research either on the computer or in hard copy.

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As members will know, we have a collection of Parish Records on micro-fiche at Colne library which are available on loan. Unfortunately one of the fiche has gone missing, so we would like to ask members if this particular fiche has inadvertently been associated with their own fiche. It is Christ church, Colne, PR 3173/1/13 1836-1885, No 2 of 3 fiche, Thanks.

Mrs Janet B Huige (nee Lees) Member No 6399 is looking for her ancestor Thomas RUSHTON who was born in Colne about 1829. On the 1851 census, he was living at Red Lumb in the district of Spotland and it says that he was born at Cowm, Yorkshire. There is no such place, but there was a place near Whitworth that was called Cowm before it was flooded to create a reservoir. However, on the 1861 census, he is in Elton, Bury and it is said that he was born in Colne. There was a Thomas Robinson RUSHTON, the illegitimate son of Margaret RUSHTON, baptised at St Bartholomew's church, Colne, on the 6th June 1830, but this is not thought to be the same Thomas. Janet's Thomas had one daughter named Isabella after his wife's mother. He also appears to have been illegitimate.

If you think that you can help Janet, you can contact her at - Korenbloem 21, 2992 CH Barendrect, The Netherlands or e-mail

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Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. 

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children, and last of all, the babies. By then, the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it, hence the expression, "Don't throw the baby out with the water."

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw, piled high with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to keep warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats and bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs." There was nothing to prevent things falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. A bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was composed of dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "Dirt poor."

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance, creating a "Thresh hold." They cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to cool overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, inspiring the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "Could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "Chew the fat."

Those with money, had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, creating lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 300 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers, pieces of wood scooped out like a bowl. Often, trenches were made from stale paysan bread that was so old and hard that they could use them for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed and worms and mould got into the wood and old bread. After eating off wormy, mouldy trenchers, one would get "Trench mouth."

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle and guests got the top, or "Upper crust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather round and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up, the custom of holding a "Wake."

England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury the dead. Many of the dead were buried in linen shrouds, some in coffins. When the dead had been disinterred, the bones would have been taken to a bone-house or ossuary and the grave would have been reused. One out of 25 of the coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised that people were being buried alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (The graveyard shift) to listen for any tinkling of the bell. Thus, someone could be "Saved by the bell." or was considered a "Dead ringer."

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No plain Mr SMITH

If you are unfortunately researching the name SMITH, one can sympathise with the problems this entails, but don't give up hope. In some circumstances you may succeed. Just consider this gentleman. He was found on the St Catherine's Indexes for marriages 1849 Q1 Dist 20 Lancs, page 285:

His name, Edmund Frederic De Courcy Molineaux Gerard Swinchatte SMITH. There will be no doubting that gentleman.

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Recent additions to our Branch Library are listed below.

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Natus = born (a male) In hac parochial = in this parish
Nata = born (a female) In hac urbe = in this town
Natus et renatus = born and reborn (ie. baptised) In hoc vico = in this village, district
Compatres = godparents In hac vicinitate = in this neighbourhood
Natu maior/major = the older born of twins In hoc pago = in this village
Natu minor = the younger In hoc loco = in this place
Natu maximus = the eldest born Parva = Little, small
Domi = baptised at home Magna = great, large
In extremis = on point of death Superior = upper
Publice recepit = received into church Inferior = lower
In hac ecclesia = in this church

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LFH&HS Pendle and Burnley Branch 2001