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  1. Published on: 01/06/2021 06:12 AMReported by: rogerblaxall
    Even without face-to-face meetings, the last few weeks at Ormskirk and District Family History Society have been incredibly busy, as their executive committee and their members got to grips with Zoom!

    The initial (virtual) gathering on 28 April revolved around the informal theme of a help desk, on the theory that - after fourteen months without meetings - members were bound to have come up against a few brick walls, and a whole host of subjects were covered in a very short time.

    Reasons why an ancestor might have shared a forename with Ferdinando, Earl of Derby and the practice of earning extra money by “taking in washing” (and where the washing might have come from) were discussed, alongside details about the local friendly societies or church-based charities that might have offered support.

    Other questions prompted practical tips on finding Lancaster Asylum records, BMDs from World War One-era Ormskirk Advertisers and even the cemeteries at Oldham, Lancashire. Another member was offered clues to help them identify a 4xgreat-grandmother who (until that night) had been nameless, and a single question about the 1850s fever ward in Ormskirk got everyone thinking about just what sort of medical facilities were available to the nineteenth-century residents of West Lancashire.

    These days, DNA testing can offer family historians a new tool to investigate their ancestors, and when that topic came up during the help desk, the information and advice flowed freely - with the benefits being weighed up against unexpected revelations and the possible complications that might come up if people are unknowingly researching a relation who was adopted into another family.

    A month later, on 26 May, members met again for their AGM, which (for the first time in the Society’s 41 years) was held via Zoom, allowing members from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Canada to join in.

    After the usual formalities, the Society’s Chair, Kate Hurst gave a short version of her new talk, The Ormskirk Recusants, which drew together all sorts of 17th c. (including wills, parish records and lists of “recusants” - people who were fined for not attending Anglican church services) in an effort to tell the stories of a few individuals who lived in 1600s Ormskirk, but didn’t want to conform to the laws that tried to force them to follow the Church of England’s rules.

    Afterwards, several of the audience shared their thoughts and knowledge of other laws and major events that might have explained why there was a renewed attempt to suppress non-Anglicans in England after the late 1670s, and why the local Quaker community also faced discrimination in the same era.

    Ormskirk and District Family History Society are planning to host another Zoom meeting at 8p.m. on Wednesday 24 June (details to be finalised).

    They will also trial a virtual coffee morning-style Zoom session for anyone seeking help with their family history on 11 June at 11am; anyone who would like to register their interest can contact Kate Hurst at chairman@odfhs.email and anyone who is considering joining ODFHS will find more information at http://odfhs.website/index.php/membership

    In addition, a brand-new virtual talk, 'A World Before Surnames', is now online. It explores the way that local people identified themselves before c.1400 (when families began to adopt a distinctive surname) and what a list of local residents from 1366 can tell us about occupations, relationships and life in West Lancashire six and a half centuries ago.

    Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr_AIZueF2I
     

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