in Cheshire

Latest news from the FHSC

Nathan Dylan Goodwin at FHSC

Don't forget to register for the special one-off event 


A live Q&A zoom with non other than genealogical mystery crime writer Nathan Dylan Goodwin:
the author of the highly popular series of books about Forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier.
Registration for this members only event is now open and closes on 5th February after which the Zoom links will be sent out. normal Seminar registration apply, see newsletter sent via email on  28th January for details 

This represents an exceptional and unique opportunity to personally ask Nathan any questions that you may have about his work live on Zoom. 


You can submit a question in writing beforehand if you would rather [to ] and we will ask it on your behalf or just attend the evening to listen to what will be an very interesting conversation. 

The Seminar Team would like to express our appreciation to Nathan for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule and hope that FHSC members will take full advantage of this generosity and take the chance to explore the use of family history techniques in a fictional context by interacting with Nathan, one of the leading authors of the genre.

A review of Nathan's latest book The Foundlings can be found on the news section of our website - 
Link to Nathan's own website where you can also subscribe to his newsletter is
Latest Really Useful Podcast

Episode 5 is all about One Place Studies 


Joe Saunders is joined by Janet Few, historian, President of the Family History Federation, former chair of the Society for One-Place Studies and author on the subject, Pam Smith, former professional genealogist and passionate local historian who is co-founder of the local history data management app Name & Place and Elizabeth Walne, professional genealogist, writer, tutor, speaker and One-Place researcher.

One-Place Studies are rich local and community histories that involve similar skills and sources as family history. 

The trio discuss how to go about choosing and carrying out your own study and the pleasures and pitfalls of doing so.



Janet Few:

Pam Smith:

Elizabeth Walne:

Second Chance to Listen to the 1921 Census Talk by Myko Clelland


If any FHSC member was unable to attend the very enjoyable and informative talk to the Society by Myko Clelland on 19th January then we are delighted to inform members that the Seminar Team was given pernmission to record this talk and have arranged a reshowing which will take place on 27th January at 2:30pm.

Of course any members who wish to listen again are more than welcome to come along - there was so much information that you may need a second bite at it! 

This is an event for full members of the Society and you will need to register - members will have received a newsletter this week with full details 

Any dififculties then please email -  

‘Holly Holy Day’ Battle of Nantwich

‘Holly Holy Day’ Battle of Nantwich events at St Mary’s Church, Acton


St Mary’s Church on Monks Lane in Acton have organised ‘Holly Holy Day’ Battle of Nantwich events this Saturday January 22.

The church will be open from 9am until 11:30am serving hot drinks and buttered toast.


  • At 10am Mike Lea (local historian) will give a talk “The Civil War explained” inside the church.
  • At 11am a guided walk will head off to view the battlefields without treading through the muddy fields.


Acton Church is well ventilated, but while inside the church visitors should wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser whilst entering and leaving the church.

A representative from St Mary’s Church, Acton said: “We are very fortunate to have Mike Lea to come and explain the Battle of Nantwich to us; the hot buttered toast is a welcome treat too…on a cold January morning!”


The ‘Battle of Nantwich’ occurred during the first English Civil War (1642-1646) and was fought between the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers) who were loyal to Charles I.

At the end of 1643, the Royalist army had secured much of the North West and Cheshire with the exception of Nantwich where, surrounded by Royalists, the Parliamentarian garrison held out under siege.Namptwiche, as it was then called, was Cheshire’s second major town and very important due to its strategic position on the road to Chester. A Parliamentarian force under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612-71) advanced from Lincolnshire to relieve the town. This army engaged the Royalists in the Henhull area to the west and defeated them in the Battle of Namptwiche. As Fairfax’s forces marched on Acton, Col Richard Gibson deployed four Royalist regiments of infantry to meet them. The Royalists fell back to Acton Church where Col Gibson surrendered to Fairfax. Many of the officers took refuge in Acton Church and were also taken prisoner after surrendering. The battle took place on 25th January 1644 and it was a Parliamentarian victory. To celebrate the Parliamentarian victory people wore sprigs of holly in their hair and hats.

(c/o Jonathan White)

Flavours from History: Free online event
Flavours From History
Join Heather and Kate from Cheshire Archives and Local Studies to delve into the CWAC Library collections for historic recipes and culinary traditions from the 17th to 20th centuries.
Cooking historic recipes not only connects us with the past but historic ingredients, pickling and preserving have a lot to tell us about food miles, food waste, eating locally sourced food and seasonality. We also experience the process of passing treasured recipes down through generations of the family.
Join in live, on Saturday 29th January 12pm - 1pm for Heath and Weebeing week through the CWAC Library Facebook page [link bleow] where there will be a special recorded chat focusing on archive recipes, followed by a live question and answer session.
Staffordshire Asylums - Patient Database, 1818-1920 Goes Live

Staffordshire Asylums - Patient Database, 1818-1920

This fasinating index is now live to search on the Staffordshire Name Indexes website, which is brought to you by Staffordshire & Stoke On Trent Archive Service


The early 19th century saw intense debate about how the problem of pauper lunacy should be addressed. At this time, costly private asylums and pauper workhouses offered the only alternative to treating the mentally ill at home. This problem was exacerbated by the long-term detention of criminal lunatics in County gaols.

The 1808 County Asylums Act (Wynn’s Act) enabled counties to raise funds for asylums. The Lunacy Act of 1845 extended this legislation, making it mandatory for counties to provide for the care of the mentally ill. As a result of this legislation, 3 county asylums were established in Staffordshire before the end of the 19th century.

About this Index

This index includes patients at the hospitals in the period 1818-1920 only since medical records less than 100 years are not normally available for consultation by the general public.

Please be aware that hospital records can be distressing and that terms used to refer to people with mental health problems are historic and reflect the attitudes and language of the period. These terms might now be considered derogatory, or offensive.

A successful search of the index can provide you with some or all of the following information:

  • Surname
  • Forename(s)
  • Occupation – This refers to occupation recorded on admission
  • Union of Residence – Poor Law Union. To view Staffordshire parishes/places within a Union, please see the link below. Where abode was given rather than Union, this has been marked with an asterisk, e.g. Leigh*, Albrighton*
  • Institution – This field includes the 3 county asylums: Stafford Asylum, Burntwood Asylum, Cheddleton Asylum.
  • Year of Admission, Discharge, Death - You may only find a date of admission or death or discharge as there are gaps in the records or because the dates are in other documents that were not consulted for the index. You may get multiple dates if a patient was readmitted
  • Diagnosis - This is the diagnosis recorded on admission
  • Additional Items - This field records items that may be included in the case book, such as a photograph, notice of death, or newspaper cutting.
  • Continuing Notes – This may include a reference to the previous case book, or any following case book in which a patient’s treatment is recorded.
  • Repository - This is the repository where documents can be viewed.
  • Document Ref - This may be the reference number of a register or case book. There may be more than one document referenced for a patient, depending on whether entries were made from more than one case book or register.
  • Page Number - Page numbers only apply to case book references.
  • Record Title – This is the title of the document, for example, “Admissions Register”, “Female Patients Case Book”.

Link to the website for more information and how you can track now the records themselves 👉

An Interesting Series of 1921 Census Facts

1,095 females to 1,000 males - in 1921 there were 1,720,802 more females than males. In 1911: 1,179,275 more females than males. The 1921 census figure for males doesn’t include ‘members of the Army, Navy and Air Force and of the Mercantile Marine who were out of the country on the census night’.

The significance – the 1.8 million population increase during 1911-1921 was ‘numerically about one half of the increase in the preceding intercensal period; it is less than any corresponding figure since 1811 while proportionately it is far lower than any hitherto recorded’ 

£50,000 -  The total cost of taking the 1921 Census, including staff and materials

£20,000 - The cost for the 1921 Census forms for England and Wales to be printed by the Government Stationery Office Press at Harrow, £16,300 were paper costs.(Costs were mentioned in a House of Commons debate, Hansard, 1 March 1921)

A 2 year prison sentence with hard labour was faced by any of the 38,000 enumerators of the 1921 Census should they divulge any of the confidential information that they acquired on the forms.

A £10 fine for everyone who failed to fill in/provide the details for the 1921 census form or who provide false information (this is an increase on the previous £5 fine for such form-filling malpractice on the 1911 Census)

A £2 fee was paid to each of the 38,000 enumerators, plus 4s for every 100 people enumerated and 6d for each mile over 5 miles that the enumerator has to travel on his beat.(Page 3, Dundee Evening Telegraph, 29 March 1921)

The 1921 Census enumerators had all to be appointed by 31 March 2021, and then had to master the 20 page rule book, before, from 11 April, starting to distribute the 11 million household census forms.(Page 3, Dundee Evening Telegraph, 29 March 1921)

HIS RETURN - The head of the household was thought and sought to be male - And suffragist loving housewives were to be ‘stifled’ according to a newspaper report in the Staffordshire Advertiser, which invited the enumerators to remember this.(Page 7, Staffordshire Advertiser, 26 March 1921)

St Marks Day - 25th April 1921 The day that the census enumerators were orginially due to return to collect the completed household census forms.

'Everyone will soon be in the Workhouse' - This phrase was jokingly bandied about at the time of the 1921 Census, as the Ministry of Health had rented Lambeth Workhouse from the Board of Guardians and was using the Workhouse as it’s HQ to organize the completed householder schedules… thus everyone’s name would be in the workhouse 

Lodgers were deemed to be a separate household, therefore needing their own census form. Boarders, however, would have their details entered alongside that of the rest of the household.(Presumably this means that we should also search the 1921 Census by address to ensure that we have found everyone enumerated in a household – otherwise the fact that our family had a lodger may elude us?)

If you have an ancestor who died between 25 April 1921 and 20 June 1921 you will be frustrated that the postponement of the census of England and Wales means that you will not find them enumerated. But, if you have an ancestor who was born in England and Wales between these dates, you will be happily able to search for them – as they will be included, whereas if the postponement hadn’t gone ahead, they wouldn’t have been.

The census was due to have been taken in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland on 24 April 1921. For the first time in the history of the census it was postponed, however. It was deemed too costly to print new forms, so the paperwork was retained and used when the census was taken in June. The unprecedented postponement was caused by, the coal miners’ strike, and the threat of strike action by the railway and transport workers. In the afternoon of 14 April 1921 Sir Alfred Mond announced the postponement of the census in the House of Commons. The events surrounding the Irish War of Independence had meant that the planned 1921 Census for Ireland had already been shelved on 1 April.
Edith Abbot’s article, ‘The English Census of 1921’ was published in Journal of Political Economy by Chicago University Press (December 1922, vol 30, issue 6).Today it’s a 15 page pdf free to download 
The question on the 1921 Census forms surrounding the number of living rooms was an attempt to get a handle on the living conditions of the population at the time.For detailed stats about living conditions and numbers of living rooms see  👉
The questions on the 1921 Census surrounding place of work and employer were to ascertain how far people may have to travel to work, and the likely implications for the transport network.
The question of orphans and dependants was raised particularly in regard to pensions and payouts: 👉 Apparently 500,000 children lost their fathers, who were serving in the British Armed forces in WW1!
While not providing a precise date of birth, like the 1939 Register, the 1921 Census will go one step closer to providing detailed leads for those seeking their ancestors’ birth details as ages will be given in years and months (not just years as previously).
The question as to ex-soldiers being employed as enumerators raged on in the months leading up to the census.There were many soldiers out of work, but the argument against employing them was that the role of enumerator was just a temporary position so may preclude them from obtaining work (people accepted as enumerators, but who went back on this acceptance, were fined heavily for doing so).
4.14 people per family - This was the size of the average family in 1921, a 5% drop from the 1911 Census (which recorded an average of 4.36 persons), and the average number of occupied rooms per person was 1.06 rooms.Note that these figures are for ‘private families’. When it comes to people living in ‘room accommodation’, however, then 54.5% of people living in room accommodation had an average density of 1 to 2 people per room:👉
(All details from Census of England and Wales 1921, General Report, England and Wales, 1921 and thanks to Family Tree Magazine)
The Foundlings by Nathan Dylan Goodwin – a review

By now members would have received the exciting news that author Nathan Dylan Goodwin is joining us at FHSC for a live Zoom Q&A session on the evening of 7th February 

Watch out for the registration opening on 20th January for this event and in the meantime make a note in your diary. 


Below is my review of Nathan's latest book The Foundlings and a link to his website where purchasing details can be found.

It would be quite difficult to review this book, the 9th in the Moreton Farrier series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, without spoiling the plot for you. Suffice to say that this is a fast-paced story, which unfolds in the author’s distinctive narrative style of moving between flashbacks to the present day, with enough twists and turns to keep even the most ardent Moreton Farrier fan guessing until the last page. Having read all in the series I did feel as if I were returning to visit a family friend when I picked up this book, although it must be said to those new to the series that each book can be read as a stand-alone story.

In his latest adventure Farrier introduces DNA to his genealogical toolbox as he tries to discover the identity of the mother of three women, all abandoned as babies. The case soon becomes emotionally charged for Farrier with his own family history so clearly embroidered throughout the tapestry of the story. It helps that the author is a family historian himself, with the descriptions of the various websites being exactly right and all family historians will find themselves relating to the various online and archival records, you will even find yourself, as I did, second guessing what steps Moreton would take. The explanations of the science behind DNA are not over complicated, which they could so easily become, and the creative dexterity involved in drawing all the threads together to bring everything to a credible conclusion is sublime.

The Foundlings is right up there with the previous books and you don’t have to be a genealogist to enjoy this latest offering, an appreciation of well written crime/mystery/murder thriller is all you need, and I highly recommend it.

The full list of the previous books in the Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s Forensic Genealogist series are listed below in order of publication

  • The Asylum
  • Hiding the Past
  • The Lost Ancestor
  • The Orange Lilies
  • The American Ground
  • The Spyglass File
  • The Missing Man
  • The Suffragette’s Secret
  • The Wicked Trade
  • The Sterling Affair
  • The Foundlings

Independently published (28 Oct. 2021). Paperback, 258 pages £8.99, Kindle - £4.99.  ISBN-13:979-8481041421

For full purchasing details, not only for this book but for all in the series, then visit the author’s at the following link -

There are also a number of reviews of previous Nathan Dylan Goodwin books in the Cheshire Ancestor that can be downloaded via the website - details below

Reviewed by Babs Johnson

The Chester Creek Murders  - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 51 No 4: June 2021 page 15

The Sterling Affair - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 51 No 1: September 2020 Page 23

Reviewed by Jackie Jones

The Suffragette’s Secret - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 49 No 4: June 2019 Page 20

The Wicked Trade - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 50 No 1: September 2019 Page 17

Reviewed by Jean Laidlaw

The Spyglass File - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 48 No 3: March 2018 Page 16

The Missing Man - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 49 No 1: September 2018 Page 18

The America Ground - Cheshire Ancestor Vol 47 No 4: June 2017 Page 20

1921 Census with Myko Clelland

The 1921 Census of England and Wales is here.


Join us when Findmypast's Myko Clelland offers an unmissable exploration of the biggest new arrival in family history. After years spent digitising and transcribing this unique snapshot of our recent history, discover the stories and secrets contained within. Along with the historical context, tips for effective searching and using it to trace elusive relatives, we'll learn how the 1921 Census will help you to understand your ancestors’ lives better.


This Event is for Members only and registration is now open. REMEMBER you need to be logged into the website in order to register.

Click on Events in top right hand corner, then scroll down to the title of this Seminar, click on the blue title, followed by ‘Join’ and ‘Save’ – You will receive a confirmation email and the Zoom links/meeting protocol will be forwarded two days prior to the talk.

If you run into any difficulties with this then please contact us on the seminar email [see below] or visit the 'Seminar Talks and how to Register' section under 'Online Talks and Meetings' in the FAQ section of the website.

The Seminar series is co-ordinated by Margaret Spate, Jean Laidlaw and Margaret Roberts and ALL correspondence, queries etc should be sent to the dedicated email address -  


NOT A MEMBER? Why not join, for £18 a year you will be able to attend all 12 seminars as well as all the other benefits that being an FHSC member includes.