News for Autumn 2013

New Record Series Book Launch

Church Life in Georgian Nottinghamshire: Archbishop Drummond’s Parish Visitation Returns, 1764.

From back left: Bishop Paul, John Beckett, Adrian Henstock (Record Series General Editor) and Howard Fisher (Editor of the book).From back left: Bishop Paul, John Beckett, Adrian Henstock (Record Series General Editor) and Howard Fisher (Editor of the book). Photo by John Wilson.

The latest in the Society’s Record Series books was launched on 23 May 2013 when several members, family and friends gathered in the Great Hall at Southwell to witness the launch of the book by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler who had generously allowed time to attend the event.

Professor John Beckett made the introductory remarks, followed by the Bishop and the editor, Howard Fisher, gave an outline of the book contents and uses and thanked the several people who had given invaluable assistance and support during the project to produce the book, not least the series General Editor, Adrian Henstock, who was most supportive during the research process and who gave freely of his time and suggestions in the final draft process and also the production period.

Members of the Record Section have received copies of the book but other members and the general public can purchase a copy from the Society.

Bromley House Catalogue Goes Online

A new catalogue to the book collections of Bromley House Library, the private subscription library in Angel Row, Nottingham, is now available online. Thanks to a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund grant supplemented by other contributions all 40,000 books (c. 200 of them pre-1801) have now been re-catalogued over a two year period, enabling book searches to be undertaken from home computers. A notable feature of the project was that the work was undertaken by a handful of part-time professional cataloguers directing a large team of specially trained volunteers.

The catalogue - named ‘Bromcat’ - can be accessed via the Bromley House website at It was officially launched by local philanthropists Sir Harry and Lady Carol Djanogly at a reception on 20th June. The Library’s holdings include substantial Local History collections relating to Nottinghamshire, including rare volumes such as first editions of Dr Thoroton’s Antiquities of Nottinghamshire of 1677 and a copy of John Blackner’s History of Nottingham of 1815 with additional illustrations. The Library’s own holdings are supplemented by two individual collections accumulated by former members – the Nottingham antiquarian James Ward, who gave his books in 1914, and book collector Michael Dobbin, a former Hon. Secretary of the Thoroton Society, whose collection was deposited on loan in 1999.

Bromley House Library was founded in 1816 and moved into its present home – a former Georgian town house built in c 1752 by the prominent Nottingham banking family of Smith – in 1822. The superb historic interior and large garden forms a delightful ‘time-capsule’ and quiet retreat in the heart of the city. The new catalogue is one of a series of initiatives leading up to the Library’s Bi-Centenary in 2016. Others include taking back most of the neglected Garden Wing into library use, and this is currently undergoing conversion.

For many years the Thoroton Society maintained its own library and committee room in Bromley House. This now serves as a meeting and lecture room but is still called ‘The Thoroton Room’. Society members are very welcome to join the Library. The current subscription stands at £80 per year, which includes all members of a family at the same address as well as one’s ‘servants’!

Adrian Henstock

Thoroton Book Stocks

For some years, stocks of the Society’s publications, including back numbers of Transactions and the publications in the Records Series, have been held by the Nottinghamshire Archives. Readers of the Society’s website are directed to the Archives if they wish to purchase a volume. This has proved a very successful method of retailing our publications to the general public. Most of the Thoroton stocks are currently held at a warehouse on the Glaisdale industrial estate which is used by the Nottinghamshire County Council. For various reasons, the warehouse is now overfull and we need to remove our book stocks. The reserve stock will in future be held in the loft at the Nottingham Mechanics along with our Book Stall stock. As a result, we will be offering more books for sale on the Bookstall in future. Some books will be offered at reduced prices in order to clear those lines which are not selling. The Nottinghamshire Archives will maintain a small stock for sale to users of the Archives and for internet sales, as in the past.

Thoroton Saturday Lectures

Please note that as from the January 2014 meeting, lectures at the New Mechanics Institute in Nottingham will start at 2.30 p.m.,15 minutes earlier than in the past.

This is to allow more leeway at the end of meetings before the group which follows us into the meeting room needs to enter to set-up the room for their activity.

Nottinghamshire Archive User Group

The User Group was founded in 1994, and offers support for the staff of Nottinghamshire Archives as well as acting as a conduit for discussion about policy and as a pressure group in relation to the county council.

The Group is chaired by Professor John Beckett, and includes Archive Office staff, representatives of different organisations (including the Thoroton Society), and elected ‘users’. Unfortunately the Group is struggling to elect users! It currently has two of its elected positions vacant.

These are both good and bad times for the Archive Office. They are good because work will begin in the autumn on a £2.5m extension project, which will see an improved search room for readers, and sufficient new storage space for the next twenty years. Times are bad, or at least not so good, because digitisation is changing the Archive world. Fewer readers come through the doors. Source materials which were once available only in the archives are often now online. The User Group regularly discusses the implication of these changes for the delivery of the service.

So there are challenges to be faced, and for that reason the User Group really would like to recruit new members. If you feel you can make a contribution in this area, and can attend two meetings a year (on a Tuesday afternoon at 4.30) please get in touch with Mark Dorrington at Nottinghamshire Archives:, or

First World War Commemorations

The commemorations of the First World War begin in 2014, and already a great number of organisations have announced their plans. The major offering in Nottinghamshire is a programme called ‘Trent to Trenches’, and you can find out more about this at East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association website. The main contact is

The Thoroton Society will be joining with Nottinghamshire Local History Association to run a one-day school at Ravenshead Village Hall on Saturday 25 October 2014.

The day will begin with an overview lecture by Professor Chris Wrigley of the University of Nottingham. After that we are inviting contributors to offer 20 minute (maximum!) papers on their WW1 research. The aim of the conference is to examine different aspects of the Home Front through World War I across Nottinghamshire.

If you, or a group you belong to, would like to contribute, please email with your proposal. It is hoped that some (or even all) of the papers delivered on the day will be written up and published in our Transactions.

Meantime, members are asked to keep 25 October 2014 free and to support this joint initiative.

Nottinghamshire Archives Events

Wednesday Workshops at Nottinghamshire Archives, Nottingham. Cost £4.00 per place. Booking essential.

16 October 2013: 2,30 p.m. Poor Law Records

20 November 2013: 2.30 p.m. Cemetery records

Introducing Archives. Free other than Retford event where a charge of £1.00 is made for refreshments.

10 October 2013; 3.00 p.m. Introduction to Family History.  Worksop Library. 01909 535353

6 November 2013; 7.00 p.m. Introduction to House History. Retford Library. 01777 708724

15 January 2014; 3.00 p.m. Introduction to Archives. Mansfield Library. 01623 651337

10 February 2014; 3.00 p.m. Introduction to Archives. Southwell Library.  01636 812148

6 March 2014; 2.30 p.m. Introduction to Archives. Arnold Library. 0115 920 2247 Details, contact the individual library.

Lunchtime Talks at Nottinghamshire Archives, Nottingham. Cost £4.00 per place. Booking essential.

18 October 2013; 1.00 p.m. Nottingham’s Green Spaces. The Green Spaces Team, Department of History University of Nottingham

1 November 2013; 1.00 p.m. Emma Wilmot’s Sketchbooks; A Historical Detective Story - Dr. Richard Gaunt

15 November 2013: 1.00 p.m. The River Leen: Past and Present - Chris Matthews, author River Green Gateway

29 November 2013: 1.00 p.m. Changing Landscapes of Nottingham - Chris Weir

Ask an Archivist; Library Surgeries. Obtain advice on your local and family history research.

Thursday 24 October 2013; 1.30 – 3.30 p.m. Carlton Library. 0115 987 0276

Thursday 14 November; 2.00 – 4.00 p.m. Ravenshead library. 01623 794634

Monday 9 December 2013; 1.30 – 3.30 p.m. Bircotes library. 01302 742384

Monday 20 January 2014; 2.00 – 4.00 p.m. Balderton Library. 01636 703930

Thursday 20 February 2014; 2.00 – 4.00 p.m.  Stapleford Library. 0115 939 9178

Wednesday 12 March 2014; 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m.  East Leake Library.  01509 852349

Further information from the libraries or Nottinghamshire Archives

Christmas 2013: Death at the Archives. Stories of murder, skulduggery and dastardly deeds from letters and diaries held at Nottinghamshire Archives.

Friday, 13 December 2013 at 2.30 p.m. at Nottinghamshire Archives, Nottingham. Cost £4.00. Booking essential.

Field Names

Rebecca Gregory, a student with the Institute for Name-Studies at the University of Nottingham is currently undertaking a PhD on the field-names of Nottinghamshire. The section she is currently working on includes the parishes of Rolleston, Fiskerton cum Morton, Southwell, Halloughton, Upton, Bleasby, Thurgarton, Hoveringham, Gonalston, Epperstone, Oxton, Edingley, Halam, Kirklington and Farnsfield. She has been able to collect an enormous amount of information on field-names prior to 1900 from various written documents, but she would ideally like to be able to collect some information on naming in the 20th and 21st centuries. In order to do this, she would wish to speak to farmers or other residents of these parishes who would be willing to talk to her about the names by which they know fields, streams, woodland or other features.

She has contacted the Society in the hope that some of our members might be able to help with this project. Subsequently she would be very happy to share any of her research with the Society, hoping to illuminate some of the lesser-covered aspects of Nottinghamshire’s history. Her project will also involve the digital mapping of names and data to produce field and distribution-maps with exact geo-referencing, and she intends to make this information available for future research.

If you are able to help Rebecca please contact her on 01664 822208 or by email at .

Saturday Seminar Programme

The very popular Saturday Seminar series starts its next programme of talks on Saturday, 12 October 2013 with a talk by Dr. Richard Jones of the University of Leicester.

The talks are held at the Department of History, Lenton Lodge, University of Nottingham with good local transport connections and free car parking in the immediate vicinity of the venue.

The starting time is 10 a.m. and there are hot drinks available before the time of commencement at 50p per cup and the cost of the talk is £5.00 which includes drinks and biscuits at a half-way break.

Other dates are 9 November 2013 when the talk will be given by the Green Spaces Team led by Professors John Beckett and Paul Elliott about their Connected Communities Project involving Nottingham’s post-enclosure green spaces, and 14 December when Dr. David Marcombe will be welcomed to give a lecture.

The seminars are very popular indeed and frequently attract audiences of upwards of 50 to 60 people, several of whom go on to enjoy a Thoroton lecture in the afternoons because the Seminar series always takes place on the morning of Thoroton lecture Saturdays.

Transaction Back Issues

The supply of back issues of Transactions which are available at very small cost from the Society’s book stall at lectures has recently been added to by the donation of a large number by long-standing member Judge Heald. Sadly the Judge and his wife have recently had to move into a nursing home and have given his library of Transactions to the Society in the hope that they will be of use to other members. We thank Judge and Mrs. Heald for their generosity.

Letter from a Member – Victor Okrafo-Smart

I have just returned from an historic, emotional visit to Nigeria from where my ancestor was kidnapped, taken as a slave in 1814. Fortunately, he was rescued by the British following the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1807.

He was resettled in Freetown, Sierra Leone in July 1814. He was able to tell his children about his family history, his ethnic origin & that he was a Prince from a Royal Household. He told them various aspects of his life & the village he came from. Most importantly, he wanted his story to be passed down the generations. I was told about the story in 1982 on holiday visit to Sierra Leone from where I originated. Hearing that my ancestor’s son & grandchildren were Missionaries in 1850s & 1860s, prompted me to do further research, resulting in me writing & publishing my book OKRAFO. Over a Century in the lives of a Liberated African Family 1816-1930. (ISBN: 978-0-9554724-0-4).

As a result of the book on sale on the internet, I was contacted by an academic in Nigeria who gave me a link, as a result of which I was able to trace the village my ancestor was taken from. To my amazement I found out that he was a Prince from the Royal Household of Emeto in UMUOZU, in IMO State. My visit was a remarkable experience. The traditional ruler is a descendant of my ancestor’s brother!! My ancestor called OKOROAFOR had four brothers. I met the descendants of three of his brothers!

Due to their tradition, because my ancestor has Royal Heritage, I was inaugurated as Prince NWA AFOR, son of the ancient Kingdom of ISU.

I am aware that my story is totally irrelevant to my membership of The Thoroton Society. The truth is that I am so excited about my story, that I thought you might be interested to read about this. My apologies for taking up your valuable time.

Ed: This is such a heart warming story that it just has to be shared with our Society members. I have sought to make the Newsletter inclusive to the stories of members – our Transactions and Record series volumes are the academic side of the Thoroton Society whilst the Newsletter is intended to be more relaxed and to include news, not only of county activities, but of our members.I was, therefore, delighted to be passed this letter which was addressed to Judith, our Membership Secretary, and to be able to include it in this issue. Thank you Victor, for sharing it with us.