Over 4 million new records launched online!

4,096,794 new records have been added to Ancestry.co.uk for West Yorkshire collections in December 2014, as part of WYAS’s on-going programme of digitisation of popular sources, with over 37 million records now on-line. The latest launch added West Riding Coroners’ notebooks 1852-1909, and selections of land tax records 1704-1932, bastardy and offence records 1690-1914, West Yorkshire rate books and pre-1841 census 1705-1893.


Coroners’ Notebooks 1852-1909

This collection includes more than 200 handwritten registers kept by Thomas Taylor. Taylor was the coroner for the Honour of Pontefract from 1852-1900, deputy county coroner 1855, 1861-1864, and county coroner 1864-1900. Select registers created by other coroners for later years are also included. All told, more than 19,000 deaths are recorded in the registers, with coverage from 1852 through to 1909.

Deaths resulting from sudden, accidental, and/or suspicious or mysterious causes are included in these records. Details that can be found in the registers include name of the deceased, date and location of the inquest, age of the deceased, circumstances surrounding the death, verdict, and sometime the names of the deputy coroner or jury foreman.

Eliza Coulson 2

Selected Land Tax Records 1704-1932

The land tax was introduced in England in 1692 to raise revenue for the government. It was not done away with until 1963. Land tax records are of value to genealogists because they often list both property owners (proprietors) and tenants, placing them in a parish and a year. Most divisions are based on 1834–1974 boundaries.

This collection contains selected land tax books. They list all households in the areas and details such as who occupied the house, who owned the house, the name or situation of the property, and how much tax was collected. These records also include institutions such as schools and companies.


Select Rate Books, Accounts and Censuses 1705–1893

Rates were collected in each parish for various purposes including support of the sick and poor, maintenance of roads and churches, and other parish expenses. The rate payer was the person responsible for paying the local taxes and could be the owner or occupier of the property. This collection consists of rate books from the following places:

• Addingham
• Eccleshill
• Halifax St. John the Baptist
• Headingley and Burley
• Kippax St. Mary
• Leeds
• Southowram
• Spofforth

Rates were assessed based on a dwelling’s value. These records include a listing of who occupied the house, who owned the house, the type of dwelling, the name or situation of the property, how much rent was collected, and the rates paid.

This collection also includes some pre-1841 censuses for parishes, towns, and townships including Holmfirth, Wapentake of Claro, Sandal Magna, Thornhill, Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse, and Spofforth 1801-1837.

Selected Bastardy Records 1690-1914

Care of the poor fell to a resident’s parish following the 1601 Poor Laws. In cases of an illegitimate birth, parishes tried to identify the father and make him legally responsible for the child’s maintenance to keep the child off parish relief. The Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in 1834. It completely overhauled the existing system and established a Poor Law Commission to oversee the national operation of the system. This included the forming together of small parishes into Poor Law Unions and the building of workhouses in each union for the giving of poor relief. Poor Law Union representatives still sought to hold fathers responsible for maintenance. Mothers could also apply to require a father to support his child.

This collection includes:

• Summonses by the parish or by the mother to appear in court. Sent to men named as the father of a child.
• Bastardy bonds. Record of the father’s agreement to pay for maintenance of the child.
• Bastardy orders. Record of orders to fathers to make payment for the maintenance of the child.
• Payment registers. Record of payments by fathers to the parish for maintenance of the child.

In addition to bastardy cases, you may find references in these records to other violations of Poor Law Acts, desertion, and other legislation. The records often contain the name of the mother and name and occupation of the putative father, but they typically do not provide the name of the child, though they may specify gender and birth date. They may also list a parish for each parent as well as a date for the court action.

Detailed list of the records in this collection:

• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Bastardy receipts, 1803–1822
• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Accounts of payments to mothers of illegitimate children and receipts under filiation orders, 1806–1825
• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Bastardy payments,1810–1821
• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Bastardy receipts, 1826–1843
• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Payments to women previous to filiating and bastardy payments, 1827–1843
• Bingley and Haworth Township records, Filiation orders, 1834
• Magistrates’ minute book covering Bingley, Idle, Heaton, Keighley and Haworth, 1817–1821
• Bradford City Court Bastardy orders, 1894–1947
• Brighouse Borough Bastardy orders, 1899–1951
• Brotherton St Edward parish records, Bastardy orders, 1848
• Upper Osgoldcross Court at Castleford, Bastardy orders, 1888–1946
• Darrington with Wentbridge St Luke and All Saints parish records, Illegitimacy papers, 1794–1824
• Emley St Michael parish records, 1743–1839
• Hemsworth St Helen parish records, Bastardy bonds, 1690–1765
• Horbury St Peter parish records, Bastardy book, 1834–1846
• Huddersfield Magistrates, 1877–1899
• Keighley division, Applications for bastardy orders, 1848–1880
• Keighley (Court at Bingley), 1844–1915
• Keighley (Court at Bingley), 1895–1959
• Kippax St Mary parish records, Bastardy Orders, 1798–1843
• Northowram Township bastardy accounts, 1817–1829
• Royston St John the Baptist parish records, Bonds of putative fathers, 1714–1830
• Royston St John the Baptist parish records, Affiliation papers and correspondence, 1770–1830
• Royston St John the Baptist parish records, Affiliation accounts and vouchers, 1789–1826
• Royston St John the Baptist parish records, Filiation orders, 1796–1831
• Royston St John the Baptist parish records, Filiation proceedings, warrants, etc., 1812–1826
• Sandal Magna St Helen parish records, 1783–1840
• Sandal Magna St Helen parish records, Warrants to apprehend fathers, 1795–1830
• Sandal Magna St Helen parish records, Bonds of Maintenance, 1796–1799
• Sandal Magna St Helen parish records, Summons to reputed fathers, 1820–1831
• Sandal Magna St Helen parish records, Warrants for disobeying bastardy orders, 1825–1842
• Slaithwaite Bastardy orders, 1854
• South Kirby All saints parish records, Filiation orders, 1792–1813
• Thornhill Township Filiation orders and papers, 1767–1843
• Thornhill Township Bastardy accounts, 1827–1857
• Wakefield Borough, 1870–1915

West Riding Constabulary

West Yorkshire Archive service is pleased to announce that work has been completed on the West Riding Constabulary collection, with 3143 entries now being available on Calmview. The collection includes personnel records such as service registers, examination books and personnel registers and files which give details of officers and constables who joined the West Riding Constabulary from 1856–1969.

A360-5-0001 (1)A360-5-0001 (2)

The West Riding Constabulary was established in 1856 as a county force which operated alongside the existing borough forces until amalgamation began in 1968. It was originally divided into 31 police districts within the county. In 1928 the first patrol car made an appearance and a Road Traffic Division was created in 1938 – a driving school being established at Wakefield in 1944. Women first joined the force in 1925. There are also an exciting number of photographs of constables and officers within various sections of the service including the Special Constabulary, Cadets, Civil Defence and Mounted sections.


The Legislative section of this collection reflect the many Acts, Bills and facets of the law and legal system that officers had to adhere to in their daily work. Crime evidently dominated their day which is reflected in the various police publications giving the modus operandi of criminals as well as many descriptions of felons, suspected and missing persons included in the collection. Beat books give the real day to day, almost hour by hour work of the constable. The enquiries they dealt with, witness statements to incidents they attended and the shift patterns officers worked.

One of the more entertaining elements of the collection are the many sporting and social club events and awards that took place within the force, cricket, bowling, police band and life saving teams among them.


Gall stones, hair clippings and so many Rowlands! The Nostell Priory Cataloguing Project

Coat of Arms of Rowland Winn, 1st Baron St Oswald 1885

Coat of Arms of Rowland Winn, 1st Baron St Oswald 1885

WYAS is delighted to announce that this National Cataloguing Grant Funded Project has been successfully completed! A catalogue of over 1000 pages is now available to guide researchers in their use of the records of the Winn family, Barons St Oswald of Nostell Priory, with its magnificent plasterwork interiors by Robert Adam and James Paine, and an outstanding collection of Chippendale furniture. This prestigious and treasured collection is the premier family and estate collection for Wakefield district held by the Service. A grant of £37,000 was awarded to WYAS in 2012 and the project has run from Apr 2013-July 2014.

Coldstream Guards. 1880-1884. Rowland Winn (1857-1974) 2nd Baron St Oswald was a Captain in the Coldstream Guards.

Coldstream Guards. 1880-1884. Rowland Winn (1857-1919) 2nd Baron St Oswald was a Captain in the Coldstream Guards.

From the 1215 Charter of King John onwards, the collection covers personal papers of the Winn family 16th century-1999, manorial records 1605-1745, estate management records 1215-1987, and professional and official records c1555-1977. Over the course of the project over 3000 new entries were added as items were listed for the first time. Some of these finds include new references to Thomas Chippendale amongst the personal correspondence of Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet; recipes, cures and remedies; a huge range of Royal Seals; beautifully hand decorated personal letters to Sabine Winn; Polish newspapers reporting on Lady Wanda Winn and Rowland, the 4th Baron, including articles written by Lord St Oswald; a vast range of personal correspondence of the Winn family including references to military service in the First World War and photographs of the 4th Baron’s time serving in Albania during World War II.

In addition valuable additional information has been added for some 6000 entries including Civil War tracts from the 17th century and eye-witness accounts and letters relating to the doomed invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. As for the cow’s gall bladder from 1888 and childhood hair clippings of Rowland, 6th Baronet, they certainly do make the collection unique!

The whole collection has also been re-numbered and re-packaged, a major task in its own right! Throughout the Project, WYAS has also promoted the collection, working in partnership with the Nostell Priory outreach team. We will continue this promotional work in the months and years to come.

Whether you are looking for your ancestors who worked there, researching the influential Winn family, the estate, the Priory, coalmining or any aspect of local history, there is something for you in this wonderful collection!

Cook at Nostell

Cook at Nostell

The collection will be available on line (over 9000 entries) from 11 August http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/Record.aspx?id=LC03029

Prestigious award for West Yorkshire Archive Service!

The records of the West Riding Pauper Asylum, Stanley Royd 1814-1991, held by WYAS, Wakefield, have been nationally recognised by inscription on the UK National Register of Documentary Heritage, part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The awards were given out at The Mound, Edinburgh, headquarters of the LLoyds Banking Group at a ceremony on Thursday 19th June.

This collection has been recognised as being of unique significance, being an irreplaceable source for the medical and social heritage of the United Kingdom. The records are a complete source for the study of all aspects of a renowned hospital which was at the forefront of medical and scientific progress in the treatment of the mentally ill in the United Kingdom, and in the way patients were viewed generally by society. Pioneering treatments were tested and implemented and a new informed way of understanding mental illness was developed.

At the heart of the collection, however, are the patients’ records themselves recording, in intimate and extensive detail, the admission, family and social background, illnesses, treatment, and ultimate fate of the thousands of men, women and children who passed through the doors of Stanley Royd over the course of 173 years. The collection includes over 5000 photographs of patients from the late 1860s onwards, literally putting a human face on a patient number. Each case file, whether for an adult or a child, shows the range of ailments and problems for which people were admitted. Mary Manning, a Bradford domestic servant was admitted in 1880. She claimed to be the “Queen of heaven, possessed of great wealth and had been crowned”.

Others were suffering from general health problems such as symptoms which would be recognised today as post-natal depression. Sarah Drabble of Wortley was admitted in 1832, aged 37 after having 18 children. She was not surprisingly “feeling in a low desponding state ever since her confinement”. Other women were suffering from social problems. Mary Ellen Yates, a Leeds housewife, was admitted in 1887 due to insufficient food and mistreatment by her husband.

Ann Humphreys of Dewsbury, admitted after trying to drown herself in 1871

Ann Humphreys of Dewsbury, admitted after trying to drown herself in 1871

Children were admitted into the hospital from as early as 1820 and until the opening of the separate Stanley Hall facility in 1901, their cases are among the adult case books and files, many with photographs of the children. Examples from the Stanley Hall era are in separate volumes and include Alfred Todd of Wakefield with a diagnosis of “imbecility with epilepsy”. The remarks made on his treatment include – in answer to questions put as to name and age “he replies broken window” and on asking him names of surrounding objects replies “Alfey”. Another mother of an 11 year old Leeds boy says in 1911 “I cannot manage him. He is destructive, breaks and tears everything he can get to lay his hands on. I am obliged to keep knives out of his way and all windows closed…..Children in the neighbourhood are afraid of him”.

The UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register is an online catalogue created to help promote the UK’s documentary heritage across the UK and the world. The award for ‘Best of UK Heritage’ recognises the outstanding but lesser-known heritage of the UK. Only nine UK collections have been successful this year and this is the 2nd WYAS collection to be honoured, the first being the diaries of Anne Lister in 2011.

To find out more about the Stanley Royd records and other collections, visit http://www.archives.wyjs.org.uk

Working with the West Yorkshire Historic Environment Record

West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) have been working with our colleagues in the West Yorkshire Historic Environment Record [WYHER] to host a large proportion of their catalogues on our online catalogue so that researchers can find out even more information about local places and buildings of historical interest.

Post-Medieval Bell Pits, Bentley Grange PRN58
Post-Medieval Bell Pitts at Bentley Grange [WYHER/58]

Staff at WYAS have added over 9000 entries onto their online catalogue describing records held by the WYHER. There is also an online display to highlight some of the many amazing historic sites they have surveyed over the years.

Shibden Hall PRN 2680
Shibden Hall [WYHER/2680]

The West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service holds and curates the West Yorkshire Historic Environment Record (HER), which is a publicly accessible record for West Yorkshire’s archaeology and built heritage. They are based at the Registry of Deeds in Wakefield, and hold records on a range of archaeological sites, historic buildings, artefacts, and historic landscapes ranging from the Prehistoric period right through to the 20th century.

Stuart Wrathmell, Heritage Manager at West Yorkshire Joint Services says of the joint project:

“We’re always looking at ways of improving our services to people who wish to explore West Yorkshire’s heritage, and Jenny and Pat from Archives, together with Ros and Jason from Archaeology, have done a fantastic job in adding over 9,000 entries from the Historic Environment Record – the record of West Yorkshire’s archaeological sites and landscapes, and its historic buildings – to the online Archives catalogue. Now, for the first time, people can go to one website to find all the different kinds of records we hold on thousands of places and buildings in the county.”

To find out more about any of the sites shown on this website, or to do any further research into the archaeology of the area, please contact West Yorkshire HER via 01924 306797 or wyher@wyjs.org.uk. Alternatively, you can also search their records online via Heritage Gateway (www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway), or follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WestYorkshireHER).

“Here’s another one for you!” PC John William Kew: Killed in the line of duty.

There are lots of great stories amongst our criminal records (recently launched on Ancestry.co.uk) that tell the story of law and order in the former West Riding of Yorkshire.

Few, however, are quite as tragic as the case of PC John William Kew, once of the few police officers to be killed in the line of duty. Thanks to our Police and Prison records, we can piece together more of his background and the circumstances of how he came to be killed.

John Kew joined the West Riding Constabulary only a month before his 24th birthday on the 5th February, 1895. He was 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, with a ‘fresh’ complexion and dark brown hair and eyes. He was born in Langton, near Horncastle in Lincolnshire and had been working as a farm labourer before joining the Constabulary. He was married and had no children. He was living in Long Sutton (again, in Lincolnshire). A life of policing was obviously attractive to him as he had already completed 2 ½ years of service with the Lincolnshire Constabulary.


Appointed as PC 680, ten days later he was posted to the Upper Osgoldcross division (which covered places such as Wragby, Featherstone and Owston). Just over a year later, he was transferred again, this time to the Rotherham Division. It was to be his last posting.

The Backhouse Brothers – Charles Benjamin and Frederick – lived on Kew’s patch in Swinton, Rotherham. On the 10th July, 1910 reports say the brothers were using a revolver to threaten people in Rotherham.

PC Kew came to the Backhouse residence at 11:30pmand stated he was entitled to search them. At this point Charles Backhouse pulled out a revolver and shot PC Kew. Reports state that, though wounded, Kew attempted to wrestle the revolver from Charles Backhouse. At this point his brother took the revolver and – apparently uttering “Here’s another one for you!” – shot PC Kew again. PC Kew died at home the next day from his injuries, the inquest stating that the shot fired by Charles was the fatal blow.

PC Kew’s personnel notes state that he ‘Died at 2:10pm on the 11th July 1900 the effects of being shot by a revolver at Swinton at 11:30pm on the 10th by two men named Charles Benjamin Backhouse and Frederick Backhouse’. He was 30 years old. His wife – now a widow – was to receive his pension.


The Backhouses were tried swiftly at the West Riding Summer Assizes at Leeds, held just a few weeks later on the 27th July. They were found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, with Charles found guilty of murder and Frederick found guilty of aiding and abetting.

Their last record comes in the Prison register for Wakefield. These shows that Charles was only aged 19, his brother just 23. Both – rarely, in the prison registers – had no previous convictions. Both could read and write, and both were just over 5 feet tall, much smaller, and younger, than the man they had killed.


Frederick’s sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, just two days before the date of his execution. Charles was hanged at HMP Leeds in a double execution with a Thomas Mellor on the 16th August 1900.

We are grateful to http://www.murderuk.com/one_off_Charles_Backhouse.html for the extra information in this blog.

Eurovision: 12 points from the 1880s

Well, another Eurovision Song Contest has been and gone, with poor old Molly finishing in 17th place.

We’re as disappointed as you are by this, so we thought we’d have a rummage and see if any of our holdings might have the answer to our musical woes for next year.

As luck would have it, we struck potential Eurovision gold pretty quickly with this hand written ditty from one of our collections at our Wakefield office.

The item is an exercise book from c. 1889 (C1126/2); and it’s filled with charming songs of the day, from ‘Take you home again’, to ‘Tom Bowling’, ‘I saved it for the lodger’ and of course, the ever popular ‘Off to Philadelphia’.

That's English!

That’s English! And that’s 12 points all round! C1126/2, WYAS Wakefield

However, it was the song below that really got our attention, as it seems to feature the Eurovision standards of pride in your nation and – with a cheeky verse about how nice Ireland is – a guaranteed 12 points from another of the voting nations.

All it needs is a verse about Scotland and Wales, but we’re sure there’s a musical boffin out there who can add that in. The original spellings and some of the content will need a bit of a modification for the sensibilities of a modern audience, but we feel pretty sure we’ve got next year’s contest in Austria sewn-up already.

That’s English! (1889)

In feasting and jollity some men delight
That’s English you know, quiet English you know
While some prefer dancing, a race or a fight
That’s English you know, quiet English you know
To romp with the lasses in meadows of hay
At billiards or cricket or football to play
To follow the hounds tally ho, hark away
That’s English, quite English you know

The things that we see and the things that we hold dear
That’s English you know, quiet English you know
Roast beef and plum pudding, a glass of good beer
That’s English you know, quiet English you know

The are good hearted boys in the little green Isle
That’s Irish you know, quiet Irish you know
They’ve always a welcome a joke or a smile
That’s Irish, quiet Irish you know
With the fairest of daughters, Ireland is blest
And brave are the sons of this nation distressed
That’s Irish, quiet Irish you know

So, what do you think? Have we got Eurovision 2015 in the bag? Or is it another ‘nul points’ all round?