Category Archives: General

Getting posted to the post office

Ancestry has just released the ‘British Postal Service Appointment Books’ data set which was transcribed by volunteers under its World Archives Project {1}, basically covering the period 1831 to 1969. I made a small contribution here, partly spurred by the knowledge that great uncle Arthur would appear somewhere in these records.

Sure enough, I can easily find four entries for Arthur W Howes (born 1885 Norwich), although one of these is a repeat (in the original records, not a  duplicate transcription). Here are the entries:

  • May 1901: appointment number 202009, to position of ‘Learner’, Norwich.
  • 1902, about March: appointment 129632, minute 8303, confirmation minute 4760/03, to SC & T, Norwich.
  • July 1913 (entered twice): appointment 137992, minute E22368, to SC & T (P), Ipswich.

That gives a clear date for when he moved to Ipswich. I had guessed that SC&T is something like “Service Counters and Telegrams” which ties in with family knowledge that he was something on the lines of a counters supervisor later on. UPDATE: I have found a record (in 1883) where ST&C is written as “Sortg Clk & Telst” – Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist.

See Note 3 below for more occupational code cracking.

At the 1911 census uncle Arthur gives his occupation as “letter sorter and telegraphist”, and he is also known to have worked on the Norwich to London night train, sorting mail on the way, early in his Post Office career.

There must be some more appointment entries relating to “uncle Arthur” somewhere though, moving to a job on Ipswich central post office counters and then, presumably, becoming a  supervisory role should be recorded. And I have been unable to locate any record for his wife-to-be Hilda Brock, who is believed to have been on the Ipswich post office counters, or her sister Dorothy. Perhaps junior counter staff aren’t in these appointment books?

Note 1 See The questionable pleasures of data entry for more on WAP. To see the transcribed records, you’ll need an Ancestry Premium sub, unless you took part in the transcribing.

Note 2 I expect Arthur William Howes retired at age 60, in 1945. A previous search for the record of this (in pensions archives held by British Postal Museum and Archive) drew a blank, but it is known that records from around the end of the war might have been poorly made. That’s from memory, as I don’t seem to have made a note. He died 1968, Hilda in 1976.

Note 3 ABBREVIATIONS in British Postal Appointments Books. I thought it might be useful to list what I know on abbreviations for these records. Also see the Glossary right at the end of the Family History Research Guide (pdf) available on the British Postal Museum and Archive website.


  • CTO – Central Telegraph Office
  • LPR – London Postal Region
  • LTR/LTS – London Telephone Region/Service
  • MOO/MOD – Money Order Office/Department
  • SB/SBD – Savings Bank Department
  • SO – Sub-Post Office
  • TA – Telephone Area
  • TMO – Telephone Manager’s Office
  • TS – Telegraph Section
  • TSO – Town Sub Office
  • SWDO, NEDO, etc – South West District Office etc, London.

Situation or post (alternative description with a /)

  • CC&T – Counter Clerk and Telegraphist
  • Clk – Clerk
  • COA – Call Office Attendant
  • CWO/CWW – Certificated Wireless Operator/Watcher
  • Engr Ldn/Prov – Engineering Department London/Provinces
  • EO – Executive Officer
  • Lr Cr – Letter Carrier ??
  • Mach Opr – Machine Operator
  • Pman – Postman
  • Rur Postn – Rural Postman
  • SA – Sorting Assistant
  • SC & T – Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist
  • Shtd Typist – Shorthand Typist
  • Skd Worker – Skilled Worker
  • Sub Pmss – Sub Postmistress (at Sub-Post Office)
  • TA – Traffic Assistant
  • Tel messr – Telegram messenger
  • Tlgst – Telegraphist
  • Tpnst – Telephonist
  • U/Unest – Unestablished (service ineligible for a pension)

I still need to crack the following code for an 1883 appointment – for someone who gave his occupation as “assistant in Gen Post Office” at 1881, and was appointed as Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist in 1890:


A snapshot of Bush Houses in 1911

The database of the 1911 census on Ancestry (for England and Wales) is currently in a rather frustrating half-way state. The images of the individual records are online, organised by the original Enumeration District. However the information on the records hasn’t yet been transcribed and indexed, so you can’t directly search them by name (or by anything else). The census summary books, where the local census collector tallied up the records for each area, ARE indexed but they generally only give the surname of head of household, and don’t directly connect to the individual images. If you already know where a family is likely to be, you have a chance of finding them, although the precise ‘Civil Parish’ each Enumeration District is grouped into can be less than obvious (particularly in Wales?).

The Cutlock Transcription

One thing that the 1911 images on Ancestry are useful for though, due to the original enumeration sequence, is exploring a particular place at the time of the 1911 census, on 2nd April {1}. Bush Houses in Cwmclydach (Tonypandy) is one such place worth exploring. I already had five Osborne related households known to be living here in 1911 {2}, but with 50 terraced properties in total, and many containing two families, there were certainly going to be more who’d moved from Somerset like the Osbornes, and possibly some more direct connections.

Bush Houses, rear centre/right

So I’ve downloaded the forms and transcribed the data  for the 71 households, which can be seen in this BushHouses in 1911 census spreadsheet.

A few statistics

– 95 Welsh speakers, out of 399 people (but some are youngsters not shown as speaking either Welsh or English). Nobody is shown as only speaking Welsh (although I have a nagging doubt that I might have missed one).

– Average of 8 people per house. Most houses are shown to have 5 rooms, which excludes “scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom” if the person completing the form had followed instructions.

– Counting all those up to and including age 18 years as children, there are 164 adults, 235 children.

There aren’t as many other families from Somerset as I expected – villages include Glastonbury, Meare and Carlingcott, as well as Bath. One adult is from Germany (Abram Glass), while in a family where the father isn’t present (but the mother is shown as married) two children were born in Wilkesbarre, USA. Was Dad still overseas trying to earn money, or perhaps due to the strike had gone off to find other work?

What the census doesn’t say

When you stop to think for  a moment, what stands out from these records is that there isn’t any indication that the census was taken while the Tonypandy coal miners strike, started November 1910, was still in full swing. Just one or two forms clearly state that the employer is Cambrian Colliery Combine, the focus of the dispute.

Most of these families would have been suffering greater hardships than usual from lack of money. See Tonypandy Riots page for a little more.

Osborne connections

The Osborne families in Bush Houses in 1911.

Already known:

  • Number 9 Ernest Osborne and Gwenllian (nee Herbert), plus young daughter Elizabeth Ann.
  • Number 10 Matthew Picton and Sarah (nee Thomas), with 6 children including Sophia, who marries a Gregory child (see no. 12)
  • Number 11 Levi Osborne and Elizabeth (nee Larkham), plus 3 children and niece Maud Pearce.
  • Number 12 Albert Gregory and Rose (nee Osborne), with 7 children.
  • Number 50 Richard Herbert (also known as Parry) and Eliza Ann, plus 3 children including Naomi, who marries a Gregory.

Newly discovered at Bush Houses:

  • Number 16 William Harwood and Amelia (nee Osborne), 1 baby boy.
  • Number 17 Probably the couple showing in the marriage records for 1910 as Bert James and Lizzie Osborne – Albert and Elizabeth.
  • Number 17 Edward Sheldon and Matilda (Osborne), plus 3 children.

Note 1. The 1911 census records on Find My Past , which had access to the sources first, are not arranged in this way. While you can search by address, getting all of them in one or two hits depends on the transcription being consistent, assuming that the individual householders had all written the address in a consistent fashion back in 1911. The latter is highly unlikely for Bush Houses (the location may be given as Blaenclydach, Cwmclydach or just Clydach, for instance), and the clarity of writing varies from excellent to terrible.

Note 2. Thanks to a previous subscription to the 1911 census on FindMyPast.

Note 3. If you want to find these records on Ancestry, they are at Wales > Glamorgan county > Rhondda civil parish > Rhondda sub-district > Enumeration district 42 > images 488 to 629.

Also See

Open Daw(e) in Dorset

And the headings just get worse.

I’m delighted that has just released a whole range of Dorset parish records available to search and view, with the help of Dorset History Centre. The Osborne side of the family comes from the Somerset/Dorset border, and although most records are likely to be on the Somerset side, the connected Daw (or Dawe) family was definitely in Dorset, around Beaminster.

Only thing is I really could do with getting out and enjoying the sunshine more, rather than sitting in front of the computer locating the baptism records of my great great great grandmother Mary Ann Dawe. She married Robert Osborne, unfortunately in this case just across the border in Merriott, Somerset (1846). This can be found transcribed on FreeReg, so all is not lost.

UPDATE: I see from the comments on the blog post about the release that the Probate records included here (OK they aren’t parish records really) have been indexed (made searchable) by the name of the will’s administrator – the person who actioned the will on the person’s death – rather than the person who made the will. A bit daft, but quite often this will be a relative.

Corrupt voting – great uncle accused

Another interesting new history search engine, going beyond the usual sources but creating new frustrations! It has passed the ‘Cutlock test’ though, sort of.

Connected Histories is a joint project of a number of universities and currently includes 11 major digital resources for Britain in the years 1500 to 1900 – see the Resources list. Some are academic in origin, others require access via a university or other institution, but there is some freely available material indexed. For example, there is the Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540-1835 and the Charles Booth Archive of images/maps.

I did the usual – insert “Cutlock” and see what appears. After a couple of false starts (ticking query type as ‘person’ didn’t give anything) up comes  a string of references to ‘Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the existence of corrupt practices at the last election for members to serve in Parliament for the city of Norwich, 1870’. Also an obviously connected 1868 petition.

Most 19th century Cutlocks found so far can be connected to the family tree somewhere, so the Francis mentioned here was plausible. And while no dates of birth are given in what is visible in the search results, it does say he is a bricklayer, which matches 4x great uncle Francis Cutlock, born July 1814 Norwich. Oh dear, looks like he was taking bribes on who to vote for at the parliamentary election, but as access to the Report is via an institution it also looks like I’m not going to find out anything more precise. At least I know he owned property – the Representation of the People Act (second Reform Act) of 1867 extended voting to urban working men meeting the property qualification. And apparently (from UK parliament website) the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act 1883 effectively ends serious corruption in British elections.

Has anyone reading got access to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, which is where the search results take you?

But I have done a little more digging and have discovered in the online Hansard archives for 5th July 1870:

MR. C. S. READ , who apologized for addressing the House at so late an hour (1 o’clock), said, that the conduct of the Norwich Commissioners had excited the gravest discontent in that city. It was rather extraordinary, in the first place, that the Commissioners, instead of beginning where Baron Martin had left off—that learned Judge having discovered all the bribery, though not the sources from which it had proceeded—should have begun de novo, should have examined 1,500 witnesses, have sat for 33 days, asked nearly 45,000 questions, and put the the city to enormous expense. And what was the whole foundation of the Commission? Why, the story of a small boy that £1,000 had been sent down by the Carlton Club to bribe the electors of Norwich; and as soon as the origin of the story was discovered the inquiry collapsed. It was a mistake to suppose that every one who voted after 2 o’clock was of necessity bribed, or that every one who was a zealous partizan was employed in corrupting others.

So that bribery accusation is now somewhat less certain.

Great photo, shame about the documentation

Continuing the exploration of the large batch of old family snaps digitised last week, here’s one of the more intriguing. It’s a wonderful action shot, taken by  that prolific photographer ‘person unknown’.

Fred and Dora's wedding 25 Sept 1926

Labelled ‘Fred and Dora’s wedding September 25 1926’, the event is obvious and the most prominent figure pictured is also easy to identify as grandfather Sydney Howes. The occasion: Frederick Hinton Cullum, son of William John Cullum and Sarah Neve, marrying Dora Lillian Briselden – I had found the basic info already and the caption pleasingly confirms this and adds the precise date.  But after that, questions arise:

  • Who is the boy next to Sydney? There’s probably quite a few candidates of the right age in the family tree.
  • Is that gran (Emily) just off centre frame?
  • It is tempting to take the baby in the archway behind to be Dad, but he would only be a few months old at the time. Even with my limited knowledge, this one is surely somewhat older, perhaps 18 months? It could conceivably be Ann Harriet Howes (Cutlock), half aunt to the groom, holding him/her.

Here are the happy couple in a separate shot. The wedding is somewhere in the Lewisham area, both having been born in Catford.

Fred Cullum, Dora Briselden, wedding Sep 1926

Sadly Fred died only seven years later age about 33. This does mean that the basic probate record is available on Ancestry, providing some useful information, but I don’t know how he died or why/when he had moved to Ealing.*

Dora appears to have died in Salisbury, Wilts in 1964, presumably having moved in with her daughter’s family by the name of Shephard (or was staying there at the time). I have further details on this family but as they are likely to still be alive I won’t include them in a public post. If they are reading this – do please get in touch! *

More on the Cullum/Cutlock family.


You will note from the comments below that my plea has been answered. Some consequent additions/corrections:

  • Fred worked in the City for the National Bank of Scotland, and died from kidney cancer.
  • Dora moved into her own maisonette in Salisbury, “up a hill near Old Sarum”.

All the photos fit to web

Here’s a quick round-up of where the scanned old photos have appeared on Cutlock and Co over the last few days.

Posts on

Pages on

The header photo across this site features the four Neal sisters plus a niece and nephew at Cuckoo’s Cup, the Wrekin, Shropshire. About 1916: Emily (not yet married), Ethel Williams, Nellie (probably – married name Williams), Edith, Eliza (Laddiman), and Alec Williams. Here’s the uncropped version.

Arriving soon after or before this item, a gallery post from the Canadian (Manitoba) outpost of Neals.


Photos of great great uncle Sam, farmhand

This gallery contains 2 photos.

So the ‘major scanning exercise’ is done, with about 100 old family photos digitally processed. Not quite as good quality as I hoped as Dad’s HP all-in-one scanner didn’t want to budge from 200 dpi but should be adequate. It … Continue reading