Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ENGLISH CAUSE PAPERS - Finding Your Ancestor Mentioned

DISCOVERING THE OCCUPATION OF MY 9TH GREAT GRANDFATHER

Cause Paper from a Church Court, Morpeth, 1632. Image available under Creative Commons
Bertram Gaire was my nine times great grandfather. I descend from him through my Northumberland born great great grandmother, Hannah Tait GAIR. Before her were three Rogers, two Arthurs and a William, son of Bertram Gaire. Finding records relating to Bertram Gaire (the original spelling of the surname) has been difficult because the further back in time one searches, the less records there are that have survived or that probably existed in the first place. 

English Parish records on Familysearch show a Barthrum Gair marrying Elizabetham Lawsonn in Morpeth, Northumberland in 1599. On Findmypast (Boyd's Marriage Index 1538-1850), his name is transcribed as Bartrum. I have concluded that these names were recorded in Latin and that these were in fact my ancestors Bertram Gaire and Elizabeth Lawsonn. In 1625 a Barthrii Gair married Elizabeth Tower also in Morpeth, Northumberland, again with an obvious Latin variation of the name Bertram. My Gair research is further comlicated by the fact that within the timeframe of both of these marriages, a Bartholemew Gaire had children baptised in Morpeth. I have found no marriage for Bartholemew and since the name Bertram appears in a number of variations (Barthrum, Bartrum, Barthrii), I am on a quest to discover whether Bertram Gaire is in fact the same man as Bartholemew, (keeping in mind mistranscriptions of difficult to read old English and Latin name variations). Whether Bertram Gaire is Bartholemew Gaire or not, must wait until I have discovered some evidence. 

St Mary the Virgin Church, Morpeth, Northumberland © Copyright Bill Henderson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The parish records I found would certainly have been from St Mary's the Virgin in Morpeth since it is the oldest church in this parish and the only one that was built in the late 16th century which is the period of the church records I am looking at. If you are interested in St Mary's Parish, Morpeth, Northumberland and its Church history or church records, you can read more here.

I am grateful for my ancestor's less common first name of Bertram since it has made him easier to find in records. The search for my GAIR ancestors has been made more difficult though, by variations of spellings of the surname Gair, which include Gaire, Gayre and Gayer. It also appears that this surname has changed over time and various branches of Gairs eventually used different spellings of the name. These type of challenges make research complicated but much more interesting. 

When I am searching for ancestors prior to civil registration, I find it is worthwhile to search beyond the usual parish records of births, deaths and marriages. I look at books, journals, court records and anything else I can find. It was during one of these 'outside the box' searches that I discovered a series of English records called CAUSE PAPERS

These are the records of hearings of individuals in the church courts. From Medieval times to the 19th century these courts oversaw the jurisdiction of disputes and cases such as debts, tithes, matrimonial matters and appeals among other things. The University of York provides a comprehensive explanation of cause papers here

The Cause Paper in which Bertram Gaire's name appears, 1632, Image available under Creative Commons.[1]
The Cause Papers of Yorkshire are a unique set of records which hold a wealth of information about the social, economic and religious lives of English ancestors. They extend beyond the boundaries of Yorkshire to other parts of England and they include cases heard in Church Courts between 1300 and 1858. As you might well imagine this could well be the only place you might find mention of an English ancestor as far back as those early years. There is a Basic Search and an Advanced Search on the Cause Papers Homepage and it was while searching these records that I discovered that my ancestor Bertram Gaire was a bailiff of Morpeth in the 1630's. 

A Bailiff was an officer of the sheriff or the local Landowner. Although I looked up a number of sources to find out exactly what a bailiff did I am going to provide here, the of the duties of an English bailiff offered by Wikipedia since it is free to share under the creative commons law. There are numerous websites dedicated to old occupations which can easily explain what our ancestors did in their daily lives. 

"bailiff (from Middle English baillif, Old French baillisbail "custody, charge, office"; cf. bail, based on the adjectival form, baiulivus, of Latin bajulus, carrier, manager) is a manager, overseer or custodian; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority or jurisdiction is given. Bailiffs are of various kinds and their offices and duties vary greatly. Historically, courts were not always concerned with legal matters, and often decided administrative matters for the area within their jurisdiction. A bailiff of a manor, therefore, would often oversee the manor's lands and buildings, collect its rents, manage its accounts, and run its farms " [2]

This rich information about my ancestor, places him within a clear social and historical context within the community where he lived and worked. These significant details enable me to picture his daily life n a way that I could never have done, simply knowing the dates he was married and had children baptised. To my delight I found two cases in which my nine times great grandfather Bertram Gaire was involved. The first, in 1632, was entitled Violation of Church Rights and it involved the expulsion of a schoolmaster from his office. When I finish transcribing the old english handwriting in the document I am certain this case in itself could make an interesting blog. I am intrigued as to why the schoolmaster required expelling!

Cause Paper CP.H1910B, Bertram Gayre, 1632 [1]
The second case was a Tithe matter involving sheep, cattle and horses which was conducted in 1635. In both cases no libel or sentence was awarded but crucial information about my ancestor was provided. Both records state that Bertram Gaire was a Bailiff of Morpeth, which is the place where I already knew him to live.

My search results for Bertram Gaire [1]
Old English writing is quite lovely in appearance but rather difficult to read so I am still in the process of deciphering the documents. It is important to understand how to read old hand writing (paleography is the study of old handwritings). Not everyone was able to read or write in past times so documents were laboriously procdced, usually by scribes who took great pride in their work but who understandably did not give a thought to future generations of genealogists who might not be able to read their embellished script. In order to find my ancestor's name in the original record I needed to know that 17th century handwriting, commonly substituted a "y" for an "i". Bertram's surname of Gaire was therefore written as GAYRE. It is best to look up some tips on how to read old english writing before you attempt to read the original record images in your search for information about ancestors.

Cause Paper CP.H1910B, Bertram Gayre, 1632 [1]
If you look closely at the exerpt below from the image of the original Cause Paper relating to the schoolmaster's expulsion, you will see how difficult it is to transcribe. Bertram Gaire's name is in the centre of this picture. (Gayre)
Cause Paper CP.H.1910B [1]
If you have not yet looked for your English forbears in these documents here is a link to the search page for the Cause Papers in the Diocesan of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858. Remember - the records are not just for cases heard in Yorkshire so happy hunting! Do leave a comment below if you have some success finding family.


Footnotes 

1.Cause Papers: In the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858,
https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers/image.jsp?cause=CP.H.1910B&images=54909,54910,54911,&start=54910, CP.H.1910B, Appeals, Violation of Church Rights: expulsion of school master from office, 13/2/1632 - 13/2/1632, accessed 1 December 2017.

2. Bailiff, Wikipediattps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailiff, accessed 10 December 2017.

References

Cause Papers: In the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858,
https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers/image.jsp?cause=CP.H.1910B&images=54909,54910,54911,&start=54910, CP.H.1910B, Appeals, Violation of Church Rights: expulsion of school master from office, 13/2/1632 - 13/2/1632, accessed 1 December 2017.

Cause Papers: In the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858,
https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers/image.jsp?cause=CP.H.1910B&images=54909,54910,54911,&start=54910, CP.H.1910B, Appeals, Violation of Church Rights: expulsion of school master from office, 13/2/1632 - 13/2/1632, accessed 1 December 2017.

Cause Papers: In the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858,
https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers/image.jsp?cause=CP.H.1910B&images=54909,54910,54911,&start=54910, CP.H.5402, Tithe, sheep, cattle, horses, 22/2/1/1635 - 19/2/1635, accessed 1 December 2017.

Cause Papers, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, https://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/holdings/guides/research-guides/what-are-causepapers/, accessed 11 December 2017.

Cause Papers in the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishropic of York, 1300-1858, Manuscripts Online, Sheffield University,https://www.manuscriptsonline.org/resources/bc/  

Hodgson, John, "A History of Northumberland in Three Parts", Part II, Vol. II, 1832, p. 518.

Morpeth, Northumberland, Church Records, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/NBL/Morpeth/ChurchRecords

Old English Paleography, helen E. Jean Cruickshank,

The Publications of the Surtees Society, Vol. 34, Surtees Society, 1858, pp. 193-194, 


3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the tip Sharn I will do some searching today!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2017/12/friday-fossicking-15th-december-2017.html

    Thank you, Chris

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you know if there are Cause Papers for other dioceses?

    ReplyDelete