Newsletter 9 from Jennifer Topham, of Malmesbury, England
Preparations for Risdon Descendents' Day #2

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The Risdons of Somerset
Newsletter No. 9
January 2006

Happy New Year to you all, and every good wish for 2006. Thank you to everyone who sent Christmas cards and very often enclosed letters too. Hopefully, I have answered them all - if not, please give me a nudge! Did you have a good Christmas (and Thanksgiving for those in the USA)?

Belated congratulations to Robin and Elizabeth Kiddle on their 50th wedding anniversary. Elizabeth is one of our “new-found” cousins and descends from Emma Cann nee Risdon daughter of Hugh Torrington Risdon and his wife Sarah nee Hurford. Elizabeth has very kindly sent me many family photos, which I will shortly be putting in the family files. Also a welcome into the family fold for Thomas Frederick Gray born last April to Andrew Gray and his wife Lucy nee Berridge.

Apart from sending out masses of information and answering a tremendous number of questions (as a result of my mailshot), I have not had time to do much research lately, but, I have recently joined the website, where they have the complete UK censuses from 1851 to 1901 inclusive amongst other things. From this I am starting to find where everyone was on the various census days, but oh dear! the indexes do make me think laterally, as I have found Palmer spealt Poilner and Hook as Hork. It makes me mad at the time, but looking back it all adds to the fun of research. Has anyone else found any Risdon ancestors/descendants with strangely transcribed names?

As I mentioned in my last newsletter the response to the mailshot has been overwhelming. So many people gave me further addresses, that the final number of letters I posted is probably nearer to 175. From all of these, there were 4 people who, for various reasons, are not interested but still gave a lot of information, eight who have moved so I will have to search further to find them, and finally there are about 7 people who have not, as yet, replied.

All this means there are now 2170+ names on the family tree which now extends to 676 pages covering 12 generations (as of 9 January 2006). It’s always said that rabbits multiply, but I’m beginning to feel that this saying applies to the Risdon descendant’s too!! Hopefully the weather will be fine for RDD2, as the only place I will be able to display the full family tree is around the outside of the building and/or on the front boundary wall of the Lysaght Hall.

As you will all know by now, Risdon Descendant’s Day 2 is to be held at the Lysaght Hall, Old Cleeve, near Minehead, Somerset on Saturday 13 May 2006 from 10 am (for registration) until 4 pm - it is a full day event. The hall is suitable for disabled access, with easy but limited parking, so double-up on transport where you can, and park neatly please. The hall is well away from main roads and there is a small area where children can play safely.

There will be coffee/tea/cold drinks with homemade shortbread on arrival, after which there will be plenty of time to look at the items and files on display plus, of course, start chatting to old (in the sense of you’ve met before - I’d never say otherwise, would I?) and new relations. The bar will be open from about mid-day until 2pm for you to purchase beer, wine or spirits (as this is a social club the prices are very reasonable). Lunch will be served at about 1 o’clock (main course, desserts, plus coffee/tea). At some stage during the day, depending on the weather, we will visit St Andrew’s Church - a short walk from the hall - where so many of our ancestors are buried. The cost for all this will be £23.00 per person. Unfortunately I cannot make any reductions for children, although babies under 2 years of age will be free.

Many of you have already made provisional bookings - if so, there will be a note at the end of this newsletter, or on the e-mail. I will hold these provisional bookings until 18 February 2006 only (25 February for cousins resident overseas), after which bookings will be open to all family members on a “first come, first served” basis. There are a maximum of 90 places, so please act quickly!! Please include full payment in British sterling cheques or bank drafts made payable to Jennifer Topham, with your booking, which will be confirmed.

I am not sending out booking forms this year, as very few people used them last time. So, please send the full name of everyone in your party together with your cheque or money order, but remember they must be a Risdon blood descendant or the spouse of a descendant. To assist me I would very much appreciate it if you would also include your address, e-mail and a telephone number. If anyone requires a vegetarian meal, these can be arranged but need to be pre-booked.

Can I, once again, ask you to bring along any family heirlooms for display? Last time we had a wonderful number of photos, embroidered items, a family bible, etc., as there are plenty of window-sills and some table space to fill. I will of course, bring all 26 of my files, which contain all sorts of varied items, ie, census copies, parish register entries, certificates, newspaper cuttings and increasingly more photographs plus wills.

As last time, there will be a raffle. If anyone would like to make a contribution of a suitable item I would be most grateful. The proceeds of this will again be donated for the upkeep of the churchyard at St Andrew’s Church at Old Cleeve. Last time we were able to give a cheque for £100 which was much appreciated by the parish council.

Lastly, here are the travel details - please keep them safe! From the M5 south take Junction 23 Bridgewater turn-off and follow the A39 signposted Minehead and Williton (or junction 25 at Taunton and follow A358 to Williton). From Williton follow the A39 towards Minehead. About half a mile after leaving the village of Washford you will see the Dragon Hotel on your left. Just before the Hotel, there is a very small turning to your right marked Old Cleeve. *Take this lane and follow it for about quarter of a mile then take the right hand road. The Lysaght Hall is shortly on your left hand side after the bungalows (single storey houses). If you are travelling from Minehead or Dunster, take the A39 towards Williton. About 2 miles after leaving Carhampton, you will find the Dragon Hotel on your right. Turn left immediately and follow the instructions from * above.

Kindest regards to everyone


Jennifer Topham, 2 Orchard Court, Arches Lane, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0ED
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