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Genealogy in England

Updated on July 24, 2011

Radstock ludlow colliery

West country genealogy

During the years I’ve been discovering the relatives in my family tree, I’ve found some very useful information and web sites.

When beginning the research into my family it made sense to break the family into 4 groups. My grandparents. This gave me four surnames Wilkins, Garland, Grant and Beacham. Talking to my parents gave me their locations. The area is mainly in and around Radstock and Frome, which is very rural and has little national importance, and therefore few records. I would like to thank all the people out there that have bothered to put information on the web. So here are some of the things I found. I hope they prove of use to someone.


My Grandad and his brothers

My grandad Howard Wilkins and his 2 brothers in around 1915
My grandad Howard Wilkins and his 2 brothers in around 1915

Wilkins Family

The Wilkins family were coal miners in Radstock and nearby Writhlington.  Times were hard. Infant mortality high, literacy low and poverty the main enemy.  They married into other coal mining families Chivers, Perry and withers. There were people that escaped the misery of the coal mines. Luther and Theodore Wilkins immigrated to America in 1897.  They settled in Clay county Indiana and began a successful photography business in the township of Brasilia.  It looks as if Luther married and had two children James and Mary.   Unfortunately I loose them in the 1920’s, so if someone can help please leave a comment.  Poverty affected people in different ways, some struggled on, finishing life in the workhouse others took more desperate measures.


Radstock 1900


The garland family lived in the small hamlet of lamyatt near Evercreech in Somerset. They were agricultural workers or glove makers.  They were frequently in the workhouse in nearby Shepton Mallet.


Image of the workhouse

So many of our ancestors finished up in the workhouses that it's worth checking the records.
So many of our ancestors finished up in the workhouses that it's worth checking the records.

Grant family

The Grant family began in the early 1700’s in Chittern Wiltshire.  This family were wealthy Baptist farmers and the tree takes two very different branches, agricultural workers or military careers. Jacob Grant was in the 2nd dragoon guards (discharged aged 35

Covering dates 1804-1821) and was a typical old soldier that lived with a woman having children with her but only marrying her months before he died. Another interesting character was sergeant major Maurice Grant who lived in Southampton and committed suicide 2 days after the Titanic went down.  It just goes to show the shock of this event.

Buckland Dinham

Harry Beacham outside the village post office at Buckland Dinham C1930
Harry Beacham outside the village post office at Buckland Dinham C1930

Beacham Family

The Beacham family were shoe makers, a relative told me that the name was originally Beauchamp and they were Huguenots expelled from France in the 1600’s.  They lived, certainly back to the late 1700’s, in the small village of Buckland Dinham in the hundred of Kilmerston, near Frome.  My great-grandfather was a baker and owed the post office in the village which my Nan took over when he became too old.


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      Ann Toomer 4 years ago

      Ref a response from Roy Grant in which he mentions his photographs of Toomers, and the village of Winterbourne Stoke. Please tell me more, as my own Toomer ancestors were from Winterbourne Stoke, and any further information would be extremely welcome!

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

      I Can not believe Kira, I have been looking for years for information on Theodore and Luther- Thank you so much for making contact with me. I will contact you and we can share information. Again thank you so much

      love Julie

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      Kira Wilkins James 6 years ago


      Thanks for posting! After my daughter brought home an immigration project questionnaire today, I thought I'd dig out some old papers. I have info on your Theodore and Luther Wilkins, who emigrated to Indiana.I have an old Hymn book of Luther's enscribed "Luther Wilkins, with best wishes, from your loving Niece, Edith. Birmingham, England." Which led me to Google Luther Wilkins Birmingham England, which led me to you! My great grandfather was Theodore, whose photos line my stairway, and whose old cameras are displayed in my living room :) He married Anna L. Campbell and it was Theodore, not Luther, who had four children: James (b. Oct.4 1898) Mary, Robert (Tobe)(b.1902), and William (Bill)(b.Nov.8,1904). James and Tobe toured the country with a Vaudville act called BanjoLand (very well-documented also :) My grandfather was James, who had four kids, the third being my father Theodore. He died in 1970, when I was three. My uncle Jimmy still lives in Indiana, where I also was born. We moved to Michigan when my dad (an engineer) moved our family to work for Ford. I have many dates and photos, one of your Theodore and his wife Anna, and their four kids. My dad, Theodore, had three daughters, I am the oldest, and I have three kids, Ian, Anna, and Lucy. Thanks for the remarkable site! Please let me know if you want any of the info I pulled out of my grandmother or her attic. Sincerely, Kira Wilkins James East Lansing, Michigan

    • Catznjammers profile image

      Catznjammers 7 years ago

      I am from the US, but I love reading about family trees. This is a part of history, always an interesting subject to me. I am half-Italian and half-English (with a wee bit of Irish thrown in). The English/Irish is my mother's side. Yet, I've always felt so connected to England. Your post has convinced me to try to find out more about my diverse ethnic background, particularly the English side.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      You must tell me your name mum keeps asking. Mum's sister Joan knew Beryl more than mum does as they were roughly the same age. Joan, mum, Beryl and Dennis Wilkins were favorite's of Muriel the spinster sister of Ella and Howard. If you want to e-mail me @ I would love to hear from you

      love julie

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      AJC 7 years ago



      Yes, my gran was Beryl an only child and the family name was Fry. As a young girl she lived in Wales and after marrying, moved to

      Bossington a lovely coastal, scenic and postcard village (Which you may know as you come from the Bristol area.)

      Our family still live local.

      My Auntie will find this really interesting and exciting.

      My gran only died 3 years ago.

      It would be great if you had any other photos which may have shown her mum as a young girl.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      After speaking to mum she remembers being told that Ella moved to Watchet and she had a girl called Beryl. She also believes Ella's married name was Fry. She never met Ella but heard about her from another brother called Clifford, who would visit everyone.

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      AJC 7 years ago


      Thanks for your reply.

      Really pleased this history all ties up with the Wilkins family of Radstock.

      Will be very interesting if you find out more from your mother.

      My auntie also knows a lot about the family. She wrote a lot down on paper which my gran told her over the years.

      I will ask her more when I next speak to her.

      Thanks again.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      I can't believe it, Ella was certainly my grandads sister so we must be related. My grandad's younger sister was indeed Muriel and his uncles that went to America were certainly Theodore and Luther. I will find out more from my mother when I speak to her next, she is a fountain of knowledge. Keep in touch. love julie

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      AJC 7 years ago

      Sorry, I made a mistake earlier.

      I think my Great Gran Ella was 1 of 12 children. The youngest sister was Merrill/Muriel (she was not born until after the 1901 census) and this was the auntie who my Gran kept in touch with and not Ida as I originally wrote.

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      AJC 7 years ago

      Re earlier comment Howard Wilkins.

      Glad I found your interesting page. I will show my family. They will be really pleased to see your photos.

      Please excuse my spelling!

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      Howard Wilkins 7 years ago

      Hi, If it is the same family, my Great Grandmother Ella Wilkins' was sister of Howard (their mother and father were Israel & Julia). So I beleive your photo could be my Great Uncle?

      My Gran(Ella's daughter) told me often of the brothers Luther & Theodore emigrating to America with their photography business.

      She kept in contact with the family in Radstock until her auntie Ida (another sister) died in Radstock. (I beleive she was a spinster & lived on her own in a cottage).

      Gran told me they were a family of 11 children and were coal miners ETC.

      I have looked on various websites and I beleive I found Luther,his wife and daughter on an American Electoral Roll. However I cant find that information at the moment. (You may already have this info)

      Hope this is of interest to you. Many thanks.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 8 years ago from Bristol England

      Sorry Roy I will ammend as soon as possible

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      Roy Grant 8 years ago

      I see you have used my photograph of TOOMERS in the article.

      Although this was the Grant family home for several decades, you have made a mistake for it not in Chitterne, it was in Winterbourne Stoke

      Roy Grant