Like many local history societies, we have a wealth of records, be they in the form of transcripts of Parish Registers, Poor Law Rate Books, Censuses or as articles published in our Occasional Magazine. All this is due to the efforts of our members who, over the years, have researched local history topics and transcribed local history documents.
Again, like many local history societies, our aims are to make local history in its many forms available to the public – this includes the public being able to access our records.
Over the last five years, we have enjoyed a positive experience developing and running our own website. Two years ago, we identified the terrific opportunity that our website offered for making our wealth of records accessible to the general public.
Our project, Local History Lives! was born out of that opportunity.
We have prepared four online new or enhanced search aids as part of the Research Forum section of our website at www.milfordhistory.org.uk
- Our Occasional Magazine has published over 150 articles about Milford since 1909 and our editor, Barry Jolly, is keen that these articles reach as wide an audience as possible – and so the idea of the Research Library was born.
- We have transcripts of many lists of people and places in Milford-on-Sea Historical Record Society’s (MOSHRS’) archive: census records, parish rate books, Hearth Tax records and many more. These lists are gold dust but, like gold prospecting, they can take a great deal of researching. Placing them all together in a searchable format would take some of the hard graft away – and so the idea of the Names Directory was born.
- Most of our Parish Registers have been transcribed and making these available on-line in a searchable form will enable the public to trace families back to 1594 when our registers began – and so our online Parish Registers was born.
- Our online catalogue of 10,000 archived records was launched in 2018 and experience teaches us that its search capabilities can be enhanced with wild card searching – using ‘*’ or ‘?’ for missing or uncertain letters in a search word – and so our Archive Catalogue was improved.
Everyone can add records to our archive. There’s a simple form to contact our Archivist if you have some records which you would like to donate. It was noticeable that during Covid, people chose to go through items in their attics and garages. We received a lot of new material during that time.
Local history constantly moves forward – new sources are uncovered, new topics are researched, old topics are reassessed – it is a constantly changing landscape. Local History Lives! allows us to move with these changes. As new research becomes available you will find it in our Research Library, as new lists are uncovered you will find them in our Names Directory, our Catalogue of records is constantly expanding.
Local History Lives! provides us with an ever-widening window into the past.
MORE THAN LOCAL HISTORY
The geographic scope of our new search aids reaches far beyond present day Milford. The ancient parish of Milford comprised Milford church and three chapels: Hordle, Milton and Pennington. The parish included the surrounding settlements of Arnewood, Ashley, Barton, Chewton, Efford, Everton, Highcliffe, Hordle, Keyhaven, Lymore, New Milton, Pennington, and Tiptoe.
Milford’s register started in 1594. Milton kept a separate register from 1654 onwards, while Hordle kept a separate register from 1754 onwards. Pennington records were included in Milford’s registers until it became a separate parish in 1839. The Marriage Registers record many parishes outside Milford and more outside Hampshire.
Milford has played a front-line role in wars and invasions over the last 1,000 years, from William the Conqueror appointing close allies to defend the coast south of Milford, Henry VIII building Hurst Castle, one of his “Device Forts” along the south coast, Palmerston commissioning the expansion of Hurst during Victorian times and the building of the coastal defences in two World Wars.
Milford’s maritime heritage encompasses the constant fight with the sea to protect the coast, the fishing boats out of Keyhaven, the numerous smuggling accounts, the discovery of fossils along the cliffs establishing geology as a global science, the development (and collapse) of the salt industry and the extensive tradition of service in the Royal Navy.
Milford has been seen as the “playground of the rich”. The wool merchants in the 17th century, the nabobs in the 18th century, the Royal Navy officers with their prize money in the 18th and 19th centuries, the bankers of the 19th century, the industrialists and aristocracy of the early 20th century – all have found their way to Milford.
Our Research Library helps to explore online the many fascinating accounts of Milford’s history. Lists in local history are often full of rich people because the lists were prepared for taxation purposes, but our Names Directory also has lists such as the Hearth Tax which even listed those who were too poor to be charged for their hearths and such as lists of those receiving Poor Relief. Our Parish Registers will be available on-line in a searchable form enabling families to be traced back to 1594 when our registers began.
Local History Lives! draws on resources created many years ago as well as from more recent work. The number of volunteers who have contributed is therefore countless. MOSHRS and Milton Heritage Society have collaborated closely in the preparation of the Parish Registers search aid. Some transcription work remains outstanding for Hordle Parish Registers.
Funding has come from heritage organisations: the Hampshire Archive Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund; from local government: Milford-on-Sea Parish Council and Hampshire County Council; and, from MOSHRS.
We are working with CommunitySites, who developed our original website and who have been very supportive resolving the high-volume data handling issues, as well as search aid performance tracking. We have also had support from Tim Underwood based in Winchester who carried out the digitisation of all our magazine articles.
You will find our website at www.milfordhistory.org.uk . When navigating our site start at the Home Page and find the ribbon menu near the top of the page. You will see a heading “Research Forum” with a drop-down menu. At the top of the list it says Archive – just click on that.
We are currently preparing videos which will be accessed through the How to Search page of each search aid – including the Archive. The video will explain how best to use the search features.
Articles in the Research Library have been prepared as word sensitive pdf files. These can be handled by most text-to-speech tools, greatly helping those with vision difficulties, learning difficulties and the neuro diverse to access our heritage.
Author: Chris Sanders
Bio: Chris is a member of Milford-on-Sea Historical Record Society [MOSHRS] and Project Manager for “Local History Lives!”. He is also the webmaster for the MOSHRS website and an active researcher into local history.