Poignant records of the school days of many Cheshire youngsters whose lives were cut short in the Great War now figure in a new digital resource available to historians and relatives exploring the past.
Cheshire archivists have been working as part of a consortium to make the admission registers of 166 county schools – dated between 1870 and 1914 – available on line at the FindMyPast website.
Registers include pupil’s names, date of birth, address and dates of entry and leaving.
Parents’ names and occupation and whether they are living or deceased can also appear. There are even some immunisation records.
Said Paul Newman, Head of Cheshire’s Archives and Local Studies Service: “The latest addition to the website will prove a valuable source for relatives researching family history – and particularly those interested in the First World War.
“Sadly, many of the youngsters who are listed in the registers did not survive the conflict but the information contained in the registers may just help their descendents to paint a fuller picture of lives which were so tragically shortened.”
Archivists have already traced the school history of First World War soldiers, including Birkenhead Kingsman, Sydney Upton – handed two white feathers by misguided women when home on leave recovering from his wounds.
Sydney, who fought at the battle of Cambrai and twice escaped as a prisoner of war, is recorded as a pupil of St.John’s National School, Birkenhead, Infants and Juniors and later at Woodchurch Road School.
Unlike so many young men of his generation, he survived the Great War and later moved to Chester to work with the Inland Revenue.
The latest addition to the FindMyPast website is sure to be a tremendous hit with researchers across the globe – particularly in Australia and the United States of America.
Each year, the site already attracts around 100,000 overseas enquiries looking for Cheshire material – around 10% of the total – and over 270 direct enquiries were received from
overseas visitors at the Duke Street record Office.
The new digitised school records add to the four million Cheshire names already online on the website and access is free at the Record Office and West Cheshire libraries.
Said Councillor Stuart Parker, Executive Member, for Culture and Economy: “There will be many families in Cheshire and all over the world attempting to discover more about their relatives who fought for their country in the worst conflict the world has ever known.
“This latest online addition to our records will hopefully provide a valuable aid to filling in some of the vital gaps. “