OTRJ Project Digest

O(A)T*RIDGE Project Digest

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A collection of genealogical information and stories

On this Page:

  Military Records

  Emigrants to the US

  Emigrants to Down Under

  A Selection of Ancient Wills

  As different as Chalk and Cheese...

On other pages...

  Gaol and Medals

  A selection of Modern Wills

  The OATRIDGEs of Butler's Court

  More Samuels than you can shake a stick at

  Outline Family Tree Groups


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Military Records

I shall concentrate on one of the three full record sets found: those of William Henry OTRIDGE, as they tell an interesting and he has no known close relatives alive (he is my second cousin twice removed!). If anyone would like more detail on the records of Reuben George OATRIDGE or Ronald William OATRIDGE, please get in touch.

He was born in 1877, the bastard son of Harriet OTRIDGE, of the Bradford on Avon shoemaker line. She died shortly after his birth, and he was brought up in the Union Workhouse at Westwood, Wilts. Children at least received a good education in Workhouses, and this showed by him gaining some good trade and educational qualifications during his service. During his stay in the workhouse (witnessed by 1881 & 1891 Census), his name was corrupted, and he became known as Frank Henry OTTRIDGE, the name he attested under on 10th November 1896, as Private no. 4597 in the Wilts Regiment at Devizes. It was interesting to note that he declared his next of kin to be Henry OTRIDGE at 36 Wine St, Bradford on Avon, actually the address of his Uncle Alfred. We can gain a picture of him from his physical attributes: Height 5' 4"; Weight 134lbs; Chest 37-39"; Complexion: Fresh; Eyes: Grey; Hair: Dark Brown; Physical Development: Good.

On 22 Feb 1897 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion at Portsmouth. and by 24 Aug 1897 was in Hospital for Scabies (Contagion) for 21 days. His hospital records are more revealing later in his career - read on. On 19 Oct 1897 he was posted to Alderney, and then on 18 Feb 1898 to India, with a very long overseas posting of 11 years 255 days to 14 Nov 1909! During his time in India he served in many places, most notably Peshawar, Nepal, Jhansi and Rowpal Rindi. On 25 Nov 1904 he was appointed Lance Corporal, in1906 gained an Assistant Instructor Certificate in Signalling, and on 28 Nov 1908 was promoted to Corporal.

Between 21 Oct 1909 and 15 Nov 1909 he was transported on the Troopship Wufferin? to South Africa - no home leave between postings. He served in South Africa (Peter Maritzburg) for 3 years 124 days, to 2 Mar 1913, in that time being promoted to Sergeant in 1912. By now the lack of female company must have got to him, for he was admitted to hospital on 19 Jan 1913 for Gonorrhoea with Mild Contagion, spending days in Hospital, and then immediately shipped back to England.

He then only managed at year and a half at home until World War One broke out, when he was examined for Active Services at Tidworth and found fit by an RAMC Major. From 13-Aug-1914 he served with Expeditionary Force France, to 2 Sep 1915, qualifying for 1914 Star. On 14 Nov 1914 he was wounded in action at Ypres, with a gunshot wound to the head, and transferred to a sick convoy. By 1-Dec-1914 he was back to his old tricks, and re-admitted to No. 12 General Hospital Rouen with Gonorrhoea, and again in March 1915 at Le Havre. Those French Mademoiselles! By May he was back in the field, but managed to catch German Measles and be wounded again by mid-June. On 11-Jul-1915 he was reported as having "Debility", and by 17 Jul 1915 was in a Gas Clearing Station, so now doubt he had suffered a Mustard Gas attack. Oh What a Lovely War he was having.

He was back in the field by the end of July, with the 1st Wilts Regt, 1st Battn in Field but by 28 Aug 1915 was reported in Boulogne with Neurasthenia (Depression), again Debility and NJD (mental fit) - not surprising after what he had been through. This was actually re-diagnosed as Shell Shock a few days later, he was repatriated to a London Military Hospital and then posted home for 93 days. This is the doctor's note on his condition:

He returned to France, , embarking at Southampton, on 5 Dec 1915 to stay there this time to 18 Jan 1919. Within days he had Gonorrhoea again! He was back at the front on 10 Feb 1916. He then had two and a half apparently quiet years, broken with 8 days home leave in July1917 and 14 days in Mar 1918. When the war ended on 10 Nov 1918, he was retained under the Military Service Act as a Sergeant and then awarded a bounty of 25. January 1919 saw him shipped through Rouen for demobilisation and was discharged on 16 Feb 1919 to a home address 3 Trowbridge Park, Bradford on Avon. This was address declared at his marriage to Alice Ada REDMAN on 3 Jan 1920 , when he was 42. They had no children, and he survived to 1959, having spent 22 of his 82 years in the service of his country.


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Emigrants to the US

Thanks to David A Oatridge, a website giving details of people who landed at the famous Ellis Island, New York, has been discovered. It does not actually cover a period when OATRIDGEs initially emigrated to the USA, back shows them returning from trips back home to the UK.

The "frequent traveller" of them all, accumulating "Sea Miles", was Elizabeth (nee THOMAS) wife of Edward OATRIDGE, who had emigrated from South Wales to the West Virginia coalfields around 1884. She is recorded as arriving at Ellis Island 4 times in the period covered by the records (1895-1925).

First, she landed on 25 July 1906 in the Carmania, from Liverpool, with children Arthur 17 years (US Born) Cyrus "11" years (US Born), Thomas 8 years (US Born) and Edgar 5 years, born in Pontypridd. As had already been observed by Wilma Jo Oatridge Jones, (daughter of Edgar), the family did shuffle across the Atlantic a lot, so there must have been an earlier trip around 1900-1902 in which Edgar was born in Wales. Cyrus' declared age is interesting - he was actually 14, but she must have trying to save on the Under-12 child fare! Her 3 elder children stayed at home in the USA. Then she landed again on 16 June 1909, again on the Carmania from Liverpool with youngest sons Thomas and Edgar. There is also a record of an "Ellen" Oatridge who landed on 7 Aug 1907, but the age and other details mean she must be Elizabeth.

Finally, she made a lone trip, returning on the Laconia on 30 Sep 1922, possibly to visit her brothers and sisters (and possibly parents) for a last time. In this record, she was declared as having dual "Welsh" and USA nationality.

John Oatridge of Oaksey, landed on 19 April 1902, aged 30 years on the Campania. His brother Richard Edwin had already gone to Canada, and he ended up there with his wife, who no doubt travelled later.

Finally, there is Charles OATRIDGE and his family, of Oakland, California already mentioned in the "100th Anniversary" who landed on 14 Oct 1923 on the Caronia: sons Henry and Oscar being 21 and 18 years old respectively.


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Emigrants to Down Under

I have had contacts from 5 people living Down Under, and this article tells how they got there.

Nigel Oatridge was born in Aylburton, Glos to Raymond & Charlotte O. (nee HOWELL), and he moved to Birmingham marrying Ann BROOKES there, with the birth of two children recorded: Nigel Howell in 1858 and Francis James in 1860. I had already suspected that they had emigrated as there were no more UK records for this family. They indeed emigrated to New Zealand on the "Golden Queen" a child Wave George OATRIDGE being born on the way there (but he only survived 3 years).

In Auckland, they had two more girls, from whom there are quite a few descendants in NZ today, some of whom have shown an interest in the study. Nigel Howell is reported to have died in a mining accident at the age of 18, but Francis James went on to have 5 boys and 1 girl. The family is in danger of reducing in size in NZ, as there are only 2 male progenitors left living there (not counting adoptees) but others have since moved on to Australia and the USA.

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A Selection of Ancient Wills

Wills are potentially much better "glue" to identify relationships in families than even the census returns because they often extend beyond the bounds of the nuclear family. I now have details of some 30 wills.

Historically. the vast majority of these wills are associated with the Butler's Court family and their side branches. They have their interest in the value of estate that was being passed on, but there have been some other less illustrious wills that are amusing. Some wills merely detail the disposal of domestic items, for example widow Margaret OATRIDGE of Wootton Rivers (near Pewsey, Wilts) in 1670 willed that:

To daughter Mary my great kettle

To grandchild William Oatridg cupboard and tableboard

To grandchild Anthony Oatridge my great poote (anyone know what this is?)

To daughter Sisley's and son Robert's daughters - wearing clothes equally divided

To grandchild Dorothy 2 pewter platters

To daughter Sisley my warming pan

This will of Thomas Jenner, worth 38 and leaving most of it to Oatridges, was equally domestic:

I give unto my daughter Margarett Otriegand her children to be devyded amongst them equally 30 pounds.

I gyve unto Henry Otriieg alias Harry Otriege the sonne of my sonne in law Symon Oterege 1 great chest and one livery board and my re.....

I give unto my daughter in law Agnes Motley one little brasse potte and a little coverlet.

I give and bequeath to Simon Otrege my sonne in law one stammell rug.

I give unto the Lady Church of Salisbury 6 pence

The latter item, charitable giving, seemed to be a mark of people who felt they had power and influence, but the percentage of the will was always very small. Probably the most generous was Thomas Oatridge of Butler's Court who in 1789 left a relatively substantial sum (if small compared to his total wealth) for the benefit of the poor of the Lechlade:

Upon Trust to transfer the 200 pounds Stock unto the then Vicar & Churchwardens of Lechlade, The Interest to be paid on the 14 Feb yearly & to be paid amongst the oldest poor people of the Parish of Lechlade who do not receive the common or publick alms of relief of the said Parish.

I also give unto The Vicar & Churchwardens of Lechlade 200 pounds Stock in the said 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities to be unto them assigned by my Executor 100 hundred pounds Stock into the establishment & support of the schools to be kept on Sundays in the Parish of Lechlade for the education of the poor boys & girls living in the Parish, & the Vicar etc to pay the interest of the remaining 100 pounds Stock into the box of the Benefit Club or Society now held in Lechlade if such Club is dissolved then the interest to support the Schools to be kept on Sundays for the poor boys & girls.

Those making wills would sometimes be quite perceptive to the kinds of dispute that might break out between the beneficiaries, and would build in clauses to guard against such unseemly behaviour. Daniel Oatridge of Oaksey willed in 1732 that:

Item my Will farther is that at my decease my Freehold meadows called the "More Leases" shall be sold at the Discretion of my neighbour Richard Shermer and after the legacies deducted be equally between my sons Daniel, Simeon, Josiah, Samuel, Rice and Jacob unless either of them be willing to Purchase the other parts and if difference arises between them concerning the parting of my Houses or Lands I will that it be decided by my neighbour Richard Shermer and if in case any one or more of them shall commence any action at law concerning such division of my houses or lands he or they shall lose the Benefit of this my will excepting one shilling for one or each of them."

Not all the O*T*RIDGEs had that kind of wealth to bequeath, and for them an Administration Bond was more appropriate, as in the case of John OTRIDGE of Luckington, Wilts in 1616:

John Otredg of Luckington, husbandman, sick. Administration Bond:- To wife Edie all the goods that I have. An Inventory was then made on his death:

His warring parell


1 Beade (bed), 2 boulsters, 1 Pealaboo (pillowcase), 1 blankete, 2 coverleds


For the brace(brass) & peuter (pewter)


1 nax (axe), 1 picke, 1 hachet


All the woode




Another John OTRIDGE, in Westbury, Wilts in 1720, put more effort into the disposal of his bees than any other element of his estate:

.....my bees for the use of my four grandchildren John Otridge, Elizabeth Otridge, Mary Otridge and Samuel Coe one stock to each of them and the remainder to be divided equally between daughter Elizabeth Coe and Shusana Otridge on condition that they give a swarm of bees to my kinswoman Margret Hunt to be divided by my executors

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As Different as Chalk and Cheese

We've all heard the expression "as different as Chalk and Cheese". One possible explanation of it may come from Wiltshire. North Wiltshire is known as "Cheese" country, fertile lands where dairy cattle could be kept, so diary produce became the main agricultural industry. South Wiltshire is the "Chalk" country - Salisbury Plan and its hinterland only being good for sheep grazing and some grain crops, so woollen weaving became the main industry. Dairy farming was more profitable than weaving, so the North Wiltshire people were generally wealthier, and the South poorer.

So, the difference in the wealth of the landowning OATRIDGEs of North Wiltshire and the weaving OTRIDGEs of South Wiltshire can be explained by the difference between Chalk and Cheese.

Here's another one. How often are you "broke" - short of cash? From 800 AD to 1300 AD the only coin minted in England was the Penny, although the Mark was in circulation as well but minted in Europe. However, the penny was too valuable to pay for some goods, so people took to cutting it into halves and quarters. To assist in this practice the coin was minted with "snap" grooves. So you "broke" a penny if you needed to make it go further - hence "being broke".


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Last Modified: Tuesday, 12-Jun-2007 01:28:53 MDT