Saturday, May 13, 2006

Celebrating three score years

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a visit to the Bristol Records Office looking for ancestoral Weekses. David took me and we started in the village of Absom photographing the parish church where my great great great great grandfather John Weeks worshipped 200 years ago. It is next to the larger village of Wick. The Records Office has parish records of Absom and Wick back to the 17th century but we found nothing before John and his wife. So where did he come from to be an iron worker?

I am used to reading prescriptions but three hundred plus year old parish registers on microfiche are something else. More productive were Bristol history books. I found two famous John Weeks but do not know of any family links except in character. In 1662 John Weeks, puritan, was ejected from his Church of England ministry. later he was licences to teach in Bristol and gathered a Presbyterian church numbering 1500 according to one source. They were persecuted, the church wrecked and John twice imprisoned. Have I a Puritan forebear?

In the late 18th century a very different John Weeks was landlord of the Bush Inn. His speciality was turtle soup, enjoyed even by the Prince of Wales, later George IV. The Bush was famed for its table in what was then the second city in England. John pioneered fast coaches to London (16 hours and Birmingham in a day). He was also part owner of two privateers. One had been built as a slaver. It was reported taken by John Paul Jones off Ireland but reclaimed by the crew. The other boat was taken by a French ship but recaptured by a ship from Guernsey.

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