Research and writing have been put aside during the last two weeks when present day family matters demanded attention. However, today I’ve become re-energised after a trip to a small village on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border. Cotesbach is famous as the site of the Enclosure Riots; it is home to a Manor, Cotesbach Hall, an 18th century schoolhouse and today, during a Heritage Open Day it witnessed a slightly over excited family historian. That would be me then….
I’ve planned on visiting Cotesbach for several years and for no particular reason have never got round to it until today. It’s not as if its a long complicated trip, just a few miles down the road from home, yet it wasn’t until I noticed that the village was involved in a Heritage Open Day that I was spurred to grab my camera, a printout of my earliest Rainbows, my long suffering husband and head off down the slightly soggy, autumnal lanes of rural Leicestershire. The schoolroom at the Cotesbach Educational Trust was built in the late 18th century and there’s a good chance that several of my ancestors stared out of that window wishing lessons were over for the day.
William is my brick wall Rainbow and my 6x grandfather. Born around 1720 he married Phoebe Taylor in the neighbouring village of Shawell. I haven’t been able to trace where William was born but on the record of his daughter’s birth it states “daughter of William Rainbow of Shawell”. What I do know is that his children were all born in Cotesbach (although mysteriously christened at the Independent Church in Lutterworth rather than in the local parish church). His son John Rainbow, (b. 1746, Cotesbach) married Ruth Hurst in 1773. They went on to have 10 children, the youngest Joseph being born in Cotesbach in 1785 so there’s a fair chance he attended the school, possibly with siblings.
Visiting Cotesbach today was exciting. I suppose because we do so much of our research in isolation that when I mentioned to the Cotesbach archivist, Sue Turner, that my Rainbow family were from the village in the 18th century it was more than a little thrilling when she said she was familiar with the name and that they crop up many times in the estate archives. Sue is part of a project that aims to sift and transcribe the estate archives, ultimately compiling a database to be accessible online. This is going to be a treasure trove of priceless information for genealogists with family connections to the area and I’ve got everything crossed hoping that it might help me break through ‘brick’ William and unearth some more fascinating tales of my Rainbows.
It was a delight to meet both Sue and estate manager, Sophy Newton. The Heritage Open Days continue for the rest of the weekend (September 11th and 12th 2010) and you can find more information here.