Finding Family History

Fred Witty

Fred Witty

Letter of Indenture

This blog post is reporting the findings of an of an on going project which aimed to delve into the family history of someone from Malton.

The search began when we found a letter of indenture from Thomas Taylor to Fred Witty, which formally began the beginning of Fred Witty’s employment as a ‘Apprentice to Thomas Taylor Bakes and Confectioner Malton’ which promised Fred Witty payment of eight shillings per week from April 6th 1888 until April 1892.

This was a fully fledged out contract and even included a code of behaviour forbidding Fred Witty to’not haunt taverns or playhouses’or to ‘play at cards or dice’and instructing Fred Witty to ‘in all things as a faithful apprentice he shall behave himself to his said master’This is not just a record of employment but can also inform historians on the values and rules of the society which Fred Witty lived under, with the key distinction that Fred’s professional career dictated how he should conduct himself in several aspects of his personal life.

The main source of our information on Fred Witty’s life comes from the census data taken every ten years throughout his life, which has created a very thorough record of his life from his birth in 1871 until his death  in 1936 at the age of 65. This data reveals alotof information Fred Wittys family life including his marriage to Mary Ellen and his four children. This information has been collected and is currently on display in the museum.

The case of Fred Witty shows a growing trend in the historical community as rather than focus exclusively on great man theory (seeing history as being the recording actions done by great men) contemporary history places a newfound importance on the wider society and on a brand of history known as peoples history which focuses on understanding the events experienced by the individuals who made up past societies. This way of studying history can give us a much greater understanding of the past than ever before.


Treasures from the collection


Ampora base

Due to a lack of space this amphora is not currently on display in the Museum but we thought it would be a good idea to use our blog to display objects from our store room which are not on display in the Malton goes to Market exhibition.

The object was initially very difficult to identify due to its strange shape but it was eventually found to be the base of a large amphora used by the Roman’s to transport goods around the Roman empire. This type of amphora was commonly used to transport wine, oil and fish sauce.

Amphorae were built to be very robust as well as being easy to stack and to pour liquids out of which would be very useful when it came to the ease of transporting goods, and amphorae would often be re-used even after being emptied of their original content.


Amphora sketch

The discovery of these amphorae is important to our understanding of trade routes used by Roman merchants as they can give us a lot of evidence of where the Romans traded goods and what was traded in each location.

This Amphora was made by a Spanish potter, G Antonius Quietus, whose stamps have been found elsewhere in Britain suggesting that Britain was importing a large amount of Spanish goods during this time period, and showing a strong link between Malton and the rest of the Roman world.

Rome’s unique position on the Mediterranean as well as Romes highly sophisticated economy meant that trade was a huge part of Roman life and of the empire itself. One of the largest benefits of life in the Roman empire was access to this vast trade network which spread Roman made goods over vast distances across and even beyond the Mediterranean.

New Quilt, New Memories.

For a start we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who ensured that our opening was a success. All of the exhibits look fantastic and we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from visitors. If you have visited already then we hope you had a good time,and if you have not had the chance to visit yet we hope to see you soon.

We have just finished installing our millennium quilt which was made in September on the year 2000 to commemorate the new millennium. The quilt is impressively large and celebrates the people, businesses and heritage of Malton. Feel free to come in and take a look as it is one of our best exhibits.


We have also had a lot of visitor participation especially in our memories of Malton scheme were we encourage you to write your own memories of your time in Malton. These give the museum a unique insight into the recent history of the town and could be very useful for any future historians. These can be sent in anonymously or can be displayed as part of the exhibit. I enjoyed reading one memory which described the night life of Malton as being very lively and friendly.


That is all for now. If you want to be more involved with the museum and our study of the history of Malton please take a look at our new events pages for a good list of all the upcoming events, and subscribe to the blog to stay up to date with everything that is going on at the museum.

We are now open!

The museum has finished being refurbished and is now open. It is free entry and is open all weekend (and we will be open every week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday)from 10am to 4pm. On our opening day we have had several visitors who took interest in the exhibits including a family group which enjoyed the hands on activities and visitors inquiring about the information we had on their relatives who lived in Malton. We would like to have as many visitors as possible so please come down and take a look as our friendly and approachable volunteers will be happy to make sure you enjoy your visit.

Past Events at the Museum

Roman Medicine Talk. On the 15th of July 2016 Dr Nick Summerton gave a talk on Roman medicine with the chance to get hands on and have a go at your own stitching.

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Liberteas. On Sunday 14th June 2015, we celebrated the 800th anniversery of the signing of the Magna Carta with tea and guest speakers.


Tours and Talks. On the 18th of July 2015, Dr Pete Wilson led two tours of Orchard fields, the site of an old Roman fort


Secrets From the Store. On the 25th of June 2015, Dr Justine Bayley joined us to explore our collection and to handle some of the objects.


Community Outreach. On the 1st of July 2015, we attended Ryedale Folk Museum as part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math day which was attended by 6 schools from the local area. We explored Building Bridges and how the Romans built there bridges. We also visited several libraries including Helmsley (4th August), Kirbymoorside (5th August), Pickering (24th August) and Pickering (25th August). At the libraries we discovered and shared how the Romans wrote and recorded their history.


Family Events. We delivered four family workshops during July and August including; a a clay workshop, a Saxon Prince and Princesses workshop and a weaving workshop.


October half Term. During the October half term we ran two groups, one on discovering the past and another on how to be an archaeologist