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By Merel van der Vaart on

Making Rules For Family Historians

This article was written by Bruce Eadie, intern on the Family History project.

Front of nineteenth century trade card for Dring & Fage. The Science Museum Library and Archives at Wroughton (Archive ref: D&F 5/8)

You wouldn’t happen to be called Bushby would you? Well, down at the Science Museum we know something about your great-great grandfather that you might like to know.

 With the huge and growing popularity of genealogy, the Science Museum is keen to make its collections and archives available to family historians. Many family historians begin by hearing family stories told by older relatives, by leafing through photograph albums and then progress to the more accessible public records: national censuses, army records, wills, immigration records. Some may even be lucky enough to own a treasured object of a forebear, like a watch or a family bible.

 The Science Museum may be able to help extend your knowledge further. At Wroughton near Swindon, the Science Museum holds the historic archives of many British companies both great and small: the civil engineering company Pearson; the tyre-maker Dunlop; coach builders Hooper and Co. These company archives are full of names that might include that of a family member.

 That’s where the Bushbys come in. On a recent trip to Wroughton, I was looking through the archive of Dring & Fage or as the company would have it “The HOUSE of DRING & FAGE at the sign of the Half Moon and Dagger in Blackfriars – the oldest makers of Hydometers and Scientific Instruments inEngland”.


Back of nineteenth century trade card for Dring & Fage. The Science Museum Library and Archives at Wroughton (Archive ref: D&F 5/8)

Amongst the mass of papers and trade cards was the apprenticeship indenture of one Charles Bushby of Albany Place, Neate Street, Camberwell in the County of Surrey. As the document – signed by Charles’ father Thomas and dated 31 March 1877 – went on to say, Charles was indentured as an apprentice to Alfred Jones master rule maker at Dring & Fage.

Apprenticeship indenture of Charles Bushby. The Science Museum Library and Archives at Wroughton (Archive ref: D&F 2/2)

So if you are the great-great grandson or daughter of the young and hopeful Charles Bushby, who started out in his profession that March day in 1877 then you could come to the Science Museum in London and see the extensive collection of slide rules, gauging rods, circular rules and weird and wonderful objects like the “Ewart cattle guage with ivory slide” which were all beautifully crafted at Dring & Fage by men like the young Charles Bushby under the watchful eye of master Alfred Jones.

Detail of timetable or rent rule made by Dring and Fage. The Science Museum, London. Rent rules, such as this example made by Dring and Fage of Tooley Street, London, were used by dock companies to calculate the number of days for storage charges. (Object No. 1954-305)

And, by the way, you don’t need to be called Bushby to find objects and documents that relate to your family history down at theScienceMuseum. If you are interested in researching your family history through the Science Museum’s Archives or Collections, visit the Library & Archive webpage or contact us via