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MARCH 2017

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Happy 100th Dame Vera

New to family history?

Celebrating a centenary of the Forces’ Sweetheart



How to find your


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culture & lives in post-World War 2 Britain

• Track down your railway ancestors • Wartime style & 1940s fashion




06/02/2017 11:21

2 Grow Your Family Tree

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Packed full of powerful features and tools to enable you to get the most from your family history research.

Whether you’re an experienced family historian or just starting out, you’ll find TreeView easy to use and an essential tool in your research. Record your family’s history and view details of your ancestors in a number of different and attractive ways. Create beautiful charts and detailed reports to present your family tree. Powerful Features Access your data wherever you are by syncing your tree between the software and all of your mobile devices at the click of a button Easily add details of your ancestors by attaching facts, notes, images, addresses, sources and citations. Navigate your family tree in a variety of different ways including pedigree, descendants and full tree views. View your entire tree on screen, or zoom in on a single ancestor. Quickly discover how different people in your family tree are related using the relationship calculator. Identify anomalies in your data with the problem finder.

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Full TreeView Software Printed Quick Start Guide 4 Month Diamond Subscription to TheGenealogist Cassell’s Gazetteer of Great Britain & Ireland 1893 Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography English, Welsh & Scottish Landowners 1873 Irish Landowners 1876

TreeView Mobile and Tablet app With You Wherever You Go Have your family history at your fingertips, even when you have no signal. Download the free TreeView app for your smartphone or tablet and easily carry your family tree with you wherever you go. Ideal for updating your tree on the move.

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Family FamilyTree March 2017

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Family FamilyTree EDITORIAL Assistant Editor -

Karen Clare

Digital Editor -

Rachel Bellerby

Senior Designer -

Nathan Ward

Designers -

Laura Tordoff Mary Ward


Janet Davison



TAP HERE to watch a welcome video from the editor

Trace your family lines back many centuries, to the time of Henry VIII – we have selected 15 crucial sources that can help you make this genealogy dream a research reality...


o help you on your ancestor-hunting mission to trace your family tree back many, many centuries, we’ve carefully chosen 15 crucial historical sources that will help you piece together the lines of your family’s past. What’s more, you’ll be very pleased to hear that this collection of records is suitable for use by each and every one of us, regardless of the stage your research is at. Just join in, take stock of what you know already, and what you need to discover next, then work backwards into the past. One of the joys of family history is that it is endlessly intriguing – for each of us there is always something new to learn as we follow the twists and turns of our ancestors’ lives, adventures and bygone times. So, dive in and immerse yourself in centuries gone by. And next time someone asks you, ‘So, how far have you got back?’, you’ll be able to provide them with a suitably awesome answer.

How far have you got back?

Associate Publisher

Matthew Hill

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Helen Tovey EDITOR

What we’ve been up to... Find out what the Family Tree team’s been up to, and come along to to share your family history news...

We’d love to he far you’ve trac ar how family tree. C ed your Celia Heritageheck out on page 12, w ’s article hi help you find ch could fam in the 1500s! ily

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Distribution -

Nikki Munton 01778 391171 lUnsolicited material: We regret that we cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage to material sent to us for possible publication. It is advisable to send copies rather than originals. Any items sent for review will be disposed of at our discretion, unless a specific request for its return with a postage paid, addressed envelope is enclosed for this purpose. Images sent in for Q&A pages may be used on our social media streams. l Family Tree is available on audio CD for the visually impaired. Contact National Talking Newspapers and Magazines on 01435 866102; l ©2017 Family Tree/Warners Group Publications plc: All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or in whole is forbidden. Personal views expressed in articles and letters are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the publishers. We reserve the right to delete from any article, material which we consider could lead to any breach of the law of libel. Whilst we do not knowingly include erroneous information, the responsibility for accuracy lies with those who submitted the material. l ISSN 0267-1131 l Printed and published in the UK by Warners (Midlands) plc, The Maltings, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9PH. Newstrade distribution by Warners (Midlands) plc.

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Helen’s been continuing with her husband’s side of the family tree, and seeing how his recent DNA test results add to the picture

Karen’s joined a Facebook group filled with historical photos of places and people from her home town, including some of her own family in days gone by

How to get in touch with us... Editorial 01778 395050 editorial@ Family Tree Warners Group Publications The Maltings, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9PH

Rachel was delighted to find, during a photograph hunt with the children at her childhood home, a photo of her grandad and great-grandma which was thought to be permanently lost

To help make sure your letter goes to the correct person, please note whether it’s for letters, Q&A, Tom, etc. If you're not certain who to contact, just write ‘Editorial’ and we'll make sure it’s taken good care of Become a fan at Follow us @familytreemaguk March 2017

3 Family FamilyTree

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Inside this issue...




Tap the image to jump straight to the article

6 Family history news

Latest news with Karen Clare, including the centenary of the establishment of the Imperial War Museum in 1917 and an impressive new digital archive of East India Company records.

12 15 records to take your family history back to the 1500s Discover Celia Heritage’s selection of 15 key record collections that could potentially take your tree back to Tudor times.

20 What sort of family historian are you? Super-sleuth? Data dude? Or chief raconteur at family get-togethers? Chris Paton analyses the different natures of genealogists to see how they might affect our research.

24 Steaming ahead: how to trace your railway ancestors

Explore the history of railways in the British Isles and the records that can help to trace your railway worker ancestors’ lives with Chris Heather and Phil Parker.

32 The girl next door

Celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic 1940s singer and Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn with long-time fan John Leete.

36 Make giant steps: researching Irish ancestors

With expert insight and useful search tips Steven Smyrl will help you use the Irish BMD Registers to best effect.

40 Life in Britain, post-war to the 1980s

Take an entertaining trip down memory lane with Tony Bandy’s choice of 15 nostalgic sites – and feel inspired to journal your own times too.

46 Top 5 websites (for beginners)

Get your online research off to a great start with Rachel Bellerby’s selection of sites.

48 Welcome to your ancestors in Wales With practical tips and a wealth of online resources, Mary Evans will help you trace your family in Wales.

52 Dear Tom

Get your fix of genealogical gems and funnies with Tom Wood.

56 Spotlight on... Alde Valley, Suffolk

Find out about the varied talks and projects run by Alde Valley Family History Group. Rachel Bellerby investigates this keen local crew.

58 Magnificent magazines

From household tips to silver screen heartthrobs, Amanda Randall turns back the pages of the past to find out which magazines our relatives used to read.


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March 2017 Vol 33 No 6



Tap the image to jump straight to the article Would you like to see your ancestor on the cover of Family Tree? Please email editorial@ for the submission guidelines

62 Your family name Everyone has one, but they’re nonetheless very special; investigate your surname with June Terrington’s tips to get started.

64 Coming next in Family Tree 65 Subscribe & save

Save money and have the convenience of each and every issue of Family Tree being delivered to your door. Plus get a free surname dictionary!

66 Three of a kind

Was your ancestor one of triplets? Simon Wills investigates an online resource collecting data about these unusual and instantly large families.

68 The war years’ wardrobe

The duty to be beautiful, tidy, resourceful and glamorous: Jayne Shrimpton looks at the challenging task of looking the part through WW2.

72 Books

Latest family history reads with Karen Clare.

76 Twiglets

With our tree-tracing diarist Gill Shaw.

77 Family Tree Subscriber Club

Subscribe to Family Tree? Check out this issue’s exclusive offers.

What will family history websites of the future offer us? In the final part of his website-building series, Mike Gould takes a whimsical look at online possibilities for family historians in the years to come.

80 Your Q&As: advice

Get the best family history help with Jayne Shrimpton, David Frost and guest experts.

88 Diary dates

Family history events, talks and exhibitions coming up in March.

90 Mailbox

More lively letters from readers and Keith Gregson’s insightful Snippets of War.

93 Your adverts 98 Thoughts on...

Gadget queen Diane Lindsay introduces her new digital friend and ally in family history research.

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March 2017

Our cover image of Vera Lynn: courtesy of PMW Communications Ltd

78 The future?

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PRESERVING THE FAMILY ARCHIVES Karen Clare reports on the latest genealogy news. If you want to see your story featured, email it to or post to our Facebook page at

IN BRIEF Conference marks 50 years The New Zealand Society of Genealogists is marking its 50th anniversary this year and is holding a Celebration Conference in June. The event takes place in Auckland on the Queen’s birthday weekend, 2-5 June, and includes a trade exhibition, lecture programme and the chance to meet and celebrate with genealogists from New Zealand and beyond. Full details at


Tipperary burials If you are seeking relatives buried in North Tipperary, Ireland, you can freely search Ormond Historical Society’s Index to Graveyard Inscriptions, digitised by Tipperary Studies at digitisation-project Military historian Tom Burnell’s Tipperary War Graves Database is also available on the site and more memorial inscriptions are being added as they become available as part of Tipperary Studies’ larger digitisation project.

Bryson backs church buildings Best-selling AngloAmerican author Bill Bryson OBE has been appointed vice-president of the National Churches Trust (NCT), the UK’s church buildings support charity at Mr Bryson said: ‘It is impossible to overstate the importance of churches to this country. Nothing else in the built environment has the emotional and spiritual resonance, the architectural distinction, the ancient, reassuring solidity of a parish church.’ Claire Walker, NCT Chief Executive, added: ‘Bill Bryson is one of our national treasures, as are the UK’s 42,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses.’

Gift for veterans Forces Reunited, the largest online British Armed Forces Community for veterans, has formally donated £6,000 to the Veterans’ Foundation. More details at


FamilyTree March 2017



The new East India Company digital archive can be accessed at British Library sites and via academic libraries and institutions


newly digitised archive reveals the colourful history of the East India Company (EIC), from its trade origins and rise to become de facto ruler of India to its demise among allegations of corruption. The online collection is from Adam Matthew, an imprint of SAGE Publishing, in partnership with the British Library (BL) and gives students and researchers access to the vast collection of primary source documents from the BL’s India Office Records covering the EIC’s rich history – from its formation in 1600 to Indian independence in 1947. Researchers can access the digital collection on site at the BL in London and Boston Spa and it is also available to libraries of universities, colleges and academic institutions worldwide. NLIN WATCH O

Penny Brook, BL Head of India Office Records, said: ‘The archives record the history of Britain as trade and empire permeated our society, and encompass all manner of historical themes, and record the experiences of the many people whose lives were touched by the activities of the Company and the India Office. The content of this multi-module project constitutes the “backbone” of the Company’s extensive records.’ Module 1 of the EIC database, ‘Trade, Governance and Empire, 1600-1947’, is available now with two more modules due in 2018 and 2019. Trial access is open to anyone affiliated with an educational institution, they can contact their library for access. Find out more at product/east-india-company


Learn about the digitisation of the EIC records in the video at

Caring for your memories

Bid to return WW2 photos to their families

Images: EIC document © British Library; ration book © IWM (Documents. 8012) Ministry of Food Ration Book Advertising the Imperial War Museum, 11 November 1918; IWM Duxford © Darren Harbar Photography; Lloyd’s Register 1897 © David Frost; WW2 servicemen courtesy of Matthew Smaldon; charabanc & group photo courtesy of The Forum, Norwich; lighthouse Pixabay; Blitz, Neil Anderson & Doug Lightning courtesy of Sheffield Blitz 75th


researcher is trying to reunite long-lost photographs of WW2 servicemen with their family members after buying the collection Military history at an auction. researcher Matthew Smaldon Matthew Smaldon purchased the named photographs around 18 months ago and, after some detective work, identified the men were from the Fleetwood area of Lancashire and decided to try to return the pictures to the families. After posting about his quest on his Recollections of WW2 blog at ww2photos and on social media, he also got local newspaper coverage, and a number of photos have now been reunited with relatives of those pictured. One even went to the serviceman in the photo, Fred Swarbrick, who served in India. In the past, Matthew has been a volunteer with both the Second World War Experience Centre in Wetherby and the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, recording oral history reminiscences of men and women who served during the wartime period, but this is a new venture. He said: ‘I’ve always had an interest in the Second World War, from hearing stories from parents and grandparents. My interest is really in the personal stories of men and women who served. ‘In my own family, there were members who served in both world wars, who we do not have photos of. As the men in these

photos may still have living relatives, I thought there was nothing to lose, to see if the photos could be returned. To actually hear that one of the men in the photos was still alive was amazing, and I was very pleased to hear that he’d been reunited with the photo.’ Diane Everett, a former Fleetwood resident who now lives in South Africa, has also aided Matthew in his quest. ‘She has been very active with the Fleetwood’s Past pages on Facebook and has helped enormously,’ he said. Matthew is still trying to trace the families of these men: Bill Parkinson, RAF Dental Corps; Gordon Ward, Army; Charles Thompson, Army; Bill Hudson, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment; Cedric Spivey, Royal Engineers; Cyril Paley, RAF (shot down and escaped from Switzerland); Harold Colley, RAF; John Dickinson, C Troop, 350/137th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; Leonard Moon, Merchant Navy; Teddy Dickson, Royal Artillery and Ronald Stansfield, Army. He said: ‘I’d like to return all of these photos. I often pick up photos like this from flea markets, car boot sales etc, and normally they are unnamed. It is unusual to find named photos like this, so I am happy to send them back to their families. ‘Everyone who I have returned photographs to has been very grateful, and often surprised to hear about their existence. Quite often people have not seen these photos before, and their relatives have now passed away. In all but

the one case, they have been returned to family members – sons, daughters, nephews and nieces.’ Visit http://recollectionsofwwii. to contact Matthew, call 01235 541922, tweet him @wwiistories or email • Find more photos on Matthew’s guest blog for FT at

Grieving women’s letters online WW1 letters from grief-stricken women who had lost family members are online following a public performance at Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough, where they were first discovered. More than 100 letters were sent to Mary Pennyman of Ormesby Hall, who was Secretary of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) Widows and Orphan Fund during the war. Her husband Colonel James Pennyman’s family had owned the hall – now a National Trust property – for 400 years and he was himself badly injured in 1914 while serving with the KOSB. The collection is now housed in Teesside Archives but a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled the letters to be digitised and transcribed, with dates, names and even some biographies, at The poignant writings were performed by members of Middlesbrough Theatre at an event at Ormesby Hall called ‘Dear Mrs Pennyman’ on 30 January. The next phase of the project, led by Dr Roisin Higgins of Teesside University, is to find out more about the letter-writers and their lives.

Welsh lives & legends Wales is celebrating its past, present and future with a Year of Legends 2017. Find attractions, events and activities at december/year-of-legends-2017 Reuniting photos: From left, Gordon Ward, Ronald Stansfield and Leonard Moon

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March 2017

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Jersey records back to 1540 now online


ersey baptisms, marriages and burials dating back to 1540 are now available to search online for the first time, via the commercial website, Ancestry. The Channel Island’s Church of England baptism, marriage and burial records from 1540-1940 have been released in collaboration with Jersey Heritage and with the permission of the Dean of Jersey. The collection includes more than 72,000 images covering key milestones in the lives of hundreds of thousands of islanders from Tudor times to the beginning of WW2. The records are searchable by name, parish, baptism, birth, marriage and burial dates, spouse name and names of parents, and contain vital information for researchers tracing ancestors who lived in Jersey. The records are predominantly recorded in French, this being the written language at that time, but they follow a standard format and with some French knowledge they are relatively easy to interpret. The images can be searched at www.ancestry. and free access is available at Jersey Archive. Famous local personalities featured in the collections include Jesse Boot, 1st Lord Trent, of Boots the Chemist, businessman and philanthropist. Jesse convalesced in Jersey after an illness in 1886 and met his future wife, Florence Rowe there. The couple were married at the St Helier Town Church on 30 August 1886. On their marriage record, Jesse’s occupation is described as a ‘wholesale druggist’. The couple retired in Jersey, where they made generous donations to help improve the lives of islanders. Actress Lillie Langtry, the renowned beauty and mistress of King Edward VII, was baptised in the Jersey parish church of St Saviour on 9 November 1853 by her father Reverend William

Discover ancestors who lived in Jersey in a new records collection from Ancestry and Jersey Heritage Corbet Le Breton. Lillie married her first husband, Edward Langtry, in the church on 9 March 1874 and was laid to rest there on 23 February 1929, following her death in Monaco. Linda Romeril, Archives and Collections Director at Jersey Heritage, said: ‘The publication of the Church of England registers by Ancestry is a significant step forward in opening up access to Jersey’s records. These unique images can now be accessed by individuals with Jersey connections around the world. ‘We know that a number of people left Jersey over the centuries and believe that their descendants will now be able to find their connections to our unique Island. We hope that this will encourage individuals to continue the stories of their Jersey ancestors by searching our catalogue at www.jerseyheritage. org/aco for more information and ultimately visiting the Island to discover their roots.’ • Among Ancestry’s new releases are also 400,000 Middlesex/ London occupational records across four collections: Stock Exchange Applications for Membership, 1802-1924; Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930; Gamekeepers’ Licences, 1727-1839 and TS Exmouth Training Ship Records, 1876-1918.

EXHIBITION FOCUSES ON FAMILY PHOTOS A free exhibition will try to help family history fans identify ancestors in photographs. ‘Who Do You Think They Are?’ is an exhibition in Norwich, Norfolk, that will try to provide answers as well as tips for those keen to learn how to help identify long-forgotten people in family photographs. The exhibition is being presented at the city’s Millennium Library in The Forum in Norwich, with partners including Age UK Norwich and the Norfolk Heritage Centre. One particular highlight is the inclusion of local historian Andrew Tatham’s WW1 ‘group photograph’, which he spent 21 years researching and eventually curated his findings into an exhibition in Belgium and a top-selling book. Staff from Norfolk Heritage Centre will be on hand to offer help and advice of other resources available, including Picture Norfolk, Findmypast and HistoryPin. The event will include a memorial where visitors can add copies of photographs of their unknown relatives. The exhibition will open daily 10am-4pm from Monday 13 March to Saturday 1 April 2017. Visit


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Caring for your memories

IWM 1917-2017:

saving people’s war stories for a century


Spitfires ready to take to the air at last year’s Battle of Britain show at IWM Duxford, near Cambridge


The IWM is 100 years old. When food rationing was introduced in 1918, requests for military mementos and photos were added to the back of ration books, as the IWM reached out to record the stories of servicemen from all walks of life


ollowing the Battle of the Somme, 1916, a nation traumatised by the scale of the loss decided that the story of each man must be remembered – and so the Imperial War Museum (IWM) was established the following spring. The First World War was still being fought and its end was uncertain and distant. Brutal battles such as Arras and Passchendaele were yet to come, but in the midst of this the IWM launched a campaign requesting personal memorabilia to tell, and permanently preserve, the stories of the officers and men who had lost their lives or won distinctions during the war. Items required by the museum were those such as photos, sketches, letters, poems, and mementos ‘even of trifling character’. A library of war literature was to be curated, to be made available to visitors too. Originally the repository was going to be called the National War Museum, but from its very early days it had the intention to include all parts of the Empire, hence the name Imperial War Museum. A team was sent to the Front to collect items of interest, and the French Army donated relics too, including the battered trumpet which sounded the charge

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against the Germans at Verdun. With the introduction of ration books in 1918, the reverse side invited people to donate their loved one’s military memorabilia, and so the collection grew. Originally set up in Crystal Palace, the IWM opened to the public in 1920; in 1924 it moved to the Imperial Institute, before becoming permanently established on its current site, former premises of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Southwark. A century later and the IWM has five branches in total, the others being Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and IWM North, which will all be marking the centenary in different ways in 2017, with special programmes of exhibitions and events. Over the past 100 years the IWM has continued to gather and curate a collection to remember the experiences of both civilians and service personnel of the British and Commonwealth forces. For upcoming 100th anniversary events, see and turn to page 88 to find out about ‘People Power: Fighting for Peace’, one of IWM’s centenary exhibitions. • We’d love to hear if you or any relative has ever donated a piece of family history to the IWM – get in touch with us via our Twitter or Facebook channels.

IWM Duxford is commemorating 100 years since RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire was built. The IWM has announced its air show season to mark the centenary, kicking off with Duxford Air Festival on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May, which includes a display by the Great War Display Team. The Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show takes place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September, evoking Duxford’s finest hour defending Great Britain from aerial attack in 1940. Duxford had a principal role as a vital Second World War fighter station, demonstrated in the show by exceptional historic aircraft and a poignant massed Spitfire flight. Details and tickets at

Yachting resource unveiled A new digital resource has been published by the Association of Yachting Historians, which could prove invaluable for those tracing yachting ancestors. The Complete Lloyd’s Register of Yachts – running to more than 104,000 pages – has been published in fully searchable PDF format on USB memory stick, costing £85/£95 nonmembers. The resource covers the period 1878-1980, including all the supplements. In addition there are more than 1,600 pages detailing American yachts and 18 volumes of the Register of Classed Yachts 1981-2003. Genealogist and Family Tree Q&A expert David Frost explained it is a valuable resource for family historians because it contains the names and addresses of all the major yacht owners of the period and details of the vessels themselves, including the Official Number (ON), where one exists (useful for anyone seeking crew lists, which are accessed by ON). David added: ‘It will be of interest to anyone whose family owned a yacht or whose ancestor was one of the crew. I have found it invaluable.’ Visit reg1.html An 1897 copy of Lloyd’s Yacht Register that originally belonged to the Duke of Abruzzi

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city’s last surviving firefighter from World War II is due to unveil its first permanent exhibition to the Sheffield Blitz. Doug Lightning, aged 99, will help the city remember hundreds of people who died in two nights of Luftwaffe bombings in December 1940, when he officially opens the exhibition at Sheffield’s National Emergency Services Museum. Mr Lightning, who worked on both nights of the Sheffield Blitz on 12 and 15 December, will be joined at the exhibition launch by Sheffield author Neil Anderson, who began a campaign seven years ago for more to be done to mark the deadly bombings. The Sheffield Blitz killed and wounded more than 2,000 people and made nearly a tenth of the city’s population homeless. The devastating attacks changed the face of Sheffield forever and flattened much of the city centre, while hardly a suburb survived without being hit. Mr Anderson, together with Sheffield Blitz 75th project manager Richard

Godley and heritage interpreter Bill Bevan, secured £81,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in November 2015 for Sheffield Blitz Memorial Fund. This has helped fund the exhibition, which launches on 18 February and will contain rare objects and photos, WW2 emergency vehicles, oral history recordings from survivors, film footage and the fire brigade’s original map of bomb sites. See the museum’s website at Mr Anderson said: ‘It has been humbling to receive so much support for what we’ve been doing to commemorate the Sheffield Blitz. I’ve had the honour of knowing Doug Lightning for the past few years and his enthusiasm for the project has been an inspiration.’ The exhibition marks the first major milestone for Sheffield Blitz 75th. A memorial trail also forms part of the project, with up to 12 sites earmarked for plaques, and an online archive and digital exhibition is to be hosted at https://

The King and Queen visit Bramall Lane, Sheffield, after the devastating Blitz

Local author Neil Anderson of Sheffield Blitz 75th with Doug Lightning


Tracing your family history in Essex? Be sure to check out the Essex Society for Family History at


t Family Tree we’ve teamed up with UK family history website to offer you selected free sources from its extensive online collections. Read on to learn about the census and quarter sessions records you can research today...

Your Quarter Sessions records Search or browse the Worcestershire Calendar of Quarter Sessions 1591-1643. Quarter sessions records are the oldest surviving public records of the historic counties of England and Wales and the courts decided upon administrative matters

and criminal cases, from apprenticeship indentures to murder. They give a fascinating insight into our ancestors’ lives. Your census search You can also search and use the 1881 Essex Census, where you’ll find the new high resolution, greyscale images much more legible than the black and white copies of the past. How to use the records 1. To access your free records simply register at 2. To activate your content for this issue, enter the code 236562 3. Once activated, content will be accessible for a 30-day period (within 3 months of the UK on sale date).


TheGenealogist is set to release a new batch of criminal records in March, which will include quar ter sessions for Middlesex, Shropshire, Surrey and Warwickshire – more news on this next issue!

Discover your Worcestershire ancestors’ criminal past, wheelings and dealings in the county’s Calendar of Quarter Sessions records 1591-1643, free this issue, and search for your Essex family in the 1881 Census


FamilyTree March 2017

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An illustration of The King’s Head, Chigwell, from Essex: Highways, Byways and Waterways by CBR Barrett, 1892

03/02/2017 16:43

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March 2017

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TRACE TO TUDOR TIMES King Henry VIII granting a Royal Charter to the Barber-Surgeons company

15 Records


to take your family history back to the

Discover the key record collections that could potentially take your family back to the time of the Tudors with genealogist Celia Heritage’s expert guide


hether you are an old hand at family history or just setting out on your quest to learn more about your family, it’s important to explore a wide range of sources to get the most from your research and ensure you are tracing the right family line. Here I suggest a range of sources which will aid you in tracing your family from the 20th century back to the 1500s.

1. Family records As you begin your family history research it is essential to ascertain if there are any records already held by


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the family which may kick-start your research. These range from birth certificates and family Bibles through to diaries and newspaper cuttings and provide essential information to get your research underway. They can also save you money where certificates are discovered. Use social media to track down relatives with whom you have lost touch. See if they, or any ‘new’ cousins you discover during your research, have any family papers too. Remember to interview older relatives who may have vital oral knowledge about the family that has never been recorded and which will die with them. Encourage the sharing of family photographs and other data, but use

online family trees with caution, as they may be inaccurate.

2. 1939 Regi ster This is a record of the civilian population of the UK taken in September 1939 just after WW2 broke out, and is one of the few easily available sources post-1911. The register for England and Wales is at (£) and provides details of an ancestor’s name, address, full date of birth, marital status and occupation, as well as others living at the same address. The database was later used to set up the National

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Bumper expert guide

WATCH Our expert Celia Heritage chats about researching back many centuries. TAP HERE!

Trace your ancestors with the Victorian censuses, starting with the 1911 Census and working back each decade to 1841

many census returns as possible and cross reference the information given for each year. Details may not be recorded consistently across the years. Assess whether any changes are credible, to ensure you have not identified the wrong person. Use census returns in tandem with birth, marriage and death (BMD) entries to help identify your ancestor’s correct birth entry (see point 4). With a few exceptions, Irish census returns only survive for 1901 and 1911 but these are freely available on the National Archives of Ireland website at Look at griffiths-valuation.aspx to learn more about Griffith’s Valuation, which can be used as a census substitute in Ireland.


Health Service (NHS) and some information was updated by them up to 1951, for example, a woman’s name may have been updated upon marriage. You may also be able to see some of the information on the opposite page of the register which has not officially been released. This ranges from notes regarding wartime activities, such as Red Cross membership, to causes of death. For privacy reasons, you can only view entries for those people who were born over 100 years ago or whose deaths have been verified. Read more at

3. Census records The decennial census returns, available from all main commercial genealogy websites and partially from, form a core source for family historians from 1841-1911. Census returns give an ancestor’s age, place of birth, marital status, address, occupation and the names of other family members living at his address, together with their relationship to the head of the household. Locate your ancestor on as

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The 1939 Register is a valuable resource for tracing your 20th-century relatives because the 1931 Census was destroyed by fire in WW2 and no census was taken in 1941. Findmypast. hosts the database, which is free to search but there is a charge to view and download the records

1939 Regis ter can be viewed for free onlin e site at The National Arc on hives, Kew. This ca n save you money; find more details at ht tp://fam ily TNA19 39 R egister


Visit our website at ht tp://family / censusguide fo r an essential how-to census guide for family historians

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4. Birth, marr iage & death certificates BMD registers form an essential part of your research back to 1 July 1837 in England and Wales, 1855 in Scotland and 1864 in Ireland. Birth and marriage registers provide important details regarding your ancestors’ parents and spouses. Use this source in tandem with information found in census records to prove your family tree to what I call verified pedigree level; that is, identifying solid evidence of your ancestor’s parentage in at least two independent documentary sources. Locate BMD register entries via the General Register Office (GRO) index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales on the FreeBMD website at For births 1837-1915 and deaths 1837-1957 you can use the new GRO index at certificates and use this web address to order copies of all certificates. In Scotland the equivalent Statutory Registers begin in 1855 and are online at For Ireland visit www.irishgenealogy. ie/en and see pages 36-39 this issue.

Solid evidence shared via social media: Assistant editor Karen Clare was sent these scans of her 2x great-grandfather’s 1865 birth certificate and 1885 marriage certificate and after making contact with a distant relative in Australia via Facebook

5. Loca l newspape rs Newspapers carrying local news really got under way in the mid19th century. These will help you flesh out what you know about your ancestors and give you a flavour of the times in which they lived. Copies are held in local libraries, archives and national repositories such as the British Library and the National Library of Ireland, but many have been digitised and are searchable by any key word or phrase, making nominal searches for your ancestors easy. These can be accessed via The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) at or Many Welsh newspapers are available for free at

6. Parish registers Recording our ancestors’ baptisms, marriages and burials, parish registers are a vital tool before civil registration (and thus BMD certificates) begin, but are also useful after this date. At best, parish registers will take your research back to around 1538, but in reality many start much later and

FIND OUT MORE Learn more about the new GRO index at

You can freely search and download historic Irish civil records at


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Bumper expert guide will only take your research back to the mid-1700s. If this is the case, Bishops’ Transcripts may survive for the missing years. These were contemporary parish register copies sent annually to the bishop. The amount of information in parish registers varies greatly, meaning it can be difficult to identify your ancestors with certainty in the records, especially where a surname is heavily localised. In these circumstances, look for some of the other sources suggested here.

QUICK TIP Search historic newspapers at Findmypast. and www. britishnewspaper

Original records are kept at county record offices, but many registers are available online as transcriptions or digital images at commercial websites and – the Free UK Genealogy sister site of FreeBMD. Make sure you check coverage before you search and look at the original image where possible as well as a transcription, which may contain errors or not record the complete entry. Also look at similar registers kept by Nonconformist churches. Not all survive, but those that do can be found at subscription sites, TheGenealogist. and

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See January 2017 Family Tree for our exclusive 8-page guide to online British newspaper archives – download or order your copy via

apprenticed or, if a woman, married etc. From 1662, settlement certificates could be issued to anyone wishing to Try your luck travel to a new parish. They were a form on the free of indemnity guaranteeing that the person in question would be supported website for by his home parish if he needed poor parish registers, relief. If a person arrived in a new parish such as these with no certificate, he could be removed 1660s baptism back to his place of settlement by the records which parish authorities. In this case a removal cover Aylsham order would be issued. Both removal in Norfolk orders and settlement certificates will name a person’s place of settlement. Removal orders will also record the parish where he was apprehended. They may also contain details of a man’s wife and children. Survival rates are not great, but records may help you track 7. Settleme nt & down the missing baptism of an ancestor ds recor removal who has migrated some distance. Records are at local record offices, Settlement and removal records can with a small number online. After the help to document the lives of some of introduction of union workhouses our poorer ancestors between the 17th in 1834, the system continued and early 20th centuries. Before 1834, and records will be found among poor relief was the responsibility of workhouse records. Find out more at the parish where a person was legally and www. ‘settled’. Originally a person’s usual ‘place of abode’, the Settlement Act of 1662 introduced new categories and criteria for establishing someone’s place 8. Monume ntal of settlement. By the late 17th century inscr iptions your parish of settlement was usually inherited from your father. However, as While there are many laudable you grew older you could change your modern-day projects that aim place of settlement in many different to record those gravestones still ways depending on whether you were

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Above: London people queuing outside St Marylebone Workhouse for poor relief, c1900; Right: A 1774 removal order of vagabond Ann Capon, found among’s London, Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1698-1930 collection, in association with the London Metropolitan Archives. The certificate says Ann was to be removed to the parish of Saint Leonard in Shoreditch and provided for by the churchwardens, chapel wardens and Overseers of the Poor

standing, earlier churchyard surveys are of greater value, since they recorded details on stones which have long since weathered away. Providing names and dates of death, monumental inscriptions (MIs) may also record crucial information relating to places and dates of birth, relationships and other information about your ancestor’s life. Many churchyard surveys are available via

the internet and can help further your pedigree when other sources let you down. Historic surveys now online include many Kent churchyards recorded by 18th and 19th century antiquarians, which can be found at the Kent Archaeological Society website at Modern-day projects include The World Burial Index www., Find A

Grave and BillionGraves https://billiongraves. com plus gravestone projects run by Ancestry and Copies of older surveys can usually be found in local record offices and your local family history society may sell CDs of their own transcriptions.


For out-of-copyrigh t books featuring old MIs, try browsing ‘Mon umental Inscriptions’ on the Internet Archive ht tps://ar – you may be incred ibly lucky and find one covering your paris h of interest

We found a 1913 copy of the Register of English Monumental Inscriptions at along with The Monumental and Other Inscriptions in Halifax Parish Church (1909), among many other such titles


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Bumper expert guide GALLERIES TAP HERE for a step-by-step guide on tracing your ancestors’ apprenticeship records You can find apprenticeship records on by searching under occupational records. The records shown here date from 1711

This 1853 will was easily downloaded for £3.45 from The National Archives’ Discovery site at http://discovery. nationalarchives.


9. Probate records An important source of genealogical information for all periods of research, but especially before the advent of BMD certificates and census returns, wills tell you more about your ancestors’ occupations, property they owned and, perhaps most importantly, will establish and confirm relationships, which will in turn grow and verify your family tree. For English and Welsh wills from 12 January 1858 look at the Principal Probate Registry (PPR) indexed up to 1966 on Ancestry. The complete index is accessible at from which you can also

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cestors Tracing Your An cords Re h Through Deat e ag rit He lia Ce by and (2nd Edition, Pen Sword, 2013)

order digital copies of wills for £10 each. Before 1858, wills were proved by a hierarchy of ecclesiastical courts. While some of these are online, many are not, so you will need to check which probate courts operated in the area where your ancestor lived and then look to see where the original wills are held and if any have been digitised – read TNA’s research guide ‘Wills or administrations before 1858’ at For Scottish wills visit www. and for wills in Ireland visit PRONI at

10. Guild & apprentic eship records Some of your ancestors would have served an apprenticeship in order to learn a trade – in some cases travelling far from home to do so. Apprentice registers were kept by local town or city guilds (the bodies who regulated local trade) and are held in local record offices, where you will also find registers of those people admitted to the guild. All of these can provide useful biographical data for your ancestor. Between 1710 and 1811 you can also check apprenticeship registers kept by the Inland Revenue. These record a stamp duty levied each time a master took on an apprentice. They also give details of the length of the apprenticeship, the child’s name and, up to the mid-18th century, his father’s name, address and occupation. The last can be crucial for extending the family tree especially where a boy has settled far away from his place of birth. Stamp duty registers are online at and, while the Society of Genealogists in London has a large indexed collection of apprentice indentures covering the 17th to 19th centuries.

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11. Quar ter & Pett y Sessi ons records Many of our ancestors feature in the records of the Quarter or Petty Sessions Courts. These courts were held at regular intervals in England and Wales from the 14th century until 1972. They generally heard less serious criminal cases and also dealt with a wide range of civil matters. The latter included enforcing trading standards, supervising the poor law, the administration of taxes, upkeep of the highways and local defence. They are a useful source for fleshing out our ancestors’ lives and may provide details about relationships, notably in settlement and bastardy cases. Find them at the county record office, with some now online.

12. Manorial records Ranging in date from the 12th to the early 20th century, there are many different types of manorial records, although survival rates vary greatly. Court rolls, which record the transfer of a type of land tenure called ‘copyhold’, are the most important. After the death of a tenant, copyhold land normally devolved to his closest next of kin. Since the court roll recorded the relationship of the new tenant to the old, it can provide vital evidence regarding your ancestor’s parentage or other family ties. Look out for references to ‘my copyhold land’ in your ancestors’ wills; if there is such a reference then checking out any surviving court rolls is a must. In some cases several generations of one

An engraving of an apothecary, John Simmonds, and his boy apprentice, William, working in the laboratory of John Bell’s pharmacy, 1842

family can be determined by means of the court roll. Pinpoint surviving manorial records for the area where your ancestor lived using the Manorial Documents Register at The National Archives. This is online for many counties but if not, pay a visit to Kew or contact the relevant local record office to ascertain which manorial records survive – see http://familytr. ee/guidetomdr and my article on manorial records in the October 2016 issue of Family Tree, available at www. Before the 18th century most records will be in abbreviated Latin but you should be able to spot your ancestor’s surname and in that case it

may be possible to get a photograph of the entry for translation by an expert – see Some early court rolls have been translated and published.

13. Records of the Cour t of Chancery Many of our ancestors were involved in civil disputes of one sort or another during the course of their lives, and one of the most popular courts for this type of case was the Court of Chancery. Disputes frequently involved


Teach yourself Latin – take the fre e online course at ww w. nationalarchives.g / latinpalaeography and read our essential guide to Latin in the October 2016 issue of Family Tree

Many of our ancestors appear in court records


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Bumper expert guide Kirk & presbytery sessions records

Images: Henry VIII, workhouse queue and apothecary © Wellcome Library, London, copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0; court illustration and coat of arms British Library Flickr; Giant’s Causeway Pixabay

A wonderful source for Scottish research, these records cover a wealth of information about parishioners; from paternity records and punishments meted out for loose behaviour, through to records relating to poor relief and the use of the parish mortcloth for burials. Records are held at local archives with copies at the National Records of Scotland. These are due to go online this year – see

family members (inheritance disputes are particularly common) and the records are therefore rich in references to family relationships. They can also reveal other details, ranging from addresses and occupations, through to information regarding the existence of illegitimate children. They may also refer to other documents used as evidence in the court case and which still survive. This source covers the 14th to 19th centuries and the records are at TNA. Use TNA’s Discovery catalogue at http://discovery.nationalarchives. to start your searches but make sure you also read its research guides ‘Chancery equity suits before 1558’ and ‘Chancery equity suits after 1558’ – located via the Research Guides tab on the Discovery home page – to learn more about how these records were indexed.

14. Heralds’ Visitations You may never imagine your ancestors were members of the nobility, but the further you get back, the greater the chance of finding such an ancestor. Inheritance rules in much of England and Wales meant that the eldest son inherited any title or estate. It was usual, therefore, for the younger sons of each generation to become steadily less well-off as the years passed by. After several generations the descendant of a Lord might be a humble labourer. If your research indicates a possible link (for example you might find your ancestor described in 16th or 17th century records as ‘Esquire’), take a look at the Heralds’ Visitations. These date from 1530 to 1686 and record the descent of armigerous families – those entitled to bear arms. The information was

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READ UP ON IT Tracing your Aristocratic Ancestors by Anthony Adolph (Pen & Sword, 2013)

Did your family have the right to bear arms?

originally taken down orally by heralds from the College of Arms based on what the family told them. They would then verify this with their own records. Most visitations have been published by societies such as The Cheetham Society and the Harleian Society and can be found in libraries such as the British Library or the Society of Genealogists. Some are online and are listed (along with other links to early online genealogy sources) at https://

as information about more notable local families. Good examples are Hasted’s History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent and Nicolson and Burns’ History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland. The British History Online website at www.british-history. offers transcripts of many local history books and gives access to the Victoria County Histories (VCH) – read more about the VCH at Also look for free digital copies of printed histories at https://books. and http://openlibrary. org and the aforementioned Internet Archive at You can also find a comprehensive guide to digital libraries in the February issue of Family Tree. For Northern Ireland, the Ordnance Survey Memoirs were parish accounts commissioned to accompany the new Ordnance Survey maps in the 1830s. They provide information about places and local people and can be bought from the Ulster Historical Foundation via

About the author Professional genealogist Celia Heritage runs The Celia Heritage Family History

15. Printed histories

e-Course, an indepth online

Don’t rely on the records just offered by genealogy websites. Learning something about the history of the area where your ancestor lived is important and many older printed histories will provide this, as well

author of Tracing Your Ancestors Through

course aimed at those with English and Welsh ancestors. She is the Death Records and Researching and Locating your Ancestors and publishes a regular newsletter detailing family history news;

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What sort of family historian are you? Are you a Sherlock Holmes-style sleuth? A master of the genealogy database? Or chief raconteur of anecdotes at a family gathering? For a bit of family history fun, Chris Paton invites you to ponder what it is about this most compelling of hobbies that really makes you tick...


or some, family history is about the thrill of the hunt, that urge to uncover our roots, and perhaps try to locate flickers of familiarity among those who came before us – recognisable personality traits that must be ‘in the blood’. For others it is the hobby of the hunter-gatherer, the desire to create databases and resources, not just to help their own pursuits but for others who may share a particular connection or interest. Then there are those who are obsessed with technology, seemingly born with cybernetic implants and a desire to interface with all the latest gadgets around, and perhaps to create


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a few more along the way. And of course, there are some who make a living from it, whether through professional research services, products supplies, or producing publications such as Family Tree magazine! Our addiction to genealogy has a name – progonoplexia – and the prognosis for all of us so afflicted is not good, as it is unlikely to involve a door with an exit sign on it any time soon. But what kind of family historian are you, and what kind of family historian might you yet aspire to be? Just for a bit of fun, let’s explore the options. No matter where you end up concentrating your efforts, you will

likely start to pursue your ancestral interests by researching your own personal tree. If so, what might your end goal be?

Want an instant family tree? Do you just have a fleeting interest, a desire perhaps to construct a basic family tree chart as a memento for the living room wall, or a quick ready reckoner to clarify how all those relatives you are conscious of around you today are related? If you hope to produce fast results, one problem to be aware of is that once you have finished interviewing your relatives who might be willing to talk, you are then tempted to take

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Super-sleuth? Data dude? dangerous shortcuts. It may indeed be tempting to log into a website, see a tree with a name or two you recognise, assume you are related, and simply ‘harvest’ what you find without considering its accuracy. If you are in that boat, a little more time and patience may well be required to do the job properly. After all, what use might that family tree chart be on the wall if it is not in fact your family it is illustrating? And just because your name is Campbell or MacDonald, does that cheap plaque with a coat of arms that you bought in a thrift shop in Edinburgh really have anything at all to do with you or your family?!

provide contact details for you: • – AGRA •– ASGRA • www.scottishgenealogynetwork. – the Scottish Genealogy Network • – the Association of Professional Genealogists. Check out the listings at the back of Family Tree for details of professional researchers too.

Committed to the cause? At the other end of the scale, are you one of those genies who wants to take things a great deal further, not only to identify where the cousins all fit in, but to understand how all of your

What kind of family historian are you, and what kind of family historian might you yet aspire to be? If a quick turnaround is what you are looking for, but you are concerned that your family history should be well researched and all sources properly cited, you might well be better off hiring a professional researcher to do the immediate requirements for you – you can always go back and continue on from their initial efforts at a later date! Many libraries and archives have lists of locally-based researchers who might be able to assist you, and there are of course many national professional researcher-based groups, such as the following, all of whom can

family lines have evolved over time, back through the generations? If this is your aspiration, you may think that this involves considerably more time and effort, and a great deal more expense, and you could well be right. You might need to invest time and effort in learning specific skills and research techniques, through books and research guides, and perhaps even consider doing a course or two to help you develop further as a researcher. You will certainly need to go beyond the comfort zone of

just using online databases from the comfort of your home. A good family historian develops the skills to understand the political context, culture and events happening around ancestors within the areas in which they resided. To understand their significance and impact, you may need to research the local history of an area and to reconstitute entire family groups to gain a sense of how long-established they may have been there, or whether they were known in the locality for a particular skill or trade. Are you so interested in the art and science behind such types of research that you might even wish to consider working as a professional researcher yourself some day?

What do your records say about you? Are you a scrap merchant, with scraps of paper here and scraps of paper there, each of them with scribbled notes awaiting the glorious day when they will all be collated? Or do you keep family group sheets, summarising the key biographical details and sources found for each family grouping within your tree? Are you a software fanatic, having abandoned all forms of writing implements in the 20th century, or is the quill and parchment always close to hand, next to the calligraphy guide? Do you use a family history software program to record your findings; equally importantly, do you have back-up copies of your fi les in case the dreaded computer crash ever happens? Do you type up your findings into documents, with logs detailing what you have searched as part of a detailed research plan and identifying what you have yet to search, or do you simply go where the whim takes you?

Your story... secret or shared? What do you do with the stories that you might find? Are you a sharer, do you publish your efforts and perhaps attract distant relatives to step forward and add more to the larger story? Or is this your personal thing, your guilty pleasure, something that you perhaps only

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THOUGHTS ON GENEALOGY GOALS wish to do for yourself, your children or your immediate family? Do you wish to present your findings through a website, in a magazine article, or within a book? If so, there are many people out there who can help you to create a basic website, or to structure your efforts into a small publication.

New interests, new friendships For many who spend time pursuing their ancestral history, new interests may well emerge along the way. These can culminate in participation within societies and involvement in associated projects, as fellow enthusiasts seek to create resources that might help with their own research, as well as that of others. Many family history societies, for example, have created census indexes, newspaper indexes, graveyard inscriptions and other resources for just such a reason. Such networking opportunities can help you to develop new friendships – might you be wise to get away from the computer for a bit, and attend meetings, visit locations and archive institutions that you may never have gone near before?

Communicating & crowdsourcing Conversely, while these activities have helped to create some of the most useful resources for family history research, in the 21st century there are many other new practices that the modern technological world has opened up. Do you still communicate with distant relatives by writing letters or emails, or have you adopted the social media world, with networking opportunities through Facebook, discussion forums and other online platforms, all based within their own virtual worlds? Might you be interested in online crowdsourcing and indexing projects, helping organisations and companies to open up access to millions of records awaiting a new existence with an online destiny? Several organisations now provide software to allow you to help indexing digitised records from the comfort of your own home, such as FamilySearch’s Indexing project – – and Ancestry’s World Archives Project –


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Are you a scrap merchant, with scraps of paper here and scraps of paper there, each of them with scribbled notes awaiting the glorious day when they will all be collated? Ready for the new world? Then, of course, there is the biggest game in town just now, the field of genetic genealogy, the testing of DNA to unlock the family history found within your very cells at a molecular level. Have you really gone as far as you can go as a genealogist; are you ready to move beyond traditional research techniques and to embrace the future? Or will you stay safe in the tried, tested, but somewhat limited, opportunities that may restrain you within the brick walls other developing methodologies might help to smash? The world of the family history researcher is changing by the day, bringing fascinating new options and new frustrations, but it is a world that is not standing still. As we start moving our way through 2017, why not ask yourself what type of researcher you currently are, what your goals are and how you want to realise them? And then, at the start of each new year from now, perhaps ask yourself those very same questions again!

Those of us who are totally immersed within the genealogical world already know ancestral research is the gift that keeps on giving. And yet the field of family history itself is not a very easy thing to defi ne. However, by thinking about what you want to discover, record and preserve about the past for the future, you may also fi nd it encourages you to make new plans – and uncover even more about your family’s fascinating history.

About the author Chris Paton runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service www.scotlandsgreateststory. – and teaches online courses through fgfg He is the author of Researching Scottish Family History, Tracing Your Family History On The Internet, Tracing Your Irish Family History On The Internet and The Mount Stewart Murder, among others, and blogs at

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Starting out on family history research? Then this course is for you. You will learn about fundamental first steps and essential building blocks of genealogy; how and why to trace certificates of birth, marriage and death (civil registration) and how to find your ancestors in census records. Please note a part 2 of this course will be held on 13 May, which will include finding birth, marriage & burial records in parish registers.

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Saturday, 13 May 14:00-17:00 (£20.00/£16.00) In Part 2 of this course you will learn how to search for records of marriage, baptism and burial in parish registers. The tutor will introduce both online and offline sources and methods. Half-day courses with Louise Taylor. Courses can be booked separately.

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How to trace your railway ancestors At the cutting edge of technology and transport the growth of railways transformed our ancestors’ world. Here we look at the history of the railways in the British Isles – and the records, memories and more to help you trace your ancestors who worked on them. Fast-track your research today

TOP RAILWAY RESEARCH ADVICE Get to grips with the records to help trace your railway ancestors’ working lives, with Chris Heather – Transport Records Specialist in the Advice and Records Knowledge department at The National Archives

Researching railway occupations Railway companies employed a huge range of different trades, and these are reflected in the records. As well as drivers and fi remen there were station staff, such as ticket collectors, stationmasters and signalmen. There were those who built and maintained the track, the engines and the rolling stock. Engineers and labourers built bridges and dug tunnels, and catering staff ran railway hotels. Railway companies employed canal workers, and some merchant seamen, and, before the First World War,


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Understanding staff records To help you understand how to track down an ancestor’s staff records, here is an outline of some important dates in railway company history. • Between 1825 – when passenger railways began – and 1923, almost 1,000 separate railway companies were formed throughout Britain. They did not all exist at the same time. Some companies were taken over by larger companies and others failed, but each company kept its own staff records, and those that survive vary a great deal in what they contain. Many do not survive at all • Between 1923 and 1947 most of the existing companies were combined into just four companies – known as the Big Four (GWR, LMS, LNE and SR). Then in 1948 the railways were nationalised to

become British Railways • Once nationalised the records of the various private companies which had been passed down to British Rail became public records, and were passed to The National Archives (TNA), in Kew, Surrey. The period for which TNA has staff records is therefore between 1825 and 1947 • However, it is also worth checking with the relevant County Record Offi ce (CRO), since some railway staff records are known to have found their way to local archives • For staff after 1948, you will again need to contact the local CRO corresponding to the railway region in which they worked, and ask for the railway staff record cards. But be aware that most records will still be closed due to data protection regulations

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Researching ancestors in the age of steam Onl ine search tip Search on first because it’s quick and easy, and the documents include records from some of the smaller companies, which the larger ones absorbed. However, if you do not find your man then you will need to do a bit more detective work, and use the remaining records of the smaller companies held at TNA

horses were used to move carriages around, so there are blacksmiths, draymen and horse boys in the records. You may also find auditors, lock-smiths, typists and lavatory attendants. So if your ancestor’s occupation is given on his marriage certificate as a fireman, engineer or plumber, he could have been employed by a railway company.

Where to start searching Some TNA railway staff records for the period before 1948 are available online through the Ancestry website in the section called Railway Employment Records. These are the records of the larger railway companies, including the Great Western, the London Midland Scottish and the London and North Eastern railway companies.

Not all online The staff records at TNA are arranged by name of railway company, so it really helps to know which company employed your ancestor. It is most likely to be the one located nearest to where he lived, so use the census and marriage or death certificates to locate his address. The census was taken every 10 years and is available to search online from 1841 to 1911. You can start your search of TNA’s staff records from TNA’s website:

See our blog to discover how Ad èle Emm’s research ed her railway ance stor at s ee. ourrailway-workerancestors

Above: A page from a staff register for the Barry Railway in South Wales (TNA reference RAIL 23/46). Not much information is given but it shows that Katherine Jane Harris was employed from 13 August 1915 in the accountants’ office. It gives her date of birth and her rate of pay. These registers are usually arranged by date of employment, and may be indexed at the back or front of the volume. Other volumes may be in alphabetical order of surname Right: Company railway magazines are a useful source for family historians who may not own a photograph of their ancestor (TNA reference ZPER 16/6, January 1916) Below: Red Cross train loading up at Casualty Clearing Station

Quick tips The census will tell you where your ancestor lived and give you their job title. Their marriage or death certificate should tell you their occupation, and where they got married or died. Certificates can be ordered online from the General Register Office – – standard printed charge £9.25

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EXPLORING LIFE & WORK ON THE RAILWAY Find information on A-list steam engines at / locomotives-an dengines/steamengines

Using railway atlases


Having found an address use a railway atlas (such as Jowett’s Railway Atlas by Alan Jowett) to check which railway companies ran lines and stations nearby. In urban areas you may have to narrow it down to the nearest two or three companies


Next check whether any staff records for that company survive by turning to the ‘Railway Workers Research Guide’ on TNA’s website, which you can fi nd here: The guide includes a table of staff records in alphabetical order of company name, together with document references for each volume. Remember that these are original documents which can only be seen if you visit The National Archives.


Accidents were extremely common, with an average of two railwaymen being killed on the railway every day up until the First World War Resear ch tip Major incidents recorded in accident registers can be searched via but smaller accidents can only be found by consulting the volumes in person since they are not downloadable

STAFF REGISTER RECORDING FINANCIAL FACTS This is the staff register entry for George Webber. Firstly, note that half the page is reserved for a record of fines, emphasising the fact that the main purpose of these records was financial, recording payments to workers, or deductions from wages. Secondly, this is a Great Western Railway ledger for the period 1841-1864 (TNA reference RAIL 264/18), but George Webber was employed by the South Devon Railway. The reason his record is in this collection is because the GWR took over the South Devon Railway, and its records were subsumed into those of the GWR. Thirdly, I have included this for the amount of information it gives on an incident in 1886, when George Webber was driving his engine to Truro, through hail and snow. At one point he felt his engine hit something. On reaching Truro he discovered that he had hit and killed a Ganger (Foreman) named Collins. As a result of this accident Webber went temporarily insane, and was placed in the Bodmin Lunatic Asylum. He was released the following year, but the company only employed him as a cleaner


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Researching ancestors in the age of steam

Understanding job classifications Railway companies grouped occupations together and gave them titles which we might not use today. For example, a signalman, a guard or a porter might be included under ‘Operating, Traffic and Coaching’ staff; an engine driver might be listed under ‘Carriage or Mechanical Engineering’ staff. Again, the Railway Workers Research Guide has a key to these terms.

tips. They also include information on staff, such as new appointments, resignations, promotions, retirements, awards and deaths. TNA has 3,284 railway magazines for more than 100 different companies and regions. For the two world war periods they show men who have signed up, with photographs and biographical information. You will also find the inevitable obituaries for those unfortunately killed.

Rent rolls

Trade unions

Rent rolls are lists of tenants living in railway-owned houses or cottages. The railway companies would sometimes build housing for their staff, particularly if a station was needed in a rural area, and in many cases villages and towns were born out of a few railway cottages. Those people listed on rent rolls are most likely to be railway employees.

Many railway workers would have joined a trade union, and family history information can be obtained from the

CHARITABLE PAYMENT RECORD This record is for Gertrude Heather, an eight-year-old girl whose father died in 1892 (TNA reference RAIL 1166/101). It shows an allowance being paid to her grandmother, and that her schooling has been arranged

trade union papers held at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick. These can also be seen online through the Findmypast website at

Types of staff record Since each company kept its own records, the surviving staff

Staff magazines Many companies produced magazines for their staff, which included news on social events and articles on a variety of subjects, including theatre reviews, sports clubs and gardening

Is it any r we hanker de on w us af ter the glorio ? m ea St Age of

system is Britain’s railway world, and the oldest in the ations, hotels the viaducts, st s that still and signal boxe ape are mark the landsc inder an evocative rem of times gone by

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A GH Thompson cartoon, dating from 1940, but depicting an earlier era

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EXPLORING LIFE & WORK ON THE RAILWAY ledgers vary in the amount of detail recorded. Some companies maintained a whole page per person, and these can include personal details and events from their service, particularly if they were involved in an accident, or if they were disciplined in some way. Other companies merely maintained staff lists, which give little more than names, dates and salaries.

Voucher books For some companies you will find voucher books at TNA. These are accountants’ records that include receipts for wages paid, and invoices relating to staff and contractors. They are not usually indexed, so you would be lucky to find an entry for your ancestor, but if successful you would be rewarded by seeing their signature.

Company board minutes Like any company, railway management boards had committees which would look into specific issues and report back. The Great Eastern Railway had an Old Age Committee, and the minutes reveal the names and ages of elderly staff who were assessed each year and told whether they could continue working.

Railway Benevolent Institution The records of the Railway Benevolent Institution can be used to trace charitable payments to widows and children of railwaymen killed or injured in the course of their work. They are not indexed, but if you know the date when your man was killed or injured, you may be able

Peter ’s Railway Email


Books for children who love trains Chris Vine’s series of books tell the story of Peter and Grandpa building and operating a railway across their farm. With adventures, stories from the old railways and real engineering, these books feed inquisitive minds!

Accident registers Most railway companies would keep accident registers, which can be found by simply searching TNA’s online catalogue, Discovery – http://discovery. nationalarchives. Did as before – yo u know? using the name of The first monarch the company and to travel by rail the word ‘accident’. was Queen Accidents were Victoria on 13 extremely June 1842 common, with an average of two railwaymen being killed on the railway every day up until the First World War. As well as the company’s own accident records, TNA also holds copies of the Board of Trade’s reports into accidents in series RAIL 1053. These detailed accounts record even the smallest of accidents involving staff.

Other sources

Just Out

• – for records of the British Transport Police, start by consulting its website • – for London Transport employees, contact the Transport for London Corporate Archives.

Books for Fun and Learning Caught in a storm, two young girls dry out in a loco. Cheekily, they end up stealing the train! A true story. 15 x 14 cm, 32 pages. Age 6 to 12 years, £2.99

to fi nd an entry recording payments to his relatives.

The children and Grandpa play trains on an epic scale, causing complete havoc! 15 x 14 cm, 32 pages. Age 3 to 6 years, £2.99

I hope you’ve found my round-up of railway sources helpful. Good luck with your research! CH

EXPLORE THE NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM Author and Engineer As a Chartered Engineer who trained at Rolls Royce, Chris wanted to share his love and knowledge of railways, science and engineering: Peter’s Railway is the result.

For signed & dedicated copies and special offers 10% OFF with coupon FAMTREE17




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The National Railway Museum is one of the largest transport archives in the UK and if you have railway ancestors it’s especially worth a visit. Jump aboard for Rachel Bellerby’s whistle-stop tour...

The archives of the National Railway Museum in York – see the website at – have grown since its opening in 1975 into one of the largest transport archives in the UK, with books, maps, photographs and other material relating to more than 150 years of railway history.

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Researching ancestors in the age of steam There are more than 20,000 books and 1.4 million photographs in the museum’s collections. The museum’s library and archive centre Search Engine is open to researchers with no appointment needed; although you can request material in advance of your visit. In the museum itself you can explore more than one million railway-related objects, including the magnificent Sir Nigel Gresley locomotive, which is currently on public display while it undergoes its 10-year overhaul. You can also take a simulator ride on The Mallard, explore the world’s finest collection of royal carriages and see railway furniture, timepieces and fittings which played their role in the country’s transport history. RB

New exhibition The National Railway Museum’s new exhibition ‘Ambulance Trains’ invites visitors to step on board a historic railway carriage and discover the role played by the men and women who ran the First World War Ambulance Trains, which carried millions of sick and injured soldiers to safety between 1914 and 1918. Letters, diaries, photographs and drawings chart the history of the service, with digital projections and film helping bring this heroic story to life. National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ; tel: 0844 8153139 email: website:

Remember rail disasters

s worst rail Explore the UK’ ll, 1915, in crash, Quintinhi le died – which 226 peop of f to Gallipoli mainly soldiers injured. – and 246 were detailed Find memorials ipedia. at ht tps://en.wik shill_rail_ org/wiki/Quintin ials disaster#Memor

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Above: Before the Hellingly Hospital line closed in 1957, several enthusiast groups ran tours to visit it. This is the SCTS/TLRS tour from May 1957 Right: The Hellingly electric locomotive on Phil Parker’s model of the hospital line

USING MODEL RAILWAYS FOR RESEARCH Railway modelling expert and enthusiast Phil Parker reveals how these miniature recreations of bygone railways can reveal clues about your ancestors’ working world

Clues from a miniature world Dig back in many a family history and the chances are you’ll unearth a connection to railways. While you’ll immediately think of the national companies, there were also a plethora of tiny operations and these can be far harder to find out about. The good

news is that there are groups of people out there who are likely to be in a position to help you; railway modellers. On any weekend, there will be model railway exhibitions taking place up and down the UK, with others spread all the way to Australia. Entrance tickets only cost a few pounds and inside there will be a variety of models from around the country. Most of the models will feature well researched recreations of small parts of the railway system. Those operating them will have spent many enjoyable hours finding out as much as they can to make the model as authentic as

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TAP HERE to explore an impressive model railway of Liverpool Lime Street from times gone by

View Phil odel Parker’s m on cti a railway in it. /b :/ p tt h t a w X ly/2jLO C

possible. It’s common to see some of the results of this effort shown as part of the display, or at least carried in a folder underneath so it can be shown to anyone interested. It’s not just locomotives we are interested in, research becomes addictive and it’s easy to spend time that should be devoted to building a model poring over photographs or obscure documents.

My project & research A few years ago, I decided to build a small model of the Hellingly Hosptital Railway. This tiny private line started life as the best way to shift millions of bricks and other material required to build a substantial asylum in the south of England from the station to the building site, three-quarters of a mile

away. Around 1900, when construction drew to a close, the hospital Visiting Committee decided to retain it, even going so far as to equip it with the then new-fangled electricity. Living 200 miles away from the prototype, most of my research was carried out in libraries and contacting people by post. Many lines like this attract authors who produce tiny pamphlet-sized and often privately printed publications. The book that inspired me was written by Peter Harding and he generously supplied a list of contacts who I, in turn, wrote to.

Show time! Once I’d built my model, I started to exhibit it and this is where the biggest surprise awaited me. Our first show was in the centre of Derby and there we

The Kineton story When members of the Leamington & Warwick Model Railway Society started to research Kineton station, they found relatively little information available from conventional sources. Since the prototype is only a few miles from the club, they took a stall at the local farmers’ markets, appealing for memories of those living in the area. Such information and plans as they had were put on display and this started a number of useful conversations.


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Following these up, a large number of unpublished photos were discovered as well as a fund of stories from the era being modelled – all of which otherwise might have been lost in the future had they not reached out to the community for clues. For more details, visit the club’s website at

were greeted by a cry of ‘It’s Hellingly!’ from a group of visitors. Chatting to them, it turned out that one lady had worked at the hospital, her mother had been the head cook and her sister still worked at the administration centre at the time occupying the site. As we travelled around the country to other exhibitions, the same thing happened every time we appeared. This might have been a tiny line with

650,000 s

taff! By the late 19th/early 2 0th centuries, 6 50,0 worked on th 00 people e railways a t any one tim e – was you r ancestor on e of them? Find th

is and othe r invaluable information in My Ances tor Was A Railway Wor ker by Fran k Hardy, published by the Society of Genealogist s, RRP £8.9 9

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Images: title image: © AdobeStock/hipproductions; rail images © Chris Heather & The National Archives; Hellingly photos Andy York/

Above, left: Hellingly Hospital’s Visiting Committee view progress on constructing the line in miniature; right, a letter Phil received from the line’s original driver, Harry Page, as part of his researches; top right, Phil met John Page, Harry’s grandson, while exhibiting his model at Brighton in 1999

Researching ancestors in the age of steam School time Remember these facts from your youth? • The first steam locomotive was built in 1804 by Robert Trevithick and used to haul iron in Wales • At the Rainhill Trials in 1829, Stephenson’s Rocket sped along at a record-breaking 29 miles per hour • 1830 – the year the London and Manchester Railway opened its steam passenger service

no passengers – it was solely goods after 1935 – but we always found someone who knew it personally. Perhaps because of the sort of hospital it served, there was some notoriety with children threatening their friends, ‘They would be sent to Hellingly’, and that stirred the curiosity of anyone interested in trains.

Images: title image: © AdobeStock/hipproductions; rail images © Chris Heather & The National Archives; Hellingly photos Andy York/ BMR; 1957 tour © John H Meredith; festival, letter and John Page © Phil Parker British Library and Wellcome Library images; Red Cross train Wellcome Images; St Pancras, Berkhamstead and Craigendoran stations from the British Library flickr collection

Making connections online At the same time as I built the model, I created a website showing my efforts and asking for more information. Through this I received a number of contacts, the most striking of which came from a retired nurse. As a 16-yearold, she moved away from home to start her career at this remote arm of the health system. At night, the noise from the patients was terrifying and there wasn’t much chance of relief since the site was pretty much self-contained. There was also the suggestion from another contact that during World War II, several ‘well known faces’ took the trip along the line for secret treatment in the underground rooms

Memories of my engine driver dad with Jan Davison My grandfather and my father worked on the railway all their working lives and thoroughly enjoyed their work as railway drivers. As a family we are very lucky to have fond family memories – insights that you’d never be able to find in an archive. They’re just anecdotal – things that our Dad told us. One particular memory that springs to mind, is Dad working on the footplate of a steam engine. He told us how cold it was. It’s open to the elements, there are no doors, no air conditioning units – drivers and firemen are just out there exposed to the great outdoors. In winter to keep warm, Dad said that he would put newspapers down his work trousers. As a little girl I used to find that absolutely fascinating – and it’s something that people nowadays perhaps wouldn’t even be able to relate to, or indeed put up with, but to the men of the old steam trains it was all part of their job and they just got on with it. • Editor: Anecdotes and memories relating to Jan’s dad’s work on the railways are very precious to her and she’s been taking time to record them. If you have memories of the much-loved age of steam, make sure you record them too. Enjoy Jan’s memories on our YouTube channel at

beneath the hospital. I’ve never been able to corroborate this, but it certainly makes a fascinating story. If you have family who worked for the railways, the chances are you’ll gravitate towards models showing where they worked. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to meet the grandson of Harry Page, driver of the Hellingly loco, while exhibiting in Brighton. He was in turn pleased to see a letter from his now-late grandfather that I’d received years before.


So, how can you make use of model railways?

lines you are interested in. Many modellers have websites, others post updates to their model on forums such as Also look at magazines such as BRM (British Railway Modelling) in newsagents as the best layouts will be featured in print. From there, get in touch with the railway model builder and the chances are that you will find you can help each other out. PP

About our experts Chris Heather joined the Public

The internet is your friend. Try searching for station names or

Record Office in 1985, and has worked in various sections of the office including Personnel, the Repository Office, Chancery Lane

VIDEO CONTENT Berkhamstead Station, in 1839, on the London and Birmingham Railway line

TAP HERE to listen to Jan Davison, publisher of Family Tree, recall precious memories of her father’s time as a steam locomotive driver

and the Family Records Centre. He has worked in public-facing sections for the past 15 years, and has an interest in records concerning crime, prisoners, and transportation to Australia. He is currently the Transport Records Specialist in the Advice and Records Knowledge department at The National Archives, mainly dealing with enquiries regarding railway companies Phil Parker is an avid railway modeller, keen to research every last historical detail to get it right. He regularly writes for BRM. Find out more about Phil’s models at

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NEXT DOOR Dame Vera Lynn will be 100 years old in March 2017. John Leete looks back at the remarkable life of a British icon forever known as The Forces’ Sweetheart who brought joy to millions of our family members during the dark days of war


t just eight years of age, Joan was no different from the millions of other youngsters totally unprepared for the change that was about to take place. A quiet little girl, Joan was in the second wave of Operation Pied Piper. The mass evacuation of young children began on the eve of war and continued after the start of hostilities when the authorities decided that mums and children of a certain, slightly older age, should also be sent to places of safety. ‘Actually my mother refused to be evacuated and because my brother was too young to leave my mother at that time, I was sent away on my own,’ said Joan. ‘There were screams and

Vera Lynn famously sang The White Cliffs of Dover (1942)


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Images: Vera Lynn singing at munitions factory © IWM (P 551); Vera Lynn with factory workers © IWM (P 553); War and Peace Show photo © Nicki, reused under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence; John and Maxine Leete with Dame Vera © John Leete; White cliffs of Dover & rose Pixabay

Dame Vera Lynn at 100

Morale boost: Vera singing during a lunchtime concert at a munitions factory in 1941 (left) and meeting workers afterwards (above)

struggles from those children who defi nitely did not want to go. The journey itself, well I remember little about that, although I do remember being very tearful and being comforted by one of the teachers travelling with us.’ John Dickson was one of the

children who stayed behind in London. Now aged 80, he still remembers vividly much of what happened during the war years on the Home Front. ‘As a child you knew no different. You grew up believing that this is what life was about. Ruined buildings, damage

all around you, friends you knew at school suddenly not being around anymore. I was fairly lucky for much of the war although I was injured towards the end of the war by debris from a flying bomb.’ Apart from both experiencing the war years, albeit from a different



‘She was down to earth, she understood what life was like for all of us on the Home Front and she sung the songs that we could all associate with’

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A BRITISH ICON Rise to fame

Vera Lynn at the War and Peace Show in July 2009

perspective, Joan Coup and John Dickson have something else in common, their clear memories of having their spirits lifted by ‘a song on the wireless’, as Joan recalls: ‘Simple things lifted our spirits as children and helped us deal with all the sadness we were aware of around us. The adults too often spoke of their favourite song or programme or a radio personality that helped to take their mind off things.’ The popular song was The White Cliffs of Dover and the personality was a young Vera Lynn. ‘My one lasting memory of her from those times was her singing The White Cliffs of Dover. Why that song I do not know but it has stayed with me all my life and hearing her sing it, even today, gives me tingles up my spine,’ said John.

Vera Margaret Welch was born in East Ham, London in March 1917. Within a few years, at the tender age of just seven, she began singing in public at Working Men’s Club’s in the East End. A weekend concert and a cabaret would earn Vera 7/6 (seven shillings and sixpence in old money, or £20 today), boosted by extra payment for encores. She adopted her maternal grandmother’s name Lynn for her work on stage and at age 17 she made her first radio broadcast. This was with the famous Joe Loss Orchestra although she was already being featured on records released by both Joe Loss and Charlie Kunz. At the beginning of September 1939, Vera was sitting in the garden of the new home in Barking she had bought with her dressmaker mum Annie and dad Bertram, who did all sorts of odd jobs. The family was drinking tea when they heard the news on the radio that Britain had declared war. By her own admission Vera recalls her first thought was a selfi sh one, ‘Oh dear, there goes my singing career,’ but of course no one knew how essential entertainment would become in the following

months and years. Vera was on tour with the Ambrose band at the time and it was during this she first sang We’ll Meet Again, which was to become a great favourite with audiences. At the outbreak of war and for some months thereafter, there were changes to national radio broadcasting that resulted in very little and very limited programming, much of which was regarded as very dull. The new Home Service offered classical music programmes and not much else and the Forces Programme only started with a few hours of evening broadcast in January 1940, however, fortunately within a month this extended to a 12-hour-a-day service. Vera went solo in that year, buoyed by a newspaper article which said she was outselling the record sales of Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers. ‘My voice, the kind of songs I liked to sing and the mood of the time were beginning to work together,’ she recalled.

‘One of us’ Vera would eventually be ‘called up’ by ENSA (Entertainment National Services Association) but for the time being she toured the country. She

Find out more Listen online to the BBC Radio Two series Keep Calm and Carry On: The Vera Lynn Story with Katherine Jenkins and contributions from Vera Lynn herself, plus performers and fans, in the IWM Sound Archive


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Watch a 1944 film of Vera Lynn visiting units of the 14th Army at Sylhet, near the Indian-Burmese border, on the IWM website via

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Dame Vera Lynn at 100


Dame Vera is releasing a new album on 17 March, three da ys before her 100th birthday. Ve ra Lynn 100 features re-orchestrate d versions of her most famous son gs alongside her original vocals, an d featuring other British artists. Sh e is the first singer to release an album as a centenarian Author John Leete and his wife Maxine meeting the acclaimed Dame Vera Lynn

was from the outset regarded as ‘one of us’ as Margaret Ward, a former ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) driver, said. ‘Yes she was a star but she wasn’t at all remote or reserved like some stars were. She was down to earth, she understood what life was like for all of us on the Home Front and she sung the songs that we could all associate with.’ Vera had in fact already been referred to as everyone’s best friend, and years later she said, ‘I was never a glamour girl. I was the girl next door’. Among many other accolades Vera became known as ‘The Forces Sweetheart’ after a Daily Express poll named her as British servicemen’s favourite musical performer. In 1941, she began Sincerely Yours, her own BBC radio show that was broadcast at home and abroad via shortwave radio. Most notably, of course, Vera Lynn performed songs that reminded the troops of home including the songs that she will forever be associated with, We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover among many others.

The Forgotten Army With ENSA she travelled to Egypt and India and also to Burma, where the ‘Forgotten Army’ was fighting so far away from home. ‘When she arrived in a Jeep a great cheer went up from

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the lads. She was already perspiring in the clinging heat but no matter she sang to us and every time we asked for an encore she sang again. This went on for a long time until Vera was drenched in sweat and exhausted. She was a real trooper and lifted the spirits of everyone. Soldiers don’t cry but there were many moist eyes that day,’ wrote an unknown diarist. Vera herself recalls one of the boys saying, ‘Home can’t be that far away because you’re here’.

A salute to Vera Lynn It would be so easy to run away with words like ‘iconic’ ‘legendary’ and ‘one of a kind’ when describing Vera Lynn. The truth is, and having met her on more than one occasion, I can testify that the only fitting words to describe her are honest, humble, decent and giving. To this day, with her wartime and post-war career still being recognised and acclaimed the world over, she still finds it hard to grasp just how popular she has remained with audiences of all ages during the past decades. Her giving continues and is demonstrated by, for instance, her presidency of the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity for children with cerebral palsy – Her awards are many and various and

reflect the significant contribution she has made. By way of example, she was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in the 1970s and has received the Order of St John and the Order of the British Empire. Her songs continue to resonate with the wider public and boost the morale of service personnel away from home. In 2017, her 100th birthday year, the celebration of this remarkable woman will include a unique show at the London Palladium, a theatre that she appeared at in the early days of her career. That career has bought considerable happiness to many millions of people across the world and it is right and fitting that we should salute Dame Vera Lynn.

About the author John fgfg Leete’s interest in Britain’s Home Front during WW2 evolved from his childhood fascination with artefacts – everything from tin helmets to gas mask bags. Some years later a chance meeting with a veteran resulted in John’s fi rst book. Since then he has continued to write extensively and given talks on this era of history. He is also involved in Living History.

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Make giant steps

researching Irish ancestors Combining expert background knowledge and extremely useful search tips, Steven Smyrl helps you get to grips with a core collection of Irish records you’re sure to need – the Irish BMD registers re you finding it hard to keep up with the rapid rate at which Irish genealogy records are becoming increasingly available online? It used to be that an article on an aspect of Irish genealogy would stand for years. Progress of any sort was slow, held up by such things as lack of funds, bureaucracy or staff shortages, so that little changed over decades. While it wouldn’t be right to say that all of these issues have been resolved, these days the speed of change in Irish genealogy has been breathtaking, however, as seen, for instance, by the developments in 2016 regarding the civil registration records in Ireland.


Putting the records in context

Getting the full picture

What led to the start of civil registration in Ireland?

Where there was once nothing online relating to Irish civil registration birth, death and marriage records, there are now numerous online locations to search the indexes. Within the past six months, even these sites have been gazumped – virtually overnight – by a State website providing access not only to the indexes to civil registration records, but to images of the actual register entries... and all for free. Yes, you read that right, at absolutely no cost to the researcher.


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To know how to get the most out of this new free resource, one needs to understand the peculiar history of civil registration in Ireland. Civil registration began in England as a natural progression from continual improvement in the keeping of parish registers by the Anglican authorities. This was not the case in Ireland. For a start, unlike in England, most of the population in Ireland did not belong to the Church of Ireland, which forms part of the Anglican Communion. Civil registration in Ireland came about entirely by accident and it began in piecemeal fashion.

From the 1830s there had been a growing frustration about the lack of a proper system in Ireland of recording life’s vital events, and not least in England where, when required, so many Irish were unable to produce written documentation verifying their age, parentage or legitimacy. Alongside this, there were a number of court cases in Ireland about the validity of marriages celebrated by Nonconformist clergy, and this

brought the issue to a head. The tipping point came with a case (Queen v Mills) which went all the way to the House of Lords and found that all marriages in Ireland celebrated by Protestant Nonconformist ministers were legally invalid. The upshot was a sharp, collective intake of breath as thousands realised that this ruling declared their marriages a ‘sham’ and their children ‘bastards’. Public uproar was quickly followed by the passing of the Marriages Confirmation (Ireland) Act 1842. It took another two years for the authorities to realise that simply retrospectively recognising marriages up to 1842 would not wash, and that provision to establish a registration framework would be required. This came with the Marriage (Ireland) Act 1844, and from 1 April 1845 all non-Catholic marriages were to be civilly recorded. It had been envisaged that the system would encompass all marriages in Ireland, but the Catholic authorities feared State interference in their internal affairs and resisted all attempts to involve them. Therefore the registration of all births, deaths and Roman Catholic marriages (ie the creation of a comprehensive and inclusive civil registration system) did not begin

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Searching Irish records like a pro until almost a generation later, on 1 January 1864. By this time, there had been full civil registration in England and Wales for 27 years and in Scotland for nine years.

What was the new system like? It is unfortunate that the records system chosen for Ireland followed that established in 1837 in England and Wales rather than that in Scotland in 1855, for the latter was far superior in that it included the names of parents in each of the three sets of records: births, deaths and marriages. The registration process in Ireland also mirrored that established in England and Wales. Registration of births, deaths and marriages was recorded locally in registers maintained by registrars. Each quarter these registrars would send a return (a copy) of all the registrations recorded within the preceding three months to the Registrar General, based in Dublin. These forms would be sorted and bound alphabetically according to 163 Superintendent Registrar’s Districts (SRD), thus starting with Abbeyleix SRD and ending with Youghal SRD. At the end of the year, an index would be compiled, noting all entries, sorted by surname, fi rst name, SRD, and noting the vital location reference: the volume and page where the individuals recorded could be found. Anyone conversant with the registration process prevailing in England and Wales will recognise that Ireland’s is a little different. One obtained copies of relevant records by searching the hardcopy annual indexes. When these indexes went online, first on FamilySearch and then later with Ancestry and Findmypast, the need to attend the General Register Office’s (GRO) Public Search Room in Dublin to search the indexes disappeared overnight. It became possible to search the indexes remotely and then to apply for a copy of a record through the post, then later by fax or over the phone. Later, in 2014, the GRO uploaded its own version of the civil record indexes on The index had been completely re-keyed and, while it clearly contained many errors, proved more

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Less is more! If you are stumped by a confusing surname or forename (that can be open to variant spellings), then experiment with leaving the tricky field blank – and then carefully look at all search results for likely matches. Here for instance we left the first name field blank

reliable than the earlier indexes mentioned above (though it can be worth searching all indexes if an ancestor remains elusive, as I’ll explain later in this article). However, after initial concerns about the inclusion of index entries up to 2013, the index was withdrawn and then later reinstated with historic closure periods in line with data protection advice. Then, in September 2016, the GRO went a step further and began uploading images of the civil registers, linking them to the index entries – and all for no cost. To quote former British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, we’d ‘never had it so good’! Not only is this online resource free, but it can be searched in a myriad of ways, with the tiniest detail.

What are the GRO records like to search? Read on for super-sleuth tips and examples to help you explore the Irish civil registration records in great detail.


Experiment with search fields Say your ancestor was

Michael McGuinness born about 1886 in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, which falls into the SRD of Balrothery. However, after searching for him using these details you came up with just one Michael, with surname spelt ‘Maginniss’. Well, given that the surname McGuinness can be spelt in innumerable ways, you could re-run the search looking only for a Michael born in Balrothery SRD in 1886. Try this yourself; you’ll find that you get 14 results returned and one of these 14 Michaels is the one called ‘Maginniss’ and there is another bearing the surname ‘Magennes’. This can help ensure you’re not missing a lead. You can use this strategy in reverse too, where the surname is relatively straightforward, but the first name poses problems. For instance, say you seek Hanoria Fox born near Ennis, Co Clare, about 1868. By searching only on the surname and then sifting the results you will discover that her birth is registered under the spelling Honora Fox in 1870.


Utilise the mother’s maiden name

From 1900 the mother’s maiden surname is included in the birth

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EXPERT INSIGHTS TO HELP YOUR RESEARCH increases the number of records to be checked. It used to cost €4 to obtain a copy of a record and costs could quickly mount up. Given that the register entries can now be accessed freely, this is no longer a concern. You can happily skip from one record to another, viewing the image itself to decide its relevance. However, it would greatly assist death searches if the database allowed as a search criterion the deceased’s year of birth, which would allow it to return fewer but more relevant results.

Tip: Spend time browsing

Note that although these records are General Register Office-owned records, they are the English equivalent of Local Register Office records. Note the top of the page where you can see that these records are just for a local area

index, which allows you to narrow down your search to many fewer results. But it also allows you to search only on the mother’s maiden surname. For instance, if you stick my own surname in as your only search criterion for the decade 1900-1909, the results return three entries under the fathers’ surnames of McKee, Logan and Morgan. Heretofore, I could never have found these entries without having first known the fathers’ surnames to search under.


majority share only a handful of surnames means that identifying relevant records from the indexes is incredibly difficult. This is particularly so with deaths where, beyond the deceased’s name, the only other identifying personal information noted in the index is the age at death and, as this is so often years out, it significantly

If you cannot find a birth, marriage or death entry through the index it is also possible to get in behind it and just leaf through the pages of register entries. Say you want to see all death entries recorded in the Sligo SRD for the year 1899. All you have to do is to search on those criteria (SRD and year). When you get the search results, just click on any entry to see the image of the page. After that, all you need to do is to manually increase or decrease the last few numbers of the URL to move from one page of the register to the next. However, remembering that the records are maintained on a quarterly

Use the details you do have deftly

The index can be helpful too where you don’t know the maiden surname of a married woman but want to identify her marriage without knowing her husband’s first name. So, say you know that a married woman named Angela Mahony was living in Cork city and must have been married in or around 1905. You can search for her without a maiden surname, but with her known married surname of Mahony: Angela [blank] married [blank] Mahony. Run this search yourself and it will reveal that Angela Barry married Denis Mahony in Cork city in August 1905.

widely & thoroughly (now that Tip: Search the indexes are free) The fact that in Ireland there are localities and areas where the vast


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Once you have clicked through to look at an original page, then you can effectively browse through the registers, simply by tweaking the number at the end of the PDF file name in your browser bar. This is not foolproof, but it is a handy addition to your search capabilities

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Searching Irish records like a pro

Taking it further • Remember to look closely at the details of the informant on death records as this information generally notes their address and relationship to the deceased. It might be the only way to prove that the record is the one you seek • Pay attention to the marital status on marriage records. An indication that one or more party was widowed will lead you to an earlier marriage record • Having found a possible death record, always check for a newspaper death notice as this may be the clincher to prove its relevance. There are many Irish newspaper titles at and • The Irish 1911 Census notes the number of years married for women, which can be a quick way to narrow down your search • At time of writing, only these images of the civil register pages have been uploaded: Deaths: Births: Marriages: Index 1864-1965 Index 1864-1915 Index 1845-1939 Images 1891-1965 Images 1864-1915 Images 1882-1939 • Does the civil marriage record indicate that your ancestors were Roman Catholic? Then always seek out the record in the parish register too as many from the later 19th century began to record additional details such as both parents’ names for the bride and groom • The key to understanding land divisions and locating places in Ireland is through the 1901 edition of the ‘Index of Townlands’. This can be found online, fully searchable, at • Even though you’ve found relevant birth records, always check too for baptism records because in Ireland a high number of registrations have slipped through the net. The best site for both Catholic and Protestant church records is – while images of Catholic parish registers up to 1880 are free at

Check some of the records returned to see if you can locate another one with exactly the same reference details of volume 6, page 199. In this instance, I found a record for a James Baird matching exactly. Then return to and search for James Baird in Ballymoney in 1868. When you find him, click on the link to see the image and then you can scroll down the register page and find there the ‘missing’ record for John Carmichael. This procedure can be repeated for any record being sought which appears to be missing from – but which can be identified on Ancestry. My friend and professional colleague, John Grenham, used to say that the system for identifying records at the General Register Office was rather like trying to use a fishing hook through a keyhole in the dark and paying through the nose for the privilege. It seems now that the powersthat-be have unlocked and flung open the door and turned on the strongest light possible. Fill your nets!

About the author Steven Smyrl is immediate president of Accredited Genealogists Ireland, chairman of the Irish Genealogical Research Society and

basis, you will need to fish around a bit in the search results to hit on each of the relevant four quarters of the year.


Look across several sites & indexes

Given that there are errors and omissions in the new database, the index-only databases found at FamilySearch, Ancestry and Findmypast are still extremely relevant resources. Just because you cannot find an entry in the index at doesn’t mean that the image of the record you seek is missing too. Here’s an example of how to use the indexes at Ancestry to help find an image on Say you want to see the image of the birth registration of John Carmichael born in Mullans, Co Antrim in 1868, which falls into the SRD of Ballymoney, but there is no index entry for his record at If you search on Ancestry you will find the details for John from the original

hardcopy index: John Carmichael, Ballymoney, volume 6, page 199. Next, refine your search on Ancestry to just the search criteria of Ballymoney and 1868.

of Irish Genealogical Organisations. With his brother Kit, he is a director of the Irish probate research firm Massey & King

MC Research

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executive liaison officer for the Council

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LIFE IN BRITAIN post-war to the 1980s

It’s tempting to think that family history refers to ‘way back when’. But if you neglect more recent decades you’ll miss out on an entertaining trip down memory lane, and might be leaving a big gap in your records for future generations. Tony Bandy has 15 excellent website resources for you to use and enjoy


he 1700s, 1800s and the early parts of the 1900s... to many of us, this is the era of family history. However, should this always be the case? What about the modern era, post-World War II and


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beyond? You might be surprised, but these relatively modern times can be a virtual cornucopia of family treasures, information and more. One method of enhancing these family stories is by learning more

about the culture of the decades, of what was important, of what daily life was like in Britain and the UK. Let’s jump in and profile some web-based resources to help get your cultural knowledge up to speed!

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Researching & remembering recent times

Setting the stage: focus on culture What was it actually like to live during the 1950s in the UK? Were the 1960s as explosive as our history books would lead us to believe? In many cases, the truth might surprise you! Given these thoughts, listed below are the topics that my list of web-based resources will be focused on. • Fashion and food • Domestic life (cooking, cleaning, leisure time, etc) • Politics and architecture • Television, advertising, books and magazines. As you visit and use the resources to refresh your own memories, or those of your family, take some notes, and see what can you add to your list of plain facts and dates.

The material things and details of the minutiae of life are just as vital to your descendants, as the digital and archival items that you have found in your own research are to your understanding of your ancestors’ lives

Journaling our own lives? Once you’ve explored the websites on the pages to follow, stop for a moment and think about your future family members. Have you enjoyed reading about the recent history of the British Isles through the lenses of popular culture, food, television, politics and fashion. Has it been enlightening? If so, consider, what might your descendants wish to learn about your times? What would they say about the present day? What have you done to record or remember your life and popular culture in these first few years of the 21st century? For many of us, it’s easy to dismiss, after all, what’s so great about working, raising our kids, and just trying to live day-to-day in our rapidly changing world? Yet, these are the same thoughts and feelings that our ancestors carried with them as well. The fact is that information about our daily lives today will be just as important to our descendants, as those of our ancestors are to us. So it’s vitally important to start archiving things now.

A project to consider Probably this week you’ve worked many hours (how did you get to work?), made trips to supermarkets (what did you buy?), watched any of the numerous TV channels (what did you watch?) and are desperately trying to finish that book that’s been languishing by your bedside table for a few weeks. You’ve also spent (a lot of) time on Facebook and the internet generally. Perhaps you have even started a real paper letter to your brother, sister or mum and dad. Have you ever thought of writing these things down? Of saving bus and train ticket stubs, newspaper clippings (if you still receive a daily paper), or even just your child’s latest artwork? These material things and details of the minutiae of life are just as vital to your descendants, as the digital and archival items that you have found in your own research are to your understanding of your ancestors’ lives. In fact, perhaps they are even more valuable – as they represent a unique insight into your life, which your descendants interested in their ancestors’ lives will thank you for. Think about ways you can keep a small subset of these bits and bobs (without hoarding of course!) or perhaps start a paper or digital journal. Back up your photos from your phone to an extra drive or computer. Make multiple copies so that your ancestors can be sure to experience the richness of your life today!

Timelines: the decades While only a short time in all of history, the pace of change during the latter part of the 1940s up through the 1980s has been torrid. Beginning in the post-war years was a time of trying to get back to a more normal life – that of working and raising a family. However, it was a changed world for the British Isles. Rationing was still occurring, the Labour party had taken control of political life, and films such as the critically acclaimed Odd Man Out were sweeping up at the box office. Life wasn’t easy for the average Briton, but at least the war was over. Moving on to the 1950s, we see the emergence of consumer culture and the rock and roll pop icons of Elvis Presley, Lonnie Donegan, Cliff Richard and others. It was also a

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TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE ONLINE The sites: starting to search Here are resource links and lists to help you explore recent eras. Some sites are exclusive to a decade, but others are more wide-ranging. As you go through each one, think about how they can influence your family account, how can they add colour and context to the tale your record about your family


BBC News Magazine (Retrospect) magazine/6707451.stm


British Airways, History and Heritage about-ba/history-and-heritage

Flying, at least in the immediate past, was quite different than it is today. With this site, it’s a great way to illustrate information from your family’s past that involved any form of aerial travel.


The UK 1940s Radio Station

With a comprehensive list of streaming radio and hourly shows/announcers, tune in to this website to hear radio shows, popular music, history, facts and more about life in post-war Britain.


1940s Society

While primarily focused on the entire decade of the 1940s, this UK-based site has a wealth of information, including the immediate post-war years. Includes posters, articles and more.


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British Film Institute www.bfi


British Pathe


The British Record Shop Archive

This site and the related site both contain tremendous resources for media history of film and television. With an included library search engine, Reuben Library information, images, facts and more, stop here to fill out gaps in your family stories about what they may have watched.

Try this site for massive amounts of documentary films and movies on all aspects of British and UK culture. Browse by category or collection to home in on the item you need from among the 85,000 items in the archive.

Records, platters, and discs. With this online archive, search by geographical location for information and history about various record shop locations. (Personal recollections and information mostly.)

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Researching & remembering recent times


Historic England Heritage List

Buildings, lots and lands. Our ancestors lived somewhere and maybe you already have the address, but are you aware of the history of their location? With this site, drill down by map and find locality information, development and changes through time.


Historic England, View Finder http://viewfi


Historic UK




The Transport Archive

This subsite of the Historic England Heritage List is a great photo finder for locations mentioned in your family history. Includes both basic and advanced searching options.


The National Archives

Massive cultural collections by decades make this site one of the fi rst you should consider when thinking about how your ancestors lived and worked for all decades, 1940s through the 1980s.


Down the Lane, Growing Up and Living in the 1950s and 1960s

While you might think this site is only for the decades preceding the 20th century, do not overlook the extensive information listed for the 1950s and 1960s, particularly with regards to food, holidays and more.

A topical site, you can find overview information and details about all the decades we’ve spoken about so far. Not as indepth, but nevertheless a great place to start to learn more.

A personal blog/site, however, lots of good cultural references and information about growing up in these times.


Fifties Britain resources/fi fties-britain

While most genealogists know full well about the richness of resources available for use at The National Archives (TNA), this subsite in particular is a great place to learn more about the specifi c decade of the 1950s. With both primary and secondary resources, images, texts and more, try this fi rst for details and information.

Shipping, rail, aviation. Our ancestors used many ways to move around and this online archive can quickly fill in the blanks with maps, charts, multimedia resources and more. A must-see! There you have it! 15 excellent website resources that you can use to help fill out, update and improve your knowledge of your family history facts and dates in recent times

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TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE ONLINE time of revitalisation for Britain and the UK in general, tempered in part by ongoing political and economic changes as its place in the world was transformed. Overall however, it was a time of prosperity and growth both domestically and politically. ‘Conforming’ was the norm as the violent decade of the 1940s faded away into history. Looking at the 1960s, this was an age of youth, rebellion and experimentation – a vast rejection of the conformist 1950s and earlier decades. This change was reflected in the culture and media – and the rise of Beatlemania, the Rolling Stones, and the ‘Swinging’ city of London. Changing social mores, the women’s liberation movement, immigration and the reality of racism turned the staid UK culture upside down. The 1970s and 1980s were curious decades as well, from the economic issues of the early 1970s to the election of Prime Minister Thatcher in 1979. The Falklands Crisis highlighted the new decade of the 1980s and the broad popularity of Live Aid plus the


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Find tips for recording your stories at http:// Spokenmemories

The pace of change during the latter part of the 1940s up through the 1980s has been torrid... Looking at the 1960s, this was an age of youth, rebellion and experimentation – a vast rejection of the conformist 1950s and earlier decades ... turning the staid UK culture upside down emergence of Timothy Berners-Lee, internet guru and pioneer, portended the decades of the 1990s and beyond that were to come.

Wrapping it up! There is so much to discover when learning about history – and piecing together how our ancestors lived, worked and interacted with the culture of their times is quite often eye-opening for many of us today, even in the accessible digital world of images, Facebook and more. Finding out how culture, politics and media changed our families’ lives can influence how we report the base facts about them and their times – it

gives us context for their lives. Remember this as you look back over the last 70 years and think also about your time, now, and how what you save, what you write, and what media you have will influence family members to come.

About the author Freelance writer and librarian Tony Bandy loves using the latest technology for fgfgresearching his family’s genealogy as well as discovering other popular and forgotten topics in history on his blog, Adventures In History, at

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GUIDE TO ONLINE RESOURCES generations family tree family history cousin breeding




blood line




descent kindred

birth children







genealogy genealogical society




forebears origin







lineage progeny

connections legacy

descendants kin mother in-laws generation




sites Top 5 w(forebbeginners!) Get your online research off to a great start with Rachel Bellerby’s guide to the best websites for anyone new to family history


hile the variety of family history websites out there is a real bonus for anyone tracing their family tree, the number of options can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re new to the subject. So, where to start? Our pick of fi ve top websites for beginners will give you a fl avour of what’s available on the web and hopefully point you in the right direction for taking your research further.


Ancestry, Findmypast & TheGenealogist

The ‘big three’ family history subscription websites offer access to thousands of records (with pay-asyou-go options), from the basics such as birth, marriage and death records, through to more specialised data including occupational records,


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emigration records and parish registers. Each of these three sites offers a free-of-charge trial period and you can often access one or more of them for free at libraries and record offices. Each of these sites is strong on different types of records, so take advantage of the trial period to decide which is best for you.


Cyndi’s List

The UK and Ireland version of Cyndi’s List is part of a US-based website run by genealogy enthusiast Cyndi Howells. While at first glance the site may seem overwhelming, the thousands of links to UK family tree websites are divided into regional categories, with the option to search alphabetically.

Within these categories are dozens of sections such as religion, occupations, obituaries and societies and groups. Although many of these links are extremely helpful, do be aware of one of the key rules for genealogists – double check any information you take from the internet before adding it to your family tree.



FamilySearch is one of the world’s biggest family history websites, with millions of names compiled by and for the International Genealogical Index of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site is the online home of the world’s largest genealogy organisation, with over 4,000 family history

02/02/2017 10:51

Getting started centres around the world. Thousands of records are currently being digitised and added to the site and one-to-one online help is also available. Articles, research guidance and online classes make this a great starting point for beginners.



Enjoy free-of-charge access to birth, marriage and death records from around the country, with new records being added by volunteers on an ongoing basis. The project covers records for England and Wales, and has the sister sites FreeCen (census data) and FreeReg (parish registers). The BMD site allows you to search records from the General Register Office (GRO) from 1837 to 1983, and although the database doesn’t yet cover all areas and years within this time frame, a search option allows you to check coverage for the period or area you’d like to search. Once you’ve found the birth, marriage or death record you’re looking for, simply note its reference number and you can send for the original certificate from the GRO.


The National Archives’ Discovery

Discover which archives are held where in the UK, with The National Archives’ Discovery site, which offers a gateway to 1,000 years of documents held in 2,500 archives around the UK. There are descriptions of more than 32 million records; nine million of which can be accessed online. Categories include wills and probate, military, immigration and emigration, census, health and court records. You can search by archive name, keyword or category.

3 sites to take your research further 1. British Newspaper Archive Over 200 years of history as told through the pages of more than 700 UK newspapers. The project is a partnership between the British Library and Findmypast, and aims to digitise 40 million newspaper pages within 10 years.

HANDY TIP Search by keyword, name, location or date and read about everything from major national events to the minutiae of village life 2. Family Tree magazine Explore the many different aspects of the hobby, with how-to guides aimed at beginners and more experienced researchers, printable charts, plus all the latest news and opinion from the family history community.

Visit for lots of free resources, such as beginner guides

Tracing Scottish, Welsh or Irish ancestors? • Scottish ScotlandsPeople is the official Scottish Government website for tracing Scottish ancestors, offering access to BMD records, wills and testaments and Catholic parish registers. Take your research even further on the National Records of Scotland website

3. Old Maps A historical map archive that holds maps for England, Scotland and Wales, allowing you to see how an area has changed over the years, plus the various uses of land over the centuries.

Read up on it The Family History Web Directory by Jonathan Scott (Pen and Sword, 2015)

• Irish Explore Eire ancestors at The National Archives of Ireland website You can find Northern Ireland ancestors at Public Record Office of Northern Ireland • Welsh Start your Welsh family history research at the National Library of Wales website Turn to pages 48-51 for Mary Evans’s expert article on tracing Welsh ancestry and pages 36-39 for Steven Smyrl’s guide to free records for tracing Irish ancestors

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Welcome to your ancestors in Wales Whether it’s clues from the census or your surname, perhaps you have discovered you have ancestors who hailed from Wales. Learn more about your family from this historic, hard-working, lyrical land, with Mary Evans’s selection of tips and websites

ARCHIVE IP RCngHes hTave R E SE A ry cha

B ounda unties ed the co reorganis ou will y o s , ears over the y fully to heck care need to c cal lo e th see where o are n w! archives

al tion bsite a N e s we t th Visi m Wa le seum. s eu mu Mus ttps:// useum m h es/ wa l

Surname research tip The proliferation of the common surnames such as Jones, Davies and Evans can be a little daunting for more recent research and care needs to be taken to link these to first names and within family groups


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Explore your Welsh ancestry online


irst I’ll run through the key family history records for finding ancestors in Wales – and, if you’ve already done some family history research, you’ll find the steps and sources familiar. Statutory registration of births, marriages and deaths began in 1837 and before that you’ll be looking at parish registers for baptisms, marriages and burials. Censuses are available from 1841 to 1911, and from 1891 onwards, there is an extra column on the census returns asking for ‘Language spoken’: English, Welsh or both. One difference, of course, is that you will at times encounter the Welsh language. Although most church and legal records were kept in English, other less formal documents might be in Welsh.

Surnames & naming patterns Surnames in Welsh research can be challenging. Although the patronymic naming system in England had generally changed to inherited surnames by the 14th century, this change happened much later in Wales, especially in the more rural areas. Indeed, Sheila Rowlands, in her chapter on Welsh surnames in Welsh Family History – A Guide to Research, points out that there is still evidence of this naming system in parts of Caernarfonshire as late as the 1841 and 1851 Censuses.

The visit of King Charles I to Wrexham, a staunchly Royalist town during the Civil War

Coalmining Coal mining was a major industry, especially in the south, and the Welsh Coal Mines website at has area-by-area links to individual coal mines under the ‘Collieries’ tab, with details of each one from when it was originally sunk to its closure. Also within the left-hand strip is the link to the ‘List of Disasters’. Under this you’ll find a list of mining accidents with, in most cases, details of the fatalities by name

Where to begin? A good website for starting your research would be This is a worldwide resource, mainly of baptisms and marriages from parish registers but increasingly including census entries, and Wales is well represented on it.

D i sco ver m i n Wa useu ms les at http:/ / wale museums s/mu seu m . s

ives r ch t a e lor sa Exp n Wa le hives. i a rc s:// les p t t h wa

Slate quarrying In north and mid Wales the slate industry was important and The Slate Industry of North and Mid Wales at has a wide range of articles and many pages of photos that give an insight into the working lives of the men who laboured in the quarries. I lived as a child in a village not far from the huge Dinorwic quarry and can remember the clatter of the men in their clogs as they gathered at the nearby bus stop each morning Narberth, Pembrokeshire as it looked in the early 1800s; it is still a charming town today

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METAL TOP TIPS WORKERS & WEBSITES FOR GREAT RESEARCH he ut t m i ly o b rn a f Fa Lea ation o ieties . o ci Soc Ass istor y at w w wk H a les .u org of W wales. f hs

• On the FamilySearch home page click on ‘Search’ then, when the map appears top right, click on the British Isles and choose Wales from the dropdown list • Hover your cursor over ‘Wales’ and it tells you there are 44 collections with more than 50 million indexed records and nearly 30 million record images 1500-2013 • You can select birth/marriage/ residence/death/any for the life

Money-saving credits tip On free site FamilySearch you can find many Welsh parish records. To view images of original records visit Findmypast. Here you can opt for pay-as-yougo credits rather than a subscription. If so, use FamilySearch to identify the entry you’re looking for as this will save you credits on Findmypast. Note, all the censuses are also on Findmypast so you might want to consider a subscription

event and spouse/parents/other person for relationship along with place and date. It is a great resource and, best of all, it’s free! A search can bring up pages and pages of results so it’s often best to restrict the number of hits by careful selection of your search criteria. .

Finding digital images of records

While FamilySearch is a great free

resource it is, on the whole, an index and therefore a finding aid. There are images for some entries but by no means all. Good genealogical practice is to look at originals and with this in mind you might like to consider Findmypast at This is a pay-per-view/subscription site but it has digitised images of baptisms, marriages and burials for all the Welsh counties. • Coverage varies with some counties offering mid-1700s to early-1900s and others mid-1500s to mid-1900s • Click on the ‘Search’ tab on the Findmypast home page, select ‘Search A-Z of record sets’ and type the county in the search box • You can search the whole county or opt to search the parish by typing the parish name into ‘Browse place’ and clicking on it when it comes up. Note, though, that Breconshire and Radnorshire are under Powys not the separate county names • Bear in mind that coverage might not be the same for all parishes within a county.

Free online library resources

A scene of the Glamorgan coastal town of Llantwit Major

Mariners Before the coming of the railways, journeys were often made by sea and, with many Welsh counties having a coastal border, this was often a source of employment. A great resource for Welsh family historians to investigate is the Welsh Mariners website at There are currently more than 23,500 entries of Welsh Merchant Mariners searchable in the database of masters, mates and engineers. There is also a Royal Navy database of 3,000 men active in the Royal Navy from 1795 to 1815, including Welshmen at the Battle of Trafalgar


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One must-visit website is that of The National Library of Wales at Quite apart from its huge searchable catalogue – the library holds many of the parish registers of Wales – there are sections within it which are of huge relevance to family historians. • Foremost of these is perhaps the section where you can both search for and download Welsh wills prior to 1858: see

he out t f b a n o Lea r ociation r y o s t s s i A es at i ly H Fa m s of Wa l s.o etie Soci f hswale . www

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Explore your Welsh ancestry online t os pho s i n w e Vi u rche w. h of c s at w wches. r e l Wa sofchu .htm s o t e pho m/wal o c

Using tithe maps

Images: drawings from the British Library flickr collection

Agricultural background can be found in the tithe maps, produced 1830-1850, which indicated parcels of land and buildings with each assigned a number. Each map was accompanied by a schedule which listed each map item by number and against each number was given the owner, occupier and a description of the land, including individual fields. At http://cynefin.archiveswales. there is an ongoing project to digitise and make freely available both maps and schedules: • Click on the Tithe Maps tab, choose your county and scroll down to your chosen place • Click on ‘Transcribe’ and you will see the map above and the schedule below. Enlarge the map until you can see the numbers • Click on the number/place name in which you are interested and a transcript of the details will appear in a box at the side while the relevant part of the schedule will appear below. Although not yet complete, it is well worth a look and is already a major resource

discover/nlw-resources/wills • Also of great value is Welsh Newspapers Online at with more than 15 million articles from 1.1 million pages • If you’re looking for a little background on your ancestors’ lives then try the Blue Books of 1847 at – these books were the result of an inquiry into the state of education in Wales and, as the website states, ‘It is impossible to overemphasise the importance of this report for social historians of mid-nineteenth century Wales, because of the wealth of information contained in it on not only the appalling state of the education system in the country, but also on everyday life and work in both the industrialised and rural areas. It also contains direct comment on the religious and moral standing of the people of Wales. There

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Eagle Tower, Caernarfon Castle

are pages of statistics but also detailed comments on individual schools • Also searchable is the Crime and Punishment database, which comprises data about crimes, criminals and punishments included in the gaol files of the Court of Great Sessions in Wales from 1730 until its abolition in 1830; see uk/sesiwn_fawr/index_s.htm

Research working lives Ancestors’ work can help to place their lives in context. See the details about coalmining, slate quarrying and mariners on these pages.

Picturing the past Around 1860 photographer Francis Frith embarked on a project to photograph every town and village in the United Kingdom and the archive is at Scroll down to the section for Wales, choose your county then use the alphabet to find your chosen place. There are photos for all those with a camera icon. For example, there are 71 photos of the small town of Caernarfon, though small villages will have far fewer and some none at all. Click on a photo to enlarge. The photos are free to view but are not downloadable. However, there is the option to buy both photos and maps.

Learn about the locality If you want to learn about the area in which your ancestors lived try A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, first published in 1849 by Samuel Lewis. This is available at www.british-history. Choose the correct alphabetical name slot and find out what your ancestor’s town or village was like in the mid-1800s.

Teach yourself some Welsh And, finally, you might need a bit of help translating those monumental inscriptions. There is a useful list of words and phrases that you are likely to come across at uk/miscellanea/gravestones.htm

hWels he h ch t gl is Sea r ish / En i ne l Eng elsh On l at r y .net W iona Dict iriadur ww

Read up on it • Tracing Your Welsh Ancestors by Beryl Evans (Pen and Sword Books, 2015) • Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research (2nd ed) edited by John Rowlands and Sheila Rowlands (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009) • Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry edited by John Rowlands and Sheila Rowlands (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010) • The Surnames of Wales by John Rowlands and Sheila Rowlands (Gomer Press, 2014)

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Explore the serious, sublime and the ridiculous facets of family history in this genealogical miscellany. This issue Tom Wood considers large families, puzzling names, paupers and miscreant forebears


s many of you know, I’m always interested in receiving announcements from historical newspapers of missing people. Once more my thanks go to Joyce Billings, who came across this article several years ago in the Leicester and Nottingham Journal, which read: ‘20 Feb 1779, Escaped from Justice – John Smith, late of Leicester, labourer charged with stealing a quantity of coals, he is likewise suspected of stealing several articles, which were found in his dwelling house. He is between 50 and 60 years of age, long visaged, and pock-marked, sometimes wears a wig, and sometimes his own hair, which is short, is very thin and about 5 feet 10 inches. Whoever shall apprehend the said John Smith and bring him before the Right Worshipful, the Mayor of the Borough of Leicester, shall be paid all reasonable charges. The articles


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On the run found in his home are, one sack-bag, marked T Bruce, another marked TE, a carpenters hand-saw, and two tann’d calf-skins.’ If anyone else has ‘missing’ notices from old newspapers in a similar vein, please do send them in.

Drowning in petticoats... Like many family historians, I have built up a large collection of books. Indeed, a few weeks ago I chanced upon a long-forgotten book on the shelf called Ringing Church Bells to ward off Thunderstorms and other Curiosities from the original Notes and Queries. The original book (mine was a 2009 reprint) was first published in 1849 as Notes and Queries and quickly established itself ‘as a unique treasure-trove of lore and out-of-theway information on a wide range of subjects’. Needless to say, I was hooked on its 350 pages, including an item about large families of children, which I want to pass on for readers’ comments. Written ‘in the manuscript jottings of the engraver George Vertue’, it was headed ‘DAUGHTERS: Having nineteen’ and continued: ‘Died at Waldershare, Kent, on Nov 18,

1743, James Jobson, farmer, aged 112, who had seven wives, by whom he had thirty-eight children: nineteen sons and nineteen daughters. ‘Farmer Jobson was more fortunate than good Dr Robert Hoadly Ashe, who had nineteen daughters, but no son. Tom Dibdin has also left us the following reminiscence of this clergyman: I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr Ashe at dinner, when he began a story with “As eleven of my daughters and I were crossing Piccadilly...” “Eleven of your daughters, Doctor?” I rather rudely interrupted. “Yes, sir,” rejoined the Doctor, “I have nineteen daughters all living; never had a son: and Mrs Ashe, myself, and nineteen female Ashe Plants sit down one-and-twenty to dinner every day. Sir, I am smothered with petticoats”. – Editor, 3 Aug 1861.’ So there we have it – two large families each with 19 daughters, and one family with 38 children from seven wives! Frankly, I think it takes some believing, but the more I read it, the more I believe it was genuine. We have touched on this topic before, but this seems as good a time as any to revisit it: does anyone have an ancestral family

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Genealogical miscellany with 19 successive children of the same gender? I also wonder if anyone has researched the Jobsons in Kent or knows more about Dr Ashe’s family and ancestry?

Converting to Catholicism Now to return to another interesting subject, about ancestors who were baptised twice. This time I am grateful to Barbara Krebs, one of our valued readers from Sippy Downs in Australia’s Queensland, who has not only one but three direct ancestors who were baptised twice in England because they later became Catholics. The first was John Snaith, one of Barbara’s 2x great-grandfathers, who lived from 1815-1881, and was baptised as a baby on 29 July 1815 into the Church of England at Stockton Parish Church. He married Margaret Grafton, a Catholic, in his local register office, on 13 December 1842 and was finally baptised as a Catholic himself in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Stockton on 20 March 1869, when he was 54. Barbara’s second double christening was for John Beaumont, one of her great-grandfathers, who lived from 1850-1902, and was baptised into the Church of England at Selby Abbey on 23 August 1850. It seems he fell in love with Ellen Snaith (a daughter of the aforementioned John and Margaret Snaith) and the day before they wed, John had a Catholic baptism on 16 August 1875. Now that’s what I call leaving it late! The final conversion in Barbara’s tree was another of her greatgrandmothers. She was Jane Durkin (formerly Hall), who lived 1854-1930, and was baptised as a baby at St Hilda’s C of E Church in Middlesbrough. She married Francis Durkin on 31 December 1872 in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Chapel in Middlesbrough, but was not baptised as a Catholic, so Barbara discovered, until 11 November 1880. What an interesting trio. Other examples along these lines would be most welcome.

A tale of two married names Janet Pearson (née Plastow) has sent in a wonderful copy of her mother’s death certificate, which records her under two married names. Janet tells us how this happened: ‘She and my dad were

Dear Tom FINALish.indd 53

Janet’s mum’s death certificate

happily married for over 35 years, until his death at the comparatively early age of 62. Mum was still in her fifties. After a couple of years Mum met a man, while on holiday, and they later married. He made his home in her house, but he was not from the area, so did not mix much. Mum found that most of her friends still referred to her by her former surname. He later died and Mum decided to revert to her earlier surname of Plastow. She asked her bank manager if she needed to get it done by deed poll. He said no, she signed something and she was back to her surname of 35 years. ‘When I came to register her death, I explained to the Registrar, who issued the certificate in this way to cover all complications. Dad and Mum are now buried together. So when choosing the wording for their headstone, I decided on “Thomas Henry Plastow and his wife Kathleen Nellie”. This left out any complications about her surname, but I am not sure what went into the parish register.’ Janet’s mum’s death certificate was issued in 1987 and includes her maiden surname of Heale and both her married names. How kind of Janet to share this with us.

Called after Kitchener Now we turn to royal biographer and consultant Coryne Hall, who has written in about a contribution in

October FT from Elizabeth Redhead, who informed us her grandfather was given the middle name Kitchener back in 1916. He was named, of course, after Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, who was urged in May 1916 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to help reform the failing Russian military forces. Lord Kitchener set sail but, as the history books tell us, he was drowned on 5 June 1916 when his ship, HMS Hampshire, hit a German mine on route to Archangel in northern Russia. Coryne points out that his loss was greatly mourned and regretted and the Dowager Queen, Queen Alexandra (widow of British King Edward VII), started a fund throughout Britain and the Empire, which raised nearly three-quarters of a million pounds to erect a memorial. Had Lord Kitchener succeeded in reaching his destination, history might have been vastly different, says Coryne, as the Russian Revolution erupted in February 1917. Incidentally, she adds that Kitchener’s great-grand niece Emma Kitchener (a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent) is married to Julian Fellowes (Lord Fellowes), creator of the wonderful Gosford Park and Downton Abbey series. It’s really not surprising that the Christian name of Kitchener became popular as a name for baby boys during WW1 and even afterwards.

Memorial to a tragic family Sometimes researching for our ancestors is not always a pleasant task. As we all know, years ago many young children had brief lives, often because medical help did not exist for ordinary families centuries ago. In those days it could be a very cruel world for everyday folk striving to raise a family. I was reminded of this again when Mrs Elwyn Hunt, from Victoria in Australia, very kindly got in touch about a tragic family down under where nine sons and daughters died before their mother passed away aged only 55. Indeed, as Elwyn says, life on Australia’s Goldfields was very hard in the 19th century. However, a relation or someone who knew this family well remembered them with a splendid headstone in Castlemaine Cemetery in Victoria. The memorial

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starts with the wife and mother, but also mentions her husband, plus the nine children they brought into the world. The inscription reads: ‘In Loving Memory of MARY ANN, wife of EPHRAIM STUCHBRE, who died 10th December 1888, aged 55 years. Also the aforesaid EPHRAIM STUCHBRE, sied 30th Sep 1906, aged 83 years. Also their children, MARY ANN sied 13th Sep 1858, aged 7 months. EPHRIAM died 4th Dec 1860, aged 5 months. JOHN died 2nd Feb 1867, aged 17 years. JANE died 27th Sep 1869, aged 15 years. MARY ANN died 15th Oct 1869, aged 6 years. ELIZABETH died 31st Oct 1869, aged 19 years. JOHN W died 15th Nov 1869, aged 2 years. THOMAS H died 11th May 1870, aged 9 months. EPHRAIM died 13th April 1887, aged 22 years.’ The last word goes to Elwyn, who points out that 1869 must have been a particularly terrible year for the family, when four of the children died. How did they cope, Elwyn wonders? Sadly we will never know.

The Stuchbre family memorial in Castlemaine Cemetery, Victoria


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Is this a record? It appeared in the Dover Express of 1 March 1862, and arrived on my desk from Kathleen Hollingsbee, of Tilmanstone in Kent. It’s about an Ann Chatfield, described as ‘A Thorough Pest to Society’, who faced a charge of breaking a pane of glass in Week Street, Maidstone, and was apparently incarcerated ‘36 times previously in Maidstone gaol’. ‘The Mayor remarked, in committing her for 2 months, he was only sorry he could not get rid of her permanently... she was nothing but a pest to the bench, an expense to the county and a nuisance to everyone who had anything to do with her.’ Does Ann appear on anyone’s family tree, I wonder? Though having been in jail so many times, I imagine it wasn’t something she bragged about!

Were they really paupers? Back in the mid-1780s and early 1790s, were lots of your ancestors listed in church records as ‘paupers’? If so, perhaps you wonder why so many? Well an answer cropped up in letter I received recently from Glynis Gurney, who had ancestors around that time in Lincolnshire. Glynis assumed they were very poor, because some of the baptismal registers gave the fathers’ occupations as ‘pauper’. So she started researching and it wasn’t long before she came across the Stamp Duty Act of 1783, which levied a tax of three pence on all parish register entries of baptisms, marriages and burials. However, paupers were exempt from these charges. Now, in 1783 three pence would probably have kept a poor family in food for a day or so and, as Glynis says, to avoid paying the tax, many people falsely declared themselves to be paupers. Glynis adds that some members of the clergy were sympathetic to their parishioners and thus allowed them to claim to be paupers. From what I have read about this unpopular tax, I am also inclined to think that some of the clergy resented having to act as part-time tax collectors. Indeed, Glynis tells me that the numbers of ‘paupers’ increased alarmingly while the tax was operational! Fortunately,

it fi nally came to an end in 1794. I cannot help wondering if some parents declined to register their children’s baptisms, or perhaps didn’t even bother with a marriage ceremony, while the tax existed? Though it might have been tricky trying to avoid a burial! It’s a good thing for family historians this tax only lasted around 11 years.

All at sea over Agincourt Alas it’s nearly time to go this issue, but before so doing, I’ve a story about the solving of a mysterious middle name. On this occasion my thanks go to Jill Johnson, who has gone to a great deal of trouble to uncover more details about a seagoing relative. He was a gentleman called George Coster, the eldest brother of Jill’s paternal great-grandfather, Charles Coster. Born in Denmead, Hampshire in 1858, George emigrated to Australia in the mid1880s. He settled at Kempsey, in New South Wales, and in December 1886 married Eveline Stewart Schott. In 1891 the couple named their fourth child Cecil George Agincourt Coster. Why the name Agincourt, wondered Jill? She realised the answer when she downloaded George’s British Naval records from The National Archives’ Discovery catalogue website. From these she learned he had served aboard HMS Agincourt as a cook’s mate from 1877 to 1880. Jill tells me that, according to Wikipedia, during the RussoTurkish War of 1877-1878, HMS Agincourt was one of the British ships sent to Constantinople to forestall the Russian occupation of the Ottoman capital. Jill feels sure this is why George’s son had this unusual middle name, not to do with the original Battle of Agincourt at all! What a lovely tale, and a wonderful way to wind up things until next time.

About the author Tom fgfg Wood was a founder member of Lincolnshire Family History Society and was its first, award-winning, magazine editor. As well as contributing to Family Tree from its early days, Tom also edited the Federation of Family History Societies’ magazine and wrote An Introduction to British Civil Registration. A member of the SoG and Guild of OneName Studies, he is still researching the family names, Goldfinch and Shoebridge.

Images: Illustration © Ellie Keeble for Family Tree; certificate courtesy of Janet Pearson; memorial courtesy of Elwyn Hunt

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Spotlight on…

Aldeburgh in Suffolk

Alde Valley Suffolk Family historians with ancestors in East Suffolk will find plenty to interest them at Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group, which runs a varied programme of talks and local and family history projects, writes Rachel Bellerby


small but vibrant group, Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group is based on the east coast of Suffolk, surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty. With a membership of around 80, the group covers the area from Felixstowe in the south to Lowestoft in the north. The group has a research centre which is housed in Leiston, a small


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market town. The centre is based in the old council offices, thanks to the local town council. Members enjoy regular monthly talks, stage an annual open day, undertake local and family history projects, and receive a quarterly newsletter. Research projects have included transcribing monumental inscriptions in local graveyards, with a full list of sites covered available on

How to join Annual membership is £6 individual or £10 per household. For further information, please contact Roger Baskett: email roger.2baskett@ or download a membership application from http://aldevalleyfamilyhistorygroup.

02/02/2017 10:48

Local know-how: plans, projects & people Find a society The Federation of Family History Societies has more than 180 member societies. To find your nearest, visit contacting.php and check the listings at You can also go to to find out about society talks, open days and fairs close to you

the group’s website at http:// aldevalleyfamilyhistorygroup. The site also has information on upcoming events, current projects and galleries of photographs. Two of the group’s committee members, Di Mann and Roger Baskett, researched and published a book in 2014 commemorating the WW1 fallen from Leiston. A recent related project involved a poem, written in pencil, by Percy Callear, a WW1 soldier who survived the

war. It was written from the Nasrieh Military Hospital in Cairo in 1915. The grandmother of Bill Sylvester, the current custodian of the poem, was the wife of a local GP and she was leader of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Urban District Council (as it then was) three times. John Peters, one of the group’s committee members, was able to fill in the gaps in the family tree for him. Ultimately, Bill tracked down a son of Callear’s daughter who now lives in France, and the poem was restored to Percy Callear’s descendants. The group’s current project is researching the history behind local house name plaques. For example, many houses in its area of interest are named after battles in the Boer War, having been built at that time. Interest in this topic came about as researchers often found a house name listed in the census returns, but not the current address, which was confusing. The annual programme of talks includes local history as well as family

The group’s publication Leiston’s Fallen of World War One

history topics. Recent subjects include ‘Hidden gems of Findmypast’, with a talk planned on researching the history of your family home, to tie in with the latest research project. The group’s quarterly newsletter is another method for members to stay in touch. News from the Suffolk Record Office and its programme of events is usually featured, as are any letters the group has received requesting help with their family history research. Information is also included about forthcoming events, additions to the group’s research archives, and matters of local or family history interest.

Clockwise from top: • Transcribing monumental inscriptions at Aldringham Baptist Chapel burial ground • Dating old pictures at a recent open day • A group volunteer helping a family historian to search online resources

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Images: background © LiliGraphie/AdobeStock; Picturegoer 1928 courtesy of Lucie Dutton


Magnificent MAGAZINES


Amanda Randall explains how old magazines can give us real insight into the lives and eras of our forebears

agazines have been part of our ancestors’ reading matter for more than 300 years, reflecting the attitude and standards of their time and providing us with a valuable insight into social history.

Early titles The first magazine in England was John Dunton’s short-lived Ladies’ Mercury published in 1693 for four issues. Its pages contained ‘All the nice and curious questions concerning love, marriage, behaviour, dress and humour in the female sex, whether virgins, wives or widows’, and it also carried ‘Answers to Correspondents’, a section that set the trend for advice columns. Some 38 years later Edward Cave founded The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1731. Intended to entertain and inform with essays, stories, poems and political commentary, The Gentleman’s


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Magazine continued publishing until 1922. It is generally regarded as the first modern magazine and included news, ‘foreign affairs’, advice for gardeners, recent book publications, where to find fairs, and so on. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary credited Cave with the first use of the word ‘magazine’, meaning a ‘periodical miscellany’ that contained information rather than magazine meaning a storehouse or an arsenal.

Technological advances Early magazines were expensive and exclusive, however, mid-19th century developments in technology improved the availability of cheap paper – and the publications printed on it. The new machinery could process wood pulp into paper that was much cheaper to produce than the expensive rag-based raw

Vampish Vilma Bánky adorned the cover of Picturegoer magazine in November 1928 The Jabberwock was a monthly magazine for children

materials more suitable for book printing. Image reproduction and colour technology also improved; for instance, The Illustrated London News published its 1855 Christmas special with a colour cover made with coloured wooden blocks. Transportation also became more reliable, more cost effective and widespread as the railway network forged its way into every county. These developments, in conjunction with increased leisure time, greater levels of literacy and the growth of the middle class, heralded the great age of magazine readership. One

06/02/2017 13:42

Ancestors’ lives & times

The first volume of Punch was published in 1841

example of mid-century sales is The Illustrated London News (ILN), which sold 130,000 copies a week – the equivalent of 10 times the daily sales of The Times. By 1863, ILN sales had risen to 300,000 a week. From the 1880s, advertisements became more visually attractive to both advertiser and consumer. More page space was devoted to adverts and from this time revenue from advertising generated more income than subscriptions.

Special interest magazines The magazine world caters for specialist interests, whether for work or leisure, and this can be seen in the thousands of titles that appeared briefly before closing and being forgotten. The Kaleidoscope, or Literary and Scientific Mirror, was published weekly from 1818 to 1831. Despite some dramatic changes in its size and appearance, the price always remained at threepence-halfpenny. Jazz fan in the family? Perhaps he or she read the short-lived, but well-respected, Jazz Forum, a quarterly review of jazz, literature and avant garde graphic art published in only five issues between 1946 and 1947. The world-renowned satirical magazine and one of the first British magazine brands, Punch, was edited by some notable names including Henry Mayhew and Malcolm Muggeridge. Punch used biting satire to criticise Government, the wealthy, ordinary

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people, social movements and trends in fashion or current affairs. Sales peaked in the 1940s but declined slowly until its final closure in 2002. Although football had featured in various sports newspapers and boys’ magazines since the 1880s, the first magazine devoted to football didn’t appear until 1951. Ex-footballer Charles Buchan launched Football Monthly in September of that year with a cover featuring the great Stanley Matthews. Ten years later, and still costing the original cover price of 1s/6d, it was selling 130,000 copies every month. At Football Monthly’s most popular time, monthly circulation reached 250,000 and membership of its boys’ club peaked at around 100,000. It ceased publication in June 1974, however, other titles have stood the test of time. The oldest is The Spectator, first published in 1828 and still going strong in 2017, as is The Economist, which launched in 1843 to campaign on one of the great political issues of the day – the repeal of the Corn Laws. As the idea of leisure time became more widespread during the later 19th century, special interest magazines turned to pastimes for their subjects. Loudon’s The Gardener’s Chronicle and The Suburban Gardener advertised gardening products and gave topical advice, with detailed features on particular aspects of gardening. The UK’s oldest consumer gardening magazine, the weekly Amateur Gardening, was launched in May 1884 and remains a best-seller. British Chess Magazine is the world’s oldest chess journal in continuous publication. First published in January 1881, it has appeared at monthly intervals ever since. 

Cover of The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine in September 1861

Women’s magazines Magazines for women grew in availability and popularity in tandem with the Victorian trend for suburban domesticity. Men, as editors or writers often working under a female pseudonym, produced the majority of women’s magazines. For example, author and playwright Arnold Bennett edited Woman signing himself as Barbara, Marjorie or Marguerite. Regular tips for running the home, competitions, adverts and special offers built loyal readerships that would ensure weekly or monthly sales. One such example is The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine (1852-1879), launched by Samuel Beeton, husband of Mrs Isabella Beeton, the author of the best-selling Book of Household Management. This title changed the face of women’s magazines of the period, turning away from publishing for the very wealthy woman and tapping into a newly emerging readership – the suburban housewife. By 1855, annual sales topped 50,000 copies. By the 1860s, every issue included a full colour fashion plate featuring the latest Parisian designs, and offering paper patterns for the reader to reproduce high fashion garments at home. ‘Cupid’s Post Bag’ initially featured reader’s letters on a range of tricky topics from matters of etiquette to how to deal with gentleman callers or difficult fi ancés, but soon took on a saucy tone as ‘readers’ (perhaps Mr Beeton himself?) asked advice about increasingly risqué topics. By contrast two women, Emily Faithfull and Louisa Hubbard, edited The English Woman’s Journal (1858-1864). The journal campaigned for equality between the sexes, to promote women’s employment and legal reform to address discrimination. It featured articles written by women on education and the home environment. Faithfull and Hubbard edited later journals such as Women’s Gazette and Women and Work; their publications bucked the trend of relying increasingly on advertising to generate revenue. In the Edwardian period, My Weekly (established 1910) and

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READING MATTERS Look online • The British Library holds an enormous collection of magazines and journals, accessed online via www.britishnewspaperarchive. or • Search the archive of The Spectator – • The catalogue of the Women’s Library, now permanently housed at the London School Of Economics, offers access to historic women’s magazines and can be searched online at • Search the Internet Library of Early Journals – including some issues of The Gentleman’s Magazine – at • Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins published their work in serial form in Household Words, a weekly fiction magazine costing 2d. Search Dickens Online Journals at household-words.html • A fascinating digital archive of children’s magazines (among other genres) can be searched at www.

Woman’s Weekly (established 1911) changed the tone of women’s magazines to being more companionable and personal. During WW2, women’s magazines were an important way of spreading propaganda messages, with the various wartime campaigns being heavily featured. Throughout the war Woman was seen as a ‘utility’ publication with its ‘make do and mend’ philosophy.

Mass entertainment Early fi lm magazines were aimed at people who worked in the industry and also at new audiences, especially women and children. In the early 1910s the fi lm industry was beginning to boom in Britain, Europe and the USA. These were the early days of the star system, which brought individual actors to the fore. Prior to about 1910 actors rarely received credit on the screen, but before WW1 favourite stars were becoming household names and developing loyal followings. The new fan magazines printed star portraits, stories and


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information, a bit of movie gossip, cinema bills, competitions and letters – even a children’s page to cater for the developing child audience. One of the earliest titles popular in the UK was Pictures and Picturegoer, first published in August 1914. Its first few issues took a fiercely patriotic tone with war stories being the focus, however, by the end of that year it had reverted to what it did best – bringing light relief during dark days, although the magazine continued to publish articles about the impact of the war on the fi lm industry until the Armistice. In its early years the magazine published articles about camera operators, script editors and studio bosses rather than focusing solely on stars. Pictures and Picturegoer changed its name repeatedly. By the 1920s the title was simplified to Picturegoer. Published weekly in the ’teens, Picturegoer became a high quality monthly publication in the early 1920s, reflecting the improved status of movie stars and the cinema industry itself. Picturegoer annuals were a more substantial product, with lots of celebrity news and photos. Film annuals are widely available from online auction sites, especially those published in the 1950s.

The Radio Times The Radio Times was established in 1923 as a radio listing paper by John Reith, in response to a threat from the Newspaper Publisher’s Association; NPA publications would only print the radio schedule if the BBC paid for it. Initially working with publisher George Newnes, the BBC’s growing status in the late 1920s allowed it to take full editorial control and by

1937 the entire operation had been brought in-house. The Radio Times announced regular ‘experimental television transmission’ in 1929 and in 1936 it was the first TV listings magazine. However, it has always included in-depth articles by leading writers. Newspaper adverts in 1939 proclaimed that ‘It’s like a tour without a map if we listen [to the radio] without the Radio Times’. Perhaps surprisingly, the Radio Times continued publication throughout WW2, albeit by reducing the number of pages and print size. Additional wartime editions were issued for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF). In 1953, for the Queen’s Coronation, the Radio Times incorporated TV and radio listings for the first time. For three consecutive years in the mid1950s, it published annuals, since then many occasional special editions have appeared. In 1957 TV became the magazine’s prime focus, although radio listings remained an important element of the Radio Times brand. Vintage issues of the Radio Times can tell the genealogist much about the leisure interests of their 20th century family members. What did they listen to? Who were the popular stars of radio in the 1930s? If your family had a TV in the 1950s, what programmes could they watch? The Radio Times might be a great conversation-starter if you are trying to capture family memories. You can freely download a PDF of the first issue at http:// Find a free beta version of the Radio Times archive at where you can download PDFs of issues and contribute your knowledge to the database. Paging through old magazines is an evocative way to learn about times gone by.

About the author Film and social history have intrigued Amanda Randall for as long as she can remember, especially what early film and home fgfg movies can tell us about our past. Since completing her MA in Film Archiving she has been researching and writing about these intertwined subjects, and blogs about them at

First edition of the Radio Times

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FamilyTree Tree The place to go for family history news, how-to guides, reviews, competitions & more

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06/02/2017 17/10/2016 13:21 22/08/2016 09:27 10:57

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So let us look at surnames. Have you ever thought about yours, where it might have come from, and what it might mean? Follow June Terrington’s handy round-up of resources that will help you learn more about this precious family history clue – your family name any of the family names we have today are centuries old, but often their origins are lost in time, and not immediately obvious. However, with a little investigation you can fi nd out a great deal, which will help to shed wider light on your family history research, and in particular on the origins of the surnames on your tree. When most people lived in rural conditions and small communities and everyone knew each other, there wasn’t a great need to have a surname. It was only as time moved on, and bigger populations and conglomerations of people living together developed, that the surname or family name became increasingly important – as otherwise there were often too many people using the same fi rst name, causing confusion.



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Expect spelling variations Our names are passed down generation to generation, but, over the years, they can morph, and this can create puzzles when we come to research our roots. Whether the changes are simply changes in spelling, due to lack of literacy, or decisive, deliberate alterations, as we trace our family lines back in time, don’t be surprised if you come across significant variations in the spelling of family names.

Rare names Sometimes a name can be uncommon, such as my married surname Terrington – and rarity usually makes research much easier. Terrington is an English location name from the pretty village of Terrington in North Yorkshire. It is also said to have come from tiefran, the pagan practice of


Don’t be put of f by an unusual spellin g of a surname – with a lit tle more searching, you may discover this is just a spelling error or variation

sorcery, which was supposed to defend against the Viking invaders.

Popular names Other names such as Wilson, my maiden name, can be found commonly – in large numbers and in numerous places. Now, learning more about a name such as Wilson can be a difficult path to follow. Wilson means ‘the son of Will’, and is more often classed

02/02/2017 10:47

The story behind your name

Over to you! Why not have a go at finding the origin of your surname? Search these six sites below and begin to unpack the clues hidden away about your family history within your family name.


• OxfDictionaryNames – explore the origins of Surname p 50,000 names in the refixes (such as M Oxford Dictionary of c, O, Fitz) and suffixes (s Family Names in Britain uch as -so n, -kin, and -s and Ireland at a fortunate ) m ay s h e d further lig library near you (with a ht on your surname o £400 price tag, you may rigins find it a challenge to your own budget) • – search online surname database for your name • surnames.php – home in on surnames of interest to you, and find which RootsIreland collections hold entries


Having the same surname as someone else is no guarantee of a family connection. As you gat her clues for your family tree you will build up family units and learn where your family came from. Using this information you will become equipped to track back in time , piece together evidence and find out more about where your par ticu lar family name originated. Surname DNA projects are working to establis h connections bet ween names and families: see me_ DNA _projects

as having Celtic origin. While this is interesting to learn, you can see that it’s quite general information. The most common surnames in England and Wales are those such as Smith, Jones, Williams and Taylor. Visit the website http:// top/lists/england-wales/1991 to start exploring the list of the top 500 most commonly occurring surnames in England, Wales and the Isle of Man in 1991.

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Investigating the clues Surnames are really important to us, not only do they tell us a family name, but they hold vital insights that are especially interesting if you want to research them further. The family name can often give you a possible occupation that branch of the family was involved in, or a location they may have come from many years ago. Sometimes names were based on an ancestor’s appearance or characteristics.

About the author June Terrington started family history to learn about her absent father, and over the years this interest has become a passion. She really loves it and you can find her at Terrington

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Three of a kind Terry Bridger has been researching the Royal Bounty for Triplets. What was this Bounty, and are there records related to it that might be helpful to genealogists? Terry talks to Simon Wills about her unique indexing project, which she is sharing online for the benefit of fellow family and social historians


What was the Royal Bounty for Triplets?

It was a donation made by the reigning monarch, from their own personal allowance, to offset the unexpected fi nancial burden upon families of triplets, quadruplets or more (known as higher order multiples or HOMs). It was discretionary and bound by certain eligibility criteria. It was most well-known during the late Victorian era. Contrary to popular belief that the Bounty ‘started in 1849’, there is evidence of philanthropy towards deserving poor parents of HOMs as far back as Henry VII, who fi nanced the tuition of the Taylor triplets, including John who ultimately became Master of the Rolls of the Court of Chancery for Henry VIII. The fi rst newspaper report of such an occasion appeared in the Brighton Morning Advertiser on 4 March 1842 when the plight of Mrs Wiber was brought to the attention of Queen Victoria while she was visiting Brighton. The Wiber triplets, Edward, Eliza and Margaret, had been born in the summer of 1838 and, unusually


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for the time, had survived. They had five older siblings and the young Queen donated £5 to the family. The Bounty is not mentioned by name in the newspapers until 1855.


Did everyone get the Bounty?

Concerned at the lack of regulation, Prince Albert endorsed a set of rules. From April 1859 successful applications were recorded as payments for ‘trins’ in the Privy Purse ledgers, currently held at the Windsor Royal Archives. The ‘rules’ required all applications to be investigated and to qualify, parents of HOMS had to be married, respectable, in indigent circumstances and the children must have been alive at the time of application. Applications were made predominantly by parish priests, but also by doctors and local dignitaries or even occasionally by the father. Each application was individually considered and examination of the successful applications shows evidence of payments outside of these criteria on occasions, such as

£2 payments when all the babies had been lost. This was probably to assist with funeral costs.


When did people get the Bounty, and how much did they receive?

The payment was intended to relieve immediate distress, a clause that later generated considerable political debate regarding colonial applicants. There is evidence of a few payments to the colonies, but not many, probably due to the political controversy it caused. After much deliberation it was agreed that aside from Tristan da Cunha, all applications must be made within four months of the births accompanied by adequate supporting evidence. The average donation was £1 per live-born child but by the 20th century the relative value of the donation was rapidly decreasing. During the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign there was an average of 57 payments made per annum. The financial payment was replaced with a congratulatory telegram soon after the death of Queen Victoria.

06/02/2017 12:33

Images: newborn triplets & mother © Wellcome Library, London, copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0; Queen Victoria from British Library Flickr; other images courtesy of Terry Bridger


Unusual royal resource

Images: newborn triplets & mother © Wellcome Library, London, copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0; Queen Victoria from British Library Flickr; other images courtesy of Terry Bridger

The Bounty is first mentioned in the press in 1855 during the reign of Queen Victoria but Henry VII is known to have to provided royal patronage to triplets

Terry Bridger has set up The THOMAS Index online Triplets in the news, clockwise from left: The Walsh triplets from Warwick, born on 13 November 1896, were called Theresa Monica, Edith Tamilda and Philip Reginald; the Bradleys from Manchester, born 17 February 1875, were named Agnes, Eliza and Michael William; while the Cadby triplets from West Ham were born around February 1894 and called Daisy, Rose and Violet


Can you trace ancestors who received the Bounty?

The Privy Purse records are available for public access at the Royal Archives in Windsor, but unless there is known evidence of a HOM birth, searching for something that might not exist could be a lengthy and fruitless exercise. I have therefore transcribed all the extant records and am incorporating them into a new searchable online database which is

A mother holding her newborn triplets, 1926. The Royal Bounty for Triplets was designed to provide financial aid for families with multiple births of three or more children

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free to access at http://thomas-index. (The Triplets and Higher Order Multiples Ancestral Searchable – THOMAS – Index). The site is not yet complete, but the intention is to create a portal for all matters relating to British HOMs prior to 1938. All Bounty records appearing in the ledgers have been included.


How useful are these records to family historians?

Where application letters have survived they provide valuable insight into the immediate postpartum phase of a newly extended family and their situation, socially, physically, mentally and financially. Most applications were made within 48 hours of the births. Though the forenames of the HOMs are rarely mentioned, such letters frequently enhance a genealogical view of a family which, excluding personal diaries, are seldom recorded elsewhere – especially within lower social groups. However, only a small selection of application letters have survived and the ledger records are minimal at best. They generally consist of the ledger entry date, the applicant’s name and/or the mother’s name, a reference, plus the amount sent. Yet despite its limitations, the

Bounty data is an aid to genealogical completeness, filling in blanks where traditional records are blind, and with the extant records freely searchable online it should soon be very easy to potentially confirm that nagging family rumour that there were indeed triplets in your ancestry. Although the Bounty records do not encompass illegitimate births or those of the well-to-do, these are precisely the ‘middling sorts’ of people that are often overlooked in other records.


Can readers help with your new website?

Yes, please. It would be helpful if people could send me information or photos regarding any triplets (or more) they have in their family trees pre-1 July 1927 (when the national stillbirth register commenced). I’m especially interested in any known sets from the Victorian era. I will need as much factual data as people are able to offer and the permission to include the data in this new site, which will be in the public domain. Please use the ‘Contact’ feature at

About the author Dr fgfg Simon Wills is a genealogist and author with more than 25 years’ experience of researching his ancestors. He has a particular interest in maritime history and his latest book is The Wreck of the SS London (Amberley). He is also author of Voyages from the Past, How Our Ancestors Died and a novel, Lifeboatmen.

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Women’s magazines supported the Government and represented clothes rationing in a glamorous light, as in Woman’s Own, September 1944 (right) Knitting was very popular during the war, this pattern (above) for a red, white and blue Victory jumper being featured in Home Notes magazine, June 1945

PAR T 2:

1940s & WW2



Fashion reflects the world around us – our politics and religion, the economy, technology, customs and values of society. Investigating how our forebears dressed, clothed their families and upheld appearances in the 1940s reveals the challenges and achievements of daily life during and after the Second World War, as Jayne Shrimpton explains 68

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What does clothing reveal about our ancestors?


n 1940 female fashion favoured trim knee-length A-line dresses or pleated skirts, bodices and blouses with padded shoulders, a tailored image that would continue to shape civilian wartime style. Items of battle dress were also present in the wardrobe. Gas masks had been issued in 1938 and when war erupted in September 1939 everyone was urged to take precautions by carrying a gas mask whenever leaving home. Also reflecting early war conditions was the air-raid emergency suit or ‘siren suit’, a comfortable zipperfronted one-piece jumpsuit to throw on over clothes or nightwear, when sirens wailed. Many incorporated a snug hood and were available from shops and mail order catalogues, or were homemade using any warm fabrics. Siren suits, like practical breeches and trousers, were previously rarely worn by the average woman but now more widely adopted, either as functional daywear, or as an occupational requirement, perhaps part of a military or civilian uniform. Many females were doing men’s jobs and undertaking challenging physical work requiring comfortable, protective trousers: and yet in some rural areas and within conservative communities these masculine clothes were still considered indecent, even immoral; some breeches-wearing Land

Girls were ostracised and men with traditional values objected to their wives or daughters wearing trousers.

Cosmetics companies even promoted the concept of beauty as a patriotic duty In uniform Millions of British women donned uniforms, from bus crews and post women to the Land Army, who all received designated kit. Some organisations recruited females from all walks of life: this was a great social leveller, for while privileged girls perhaps felt deprived of certain luxuries, poorer girls enjoyed a better wardrobe than during peace-time, also gaining strength and fitness through exercise and substantial meals and benefiting from modern hygienic dental and sanitary products. Factory workers donned industrial boiler suits and unattractive hairnets or headscarves, but underneath their hair might be in curlers ready for a night out. Recruits into military units – the ATS, WRNS and WAAFs* – were issued with masculine-inspired uniforms, stylish tailored suits accessorised with jaunty peaked caps. The chic dark navy uniform of the WRNS was reputedly the most sought-after female service uniform, although one ex-WAAF officer assured me the naval suits were itchy and of inferior cloth to the smart air force blue uniforms. (* ATS, Auxiliary Territorial Service; WRNS, Women’s Royal Naval Service; & WAAF, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

Rationed fashion

Beachwear gained a new lease of life as Britain’s coastal resorts reopened, even upmarket tailors presenting colourful new leisurewear for men (1948)

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While women in uniform received official kit, even down to underwear, civilians struggled in worsening conditions. With many articles scarce and soaring inflation, clothes rationing was introduced in June 1941, essentially to stabilise prices and provide essentials for all. Most new purchases now required both cash and coupons. Initially public reaction was generally fairly positive, few believing that rationing would last long, but materials grew scarcer and in spring 1942 the already meagre ration was reduced. In these extraordinary circumstances, clothing coupon fraud ensued and

After the war, the younger generation increasingly favoured stylish comfortable separates, as seen in this family photograph, 1947 (top) Sisters aged 25, 12 and 27 photographed in 1943 wear austerity-style outfits featuring minimal fabric and decoration (above)

local street markets became a magnet for ‘spivs’, clearing-houses for looted goods. Reportedly some did whatever it took to clothe themselves and their families, and consequently knowledge or suspicions of black market activities could come between friends and neighbours. However, in true patriotic spirit, many women prided themselves on managing within the system, some older women giving away precious coupons to mothers with children.

Keeping up appearances Perceptions of fashion shifted during the war: ornate modes seemed

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Many women experienced a tremendous camaraderie, pooling precious possessions for special occasions

An unprecedented number of women were recruited into auxiliary military units, and Government posters displayed the smart uniforms that they could expect

extravagant – and simpler, comfortable styles were favoured by active women. So long as a woman avoided descending into slovenliness, a little shabbiness was acceptable, for luxuries were few and even basic articles scarce. The prohibition of silk for making stockings in January 1941 caused a dilemma, for going out without stockings was considered indecent. Many resorted to faking tancoloured stockings using commercial cosmetic lotions of variable quality, or homemade concoctions of liquid gravy browning, cold tea or cocoa,

Beauty as a duty

Make-Do and Mend Dress played a crucial role in Britain’s wartime strategy, the Government controlling textile and garment production, restricting manufacturing, consumer choice and expenditure on apparel. The Board of Trade’s Make-Do and Mend scheme, practical advice in the press and local Women’s Institute and Women’s Voluntary Service classes together aimed to educate all women, including ladies now having to manage without servants, in making and caring for clothes, to extend their life and reduce the need for new purchases. Women not already accustomed to making ends meet now stepped up their game, finding ingenious solutions to clothing shortages. Winter coats were tailored from blankets or absent husbands’ coats and dressing gowns, dresses from twill blackout material or old curtains; resourceful dressmakers used any fabric scraps to fashion wearable, if unconventional garments, including (illegal) parachute silk for underwear or wedding dresses. Knitting wool was especially versatile and any obtainable colour and quality was utilised, adult garments often unravelled and knitted into children’s clothes. Housewives spent long evenings at home sewing, darning and


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a ‘seam’ drawn up the back of the legs with eyebrow pencil. Others, to avoid appearing bare-legged, simply wore ankle socks, already popular for country and sportswear. Traditionally headwear completed a smart outfit and some women felt uncomfortable going out bareheaded. Hats were not rationed and with garments becoming more austere, attractive headwear could express personal style. Women today can recall shops full of beautiful hats, but being heavily-taxed few could afford them, many re-trimming and dyeing existing hats or making headgear, popularising new styles including turbans, headscarves and netted snoods. Glorious hair was a feminine attribute that made women feel seductive and much time was spent curling, rolling and pinning long tresses. Cosmetics also imparted glamour and resourceful ways were found to acquire scarce beauty aids: for example, women re-used the ends of old lipstick tubes, or utilised solid rouge or beetroot juice. Soot, charcoal and boot polish outlined eyes, while an infusion of rose petals subtly coloured the cheeks.

The Make-Do and Mend scheme, launched in 1942, urged women to go through their wardrobes before considering new clothing purchases knitting while listening to the radio: such tasks could seem laborious and if a lone woman struggling to look after home and family became demoralised and exhausted, neighbours, family and friends rallied round to help and raise her spirits. Many women experienced a tremendous camaraderie, pooling precious possessions, swapping patterns, even sharing garments and accessories for special occasions.

By 1940 diverse gas mask cases including smart handbags with compartments for mask and respirator were potent sartorial symbols of war

02/02/2017 10:43

What does clothing reveal about our relatives?

Men & children Many female war workers donned practical breeches and trousers, as here in 1941, although these masculine clothes remained controversial in some quarters

Beauty products and substitutes helped to maintain the impression of normality and boosted self-esteem. Cosmetics companies and fashion magazines even promoted the concept of beauty as a patriotic duty and a necessary weapon that could help to win the war.

Post-war style Clothes rationing continued after

With many men in uniform, male fashion took rather a back seat during the 1940s, although Utility restrictions applied to new civilian clothes and the unpopular, utilitarian de-mob suits issued to ex-servicemen are still remembered today. A major preoccupation was how to clothe growing children for, despite extra coupons for expectant mothers and young families, parents struggled to keep up with offspring rapidly outgrowing their clothes and shoes, and were especially concerned about foot deformities developing.

Maintaining an attractive image was considered important for morale and a women’s patriotic duty, as often presented in cosmetics adverts (Ideal Home, 1945)

In response, the Women’s Voluntary Service opened clothing exchanges where decent children’s clothes and shoes could be exchanged for larger sizes, without money or precious coupons. Many children’s clothes were homemade from any available material: some readers may remember wearing underpants to school made from floral dress material. Stoical times indeed. Next issue: We look at clothing in the 1920s & 1930s

Yours to win!

The ‘New Look’ of 1947 took the post-war world by storm and brought a welcome sense of feminine allure back into fashion

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We have a copy of Jayne Shrimpton’s book Fashion in the 1940s to give away. To enter, please email editorial@ with ‘Fashion in the 1940s’ in the subject line. Competition closes 31 May 2017. To buy a copy of the book (RRP £7.99) visit

March 2017

Images: war workers in breeches 1941 © Kat Williams; all other images Jayne Shrimpton – ATS Auxiliary Territorial Service; WRNS Women’s Royal Naval Service; WAAFs Women’s Auxiliary Air Force

war ended in Europe in May 1945 and Britain remained economically depleted. However, as Parisian fashion houses reopened Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ was launched in 1947 – an extravagant, controversial fashion using yards of fabric. Initially considered inappropriate and unpatriotic in Britain, the new style that exaggerated feminine curves and revived a welcome sense of romance and allure was widely adopted during the later 1940s. Conversely, comfortable trousers and slacks became more established in the female wardrobe, along with casual American-inspired co-ordinates and separates, while holiday clothes and swimwear grew bright and bold as beaches reopened.

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s k o o B

‘top choice’

On 1 September 1939, on the eve of war, more than 1.5 million civilians, mostly children, were evacuated from Britain’s towns and cities to the apparent safety of the countryside, away from Hitler’s bombs; some were taken overseas to Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada. This mass movement of people was an incredible moment in history, followed in May 1940 by more evacuations from the nation’s coastal areas and the departure of 17,000 civilians from the Channel Islands just days before occupation by the Germans. Gillian Mawson, author of Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War, has widened her scope to record the stories of evacuees

SEA CHARTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES by John Blake Explore a stunning collection of nautical charts and information about Britain’s magnificent seafaring history in this colourful new book by LieutenantCommander John Blake, who spent 12 years in the Royal Navy and has written a number of books on the maritime world. The book takes the reader along the constantly changing coastline of the British Isles, moving clockwise from London and the Thames Estuary, explaining the dangers of rocks and tides and describing the sea ports, harbours, naval bases, dockyards and seaside


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from across the UK and Gibraltar; since 2008 she has interviewed hundreds of evacuees and read the testimonies of those who have passed away, and scoured newspaper reports and official documents to piece together this powerful collection of stories. Many evacuees give positive accounts of caring foster parents who welcomed them with open arms, even if they had little themselves to share, and the tears that were shed when they returned home, often several years later. Some children were shocked at the poor housing they were billeted to – outside toilets took some getting used to when they had inside loos at home – while others found themselves living in mansions complete with servants. A number had more distressing stories of neglect; of parents who didn’t – or couldn’t afford to – take them back or siblings who passed away, leaving them to return

resorts our ancestors may have been familiar with. Whether they were fishermen, lighthousemen, dockers, naval, military or customs men, here you’ll find their world opened up in glorious detail, so you can better understand what it meant in the past to live in this culturally diverse island nation. Images of historic charts from Britain’s finest chartmakers are put into context and packed with facts; even featuring details of place names lost to the sea, and former ports now stranded miles inland. This book is a real treat for anyone interested in Britain’s maritime and coastal past or those with ancestors whose lives were shaped by the surrounding sea. • ISBN: 9781472944900. RRP £18.99, paperback. Bloomsbury.

home after the war, alone. These accounts are remarkable and very moving, recalled nearly 80 years later when few parents could even contemplate sending their children away into the arms of strangers. It is an enlightening and valuable read, forming a part of many family histories, recorded for later generations to understand how these experiences shaped their loved ones’ lives and communities. • ISBN: 9781848324411. RRP £19.99, hardback. Frontline Books (an imprint of Pen & Sword).


Find out more about the experiences of evacuees in World War II by reading Gillian Mawson’s guest blog for Family Tree at

MERCHANT SEAFARING THROUGH WORLD WAR I 1914-1918 by Peter Lyon If you have 20th century merchant seafarers in your family tree then this new book is sure to give you fresh insight into their experiences. The book stems from research undertaken by former Master Mariner and author Peter Lyon into the life of his maternal grandfather Captain Henry Griffiths – who had been at sea during both world wars – after fi nding some of his personal photos and papers. His family history quest sparked a wider interest in the experiences of

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Family history reads with Karen Clare

British merchant seafarers and their passengers in WW1, including the appalling heavy losses of Allied and neutral merchant ships at the hands of German U-boats. Lyon paints a vivid history of the hardships and horrors endured by merchant seamen and women, who carried out their understated work with little support or regard for their safety, as they battled to keep open supply lines of the food, troops and armaments that helped the British and Allies win the First World War. Among the roll call of tragedies is the terrible fate of the crew of the Mariston steam ship, torpedoed without warning in the Atlantic Ocean on 15 July 1917 as she carried a cargo of copper from Almeria to her home port of Glasgow. Out of 29 crew, only one, Charles Williams, survived after climbing onto a hatch he used as a raft until his rescue 15 hours later. However, he witnessed the hideous deaths of many of his shipmates, killed by a school of sharks. The author ensures that some of the voices of the civilian mariners are heard and the sacrifices of these unsung heroes and heroines of the sea are recorded for posterity. With a useful bibliography, list of archives and index, this is a useful read for anyone researching merchant seafarers of WW1, many of whom went unrecognised. • ISBN: 9781910878415. RRP £9.99, paperback. Book Guild.

SCHOLARLY SCOUNDREL: LAURENCE HYNES HALLORAN by Jan Worthington Renowned Australian genealogist Jan Worthington donned her detective hat to research and write this lively biography of the rather colourful Laurence Hynes Halloran (1765-1831), a father of 21 (with three women), transported convict and pioneering headmaster of Sydney Grammar School. The Irish orphan’s vices included impersonating clergymen and even murder, yet he was a veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, a poet, sailor and even a publisher and coroner

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in his adopted Sydney, where he was shipped in 1819 to serve seven years for forgery – really, the least of his criminal endeavours. This controversial and self-styled ‘doctor’ was considered the most educated fellow in the fledgling New South Wales colony where he lived for only 12 years until his death, but he made a huge impact. Yet his gentleman exterior hid an arrogant, law-breaking, volatile personality who did not take criticism well, although one obituary noted he had a generous heart, so perhaps there was something of the lovable rogue about him. Hundreds of Australians are descended from this remarkable and flawed man and the author has used genealogical methods to trace Halloran’s family connections as well, including carefully detailed family trees. Her engaging and insightful biography with a strong family history slant is sure to have you hooked from the word go. ‘Halloran,’ the author tells us in her first paragraph, ‘was a man who survived despite his wickedness’. And who doesn’t love a black sheep in the family? • ISBN: 9781925043198. RRP Aus $39.95 plus p&p, paperback. Halstead Press. Available from or plus Abbey’s Bookshop and Booktopia

THE RAILWAY EXPERIENCE by Paul Atterbury With more than 50 evocative photos – of steam trains, turntables, signal boxes, railway workers and more, dating from the late Victorian era through the 20th century, this is an intriguing and nostalgic read both for those interested in the history of railways in Britain, and for those who simply enjoy a trip down memory lane to the magical Age of Steam locomotives. It’s the photographs that really catch the eye in this book, many of which are previously unpublished gems, with each accompanied by a fascinating capsule history. And funky facts

In brief Joseph, 1917 by David Hewitt David Hewitt uncovers a secret history in this biography of soldier Joseph Blackburn, from Thornton Cleveleys in Lancashire – the author’s home town – who was forced following a tribunal to go to war, and died on the Western Front. Hewitt, a tribunal judge himself, draws on historic legal records and newspaper reports to tell Joseph’s forgotten story and those of others like him. • ISBN: 9781785898976. RRP £8.99, paperback. Troubador Publishing. The Conversations We Never Had by Jeffrey H Konis This heartwarming cross between a memoir and fiction highlights the importance of family history. Knowing nothing of his orphaned father’s Jewish family or upbringing and regretting having left it too late to learn from his Grandma ‘Ola’ – really his father’s aunt who took him to America after surviving the Holocaust – the author recalls his precious time with her more than 20 years earlier and imagines the stories she might have shared, had he asked the questions. • ISBN: 9781478767299. From £9.48 paperback, also in hardback and Kindle. Outskirts Press. Available via Amazon.

abound... Did you know, for instance, that in 1948 there were 10,000 signal boxes in use throughout Britain, but by 2012 they numbered just 500? Or that the ‘Flying Scotsman’ was initially just a nickname, not a formal one until 1924. A small book, it’s nevertheless packed with revealing insights to life and work on the railways from decades past. • ISBN: 9781784421236. RRP £9.99, hardback. Bloomsbury Shire. Review by Helen Tovey. See pages 24-31 for our expert feature on tracing railway ancestors.

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Researching the de Rothschild family Tracing Lionel de Rothschild ‘a banker by hobby – a gardener by profession’: Nick Thorne researches a member of the de Rothschild family using the records on TheGenealogist

GRO birth records on TheGenealogist show the index entry for Lionel N de Rothschild


ionel Nathan de Rothschild OBE was an English banker and a Conservative politician who was well known as the creator of Exbury Gardens near the New Forest in Hampshire. Born in London on 25 January 1882 he was the eldest of the three sons of Leopold de Rothschild (1845-1917) and Marie, née Perugia (1862-1937), and a part of the illustrious Rothschild banking family. Using the birth, marriage and death records on TheGenealogist, we can find that Lionel Nathan de Rothschild’s birth was registered in the district of St George, Hanover Square in London in the first quarter of 1882. Turning next to the education records on TheGenealogist provides us with an entry in the Harrow school register. This provides us with the information that Lionel de Rothschild went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, became a banker and the MP for Aylesbury; was a major in the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry, received an OBE in 1917 and served as a Justice of the Peace and also provides us with his year of death. Another educational record, this time for the Trinity College Admissions, reveals that the younger Lionel Nathan de Rothschild graduated from Cambridge with a BA in 1903 and a MA in 1908. Political service ran in the family. When on 25 January 1910 Lionel Nathan de Rothschild was elected to the House of Commons, he was following in his cousin’s and in his grandfather’s footsteps by becoming


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a Member of Parliament. All three of the de Rothschild men had the first name Lionel – though his cousin would go by the name of Walter. It was into Lionel Walter’s shoes, as the MP for Aylesbury, that Lionel Nathan stepped when he won the seat in the next election after his cousin’s retirement from politics. Lionel de Rothschild, their grandfather, had

Army. Lionel, however, being the eldest son was needed as the heir to take over the family’s NM Rothschild & Sons banking house and so, no doubt to his frustration, he had no choice but to remain at home. In spite of this, he held the rank of major in the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry and served the Army by carrying out recruiting duties in the confl ict. Both of Lionel Rothschild’s brothers were wounded in battle, with Evelyn dying of his injuries at the 1917 Battle of Mughar Ridge. A search of the military records on TheGenealogist reveals that Lionel

Harrow school register from the educational records on TheGenealogist

paved the way when he had been elected to parliament several times for the City of London. As a member of the Jewish religion he wouldn’t swear the Christian oath required at the time by MPs and so was unable to take up his seat in the Commons. Eventually, however, the oath was modified and so he was able to become the first practising Jew to take up his seat in the House of Commons. In 1912 we can learn from the Overseas BMD records on TheGenealogist that he married Marie Louise Eugénie Beer in Paris, the wedding being registered with the British Consul there. As with any ancestors in the Overseas BMDs, the references provided by these records make it possible to order a certificate from the GRO in Southport to glean further details. At the outbreak of World War I, Lionel’s younger brothers Evelyn and Anthony both joined the British

de Rothschild, nonetheless, appears in the Roll of Honour for Cambridge University and we can also find his World War I campaign medals from a search of the military records on TheGenealogist. Lionel’s father, Leopold, was to die in early 1917 and this meant that he and his brother, Anthony, now became the managing partners of NM Rothschild & Sons bank. Lionel, however, had developed an interest in horticulture at a very young age, reputedly having planted his first

Trinity College admissions are also found on TheGenealogist

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The Jewish Chronicle 1907 on TheGenealogist

Overseas, consular marriages found on TheGenealogist Exbury House

Cambridge University war list in the roll of honour records

World War I campaign medals on TheGenealogist

Lionel de Rothschild recorded in the Jewish Seatholders collection

The 1942 death record for Lionel N de Rothschild

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garden at the age of five. In 1919 he purchased the Mitford estate at Exbury in Hampshire and it was here that he devoted a great deal of time and money transforming it into what, some say, is one of the finest gardens in England with more than one million plants. Lionel went on, in the 1920s, to build Exbury House around an existing structure in a neo-Georgian style. Lionel de Rothschild’s horticultural interest saw him co-sponsoring planthunting expeditions to isolated areas of the world, such as the Himalayas, in order to collect seeds for plant growth and experimentation. It is reported in several horticultural articles that he developed 1,204 new hybrids of rhododendron and azalea that were recognised and sold around the world. Despite continuing to work at the family bank, he described himself in a quote as ‘a banker by hobby – a gardener by profession’. Lionel Nathan de Rothschild died in London, aged 60, in 1942 and was buried in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery. His son Edmund assumed the management of Exbury Gardens and would go on to put in place a charitable trust to manage the property. In 2001, the American Rhododendron Society recognised Lionel Nathan de Rothschild’s significant contribution, posthumously bestowing on him a Pioneer Achievement Award.

The Jewish Synagogue Seatholder records, on TheGenealogist, allows those family history researchers with Jewish ancestors from London to find out more about their forebears. As to be expected of such an eminent member of society, Lionel de Rothschild is found several times within this collection. These records show the positions held by members of 18 London synagogues spanning the years 1920 to 1939. Researchers can track ancestors who became wardens, council members, or served on committees of the synagogue, as well as the seatholders in synagogues from around the capital city. The fully indexed records are searchable by name, keyword, synagogue and address and, with one click, we can see an image of the page from the Seatholders for Synagogues in London. Selecting ‘Miscellaneous’ records and then ‘Jewish Synagogue Seatholders’, from the dropdown menu, we enter Lionel as a forename and de Rothschild as the surname to return us several positions that de Rothschild held in three different synagogues. We can see that he was the Warden of the Great Synagogue which once stood in Duke’s Place, north of Aldgate – unfortunately this building was destroyed in the London Blitz – and we also find that de Rothschild was the President of the United Synagogue in North Finchley. Selecting that record allows us to view the actual image of the page taken from the Seatholders for Synagogues in London 1920. From the death records on TheGenealogist we can see that on 28 January 1942 Lionel de Rothschild passed away aged 60. As can be seen from this example, the rich resources of TheGenealogist allow us to trace lives from birth, to school, university and in later life.

March 2017

Images: Exbury House, from Wikipedia, published under the Creative Commons licence

on TheGenealogist’s Diamond subscription, visit FTADVP20P to claim your offer

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Diarist Gill Shaw charts the rollercoaster ride of researching her family history

Twiglets A

fter a frankly frustrating session last time, failing to locate anything other than early deaths or total disappearing acts for my Ashurst 5x great-aunts Mary and Ann and their other halves, I’m turning to their remaining sister, Elizabeth, who married Richard Muleman Chiswell in 1816. Come on, Mr MC. With that amazing name I’ve been saving you till last, so don’t disappoint me. At I pop in nothing but his name, as there surely can’t be many Richard Muleman Chiswells to the pound. Hallelujah, this is more like it – a whole page of results, including some Richard ‘Muirman’ Chiswells in the censuses. Oh, but hang on; this one was born in 1851, the next in 1879. Those are way too late, but they could be later generations of the same family. Excitedly, I scroll on down until my eye comes to rest – predictably by now, it seems – on a burial. In 1833, a 39-yearold Richard ‘Muilman’ Chiswell was buried in Prestwich, Manchester. Oh dear, that’s got to be him. Still, we’ve got a birth year now, so just for fun I check out Richard’s origins, and it seems he was a Norfolk man: Richard Muilman ‘Cheswell’, baptised at St Gregory’s Norwich in 1794. Well that makes a change at least! So what happened to Elizabeth after his death? (Please let her have made it to 1841…). I search for an Elizabeth Chiswell, born 1795, and success at last. Living on Faulkner Street, Manchester on the 1841 Census are 45-year-old Elizabeth Cheswell, a 15-year-old clerk named Thomas Cheswell who’s presumably her son, and Thomas Blackshaw, aged 10. Aha! I bet that’s her late sister Ann’s boy, christened John Thomas Harrop Blackshaw. The next thing I spot is her burial. Aged 64, she’s helpfully described as the ‘widow of Richard Muilman Chiswell’, and was buried in 1859 in the same churchyard as her husband. That means I ought to be able to locate her on the 1851 Census, but there’s only a transcript of a volume


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that’s been water-damaged, so it’s largely unreadable. What I have instead, though, are the ever-useful Manchester rate books, and as a woman of independent means, our Elizabeth features every year from 1836. She moves from Faulkner Street to Oxford Street, then on to Carlton Terrace in an area called Greenheys, which was apparently fairly posh and still quite rural back then, and is described in Mrs Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton (which I’ll now have to read!). Elizabeth is listed at that address in historical directories of Manchester, so she might well have run it as a lodging house.

Family history takes you to some interesting places! Before I wrap things up, can I find her son Thomas’s baptism, or any other children? Yes, indeedy. Here’s Thomas Spanton Caygill Chiswell (another corker of a name!), christened in 1824. But hang on. Caygill? I’ve seen that name before. In 1769 an Ann Caygill and James Ashurst tied the knot at St Mary the Virgin, Bury, where my parents married, and where I was christened. James is my 5x great-grandad (and there’s an outside chance he’s the 93-year-old James Ashurst whose burial I found last issue…) Crikey, my head is spinning, and it spins even more when I find the baptism of a Richard Harrop Chiswell, parents Richard Muilman Chiswell and Elizabeth. So it looks as if both Chiswell boys were given family names from their mother’s side. Wonderful! I also find the baptisms of three daughters, but sadly burial records for all three too, as well as for Richard. So it seems Thomas Spanton Caygill Chiswell was the couple’s only surviving child, and with that name, it’s not difficult to spot his marriage to the equally glamorous-sounding Clementine Sophia Cros in Liverpool in 1847, and hazard a guess that all the other Richard MCs on the censuses, right up to the 1911, are their descendants.

At Ancestry there’s even a public history by someone who’s been researching the family. It says the later Muilman Chiswells – all merchants like Elizabeth’s husband – ended up in Argentina where they founded a bespoke tailor in Buenos Aires called, what else, The Manchester. Love it! In fact, I was loving the Muilman Chiswell name so much I Googled it. Well... It seems Elizabeth’s husband wasn’t the first Richard MC. When our Richard was born in Norwich in 1794, there was a wealthy MP in Pitt the Younger’s government called Richard Muilman Trench Chiswell of Debden Hall in Essex. There are biographies of him online, including on Wikipedia, and I assumed there must be some connection. But I can find no link at all, and apparently the MP was born plain Richard Muilman, and just added the ‘Trench Chiswell’ from his mum’s side. So if there’s no connection, why did Mr Chiswell from Norwich give his child the middle name Muilman? Did he want people to think his son was related to the MP, as that might give him a head start in life? If so, the plan backfired (literally) when Trench Chiswell – who had ‘interests’ in the West Indies and voted against the abolition of the slave trade – lost his fortune. His business partner scarpered, the MP went bankrupt and shot himself when our Richard was just three. So probably a good thing there’s no connection! Family history takes you to some interesting places, doesn’t it? As I look down at the little tree I drew a few months ago, now shockingly out of date, my very own direct ancestor with a strange name is looking right back at me. Richmon Wrigley, mother of my 2x great-grandfather James, who married the Alice Ashurst whose early death set me off on this rollercoaster journey. OK Richmon, you’ve been patient long enough. It is now time for a brand new adventure...

About the author fgfg Gill Shaw is editor of Dogs Monthly magazine and former assistant editor of Practical Family History. She lives in Cambridgeshire and loves singing, walking and tracking down elusive ancestors.

03/02/2017 10:09


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A Detailed History of RAF Manston 1941-1945

Located on the Isle of Thanet, RAF Manston was the closest RAF station to the Channel – so when the Battle of Britain was being waged, it was right in the firing line. At one point the airfield was actually put out of action, but it rose again, and provided a crucial base for damaged aircraft, especially those from Bomber Command, returning from operations. With research from the Operational Record Books (ORB), contextual details about the raids and key players and evocative photos of the faces and aircraft of the era, this is a poignant and informative read. This is the last in a three-volume set and covers the history of the station during the threatening years of the Luftwaffe offensive. • Subscribers to Family Tree can save 40% when ordering A Detailed History of RAF Manston 1941-1945 (ISBN: 9781781550960, RRP £18.99, Fonthill Media).

FREE UK P&P Famous Regiments of the British Army completes the study of more than 100 British regiments, each of whom played important roles in world history and helped to shape the past of the British Isles. In this third volume, 34 regiments are featured – covering their battle honours, badges and most famous sons – including the stories of the heroic actions of their Victoria Cross holders. Each regiment’s section includes artworks and photographs illustrating insignia, uniforms and soldiers in action down through the centuries. • Subscribers to Family Tree can buy Famous Regiments of the British Army (ISBN: 9780750968362, RRP £25, The History Press), volume 3, for £19.99, free UK p&p. Offer valid until 31 May 2017.


Email subscribercl h ‘British wit nston’ Ma F ‘RA or ts’ en Regim d an e lin ct in the subje de co ur yo u yo nd se we’ll and details of how to place your order

3 copies to GIVE AWAY! Have you been inspired to learn more about your Irish ancestry having read Steven Smyrl’s excellent and helpful article on page 36? Well, we have three copies of the Oxford Companion to Irish History to give away. Covering a broad span of Irish history, from prehistoric times to the present day, it’s a must-read tome for those with Irish connections.


@familyEmail subscriberclub worker ay ilw ‘Ra h wit k o.u tree.c tor y his sh ‘Iri giveaway’ or line ct bje su the in y’ wa givea the in u yo and we’ll enter draw. Good luck!

MUST BE WON! Was your ancestor one of the hundreds of thousands who worked on the railways? To help you learn about this fascinating subject, we have three copies of My Ancestor Was A... Railway Worker by Frank Hardy – from the Society of Genealogists’ noteworthy series – to give away. And be sure to read our bumper article on page 24 this issue, to discover more about those all-important records for tracing family who kept the nation’s railways on track.

The important stuff...When you contact us, please include just your name, subscriber number and postcode (print subscribers), or state if you are a digital subscriber. To obtain your code by post, write to the address on page 3 and provide an SAE. No cash alternatives will be offered and the editor’s decision is final. Kindly note, offers are open to Family Tree subscribers only (print and/or digital), and are valid until 10 May 2017 unless otherwise stated

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February 2017

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PAR T 6:


In this final part of the series, Mike Gould is going to look into his crystal ball at possible future technological developments for family history websites – and his ideas are both entertaining and intriguing...


lthough it’s fun to speculate about the future, there is also a reason for doing so. If there are gaps in the market for products or features, some entrepreneurial souls may eventually make them happen. So here, in no particular order, are six items from my wish-list of possible website developments.

1. Source information server In building a family history website, by whatever means, there is a tendency to concentrate on trees and people. My website is no exception. However, when you find that someone else’s website has ancestors in common with you, it is the source information for their assertions that becomes important. Although I include source citations for the list of events in the lives of my ancestors, the details that I provide are limited. It would benefit the family history community if source information were to become: • open source, with freedom to reproduce (within reasonable constraints) • packaged for interpretation by computer programs (eg marked up, such as XML) • served from a query server, to enable it to be searched by users.


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If information providers operated in this manner, our websites could be set up to pass on this information.

2. Genealogy proof builder How can I prove to others that I’m right, when I’m not even sure myself? The problem of proof in genealogy has existed since the subject itself. When we come to publishing material on a website, we need to persuade others that it is correct. The quote from American economist Alan Greenspan (see opposite page) illustrates the problem of trying to convince someone of your case. What is needed is a program to help us construct a proof. It needs to ‘understand’ family history and be able to assess the weight to put on the evidence that we have found. It also needs to take account of evidence that we have not been able

Sources & copyright While facts cannot be copyright, images of digitised images, for instance, are. So when citing your sources, you will be safe to include transcriptions of facts – as long as you’ve created the transcription yourself, to avoid being in any danger of murky copyright water

to find! All in all, it needs to be pretty intelligent for a computer! Having processed the information we give it and come to its conclusions, it then needs to explain, in clear English, the way it reached them. It is this logical sequence that we would then publish on our website for all to see.

3. Genealogy inference engine If a Proof Builder works by assessing a hypothesis that we give it and deducing its surety level (ie how confident we should be that it is true), then an Inference Engine would go one step further and derive the hypothesis in the first place. The idea would be to feed source information into a program, such that it could then derive the familial relationships of the people concerned. Now you may feel that this detracts from the fun of doing family history – are we replacing ourselves with robots? No, the thrill of chasing down the evidence and finding those allimportant clues that resolve everything is still there. It’s just that having done so, you then use a program to see whether its unbiased approach yields the same answer as you suspect.

4. Genealogy information visualiser We are used to seeing family trees as one visualisation of our family history

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Dreams of a brave new web world 1



information, but there are many others. I mentioned last month that each event has a time (1 dimension), a place (2 dimensions) and applies to a person who fits onto a family tree (again, 2 dimensions). A generalpurpose visualiser would allow us to select from these dimensions, filter by various parameters and display in various ways. For example, we may want to see the geographic distribution of people who died more than 25 miles from their place of birth. You could imagine this as a map of the country, with columns above the places of birth, such that the height of the column represented the number of people who met the criteria. This is essentially a 3-D plot. You could then add a further dimension by using a side-bar slider to vary the century of the birth dates.

5. Life event recorder 4 5


1 The ‘source information server’ would provide meaning and structure to data exchange 2 The ‘proof builder’ would assess how sure you can be about your hypothesis 3 The ‘inference engine’ would create your family tree from evidence fed to it 4 The ‘genealogy information visualiser’ would be able to plot selected data in many different ways 5 The ‘life event recorder’ would help you to create family histories in the electronic era 6 The ‘historic place reconstructor’ would use pictures to create a 3-D model of places

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Read any book on family history and one of the first pieces of advice that it will offer you is to interview elderly relatives. But how about collecting family history information from the younger members of your family? You could interview them too, but these days, with the advent of social media, there is an electronic alternative. Why not collect their life history, as it unveils, from the blogs that they themselves create? You can build up their life story with a computer program and a little help. Of course, you must get their permission to include their life story on your website, so, if that is a problem, ask them if you can still gather the information but keep it private for now. You may need to précis their output and you will certainly want to rank the information, so that it can be filtered suitably in importance: eg a ranking from ‘1’ (Had egg and bacon for breakfast) to ‘10’ (Got married today) would probably suffice!

6. Historic place reconstructor Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been around for many years and there are many programs that could be used to create a computer model of a town or village. The problem is usually the amount of skill and effort needed to do it. What is needed is a program that will take old photographs, paintings

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant – Alan Greenspan and postcards and, using a library of typical building construction, create the model automatically. The program might need to be told which century to assume, so that it uses appropriate templates for the buildings. It could use a modern 2-dimensional map, which you annotate to show where the picture subject is located and from where the picture was taken. Ideally, the model that you host on your website should be animated, such that the viewer can fly around the historic community at varying heights. If you want to see a good example of what is possible today with 3-D visualisation on the web, look at http://renaultespace.littleworkshop. fr and drag your mouse cursor around the screen to get the full effect.

Finale This completes my series on designing a family history website. I’ve covered the ground from putting your family tree online via subscription websites through to creating customised web pages yourself. Finally, in this part, I’ve presented some opportunities for innovative new website projects. Good luck with your research – I hope to see you online!

About the author Mike fgfg Gould is a retired systems engineering manager. He has been researching his family history for nearly two decades and is also chairman of his village local history group. His website Tales My Ancestors Told Me at reflects his approach to family history, finding the tales that our ancestors can tell us by the records that they leave behind!

March 2017

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Which generation is this?


This is a photograph (below) of an oil painting and on the back in pencil is written, ‘Little William’. I have added the dates of who I think is the correct ancestor (1784-1876), but I could well be wrong and a generation out. I have so many Williams in my line that it gets a little confusing to say the least! The next William would be 1814-1893 and I do not think that fits. The dates of the William before the one I have in mind were 1765-1816 and that is, I think, too early. I would be very grateful for your assistance. Mr AT Sparling


This charming painting looks to have been well-executed, suggesting an artist of some experience and talent. Although without a signature, sadly we may never know whose work this represents. Portraits of babies and

toddlers are much less common than adult paintings, so there is a relative dearth of comparative material against which to judge this portrait. However the style of the boy’s garments can be dated accurately. The simple lines of his frock featuring an extremely low square neckline and shallow bodice (echoing women’s gowns with high waistlines), expresses the neo-classical silhouette that shaped fashion in Britain broadly from the late 1790s through to c1820. However, the white frills trimming his garment indicate a date in at least the 1810s, when the pure ‘antique’ look was beginning to break up and more decorative elements were appearing, in keeping with the emerging Romantic aesthetic. Similarly, the substantial greycoloured fabric of his frock is a step forward from the ethereal white muslin gowns worn by women and children around the turn of the century. His knee-length hemline is also a more

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modern development and, as we see, these shorter garments were worn with ankle-length white drawers to conceal the legs. Finally, his masculine felt or beaver hat is also a Regency style – not an earlier form of men’s headgear. Based on the evidence of dress, I would date this portrait firmly to the period c1815-1825. Therefore, of your three suggested ancestors who may once have been known as ‘Little William’, this boy must be the latest William Sparling, born in 1814. Portrayed here in about 1816, his identity seems to fit this picturesque painting perfectly. JS

Photo analysis Jayne would estimate that this rosy-cheeked cherub-like ancestor was only about 18 or 24 months old when he was painted, as he still wears an infant’s frilled cap or bonnet beneath his ‘grown-up’ hat. Like all little boys at the baby or toddling stage a century or more ago, he wears a frock, the usual garment prior to the ‘breeching’ ceremony of male children when aged about three or four years old. Indeed, following Georgian and Victorian custom, his clothes are essentially a juvenile version of female dress and, hat aside, bear no resemblance to male styles In case there was any doubt about his gender, he has been depicted wearing a masculine hat and playing with a pull-along horse on wheels and a miniature whip – toys firmly associated with boys Adopted by women and children, drawers were worn from about the mid-1810s, becoming firmly established by 1820


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02/02/2017 10:33

Your questions answered Everyday work wear


Below is a photograph that includes my great-grandfather, Thomas Greenhalgh, born 1860, standing in the centre with a black scarf. The 1911 Census states that he worked in a Bolton cotton mill as an engine tenter. Earlier censuses describe him as a labourer. There are several different types of attire here, which I hope may help, as I would be grateful if you could date the photograph for me. John Wood


It is always interesting to see photographs of men in their everyday work wear and you are lucky to have such an image depicting your great-grandfather. However, the clothes worn for many manual jobs were usually a sturdier, coarser, practical version of regular dress and so unless an ancestor is wearing a recognisable occupational uniform (like

public servants, transport workers etc.) or poses with the tools of his/her trade, their appearance may not indicate a specifi c line of work. However, let’s study what these men are wearing closely, date the image and see how much we can establish. This group photograph portrays 10 males, suggesting the distinct possibility of a work-related scene. The older man at the back wearing a conservative three-piece suit and semiformal bowler hat appears to be the company owner, manager or foreman. In place of a suit jacket, your grandfather and the man standing far left both wear loose casual jackets of linen or stout cotton, sometimes called a ‘slop jacket’: these were work wear, favoured by some manual workers. He also wears the flat cap of the working man and, like the youth in front of him, a coloured neckerchief in place of formal collar and tie – a detail that identifies him firmly as a man engaged in manual tasks.

The lad on the right appears to be wearing leather-topped wooden-soled clogs with reinforced metal toe-caps. This suggests a hazardous workplace and is the kind of protective footwear that might be worn in a mill or factory. A firm time frame can be determined from the distinctive wide, flat shape of all of the cloth caps and the narrow trousers and fairly long, narrow style of some of the men’s jacket lapels – a mode fashionable by 1909/1910. We can discount the war years, so the date must be c1909-1914: this means it could just pre-date the 1911 Census in which Thomas was described as a cotton mill engine tenter, or it may date from a few years later. Judging from his appearance here, Thomas could conceivably have been either some kind of indoor ‘labourer’ (a vague term) or possibly already overseeing the operation of mill engines. His prominent position in the middle of the row of standing men, next to the ‘boss’, could suggest that he was considered an important fi gure here: perhaps he was leaving a job, had just been promoted or was joining a new company. Or was he celebrating his 50th birthday with work colleagues, in 1910? I wonder if by chance any FT readers recognise any of the other men in this interesting scene. JS

Can you help?

Several of the men at the back of this group wear smart lounge or business suits (as does the older man) with starched collars and ties. Although their flat caps are essentially a working style, these men may, for instance, be office staff or factory/shop floor supervisors Work-related clues are scarce on this photo, but the lack of aprons and trouser knee ties suggests that none are, for example, builders or farm labourers Following photographic convention, the youngest group members kneel at the front, the middle youth probably aged in his mid to late teens and younger two perhaps about 10-14: they wear boys’ knickerbockers in place of adult trousers and must have been the young apprentices or assistants in the workplace

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Among the collection of ‘family’ medals is one that has always been a mystery. It is a Victorian Crimea medal, with Sebastopol bar, and the correct ribbon. The rim is named for Bombadier J Grant, 12th Battery, Royal Artillery. Attached to the package containing the medal is a note: Wounded 15-8-55. It was presumably in the possession of my paternal grandfather Major James Derham-Reid, MC MRCS LRCP. However, there is no known connection to the family: we are Scottish and hail from Kilmartin parish, Argyll. My grandfather was a doctor in Daubhill, Bolton, and came through three years on the Western Front. Perhaps the medal was given to my grandfather by a patient? Mr Grant would likely have been born in the 1830s, so would have been very old by the time my grandfather began his practice. If there are any Grant families seeking lost connections, our bombardier may be one. JAC Derham-Reid

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YOUR Q&A RootsWeb mailing lists

Tracking down a change of name


How do I trace a change of name in the 1920s/1930s? Janet Huckle

With difficulty! The most common, and formal, way of changing a name is on marriage but I guess that’s not what you have in mind. The other formal way is by deed poll, a legal document drawn up by a lawyer. These are proof you have changed your name but there is no central record of them, although a few have been ‘enrolled’. Some may exist in lawyers’ archives but most have not survived except perhaps in family records or maybe a newspaper mention. See research-guides/changes-of-name for a list of sources. You will have to visit The National Archives (TNA) as, at present, the records cannot be searched online. Wills can occasionally reveal changes of name. There is nothing in law to stop you using any name you fancy provided there is no intent to deceive. It’s quite common nowadays to be asked to prove identity but in times past this seldom happened and it was easy to assume a new identity if you wanted to. The 1939 Register – at and free online at TNA – can be useful as it states precise dates of birth. By searching on birth date and first name, you may locate your ancestor, providing it’s just their surname they changed. DF

Confirming a line


I decided to follow up on an old family story and am hoping you can help me. My paternal grandmother was Annie Pitcairn 1891-1960. She was born in Crossgates, Fife and it was always said that the Pitcairn Islands were named for the family! Having traced her line this may be true. I have gone back to Major John Pitcairn born in 1725 in Ceres, Fife. He was a major in the Marines and fought at Bunker Hill in the American War of Independence. It would seem that his son, Robert, became a midshipman and in 1767 he sighted the Pacific islands, which were named in his honour. He was lost at sea in 1770. His elder brother, David became a physician to the Prince Regent. If I am on the right track then Major John Pitcairn’s father was the Reverend David Pitcairn, chaplain to the Cameronians, and served with Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim. I would love to think that all this was my family line but am having trouble trying to confirm it. Can you please help? Robert Gault


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I’ve had trouble joining the Devon-L list on RootsWeb and have heard there might be ‘spam’ problems. Does anyone know the situation regarding the future of RootsWeb? Edna Marlow


About a year ago Dick Eastman posted on his popular genealogy blog that Ancestry had been trying for weeks to fix a data loss problem with RootsWeb. Since then there have been a number of posts on Ancestry Insider talking about the migration of RootsWeb to a new hardware platform. Throughout July and August 2016 there were many posts about RootsWeb being ‘down’ or inaccessible, including mention of Devon-L, and posts – in a similiar vein – from people saying they are ‘unable to subscribe to any of the mailing lists’. It seems evident that there has been service availability problems with RootsWeb, and Ancestry has certainly had a tough time with RootsWeb this year. My instinct is that moving RootsWeb to a new platform has turned out to be a lot more troublesome than Ancestry originally anticipated. So hope to hear soon when we might be able to join and use RootsWeb mailing lists again. GY

I have examined the Pitcairn lineage you have prepared, starting with your maternal grandmother Annie Pitcairn (born in 1891, in Dunfermline), and which seemed to take the line back to Major John Pitcairn (1725-1777). Major John’s son Robert Pitcairn was also credited with naming the Pacific island of Pitcairn Island after the family name. The short piece of research undertaken appears to show marked variations from the family research and that recorded on the original Scottish documentation, although at certain points the lineages do coincide. The key question, however, boils down to whether Robert Pitcairn who married wife Grizel (Graceful) Burns in 1799 in Carnbee, Fife was the son of Thomas Pitcairn and Catherine Ramsey and thus the grandson of Major John Pitcairn. Before considering this question another factor to consider is the socio-economic class position. Annie Pitcairn’s family history shows that she is descended from a long line of coal miners – Fife having a long and proud tradition of deep-cast mining. Major John Pitcairn’s lineage reflects one of ministry, armed service and landed gentry, although this does not preclude Annie Pitcairn being his descendant.

Now, back to the question of Robert Pitcairn’s birth. There are only two likely matches in Fife in the period in question. The first being Robert Pitcairn born on 31 March 1776 at Kinninmount Estate, Ceres, Fife, to father Thomas Pitcairn and mother Catherine Ramsey and the grandson of the major. The second birth was Robert Pitcairn born on 12 April 1780 at Denhead in St Andrew’s to father Robert Pitcairn and mother Isabel Farmer. The key point here is that Robert Pitcairn, the father, was recorded as ‘a coalier’, which is the occupation of all of Annie’s verified paternal ancestors up to this point. Another consideration is that when Robert Pitcairn married Grizel Burns in 1799, she was pregnant, meaning they had to get married. It appears that Grizel was born in 1782, close in age to Robert Pitcairn in 1780, and what transpired was a very young couple forced by circumstances to wed. On the balance of probability the latter Robert Pitcairn is more likely. The Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) has extensively researched the Pitcairn surname and to date there are about 15 separate branches identified. So while this may not indicate the family line you had hoped for, hopefully it is valuable nevertheless. JM

02/02/2017 10:33

Your questions answered Seeking an 18th-century marriage record


I’ve searched every available relevant parish record that I have found online, looking for the marriage of William and Elizabeth Wilkinson. They probably married c1793, for I find them in the register of the Headon cum Upton parish of Nottinghamshire, situated a little to the east of East Retford, whose children were registered at Headon as follows: William, 1795; Esther, 1797; Mary, 1799; Elizabeth, 1801; Grace, 1803; Frances, 1805; Sarah, 1807 and Jane, 1810. I have recently contacted Nottinghamshire Archives to see if there are any manorial records (as there should be in the Manor Court Leet records) to show when William took on the tenancy of a farm at Headon, but there were no appropriate records available. The William Wilkinson and Elizabeth married in Sheffield about 1793 were marrying for the second time, so were elderly. The William Wilkinson and Elizabeth married just south of Lincoln around 1790 were still there in 1841. Has anyone any sensible ideas of where I could search next, taking into consideration that I am over 80 years of age and live in Devon? Edward Wilkinson

Tips to help st retc re sear ch skills


• Keep an open mind – William and Elizabeth who married in 1793 should not be discounted. At this period being widowed at a young age (and to have children with more than one spouse) was common. Further no assumptions should be made that the first child was born as late as 1795, a possibility being that not only the marriage but birth(s) of other

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From the research carried out William and Elizabeth appear to have been ‘incomers’ to and ‘leavers’ from Heaton, perhaps dying before the 1841 Census and the introduction of civil birth, marriage and death registrations in 1837. Here are some thoughts and leads which I hope you’ll find interesting.

children took place outside Headon. Remember the limitations of the records – A problem relating to the marriage is that, generally, marriage records of this period contained so few personal identifiers apart from names, marital status, and abode and sometimes groom’s occupation that it may be impossible to identify the correct marriage. Several William Wilkinsons can be found to have married brides named Elizabeth in the period from the mid 1780s to early 1790s, not only in Nottinghamshire but neighbouring counties of, for instance, Lincolnshire. It must be kept in mind that not all parish registers of this period survive and not all are online. Consider whether they moved – A possibility is a move from (and children being born outside) Headon after 1815, as – of the whole family – only William junior can be immediately confirmed from online records to have died there. However, one or more of his sisters might have married and settled there. Identify other family members – If William has a gravestone with an inscription that might assist in identifying other family members, not necessarily with the same surname, buried nearby or even in another parish. Investigate deaths in the family – Establishing the fate of other family members might similarly assist. Thus the death of an Elizabeth Wilkinson registered at East Retford (a district including Headon) in the December quarter of 1840, and shown by the recently updated General Register Office (GRO) indexes to have been aged 39 at death, should be investigated. Explore all the parish records – The starting point should be enquiry into any surviving parish records of Headon to try to establish William senior’s origins, and a likely year of birth. Most valuable would be a settlement certificate or examination – for an explanation see Visit the archives – Nottinghamshire Archives should be approached to see if any records of this nature are available, as a search of the online catalogue does not reveal any. Other parish records, such as churchwardens’ accounts, might show when the family first took up

nline Find guide s o Learn about Nottinghamshire probate records and jurisdications at and for the courts covering Nottinghamshire parishes residence in the parish. • Try to locate a will – If a will for William senior (or a widowed Elizabeth) could be located, naming family members, establishing a date and place of death with perhaps a burial, that might assist. However, be aware that lengthy and possibly speculative searching may be required. Before 1858 a complex system of Church courts and testamentary peculiars covering Nottinghamshire means that any will is likely to be housed in an unexpected place. For example, the will of a William Wilkinson of Barton, Nottinghamshire was proved in 1826 in the Exchequer Court of York, whose records are held by the Borthwick Institute for Archives, York, and there were at least 14 different courts having probate jurisdictions in Nottinghamshire before 1858. CW


If distance and/or the complexities of the research are a problem there are professional researchers at hand to assist. Some of these can be found at – the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. Alternatively, turn to our listings of researchers towards the back of every issue

Read up on it • Tracing Ancestors Through Death Records by Celia Heritage • Tracing Your Pre-Victorian Ancestors by John Wintrip, to be published February 2017

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YOUR Q&A Seeking a missing aunt or uncle


I always thought that my grandparents Arthur John Hooper, born Upton Scudamore 1863, and Ellen Hooper (née Adlam), born Longbridge Deverill 1863, had only three children: Frank Percival Hooper (my father) born 10 April 1897, Florence Kathleen in 1894 and Ethel Ruby born July 1900. On looking at the 1911 Census I saw that they had five children born alive. On checking Ancestry by just putting in the surname, I found Reginald Edmund Adlam Hooper born 6 March 1899, died March 1900. I cannot find


child number five. Can you help me? Janice Brown


Four years between children is a fairly long gap for that period so it’s not surprising to find there were others. The 1911 Census is particularly useful in this respect. I was interested to see that Arthur and Ellen married in Q3 1890 at St Saviour Southwark. Why did a couple, both of whom were born near Warminster, marry in an unfashionable part of London? Doing as you did with just a surname search from 1890-1900 I found an Albert Edward Hooper born in St Saviour in

Q3 1890. Are we looking at a shot gun wedding or is that pure coincidence? Perhaps this is baby number five. As Albert was born in 1890, this gives us the opportunity to search the 1891 Census for further possible clues about him. Have you looked at the Southwark parish records, which are in the London Metropolitan Archives? Find details of the LMA records available via at LMAonAncestry Assuming the children were christened, as was usually the case at the time, they should appear there. So too should the burial of number five. DF

1 The 1911 Census entry that first alerted Janice to the fact her father had two siblings who died (see the note in the column stating how many children of the marriage had died)

2 & 3 Researching back to the 1901 Census, we see parents Arthur and Ellen, with the three children that Janice already knew about: Frank, Florence and Ethel Ruby


Research tip! Note that baby Ethel Ruby was listed on the next page of the census (see figure 3) – always view the next page, to make sure you’ve collected the details of all available ancestors in the household

4 Going back to the 1891 Census 3

4 5


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we should be able to find baby Albert Edward, aged about one, as he was born in 1890. This entry is clearly the right parents as the birth places and Arthur’s occupation matches – however, no baby is listed with them

5 Going to the GRO registers of death on we searched for the death of a baby Albert Edward Hooper, born 1890, aged about one at death, and found no results. A next step would be to order the marriage certificate for Arthur and Ellen and then, inputting the surname Hooper and Ellen’s maiden name, search the birth indexes for the missing baby on certificates/indexes_search.asp

02/02/2017 10:34

Your questions answered Right family? Wrong place?


I am unable to find the parentage of William Saxton. The earliest sighting is his marriage to Emma Elizabeth Seaman on 27 June 1815 in St Matthew’s Bethnal Green. One clue is the witness, Sarah Ann Saxton, who I have found with a brother William (and other siblings) all baptised in St Leonard’s Heston 1784-1791 as the children of John and Elizabeth Saxton. Although the dates of their baptisms seem to fit, the location does not, as it is on the other side of London. I would welcome any advice, thank you. Keith Saxton saxtonkeitth


Looking at what we know about William Saxton we can immediately see where the problem lies. He married before 1837, meaning that we have no genealogical information on his marriage record, and he died before 1841, so we have no clues about his birthplace from the census returns.

SO, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO WORK WITH? • Birth clues – The only evidence we have regarding when he was born is his age at burial: ie 41 in July 1832, suggesting a date of birth sometime between July 1790 and July 1791. • Evidence of variant surname spellings – We know that William is married in Bethnal Green in 1815 and then settled in Whitechapel. It’s not a lot to go on and, although Saxton is a relatively uncommon name, it is easily confused with the surname Sexton. Indeed, both William and his wife Emma Elizabeth were buried under this latter spelling. • Discount false leads – In cases like this, all you can do is come up with a theory and then attempt to disprove it. You’ve already begun this process by identifying William Saxton of Heston as your prime candidate; however, this man can be instantly discounted. The Heston parish registers record the burial of a 45-year-old William Sexton [sic] of Hounslow on 10 January 1836. This is surely the man who was baptised at Heston on 6 May 1790. • The biggest clue – you do have the name of the witness who signed her name as Sarah Ann Saxton at William’s wedding in 1815; she was almost certainly his sister, although it’s possible that she was his sister-in-law, mother or even a cousin – so Sarah may be your biggest clue to finding out more. • Search widely – The names of William’s children could also provide clues and the fact that he was a boot maker could also prove useful, although it’s odd that three of his children described him as a glass-cutter on their marriage certificates. Finally, don’t limit your search to London; the capital has always been a magnet for people from all around the UK. DA

How to explore area boundaries

About our experts Geoff Young is the founder of Microgenealogy, a family history research and consultancy practice. Member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Chartered fgfg IT Professional and Member of the Association for Project Management. He has 34 years experience in the IT Industry and a passion for family history spanning 20+ years. Jayne Shrimpton is a professional dress historian, portrait specialist and ‘photo detective’. She is photograph consultant for TV series Who Do You Think You Are? and her latest books are Tracing Your Ancestors Through Family Photographs and Victorian Fashion (2016). Find her online at John McGee is a professional genealogist working in Scotland and a member of the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives since 2009 and he is currently the association treasurer. John runs Wheech Scottish Ancestry Services specialising mainly in the West of Scotland. Email him at Christine Wibberley is a researcher specialising in family history questions with a legal aspect. She is a non practising solicitor and a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives David Frost’s interest in genealogy was sparked by the unexpected appearance of an illegitimate and distinctly dodgy family member in 1967. He’s relieved to find that every month still brings new discoveries. He’s been writing on genealogy topics since 1991 David Annal has been involved in the family history world for more than 30 years and is a former principal family history specialist at The National Archives. He is an experienced lecturer and the author of a number of bestselling family history books, including Easy Family History and (with Peter Christian) Census: The Family Historian’s Guide. David now runs his own family history research business, Lifelines Research.

R e sear c h t ip 1 If searching in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, check out the maps at

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2 By opting to view maps showing boundaries for the parish, hundred etc, you can explore the area well

Do you have a family history puzzle? Make a succinct copy of your notes that relate to the matter and bring them to WDYTYA? Live at Birmingham NEC, 6-8 April, where expertise abounds!

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A personal trip with Leger Holidays On one recent battlefield tour to the site of the D-Day Landings in Normandy a widow set out on a purely personal trip. Inspired by a single clue, Ruth Bettle was following the footsteps of her late husband, Sergeant Vic Bettle

Sergeant Vic Bettle of the 7th Parachute Battalion, who served at the D-Day Landings


ergeant Bettle was part of the 7th Parachute Battalion, which would have jumped in or around the Pegasus Bridge area of Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944, as part of Operation Tonga. The Parachute Battalion was tasked with supporting the D Coy of 2nd (Airborne) Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry led by Major John Howard. 7th Parachute Battalion advanced to the area of Putot-en-Auge in August 1944. Ruth had received correspondence from a French national several years ago who had been staying in a chateau in the town of Putot-en-Auge. The grounds of the chateau held a barn and it was in this barn that something special had been found. It was an inscription signed ‘Sgt Vic Bettle, 7th parachute Batallion, 19 August 1944’, and the inscription simply read: ‘We chased them out this morning.’ It was this simple sentence that inspired Ruth to undertake a battlefield tour, and to visit the


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site where her husband had served during the D-Day Landings all those decades ago. The tour was led by Leger Holiday’s battlefield guide Fred Greenhow who, after speaking to Ruth, arranged for drivers to take a trip out to the chateau. Fred explained: ‘Ruth was absolutely overwhelmed when we found the chateau in the village of Putot-en-Auge, approximately 30km to the east of Caen. Her husband Sgt Vic Bettle who served with 7 Para Bn, had written his message on 19 August 1944. It was discovered by a Frenchman in 1998, who tracked down Vic by writing to Gen Napier Crockenden, 6 Airborne Division Association.’ A chance discovery of a message written on a barn wall, combined with the determination of that person to track down the family concerned, and the opportunities provided by a battlefield tour, has meant that Ruth now has a very personal memory concerning her husband’s role in the D-Day Landings of 1944. Ruth Bettle visiting the barn in which her husband’s precious note from the D-Day Landings is inscribed on the wall

Thanks to Fred, and to Ruth and her daughter Karen, we can share this story and keep the memory of Sergeant Vic Bettle alive.

Why take a tour? On a battlefield tour, you’re heading off on a journey of learning, understanding and appreciation. Leger Holidays can reunite family and friends with a sense of their past, and this is something the company is very proud of. Leger Holidays, who will be exhibiting at the WI Fair in March, offer great value holidays and amazing experiences. Visit their stand to find out more.

Come to the WI Fair! The Women’s Institute Fair is being held at Alexandra Palace, 29 March to 1 April 2017, and everyone is welcome, both WI members and non-members. With a busy schedule of workshops and talks covering crafts, travel and lifestyle, and a tempting range of shopping opportunities, the WI Fair is a fabulous day out. Family Tree will be there too, so do pop along and say hello to the team! Come along and be inspired.

Below right: Vic Bettle’s scrawled note

Find out about Leger Holidays’ range of battlefield tours at w w k/ battlefields

03/02/2017 10:12

TICKETS NOW ON SALE! This year’s WI Fair will take place in a truly iconic venue. Home to a Victorian theatre, the original BBC studios and what was once the most celebrated concert organ in Europe, Alexandra Palace will bring a sense of spectacle and history to the occasion.

29th March – 1st April 2017 Alexandra Palace, London

Taking place in the magnificent Great Hall, the Fair is the perfect day out for women with a zest for life: from food and drink to adventure holidays; health and beauty to craft and creativity; cookery and baking to gardening and horticulture. You don’t have to be a member of the WI to come to the Fair; this grand day out is open to all. We have lots of free talks and demonstrations; creative workshops, tasty treats galore and lots of shopping to tempt everyone.

Features include:  Craft Theatre  Live Kitchen Theatre  The WI Fair Challenge  Travel, Outdoors & Lifestyle Theatre  Workshop Studios  The Designer Maker Village and demonstration area p86-87 WI advertorial FINAL.indd 87

Tickets are now on sale via our website. Entry tickets start at £11 with discounts for bookings of 10 or more. Limited workshop places still available but early booking is advised*. *Terms & conditions and a transaction fee apply.

03/02/2017 10:12

DIARY DATES Find or post diary dates at for FREE or email them to



MARCH 2017 Various dates Workshops Hampshire. Hampshire Record Office in Winchester is running a new series of monthly workshops, starting 28 February with an ‘Introduction to Family History Sources’, followed on 29 March by ‘Maps as local history resources’ (2-4pm, £14 each). In addition, the popular Archive Ambassador Day takes place on 21 March when you can join archivists to learn about cataloguing, preservation, digitisation and oral history (10am-3.30pm, £30). All events must be booked, see website for details. • Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, Hampshire Record Office, Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TH; 4 March Day school Kent. To unravel the medieval mysteries of coats of arms, join this Heraldry course at The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury, which aims to show that the records of heraldry can be of great use to family historians. • 10.15am-4.30pm. £40/£45 (including lunch); Starts 10 March Weekly course Surrey. Enhance your research and learn some tricks of the trade on this six-week family history course run by professional genealogists and archivists at Surrey History Centre in Woking. The spring course runs until 21 April (includes twoweek Easter break). • 10am-1pm, £60. To book, call 01483 518737 or visit the Heritage events tab at


People Power: Fighting for Peace Emmeline Pankhurst (left) and her daughters Christabel (centre) and Sylvia, at Waterloo Station, London, in 1911. All three were key figures in the women’s suffrage movement, which largely supported the British war effort in WW1, however, some campaigners – including Sylvia – opposed the war


WM London’s major new exhibition, opening in March, will explore the evolution of the anti-war movement in the past 100 years. Rare items such as Siegfried Sassoon’s handwritten copy of his poem The General and original sketches for the peace symbol go on display in ‘People Power: Fighting for Peace’, telling the stories of individual and collective acts of protest against war as part of the IWM’s centenary programme of events and exhibitions. The unique collection of more than 300 artefacts, from IWM’s rich collections and elsewhere, will take visitors on a journey from the First World War to the present day, looking at how peace activists have influenced perceptions of war and conflict. Paintings, literature, posters, banners, badges and music reveal the breadth of creativity generated by those who have opposed war and how anti-war protest has been inextricably linked to the cultural mood of each era. Other highlights include Wire (1918) by Paul Nash, CRW Nevinson’s Paths of Glory (1917) and a handwritten letter by Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne outlining his struggle to reconcile pacifism with the rise of Hitler. Emotional personal letters also reveal the harrowing experiences of conscientious objectors who faced non-combatant service, forced labour, imprisonment and hostility from wider society. Matt Brosnan, the exhibition’s historian and curator, said: ‘This exhibition is the first of its kind and displays a number of fascinating items which have never been exhibited before. In IWM’s centenary year, this major exhibition continues our mission to explore war and conflict from multiple perspectives – highlighting the peace movement and its important role in British history.’ • From 23 March to 28 August. Tickets £5-£10, members free, available from

10-28 March e-courses Online. Pharos Tutors’ e-courses this month include: The National Archives Website and Catalogue – Finding People by Guy Grannum (10 March, 3 wks, £34.99); Your Military Ancestors with Simon Fowler (13 March, 4 wks, £45.99); Researching Online for Advanced Genealogists with Peter Christian (16 March, 4 wks, £62) and Organising Your Genealogy with Barbara H Baker (28 March, 3 wks, £34.99). • Book your place at

Pancras is offering a new programme of adult learning courses, which include bookbinding (11-12 March, from £157) and conservation (18 March, from £47). • Full details and booking at events/adult-learning-courses

11-12 & 18 March Weekend courses London NW1. The British Library in St

12 March AGM & open day Leicester. Head to Leicester and Rutland

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Family History Society Open Day and AGM held at the county cricket club. The AGM takes place at 11.30am and will be followed by two guest speakers, Anthony John from Fraser & Fraser, one of the companies involved in The Heir Hunters TV series, and Dr Susan Tebby on Adventures and Anecdotes Of An Addict, about her 60 years of family and local history research.

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Local history, heritage groups and archives will also be attending and there will be a family history helpdesk and search service. • 10am-4.30pm, free entry. Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Leicester LE2 8AD; 14 & 18 March Talks Buckinghamshire. This month’s talks at Bucks Family History Society include: Marlow On Thames in which Julian Hunt takes the audience back to earlier times, when the Thames was a vital commercial artery filled with wharves, bargemen, flashlocks and eel traps (14 March, 7.45pm, Bourne End), and The Parish Chest with Ian Waller (18 March, 2pm, Aylesbury). • All talks free (non-members welcome, a small donation is appreciated to hear talks); 18 March Seminar West Yorkshire. The Guild of One-Name Studies’ Regional Seminar, which is open to guests, is taking place in Wakefield and features talks on Early Asylum Life by

David Scrimgeour, Using Manorial Records for Family History by Rachel Dunlop, First Steps in DNA by Jackie Depelle, Tools and Methods for Websites by Paul Featherstone and My Dowles of Romney Marsh by David Burgess. • 10am-4pm. For more details, visit 24-26 March Weekend course Kent. The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury is running an Advanced to Exam Preparation course for those either taking the Higher Certificate examination in June or for genealogists wishing to discover more about oft-neglected sources. • £195/£235; 25 March Workshop Leeds. Learn how to scrapbook family history with tutor Mandy Williams in this Your Fair Ladies-run workshop in Pudsey. • 10.30am-3.30pm, £20. To book, email or visit http://

Images: Pankhursts © IWM (Q 81490) reproduced under the IWM Non-Commercial Licence; jars © Crossrail/Museum of London Docklands; house history © Society of Genealogists

Starts 13 March Identify family photos Norwich. If you have inherited family photos you can’t identify, head along to the Who Do You Think They Are? exhibition at The Forum’s Millennium Library, the highlight of which will be local historian Andrew Tatham’s A Group Photograph, the culmination of 21 years of research into a WW1 photograph. There will also be

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SOCIETY OF GENEALOGISTS 1 March 2-3pm Fraud, Forgery, Feuding: The Coming of Civil Registration – with Dr Gwyneth Wilkie (£8); 4 March 10.30am-1pm Census Substitutes – with John Hanson, FSG (£20); 9 March 12-1pm A Brief History of St Luke (Old Street) Parish – with Mark Aston from the Islington Museum and Local History Centre (£8); 11 March 10.30am-1pm Family History Software on the Mac, including Reunion 11, MacFamily Tree 8, Heredis 2015 and Family Tree Maker 3.1 – with Graham Walter (£20); 15 March 2-3pm London’s Lea Valley – with Dr Jim Lewis (£8);

NEW EXHIBITIONS Starts 17 February LGBT history London SE1. To mark LGBT History Month, the London College of Communication (LCC) Moose on the Loose 2017 presents Ken. To be destroyed, which explores 1950s’ transgender identity through family archives. Artist and photographer Dr Sara Davidmann and her siblings inherited the letters, photographs and papers belonging to their uncle and aunt, Ken and Hazel Houston, from their mother in an envelope labelled ‘Ken. To be destroyed’, revealing Ken had been transgender. This exhibition tells the hidden history, reimagined using photographs and modern artwork by their niece. • Weekdays 11am-7pm until 24 March. Upper Gallery, London College of Communication, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SB. The Ken Project Archive is on display Tuesdays (12-2pm) and by appointment;

Learn how to trace your house history at the Society of Genealogists in March

tips for family historians on how to identify long-forgotten people in family photos, and family history resources. • Daily 10am-4pm until 1 April. Free. The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich NR2 1TF; For more details, see news, page 8. Now until 3 September Crossrail finds London E14. Discover objects spanning 8,000 years of human history in Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail at the Museum of London Docklands. Some 10,000 artefacts, unearthed by Crossrail during the construction of London’s forthcoming Elizabeth railway, enabled archaeologists to uncover the stories of Londoners’ past, from Mesolithic tool makers to those affected by the Great Plague of 1665. • Daily, 10am-6pm. Free. West India Quay, London E14 4AL; www.museumoflondon.

Unearthed by Crossrail: 19th century ginger jars from Crosse & Blackwell bottling factory near London’s Tottenham Court Road station

16 March 2-3pm Lies, Damned Lies and Family History – with Rev Wim Zwalf (£8); 22 March 2-3pm How to Die like a Victorian – with Holly Carter-Chappell (£8); 25 March 10.30am-5pm Tracing your House History For Family Historians – with Gill Blanchard (£35); 29 March 2-3pm Tracing your Ancestors through Local History Records – with Dr Jonathan Oates (£8). • The Society of Genealogists, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA. Book via, 020 7553 3290 or visit


Keep up to da te with events at The National Archives at w ww. nationalarchi hatson This month th ey include a H idden Treasures web inar on 20 Mar ch, explaining ho w to access Tr easury correspondenc e 1777-1920, and A Woman’s W ar WW1 talk on 30 March, bo th free

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MARCH 2017




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Tracing blue blood (royal connections aren’t as rare as you might think), investigating 19th century divorces, and on the trail of a brave man involved in a shark attack over a century ago...

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My connections to the Conqueror I watched the Who Do You Think You Are? programme about Danny Dyer’s descent from William I with particular interest, as I too can trace this descent, and was intrigued to see how things would be demonstrated on the programme. I thought there was rather a large hiatus between the workhouse ancestors and the Civil War Gosnold, and, since most people starting in family history will usually start from the lower end, so to speak, they would perhaps have found this part more interesting than visiting present-day aristocrats. It has been pointed out that many people have such a descent. Tracing it is a matter of hard work, lots of time and serendipity. The ‘nitty-gritty’ of the programme came for me when the archivist began to unroll the scroll which had William at the top. How I peered at my screen as the scroll slowly unrolled! Yes! There was Henry Percy (Hotspur) and his wife, Elizabeth Mortimer. This was indeed my own line, which descends from their granddaughter Margaret Clifford of Skipton. At this point it was getting harder to see what was happening on screen, but I thought I saw the name ‘John Clifford’ as part of Danny’s descent. John Clifford was Margaret’s brother (known as ‘black-faced’ Clifford, and ‘the Butcher’, and killed at Towton). So not only am I related to William (and Edward et al), but also to Danny Dyer – goodness me! I have been interested in my family history since childhood, and luckily made a practice of asking grandparents and other relatives to tell me what they knew, and to write it down. My early research was aided by a family bible, with birth, marriage and death dates already carefully filled in. My public library (Skipton) had an extensive range of parish registers and many other useful works. Like most people, I have had to pursue my obsession in fits and starts, ‘real life’ creeping in amongst, so there was a big sweep in the 1950s, a surge in the 1970s and now, another resurgence as I attempt to sort out ‘all that stuff’ to please my daughter, who does not share my interest. My first bit of luck was in Skipton library where I discovered a collection of Yorkshire deeds and miscellaneous papers, among which I found a marriage settlement of 1618/1619 for Marmaduke Fawcett and Elizabeth Lodge. Research showed that Elizabeth’s mother was born Isobel Maude. Then I found a pedigree of the Maude family in Foster’s Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire: much of it proved to be incorrect, but as it indicated the family was armigerous I was led to the Visitations, and to the invaluable printed volumes of Early Yorkshire Charters, which have opened up the possibilities


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of research into the Anglo-Saxon period via the land-owner, OSER FOR A CL EILA Gospatric (work is SH ongoing here). LOOK OF TES So, the whole thing O COE’S N is never-ending, is it not? I think the sort of work I am doing now might perhaps be called ‘prosopography’. That seems to be a method of fitting people into groups who interact together. Sheila Coe Editor: Thanks for encouraging us all that research back so many centuries is not an impossible task. To any fellow readers feeling inspired to take up the gauntlet, don’t miss Celia Heritage’s tips on page 12


This is Sheila’s tree, showing her connections to William the Conqueror (see Sheila in the top left). She finds it interesting how someone of an ordinary working-class family can descend from such origins – and discover it for themselves

Engine driver in the family I noted that this issue of Family Tree was going to have an article on railway workers and thought you may be interested in my wife’s grandfather, who was an engine driver in Scotland, so I have sent you some clippings. Philip Thompson Editor: Many thanks for sharing these pictures – how excellent to have these clues to this ancestor

Driver and express locomotive man John Borthwick, seen here with his steam engine

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Have your say Twists & turns of married life I did enjoy the Christmas issue and its focus on the Victorians. My great-grandfather’s younger brother George Hatten was born in Great Finborough, Suffolk, in 1854, and married Sarah Louisa Howe in 1876, but they divorced in 1882. Divorces were very uncommon in those days! In her divorce petition (on Ancestry) Sarah not only accused George of physical and verbal abuse, but also claimed that he had repeatedly committed adultery with a servant, Mary Ann Grimwood, who had given birth to a child fathered by George on 13 April 1878. No affiliation proceedings were brought because George gave Mary Ann £25 to prevent her doing so. Sarah herself had given birth to a daughter, Agnes Ellen Louisa Hatten, in 1877, but she sadly died in July 1878, which must have made the birth of Mary Ann’s child even more galling. Surprisingly, my grandmother’s sister Lillian Esther Hatten, aged six, was living with George and Sarah on their Great Finborough farm in 1881, three years after this incident, not a suitable environment for a child I would have thought. Sarah left the family farm on 7 January 1882, moving back to Great Bricett, and was granted a decree nisi by Sir James Hannen (a famous divorce judge known to the Victorians as ‘The Great Unmarrier’) at the High Court in London on 14 December 1882. Sarah reverted back to her maiden name of Sarah Louisa Howe and married another farmer, Arthur Edward Gowing, at Linton Register Office, Cambridgeshire, on 29 November 1884, but that marriage too failed! In 1891 she was living separately from Arthur in Hove, Sussex, in reduced circumstances working as a general servant at the home of Charles and Rachel Nye. In 1896 Sarah went through

Snippets of war

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HOW TO GET IN TOUCH... Share your views with fellow readers on the FT letters pages. To contact us: POST Letters, Family Tree at the address on page 3 EMAIL FACEBOOK & TWITTER Get in touch on our Facebook page,, or tweet us @familytreemaguk

Licensed to embark

In this monthly First World War Snippet Keith Gregson looks at an aspect of wartime intelligence

Many years ago a friend of my father’s gave me the first draft of a text about sniping in the First World War. The author (his father), had been a sniping officer on the Western Front but later was moved into intelligence. Inside the brown paper bundle that contained the faded typed text was an intriguing label. The bearer must have had it with him attached to his uniform or to his attaché case. It is fascinating to muse as to what he was up to. Clearly he had fairly open access to Southampton Docks and although the word ‘embarkation’ appears on the card, it is more than likely that he wanted to have words with those disembarking. Was he merely questioning those coming home on leave to see if their knowledge could help with policy on a front? More darkly – was he sent to discover if the wounded were genuinely wounded? There were certainly instances (and I can recall one from a feature film of the late 20th century) where efforts were made to establish

her second divorce. Arthur Edward Gowing divorced her because of her adultery, and she married Arthur Henry Adames in Hove in late 1896, this time using the name Sarah Louisa Gowing. A son, also Arthur Henry Adames, had been born in Ipswich in 1895. I originally thought that George was a monster, but he subsequently married Elizabeth Mather Last and had three children by her. That marriage survived George losing his farm and ending up in London working as a bus driver! Lastly, I’m also working on my blog, as recommended by Chris Paton in the January issue. You can find it at Alan H Fraser Editor: Big pat on the back for starting your blog – we’re very impressed and love the gallery and stories you’ve placed there

whether wounds were self-inflicted or not. Equally, recent case studies with which I have been involved tend to show that the establishment was keen to turn around wounded officers as quickly as possible. As the war progressed there was an increasing lack of officers at the Front. Sadly we will probably never discover exactly what lieutenant Sleath was up to.


Tweets from our followers • Bliss! Back home to find latest issue of @familytreemaguk on my doorstep! So pleased the ‘Twiglets’ section is as entertaining as always! @DSRGenealogist • Really good issue. Not just because @HeritageWSHC is featured! Also great articles on online book resources & more. #archives #genealogy @Ptolemais101 • We’re thrilled to be featured in the current edition of @familytreemaguk – find out what goes on behind the scenes at the History Centre! @HeritageWSHC Like to join the conversation. Come and find us on Twitter @familytreemaguk

An Intelligence Officer’s Dock Pass – what was it that he wished to discover about the servicemen travelling through Southampton Docks?

Keith will be giving a talk on researching First World War ancestry with particular reference to individual case studies at WDYTYA? Live at the NEC, Birmingham 6-8 April and would love to meet up with any regular ‘snippeteers’

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YOUR LETTERS Seeking shark attack medallist In Australia 26 January is known as Australia Day, but back in 1912 it was called ‘Anniversary Day’, commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788. So, on that Anniversary Day, a blacksmith named James Edward Morgan, 21, went for a picnic near ‘the Retreat’ on the Lane Cove River, Sydney, with his fiancée Miss Annie Grace Melle. Here Morgan met Alfred Barlow, who was there with his friend William David McKay and their wives, who were on the jetty. After lunch, the men went swimming. Barlow asked Morgan if there was any danger from sharks as he was a bit nervous. Morgan replied, ‘No, I don’t think so, it is too far up’. Barlow was right to fear shark attack, however, as there had been three in the Lane Cove River since 1900. Nevertheless they went on swimming. Then suddenly Morgan cried out ‘Help, oh help. A shark has got me!’. Together, McKay and Barlow managed to get the dying blacksmith to shore, where his fiancée, Mrs McKay and Barlow’s wife Sarah carried Morgan into the shade and covered him with rugs. A doctor was sent for but Morgan died before the doctor arrived. The next day, Morgan was buried in the Waverley Cemetery, Sydney. On 28 January a large grey shark was caught by local fishermen and human remains were found in its stomach. It was believed to be the shark that killed Morgan and was put on display to raise money for Morgan’s mother. Both Barlow and McKay were awarded gold medals and Certificates of Merit by the Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society of New South Wales. Sadly, for the searcher, the award citations in the society’s annual report don’t mention the recipient’s age, which would be useful in finding the recipient’s approximate birth date and to eliminate namesakes from the search. (Back to that later.) On 12 March 1913, after the official naming ceremony of Canberra, the federal capital of Australia, Lord Denman, the Governor-General of Australia presented to Barlow and McKay the Albert Medal – the

highest civilian bravery award in the British Empire. I have traced Barlow and McKay, but all that is known of William David McKay is that he was a young man who was a carpenter who came from Great Britain. McKay was living in Sydney at 57 Hornsby Street, Rozelle, until 1913 – after than I could find no trace of him. On checking the BMD indexes of New South Wales and Victoria I found two William David McKays listed but both were born in Victoria, so are not the Albert Medallist. I believe that William David McKay, like many British emigrants to Australia, decided to return to the UK. In 1972 the British Government decided that any Albert Medallists who were alive in October 1971 would be considered holders of the George Cross – they could keep their original awards or exchange it for the George Cross. Sixty-eight Albert Medallists were known to be alive in 1971 but recently research has found five more who were in fact alive, but didn’t come forward to make the fact known. So was William David McKay still alive in October 1971? Paul Street 30 Baldwin Avenue, Boronia 3155, Victoria, Australia Editor: We have published Paul’s list of Albert Medallists whose dates of death are unknown, so could have been alive in October 1971, which you can study at

Taking the archives plunge I just wanted to say what a great DVD ‘Explore the Archives’ was, which was free with your February edition. I have been a bit apprehensive to go The National Archives and the Society of Genealogists’ offices. Various magazines have given descriptions and advice about attending these places, but it has made such a difference to my confidence seeing how things work on the DVD. I am now going to make arrangements to attend both the TNA and the SoG. Steve Chaplin Editor: We’re delighted to hear it’s been such a help. Enjoy the archive trips and do let us know how you get on!



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● SOMERSET See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● SOMERSET, DORSET, WILTSHIRE, DEVON Prompt, reliable research at reasonable rates. AGRA member. All enquiries welcome. Katherine Cobb, Old Well House, East Compton, Shepton Mallet, BA4 4NR. Email:; Website: ● SOUTH AFRICA Experienced researcher. Anne Clarkson, 17 Abbey Road, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa;; ● STAFFORDSHIRE (with base in Leek), DERBYSHIRE,CHESHIRE & LANCASHIRE. Experienced researcher. Sara Scargill,B.A.(Hons), The Vicarage, St. Thomas’ Road, Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire FY8 1JL; tel:01253 725551; email:;   ● STAFFORDSHIRE See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● SUFFOLK See Past Search, NORFOLK ● SUSSEX See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● WALES family history research. All enquiries welcome. Segontium Searchers, 51 Assheton Terrace, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 2LD; Tel: 01286 678813; email:; web: ● WALES See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● WARWICKSHIRE Including Modern Records Centre, Warwick University. Family, Local, Legal history research plus copies and other photography. Jackie Edwards MA LL.B [Hons], 104 Earlsdon Avenue South, Coventry CV5 6DQ;   ● WARWICKSHIRE, WORCESTERSHIRE, STAFFORDSHIRE, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire Family and local history research in the West Midlands by experienced and conscientious researcher. Also writing-up, courses and talks. Michael Sharpe, tel: 01527 877714; email:; ● WEST COUNTRY ANCESTORS John Campbell, Family Historian, Queensbridge, Ash Priors, Taunton TA43NA Tel:01823 433498; email:; ● WILTSHIRE See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● WILTSHIRE See Katherine Cobb, SOMERSET


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0113 200 2925 ● WORCESTERSHIRE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, HEREFORDSHIRE, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire family, house, heraldry and other local history research. Competitive rates. Contact: Whitworth Genealogy Research Services, 21 Geneva Close, Worcester WR3 7LZ or email: ● YORKSHIRE ancestry research. All enquiries welcome. £10 per hour. Over 30 years’ experience. SAE. Ruth Simpson, 19c Park Lane, Pontefract, West Yorkshire WF8 4QQ; email:; Web: ● YORKSHIRE See Sovereign Ancestry, LINCOLNSHIRE ● YORKSHIRE ANCESTORS (est 1998) Yorkshire Family History Research. All enquiries welcome, from a single look-up to a full Family Tree. We visit North, East and West Yorkshire county record offices, and York archives. Friendly and Professional service. Email: enquiries@, website: www.yorkshireancestors. net. Tel: Katie Sleightholme 07789077384, Brenda Green 01751 476544. 86 Middleton Road, Pickering, North Yorkshire YO18 8NH ● YORKSHIRE – Researcher for Who Do You Think You Are! USA – all aspects of research undertaken, including difficult cases and brick-wall situations. Being located in the City of York at the very heart of the county puts us within easy reach of all archival repositories across Yorkshire thereby enabling us to deliver a cost-effective service. Yorkshire Family History, Grasmead House, 1 Scarcroft Hill, York, YO24 1DF; Tel: 01904 654984; website:; email:

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CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES Private small ads (Connections sought, etc) £0.15 per word excluding VAT. Commercial lineage. £0.35 per word excluding VAT. When counting the number of words, please remember to include your address in the calculations. Conditions of acceptance All lineage advertising must be prepaid. Advertisers requiring a receipt via post must send a SAE to. Warners Group Publications PLC FAO: Kathryn Ford 5th Floor, 31 – 32 Park Row Leeds LS1 5JD. If advertisers do not wish to use their phone numbers or personal names on their adverts, they must give them to our office for our records.

We expect all advertisers to provide an acceptable standard of service, however the publisher cannot be held accountable for failure to do so – such failure will undoubtedly result in the refusal of future advertising. No alterations or cancellations will be possible after the copy deadline for a particular issue. The publisher reserves the right to issue refunds for adverts cancelled by the advertiser after the copy deadline. Disputes, queries or complaints will not be accepted unless received in writing by the publisher by no later than 10 days after the on sale date of the publication. We reserve the right to refuse or alter adverts at our discretion. Although every care is taken to avoid mistakes, we do not accept responsibility for clerical errors. The advertiser shall be responsible for checking the accuracy of any advertisement submitted.

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06/02/2017 12:26


Hopelessly in love with technology

Being a gadget queen


hat would you do if one dark night you woke from a deep slumber to an eerie blue light in your bedroom and the voice of Jim Reeves lamenting his lost love from the darkness? Would you bury your head beneath the duvet and hope he hadn’t come for you? Or would you just tell the gloom in the room to shut up and try to go back to sleep? When it happened to us, we tried the latter, once the palpitations slowed, though it took longer than it should have because Alexa likes you to call her by name and doesn’t understand ‘Shut up, stupid’. So, for a while, Jim Reeves became ever more lachrymose, the blue light went wild with concern and the cat and dog got up, delighted by the thought of an early breakfast. Little Alexa, otherwise known as Dot is, of course our latest electronic toy, and, with her big sister Echo, represents our Christmas present to each other. For those who haven’t come across Amazon’s latest voice-controlled device, which answers questions, plays music, sets alarms


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Technology has brought we family historians successes we could never have envisaged back then and reminders, reads the news and even tells jokes on demand, I should explain that, although an artificial intelligence, Alexa does seem curiously anxious to please – to the point that she can mishear quiet snoring and will sometimes, of a night, offer a spontaneous weather report, an interesting fact or a tune from her large library of Amazon music or my iPod. (I’m not saying I have Jim Reeves on there, but I’m not denying it...) Those of us who remember when the most advanced research aid was a card index, recognise that technology has brought we family historians successes we could never have envisaged back then. My eight-year-old granddaughter had an iPad for Christmas, switched it on and was messaging her

friend almost before the wrapping was off. I’m still awed every time I press a key or touch a screen or pay for a coffee by waving my phone about. As I write, I’m eagerly awaiting new Leicestershire online records, which I’m hoping will magically provide answers only an ancestral ghost might know. Personally I’ve embraced all things electronic right from the 1990s when I watched a speaker at Bedworth Family History Society identify his greatgrandfather by dating a rivet on a many-times-enlarged photograph of a locomotive upon the footplate of which the said ancestor, a driver, was standing. It seemed like magic then, as it does now. Only another family historian will understand the magnitude of such a moment when a

memory comes to life. Sadly, I know many are still suspicious of the internet and so don’t enjoy its possibilities to the full. My view is that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you strong and, being an optimist, I know technology has made me a far stronger family historian. Naturally I take precautions, watch for scams and ignore people on the telephone who tell me I must transfer all my worldly wealth into another account (theirs). How do I discover how to stay safe online? On the internet, of course! Alexa, despite her questionable nocturnal taste in music, is certainly keeping me on top of my game. She offers me a brief exercise break, tells me how many likely descendants Edward I had, does my census age/birth date calculations and generally cheers me up. I have to admit, however, that although she knows more than several encyclopaedias and can predict the weather with uncanny accuracy, she doesn’t know the name of my illegitimate Yorkshire grandmother’s real father. Darn it!

About the author Diane Lindsay discovered her twin passions of family history and English (and her sense of humour)

Illustration: © Ellie Keeble for Family Tree

For decades self-confessed technophile Diane Lindsay has relished technology, using it to help her family history research. Meet her latest new ‘friend’...

while training as a teacher and bringing up three small children in the 1970s. She’s a writer and local and family historian and, although retired, still teaches anything to anyone who will listen.

02/02/2017 10:24

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